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Best laptops for kids 2021: the top laptops for kids in elementary school and beyond

These are the best laptops for kids
(Image credit: Future)
PRICE
VERDICT
REASONS TO BUY
REASONS TO AVOID
VERDICT
REASONS TO BUY
REASONS TO AVOID

With students preparing to go back to school, retailers and manufacturers will start slashing prices to get your business. So, finding a laptop for your kids at a discount is much more likely in the near future.

Yet, what is the best laptop to buy for a child? It’s easy to pick the cheapest kid-friendly notebook and call it a day, but you might end up with something that won’t do everything your kid needs it to, from online classes to gaming post studying. If you’re on a limited budget, maybe one under $500 will do the trick. You just have to make sure that it’s powerful enough to handle the software they need as well as their school projects and assignments. Additionally, it needs to have enough battery life to get through a school day without needing to be charged and be able to take a bump or two.

There are a variety of options out there, from some great 2-in-1s to excellent Chromebooks and even some affordable tablets. No matter what you’re looking for, we’ve gathered our picks for the best laptops for kids just in time for back to school season. Also make sure you consult our price comparison tool so you find the best deal available.

Google Pixelbook Go ticks off all the requirements of the best laptop for kids and then some.

(Image credit: Google)

1. Google Pixelbook Go

The best mainstream Chromebook

Specifications
CPU: Intel Core m3 – i7
Graphics: Intel UHD Graphics 615
RAM: 8GB – 16GB
Screen: 13.3-inch Full HD – 13.3-inch 4K Ultra HD Molecular Display
Storage: 64GB – 256GB
Reasons to buy
+Amazing ‘Hush’ keyboard+Rare 1080p webcam
Reasons to avoid
-No biometric login

The best laptop for kids must be secure, simple to use and can outlast them past naptime. Google Pixelbook Go ticks off all those requirements and then some, with its astounding battery life and Chrome OS environment. Google rounds those out with an incredible keyboard and a 1080p webcam. This is the Google Pixelbook of your dreams, minus that steep price tag. And, while the kids might enjoy watching their favorite cartoons and playing casual games on that sharp display, you’ll also love using this for that occasional work email you have to squeeze in between spending time with them.

Read the full review: Google Pixelbook Go

The Microsoft Surface Go 2 is a budget option for Surface fans.

(Image credit: Microsoft)

2. Microsoft Surface Go 2

Premium design, more affordable price

Specifications
CPU: 8th Gen Intel Core m3 – Intel Pentium Gold Processor 4425Y
Graphics: Intel UHD Graphics 615
RAM: 4GB – 8GB
Storage: 64GB eMMC – 128GB SSD
Reasons to buy
+Premium design+Affordable+Can run full Windows 10
Reasons to avoid
-No Touch Cover or stylus included-Base model's specs are weak

The Surface Go line proves popular with the more budget-conscious crowd, and its follow up, Surface Go 2, continues that tradition with its reasonable price and premium design. It also runs the full Windows 10 operating system, so it’s even more capable than other tablets out there as far as what applications you can use on it. Finally, it offers a slight bump in performance over its predecessor, giving users a sensible reason to upgrade if they’ve got the money. All those features combined with its portability make the Microsoft Surface Go 2 one of the best laptops for kids for school and gaming.

Read the full review: Microsoft Surface Go 2

The Lenovo IdeaPad Duet Chromebook comes with a removable keyboard.

(Image credit: Lenovo)

3. Lenovo IdeaPad Duet Chromebook

Everything that netbooks should have been

Specifications
CPU: MediaTek Helio P60T Processor
Graphics: ARM G72 MP3 800GHz
RAM: 4GB LPDDR4X
Screen: 10.1" FHD (1920 x 1200) IPS, glossy, touchscreen, 400 nits
Storage: 64GB eMMC
Reasons to buy
+Lightweight and portable+Long battery life+Very affordable
Reasons to avoid
-Tiny keyboard and finicky trackpad-Charger and headphones share a single port

What is the best laptop to buy for a child? Something cheap yet versatile perhaps. True to its name, this Lenovo Chromebook delivers two form factors in one, while utilizing the versatility of the Chrome OS and setting you back much less than many of the top Windows tablets out there. Of course, true to its Chromebook nature, its battery packs an incredibly long life of almost 22 hours – you could pull an all-nighter, use it through the day and mid-afternoon, and you’ll still pass out before it runs out of juice. For this price, sacrifices have to be made, naturally – the keyboard is tiny, the trackpad isn’t as reliable, and the charger and headphones share one port. However, if budget is your top priority, this is definitely among the best laptops for kids, especially for online classes.

Read the full review: Lenovo IdeaPad Duet Chromebook 

The Acer Chromebook Spin 311 is highly portable.

(Image credit: Acer)

4. Acer Chromebook Spin 311

Study hard, play hard

Specifications
CPU: Intel Celeron N4000
Graphics: Intel UHD Graphics 600
RAM: 4GB
Screen: 11.6" HD (1366 x 768) 16:9 IPS touchscreen
Storage: 64GB Flash Memory
Reasons to buy
+More capable AMD APU+Fabulous flip design
Reasons to avoid
-Dim screen-Average battery

The Acer Chromebook Spin 311 opts for an AMD APU, which utilises the well-known Radeon graphics technology for better 3D capabilities - if you have time out of your studies to game! The dual-core AMD processor does offer Celeron beating abilities, by a little at least and so Chrome is going to remain more responsive. More importantly, the Acer Spin 311 feels well made. It’s highly portable and, though the screen disappoints a little by being a touch dull, perfectly usable. At just over eight hours the battery isn’t that strong for a Chromebook, but balancing that against the great price this is a strong choice. 

