20 Best Laptops for College Students 2019 – Perfect For Every Major & Courses
Let’s find a cool college companion
Are you gearing up to start college this year? Or looking to gift a cool, hyper-functional laptop to someone who is? In either case, you need a device that has its finger on the pulse of the contemporary college crowd.
College students are among the most ardent users of laptops, for they need their computers for everything, right from taking notes in the classroom to working on assignments and projects, from watching movies with friends to creating path-breaking multimedia content.
But this audience does not only demand a laptop that caters to these requirements; the need of the hour is for a machine that does it all in style.
When you’re out hunting for a laptop for college, you need to consider the overall package. So, while the specifications and the features offered will be important, so will the build and design.
Typically, you need a laptop you can lug around with you comfortably, without feeling burdened; it also needs to be resilient enough to sustain shocks and frantic use (read public transport and last-minute submissions).
These laptops are also versatile enough to suit a variety of majors and courses, but we have made your job easier by identifying their core purpose. So, let us get started with finding you the perfect college buddy, shall we?
- Best Laptop Screen Size for College Students
- How to Choose the Best Laptop for College
- Quick Checklist for the Ideal College Laptop
- Major-Wise Laptop Selection Guide
- 1. Engineering Students
- 2. High School Students
- 3. Nursing Students
- 4. Business Students
- 5. Graduate Students
- 6. Computer Science Students
- 7. Medical Students
- 8. Architecture Students
- 9. Graphic Design Students
- 10. Elementary Students
- 11. Online College Students
- 12. Art Students
- 13. MBA Students
- 14. Information Technology Students
- 15. Animation Students
- 16. Biology Students
- 17. Geology Students
- 18. Data Science Students
- 19. Psychology Students
- 20. Stem Students
- Our Picks: Top 20 Best Laptops for College Students in 2019
- 1. New Dell XPS 15 7590/XPS 13 9380 – Best Dell Laptop for College Students
- 2. New Apple MacBook Pro 15-inch/13-inch – Best Apple Laptop for College Students
- 3. New Apple MacBook Air – Best Lightweight Laptop for Students
- 4. Acer Aspire 5 A515-54-51DJ – Best Laptop for College Students Under $500
- 5. ASUS VivoBook 15 F512DA-EB51 – Best Budget Laptop for College Students Under $600
- 6. Acer Aspire 5 A515-43-R19L – Best Cheap Laptop for College Students Under $400
- 7. Acer Aspire 1 A114-32-C1YA – Best Laptop for College Students Under $300
- 8. Acer Predator Helios 300 PH315-52-78VL – Best Laptop for Students and Gaming
- 9. New Razer Blade 15 – Best Laptop for Engineering Students
- 10. MSI GS65 Stealth-483 – Best Laptop for Animation Students (Video and Photo Editing)
- 11. Surface Book 2 – Best 2 in 1 Laptop for College Students
- 12. Surface Laptop 2 – Best Surface Laptop for College Students
- 13. ASUS ZenBook S UX391FA-XH74T – Best High Performance and Lightweight Laptop for Students (All College Majors)
- 14. ASUS ZenBook 14 UX431FA – Best Laptop for College Students Under $1000
- 15. Lenovo ThinkPad T480 – Best Budget Laptop for Business Students
- 16. Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon – Best Workstation Laptop for Business and Engineering Students
- 17. Lenovo Yoga C930 (14″) Laptop – Best Lenovo Laptop for College Students
- 18. HP SPECTRE x360 – Best HP Laptop for College Students (All Majors)
- 19. HP ENVY 13 13-aq0044nr Thin Laptop for Online Students
- 20. ASUS Chromebook Flip C434TA-DSM4T – Best Chromebook for College Students
- Time to Head to College
Best Laptop Screen Size for College Students
In the present laptop marketplace, you will find several form factors, starting at 11 inches and going up to 17. Which screen size would be ideally suited to college life? To answer this question, you need to ask yourself another: how do you imagine you will use your laptop? What computing requirements will your major and course have?
- 11-inch model: This is THE best option if portability is your top priority. Most 11-inch laptops are super light, mobile, and inexpensive. You can use them from most outdoor settings and pick them up with zero effort. Remember: these laptops are suitable mainly for standard requirements like working on documents and browsing the internet.
- 13-inch model: These are super-light too and incredibly portable. But they offer a little more real estate than their 11-inch counterparts.
- 14-inch model: You will be hard-pressed to find too many 14-inch laptops in the market. They offer an in-between package, the best offering of which is a large screen and long battery life. But they can be expensive–even more so than 15” laptops—and have not yet become incredibly popular.
- 15-inch model: This is a balanced choice that offers high performance as well as portability. Many 15” devices weigh in the range of 4–5lbs and are equipped with useful features for students, such as numerous USB drives, consistent internet connectivity, and decent battery life.
- 17-inch model: If your college major needs you to work extensively on multimedia content, heavy-duty programming, or 3D modeling, you should get a 17-inch laptop. It might be heavy, but it packs the performance and screen size you will require for majors such as architecture, graphic design or art. These laptops make ideal desktop replacements.
How to Choose the Best Laptop for College
We recommend a straightforward action plan for this potentially life-altering decision—it has only four question-oriented steps.
- Step 1: How will you use your laptop in college?
If you need to use CPU-intensive applications like Adobe Premiere Pro, run complicated programming interfaces or play video games, get a laptop with a top-of-the-line CPU, i.e., Intel Core i5 or above. You’ll also require 8–16GB RAM and high-speed SSD memory (128GB and above).
Else, you can get by with a cheaper CPU with a lower RAM and memory provision.
- Step 2: How important is portability to you?
If your college days are sure to involve considerable travel, get a laptop that:
- Is lightweight with a reliable build: Look for a 2-in-1. You can get a convertible that adapts to various modes like tablet and tent or a detachable with an un-pluggable keyboard.
