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The best student laptops: all the best options for school

Without even adding one of the best laptops for students to the mix, school can already get very expensive very fast: books, tuition, school supplies and accommodation – those things add up fast. The silver lining, however, is that many of the best student laptops on the market could still save students a lot of money, especially on Amazon Prime Day.

That's more than a good thing. When you’re already spending all that cash on textbooks and instant ramen, saving up for a new laptop, after all, can be difficult. The prime contenders for the best laptop for students will put value above having the top-of-the-line processors and graphics cards. And yet, they still boast enough juice to get you through your demanding workload at school – and let you enjoy some post-school entertainment.

In fact, the best laptops for students on this list we put together are some of the most budget-friendly devices on the market. And they also exude style, tout power and offer portability, all without breaking the bank.

MacBook Air (2018) is $1,099 $969 at WalmartThe mother of all Ultrabooks, in a sense, last year's MacBook Air can be had for one of its lowest prices ever. This is the cheapest way into a new Apple laptop for a student in the US – even with Apple's discount.View Deal

You need not limit yourself to Windows 10, either, as some of the best Chromebooks are capable of going head-to-head with some of the best laptops, which means you can get everything you’ll need in a laptop without shelling out some serious silver.

Going to school, after all, can be a stressful time, and you don’t need the added pressure of having to deal with a barely functional laptop. You deserve to have an excellent laptop, and that’s why we sought out the 10 best laptops for students that you can afford with your budget. Because no one should be limited to an ancient relic just to get some work done, but you shouldn’t have to sell a kidney, either.

Huawei Matebook 13

1. Huawei Matebook 13

The best laptop for most college students

CPU: 8th-generation Intel Core i5 - i7 | Graphics: Intel UHD Graphics 620, Nvidia GeForce MX150 (optional) | RAM: 8GB | Screen: 13.3-inch 2K (2,560 x 1,440) with touch panel | Storage: 256GB - 512GB SSD

 Extremely affordable


 Limited to 8GB of RAM 

We’re massive fans of laptops that can expertly combine price and performance with hardly any compromises, and the Huawei MateBook 13 comes closer to hitting that perfect balance than anything in 2019 so far. It’s thin and light, perfect for stuffing it in your backpack as you hurry from class to class; and it’s fast and affordable. This 13-inch Ultrabook stunner will let you get all your work done in style, without burning a hole in your pocket. Just be sure to have that charger handy, as the battery life is underwhelming. There’s no doubt that it deserves its lofty spot on the 10 best laptops for students list.

Read the full review: Huawei MateBook 13 

Dell XPS 13

2. Dell XPS 13

Dell’s flagship just graduated

CPU: 8th-generation Intel Core i3 – i7 | Graphics: Intel UHD Graphics 620 | Screen: 13.3-inch FHD (1,920 x 1,080; non-touch) – UHD (3,840 x 2,160; touchscreen) | Storage: 128GB – 2TB SSD

 Webcam in a reasonable location 


 Small upgrade 

Dell’s flagship laptop has always ranked among the 10 best laptops for students, not to mention professionals and casual, everyday users. This time around, the Dell XPS 13 2019 brings back the entry-level model, making it very affordable for college students again. Dell has also managed to fix our biggest issue with the XPS lineup – the webcam. It has moved the webcam back up to the top of the display where it belongs, so your family and friends don’t have to stare up your nose when you’re video chatting.

Read the full review: Dell XPS 13 

Surface Laptop 2

3. Surface Laptop 2

Look beyond the surface

CPU: 8th-gen Intel Core i5-i7 | Graphics: Intel UHD Graphics 620 | RAM: 8GB – 16GB | Screen: 13.5-inch, 2256 x 1504 PixelSense touch display | Storage: 128GB – 1TB SSD

Huge performance boost

No Windows 10 S

Still no Thunderbolt 3

While the Surface Laptop was arguably one of the 10 best laptops for students, it was held back by below average performance, a lack of ports and Windows 10 in S Mode. The Surface Laptop 2 greatly improves on its predecessor, however – except for the port situation. It’s now packed with 8th-generation Intel Kaby Lake Refresh processors, full-fat Windows 10 Home and a black color option. We wish it had even a single USB-C port, but that doesn’t change the fact that you will get all your tasks done in style with this laptop with little to no effort.

Read the full review: Surface Laptop 2

Microsoft Surface Go

4. Microsoft Surface Go

A Surface for everyone

CPU: Intel Pentium Gold 4415Y | Graphics: Intel HD Graphics 615 | RAM: 4GB – 8GB | Screen: 10-inch, 1,800 x 1,200 (217 ppi; 3:2 aspect ratio) PixelSense touch display | Storage: 64GB eMMC – 128GB SSD


Fantastic build quality 

Pentium CPU 

When you’re looking for a laptop for school that strikes a balance between price and performance, a dollop of style can’t hurt. The Microsoft Surface Go isn’t just one of the best Windows tablets, but it’s also one of the best 10 laptops for students, especially from a value perspective. Don’t be fooled by the low-power components, as Microsoft has engineered this tablet to keep up with all your general schoolwork and more without breaking a sweat.

