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.
- Discover the best laptops you can buy in every category
- Dell XPS 13
- Microsoft Surface Laptop
- Microsoft Surface Pro
- Apple MacBook Pro (13-inch, Mid-2017)
- Dell Inspiron 15 Gaming
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 is gaining a reputation for making solid, attractive and overall desirable premium products to showcase its Windows software, and the Surface Laptop continues in this vein. The thin and light design makes it easy to carry around, while the careful component considerations, and high-quality build materials, make it a joy to use.
This is obviously a device that Microsoft’s designers and engineers have spent a lot of time working on, and for the most part it has paid off handsomely. This is one of the best-looking Windows devices on the market today, and, thanks to some nifty specs that power the carefully controlled Windows 10 S operating system, it's one of the smoothest Windows 10 experiences too.
Read the full review: Microsoft Surface Laptop
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
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)
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
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