- Has a long battery life: Scout for ultra-portable laptops that offer 10+ unplugged hours.
- Has adequate connectivity: Hunt for laptops with USB Type-C ports, HDMI, SD card readers, webcams, and Ethernet ports.
However, if you foresee college life to be stationary, you can choose the standard clamshell design (laptops with open-and-close lids). Many conventional, mid-sized laptops offer between 4–6 hours of battery backup.
- Step 3: What kind of a keyboard and touchpad will you need?
Is your college major related to creative writing, graphic design or computer programming? Choose a machine that has an ergonomic, precise, and backlit keyboard. The touchpad should be large, comfortable and support multi-touch gestures.
- Step 4: Do you need your laptop to deliver stutter-free graphics in absolute detail?
This will be crucial if your major involves multimedia content production, engineering, graphic design, architecture, or computer programming. While you can get a laptop with integrated graphics, opt for one that has a dedicated graphics processor (GPU) if your budget allows it.
Quick Checklist for the Ideal College Laptop
Well, so you have now established the various parameters to consider while selecting a laptop for your college major and course. However, when you go out to pick your dream-machine, be prepared to be overwhelmed by a market that is bursting at the seams. Choices abound aplenty, with every brand vying with the other for market-share.
Keep this checklist with you to zero down on the perfect match and stop this important purchase decision from becoming as arduous as the final exam.
|Criteria||What to Look For|
|Screen Size||11- or 13-inch for ultra portability but regular performance|
15-inch for balance between high performance and portability
17-inch for desktop-replacement laptop with excellent performance but low portability
|Processor||Intel Core i5 or above for CPU-intensive majors (multimedia, graphic design, programming, etc.)|
Intel Core i3 for laptops that will perform routine tasks
|RAM||8GB and above|
|Memory Space||128GB and above SSD memory for CPU-intensive majors|
1TB HDD (hard disk drive) for laptops intended to perform routine tasks
|GPU||Integrated graphics for regular-use laptops|
Dedicated GPU (e.g., NVIDIA GTX) for college majors involving intensive multimedia needs
|Battery Life||8–10 hours for ultra-portable laptops|
4–6 hours for standard, mid-sized laptops
|Connectivity||USB ports (Type-C included) to connect to devices and peripherals like mice and USB-drives|
HDMI port (and other display ports like VGA and DVI) to connect to external displays – This will be important for most college majors as students frequently need to showcase presentations
SD card reader – You will need this to transfer photos and other files, irrespective of your college course
Ethernet port – Don’t assess this as a dispensable criterion if your laptop has Wi-Fi. You will need it to get onto the internet at a campus spot without Wi-Fi
|Keyboard and Touchpad||Ergonomic, tactile and backlit keyboard|
Large and precise touchpad, preferably with gesture support
Major-Wise Laptop Selection Guide
1. Engineering Students
Engineering can be a particularly draining major—for your laptop too! You need a CPU that can handle complicated software, a display and graphics package that renders detail well, and the sustainability to deal with long hours at work.
We recommend the latest Razer Blade 15 with its super-powerful processor and graphics card, refresh rate of 144Hz, and a fantastic display that does justice to your engineering drawings and simulations. Psst, it also serves well as a gaming laptop for those after-school hours when all you want is to escape into a virtual world.
2. High School Students
If you are in high school, your standard day will involve quite a bit of multitasking: browsing the internet, watching A/V content, taking notes. However, you are unlikely to need a heavy-duty machine that drills a hole in the pocket.
Check out the Acer Aspire 5 A515-43-R19L laptop that is amazingly pocket-friendly yet perfectly capable of managing day-to-day operations without breaking into a sweat. It is an AMD Ryzen laptop with a decent display, good connectivity options to keep you attuned with your peers, and long battery life.
It even has a backlit keyboard because hey, who said this must be restricted to a premium purchase? You can also look for ASUS ZenBook 14 UX431FA – an under $1000 Core-i7 machine or ASUS ChromeBook Flip C434TA-DSM4T, if you are looking for a Chrome OS laptop.
3. Nursing Students
In a nursing major, you will want to learn to be constantly available and tuned in. Nursing can be extremely demanding. Even as a student, your course will take you through long (and odd hours), sharing important information with peers, and multitasking on assignments.
Consider buying the ASUS Chromebook Flip C434TA-DSM4T or an ASUS VivoBook 15 F512DA-EB51. Both of these are immensely portable yet pack in all the vitals for your typical day, including adequate specs and good battery backup.
The best part? They are both budget-friendly options that leave you with extra cash for other college essentials.
4. Business Students
Business majors typically get you prepared for the grind early: frequent travel for assignments, working out of strange locations, becoming an expert at multitasking. The ideal laptop for business students should understand these needs and combine portability with functionality.
You could pick up the Lenovo ThinkPad T480 for its “Power Bridge” technology and lightweight build that make it extremely easy to carry around. The responsive Windows 10 OS also proves handy when you are in a rush and need swift answers during meetings.
Or, if you have a bigger budget, why not invest in the Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon or Apple MacBook Air? MacBook Air is also high on mobility, as the name suggests, but packs in incredible power alongside so you can be in business mode in a blink.
5. Graduate Students
Pursuing specialized studies in your field of choice? As a graduate student, your choice of laptop will be most aligned to the demands of your course. A multimedia specialist for graphic designing and film-making, an ultra-portable traveler for business studies, you get the gist.
The Apple MacBook Pro 15-inch/13-inch, for instance, is an excellent choice for most creative courses. It has specialized features such as a Retina display and an efficient Intel i9 processor that graduate students will find very helpful as they go along.
Other great picks are ASUS ZenBook S UX391FA-XH74T and HP ENVY 13 13-aq0044nr, particularly if you are pursuing your studies online. It neatly combines functionality with the flexibility to adapt to variable schedules and requirements.
