The best laptop for college should enable students to perform their regular tasks in class and their leisure activities afterward. Here are the specifications that matter when looking for a laptop for college.
How to Choose The Best Laptop for College
The size of the laptops usually hinges on two factors, screen size and graphics card type. Integrated graphics card means a slimmer laptop, lower power consumption and of course, lower graphics performance.
Discrete graphics cards usually lead to bulkier and consequently heavier laptops. But laptops with dedicated graphics cards perform better when playing games.
Screen size affects the quality of viewing experience. When streaming movies or working on projects a 15-inch (or even a 17-inch) screen might be the best.
But a large screen makes the laptop bigger. This means the laptop weighs more and does not fit into a backpack. So if you really need to carry the laptop to every class, consider screen sizes between 11 and 13 inches. Such laptops might also come weighing 4 pounds or less.
Coursework and intended uses
If working with video editing software and engineering programs like CAD, consider laptops that come with Core i5 and Core i7 processors.
If the academic work revolves around word documents and the leisure activity is just browsing and watching movies, lower-performance computers like those with Core i3 processors might suffice.
Considering the build of the exterior, metallic bodies are stronger than plastic ones but there is a tradeoff between weight and sturdiness. We also recommend choosing a laptop with a spill-resistant keyboard.
As you’ll be using the laptop on the go, battery life is essential. Look for laptops that provide at least 6-8 hours of performance without charging. Note that high-performance laptops with discrete graphics cards will drain batteries faster while devices that come with integrated graphics support longer battery lives.
Display resolution is another factor that affects battery life. If a laptop has a display offering a 2560×1440 pixels HD quality it will drain its battery faster than the one with a lower resolution.
If you want the laptop to have a lot of storage, you will need to choose the one with an HDD. HDD is slower and heavier than SSD so the laptop with an HDD won’t be as portable. SSDs are faster and they have no moving parts, so they consume less power.
Computers using SSDs can boot in less than a second. Buying a laptop with SSD then adding external storage or using the cloud can be a smart way to enjoy high speeds without giving up storage capacity.
12 Best Laptops for College in 2019
Huawei MateBook X Pro
Portability and Versatility in an Elegant Design
The thin and lightweight design makes it portable and easy to carry in a backpack, while the gorgeous 13.9” 3K touchscreen with 3, 000 x 2, 000 resolution is perfect for both work and entertainment. Not to mention, the thin bezel around the display creates a 91% screen-to-body ratio!
The Huawei MateBook X Pro is not just gorgeous! It’s also powerful (8th Gen Intel Core i7 -8550U, 16 GB RAM, 512 GB SSD) and runs Windows 10 Home Edition. It’s also easy to open and login due to the One Touch Power button integrated with Windows Hello.
The laptop is equipped with quad microphones and speakers (2nd Gen Dolby ATMOS for immersive audio) and has a 1MP privacy pop-up webcam that only pops up when you need it. Finally, the MateBook X Pro supports 2xUSB-C ports and 1xUSB-A port, but it also comes with Mate Dock 2.0, which extends the connectivity possibilities to HDMI and VGA.
- Portable design
- Metallic finish & easy-to-use keyboard
- Bright 3k display that can be used outdoors
- Quad speakers
- Video chat accessories
- Windows 10 Home & Office 36
- Powerful processing unit
- The webcam is poorly positioned
- Build quality is not stellar
- Fan makes a lot of noise
- The ports are all on one side
Dell XPS 13 9360
The Perfect Laptop for Work & Entertainment
With a 13.3” FHD anti-glare InfinityEdge touchscreen, the XPS 13 9360 from Dell is perfect for taking notes, working on papers and watching videos. The device is powered by an Intel 7th Gen Kaby Lake i5 7200U dual-core and works with 8GB RAM memory and 128 GB SSD for storage and fast data processing. You can increase the storage unit by using an SD card.
It’s also equipped with a built-in webcam and runs Windows 10 Home on 64 bits. For connectivity, you have two options: Wi-Fi 802.11ac and/or Bluetooth 4.1 networks. It also features several useful ports such as USB 3.0, USB-C, and supports Thunderbolt 3 via USB Type-C.
The battery will last for about 4-6 hours of continuous use, depending on the type of demands you’re running.
- Solid build
- Good display quality & brightness
- Supports a wide range of activities
- Good connectivity options
- Portable design
- Keyboard & trackpad are nice to use
- Fingerprint scanner doesn’t work all the time
- The display doesn’t look good outside in bright sunlight
- The keyboard is a bit cramped
Microsoft Surface Laptop 2
One of the Best Models for College Use
When you need access to your projects regardless of location and you must capture every idea before it flies away, the Surface Laptop 2 from Microsoft can be a great choice. Equipped with Windows 10 Home with Windows Hello Sign In, Cortana, and Office 365, the laptop has everything you need to tackle most tasks.