Read the full review: Microsoft Surface Go 

Dell XPS 15

5. Dell XPS 15

More of what we love

CPU: 8th-generation Intel Core i5 – i9 | Graphics: Intel UHD Graphics 630 – Nvidia GeForce GTX 1050 Ti | RAM: 8GB – 32GB | Screen: 15.6-inch FHD (1,920 x 1,080) Anti-Glare Non-touch IPS – 4K UHD (3840 x 2160) InfinityEdge Anti-Reflective Touch IPS | Storage: 1TB Solid State Hybrid Drive – 2TB PCIe SSD

Plenty of horsepower  


More of the same 

The Dell XPS 15 has been our list of best laptops for students for a few years now, and Dell has taken that old “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” approach with the latest model. Not much has changed since the 2017 version, but that isn’t a bad thing. After all, you’re getting an Ultrabook that’s not only reliable, but also has enough juice to get you through pretty much any workload. The best part? The Dell XPS 15 is very affordable. The entry level should be just fine for most users and good enough to make the 10 best laptops for students list, but you can also configure this thing with up to an Intel Core i9 processor and 32GB of RAM, upgrading the Dell XPS 15 into an extremely powerful workstation. Now, if Dell would just move that webcam, we’d be gravy.

Read the full review: Dell XPS 15 

Acer Swift 5

6. Acer Swift 5

Get what you need

CPU: 8th-generation Intel Core i5 – i7 | Graphics: Intel UHD Graphics 620 | RAM: 8GB – 16GB | Screen: 15.6-inch FHD (1,920 x 1,080) | Storage: 256GB – 512GB SSD


Beautiful display

Feels cheap

You don’t need some high-end laptop from Apple that looks like it just popped out of a designer catalog… at least, not for school. You need a laptop that’s going to get the job done, and going by that parameter, the Acer Swift 5 should be near the top of the 10 best laptops for students list. This affordable Ultrabook is packed with the latest 8th-generation Intel processors, not to mention enough RAM and SSD storage, to get you through pretty much any homework or project. It’s not the most good-looking laptop in the world, but with that price, looks hardly matter.

Read the full review: Acer Swift 5

Microsoft Surface Pro 6

7. Microsoft Surface Pro 6

Tablet? Laptop? Both.

CPU: 8th generation Intel Core i5 – i7 | Graphics: Intel UHD Graphics 620 | RAM: 8GB – 16GB | Screen: 12.3-inch, 2,736 x 1,824 PixelSense display | Storage: 128GB – 1TB SSD

Quad-core processors

Long battery life

Still no USB-C

The Microsoft Surface lineup has made a name for itself for being among the best Windows devices out there, with gorgeous touch screens, impressive performance and long-lasting battery life. The Surface Pro 6 continues that tradition, even if it doesn’t bring anything new to the table. You’re getting a fast Windows tablet that can easily turn into a laptop with the Surface Type Cover, making it one of the 10 best laptops for students. You can get your work done then effortlessly transition into break time.

Read the full review: Surface Pro 6

Dell Inspiron Chromebook 11 2-in-1

8. Dell Inspiron Chromebook 11 2-in-1

Time to save

CPU: Intel Celeron N3060 | Graphics: Intel HD Graphics 400 | RAM: 4GB | Screen: 11.6-inch, HD (1366 x 768) touchscreen | Storage: 32GB - 64GB eMMC

Well built

Long battery life

Not very powerful

Most schoolwork that’s not specialized (i.e. engineering) can be done on a Chromebook, saving you hundreds of dollars. If you’re a student who’s on the market for one of the 10 best laptops for students that will let you do all your research, type up papers and nothing else, the Dell Inspiron Chromebook 11 2-in-1 might be right up your alley. The Dell Chromebook 11 2-in-1 won’t be able to do much heavy lifting, but at under $300, it doesn’t need to. This is the best laptop for students on a very limited budget.

Read the full review: Dell Inspiron Chromebook 11 2-in-1

Apple MacBook Air (2018)

9. Apple MacBook Air (2018)

The most popular Mac, reborn

CPU: 8th-generation dual-core Intel Core i5 | Graphics: Intel UHD Graphics 617 | RAM: 8GB - 16GB | Screen: 13.3” (2,560 x 1,600) Retina display | Storage: 128GB - 1.5TB SSD

 Thinner and lighter 

 Most affordable Mac 

 Dual-core processing 

Much to many MacBook Air users’ relief, Apple has finally ushered the MacBook Air into the modern age, with 8th-generation fanless processors, a thinner and lighter design, and – perhaps most importantly – a Retina display. You won’t have to compromise on modern features anymore if you want an “affordable Mac,” which makes the MacBook Air one of the 10 best laptops for students, especially those in college.

Read the full review: MacBook Air 

Apple MacBook Pro 15-inch (2018)

10. Apple MacBook Pro 15-inch (2018)

Thin, powerful, elegant

CPU: 8th generation Intel Core i7 – i9 | Graphics: AMD Radeon Pro 555X – Radeon Pro Vega 20, Intel UHD Graphics 630 | RAM: 16GB – 32GB | Screen: 15.4-inch, 2,880 x 1,800 Retina display | Storage: 256GB – 4TB SSD

Gorgeous design 

Stellar performance 


If you have deep pockets, and you’re a macOS addict (we get it), the 2018 MacBook Pro is the most powerful MacBook that’s ever existed. With its formidable hexa-core processors and up to a whopping 32GB of memory, this Cupertino powerhouse is a force to be reckoned with, whether you’re doing school projects, photo editing or gaming. It also includes an overhauled third-generation Butterfly keyboard that will not only be less distracting to the students around you, but will be less prone to failure.

Read the full review: MacBook Pro 15-inch (2018) 

Bill Thomas and Gabe Carey have also contributed to this article.

Images Credit: TechRadar

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