Today, you can’t survive school or college without a decent laptop. Be it reading, listening or creating content, you would need it for various needs. And, these needs get more important when you are schooling online. Due to the simplicity in the setup, you might think you just need the machine with an active internet connection. But, that is not completely right.
Although the primary tasks during an online class include watching educational videos on the LMS, attending online lectures & video conferences, you’ll also be doing other tasks like giving online tests, writing research papers, completing assignments, surfing the web, etc. Not to forget that, you’ll need it to be portable (if you don’t have a fix-desk or prefer carrying it out in the outdoors.)
You won’t need many resources to attend your virtual class or watch video lectures but you must pick a machine depending on the courses you are involved in. For instance, resource-intensive courses such as machine learning, data science, 3D modeling, or mechanical engineering, video editing, game development, etc, require a powerful laptop with a high-end CPU, GPU, and RAM combination.
You shouldn’t just focus on getting a laptop that’s capable of handling your virtual classroom sessions, but you must also look into the course-specific tasks you’ll be performing on it. To help you find the right one for your needs, we interviewed 71 distance learning students, and based on their inputs, here’s a list of 10 best options you should consider for your internet schooling needs.
We even researched 431 online courses (top-rated) and made sure that the machines in our list would be compatible/suitable for the tasks involved with them. Also, not only for homeschooling, but you can also carry it to your school, college, grad school, or future workplace. What else do you need?
- Minimum & Recommended System Requirements
- Best Laptops For Online School in 2021
- 1. Best Overall: HP Envy 15
- 2. Best Runner Up: ASUS ZenBook Pro 15
- 3. Best 4K Laptop: Dell XPS 15
- 4. Best for Online College: Acer Aspire 5
- 5. Best 2-in-1 Convertible: Lenovo Yoga 920
- 6. Best for Multi-Tasking: Apple MacBook Pro
- 7. Best for IT Students: Microsoft Surface Laptop
- 8. Best For High School Students: Dell Inspiron 5000
- 9. Best For Affordability: ASUS VivoBook 15
- 10. Best for Portability: Microsoft Surface Go
- Frequently Asked Questions
- How much should you invest on a laptop for online schooling?
- Is dedicated graphics necessary for a school laptop?
- What is the ideal weight of a student’s laptop?
- What are the features required for online classes?
- Do I need a Full HD display for a virtual classroom?
- Are convertible laptops suitable for online schooling?
Minimum & Recommended System Requirements
Like said above, the minimum and recommended specs depend a lot on the courses you are involved in. However, based on our research, the below specs are highly compatible with a majority of the tasks. Besides performance, we’ve also looked into multitasking capabilities, portability, and build quality.
|Minimum System Requirements||Recommended System Requirements|
|CPU||Intel Pentium Gold||Intel Core i7|
|Storage||128GB SSD||512GB SSD|
|Display||10-inch (1800 x 1200)||15.6-inch FHD (1920 x 1080)|
|Battery||Up to 7 hours||Up to 10 hours|
|GPU||Integrated Intel HD 615||NVIDIA GeForce GTX series GPU|
Best Laptops For Online School in 2021
|HP Envy 15|
|ASUS ZenBook Pro 15|
|Dell XPS 15|
|Acer Aspire 5|
|Lenovo Yoga 920|
|Apple MacBook Pro|
|Microsoft Surface Laptop|
|Dell Inspiron 5000|
|ASUS VivoBook 15|
|Microsoft Surface Go|
While many of them would suggest you to pick an expensive machine, there’s no point in spending on resources you won’t be using. As said, the perfect laptop depends on the course you are studying, If you are learning film editing online, you definitely need something like a MacBook Pro.
It doesn’t matter what type, of course, you’re enrolled into, be it business studies, medical school, art studies, law studies, or high-end tasks like engineering, computer science, etc, the laptops in this list are capable of handling all the tasks, just make sure that you pick the one based your resource requirements. Not only that, but they are also suitable for kids and their school studies.
1. Best Overall: HP Envy 15
The HP Envy 15 is one of the best laptops for students who are looking to continue with their school curriculum, despite the restrictions imposed in the post-pandemic era. With schools still closed in a majority of countries keeping up with the academics, project work, and other activities becomes all the more important to maintain educational continuity. This is where the Envy 15 comes in as one of the more reliable gadgets to invest in, courtesy of the student-friendly specs sheet.
Firstly, you get access to the Intel Core i7-10750H processor, which is overkill for online schooling and relevant activities. Therefore, in addition to helping your child get ahead of the academic ballgame, this laptop also doubles down as a creative or professional hub. As a majority of schooling tasks, including MS-Office usage, online researching, and more rely on single-threaded performances, the turbo clock speed of this CPU, at 5GHz is expected to suffice.
