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The best student laptops: all the best options for school

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The 10 best laptops for students

The best laptop for students beautifully balance value and performance, so that they can deliver the level of performance students need for schoolwork while saving them some cash as well. After all, school can get very expensive very fast without even factoring in shelling out some money to purchase one of the best laptops for students.

With Black Friday and Cyber Monday rapidly approaching, now is an excellent time to start researching the best student laptops of 2019.

Make sure you also check out our dedicated guide to the best Black Friday laptop deals of 2019 as well.

Staying on budget matters a lot, especially for college students who also need to pay for housing and are already scrimping with their steady diet of instant ramen. However, performance also matters, so that not just any budget laptop will do. The best laptops for students also deliver a performance good enough for getting schoolwork and projects done, with a bit of video streaming, movie watching and perhaps some gaming in between.

The top contenders for the best laptops for students put value over having the top-of-the-line processors and graphics cards, giving you some budget-friendly options. And yet, they still have enough juice to get you through a demanding workload then let you partake in some post-schoolwork entertainment.

You don’t need to stay with Windows 10, either, as some of the best Chromebooks are also capable of going head to head with some of the best laptops while being economical.

Going to school can be a stressful time. You don’t need the added frustration of having to work on a barely functioning laptop. So we sought out the 10 best laptops for students that are ideal for your budget, no matter how low. Because no one should be restricted to an ancient relic just to get some work done, but you shouldn’t have to sell an organ, either.

The best student laptops 2019 at a glance:

  1. Huawei Matebook 13
  2. Dell XPS 13
  3. Surface Laptop 2
  4. Microsoft Surface Go
  5. Dell XPS 15
  6. HP Envy x360 13 (2019)
  7. Microsoft Surface Pro 6
  8. Dell Inspiron Chromebook 11 2-in-1
  9. Apple MacBook Air (2019)
  10. MacBook Pro (15-inch, 2019)

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
 Powerful  
 Limited to 8GB of RAM 

We’re massive fans of laptops that can skillfully strike a balance between price and performance with hardly any compromises, and the Huawei MateBook 13 comes closer to than anything else in 2019 so far. It’s light and compact, perfect for carrying in your backpack while you hurry from class to class; but it’s fast and affordable as well. This stunning 13-inch Ultrabook will make sure you’ll get all your work done in style, without burning a hole in your pocket. Sure, you might need to keep that charger on hand if you want it to last you the whole day, as the battery life is underwhelming. However, there’s still no doubt that the Huawei Matebook 13 deserves its lofty spot on the 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 
 Powerful 
 Small upgrade 

Dell’s flagship laptop has always been rated as one of the best laptops for students, not to mention among the most ideal devices for professionals and casual, everyday users. This time around, the Dell XPS 13 2019 welcomes back the entry-level model, making it affordable enough for college students once again. Dell has also addressed our biggest frustration with the XPS lineup – the webcam. It has finally been moved back above the display where it belongs. This means that your family and friends won’t have to stare up into your nostrils when you’re video chatting ever again.

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 still held back by its below average performance, a lack of ports and Windows 10 in S Mode. Luckily, the Surface Laptop 2 has considerably improved on its predecessor – with the exception of the ports. It’s now packed with 8th-generation Intel Kaby Lake Refresh processors, full-fat Windows 10 Home and a black color option. We only wish it included even a single USB-C port. Still, you will get all your tasks done in style with this laptop with little to no effort, making it deserving of a high spot on this list.

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

Affordable 
Fantastic build quality 
Pentium CPU 

Even if you’re only in the market for a laptop for school that strikes a balance between cost and performance, it can’t hurt to factor in a splash of style. The Microsoft Surface Go isn’t just one of the best Windows tablets, but it’s also one of the most beautiful devices on the market. Better yet, it also gets our vote as among the best laptops for students, especially from a value perspective. Don’t be duped by the low-power components: Microsoft engineered this tablet to take on 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  
Affordable 
More of the same 

