Best laptops for College students in 2021
If you are a student and looking for the best college laptop so you can do your exams, play games, or stream TV in your free time, you will find that there are so many choices models and prices in the market. We have done some research and short-listed these value-focused and top-rated models to make your work easier.
A laptop is an essential learning tool for students just like textbooks. It should assist you in learning and doing all your extracurricular activities. Most universities and colleges implement remote learning and in-person learning to meet every student’s learning needs. If you only go to campus for a few days and study at home for the rest of the week, a good laptop that you can use at any place is important.
In these trying times, the laptop you choose should respect your planned budget and it should last for a long time, preferably for at least 5 years. Luckily, we have recommended the best laptop for college students that fit all the descriptions above without draining your pockets.
Here are some basics you should keep in mind when choosing the best laptop for college students.
First: Do Some Research on Your College Requirements
The first important step to take is to check whether your school has a specific laptop system requirement. They may have some recommendations or not. Secondly, it’s important to know how to pick a laptop for school, what to look out for, and such.
Most universities and colleges want their students to purchase laptops equipped with windows based software. This helps lower software compatibility problems and ensure that technical support is concentrated in one area.
Other institutions don’t care what OS you want to use, it can be windows, Mac OS, or you can even use Linux if you are the hardcore type.
Some institutions even provide laptop repair services for laptops purchased from the school or an affiliate store in the school. These services have a quick turnaround time compared to sending the laptop to the manufacturer for repairs.
Size and Weight: Keep it Light
Not all students will agree but depending on the distance you will be carrying the laptop every day, a notebook with a big screen may not be a good idea.
It’s great to have a mini home theater with the latest games on a big screen with 1080p, but a laptop weighing 6 pounds and above will be a chore to carry from class to class.
If the size of the laptop matters less than convenience, then a super-thin portable laptop might be your best choice.
For most students, a 13 to 14-inch screen panel is enough as it will leave some room for other items you might need to carry and minimize the weight.
Assuming resolution and zoom level is the same in a wide and small screen laptop, a smaller display works well as long as you know that full web pages will involve more scrolling and fonts will be smaller than a large-screen display.
Most students computing time is spent on writing essays, chatting online with other classmates, and research papers, so a comfortable touchpad and a full-size keyboard are very crucial.
How Much Power Do You Require?
Laptops have different processor power across all usage cases. There are some that maximize performance and some battery life. You can select a laptop with the strength you really need or choose one with both strengths.
If you are a gamer, you might want to choose a laptop with a processor that can handle that. Most general use laptops don’t have the necessary graphics cards to play games smoothly because they are not made for that.
Unless you are a student who heavily relies on CAD software, integrated graphics solutions should be able to help you complete your day-to-day tasks easily. Our reviews detail every performance level.
Storage Solutions Available
Cloud storage and web applications have reduced the need of having a large local storage space. But this should not stop you from ensuring that your laptop has the storage space you need.
If you want to store large files or install a lot of programs, you will need at least 500GB of local space and at least 4GB of RAM. If you don’t need all that storage space or won’t require it in the future, you can comfortably get by with a laptop that has less space.
Whatever you choose, remember that the storage space greatly affects the speed of your computer.
A solid-state drive (SSD) has a snappy feeling and is much faster compared to a hard drive. Hard drives are cheap and you get more space for less money, but the speed is very slow and might be a problem if you need a fast computer.
We strongly recommend that you use SSD for laptops that you will be carrying around because SSD doesn’t easily get damaged when dropped. SSDs give your laptop a snappier feel.
So, which is the Best Laptop for College?
There are many choices in the market today and slogging through them all just to choose the best can be a doubting task, that’s why we did all that work for you. swipe and scroll down to check which one is the hottest laptop for this school year.
HP Envy (2013)
The HP Envy 13 is a near-perfect Ultrabook that has a clear and bright 4k display, long battery life, and offers you fast performance at a reasonable price. It has some fantastic features with stellar performance and it’s a light portable laptop designed for students and everyday casual users.