Next in line is the GTX 1650 Ti GPU that works closely with the mobile SoC and 4GB of dedicated VRAM. While a majority of schooling activities can be managed by the integrated graphics card, the dedicated GPU helps the child indulge in mid-range gaming, without breaking a sweat. HP also accommodates an ultrafast 16GB RAM, which is one of the best modules for multitasking. At 2933MHz, the system memory is capable of managing simultaneous processes sans stutters.
The Envy 15 addresses the storage-centric demands with a 512GB solid-state drive. The high-bandwidth SSD is capable of storing almost every school and academic assignment and resource with ease. Besides, HP also offers the Windows 10 Home edition OS as the pre-existing operating platform, which looks even better on the 15.6-inch touch screen.
The existing micro-edge display is one of the best assets for school-going students, courtesy of the touch support, wide-angle viewing experience, and the 100 percent sRGB color palette, which whets the color distinguishing capabilities of the students, in the best possible way. HP also accommodates a backlit keyboard with excellent travel, Bang and Olufsen speakers, and the security-enhancing fingerprint scanner.
As online schooling activities are heavily reliant on the webcam, the Envy 15 stacks in the vibrant, TrueVision HD webcam. Besides, the OEM protects you against cyberattacks with the physical privacy shutter, which restricts remote webcam activation. Besides, you also get access to a purposeful microphone array for a more holistic learning experience.
The gadget, despite the numerous bells and whistles, is pretty light at 4.74 pounds and even incorporates strategic, heat-dissipating vents. However, the port arrangement is pretty significant, with HP making room for SuperSpeed Type-A, SuperSpeed Type-C, HDMI, and other functional slots. As online schooling would require students to connect to the internet, the Envy 15 also accommodates the Wi-Fi 6 connectivity standard.
The extended battery backup of almost 18.5 hours is also a student-friendly resource, allowing your kids to stay connected to the school server even during electrical outages. Moreover, HP also brings in the Fast Charging technology to the Envy 15, qualifying it as one of the best laptops for diverse online schooling requirements.
- 10th gen processor
- Ultrafast RAM
- Long-lasting battery life
- TrueVision webcam with a physical shutter
- Stellar touchscreen display
- Lacks Thunderbolt 3 port
- Pricey for basic schooling requirements
2. Best Runner Up: ASUS ZenBook Pro 15
First things first, the ASUS ZenBook Pro 15 offers the same level of performance, thanks to the Intel Core i7 at 2.8GHz and 16GB of DDR4 RAM. However, you are getting half the storage space, but still SSD, which works great for performance. So, you can have hassle-free multitasking with this device.
When it comes to display, however, things have been downgraded to a 15.6-inch full HD panel with touch support. Still, with a good resolution of 1920 x 1080, watching movies and games would not be a tough task. It also packs the NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1050 Ti with a VRAM of 4GB. This would come in handy if you are into graphics-intensive tasks as well.
Comprehensive connectivity is something we loved in the ASUS ZenBook Pro 15. You get 2 Thunderbolt 3-enabled USB Type C ports and two USB 3.0 Type-A ports. The laptop also offers better speed in terms of Wi-Fi. Last but not least, you can have HDMI connectivity for extra needs. ASUS has also packed some extra features like a powerful keyboard, an elegant design, and better heat management.
When things are said and done, the ASUS ZenBook Pro 15 can offer a maximum battery life of 14 hours on a single charge. The battery comes with fast charging tech that pushes the battery to 60% juice in 49 minutes. Of course, the battery would drain faster if you are watching full HD videos or streaming all day. Still, 14 is a great place to start.
With a weight of 4 pounds, the ASUS ZenBook Pro 15 isn’t light, but not so huge either.
- Elegant design
- Long battery life
- Dedicated graphics
- Fast charging support
- Potential touchpad issues
3. Best 4K Laptop: Dell XPS 15
The Dell XPS 15 is one of the most popular laptops for online schooling if you need performance. Thanks to the combination of an Intel Core i7-7700HQ processor clocked at 2.8GHz and 16GB of RAM, you can easily open several Chrome tabs and do intense work. Coming to storage, it offers plenty and full SSD means a wonderful speed as well.
The touch-enabled display, with an amazing 4K resolution (3840 x 2160), is a visual treat to say the least. If you are learning video editing or love to watch films, the screen is the best in town. Just in case you want to create content or play some games in free time, you would love the NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1050, with a VRAM of 4GB. This would be enough for rendering your Adobe Premiere Pro clips or playing Fortnite.
