College students have a lot on their plates, especially when academic indulgences, projects, seasonal assignments, online lectures, and spells of leisure are concerned. If you are one of them, you should consider each of your requirements, preferences, and aspirations before selecting a relevant machine.
Although processing power and system memory are important factors to consider, you must first emphasize the portability and sleekness of the profile, more than anything else.
Nothing beats the efficacy of a thin and light-weighted laptop that can be carried along to presentations and other academic meets or events. However, a powerful battery is also important as it helps validate portability, more holistically. According to our research, college students tend to work for hours on a laptop without having to worry about battery levels. This is why battery backup is such an important aspect.
As we keep enlisting the generic traits of a laptop that are appropriate for a college student, storage capacity also comes across as a crucial factor. Students often need larger storage units for accommodating massive volumes of academic assignments, consumable video content, and even selective games.
Apart from that, students require durable, backlit keyboards with decent key travels for writing documents or research papers, even in low-lit conditions. As a majority of academic institutions are now conducting virtual classes, and therefore good quality webcams and microphones, also need to be accounted for.
Laptop preferences are also determined by the academic specialization of the concerned student. For instance, if you are into mechanical, civil, and any other core-engineering domain, you might require an exceptional GPU for handling complex 3D modeling, rendering, and simulation assignments.
Similarly, an IT student, professional coder, and an aspirational professional would have to rely on a powerful processor that supports Virtualization for productive programming experiences. Under any given circumstance, it is always good to have a notebook with a top-of-the-line chipset and a sizeable chunk of RAM for seamless multitasking.
Coming to the choice of operating systems, Windows-powered laptops can be customized as per preferences as a majority of applications used by college students are compatible with it. In addition to that, it is also suitable for budget-minded college students. However, if you prefer portability, ease of usage, and data security, a MacBook is the more obvious choice.
- Minimum & Recommended System Requirements
- Best Laptops for College Students in 2021
- 1. Best Overall: HP Spectre x360 15t
- 2. Best Runner Up: Asus ZenBook 15
- 3. Best with Intel i5: Lenovo IdeaPad L340
- 4. Best Value for Money: Acer Aspire 7
- 5. Best Apple Laptop: Apple MacBook Pro
- 6. Best Value for Money: HP Pavilion 15
- 7. Best with Stylus (Pen): Lenovo Yoga C940
- 8. Best Storage Allocation: Dell XPS 13 7390
- 9. Best 2-in-1 Convertible: Dell Inspiron 14 5491
- 10. Best AMD-Powered: Acer Swift 3
- 11. Best Budget Laptop: Asus ZenBook 13
- 12. Cheapest MacBook: Apple Macbook Air
- Frequently Asked Questions
- How much memory do I need on my college laptop?
- Which Apple-branded laptop should I purchase for college?
- How much storage space is typically preferred by a college student?
- Which is an underrated aspect shall I take into account before purchasing a laptop for college?
- Which form factor should I emphasize on while purchasing a laptop for college?
- The verdict
Minimum & Recommended System Requirements
Our experts have enlisted minimum system requirements to ensure that every student-centric activity can be handled without hiccups. The recommended specifications allows you to handle GPU/CPU intensive, and other demanding academic tasks with ease, besides allowing ample room for leisure.
|Minimum System Requirements||Recommended System Requirements|
|CPU||10th Gen Intel Core i5||9th Gen Intel Core i7|
|Storage||256GB SSD||512GB SSD|
|Display||13.3-inch FHD (1920 x 1080)||15.6-inch FHD IPS (1920 x 1080)|
|Graphics||Integrated Intel UHD Graphics||NVIDIA GeForce GTX Graphics|
|Battery||Up to 5 hours||Up to 8 hours|
Best Laptops for College Students in 2021
|HP Spectre x360 15t|
|Asus ZenBook 15|
|Lenovo IdeaPad L340|
|Acer Aspire 7|
|Apple MacBook Pro|
|HP Pavilion 15|
|Lenovo Yoga C940|
|Dell XPS 13 7390|
|Dell Inspiron 14 5491|
|Acer Swift 3|
|Asus ZenBook 13|
|Apple MacBook Air|
When it comes to selecting the best options, there isn’t any one-size-fits-all approach. Instead, every student has a diverse set of preferences, and the selections must readily cater to the same.
In the subsequent sections, we shall enlist 12 of the best laptops that are suitable for college studies, with each having some unique characteristics that can help college-goers in one way or the other.