Read the full review: Acer Chromebook Spin 311 

The HP Chromebook 14 is the best value of any Chromebook out there.

(Image credit: HP)

5. HP Chromebook 14

Striking optimal balance between value and design

Specifications
CPU: Intel Celeron N2840 – N2940
Graphics: Intel HD Graphics
RAM: 2GB – 4GB
Screen: 14-inch, HD (1,366 x 768) BrightView
Storage: 16GB – 32GB eMMC
Reasons to buy
+Excellent keyboard, trackpad+Crisp, vivid screen
Reasons to avoid
-Slower than some rivals-Average battery life

The HP Chromebook 14 balances a bargain price and efficient use of Chrome OS. Complemented by a bright blue finish and a screen made to astound, the HP Chromebook 14 offers the best value of any Chromebook out there. Even if the battery life and performance are average, it’s easily one of the best Chromebooks for kids to date. You’ll be particularly impressed with how slim and light this Chromebook is. And, unlike some other Chromebooks, the HP Chromebook 14 comes with plenty of ports, including HDMI-out, USB 3.0 and a microSD card slot, making this a brilliantly versatile Chromebook for the price.

Read the full review: HP Chromebook 14

The MacBook Air is still among the best laptop for kids who love the macOS environment.

(Image credit: Apple)

6. MacBook Air (M1, 2020)

The best Apple laptop

Specifications
CPU: Apple M1 chip with 8‑core CPU
Graphics: Integrated 7-core – 8-core GPU
RAM: 8GB – 16GB unified memory
Screen: 13.3-inch 2560 x 1600 Retina display
Storage: 256GB – 2TB SSD
Reasons to buy
+macOS Big Sur is fast and responsive+Battery life is great+Silent in use
Reasons to avoid
-Fanless design could impact performance

Apple topped last year off with a bang, rolling out their much-talked-about M1 silicon chip that’s so far been a real game-changer. And, the first laptop to receive it is the company’s thinnest and lightest, putting it on the list of the most exciting Apple laptops of recent years. With this new chip, the MacBook Air is better than ever, touting excellent performance alongside its brilliant battery life – without raising the price to keep it (fairly) affordable still. This is the best MacBook for pretty much everyone, but especially kids and students.

Read the full review: MacBook Air (M1, 2020)

The HP Pavilion 15 comes with impressive specs.

(Image credit: Amazon)

7. HP Pavilion 15

The quintessential learning laptop lives on

Specifications
CPU: up to 11th-generation Intel Core i7
Graphics: up to Nvidia GeForce GTX 1650
RAM: 8GB – 16GB
Screen: 15.6" diagonal, HD (1366 x 768), micro-edge BrightView 250 nits – 15.6" diagonal, FHD (1920 x 1080) touch IPS micro-edge BrightView 250 nits
Storage: up to 1 TB PCIe NVMe M.2 SSD
Reasons to buy
+A few affordable configurations+Plenty capable
Reasons to avoid
-Design is nothing special

The HP Pavilion 15 might not stand out from the crowd in terms of features and design, especially next to the likes of the Spectre x360 line. However, it’s among the best laptops for kids, touting impressive specs you’d expect from mid-range laptops as well as features like speakers from B&O, HP Fast Charge, and the option of a touchscreen display. It also keeps things affordable, at least in the low to mid-range configurations, making it even more appealing to parents.

The Dell G5 15 SE (2020) is the best laptop for kids for gaming.

(Image credit: Dell)

8. Dell G5 15 SE (2020)

A fantastic value gaming laptop

Specifications
CPU: : : : AMD Ryzen 5 4600H – 7 4800H
Graphics: AMD Radeon RX 5600M
RAM: 8GB – 16GB
Screen: 15.6-inch FHD (1920 x 1080) Anti-Glare LED Backlight Non-Touch Narrow Border WVA Display – 15.6 inch FHD(1920x1080) 300nits WVA Anti-Glare LED Backlit Display(non-touch), 144Hz refresh rate
Storage: 256GB – 1TB SSD
Reasons to buy
+Excellent CPU performance+Very affordable for a gaming laptop+Quick and vibrant display
Reasons to avoid
-Gets pretty hot under strain-Plastic build feels flimsy

Though Dell has its premium lines, it’s also been very good at building excellent budget machines. The Dell G5 15 SE (2020) is a very good example of that, touting impressive AMD specs, especially in the CPU department, to keep cost down without compromising performance. Here’s the best laptop for kids gaming, with its staggering performance for the price and a stunning display to boot. Of course, being a budget laptop, it’s great for young users who want a portable they can use for both studying and gaming.

Read the full review: Dell G5 15 SE (2020)

Michelle Rae Uy

Michelle Rae Uy is a Los Angeles-based editor, writer and photographer with a bad case of wanderlust. She is a regular contributor for Thrillist, TravelAge West, HuffPo Travel, Paste Magazine, and Travel Pulse. She has written for publications like Nylon, Fodor's and SmarterTravel, and is also the contributing editor for MiniTime.com.