6. Computer Science Students
Hello there, lines of code, uncanny bugs that keep people up at night, and inventive ideas that can make brilliant things happen! Computer science students are well-advised to invest in a powerful laptop with a speedy CPU and ample memory to run the applications that the course demands.
Good battery life is a bonus, since many of these applications can be severely CPU-draining. Acer has a head start on laptops for this audience.
The Acer Predator Helios 300 PH315-52-78VL, for example, offers a mighty processing unit, an efficient heat dissipation system, and a user-friendly keyboard to support your pursuits.
7. Medical Students
For medical students, becoming night owls is almost second nature. You can look forward to reading lengthy documents and e-books, doodling diagrams alongside notes to get an in-depth understanding, and scanning case studies for symptomatic analysis.
Simply put, you need a machine that lets you do your reading on the go, has sufficient battery life, and boasts of an ergonomic construction.
A laptop that does a mean job of combining these requirements is the ASUS VivoBook 15 F512DA-EB51 with its hinge-based design, lightweight build, and compelling screen-to-body ratio to keep your eye on what matters most.
8. Architecture Students
If you are studying to become an architect, it is likely that you have a flair for visualization, spatial patterns, and modeling. Architecture is a highly visual course with overlapping subject areas from majors such as engineering and art.
Pick up a laptop that is capable of running elaborate simulation software and has the display configuration to match your original thought. The Razer Blade 15 with its wide color gamut and high-end processing is a smart choice.
You can also consider the Apple MacBook Pro 15-inch/13-inch. Besides being adept at all things creative, it comes with extensive storage space to host your projects.
9. Graphic Design Students
A popular choice of major with many students, graphics design is a course that mandates a pro-multimedia laptop. Your choice of computer should be able to process graphics efficiently without loss of detail, deliver good turnaround times, and boast of a display that renders your work well.
Most graphic design courses require students to work on heavy software and applications. This means you also need a reliable heat dissipation mechanism for sustainability.
Our top pick is the Acer Predator Helios 300 PH315-52-78VL laptop for its neat blend of form and function, great audio-video experience, and user-friendly features such as a specially designed backlit keyboard.
10. Elementary Students
As more classrooms get virtual, the need to stay connected and quickly learn the ropes of the digital world intensifies. Elementary school students can benefit from a laptop that supports them for everyday tasks such as conducting secondary research for assignments, checking e-mail for homework, and video-calling with friends.
However, there is little need to splurge here as brands like Acer and ASUS offer plenty of budget-friendly options befitting elementary school.
You can choose the Acer Aspire 5 A515-54-51DJ for its high portability, long battery life, and excellent display for the price.
VivoBooks such as the ASUS VivoBook 15 F512DA-EB51 can also be good picks for this audience.
11. Online College Students
The number of students pursuing their major online is perpetually on the upswing, thanks to the wide gamut of courses available on the internet and the flexibility they offer. The perfect laptop for you should combine processing power with a good display (your eyes will need it!). It should also supply unplugged usage and the mobility to work undisturbed from anywhere.
A smart pick for you would be the HP ENVY 13 13-aq0044nr laptop. It is a functional blend of processing finesse, high-quality display and sustainability, utilizing an Intel Core i7 CPU processor, a 4K screen, and a battery that lasts unplugged for more than 12 hours.
12. Art Students
Time to embrace all things aesthetic! Yes, many modern-day laptops are built with a keen sense of all things creative, and these can become ideal partners for students of arts courses.
The Apple MacBookPro, for example, offers a gorgeous Retina display with a brilliantly wide color gamut that goes in tandem with your creativity. When purchasing a laptop, also ensure it has up-to-date specs that can smoothly run any software you might need.
The MSI GS65 Stealth-483 with its RTX graphics, immersive display, and powerful processing configuration is another excellent choice. Other alternatives are Microsoft Surface Laptop 2 and Lenovo Yoga C930.
13. MBA Students
A key tenet of an MBA major is always being up and about—for projects, research, meetings and field studies. The perfect laptop for this course must be not only super responsive but also resilient and long-lasting. It needs to understand, shall we say, the grind of the business world.
The Dell XPS 15 7590/XPS 13 9380 laptop with its incredibly long battery life and high portability can be a useful companion for MBA students. It is even equipped with a specially designed webcam with superior sound and picture quality. All those calls with peers and business-clients-to-be just got so much easier!
14. Information Technology Students
Pursuing information technology as a major? You will need to get used to major multitasking, working odd and super-long hours, running heavy-duty programs and mystifying that gnawing fault in the systems until the wee hours of the morning.
An ideal computing companion must, of course, have the processing wherewithal to withstand this. But it must also offer features like an anti-glare screen and an ergonomic keyboard to keep you going day after day.
A worthy choice is the Razer Blade 15 that comes with high-end specs to fuel your IT endeavors (and can also double up as your gaming mate by night).
15. Animation Students
Pursuing an animation major requires a great eye for detail, a distinct creative streak, and a laptop that helps further both of these. Your ideal digital buddy should have a stellar display, terrific processing power for all that intensive software, and the ability to render multimedia content meticulously.
Consider opting for the MSI GS65 Stealth-483 laptop as your college companion. It has a fantastic screen-to-body ratio for maximum real estate, a refresh rate of 240Hz, and RTX graphics. The latter lets you experience real-time ray tracing and images enhanced by artificial intelligence; both serve you splendidly while working on animation projects.
16. Biology Students
A substantial chunk of a biology major involves diagrammatic representation, heavy documents to peruse for your chosen area of specialization, and tons of reading material. It makes sense to opt for a laptop that offers textual and image clarity to make pursuing these tasks easier.
The marketplace now has several options like the Acer Aspire 5 A515-54-51DJ that offers a decent display and adequate specs at pocket-friendly prices. The former utilizes the Acer Color Intelligence technology to render colors accurately on screen.
This is a nifty feature for when you are studying minute anatomical parts with variable color gradation. Alternatively, you can go with HP Spectre x360 if you have higher budget.
