The best student laptops: all the best options for school

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Education isn’t cheap. After all,, tuition, books, accommodation and food all add up.  However, it doesn’t mean you have to spend a fortune on buying the best laptops for students. Not only do these budget minded laptops have great style and plenty of power, but they’ll do it with an eye for value.

However, when you’re buying textbooks and ramen, saving up for a shiny new laptop can be quite hard, so the best student laptops will put value above having the best processors and graphics cards. You won’t be limited to Windows 10, either – the best Chromebooks are some of the best laptops for college students, as you can get all your work done while saving hundreds of dollars.

School can get stressful, trust us, we know – but that’s why you should make sure you only have the best student laptops. No one wants the added stress of running around campus with a dying laptop – especially when you’re in the middle of a project. So, we gathered up some of the best laptops for students, because no one should be limited to some old clunker just to get some work done.

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
 Powerful  
 Limited to 8GB of RAM 

Here at TechRadar, we love it when a laptop can perfectly balance price and performance without any compromises, and the Huawei MateBook 13 comes closer to hitting that perfect balance than anything in 2019 so far. Thin, light, quick and affordable, this beautiful 13-inch Ultrabook will let you get all your work done in style, without dragging down on your wallet. The battery life is a little weak, but that’s a worthy sacrifice to make here – just carry the charger around with you.

Read the full review: Huawei MateBook 13 

Best laptops for college students 2019

2. Huawei Matebook X Pro

Bringing luxury to learning

CPU: 8th-generation Intel Core i7-8550U | Graphics: Intel UHD Graphics 620, Nvidia GeForce MX150 | RAM: 16GB | Screen: 13.9-inch 3K (3,000 x 2,000) LED with touch panel | Storage: 512GB SSD

Gorgeous design 
Long battery life 
No SD card slot 

Once in a while, we’ll get our hands on a laptop that completely flips the script – the Huawei Matebook X Pro is one such laptop. Not only does it feature powerful, modern components like 8th-generation Kaby Lake R processors and 16GB of RAM, it’s also beautiful – incorporating all the latest trends in Ultrabook design. What’s more impressive, it manages to do all this while being much more affordable than the competition. This is what makes it one of the best laptops for students – you’re not going to get a more powerful laptop for less cash than the MateBook X Pro – at least until the MateBook X Pro 2019 gets here

Read the full review: Huawei Matebook X Pro 

  • Australian readers, the Matebook X Pro has finally been officially released Down Under, but this Australian stock is only being sold via the Microsoft Store at present... and that limited availability means both models on offer (priced at $1,899 and $2,599) keep quickly selling out. If there's none available at the above link, we'd suggest checking back in one to two weeks.

best laptops for college students 2019

3. 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 
 Powerful 
 Small upgrade 

The Dell XPS 13 has always been among the best laptops – for college students, professionals and even everyday users. But, now that Dell has brought back the entry-level option, it’s affordable for college students once more. Dell has also fixed the biggest bugbear – the webcam. Dell found a way to move the webcam up to the top of the display, so that your friends won’t have to stare up your nose when you’re in a video call. 

Read the full review: Dell XPS 13 

best laptops for college students 2019

4. 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 first Surface Laptop was already one of the best student laptops, it was held back by sub-par performance, a lack of ports and Windows 10 in S Mode. With the Surface Laptop 2, however, everything is better – except for the ports. It’s packed with 8th-generation 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’ll be able to get all your work done in style with this laptop.

Read the full review: Surface Laptop 2

best laptops for college students 2019

5. 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

Affordable 
Fantastic build quality 
Pentium CPU 

The way we look at it, the best laptop for college students will strive to hit a golden balance between price and performance, without looking like you pulled it out of your dad’s study. The Microsoft Surface Go, then, isn’t just one of the best Windows tablets, but it’s one of the best laptops for college students, period. Don't’ be fooled by the low power components, either – Microsoft has engineered this 2-in-1 to be able to keep up with your schoolwork without breaking a sweat. You can’t do much better than the Surface Go, especially if you’re on a budget.

