The 5 best laptops for college students in 2018

Best laptops for students


As a college student, you’ve probably grown accustomed to hand-me-downs recently. As you focus on spending money on tuition and books rather than earning a significant disposable income over the next four years or so, you’ll crave a laptop that matches your budget. As we all know, students and laptops go together like professors and taking forever to grade papers, so fasten your seatbelts as we take a look at the best laptops for students as reviewed by TechRadar.

Aside from making sure it meets your monetary qualifications, what makes one of the best laptops for students is a) reliability and b) making the best of pricing with a perfect convergence of hardware and software to get you through the painstaking stresses of the semester. Not every recommendation on our list houses the newest processor or cutting-edge graphics, as much of those are reserved for PC gamers.

As an all-encompassing laptop guide for college students, we’re dead-set on providing suggestions for laptops that are functional as well as stylish enough that you won’t get looked down on for carrying it around. Then again, if anyone judges you based on your laptop of choice, maybe they aren’t worth having around. Social hierarchies considered, below you’ll find the best laptops for students like yourself as of 2018, fully tested, reviewed and ready to go. 

best laptops for students

1. Dell XPS 13

Powerful, functional, aesthetically pleasing

CPU: 7th generation Intel Core i3 – i7 | Graphics: Intel HD Graphics 620 | RAM: 4GB – 16GB | Screen: 13.3-inch FHD (1,920 x 1,080) – QHD+ (3,200 x 1,800) InfinityEdge | Storage: 128GB – 512GB SSD

Faster than ever
Same long-lasting battery
Still poor webcam position
No Windows Hello

There’s a reason the Dell XPS 13 is our best laptops for college students, best Ultrabook and best laptop overall. It’s all about options. So, even if your rigorous academic lifestyle doesn’t necessitate the high pixel density of a quad HD display, the XPS 13 gives you the freedom to opt for a lower-resolution 1080p screen as an alternative. The same goes for the processor, of which you can select between an i3, i5 and i7. To top it all off, the latest Dell XPS 13 can be dressed in Rose Gold, shielded by a stylish aluminum chassis that will make even Apple fans jealous.

Read the full review: Dell XPS 13 review

Microsoft Surface Pro 4

2. Microsoft Surface Pro

The tablet that can replace your laptop

CPU: 7th generation Intel Core m3 – i7 | Graphics: Intel HD Graphics 615 – Iris Plus Graphics 640 | RAM: 4GB – 16GB | Screen: 12.3-inch, 2,736 x 1,824 PixelSense display | Storage: 128GB – 1TB SSD

Hugely improved battery life
Comfier, punchier type cover
Surface Pen pulled from package
Only Core i7 can challenge A10X

The 2017 Surface Pro is – in every way, shape and form – the Surface Pro 5 we’ve been waiting for. From its rounded edges to its refined selection of accessories, there’s no denying it’s a true Surface Pro 4 successor. There’s also the fact that the Surface Pro draws inspiration from the Surface Studio insofar as it bends back 165 degrees. The only real downside then (besides having to buy the Surface Pen separately this time) is that only the i7 version of the Surface Pro can compete with even the most affordable iPad Pro.

Read the full review: Microsoft Surface Pro

3. Dell Inspiron 15 Gaming

Work hard, play hard, this laptop does it all

CPU: 7th generation Intel Core i5 – i7 | Graphics: Nvidia GeForce GTX 1050; Intel HD Graphics 620 – GTX 1050 Ti; Intel HD Graphics 630 | RAM: 8GB – 16GB | Screen: 15.6-inch FHD (1,920 x 1,080) – UHD (3,840 x 2,160) anti-glare LED-backlit | Storage: 1TB HDD – 1TB HDD; 128GB SSD

Affordable gaming setup
Stellar battery life
Trackpad is touchy
Screen is lacking

Ditching the Alienware moniker for once, the Dell Inspiron 15 Gaming doesn’t cost all that much considering its rather lofty specs. Even if it can’t max out every game you throw at it, the Dell Inspiron 15 Gaming is both cheaper than a MacBook Air and way more capable. And, if you were worried about the battery life, the Inspiron 15 Gaming lasted a whole 5 hours and 51 minutes in our tests, longer than some Ultrabooks priced significantly higher. Whether for coursework or leisure, this laptop can do it all. 

Read the full review: Dell Inspiron 15 Gaming

4. Apple MacBook Pro (13-inch, Mid-2017)

The MacBook Pro of the future, right now

CPU: 7th generation Intel Core i5 – i7 | Graphics: Intel Iris Plus 640 – 650 | RAM: 8GB – 16GB | Screen: 13.3-inch, WQXGA (2,560 x 1,600) IPS | Storage: 256GB – 1TB SSD

Stronger processor
Faster RAM
Subpar battery life
Keyboard learning curve

The 2017 MacBook Pro doesn’t offer much in the way of distinguishing itself from its predecessor, but it is a testament to just how much you can improve something by simply swapping up internal components and calling it a day. Because it’s finally equipped with the newest generation of Intel Kaby Lake processors and faster-than-ever PCIe 3.0 SSD storage, the MacBook Pro comes easily recommended, undeterred by its reluctance to bring back legacy ports like HDMI and standard USB. This is, through and through, a laptop built for the future.

Read the full review: Apple MacBook Pro (13-inch, Mid-2017)

5. Asus ZenBook UX310UQ

Feel old yet, MacBook Air?

CPU: 7th generation Intel Core i7 | Graphics: Intel HD Graphics 640MX | RAM: 8GB | Screen: 13.3-inch FHD (1,920 x 1,080) | Storage: 128GB SSD + 1TB HDD

All aluminum body
Backlit keys
Bendy keyboard
 Meh battery life 


Now that the MacBook Air is all but dead in the water in terms of innovation, there has to be something to replace it. The Asus ZenBook UX310UA is that spiritual successor you’ve been longing for. Surprising us with the an all-aluminum chassis that follows in the wake of the UX305 before it, this laptop comes stacked with a high quality display and an impressive swath of ports, including the latest USB-C interface. The best news is that it does all of that without slipping above the price point of the current MacBook Air, making it an even better value.

Read the full review: Asus ZenBook UX310