17. Geology Students
This is one major that needs an especially sturdy and resilient laptop. As a geology student, your studies will take you to varied natural surroundings and places with limited charging stations.
Also, you will need a device with a pretty good display so that you can view captured footage, photographs, etc., in their true form.
Consider picking up an ASUS VivoBook 15 F512DA-EB51—it is high on portability but also packs in good graphics.
The Apple MacBook Air is a splendid option too if you want to go the extra mile; the gloriousness doesn’t come at the cost of portability in this light machine.
18. Data Science Students
Guess what some must-haves for students of data science are? An ability to perform number crunching at breakneck speeds, the kind of endurance that can withstand long-drawn hours of analysis, and the knowledge that the devil lies in the details.
Along the same lines, the best laptop for this major must also be contemporary and powerful, with an efficient cooling mechanism that lends it the durability for several hours of operation.
The processing specs, too, must be on the higher end of the spectrum as this course requires intensive software and mathematical computation.
Our pick for this major is the Razer Blade 15 which satisfactorily meets all the required criteria (besides offering the bonus of being a game-friendly device!).
19. Psychology Students
Psychology is a particularly riveting major for the fascinating manner in which it combines behavioral studies with science, anthropology and even mathematics. If you are pursuing psychology as your major, you need a laptop that balances form and function. The processing chamber must pull its weight, so that you can research-related software, statistical analyses, etc.
One sensible option is the HP ENVY 13 13-aq0044nr laptop with its integrated fingerprint reader and powerful configuration. The high portability quotient of this computer proves useful when you need to venture out for on-ground group discussions or focus groups.
20. Stem Students
STEM (or Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) is an interdisciplinary major that now finds favor with many students. Since this course involves several functional areas, the ideal laptop that supports it should also be an all-rounder.
Think a fast processor, good display specs, plentiful connectivity options, and a portable build that can withstand travel.
The Dell XPS 15 7590/XPS 13 9380 laptop combines all these criteria and also throws in exceptionally long battery life and good-quality sound. (Plus, the addition of Dell Cinema ensures you have a reliable fall-back entertainment option for after-school hours.)
Our Picks: Top 20 Best Laptops for College Students in 2019
In this comprehensive article, we have consolidated the very best laptops for college students 2019 that have it in them to serve your academic pursuits without breaking into a sweat.
1. New Dell XPS 15 7590/XPS 13 9380 – Best Dell Laptop for College Students
Dell has always had a way with the college crowd, expertly creating laptops that are trendy yet resilient and capable of handling everyday tasks smoothly.
The Dell XPS 15 7590/XPS 13 9380 laptop is worth your consideration if you need an all-rounder with decent processing power (up to Intel Core i7-8565U, 16GB RAM and a 256GB SSD), a pleasant display (InfinityEdge, screen-to-body ratio of 80.7%), and good battery backup (up to 21 hours!).
If you’re afraid this won’t be adequate for creative majors, you can opt for the NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1650 GPU that provides a fillip for tasks like video editing, graphic design, etc.
Interestingly, Dell has infused this laptop with some stand-out features that the college-going audience should find useful. For instance, the HD webcam located at the top of the display has a 4-element lens and temporal noise reduction for a crystal-clear video-calling experience.
You can also benefit from Dell Cinema and cherish the studio-grade picture and sound for both working in the classroom and entertainment after a long day.
The new Dell XPS is also one of the most mobile laptops on this list with a weight of only 2.7lbs, a thickness of 0.3–0.46”, and Corning Gorilla Glass 4 protection. Suffice it to say you can comfortably carry it with you and tune in wherever you fancy.
2. New Apple MacBook Pro 15-inch/13-inch – Best Apple Laptop for College Students
There is something about owning a MacBook, isn’t there, especially when you are a college student whose typical day involves substantial use of multimedia?
MacBooks have long been popular choices with students of the arts, film-making, etc., but new laptops like the latest Apple MacBook Pro can fabulously serve other majors too. Available as 15” or 13” models, the new MacBook Pros offer a dazzling Retina display, satisfactory processing with up to 32GB RAM, and a lightweight body weighing only 4lbs and 3lbs for the two form factors respectively.
The 15” model comes with a ninth-gen Intel Core i9 processor that is perfect for software such as Adobe Photoshop and Final Cut Pro (as also for 3D modeling, architectural drawings, biomedical simulation, you get the idea). Even better: you get storage to the tune of a 4TB SSD (2TB in the 13” model). This is plenty and more for your original creations, projects, personal data, you name it.
A distinctive feature we love is the Touch Bar (and ID) that provides foolproof security—a must in shared working environments. It also delivers an intuitive solution for interacting with your computer using gestures such as taps and flicks. Smart shortcuts for busy days on campus, we think!
3. New Apple MacBook Air – Best Lightweight Laptop for Students
For a whirlwind college day that involves considerable moving about, a light yet robust laptop is a must.
This is where the new Apple MacBook Air comes in—a gorgeous 13.3” machine with a Retina display and 12-hour battery life that weighs all of 2.75lbs.
Notably, this laptop has a chassis built of 100% recycled aluminum that leads to significantly lower carbon emissions. Talk about a contemporary machine attuned to ecological responsibility!
Fueling this machine is an Intel i5 CPU, 16GB RAM, and a 1TB SSD—quite adequate for most day-to-day endeavors as well as more processor-draining activities like streaming and multitasking.
True to its Apple soul, this laptop looks exemplary with the high-res display (2560 x 1600) that offers topnotch color and text clarity. This makes it one of the finest picks for design and art students.
College students can also benefit from the all-new keyboard with per-key backlighting, a 20% larger touchpad, and support for multi-touch gestures. You will find it much smoother to use for those frantic, last-minute submissions.
Bonus: A highly secure Touch ID for working in collaborative environments. It is a fingerprint-led approach that guarantees your data is safe even when you are working amid a large group.