Our selections are curated based on domain-specific attributes, processing firepower, aesthetics, portability, memory allotment, budget, and a host of other essential factors.
1. Best Overall: HP Spectre x360 15t
As a student, you cannot get hold of a better gadget than the HP Spectre x360 15t. While this Windows-powered convertible is extremely easy to use, the stylus support further adds to the productivity quotient of the same.
When it comes to power under the hood, you get highly reliable Intel Core i7-9750H processor, capable of turbo clocking at 4.5GHz. The Hexa-Core processor is capable of handling CPU-intensive tasks like accounting, data processing, 3D modeling, and project planning with ease.
The existing chipset comes with virtualization support which is a much-needed resource for coders and programmers. Every demanding academic software or resources like AutoCAD, MATLAB, QuickBooks, and more can be handled easily with this processor at the helm.
The existing NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1650 GPU clubbed with 4GB RAM isn’t the best for running games on high-graphic settings, but is capable enought for running demanding high-end titles like PUBG, Fortnite, Civ 6, Sims 4, Project Cars 2, and more. Moreover, if you are also looking to indulge in occasional 3D rendering, the existing GPU can help.
HP also brings in 16GB of system memory that is extremely useful if you are into frequent multitasking. Storage-wise, you get access to a 512GB SSD that comes with NVMe support. It signifies that the laptop is capable of loading files, demanding programs, and the Windows 10 Pro OS, in a twinkling of an eye.
The 15.6-inch display is class-leading with HP exhibiting an overall 4K resolution (3840 x 2160 pixels). Not just that, the BrightView screen is adequately vibrant and best characterized by multi-touch support and the enhanced durability offered by the Corning Gorilla Glass. For students, this gadget brings forth the best movie viewing experience after complete hours of tedious academic assignments.
The existing backlit keyboard is a charm to work with followed by the availability of the responsive touchpad. The Bang and Olufsen speakers are powerful enough and ensure that students can listen custom-tuned to songs and break the study-specific monotony. HP also boasts of a decent Full HD webcam and fully functional microphones for helping you attend virtual classes on Zoom or Skype.
The Spectre x360 15t is brilliantly designed and weighs a mere 4.81 pounds. Moreover, you can connect every possible peripheral and display courtesy of 2 Thunderbolt 3 ports, HDMI 2.0, USB 3.1, and other functional outputs. Internet Connectivity isn’t an issue as this gadget flaunts decent wireless and wired standards. The excellent battery module lives up to the promise of a 15-hour backup.
Overall, the HP Spectre x360 is one of the best gadgets for students, featuring some of the best productivity-enhancing traits like touch support, convertibility, and a powerful battery.
- Powerful processor
- Mid-range GPU
- Upgradeable dual-channel RAM
- Touch-supported 4K display
- All-day battery support
- Excellent set of ports
2. Best Runner Up: Asus ZenBook 15
If you have the budget to invest in innovation, the ASUS ZenBook 15 is the perfect laptop to invest in. Although the specs sheet is above-par for a typical college student, it is the portability and brilliant aesthetics that attract all the attention.
The Intel Core i7-10510U processor is extremely power-efficient but doesn’t let go of the exceptional Hyper-threading capabilities. Most importantly, this chipset also boasts of excellent single-core performances with a turbo clock limit of up to 4.9GHz. Students can benefit from this U-series CPU courtesy of the lower TDP levels.
Asus also brings forth a moderately powerful NVIDIA GeForce GTX 16-series GPU that comes equipped with 4GB RAM. What stands out is the Max-Q GPU layout that ensures gadget slimness without compromising on performances and efficiency. The CPU-GPU processing conglomerate allows you to handle demanding course-specific applications, Adobe CC apps, Microsoft Office, and even high-end games with no lags.
As far as multitasking goes, you get access to 16GB RAM, which is capable of assisting the existing SoC. Storage-centric requirements are taken care of by the 512GB SSD which is enviably faster compared to HDD.
The existing storage module is sizable and fast, which is a great feature for college students who often need to handle the humongous volume of data, large spreadsheets, and diverse academic or productivity-centric applications. The Windows 10 Professional edition is pre-supplied with the gadget, as the existing operating system.
Coming to the display, you get access to a 15.6-inch 1080p panel. As a student, you can reap the benefits of the NanoEdge display technology that amplifies the screen-to-chassis ratio to up to 92 percent, thereby making way for exceptional visual clarity and media-consuming experiences.