The Dell XPS 15 does not compromise the connectivity side either. The wireless AC adaptor can offer you an amazing speed so that you can listen to those lectures without buffer. It also comes with a Thunderbolt 3 port and two USB 3.0 ports for extended connectivity. Some other noticeable features include MaxxAudio speakers and a backlit keyboard. There is also an HDMI port in case you want a secondary display.
We wouldn’t say the Dell XPS 15 is a lightweight laptop. However, when compared to the performance it is offering, 4.41 pounds sounds pretty fine. The manufacturer doesn’t make any claims regarding battery life, but reviews mention up to 7 hours with heavy usage. So, if you use this expensive laptop for listening to lectures and making PPT presentations, you can have all-day power.
- 1TB of SSD storage
- Extensive connectivity
- Dedicated graphics
- Touchscreen display
4. Best for Online College: Acer Aspire 5
There are times when you need an affordable laptop with high performance. If you are on a tight budget but still want to run some heavy software as a part of the syllabus, Acer Aspire 5 is an awesome choice.
Powering it inside is an Intel Core i7 processor clocked at 1.6GHz and goes up to 4.6GHz. When coupled with 12GB of RAM and 512GB of SSD storage, it will never stop you from multitasking.
Although it has the traditional amount of bezels, the 15.6-inch display is a beautiful. While its native resolution of 1920 x 1080 is enough for enjoying full HD streams and other media consumption, the addition of an NVIDIA GeForce MX250 is amazing. This dedicated graphics card has a VRAM of 2GB, which is enough for low-key gaming and content creation.
The Acer Aspire 5 does not let us down in terms of connectivity either. It comes with a USB 3.1 Type C port and two USB 3.1 Gen 1 ports. In addition, you get a full HDMI port and one USB 2.0. While we wish the USB 2.0 port could have been replaced by something, the rest is good. Some other features of the device include a backlit keyboard, Acer TrueHarmony sound, and elegant design.
With a weight of 3.97 pounds, the Acer Aspire 5 is not a particularly lightweight or travel-friendly laptop, but we can’t call it heavy either. It should be noted that the computer packs some of the best hardware combined with enough battery power. The fact that the laptop can last for up to 9.5 hours with standard performance is just awesome. Despite all these, the pricing isn’t that much either.
- Affordable price
- Dedicated graphics
- Backlit keyboard
- Normal bezels
5. Best 2-in-1 Convertible: Lenovo Yoga 920
One of the benefits of online classes is the flexibility it offers. If you want to make the most out of it, it is best to use a convertible laptop. The Lenovo Yoga 920 happens to offer the right package you have been looking for. It is powered by an Intel Core i7 processor with a clock speed of 1.8GHz, which is combined with 8GB RAM and 256GB SSD storage.
What makes the 13.9-inch screen special is the touch screen support and stylus compatibility. You will have a great time while drawing diagrams or making artwork on the Full HD screen, thanks to the resolution of 1920 x 1080. In order to reduce weight and enable convertibility, Lenovo has excluded a dedicated graphics card from the package, but that’s alright.
To make the best out of the flexible design, there is stylus support from Lenovo. The pen included with the package is of decent experience overall. On the connectivity side, the Lenovo Yoga 920 has a sufficient set of ports, including a full-sized USB 3.0 port. Because it runs on Windows 10 Home with support for Windows Ink, you will have an amazing experience there too.
Compared to the other products above, the Lenovo Yoga 920 is a truly lightweight convertible laptop. With a manageable weight of 3.02 pounds, you can’t go wrong with this choice. Be it watching movies or going through your notes, the flexibility matters a lot. It comes as an icing on the cake that the laptop offers a maximum battery life of up to 15.5 hours.
- Convertible design
- Windows Ink support
- Audio could be better
6. Best for Multi-Tasking: Apple MacBook Pro
Students love MacBook devices for their clear blend of performance, smoothness, and the productivity that is offered by the macOS platform. If you are willing to spend some money, the latest-generation Apple MacBook Pro would be a great companion for your day-to-day distance learning needs.
Powered by Apple’s M1 8-Core processor with a clock speed of 3.2GHz and 8GB of RAM, this MacBook Pro won’t let you down. The 256GB of SSD storage gives you not only speed but instant turn-on options.
Coming to the display, you will be getting the 13.3-inch display, which packs a resolution of 2560 x 1600. This should be enough for enjoying your lectures and even when you have to edit 2K or 4K video content. While it does not come with dedicated graphics, the rendering speeds are always commendable.