4. Acer Aspire 5 A515-54-51DJ – Best Laptop for College Students Under $500
Trust Acer to combine pocket-friendliness and college-readiness in one fine laptop. The 15.6” Acer Aspire 5 A515-54-51DJ is infused with a powerful Intel Core i5-8265U CPU, 8GB RAM, a 256GB SSD, and an FHD display with an IPS panel. It can run unplugged for up to 9.5 hours. Add to this mix a backlit keyboard (to complete eleventh-hour assignments in godforsaken lighting) and a fingerprint reader (for security when working out of cafeterias). There, you have a computer that understands college life to a T.
If your college major involves some amount of visual work (say, architecture), you will delight in the true-to-life colors delivered by the Acer Color Intelligence technology. The finesse is well complemented by the blue light filter that protects your eyes during those interminably long college days (and nights).
The best part? Acer manages to pack all of this in a machine that weighs less than 4lbs (3.97lbs) and is only 0.7” thick. This translates into some incredible portability. You can simply slide the laptop into a backpack and be good for a field-day interviewing people for your psychology project or clicking pictures for your photography course. At its sub-$500 price, we daresay this computer is a bargain.
5. ASUS VivoBook 15 F512DA-EB51 – Best Budget Laptop for College Students Under $600
Put your hands up if you are scouting for a budget laptop that is also highly portable and offers a compelling A/V experience.
The 15.6” ASUS VivoBook 15 F512DA-EB51 has its eye on flexibility and user-friendliness which it ups with an ErgoLift hinge, a lightweight body of 3.5lbs, and an ergonomic backlit keyboard.
An integrated fingerprint sensor frees your mind of data-theft or impersonation scares. (The hinge helps position the display at an angle that suits you best; it also makes note-taking easier.)
This computer is driven by an AMD R5-3500U CPU, 8GB RAM, a 256GB SSD, and AMD Radeon Vega 8 Graphics. The FHD display benefits majorly from the nano-edge bezel that creates a screen-to-body ratio of 88%.
Bonus: This VivoBook might be an immensely portable computer, but don’t let that mislead you into believing it is ill-connected. A full assortment of ports makes connectivity a breeze.
You can avail of USB 3.1 and 2.0 ports, a reversible USB Type C port, an HDMI, and even a microSD card reader. Result? No hassle at all with sharing those photos and videos or projecting your work on a big screen.
6. Acer Aspire 5 A515-43-R19L – Best Cheap Laptop for College Students Under $400
Let’s face it: when it comes to receiving a good college education, budgets need to be carefully constructed.
The 15.6” Acer Aspire 5 A515-43-R19L is a sensible investment for college students, offering efficient AMD Ryzen processing, an FHD display and 7.5-hour battery life at a sub-$400 price.
It has a basic processing configuration that provides 4GB of RAM and a 128GB SSD. This should, however, be adequate unless your major is graphic design or animation (read: involves heavy-duty software). This laptop offers a screen resolution of 1920 x 1080 as well as an IPS panel to ensure comfortable viewing for you and your peers, professors, etc.
On the connectivity front, this machine does fairly well. It is fitted with a USB 3.1 port, two USB 2.0 ports and an HDMI that lets you plug into external displays. The overall portability quotient is quite high, with a chassis that weighs 3.97lbs and a profile that has a thickness of 0.7”. The Wi-Fi standard—802.11ac with 2×2 MIMO technology—is effective at providing consistent connectivity depending on the strength of the network.
Bonus: A backlit keyboard! This is a surprise for a laptop in this price range, but comes in super handy when college takes you on outdoor trips or requires you to work into the wee hours of the night.
7. Acer Aspire 1 A114-32-C1YA – Best Laptop for College Students Under $300
Cheapest college laptop that loves all things portable
It doesn’t get better than this deal when you are looking to buy a college laptop but want to keep your wallet stuffed. The Acer Aspire 1 A114-32-C1YA is the cheapest laptop on our list but is ample for standard computing tasks like working on documents or surfing the internet for project research. It has a basic processing configuration—an Intel Celeron N4000 processor, 4GB RAM, and 64GB of memory (eMMC).
The display is fair for the price—an FHD screen with a wide-screen view and BlueLightShield (to filter out blue light and protect your eyes from strain). It also offers an average battery life of 6.5 hours.
Acer has ensured that this budget laptop is high on freedom of movement. Everything about its build speaks mobile—from the responsive, precise touchpad and the easy access to apps on the Microsoft Store to the provision to save your work on the cloud (OneDrive or DropBox). It is also lightweight and lean at 3.64lbs and 0.7”.
You can use this laptop for everyday endeavors in school if your college major does not require you to use your computer for heavy-duty tasks like 3D rendering or complicated programming.
It is quite adept at note-taking, partnering for assignments (thanks to Office 365 support), and doubling up as an entertainment platform when you need a break. The operating system (Windows 10 in S mode) also helps in making this a campus-friendly computer, with its security features and productivity-rich Microsoft Edge browser.
8. Acer Predator Helios 300 PH315-52-78VL – Best Laptop for Students and Gaming
How is college life without a laptop that lets you dive into the world of virtual reality? Ask a passionate gamer, and your answer will be: pretty bland. The 15.6” Acer Predator Helios 300 PH315-52-78VL is an excellent choice if you are looking to combine college-worthy features with game-readiness.
This laptop comes with an FHD screen that has a refresh rate of 144Hz and a response time of 3ms. Fired by an Intel i7-9750H processor (ninth-gen), 16GB RAM, a 256GB SSD, and an NVIDIA GTX 1660 Ti GPU, it is adept at delivering a smooth gaming experience.
The custom-engineered heat dissipation mechanism (AeroBlade 3D Fan) lends sustainability to the proceedings, keeping you going for long hours without running the risk of a breakdown.
