Best Laptops for College Students in 2020 – Updated by Burbro Editors on July 2nd, 2020
- Best Laptops for College Students in 2020
- 1. Dell XPS 13
- 2. HP Elite Dragonfly
- 3. HP Spectre x360
- 4. Microsoft Surface Pro 7
- 5. Microsoft Surface Book 2
- 6. Apple Macbook Pro
- 7. ASUS Zenbook 13
- 9. ASUS Chromebook Flip C434
- How to Choose the Best Laptops for College Students
- Summary – Best Laptops for College Students
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If you’re going to head off to college, you’ll want to make sure that you have a laptop because it’ll make your life a lot easier on campus. While it’s possible to attend college without a laptop, your experience will be much easier when you own your laptop.
When you don’t own a laptop at college, you’ll have to borrow a laptop for the college or use it from a friend. This can cause a problem because you’ll not be able to use a laptop for late-night studying, and you’ll likely need to sit in the public library to use a college-owned laptop.
On the other hand, if you own your laptop, you can study anywhere on campus, and you’ll be able to study in your dorm after the library closes. You’ll also have access to a secure laptop for other tasks like paying bills, managing your bank account, using social media or even watching videos.
While there are many laptops that you can use for college, you’ll want to ensure that you find the right laptop for your situation. You’ll also want to find a laptop that’s cost-friendly and high quality so that the laptop can last for your years at college.
In this review, we’re going to look at the best laptops for students, whether you’re in college or high school. We’ll also show you what to look for in a laptop and provide a buying guide to help you choose the right laptop.
Best Laptops for College Students in 2020
If you’re looking for a laptop for college, then you’ve come to the right place. In this laptop review, well be taking a look at some of the best laptops for college students, or anyone that needs a laptop for their classes.
- Best Laptop for College Students: Dell XPS 13
- Best for 2-In-1: HP Elite Dragonfly
- Best for Touchscreen: HP Spectre x360
- Best for Portability: Microsoft Surface Pro 7
- Best for Business Students: Microsoft Surface Book 2
- Best for Programming: Apple Macbook Pro
- Best for Budget: Asus Zenbook 13
- Best Under $1000: HP Envy x360
- Best Chromebook for Students: Asus Chromebook Flip C434
1. Dell XPS 13
The Best Laptop for College Students.
RAM: 16GB RAM // Processor: 8th Generation Intel Core i7 1.8GHz Processor // Storage: 512-1TB of SSD Storage // Graphics: Intel Ultra-HD Graphics 620 with 1GB Dedicated Graphics Card // Screen: 13.3-Inch Screen Size // 4K UHD // Infinity Edge Display w/ Built-In Touchscreen
If you’re looking for one of the best laptops for college students, you’ll want to look at the Dell XPS 13 laptop. This laptop is lightweight, easy to carry, and strong enough for any programs that you’ll be using for your college classes.
The Dell XPS 13 comes with a 13.3-inch screen that features the Infinity Edge touch screen. It also comes with protective Gorilla Glass that’s 2x stronger than the regular glass used for laptop screens. This makes it easier for you to use your laptop while ensuring that it’s resistant to damage.
You can also buy the 2-in-1 version of the Dell XPS 13, which makes it easier for you to use. Essentially, the screen of the laptop will disconnect from the keyboard of your laptop, and you’ll be able to use your laptop as a tablet.
One thing that we noticed about the Dell XPS 13 is that it has long-lasting battery life. This is ideal for college students studying in class at the library and around the college campus because you won’t have to worry about charging your laptop while studying.
One of the Best 2-in-1 Laptops for Students.
RAM: 16GB LPDDR3 RAM // Processor: 1.9 GHz Core i7-860 with Quad-Core Processing // Storage: 512GB – 1TB SSD Storage // Graphics: NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1060 with a 6GB Dedicated Graphics Card // Screen: 13-inch-15-Inch Screen Size with PixelSense Display // Built-In Touchscreen Display
As you enter college, you’ll find that it’s easier to use a 2-in1 laptop because you can hold it like a tablet. This makes it easier for you to use in class and as you study on campus. One of the best 2-in-1 laptops for college students is the HP Elite Dragonfly.
The HP Elite Dragonfly comes with a 13-inch touchscreen to operate your laptop with the touch of your hand. With the built-in touchscreen, you’ll find that it’s easier to use your laptop when you’re in class and don’t have a lot of space.
