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The best student laptops: all the best options for school

best student laptop
The best laptops for students put value over having the top-of-the-line processors and graphics cards.
(Image credit: Future)

What makes the best laptops for students different than the best laptops for most other people? Computers can skyrocket in price when looking at upgrades and features and the best laptops for students are those that are able to walk that tightrope between performance and price. They should be able to handle any coursework a student has without bankrupting them.

College students are already trying to save as much money as possible, whether it’s for college loans or housing, as evidenced by their constant consumption of instant ramen. And while there are some great budget laptop options out there, performance is important as well. The best laptops for students need to be able to pull double duty. They can’t just be for schoolwork and important projects, but must also function as decent media devices, whether that’s some video streaming or a little gaming.

You might not find cutting edge graphics cards and processors in all our choices for the best laptops for students. Value, after all, is what’s most important, so we’ve included a few choice budget options. But the budget options are still able to handle most workloads and any light entertainment that gets your mind off that next big project.

While there are some great Windows 10 laptops on here, you don’t have to stick to that OS. The best Chromebooks now offer better performance than ever before, and due to the lightweight OS, at a better price than most other offerings.

School can be hard, overwhelming and stressful. Don’t let your family’s cast-off laptop add to that stress. Instead, check out our picks for the 10 best laptops for students. There are options for you regardless of budget that will help you get your work done. We’ve included links for a more in depth look at all the options so you can pick what works best for you.

Don’t forget to take a look at the best Black Friday laptop deals of 2019 to score some fantastic deals, some of which have already arrived.

What you need to know about Black Friday 2019
The Black Friday and Cyber Monday deals period has always been a good time of year to pick up a great laptop. Usually the big retailers will have plenty of laptop offers but generally speaking they'll mostly be in the 'cheap' or 'midrange' categories. IE you'll find plenty of instances of $600 laptops from HP being discounted to $450 for Black Friday. It's less common for the best of the best products to suddenly become available with huge discounts. So if you want a really great laptop and you have your eye on one of the excellent models on this page, there's no guarantee that waiting until Black Friday will get you a better deal than you can get today (our useful widgets pull through all of the latest prices). But if you're less bothered about the specific product and more interested in feeling like you got a bargain, you should check out our Black Friday laptop deals page where we'll be rounding up all of the best offers throughout November.

The best student laptops 2019 at a glance:

  1. Huawei Matebook 13
  2. Dell XPS 13
  3. Google Pixelbook Go
  4. Surface Laptop 2
  5. Microsoft Surface Go
  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

The Huawei Matebook 13 strike a balance between price and performance.

(Image credit: Huawei)

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

The Dell XPS 13 is affordable enough for college students once again. 

(Image credit: Dell)

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 

Google Pixelbook Go

The Google Pixelbook Go has earned our coveted “Editor's Choice” award in the Chromebook category.

(Image credit: Google)

3. Google Pixelbook Go

Google’s best Chromebook for budget consumers

CPU: Intel Core m3 – i7 | Graphics: Intel UHD Graphics 615 (300MHz) | RAM: 8GB – 16GB | Screen: Full HD Display – 4K Ultra HD Molecular Display | Storage: 64GB – 256GB

Incredible battery life
Amazing ‘Hush’ keyboard
No biometric login

Have you been waiting for the day you can finally afford the premium price of Google Pixelbook? Well, with Google releasing Pixelbook Go, your wait is finally over. Granted, it isn’t quite the actual luxury device you’ve been dreaming of. However, rest assured, you will love this Chromebook, just as we have during our time with it. We love it so much, in fact, that it earned our coveted “Editor's Choice” award in the Chromebook category. It boasts incredible battery life, an even more impressive keyboard and a 1080p webcam, which you don’t see often in the more budget-friendly laptops even in 2019. And, that’s just to start.

Read the full review: Google Pixelbook Go

Surface Laptop 2

The Surface Laptop 2 has considerably improved on its predecessor. 

(Image credit: Microsoft)

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 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

The Microsoft Surface Go is one of the most beautiful devices on the market.

(Image credit: Microsoft)

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 

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 

HP Envy x360 13 (2019)

The HP Envy x360 13 (2019) has premium build, delivers up to 9 hours of video playback. 

(Image credit: HP)

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

The Microsoft Surface Pro 6 boasts a beautiful display, excellent performance and an impressive battery life. 

(Image credit: Microsoft)

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

The Dell Inspiron Chromebook 11 2-in-1 is the best laptop for students on a very limited budget. 

(Image credit: Dell)

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 (2019)

The Apple MacBook Air has been refreshed for 2019.

(Image credit: Apple)

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)

The MacBook Pro (15-inch, 2019) is juiced-up. 

(Image credit: Apple)

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