Asus brings in a backlit keyboard with dedicated numeric pad that further enhances the productivity quotient. Students are best served by the innovative ErgoLift layout that ensures the gadget is slightly raised for offering the most optimal typing experience to the user. However, the innovative Touchpad or ScreenPad 2.0 steals the show.
The touch-supported, 5.65-inch ScreenPad works like a secondary display and allows college students to get instant app access while minimizing downtime issues. Apart from that, ZenBook 15 also makes way for optimized speakers, exceptional IR webcam with Windows Hello support, and studio-grade microphones.
Asus ZenBook 15 is a crafty notebook, best characterized by the top-of-the-line cooling system, engineered chassis, and an overall weight of 3.64 pounds. Despite the enviable slimness of profile, Asus doesn’t compromise on ports and functionality. You get access to the USB Type-C, USB 3.1 Gen 2, HDMI, and other essential output units. Not just that, students need not worry about connectivity with Wi-Fi 6, Gig Ethernet, and Bluetooth 5.0 support on offer.
The existing battery offers a steady 9-hour backup, thereby qualifying the ZenBook 15 as one of the better gadgets in the market for enhanced productivity and seamless academic indulgences.
- 10th gen i7 processor
- 4K Ultra HD screen
- Extremely portable
- Optimal typing position with the ErgoLift hinge
- Decent connectivity standards
- Mid-range GPU with Max-Q layout
- Innovative ScreenPad 2.0 support
- No Thunderbolt 3 support
3. Best with Intel i5: Lenovo IdeaPad L340
The Lenovo IdeaPad L340 is one of the best i5-powered notebooks in the market, especially when gaming and academic activities both are concerned. Besides striking the perfect balance between power and productivity, this gadget is also one of the more affordable options for a college student.
At the helm, it features the Intel Core i5-9300H processor which is moderately powerful and can turbo clock at speeds of up to 4.1GHz. With 4 cores and 8 threads to use, this chipset is more than capable of running demanding software modules, 3D modeling applications such as Revit, Blender, Fusion 360, and other tools sans lags.
Graphics-intensive processing demands are fulfilled by the NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1650 GPU that can also be an asset for casual gaming. The 4GB VRAM helps with 3D rendering in Cinema 4D and allows enthusiastic gamers to decode multiple textures without issues.
You get 8GB RAM for handling some of the more complex college-specific multitasking requirements with ease. The 512GB of SSD storage is ultra-fast and capable of loading the Windows 10 OS, faster than a conventional HDD.
When it comes to the display, you get a 15.6-inch Full HD screen, with a cumulative resolution of 1920 x 1080 pixels. The In-Plane Switching panel also boasts of excellent viewing angles and anti-glare properties, courtesy of the Vantage Eye Care mode. Each one of these visual attributes is expected to come in handy for college students who often have time-intensive assignments to take care of.
Productivity-centric attributes are taken care of by the exceptional backlit keyboard, responsive touchpad, and powerful speakers boasting of the Dolby Audio technology for enjoying music, and the serviceable webcam-microphone combo.
Lenovo takes innovation to a whole new level by securing the gadget further with the physical webcam shutter and an advanced control panel that allows you to select the preferred operational mode, based on the complexity of tasks.
At 4.84 pounds, this is a pretty portable and lightweight notebook, attributes that are best preferred by college students. When it comes to ports, connectivity, and additional slots, you get access to HDMI 2.0, USB 3.1, Type-C, and a host of other functional units, besides the latest wired and wireless standards.
The existing battery is slightly underwhelming with our experts getting only 6 hours of backup, on moderate usage. The IdeaPad L340 from Lenovo isn’t loaded with power but at this price, it is one of the better options for college students, considering the processor, GPU, and display quality.
- Excellent 9th Gen processor
- Mid-range GPU
- Upgradeable RAM
- Fast, NVMe SSD
- Privacy shutter on a webcam
- Vibrant display
- Middling battery
4. Best Value for Money: Acer Aspire 7
If you are ready to compromise on your gaming indulgences for a good-looking, metal-clad notebook, the Acer Aspire 7 is the one to consider.
For starters, this laptop packs in a powerful Intel Core i5-9300H chipset, boasting of Virtualization and HyperThreading support. When it comes to the turbo clock speed, the SoC can reach a maximum frequency of 4.1GHz. The NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1650 is mid-range but can still handle entry-level games at moderate to even higher settings. When it comes to VRAM, Acer features 4GB of the same.
Students can handle multiple tasks, academic assignments, and projects, simultaneously, courtesy of the 8GB RAM. When it comes to storage, the 512GB SSD unit with NVMe support is a class-leading addition. Acer doesn’t compromise on ease of device usage and offers Windows 10 Home OS, straight out of the box.