We especially love the two additional pro-gaming features in this laptop: the Waves MAXXAudio for divine sound and the backlit keyboard with concave-shaped keycaps and custom keys for ease of use. The only flipside is that this is a rather heavy laptop at 5.07lbs. Consider picking this up if mobility is not high up on your priority list.
9. New Razer Blade 15 – Best Laptop for Engineering Students
Pursuing an engineering major typically involves a lot of time spent working on simulation, visualization and drill-deep-down details.
The new Razer Blade 15 is effective at handling this mandate, thanks to its powerful Intel Core i7-9750H processor, supported by 16GB RAM and a 512GB SSD.
A dedicated NVIDIA GeForce RTX 2060 GPU ensures fantastic audio-visual support for high-end graphics software. Since this laptop has a clear gaming focus, you will find a host of helpful features for your engineering major.
For instance, you get a refresh rate of 144Hz (for smooth graphics), a color gamut of 100% sRGB (for exceptional detail), and a sturdy CNC-Aluminum build (for long-term, sustainable use).
You will also find some cool add-on features like a keyboard with customizable RGB lighting and support for 16.8 million colors. Hey, who said you cannot dabble with lighting (or a good old gaming session) in the middle of work?
If you demand additional privacy, perhaps because you operate in a pro-sharing environment, you will love the biometric security offered here. This laptop uses Windows Hello to provide instant facial unlock. Quite cool!
Be warned though: this isn’t one of the lighter machines on this list at 4.63lbs.
10. MSI GS65 Stealth-483 – Best Laptop for Animation Students (Video and Photo Editing)
Right up there on the priority list for animation students are a spectacular display and the processing power to create work that justifies this visual grandeur.
The 15.6” MSI GS65 Stealth-483 is a smart pick if you are pursuing a course that involves video and photo editing. Essentially a gaming laptop, it comes with a fantastic thin-bezel screen (4.9mm or 0.19”) with an anti-glare panel and a screen-to-body ratio of 82%.
This maximizes your available screen space and makes all your work a great deal more immersive. The processing prowess is also top of the class: an Intel Core i7-9750H CPU, 16GB RAM, a 512GB SSD, and an NVIDIA GeForce RTX 2060 GPU.
Also up for grabs are several additional features that serve animations students well, vis-a-vis a Dynaudio speaker system (with 50%+ boost amplitude), an efficient heat dissipation mechanism for long hours of use (Cooler Boost Trinity), and a Thunderbolt 3 port for rapid data transfer of even mammoth videos.
Surprisingly, MSI manages to pack all this in a chassis that weighs only 4.19lbs and is 0.7”. Brownie points for portability on and off-campus!
Bonus: This laptop offers a refresh rate of 240Hz. So, if your projects involve transitions, special effects, etc., you can be assured of a distinct edge.
11. Surface Book 2 – Best 2 in 1 Laptop for College Students
Experience creativity like never before
When you behold the Surface Book 2, one thing becomes apparent: its artistic temperament. This 15” laptop is a slender, reliable but definitely creative machine perfect for college students majoring in the arts.
Equipped with an Intel i7 CPU, 16GB RAM, 512GB of SSD memory, and NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1060 graphics, it offers you the might needed to work on activities like graphic design, animation, and multimedia content generation.
Implication: You’ll be able to run software like Dassault SOLIDWORKS, Adobe Premiere Pro, and Autodesk Revit without a glitch. You can also have a satisfying gaming experience with titles like Cuphead and Forza 7.
The display is, not surprisingly, spectacular. You get a vivid PixelSense screen that enlivens your content in rich, accurate colors. You can also opt for a touchscreen if you plan to use the laptop to create content on the go; the Surface Pen is precise and comfortable to use.
The best part is that although this machine is so powerful, it remains mobile at only 4.2lbs and 0.9”. The laptop provides 17 hours of battery backup—wonderful for all the free souls who need to work unfettered when creativity strikes.
The Surface Book 2 also offers four modes of usage. While the laptop and tablet modes are ideal for the classroom and commute respectively, the studio mode is excellent for drawing/sketching. The view mode is handy to showcase your work to professors or peers.
12. Surface Laptop 2 – Best Surface Laptop for College Students
Aesthetics and operations in a winsome package
The second Surface laptop you can consider is not tailor-made for design students like #11. However, the Surface Laptop 2 is a worthy machine in its own right, amicably supporting students who are looking for performance, portability, and long battery life.
Here you will find an Intel Core i5 CPU powering things up, supported by 8GB RAM and 256GB of SSD memory. The battery backup is a remarkably long 14.5 hours. Combined with the laptop’s super-light weight of 2.76lbs and thickness of 0.96”, this makes it one of the most reassuringly movable gadgets on the list.
It fits every college major that demands some amount of shuffling about, from trips to the medical laboratories to ground surveys for psychology.
How is the display? The Surface Laptop 2 also offers a PixelSense display with touch. The resolution is impressively sharp, simplifying your creative endeavors and minimizing eye-strain as you delve into lengthy whitepapers.
Note that the graphics support is for integrated Intel UHD Graphics 620. This means you will forego the extra dazzle that comes with a dedicated GPU like in #10.
Facilitating device support and internet connectivity are USB ports (one USB 3.0 port) and 802.11ac Wi-Fi.
Highlight: If you are hunting for a colorful college laptop, this one is after your own heart. You can choose among platinum, burgundy, cobalt blue, and classic black. A signature Alcantara material covers the keyboard and the palm rest, accentuating the aesthetic and luxurious appeal of this laptop.
13. ASUS ZenBook S UX391FA-XH74T – Best High Performance and Lightweight Laptop for Students (All College Majors)
Superb performance in the most portable 13-inch laptop
Welcome to the surprise package on this list—a 13.3” laptop that succeeds in delivering the kind of performance, style and dependability that typically comes only with larger form factors.