One of the things that we like about the HP Elite Dragonfly is that it comes with a High Definition Webcam. This can come in handy if your college courses are online, or you want to talk with friends from back home.
One of the Best Touchscreen Laptops for Students.
RAM: 16GB DDR4 RAM // Processor: 4.6 GHz Intel Core i7 with Quad-Core Processing // Storage: 512GB -1TB Flash Memory SSD // Graphics: NVIDIA GeForce MX150 with a Dedicated Graphics Card // Screen: 13.3-inch -15.6-Inch Screen Size with 4K UHD Display // Built-In Touchscreen
If you enjoy the versatility of using a touch screen laptop, then you may want to use the HP Spectre x360. This laptop is sleek, easy to use and has enough power for any programs that you’ll be using for your college courses.
The HP Spectre x360 comes with a 13-inch screen or a 15-inch screen, depending on your preference. It also comes with a built-in touchscreen, which makes it easier for you to use your laptop. While this laptop may not come with the 2-in-1 feature, it’s still easy to carry around and use in your classes.
When you’re at college, you’ll want to ensure that your laptop is secure so that nobody can invade your privacy. One of the things that we love about the HP Spectre x360 is that it comes with a fingerprint scanner that you can use to lock your laptop. This will let you secure your laptop, and make sure nobody can unlock it without you.
One of the Best Lightweight Laptops for Students.
RAM: 8GB-16GB RAM // Processor: 10th Gen Intel Core i7, i5 and i3 processors // Storage: 128GB-1TB SSD Storage // Graphics: Intel Iris Plus Graphics with Ultra HD Graphics and Integrated Graphics Card // Screen: 12.3-Inch Screen Size with Touchscreen PixelSense Display
When you’re in college, you may find that it’s easier for you to use a lightweight laptop because they’re easier to use while holding, and they fit in backpacks with ease. If you want to use a lightweight laptop, you may be interested in the Surface Pro 7.
The Microsoft Surface Pro 7 comes with a 12.3-inch screen size with a built-in touchscreen. It also comes with the 2-in-1 feature that allows you to use your laptop like a handheld device, which makes it easier for you to use.
With the Microsoft Surface Pro 7, you’ll have a lightweight laptop that weighs less than 2 lbs. and it is easy to carry around. It also has a long-lasting battery that is ideal for college students that want to study around campus.
One of the Best Laptops for Business Students.
RAM: 16GB LPDDR3 RAM // Processor: 1.9 GHz Core i7-860 with Quad-Core Processing // Storage: 512GB SSD Storage // Graphics: NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1060 with 6GB Dedicated Graphics Card // Screen: 13.5-Inch to 15-Inch Screen Size with Touchscreen PixelSense Display
If you’re in college for business, then you’ll want a laptop that looks professional in case you’re going to visit a future employer, or even pitch potential clients for your startup ideas. One of the best laptops for business students is the Microsoft Surface Book 2 Laptop.
The Microsoft Surface Book 2 features a 13.5-inch or 15-inch screen, depending on your preference. It also comes with a touchscreen and the 2-in-1 feature that you can use your laptop as a tablet for presentations to potential clients or investors.
While this laptop is powerful enough to run the software and other intensive programs, it doesn’t seem to drain the battery life. This is a nice feature for any college student because they won’t need to worry about charging their laptop throughout the day.
One of the Best Laptops for Programming Students.
RAM: 32GB DDR4 RAM // Processor: Intel Core i5 with 1.4GHz Quad-Core Processor // Storage: 128GB-512GB Ultra Fast SSD // Graphics: Intel Iris Plus Graphics 645 // Screen: 13.3-Inch to 16-Inch Touchscreen Screen with True Tone Technology // LED Backlit Display
When you’re going to college for programming, you’ll need a laptop with a lot of storage while having good graphics and being fast. If you’re interested in one of the best laptops for programmers, you’ll want to look at the Apple Macbook Pro.
The Apple Macbook Pro features a 13.3-Inch to 16-inch Display with a built-in touchscreen, which makes it easier for you to operate your laptop. It also comes with True Tone Technology and Retina Display, which provides better clarity while designing websites.
The Macbook Pro also has a battery life that lasts for 11 hours, which is ideal for programmers. You’ll be able to use your laptop without worrying about it dying on you and losing valuable files that weren’t saved on your laptop’s hard drive.
One of the Best Budget Laptops for Students.