Moving on, the 15.6-inch screen is a virtual asset to the college students, owing to the overall display resolution of 1920 x 1080 pixels. The Widescreen viewing experience clubbed with the In-Plane Switching technology work in tandem towards improving academic productivity and leisure indulgences.
Acer scales beyond other laptop brands, when productivity is concerned. Some of the more innovative, student-friendly attributes include a backlit keyboard, smoothest possible touchpad with an integrated fingerprint scanner, feature-packed HD webcam, stereo speakers, and an advanced set of microphones.
Aspire 7 flaunts an all-metal chassis and weighs a respectable 4.71 pounds. As far as connectivity goes, there are USB Type-C, USB 3.2, HDMI, Gig Ethernet, and other specs to rely on. The existing battery offers an 8.5-hour backup, which is still quite handy for a student who is quite forgetful when charging the gadget is concerned.
Overall, the Acer Aspire 7 isn’t a traditional gaming laptop but lives up to the hype, courtesy of an insanely powerful, H-series chipset that can handle virtually any college-centric assignment without breaking a sweat.
- Excellent i5 processor
- Good RAM + Storage configuration
- Capable mid-range GPU
- Ultra-fast SSD module
- Portable and sleek all-metal chassis
- Not meant for high-end gaming
5. Best Apple Laptop: Apple MacBook Pro
The MacBook Pro 13, is a gadget that is exceedingly capable of running every college-centric application without running into problems.
When it comes to processing power, the MacBook features Apple’s M1 8-Core. This gadget is capable of handling intensive software such as Photoshop, Illustrator, FL Studio (for music production), without stutters. When it comes to the graphics, you get access to the Integrated 8-Core.
Next in line is the 8GB RAM that helps you handle multitasking with seamless comfort. When it comes to storage, the 512GB SSD unit is a handy addition for the student in you, courtesy of the significant storage support, and the quickest possible boot-ups. As far as the OS is concerned, you get macOS Big Sur on the MacBook Pro 13.
The 13.3-inch display with Retina technology is class-leading and extremely vibrant, courtesy of the IPS technology, and an overall display resolution of 2560 x 1600 pixels. What stands out is the exceedingly high brightness level of almost 500-nits followed by the advanced True Tone technology, for precise color reproduction standards.
Apple comes equipped with a Magic keyboard, featuring a decent 1m travel. Besides that, the MacBook Pro also enhances the existing security standards for students with its improved Touch ID. Moreover, the integrated Touchpad helps improve app and data accessibility. Other productivity-centric specs include a responsive Force Trackpad followed by an advanced set of speakers, class-leading webcam, and voice-purified microphones.
At 3 pounds, the MacBook Pro 13 is one of the better-looking gadgets on our list, further bolstered by 2 Thunderbolt 3 ports and other functional slots for connecting legacy peripherals. Apart from exceptional Wired and Wireless connectivity standards, Apple also comes loaded with a powerful battery module, offering a 17-hour backup.
To sum things up, the Apple MacBook Pro 13 is one of the most productivity-centric gadgets in the market for a college student that strikes the perfect balance between price and performance.
- Powerful processor
- Advanced keyboard
- Long-lasting battery
- Stellar display
- Might not be compatible with every college-centric app
- Costlier than Windows-powered gadgets
6. Best Value for Money: HP Pavilion 15
The pavilion series from HP brings in the optimal balance of utility and performance, adding more value for money. In this edition of Pavilion 15, HP finds the right blend of a powerful 11th Gen processor, 16GB RAM, and a fast 512GB SSD memory to provide a perfect solution for college students.
The Quad-core processor, Intel Core i7-1165G7 has a base speed of 2.8GHz. Its ability to clock 4.7GHz brings high processing power to your disposal. The Integrated Intel Iris Xe Graphics processor, despite sharing the system memory, can handle graphic design software, programming interfaces, and some light-weight games, making it suitable for graduate students.
The 16GB DDR4 SDRAM gives the perfect platform for multitasking and smooth operations. The 512GB SSD is an ample amount of storage with the perk of fast data read/write speeds. The Windows-10 Pro edition tops up the home edition with inbuilt security features. Features like BitLocker, assigned access, and remote desktop operation protect the laptop from security threats.
The 15.6-inch FHD screen has a resolution of 1920 x 1080 pixels. The display is driven by IPS technology, and the micro-edge bezel brings a large surface area with wide viewing angles. It improves the quality of your visual experience. The Bang and Olufsen speakers are a welcome addition to the mix.