Read the full review: Microsoft Surface Go 

best laptops for college students 2019

6. 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) - 4K UHD (3,840 x 2,160) LED with optional touch panel | Storage: 1TB 5,400RPM HDD - 1TB PCIe SSD

Plenty of horsepower  
Affordable 
More of the same 

Dell’s XPS lineup has been among the best laptops for college students for years now, and the new XPS 15 is no different. Taking the approach of ‘if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it’, not much has changed year over year – but that’s not necessarily a bad thing. What you’re getting here is a reliable Ultrabook with enough horsepower to carry you through all of your coursework without costing an arm and a leg. While the entry level is perfectly fine for most people, you can configure this thing with up to a Core i9 CPU and 32GB of RAM, transforming the Dell XPS 15 into a killer media editing workstation. We just wish Dell would move that webcam.

Read the full review: Dell XPS 15 

best laptops for college students 2019

7. Microsoft Surface Pro 6

Tablet? Laptop? Both.

CPU: 8th generation Intel Core i5 – i7 | Graphics: Intel UHD Graphics 620 | RAM: 4GB – 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 built a reputation for itself for being among the best Windows devices out there – gorgeous touch screens, incredible performance and long battery life. The Surface Pro 6 continues this tradition, even if it doesn’t bring anything new to the table. What you’re getting here is a speedy Windows tablet that can effortlessly turn into a laptop through the Surface Type Cover. You can get your work done and then effortlessly transition into break time.  

Read the full review: Surface Pro 6

best laptops for college students 2019

8. Lenovo Flex 6 14

A prodigious value for college students

CPU: Intel Pentium 4415U - Intel Core i5-8250U | Graphics: Intel HD Graphics 620 | RAM: 8GB DDR4 | Screen: 14-inch FHD (1,920 x 1,080) IPS; multi-touch; anti-glare | Storage: Up to 256GB SSD

Powerful enough for daily tasks 
Affordable 
Lower-end models not worth it 

College gets expensive – you can’t avoid it. That’s why the best laptops for college students will offer awesome performance at a decent price, much like the Lenovo Flex 14. At under a four-digit price, there’s something to be said about getting an Ultrabook that can handle anything the semester throws at you – and the Lenovo Flex 14 looks good to boot. You won’t find a better laptop at a lower price.

Read the full review: Lenovo Flex 6 14 

best laptops for college students 2019

9. Apple MacBook Air (2018)

The most popular Mac, reborn

CPU: 8th-generation dual-core Intel Core i5 | Graphics: Intel UHD Graphics 617 | Screen: 13.3-inch, 2,560 x 1,600 Retina display (backlit LED, IPS) | Storage: 256GB-1.5TB SSD

 Thinner and lighter 
 Most affordable Mac 
 Dual-core processing 

We were left waiting for Apple to renew the MacBook Air for years, as it languished with a 5th-generation Intel Core processor and an out of date, low-resolution display. Thankfully, those days are over. Apple has 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. No more do you have to compromise on modern features if you want an “affordable Mac”, and that makes the MacBook Air one of the best laptops for college students.

Read the full review: MacBook Air 

best laptops for college students 2019

10. Apple MacBook Pro 15-inch (2018)

Thin, powerful, elegant

CPU: 8th generation Intel Core i7 – i9 | Graphics: AMD Radeon Pro 555X – 560X, Intel UHD Graphics 630 | RAM: 16GB – 32GB | Screen: 15.4-inch, 2,880 x 1,800 Retina display | Storage: 512GB – 4TB SSD

Gorgeous design 
Stellar performance 
Expensive 

If you’re not too concerned with cash, and you’re a macOS addict (we get it), the 2018 MacBook Pro is the most powerful MacBook that’s ever existed. With its impressive hexa-core processors, and up to a whopping 32GB of memory, this cupertino workstation will get you through whatever you throw at it. It also includes the much-improved third generation Butterfly keyboard that will not only be less distracting to the students around you, but will be less prone to failure if some dust comes within 10 feet.

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

  • Want more choices? Check out our list of the best laptop 2019
  • Images Credit: TechRadar

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