RAM: 8GB LPDDR3 RAM // Processor: Intel Core i5-8265u with Quad-Core Processors // Storage: 512GB PCIe SSD Storage // Graphics: Intel HD Graphics 620 with 8GB Integrated Graphics Card //Screen: 13.3-Inch FHD Nano Edge Display
As a college student, you’ll likely be trying to save money to afford to attend college. If this is the case, you’ll want to take a look at budget laptops for college, such as the ASUS Zenbook 13.
The ASUS Zenbook 13 comes with a 13.3-inch screen with a Nano edge display for better clarity. It also features an ultra-thin build that weighs under 3 lbs, making it easier for you to carry around in a backpack at college.
One of the things that we love about the Zenbook 13 is that the battery is designed to charge quickly while holding its charge for a while. With this laptop, you’ll be able to operate your computer for up to 14 hours and charge 60% of your laptop in under 50 minutes of charging.
8. HP Envy x360
One of the Best Student Laptops under $1000.
RAM: 8GB DDR RAM // Processor: AMD Quad-Core Ryzen 5 2500U Processor // Storage: 256GB SSD Storage // Graphics: AMD Radeon RX Vega 8 Graphics Integrated // Screen: 15.6 Screen Size with IPS Touchscreen WLED Display
Another budget laptop that you may be interested in is the HP Envy x360 laptop. While there are models of this laptop that will exceed the $1000 price range, you can get a model for this price if you opt for less storage on your hard drive.
The HP Envy x360 comes with a 15.6-inch touchscreen display and a micro-edge for wider display. It also comes with the 2-in-1 feature that allows you to use your laptop like a tablet, which makes it easier to use in class.
One of the many things that we like about the HP Envy x360 is that it comes with a fingerprint scanner for security purposes. With this scanner, you can secure your laptop and ensure that nobody can gain access to your laptop unless you’re in the room.
One of the Best Chromebooks for College Students.
RAM: 4GB-8GB LPDDR3 RAM // Processor: Intel Core m3-8100Y Processor 1.1 GHz with Dual Core Processor // Storage: 64GB eMCC Storage // Graphics: Intel HD Graphics 615 with 1GB Dedicated Graphics Card // Screen: 14-Inch Screen Display with Nano Edge Display and Built-in Touchscreen
When you’re in college, you may not want a laptop with all the bells and whistles of the latest laptop laptops on the market. If this is the case, you may want to opt for a more straightforward option, such as the ASUS Chromebook Flip.
The ASUS Chromebook Flip C434 features a 14-Inch touchscreen that comes with Nano-Edge technology for wider display. It also comes with the 2-in-1 feature that allows you to use your Chromebook as a tablet.
With this Chromebook, you’ll find that it’s thin and lightweight. This is primarily due to the light aluminum frame, which adds strength to the laptop’s structure, but weighs less than 3lbs, making it easier to carry.
How to Choose the Best Laptops for College Students
While it may seem confusing to find the best laptops for college students, we’ll guide you through finding the right laptop. In this section of our laptop review, we’re going to look at how to buy the right laptop.
Here are some of the features to look for in a student laptop.
1. Operating System
When choosing a laptop for college, you’ll want to decide on the operating system (OS) you’d like to use. This will often determine the brand of laptop that you’re going to use for college.
Some of the standard operating systems include:
Your personal preferences will determine the operating system that you decide to use. For example, if you love the Windows interface, then you’ll want to go with a laptop that has Windows. If you enjoy using Apple products, then you may want to use the macOS because it’ll mean you’re buying a laptop made by Apple.
If you prefer to have more customization and security, you may want to install the Linux OS on your laptop. On the other hand, if you enjoy using Chromebooks, you’ll use the Chrome OS by Google.
2. Screen Size
Once you’ve decided on the operating system that you’d like to use, it’s time to choose the screen size for your laptop. This will be based on your preferences, but it’s an essential part of choosing the right laptop.
Here are some of the common laptop screen sizes:
- 11-Inch Laptop – The smallest laptop that you can find for college is the 11-inch laptop. This laptop is quite small and may be difficult to use for your college courses. While this size of a laptop may be more comfortable to carry around, the screen is quite small for long-term use.
- 13-Inch Laptop – If you’re going to use your laptop for hours, you’ll want to use a computer with a larger screen. The 13-inch screen is one of the more common laptops because it’s small enough to carry around while being large enough to use for hours at a time.