The Dell XPS 15 has been making our list of best laptops for students for several years now, and Dell has stuck with that old “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” approach with its latest model. Not much has changed since the 2017 version, but we aren’t complaining. After all, you’re getting an Ultrabook that’s not only reliable, but also has enough power to get you through pretty much any workload. And, the Dell XPS 15 is very reasonably priced. In fact, the base configuration should work swimmingly for most users. If you want more power, you can also configure this thing with up to an Intel Core i9 processor and 32GB of RAM, upgrading their 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 

HP Envy x360 13 (2019)

(Image credit: Future)

6. HP Envy x360 13 (2019)

HP gives its slimline laptop an AMD upgrade

CPU: AMD Ryzen 3 3300U – AMD Ryzen 7 3700U | Graphics: AMD Radeon Vega 6 – Radeon Vega 10 | RAM: 8GB – 16GB | Screen: 13.3" diagonal FHD IPS (1,920 x 1,080) | Storage: 256 GB – 1TB SSD

Slim and sleek for a 2-in-1
High quality chassis
Improved battery life
CPU performance merely adequate
Graphics performance disappointing

There are so many compelling reasons why the HP Envy x360 (2019) belongs to our best laptops for students like, and its slim, sleek design is the least of them. This 13-inch 2-in-1 has premium build, delivers up to 9 hours of video playback and a performance that will get you through most of your schoolwork and project, all without burning a hole in your pocket.

Read the full review: HP Envy x360 (2019)

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 on the market, with beautiful touch displays, excellent performance and a battery life that lasts a long time. The Surface Pro 6 continues that tradition, even if it doesn’t improve much on its predecessor. You’re getting a fast Windows tablet that can effortlessly turn into a laptop with the addition of the Surface Type Cover. What does that mean for you? Simply that you can get your work done then effortlessly transition into Netflix time, making it one of the best laptops for students.

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. So if you aren’t anticipating to do a lot of projects that require the use of processor-hungry apps, getting a Chromebook can save you hundreds of dollars. If you’re a student on the market for one of the best laptops for students to help you with all your research, type up papers and not much else, the Dell Inspiron Chromebook 11 2-in-1 might fit the bill. The Dell Chromebook 11 2-in-1 won’t be able to handle much heavy lifting, but at this price, 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 (2019)

A solid entry with an excellent new screen

CPU: 1.6GHz 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 - 1TB SSD

 Lovely design
Screen is great
Fantastic battery life 
Underpowered
Lack of storage space

Apple takes the MacBook Air (2018) and gives it a bit of refresh, adding True Tone technology to its display and an even more reliable keyboard. Unfortunately, it hasn’t upgraded the specs, but seeing as the 2018 version has already made our list of the best laptops for students, this improved version is just as deserving because of the improved hardware. But the best part is yet to come: this refresh is even cheaper, so you’re definitely getting more value for less.

Read the full review: MacBook Air (2019)

MacBook Pro (15-inch, 2019)

(Image credit: Future)

10. MacBook Pro (15-inch, 2019)

Apple’s productivity machine gets the latest Intel tech

CPU: 9th-generation Intel Core i7 - i9 | Graphics: Radeon Pro 555X – Radeon Pro Vega 20 | RAM: up to 32GB | Screen: 15.4-inch (diagonal) LED-backlit display with IPS technology | Storage: 256GB – 4TB SSD

Powerful
Decent configuration options
Screen remains gorgeous
Expensive
Lack of ports
Keyboard concerns remain

Apple’s most powerful MacBook in existence has just juiced-up, which means that the 15-inch Cupertino powerhouse is faster than ever. Whether you’re doing school projects, photo editing or light gaming, this will blow you away as one of the best laptops for students. What’s behind this refresh? To start, an improved keyboard, as well as some of the latest and most powerful processors from Intel. Now, you not only have the option to take one home with an 8-core Intel Core i9, but also configure one to rock a Radeon Pro Vega 16 or Pro Vega 20 GPU to give you a boost in graphics.

Read the full review: MacBook Pro (15-inch, 2019)

Bill Thomas, Michelle Rae Uy and Gabe Carey have also contributed to this article.

Images Credit: TechRadar