Moreover, the Surface Laptop 2 is equipped with the latest 8th Generation Intel Core processor, comes with 8 or 16 GB RAM memory, and one SSD storage device (128GB, 256GB, 512GB, or 1TB). The battery lasts for about 14 hours and the 13.5” PixelSense touchscreen is bright and vivid.
You can use the keyboard (covered with Alcantara material) and trackpad for standard work, or you can use the Surface pen and the Surface Arc Mouse (both must be purchased separately). Also, under the keyboard, the Surface Laptop 2 has Omnisonic speakers that deliver sound of acceptable quality.
- Thin & sleek design
- Lightweight & portable
- Comfortable keyboard
- Razor sharp screen resolution
- Cool accessories
- Good battery life
- Runs fast and comes equipped with useful tools
- Limited port availability
- No SD card
- Alcantara is sensitive to stains and wears off
- No Thunderbolt 3
ASUS ZenBook Flip 14
The Best Option for Portability & Ease of Use
The ZenBook Flip is great for both college students and business people who don’t have a fixed location for work. Due to its 360-degree flippable touchscreen and thin design, the ZenBook is easy to use in a wide array of situations.
Furthermore, the NVIDIA MX150 2 GB discrete graphics is perfect for video playback, multimedia creation, and even gaming! Coupled with the 14-inch WideView FHD NanoEdge bezel touch display, the graphics card produces vivid and gorgeous images.
The laptop features the latest 8th generation Intel Core i7-8565U Quad Core processor, 16GB RAM, and 512GB SSD memory storage unit. All this power is used to run Windows 10 Home with the latest features such as Cortana or Sign in with Windows Hello (working with the built-in fingerprint reader).
Asus ZenBook is equipped with 802.11ac Wi-Fi, so you can be online at all times. Even more, it comes with HDMI, USB Type C, and one SD card reader.
Finally, the battery will last for up to 13 hours of continuous use, and you can use the fast charging function to get it to 60% in 50 minutes.
- Gorgeous design
- Stunning display
- Lightweight & portable
- Fast and reliable
- Runs Windows 10 Home
- Good sound quality
- The trackpad may be glitchy
- The flip-up experience is a bit off
- The finish is slippery
Samsung Notebook 9 Pro
Great College Laptop With A Touchscreen
This is good enough for light games thanks to its Intel UHD Graphics 620. This laptop comes with a metallic chassis which gives it a sturdy yet elegant feel. Samsung Notebook 9 Pro has 360-degree hinge that means you can use the device in tablet, tent or clamshell mode.
This laptop combines speed, adequate size, good graphics display, portability and screen versatility making it the best laptop for engineering students.
- Illuminated keyboard with backlight with a flip and rotating display
- Quite delicate because of flip and rotating functionalities
Apple 13″ MacBook Pro
A Whole New Level of Power and Portability
The MacBook Pro is well-known among Apple users for its stunning Brilliant Retina display, thin design, and increased portability. The 13-inch display is powered up by one 2. 3 GHz dual-core Intel Core i5 processor, 8GB RAM, and 128GB SSD (you can also get it in the 256GB SSD version).
The design is clean with round edges and beautiful colors and finishes, that you can usually find in Apple products. The keyboard is nice to use and feels solid while typing and users will enjoy the Touch Bar feature, which is a touch-sensitive area on top of the keyboard that offers access to a wide array of tools.
The MacBook Pro is not just a thin, good-looking laptop; it’s also a powerful device that can run all sorts of programs. It also comes with fingertip recognition and integrated Apple Pay. Furthermore, it is equipped with two Thunderbolt 3 (USB-C) ports and can be connected to 802. 11AC Wi-Fi networks.
Finally, the battery gives you about 10 hours of cord-free work time.
- Impressive Retina display
- Powerful and fast
- Portable, durable, and easy to use
- Turbo Boost up to 3.6 GHz
- Touch Bar for quick access
- Silent keyboard
- Gorgeous design
- No regular USB ports
- Heats up easily
- A bit pricey for the features
HP Envy x360
Reliable College Laptop With High Resolution
This laptop packs some punch thanks to the Core i5 processor. With a 256GB SSD and 8 GB of RAM, it can perform most tasks. It comes with an integrated graphics so it’s not ideal for gaming but Intel HD Graphics 620 GPU will comfortably handle light games.
If you are shopping for real portability, flexibility, durability and great processing power, then this is it. This laptop is easily and quickly convertible from tablet mode to notebook and vice versa thanks to a 360-degree hinge. Its B&O speakers are positioned for good sound in any position of use.