- 15-Inch Laptop – Another popular screen size is the 15-inch laptop. This is because the 15-inch laptops will have a comfortably sized screen while being able to be carried around in a backpack. If you’re using an Apple laptop, you’ll find that the screen size is 16-inches wide.
- 17-Inch Laptop – While the 17-inch laptops may not be as common, they have their pros and cons. For starters, they’re easier to use once you have them set up. However, they’re more bulky and difficult to carry around. If you’re going to use your laptop for college, then we’d recommend you use a 13-inch or 15-inch laptop for your studies.
When choosing the size of your laptop screen, you’ll want to consider how you’ll be using your laptop. If you’re going to be commuting to classes, then you may want a smaller laptop. However, if you can set up your computer with ease, you’ll benefit from a larger screen size.
3. Type of Laptop
After you’ve chosen the size of your laptop screen, you’ll want to select the model of laptop that you’d like to use. Typically, there are three types of laptops that you can use for your college classes.
Here are the types of laptops that you can choose:
- 2-In-1 Laptops – With the 2-in-1 laptops, you’ll be able to use your laptop like a traditional computer, or use your laptop as a tablet. This is because the 2-in-1 laptops will allow you to disconnect your laptop from the keyboard and use it as a handheld device. If you’re going to college, you may find that this feature is handy on your laptop.
- Traditional Laptops – When you use a regular laptop, you’ll find that you won’t be able to disconnect your screen from the keyboard. Instead, your laptop will be permanently connected and use hinges to open and close. With this feature, you may find that it’s easier to set up a workplace that you can use to study for hours.
- Touchscreen Laptops – If you’re going to be using your laptop for college, you may want to choose a computer with a touchscreen. A touch screen laptop will make it easier for you to operate your computer. Whether you’re using a 2-in-1 laptop or a traditional laptop, you’ll want to choose a touchscreen laptop.
If you’re wondering which type of laptop is the best, it’ll depend on your daily routine. If your college campus doesn’t have large work areas, you may want the 2-in-1 laptop for ease of use. However, you may enjoy using a traditional laptop for your studies if you can find a comfortable workplace.
Now that we’ve taken a look at your laptop’s exterior features, it’s time to look at the interior specs of your computer. The specs on your computer will determine if your computer has lots of storage, operates quickly, and is suited for your college’s daily routines.
Here are some of the necessary specs to look at:
- Processor – The processors on your laptop will ultimately determine how fast your laptop can operate. If your laptop doesn’t have enough processors, you’ll find that your laptop is laggy and runs slowly. We would recommend that you choose a laptop with quad-core processors or better so that your laptop can operate effectively.
- RAM – The laptops RAM Means ‘Random Access Memory’ and is used to access files, open tabs or programs quickly. When your laptop has a lot of RAM, you’ll be able to leave your tabs running without them timing out and crashing. You can then open up those tabs or programs without any lag or slow response time. We would recommend that you choose a laptop with at least 8GB of RAM if you want your laptop to run smoothly.
- Storage – When you’re choosing a laptop for college, you’ll also want to look at your laptop’s storage capacity. If your laptop doesn’t have enough storage, you may find that it’s difficult to store your projects or other files without having to delete files for more storage. We would recommend that you choose a laptop with at least 256GB of storage. However, you’ll be better off with 500GB of storage or more.
- Graphics Card – While the graphics card may not be an important factor for college students, it is something that you’ll want to look at if you’ll be editing photos or gaming on the weekends. Typically, your laptop should have a decent graphics card for college use, and you won’t need to worry about this aspect.
While there are other specs you may want to choose, these are some of the essential specs you’ll need to decide on when choosing a laptop. Always remember that these specs will be based on your preferences and how you’ll be using your laptop while you’re at college.
5. Privacy / Security Features
When you’re using your laptop on campus, you’ll want to ensure that your laptop is secure so that you can protect your privacy. If you’re not careful, then people can watch what you’re doing, hack your laptop or even see your passcode and then steal your laptop and use the passcode to unlock your laptop.
Some of the security features that you may want will include:
- Fingerprint Scanner – When you’re using a laptop, you’ll want to use a passcode, but a passcode isn’t always secure. There’s always a chance that someone can watch you type in your passcode and then unlock your laptop later. With a fingerprint scanner, you won’t need a passcode, which means nobody can unlock your laptop without you being there.