The HP offers a standard full-sized keyboard with a full-fledged numeric pad. The keys are ideally sized to keep the typing experience comfortable, making it one of the best laptops for writing. The touch-pad is wider, giving a larger surface area and smooth functionality; in order to recognize and respond to multi-touch gestures.
The powerful hardware comes in a package weighing close to 3.86 pounds with a classic silver finish. HP has room to accommodate three USB ports (one Type-C and two Type-A), an SD card reader, an HDMI 2.0 port, and a 3.5mm audio jack. The combination of Wi-Fi 6 and Bluetooth 5 keeps the wireless connectivity ahead of its trend.A three-cell, 41Wh battery, EG0021NR has a battery backup of up to eight hours.
Powerful hardware is prone to drain batteries much quicker. Fast charging acts as a useful feature for college students, leaving enough charge to last a few college sessions. The HP Pavilion puts together an 11th generation i7 processor with ample storage and operating memory to bring a perfect solution for graduate school students.
- 11th gen quad-core processor
- Wi-Fi 6 support
- HP Fast Charge
- Wide angles
- No backlit keyboard
- Loud fan
7. Best with Stylus (Pen): Lenovo Yoga C940
Here is yet another convertible that features an intuitive flip-and-fold layout followed by a decent processing conglomerate. The Lenovo Yoga C940 is a top-of-the-line gadget, boasting of stylus support (provided in the box) and class-leading connectivity options.
The existing Intel Core i7-1065G7 processor is all about graphics-centric performances, especially with the Iris Plus integrated graphics card, working alongside the same. The existing CPU turbo clocks at 3.9GHz, which allows you to handle diverse academic tasks and application programs with seamless precision.
When it comes to multitasking, you get 12GB RAM that lends adequate support to the G-series processor. Next in line is the 512GB solid-state drive that is fast and helps you store a diverse set of files, data sets, and applications without putting undue stress on the system. Lenovo boasts of an interactive Windows 10 OS that further enhances the user-friendliness of the convertible.
The 14-inch FHD display is vibrant and boasts of excellent color reproduction levels. The 1080p panel comes equipped with multi-touch support and exceptional viewing angles. These attributes ensure that students can consume ample quantities of media in leisure while making great-use of the energy-efficiency of the concerned IPS display.
Lenovo also brings forth a sizable keyboard, smooth touchpad, and amplified speakers. Apart from that, as a student, you can benefit from the serviceable webcam-microphone combo. The 360-degree movable layout is also an excellent choice if you have plans of carrying the gadget to presentations, trips, and academic exhibitions.
The metal-clad device is extremely durable and still weighs slightly less than 3 pounds. Despite flaunting a thickness of 0.6-inch, the Yoga C940 packs in all the important slots, including Thunderbolt 3, Type-C, USB Type-A, and the Gig Ethernet ports. When it comes to wireless connectivity, you get support for Wi-Fi 6, making this compatible with every high-end router.
The existing battery can last up to 15 hours before requiring a refill. Overall, if you are looking to consider a convertible for your college assignments and leisure indulgences, the Lenovo Yoga C940 is one of the costlier and better options to invest in.
- Graphics optimized processor
- Comes with a Stylus (pen)
- Dependable RAM + Storage module
- Sleek and light-weighted
- Two Thunderbolt 3 ports
- Fingerprint reader
- Wi-Fi 6 support
- No dedicated graphics card
8. Best Storage Allocation: Dell XPS 13 7390
Touchscreen laptops and ultraportable notebooks are extremely popular among students due to the flexibility they bring to the table. Although there are several convertible and 2-in-1s in the market, a standard clamshell model like the Dell XPS 13 7390 is something that every college student can relate to, regardless of the slightly restricted screen size.
For starters, Dell features the moderately powerful Intel Core i7-10710U processor, capable of reaching turbo clock speeds of up to 4.70GHz. Despite the lower base clock speed of 1.1GHz, this competitive processor performs satisfactorily courtesy of the hexa-core architecture, Virtualization, and Hyper-threading technologies. There isn’t a dedicated GPU in this laptop, however the Intel UHD iGPU is capable for casual gaming and displayed visuals.
The existing notebook comes equipped with 16GB RAM that simplifies multitasking requirements, significantly. As far as storage is concerned, there is a 1TB NVMe SSD to fall back up. The existing memory allocation serves college-use perfectly, allowing them to handle multiple tasks, store massive volumes of data sets, and even reduce the boot-up times of the concerned gadget. The pre-supplied Windows 10 Home edition OS is one of the most interactive platforms for the students to work with.