This amazing laptop has a battery life of up to 12 hours mixed usage, 9 hours and 45 minutes video playback and 5 hours and 45 minutes wireless streaming. This makes it the best option for students who are always on the move and don’t have enough time to keep recharging.
The HP Envy 13 weighs 2.28 pounds only which makes ideal if you commuting regularly, you can carry the laptop from class to class without being weighed down by the weight.
This HP Envy laptop has a sleek, silver metallic frame with a stylish HP logo at the center of the lid. The interior design resembles that of Spectre X360.
Also on the deck is a slim power button with an LED strip, opposite a fingerprint sensor. A chrome trim around the touchpad and some unobtrusive Envy and HP branding give this reasonably-priced notebook a premium aesthetic.
Adopted from HP’s pricier Spectre laptops are the Envy 13’s slim display bezels. While not as thin as those on some Dell and Asus laptops, the narrow black frame around the Envy’s panel provides an immersive viewing experience without sacrificing the webcam.
While not as thin as those on some Dell and Asus laptops, the narrow black frame around the Envy’s panel provides an immersive viewing experience without sacrificing the webcam.
The Envy 13 sits on its flat back edge, which drops below the base when you lift the lid and angle the deck slightly downward. From what we’ve seen on Asus and Dell laptops, the feature allows for a more comfortable typing experience and improved airflow.
Another clever feature is the Envy 13’s concave edges. If you’ve ever owned an Ultrabook, then you know how hard it can be to open the lid. Inward-angled edges on the lid and base of the Envy 13 solve this problem by giving your fingers a place to grip.
Despite that showing, the Envy 13’s FHD and 4K panels look fairly vibrant because of how bright they get. At 411 nits of brightness on the 1080p panel and 397 nits of peak luminance on the 4K display, the Envy 13 handily outshines the displays in previous models.
- Lightweight chassis
- Fast performance
- Powerful speakers
- Long battery life
- It does not have thunderbolt 3
- Short battery life on 4k model
Dell XPS 13 (2021)
The Dell XPS 13 is the best laptop for college students on the market, but its success has caused the XPS 13 2-in-1 to be somewhat overshadowed. It doesn’t help that early versions of the laptop/tablet hybrid suffered from poor battery life and a clunky chassis. The 2020 model, however, should help the XPS 13 2-in-1 step out of the shadows of its sibling and into the spotlight.
The new XPS 13 2-in-1 is without question among the best 2-in-1 laptops you can buy. That shouldn’t come as a surprise. Dell smartly used the XPS 13 as a blueprint for the XPS 13 2-in-1, an almost identical laptop, but with the ability to transform into a tablet.
New features to this year’s edition make the XPS 13 2-in-1 more appealing than before. Intel’s 11th Gen Tiger Lake CPUs with Iris Xe Graphics deliver a solid performance and graphics boost from the previous chips. The XPS 13 2-in-1 also received a quality-of-life improvement in the way of an IR camera, so you can stop typing in passwords. And although the design is unchanged, a new Frost lid matches the white color option.
There are still a few shortcomings you should consider before buying the XPS 13 2-in-1, like its shallow keyboard and lack of legacy ports. However, with a bright 13.4-inch screen, long battery life, and stunning design, the XPS 13 2-in-1 makes it hard for us to recommend anything else.
the main advantage the XPS 13 2-in-1 has over its clamshell sibling is the ability to convert into a tablet. You can also position the laptop in tent mode or fold the keyboard away when you’re reading, watching shows and movies. The hinge has just the right amount of resistance; the screen doesn’t wobble when I tap on it yet rotating the display back doesn’t take much effort.
The FHD+ screen with a 16:10 aspect ratio looks great. Although it isn’t the most colorful on paper, it has a vibrant, crisp and bright panel good for watching videos and browsing the web.