- Privacy Screen Protectors – While laptops don’t come with a blackout screen protector, you can buy them at any tech store. These privacy screens will block anyone from seeing your screen unless they’re directly in front of your laptop. This will ensure that nobody can use a camera to zoom in on your laptop and invade your privacy.
- Kill Switches – With the Kill switch, you’ll be able to shut off access to your camera and microphone on your laptop. These are good security measures to have in place to protect yourself online, but they can also help avoid interruptions from your friends or family while you’re in class.
- Password Protected Screen Savers – Once you have your laptop, you should always select a setting that makes your laptop fall asleep in under 1 minute of inactivity. You should also require a passcode if you’re trying to access your computer after it has been in sleep mode. This will ensure that nobody will gain access to your computer while you’re away from your computer.
- Use a VPN – If you’re going to use your laptop for college, you may want to choose a VPN and install it on your computer. A Virtual Private Network (VPN) will protect your privacy while you’re online and ensure that you’re protected from hackers that are also using the public wifi to search for and gain access to unsecured devices.
When you have security measures in place to protect your laptop, you’ll be protecting yourself from online harm. You’ll also demotivate anyone who wants to steal your computer when you’re not looking because a locked laptop is no good to a thief.
6. Other features
While we’ve taken a look at some of the standard features that you may want in a laptop, there are other features that you might want to have included in your computer for college. These features may not be essential, but they’ll make your life easier when it comes to using your computer.
Here are some additional features that you may want on your laptop.
- Battery Life – If you’re going to use your laptop for college, you’ll want a laptop with long battery life. You’ll want a long battery life, or else you’ll always have to sit near a power outlet to work on your projects, which can be difficult to find on some college campuses.
- USB Ports – When you’re using your laptop for college, you’ll want to ensure that your laptop comes with adequate USB ports. You’ll wish to extra USB ports so that you can charge your phone while you’re studying in class while being able to use a wireless mouse for your laptop.
- HDMI Ports – When you’re at college, you may need to use your laptop for presentations. If you need to connect your laptop to a larger screen, then you’ll need to use the HDMI port so that you can display your screen onto a larger monitor for your class to view.
- Keyboard – If you’re going to college, you’ll be using your laptop for a lot of writing. When you’re shopping for a student laptop, you’ll want to ensure that the keyboard is comfortable, or else it’ll be challenging to finish your projects in a timely fashion.
- Headphone Jack – While you’re working on your projects, you’ll likely want to listen to music. If this is the case, you’ll want to ensure that your laptop comes with a headphone jack to listen to music. While you can use Bluetooth headphones, it can cause problems when you’re studying all day and don’t have time to charge your headphones.
If you think of other features that you would like on your laptop, you may want to add them to this list of additional features. This will ensure that you find a computer that meets your needs and fits your daily lifestyle.
As with any large purchase, you’ll want to protect yourself with a warranty. While you’d like to assume that your college laptop will be made correctly and have no issues, there can be manufacturer defects that can cause problems.
When you buy a laptop, your laptop will usually come with a 6-month warranty that you can use to protect yourself from any issues that you may experience. However, we would recommend that you find a laptop with a warranty that lasts for more than 1-year to ensure that you have better buyer’s protection with your purchase.
If your laptop doesn’t come with a good warranty, you may want to take it to a tech store and get a 3rd party warranty. This will protect you in the future if anything happens to your laptop, and you need to get it fixed.
8. Price Range
When you’re purchasing a laptop, you’ll want to ensure that you set a budget so that you don’t spend too much money on your computer. While it may be easy to spend more money on a better laptop, you may end up regretting your decision once you’ve got your computer home and realize that you need to pay for it.
As a college student, you’ll likely want to be even more careful with your money to afford to go to college with as little debt as possible. One of the ways that you can do this is by choosing a laptop that is within your price range.
We would recommend that you set a budget before you begin shopping for a laptop that you can use for college. You’ll find that the budget will eliminate any options that are too expensive, and it’ll make it easier for you to find the right laptop.
Summary – Best Laptops for College Students
We hope that this article has helped you find the best laptop for college. If you’re unsure about which laptop is right for you, then you may want to create a list of daily tasks that you’ll need your computer to perform. You can then use that list to search for a specific laptop that meets your needs.
You can also use our laptop buying guide to help you find the right laptop for college, and gain insight into the various features that you may need. While these features aren’t all essentials to have on your college laptop, they can make your life a lot easier.