A good and reliable laptop is a must for college students. Many college classes now allow or even require students to use their laptops in class for a variety of purposes, so having a laptop with a long battery life that is lightweight and small enough to fit in a backpack is just as important as performance. A basic entry-level laptop will cover you for general class work, but the more you can spend, the more likely it will last you, which is important if you need to last four years or more.
With current supply chain issues and chip shortages, you might think it’s hard to get a decent, cheap laptop for school. However, it is still possible to find laptops andwith the latest processors from AMD and Intel. The only PCs you’ll have to wait for are the ones with the powerful new 12th Gen Intel Core and AMD Ryzen 6000 series processors that actually increase performance over the 11th models. generation in our tests. However, Intel’s 5000-series chips and 11th-gen AMD Ryzen were already excellent, so you won’t be doing too much of a disservice by opting for last year’s models.
Most of our picks for the best college laptops cost between $500 and $1,000. If you’re looking for a more affordable laptop, or if you’re open to an alternative to Apple’s MacOS and— we recommend reviewing (just make sure is supported). On the other hand, if you are looking for a more powerful laptop or a which works as one for college, we have for those too. So if you’re ready to upgrade your tech, read on for our list of the best laptops for college.
Despite the availability of the bigger and better MacBook Air M2, the MacBook Air M1 (one of the first to switch from Intel to Apple’s silicone) holds up, and that’s a good thing. Apple’s entry-level laptop remains our recommendation for a MacOS laptop for basic everyday use. It has great performance and long battery life (up to 18 hours) and is a solid choice for school and entertainment on the go.
Like previous Mac laptop models, the M1 Air has Apple’s Magic Keyboard, Touch ID, a Force Touch trackpad, and a 13.3-inch Retina display. If you’re a college student, it’s hard to go wrong with the new MacBook Air.
Read our review of the MacBook Air M1.
HP packed a lot of value into the Aero 13: eye-pleasing magnesium and aluminum chassis, strong processing performance, long battery life, a bright and colorful display, and weighing just 2 pounds (0.94 kilograms). Surprisingly, considering all that it offers, it regularly starts at less than $800 but is regularly on sale for less than $700. Read our HP Pavilion Aero 13 review.
Gateway was known for its low-cost desktop and laptop computers in the 1990s. The brand was revived in 2020 with a new line of laptops and tablets sold exclusively through Walmart. We tested the 15-inch and 14-inch models and the latter is our pick. The Intel Core i5 processor provides reliable performance despite being combined with cheaper components. The keyboard is comfortable but not backlit and the touchpad is not the most precise. Therefore, the built-in fingerprint reader is hit or miss. Still, it’s got plenty of ports, so plugging in a mouse or external display isn’t a problem, and the Full HD screen is decent too, all things considered. Also, the battery lasted a couple of minutes less than the 10 hours in our streaming video test. The 2021 model is still available at a significant discount compared to the 2022 model released in July with a 12th Gen Intel Core i5 processor. New or old, both are good deals.
Acer’s Spin 513 is something of an update to one of the best Chromebooks of 2021, the Spin 713. It’s a two-in-one convertible Chromebook with a 13.5-inch screen that has a 3:2 aspect ratio. The extra vertical space means less scrolling when you’re working. The screen size is also similar to letter-size paper, making it comfortable for taking notes in tablet mode with a USI pen. Compared to the 713, it drops a couple of non-critical features like an HDMI output in favor of a more affordable price. However, it has incredible battery life and a rugged, fanless design, making it quiet, perfect for quiet classrooms, conferences, or video calls.
This slim 3-pound convertible is a solid choice for anyone who needs a laptop for office or school work. The all-metal chassis gives it a premium look and feel, and it has a comfortable keyboard and a smooth, responsive precision touchpad. As a two-in-one, you can use it like a laptop or tablet and it supports pen input with Lenovo’s optional active pen. It also has a physical shutter for your webcam to give you privacy when you want it. And it has a long battery life to boot at 12 hours, 45 minutes in our tests. The latest version with 12th Gen Intel processors starts at $999 (although it can find it on sale for less). However, 2021 models with 11th Gen Intel processors are also great performers and can be found at a discount.