The 13.3-inch 4K touch screen is probably the brightest one around. This feature caters well to students who are into 3D modeling and extensive levels of media consumption. The touch-supported panel is exceedingly responsive with the InfinityEdge support ensuring that a lot of ‘Screen’ is packed within a compact chassis.
Students who are into occasional or part-time content editing can precisely benefit from the 100 percent sRGB color gamut and the cumulative display resolution of 3840 x 2160 pixels. The IPS panel deserves even more attention, courtesy of the 400-nit brightness level, anti-reflective screen, and a class-leading contrast ratio of 1500:1.
When it comes to academic productivity, Dell features several handy attributes, including a backlit keyboard, responsive trackpad, innovative palm rest, top-of-the-line webcam, powerful speakers with Waves MaxxAudio support, and studio-grade microphones. Students who are concerned about privacy can benefit from the integrated fingerprint scanner.
At 2.93 pounds, this laptop is light, sleek, and extremely portable. The design accents are carved out of an aluminum block but there are no port and connectivity compromises. Dell flaunts Thunderbolt 3 ports along with USB Type-C, and other functional slots for data and video out. The existing battery lasts up to 12 hours, on a single charge with Dell incorporating a nifty, indicative feature.
Overall, the Dell XPS 13 7390 is one of the most eye-pleasing gadgets on our list, capable of exhibiting excellent processing performances and brilliant visuals.
- Power-efficient processor
- Brilliant and durable aesthetics
- Extremely light
- One of the most vibrant displays in the market
- Long-lasting battery
- Two Thunderbolt 3 ports
- Smallish screen
- Wobbly keyboard
9. Best 2-in-1 Convertible: Dell Inspiron 14 5491
As a college student, the powerful Dell Inspiron 14 5491 is one of the best notebooks to invest in, courtesy of its flexible form factor. Although we prefer clamshell models more than the 2-in-1, this gadget from Dell is both sturdy and portable, making it one of the highlights of our list.
When it comes to processing performances, it relies on the Intel Core i7-10510U processor. The best thing about this chipset is the exceptional single-core Turbo Clock speed of up to 4.9GHz. With this CPU at the helm, every processor-intensive task, including coding, photo editing, and content creation. The existing Intel UHD 620 iGPU performs satisfactorily when casual gaming is concerned.
As far as multitasking goes, there is an 8GB RAM module in place. Storage, boot-up speeds, and data rendering are seamlessly taken care of by the 512GB NVMe SSD unit. The existing solid-state drive helps load the Windows 10 Home edition OS, way faster than a standard HDD unit.
In our tests, we were able to run majority of software used by college students without any lags. We also tried using some applications from the Adobe CC and Microsoft Office suite simultaneously and it was able to handle all the tasks smoothly.
This convertible comes equipped with a 14-inch FHD touch screen. The existing panel offers a cumulative resolution of 1920 x 1080 pixels. What stands out is the multi-touch support that further enhances the quality and visual clarity of the featured IPS panel.
Dell takes productivity to a whole new level with the durable backlit keyboard, allowing you to work even in darker conditions. The existing touchpad is responsive and comes integrated with an aluminum palm rest. When media rendering and acoustic performances are concerned, it boasts of powerful speakers, bolstered further by the Cinema Sound technology.
Despite being a beefed up convertible, the Dell Inspiron 14 weighs 5.59 pounds. The port arrangement is pretty innovative with you getting access to USB Type-C, USB 2.0, HDMI, and other functional slots. Excellent wired and wireless connectivity standards are persisted with followed by a respectable, 8-hour battery backup.
Nevertheless, if you are looking for a budget-friendly convertible that comes with decent processing capabilities, Dell Inspiron 14 5491 is the product to consider.
- Decent U-series processor
- Fastest possible SSD unit
- Portable form factor
- Dependable battery
- Touch support
- Only 8GB RAM
- No Wi-Fi 6
10. Best AMD-Powered: Acer Swift 3
Acer is one of the few OEMs that manufacture laptops for every price bracket. The student-friendly Acer Swift 3 is, therefore, one of the more budget-centric innovations on display, allowing you to work with demanding apps and multiple files, all at once.
