Back to school 2015: all the best tech supplies for the year ahead

Back to school

When you're going into another year of school, your laptop should be at the center of your hardware worries. Sure, what the laptop "is" might be changing, but that doesn't change what the laptop is for the serious student: the best means of getting stuff done.

Whether you're studying philosophy, business data science, 3D animation or anything in between, there's a laptop out there that's right for you. You could pick up the tried and true MacBook Air for a durable, powerful and long-lasting general studies machine. On a tighter budget? Then the Toshiba Chromebook 2 will do more than just get you by.

If you're in need for more power for that 3D modeling course load, you should go with something like the Lenovo ThinkPad W550s with Nvidia Quadro graphics. And for those looking for a truly versatile machine would do right by Microsoft's best laptop-meets-tablet yet, there's the Surface Pro 3.

So, stop worrying about which laptop to buy – we've done all of that footwork for you. Now, get on to worrying about the important things, like how to stretch that meal plan as far as humanly possible.

Back to School

MacBook Air

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A pristine package of power and portability

Trust someone who's done it before: a new MacBook Air would last your entire undergraduate career, and then some. With over 9 hours of battery life, super fast storage and the latest Wi-Fi tech, this is simply the kind of showing you can expect from a MacBook.

We've slapped TechRadar's "Recommended" award on almost every MacBook Air to date – it's the most honed laptop we've ever tested. For the general student, this is the most accessible, long-lasting and reliable laptop you could buy.

Read the full review: MacBook Air

Back to School

Microsoft Surface Pro 3

The best 2-in-1 laptop around – period

The latest in Microsoft's attempts to reshape the laptop is the epitome of the adage "third time's a charm." By a longshot, this is still the best tablet-meets-laptop made yet, thanks to some powerful innards running full Windows in a revamped design.

If you want a machine that can truly be both your tablet and your laptop, this is it. A new, more flexible kickstand and (albeit not included) upgraded Type Cover help with that. Switch from homework at your desk to the latest season of True Detective in bed with something that feels right at home doing both.

Read the full review: Microsoft Surface Pro 3

Back to School

Toshiba Chromebook 2

The MacBook Air of Chromebooks

This is quite a statement to make, and we stand behind it. At just over $300 (or £200), this isn't only the best Chromebook you could buy, but likely the best budget laptop you could buy.

For the general student looking to save, this is the laptop for you regardless of whether you're neck deep in Google services. With a vibrant, 1080p screen and the latest Wi-Fi tech, this notebook rocks for both work and leisure (i.e. binging Orange is the New Black instead of studying).

Read the full review: Toshiba Chromebook 2

Back to School

Lenovo ThinkPad W550s

Workstation performance with Ultrabook battery life

If your MBA program demands serious spreadsheet crunching or your engineering track requires 3D modeling chops, then meet your new best friend. Lenovo's cross between a workstation and an Ultrabook brings the power you need in a surprisingly portable package – you know, for a workstation.

Featuring an optional 3K screen, Nvidia's pro-grade Quadro graphics and Lenovo's famed AccuType keyboard, you won't be left wanting for power or features. You can even swap battery packs on the fly. Your MacBook can't do that.

Read the full review: Lenovo ThinkPad W550s

Back to School

Dell XPS 13

Setting a new standard for laptops

Dude, you're gonna want a Dell again. The PC firm's latest leading laptop is, frankly, the standard to which all others should aspire to. This notebook employs a stunning design that squeezes the latest hardware and a 13-inch screen into a thin, light 11-inch frame.

This is one of the first Windows laptops to truly challenge the MacBook Air design, and for much less. For Windows fans that want something just as pretty, portable and powerful as (if not more than) the MacBook Air, stop right here.

Read the full review: Dell XPS 13

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