- Average battery life
ASUS Chromebook Flip C302CA-DHM4
Very Durable And Lightweight Option
This is a pocket-friendly priced Chromebook featuring a compact design. It’s one of the best 2-in-1 laptops with a 12.5-inch full HD 1,920×1,080-pixel resolution touchscreen.
Its 360-degree hinge lets you prop it like a tent or use it as a tablet. Its extreme light weight and illuminated keyboard offer the best combination for a college student who is always on the go. It also has a sleek and appealing design.
- Long battery life of more than 10 hours
- Sturdy as it has an all-aluminum body
- Limited storage
Acer Chromebook 15 CB515-1HT-P39B
The Best Budget Laptop for College
Acer Chromebook 15 CB5-571-C09S is designed for simple tasks in college that revolve around browsing, word processing and maybe watching movies. Its CPU is relatively weak but enough for simple tasks. This laptop comes with a full HD 15.6-inch screen with 1920x1080p, wide viewing angle display.
The aluminum construction gives it a sturdy feel and it weighs only 3.97 lbs which is lighter than you would expect given its size. This is probably the best cheap laptop for college students.
- Limited storage
Microsoft Surface Pro 6
The Perfect Laptop for Work & Play
Even though the Surface Pro series is a tablet at its core, when you pair it with the Type Cover (sold separately) it becomes a very capable laptop. Actually, the fact that you can use it as a laptop and a tablet is one of its strengths, as it improves portability and reduces the weight you need to carry around (only 1.7 pounds).
Surface Pro 6 is fitted with the new 8th Generation Intel Core processor, and up to 16GB RAM and 1TB SSD storage memory. The 12.3” PixelSense touchscreen Display delivers beautiful images, in razor-sharp quality, and can be used with the Surface Pen for sketches or quick notes.
The device can be used in three modes: laptop (with the Type Cover), tablet, and studio (with the kickstand lowered to a 15-degree position). It also works with Surface Dial and Surface Arc mouse (sold separately) to improve your work experience.
The device comes with Windows 10 Home, Cortana, Windows Hello Sign In, and Office 365. Even more, the battery will last for up to 13.5 hours.
- Lightweight & sleek design
- Easy to use in all types of situations
- Powerful and fast
- Comes with Windows 10 Home & other features
- Gorgeous display
- Extremely versatile
- No USB-C port
- Accessories must be bought separately
- Some software issues
Acer Aspire E 15
The Ideal Laptop for Multitasking
The Aspire E 15 from Acer is the laptop that behaves well under the pressure of multiple programs running simultaneously while your browser supports several open tabs. It is ideal for online research, writing papers, or putting together projects using various platforms.
The laptop runs Windows 10 Home, can last up to 15 hours on battery, and boasts a great configuration that makes it powerful and fast (8th Generation Intel Core i5-8250U processor that goes up to 3.4GHz, NVIDIA GeForce MX150 with 2 GB of dedicated GDDR5 VRAM, 8GB RAM, and 256GB SSD).
The 15.6” FHD (1920 x 1080) widescreen display is vivid and bright, and when coupled with the Acer TrueHarmony speakers, it makes videos come to life.
Overall, the Acer Aspire E 15 is a great laptop to use in college and at the office – it won’t let you down!
- Powerful configuration
- Vivid colors and good sound quality
- Easy to upgrade
- Good battery life
- Backlit keyboard
- Comes with a DVD drive
- It runs a bit hot
- The trackpad feels a bit off
- Fan is noisy
- No Thunderbolt port
Lenovo Yoga 730
The Best Option for Portability & Power
If you’re looking for a powerful Windows platform that’s reliable and portable, the Yoga 730 laptop from Lenovo is a good choice.
It comes with Windows 10 Home and works with Windows Ink for sketches and quick notes. Under the hood, you’ll find an 8th Gen Intel Core i5-8250U mobile processor, 8GB DDR4 RAM for smooth multitasking, and one 256GB PCIe SSD.
The 15.6” FHD 10-point multitouch screen supports 1920 x 1080 resolution and features vivid colors and clear images due to the Intel UHD Graphics 620 card. This makes the Lenovo Yoga 730 perfect for a wide range of activities that need graphics power.
The 360-degree design Is more than welcome since it offers extended versatility. This way, you can use it in class, while traveling, or when you’re relaxing. Furthermore, the laptop has one Thunderbolt port, which offers the option to connect it to advanced monitors and external drives.
Finally, Lenovo Yoga 730 is perfect for video chat, due to the built-in HD camera with dual array microphone.
- Lightweight design
- 360-degree system for versatility
- Impressive display & colors
- Powerful processor
- Perfect for Windows users
- Thunderbolt port
- The fingerprint reader doesn’t work all the time
- The power button is a bit weird
- It is difficult to open
- The finish is prone to fingerprint smudges