When it comes to the processing firepower, Acer persists with the AMD Ryzen 7-4700U chipset. Unlike the Intel chipsets that boast of direct Hyper-threading support, this processor comes equipped with eight cores which also allow you to handle concurrent processes and multitasking requirements with significant ease. The base clock speed can be boosted up to 4.1GHz, in case something more demanding comes up.
Most importantly, the CPU, despite being a non-Intel commodity, supports hardware virtualization, which makes it an asset for the Business and IT students. When graphics are concerned, you get the 7-core AMD Radeon, integrated processing unit. The existing setup can handle casual gaming and more intricate multi-core tasks with ease.
Acer packs in 8GB RAM which further enhances the multitasking capabilities of the processor. In terms of storage, students can make good use of the 512GB NVMe solid-state storage unit. When it comes to the OS, you get Windows 10 Home edition, straight out of the box, clubbed with built-in support for Alexa.
The 14-inch screen size is handy enough when academic assignments and leisure are concerned. However, it is the Full HD resolution, with 1920 x 1080 pixels at the helm that enhances the color clarity and viewing experience. Apart from that, Acer ensures the highest possible scree-to-chassis ratio, courtesy of the 0.21-inch thin bezels.
When productivity is concerned, Acer goes a step further and brings in a backlit keyboard into the mix. Not just that, the keyboard has the requisite levels of depth and a decent key travel for seamless content creation and top-notching typing experience. You also get access to a smooth touchpad, integrated fingerprint sensor, front-firing stereo speakers, top-notch HD webcam with sHDR, and the voice purified microphones for video conferencing.
At 2.65 pounds, this is one of the lighter notebooks on our list. Moreover, despite the extraordinary slimness of profile i.e. 0.63-inch, there is no dearth of utilitarian ports and connectivity specs. Acer brings forth USB Type-C, USB 2.0, HDMI, USB 3.2 Gen 1, and a few other output slots. You also get top-notch wireless standards like Bluetooth 5.0 and Wi-Fi 6 with MU-MIMO support.
When it comes to the battery backup, you can make use of the 11.5-hour support which further validates the quality and credibility of the Acer Swift 3.
- Powerful AMD processor with Zen 2 cores
- Vibrant display
- Sleek and light
- Decent set of ports and connectivity options, including Wi-Fi 6
- Powerful battery unit
- NVMe storage unit
- Only 8GB RAM
- Non-uniform keyboard layout
11. Best Budget Laptop: Asus ZenBook 13
For a more budget-centric college student, the ZenBook 13 from Asus is a pretty handy laptop to have. Despite being extremely light and portable, there are no performance tradeoffs to account for.
Under the hood, you get the low-power Intel Core i5-1035G1 chipset, with a turbo clock speed of up to 3.6GHz. Besides that, every demanding task, including heavy web browsing usage and basic to advanced programming feels like a charm.
The Intel UHD 620 integrated graphics processor might not be a gaming-friendly entity but takes great care of the visuals.
Asus doesn’t compromise on the system memory and makes an 8GB RAM unit available for efficient multitasking. However, it is the 216GB SSD unit with PCIe support that takes care of the storage requirements. For a college student, quick boot-ups are necessary and despite the lack of NVMe compatibility, the existing solid-state drive helps achieve the same.
The 13.3-inch display is glaringly bright and flaunts the NanoEdge support. Besides the slimmer bezels, you also get a wide-angle viewing experience followed by an overall Full HD resolution of 1920 x 1080 pixels. Another student-friendly feature is the Eye Care support or a different form of anti-glare functionality.
The gadget comes equipped with a decent backlit keyboard and a responsive touchpad. When it comes to acoustics, there are Harman Kardon speakers to rely on, especially for hostel-bound college students who prefer experiencing immersive audio during celebrations. Asus also features other essential specs, including a decent webcam and serviceable microphones.
This sleek notebook weighs a mere 2.62 pounds. Surprisingly, it includes all the essential ports and connectivity traits, including two Thunderbolt 3 Type-C, USB Type-A, SD card reader, and an HDMI port followed by Wi-Fi 6 compatibility. There is a powerful battery at the helm, supporting fast charging and offering up to 14-hour backup, even under extreme conditions.
The ZenBook 13 from Asus is dependable that would never let you down, in terms of processing capabilities and battery support.
- Excellent battery life + fast charging
- Excellent single-core performances
- 88% screen to body ration
- 2 Thunderbolt 3 ports
- Brilliant acoustic support
- Light-weighted chassis
- Exclusive NumberPad 2.0
- Restrictive storage space
- No fingerprint reader
12. Cheapest MacBook: Apple Macbook Air
If you have plans of going ahead with the macOS but without burning a hole in the pocket, the new MacBook Air is a decent enough choice, courtesy of a mid-level processor, and excellent productivity-enhancing attributes.