Unlike the traditional keys on the XPS 13, the XPS 13 2-in-1 has a Maglev keyboard that feels eerily similar to the now-extinct Butterfly keyboard. The keys have practically no travel — they barely descend before actuating, which creates the feeling of tapping on a flat surface. Bottoming out is inevitable and these magnet-driven keys are rather loud compared to traditional spring-operated ones.
- Slim and stylish
- High-quality build
- A long battery life
- Very fast
- Bright display
- It does not have USB-A ports
- Shallow keyboard
Bottom line, the Dell XPS 13 is a remarkable laptop for college students and productivity. Additionally, it receives our Editor’s Choice award for best productivity laptop and also features as one of our best laptops for project managers laptops.
HP Envy x360 13 (2020)
HP’s Envy line is a longtime favorite of ours. It’s the company’s midrange brand, positioned below the flagship Spectre lineup and above the entry-level Pavilion models.
The 13-inch Envy laptop is available in either a conventional clamshell chassis or the x360 model (13z-ay000) reviewed here. The latter has a 360-degree hinge that lets you use it as a conventional laptop, prop it up as a tent or easel, or fold the keyboard flush with the display for use as a tablet.
Inside, the Envy x360 13 offers a choice of AMD Ryzen 3, Ryzen 5, or Ryzen 7 processors, 8GB or 16GB of memory, and up to 1TB of solid-state storage.
All configurations use the AMD Radeon Graphics built into the Ryzen processor to handle graphics output. Our review unit is a mid-level configuration, with a six-core Ryzen 5 4500U, 8GB of memory, and a 256GB solid-state drive.
The Envy x360 13’s touch-screen display measures 13.3 inches diagonally, common screen size for ultra-portables. It’s available only in full HD (1,920-by-1,080-pixel) resolution, which I find perfectly adequate for most tasks, though you may occasionally see slightly fuzzy text.
The Envy x360 13 offers a comfortable typing experience, with well-spaced keys that feel sturdy and make a satisfying thud when you press them. I especially appreciate the modern-looking, oversize font used for the key labels. The keyboard is backlit, and it features dedicated Home, End, Page Up, and Page Down keys along the right edge.
In addition to the two USB Type-A ports, there’s also a single USB-C port, a headphone jack, a power port, and a microSD card reader. Wireless connections on our review unit include 802.11ax Wi-Fi 6 and Bluetooth 5, although the entry-level version supports the older 802.11ac Wi-Fi standard.
- Comfortable keyboard for typing
- Fast performance
- Thin and light
- High build quality
- Cramped touchpad
Whether it’s a slim, light word processor or a powerhouse for design and engineering, college students can be sure: Sporting a laptop will make their courses much easier. But figuring out how to buy a laptop that, ideally, lasts through four years of college can be stressful — there are lots of models to choose from. After all, this is the machine that’s going to power Netflix nights, note-taking, essay writing and, depending on the college major, programs like video editing or 3D modeling.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)
What is a good memory for a laptop for a college student?
For a typical college student, 4GB of RAM is suffice as the average user utilizes about 3.5GB. Feel free to grab 6 or 8GB if you want a bit of extra room. But keep in mind RAM is just the amount of programs you can run simultaneously. For typing a paper, streaming music, while checking social networking, 4GB should be more than suffice. Taking into account the programs you’re likely to need and install with the music you may download to your laptop, aim for 500GB of local storage and you should be more than good.
What operating system is best for college students?
The best operating system is the one that best fits your needs. If you’re studying graphic design and prefer to work with Adobe, Windows 10 students may be the best choice for you. On the other hand, if you only need a laptop that can run a writing software and plagiarism checker, Chrome OS may be the most intuitive interface you can use. Who is the winner in the war of Google chrome OS vs Windows 10, Windows 10 vs Mac OS, or Windows 10 vs Chrome OS depends on you.