The ASUS ZenBook S UX391FA-XH74T is fitted with an Intel i7 CPU, 16GB RAM, 512GB of SSD memory, and a UHD 4K touch screen. But all this comes in an aerospace-grade aluminum chassis that weighs only 2.2lbs—the lightest on the list—and is 0.5” thick.
It is your best bet if portability occupies the top spot on your list of considerations. The battery lasts fairly long too—almost nine hours—and charges up to 60% in 49 minutes.
If you thought ZenBooks excel mainly at mobility but cut corners in visual excellence, this laptop will shatter your presumptions. The screen here uses a nano-edge bezel design and provides 350 nits brightness, a screen-to-body ratio of 85%, and a wide viewing angle of 178-degrees.
This is sufficient to work on your multimedia projects or sit back and watch Netflix. During the latter, you can also witness first-hand the first-rate audio (a charming blend of ASUS Golden Ear, Harman Kardon and ASUS SonicMaster Premium).
We particularly love this laptop’s ErgoLift hinge—it helps to adjust the keyboard to a comfortable typing position while also improving cooling and auditory output. In fact, the overall aesthetics are very impressive; the blue and rose gold trimmings make your device stand out.
14. ASUS ZenBook 14 UX431FA – Best Laptop for College Students Under $1000
A 14-inch ZenBook totally worth its salt
We had to include the ASUS ZenBook 14 UX431FA for the smart way in which it rivals its pricier sibling at #13 and manages to deliver on several fronts cost-effectively.
A 14-inch laptop, it has the strength to fulfill almost all your computing requirements, including the big-ticket ones. Inside the chassis is an Intel Core i7 CPU, supported by 8GB RAM and 512GB of storage space.
The battery life is a handy ten hours which should typically last through a standard school day. The display is satisfactory—an FHD screen with a thin bezel (0.25”) and a screen-to-body ratio of 86%. We daresay, this 14-inch laptop is a wise choice if you want a high-performance but affordable computer that is also very agile (3.2lbs, 0.65”).
Like its sibling, this ZenBook also uses an ErgoLift-based design; the hinge adds both to your typing ease and the performance of the laptop (especially the efficiency of the cooling and the quality of the Harman Kardon audio output).
This design element enhances the mobility of this 14-inch laptop, which, in any case, is remarkably tight-packed and almost at par with some 13-inch models. It is sturdy too, with military-grade durability (MIL-STD-810G).
It is worth noting how hard this machine works to offer you immense flexibility of use. You get all the ports you need to connect to peripherals/devices (including Type-C ports and HDMI for external displays). Plus, you can avail of the fingerprint-led sign in via Windows Hello for additional security.
15. Lenovo ThinkPad T480 – Best Budget Laptop for Business Students
A juggernaut for business majors
If you’re pursuing an MBA or taking courses like business studies, you need a laptop that gets the corporate world.
The 14” Lenovo ThinkPad T480 understands the nuances of business, and its capable Intel Core i7 processor, up to 32GB RAM, up to 1TB SSD memory, long-lasting battery life, and security features help you get a head-start on the edgy business dominion.
The hallmark of this ThinkPad is its “Power Bridge” technology that lets you replace your laptop’s drained battery with a fully charged one, minus the need to switch off your computer. The result is over 30 hours between charges—a veritable blessing for college students who haven’t the time to unwind before the next mock business conference.
This laptop offers convenient mechanical docking, giving you a USB-C side docking connector as well as other ports like Ethernet, and accessibility options like a backlit keyboard. It is highly portable at 3.6lbs and 0.78”.
There are numerous security features thrown into this laptop; most of them come in handy to prepare you for the challenges of after-college life. For instance, the fingerprint-led login (with Windows Hello and IR camera) lends you the security you will need in collaborative environments. The ThinkShutter lets you get control of your webcam, preventing anyone from catching you off-guard.
While this is a performance-oriented laptop, it also understands the need for a compelling display. You can opt to get a touch screen, up to WQHD resolution, and up to NVIDIA GeForce MX150 graphics.
16. Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon – Best Workstation Laptop for Business and Engineering Students
Early prep for business and engineering grads
Are you willing to expend a little extra for a Lenovo ThinkPad that pushes the envelope? The ThinkPad X1 Carbon is dearer than its sibling in #15 but offers several remarkable merits: LTE-A connectivity, RapidCharge battery (80% in one hour), ThinkPad Pro Dock for USB-C side mechanical docking, and a body that weighs only 2.5lbs (and is 0.62” thick).
Additionally, it provides a match-on-chip fingerprint reader with anti-spoofing technology—a potent tool to protect your data from campus competitors. Now, if that isn’t preparation for the dog eat dog world of business, what is? Performance-wise, the Intel Core i7 CPU, up to 16GB RAM, up to 1TB SSD storage, and 15-hours battery life ensure that this device suits the needs of students across majors, especially those in engineering and managerial studies.
In the look-and-feel department, you have a winner. The laptop’s dark black build with a soft-touch cover and color-coded hinge adapts well to the trend-oriented college life. For the display, you can choose between standard FHD and Dolby Vision (with high-dynamic-range). Dolby Atmos and Dolby Audio Premium uplift the sound frontier with terrific volume and bass.
This laptop comes with the useful ThinkShutter for the webcam, so you can catch up with your group-assignment partners from your dorm, without fretting that they will see you in your PJs. The optional IR camera also offers Glance by Mirametrix; it lets you combine a spectrum of face- and eye-movements to make things happen on the screen!
17. Lenovo Yoga C930 (14″) Laptop – Best Lenovo Laptop for College Students
Performance-oriented 14-inch laptop with exceptional A/V
A relatively fresh entry to the world of compact laptops, the 14” Lenovo Yoga C930 does a great job of combining performance with superior features for mobility and charisma.
Although its Intel i7 processor, 16GB RAM, and 2TB of SSD storage space a make it suitable for all college students, it harbors a special corner in its innards for lovers of multimedia.