When it comes to the processor, Apple packs in the newest Apple M1 chip processor boasting of a clock speed of up to 3.20GHz. This processor is good enough to allow you to run standalone apps and programs without issues. There is also an Integrated Apple 7-core at the helm, capable of curing the visual quality as per preferences.
Apple makes way for 8GB RAM which is more than enough for mid-level multitasking. Besides that, there is a 256GB SSD in place that comes equipped with ultra-fast data rendering capabilities. When it comes to the OS, you get macOS Catalina, straight out of the box.
As a student, the 13.3-inch Retina Display is expected to serve you well, especially when media consumption is taken into account. Despite the razor-sharp visual clarity courtesy of the overall resolution of 2560 x 1600 pixels, the MacBook Air screen is best characterized by the ‘True Tone’ Technology.
Next in line is the magic keyboard with a 1mm key travel. Most importantly, you get a responsive trackpad with gesture support followed by an efficient fingerprint scanner, in the form of the proprietary Touch ID. Apple amps up the productivity quotient with a visually alluring FaceTime webcam, an array of triple, voice-purified mics, and powerful speakers that are 25 percent louder as compared to the predecessor.
The MacBook Air 13 is one of the better-looking gadgets in the market, weighing a mere 2.8 pounds. Despite the sleekness of the profile, you get access to two Thunderbolt 3 ports with DisplayPort and charging support and excellent wireless connectivity standards. The existing battery offers a 12+ hour backup, before requiring a refill.
Overall, this is probably the best gadget you can invest in as a student if you are looking to purchase a MacBook on a budget.
- Graphics-optimized CPU
- Ultra-fast storage
- Responsive Touch ID
- Brilliant display
- Dependable battery
- Two Thunderbolt 3 ports for data transfer at 40gbps
- Not fit for 3D modeling, rendering, and intricate tasks
Frequently Asked Questions
How much memory do I need on my college laptop?
While there is no fixed limit to how much system memory or RAM is required by a college student, it is advisable to go with a minimum of 8GB. However, if you have the money to spare consider getting a 16GB module as it would then help you run some of the more demanding graphics and processor-centric tasks with ease, provided the CPU is competent enough.
Which Apple-branded laptop should I purchase for college?
If you have the money, the MacBook Pro is a better option strictly based on the availability of Apple’s M1 chip processor and 8-core GPU. However, if you are looking for a gadget that costs less and can handle a majority of mid-level tasks with ease, you should consider the new MacBook Air.
How much storage space is typically preferred by a college student?
As a college student, anything in the ballpark of 512GB is a must, provided the volume of assignments, leisure content, and datasets on display. However, it is necessary to avoid a hard disk as much as possible, just to amplify the boot-up speeds and ensure that the files, data, OS, and programs load in a twinkling of an eye.
Which is an underrated aspect shall I take into account before purchasing a laptop for college?
Although we have covered every other aspect that can be useful to you when laptop purchases are concerned, you must take the security standards into account for ensuring minimal intrusion. Therefore, try and locate a device that comes with a built-in fingerprint scanner like the Touch ID or an IR webcam with face recognition.
Which form factor should I emphasize on while purchasing a laptop for college?
As a student, your choice of form factor depends on your preferences, mobility, and task-based requirements. For instance, if you are a frequent traveler and need to use the gadget even when on the move, purchasing a convertible to 2-in-1 is a better option. However, if you are a desk-based person, consider getting a clamshell with stylus support and a powerful processor. In either case, you are better off with a touch-supported notebook.
The laptop segment for college students features a wide range of selections, regardless of the price, preferences, and portability. Despite being a diversified arena, you, as a student, must research carefully and ascertain all your requirements before taking the plunge.
However, our experts have eased out the process of selecting the best option by enlisting some of the most relevant gadgets that are currently retailing over the online and offline space.
While you can always select the most appropriate laptop by looking at the specs and budget,
- We would personally recommend the HP Spectre x360 15t, provided you want portability, processing power, touch support, security, connectivity, and gaming support, rolled into one.
- If you are more inclined towards the macOS, consider the MacBook Pro 13, courtesy of the competitive budget, and the visual quality.
- Last but not least, if you are not interested in leisure gaming but interested in exceptional processing speeds and non-Intel hardware selection, the enviously portable Acer Swift 3 is the laptop to invest in.