If you are pursuing music, art or graphic design, you will love the path-breaking soundbar (with Dolby Atmos) that encompasses the speakers and rotates to produce immersive sound. The display is crystal-clear too, with 4K resolution, Dolby Vision, and a narrow bezel design (4.5mm or 0.19”).
Lenovo has employed an improved hinge technology for this laptop’s design, and the result is increased stability. This is palpable irrespective of the mode you operate your device in—tent, stand, tablet, or laptop.
The premium aluminum body boasts of a stunning polish; the color scheme (especially the mica) is attention-grabbing without being loud. Notably, the design includes a garage to store the stylus; the pen also charges automatically when it’s in the compartment, which boosts your overall mobility in and around the campus. This plethora of offerings fits snugly in a chassis that weighs 3lbs and measures 0.57”—quite a feat!
In additional features, we like the TrueBlock Privacy Shutter and the fingerprint reader—there’s something to be said, after all, for watching your back in a competitive academic environment.
18. HP SPECTRE x360 – Best HP Laptop for College Students (All Majors)
Create without limitations
HP has always been a name to reckon with in the world of laptops, and in the college-laptop market too, it manages to make a mark for itself.
The HP SPECTRE x360—available in a 13-inch as well as a 15-inch screen size—turns out to be a dependable laptop for students pursuing different college majors. It is fired by an Intel i7 (or i5) processor, up to 16GB RAM, up to 2TB of SSD memory, and NVIDIA GeForce MX150 graphics/ Radeon RX Vega M Graphics in the 15-inch models.
Note that the 13-inch models support Intel UHD Graphics 620. The battery backup is indeed the cat’s whiskers—17.5 hours (15.6” model) or 22.5 hours (13” model).
Creating content is a cakewalk on this machine. The 4K display with its micro-edge design and Corning Gorilla Glass protection is worth diving into, and the HP Tilt Pen is comfortable to use. You can conveniently perform 3D rendering and 4K video editing; you can also connect to external displays (up to two 5K screens) to showcase your creations.
For its many offerings, this machine succeeds in retaining a slim profile—2.92lbs and 14.5mm or 0.57” (13-inch); 4.79lbs and 19.3mm or 0.75” (15-inch).
The HP Spectre values security a great deal. Facilitating this are provisions like a fingerprint reader, a privacy camera kill switch, and an IR camera. There is also an innovative privacy screen to guarantee that lurkers in the college library don’t pry into your assignment.
19. HP ENVY 13 13-aq0044nr Thin Laptop for Online Students
Are you pursuing an online course? One of your top considerations in a laptop will be portability so you can travel for your assignments and research without worrying about damage. The 13” HP ENVY 13 13-aq0044nr is an incredibly thin and well-built laptop with features specially built for this audience.
For instance, it comes with BIOS (recovery and protection) that keeps your computer safe from unauthorized access as you go about your day. A handy kill switch for the webcam lends privacy as you perform video-calling with fellow students or mentors, while the integrated fingerprint reader keeps things safe and snug.
It is also worth applauding the construction of this beautiful machine; its all-metal case, geometric pattern and overall durability are among the best among peers.
Specs-wise, this system fares pretty well. You get an Intel Core i7-8565U processor, 16GB RAM, a 512GB SSD for storage, and an NVIDIA GeForce MX250 GPU. The battery lasts unplugged for over 12 hours—fantastic for pursuing your studies from wherever you please without fretting about charging stations.
Even though this laptop has a sharp focus on mobility, it retains a flair for all things visual. Students of design-based courses, as well as majors like engineering and architecture, will appreciate the 4K display, the IPS panel, and the screen resolution of 3840 x 2160.
20. ASUS Chromebook Flip C434TA-DSM4T – Best Chromebook for College Students
The Chromebook is a popular choice with college students primarily for its lightweight build, responsive OS, and a neat blend of smartphone-ish features with the sturdiness of a laptop.
If you are looking to buy a Chromebook to be your college companion, we would recommend the 14” ASUS Chromebook Flip C434TA-DSM4T. It is driven by an Intel Core M3-8100Y processor, 4GB RAM, 64GB storage (eMMC), and the quintessential Chrome OS.
Although this is a highly mobile laptop, it has a decent display: an FHD screen with ultra-thin bezel (only 5mm or 0.19”). It is this sleek bordering that lets this 14” Chromebook fit into the footprint of a 13” machine—an absolute win for all college students looking to maximize the space vs. features tradeoff.
In fact, this laptop scores major points in the mobility department because of its light but strong aluminum body (3lbs). The profile is also astonishingly thin at only 0.6”, which makes it a laptop that travels exceptionally well.
Bonus: This ASUS Chromebook offers a 360-degree hinge that enables you to switch across multiple modes, namely tent, stand, and tablet. Say hello to flexibility of use in various settings, such as classroom, public transport, and group-work environments.
Time to Head to College
At the risk of echoing a cliché, we will say this: your college days are going to be life-changing. To accompany you on this momentous journey, you need a computer that can fit into several shoes: understand the requirements of your major and course, follow you around as you trudge along the day, and become your friend and accomplice for allied as well as unrelated campus pursuits. It can be daunting to acquire a laptop that has to meet such a tall order, but the options on this list are good places to start.
While laptop-shopping for college, keep in mind the considerations for your major first, ensuring that the gadget can run any applications, programs and software you may need.
Also, double-check that the battery life, screen size, processing configuration, storage space, and graphics offered are in tandem with your requirements. Once you have zeroed down on laptops that are attuned to your college course, you can employ lookouts like aesthetics, budget and brand to seal the deal.
One final rule of thumb: seek to purchase a college laptop that employs future-compatible, advanced technology in both design and functionality. You are going to be in college for a while, and the tech world changes gears sooner than you can say Jack Robinson.
You would want a machine that can adapt to the changes and serve you well throughout your time on campus.