Connectivity is where you have to learn several things if you are new to Apple laptops. The device packs 2 x Thunderbolt 4 USB Type C ports, both of them having charging capability. However, if you want to use legacy USB products, you will have to purchase a dongle. Apart from this, it has a wonderful speaker for music listening and a backlit magic keyboard with the Butterfly mechanism. You also get the convenience of Touch Bar and Touch ID.
We should also mention that the MacBook Pro 13-inch looks extremely gorgeous and adds charm to your digital bundle. The device packs a battery that is powerful enough to provide up to 17 hours of working time. Despite all the bells and whistles, the device is pretty lightweight, with a tag of 3.0 pounds. Altogether, if you’re aiming for portability and performance, you can’t go wrong with this laptop.
- Amazing Display
- Touch ID
- Fast SSD storage
- Fluid macOS
- Durable, unique and stylish design
- Backlit magic keyboard
- Only 2 USB ports
7. Best for IT Students: Microsoft Surface Laptop
Coming straight from the capacity of Microsoft, this is a great choice when you need a balanced combination of performance, portability, and elegance. Microsoft Surface might as well be one of the nicest looking laptops in the market right now. For an online schooling experience, it means flexibility and unparalleled performance.
Behind all the performance is the Intel Core i5, clocked at 2.5GHz and 8GB of RAM. At the same time, 256GB of SSD storage will contribute to speedy boot-up times.
There are two factors that make the display impressive: the 13.5-inch PixelSense panel with a resolution of 2256 x 1504 and the minimal bezels. It should be noted that it has a touchscreen and you will have an easy experience of handling windows. As you may have guessed, the Microsoft Surface Book has traded the dedicated graphics option for the sake of ultra-portable design and long battery life in the end.
Elegant is the word we’d use for describing the design of the Microsoft Surface Book. The exterior has been made of Aluminum casing and it works just flawlessly. Thanks to the dedicated card reader and one USB 3.0 port, you won’t have problems in connectivity. We should also mention that the keyboard is so good, and you would love to use the device for typing long essays. It’s a complete package from the exterior.
At the end of the day, even with this much balance in performance, the device offers an amazing battery life of up to 14.5 hours. This means long lecture hours without charging, especially when considering the low weight of just 2.67 pounds. Conclusively, you cannot go wrong with it if you are looking for ultraportable design, balanced performance and the stock Windows experience.
- Ultraportable design
- Touchscreen support
- Original Windows experience
- No dedicated graphics
8. Best For High School Students: Dell Inspiron 5000
If you want the convenience of a convertible laptop without spending too much, you should consider what Dell Inspiron 5000 has to offer.
Bringing standard performance for your multitasking and browsing needs, it is powered by a 2.5GHz Intel Core i5 processor, coupled with 8GB of RAM. This should be enough to keep all your Chrome tabs open without fail. The laptop, however, does not have SSD storage but packs a 1TB HDD.
Comparatively a bigger laptop, the Dell Inspiron 5000 doesn’t compromise display quality either. You get a 15.6-inch full HD display with a clear resolution of 1920 x 1080. While this isn’t particularly extraordinary, you won’t have trouble in watching movies or reading your notes. As you could have guessed, there is no graphics card as such, apart from the integrated graphics from Intel.
As the title says, convertibility is the biggest factor with this affordable deal. You will be able to use the device at different angles, and the touchscreen display helps there a lot. Coming to the connectivity sector, you will not be disappointed, thanks to one USB Type C port, one USB 3.0 port and one USB 2.0 port. You are also getting HDMI connectivity and a headphone jack.
In the end, the Dell Inspiron 5000 is a perfect affordable package for online students. It does not compromise performance but still offers flexibility. However, we really wish the battery life could be better, since it offers only up to 6 hours, especially considering that the device weighs 4.54 pounds in total. However, we can blame its extensive connectivity for the extra weight.
- Extensive connectivity
- Flexible design
- Touchscreen display
- Lacks SSD storage
9. Best For Affordability: ASUS VivoBook 15
If you are really short on budget and don’t want to spend more than $500 on a laptop, you should consider what ASUS VivoBook 15 has to offer. With some little compromises across the board, this laptop can offer you standard performance.
Controlling all the performance is a 3.9GHz Intel Core i3 processor and 8GB of DDR4 RAM. To complement the speed, you also get 128GB of SSD storage as well.
You can’t expect any magic from the display at this cost. However, the 15.6-inch panel with a resolution of 1920 x 1080 will ensure good viewing angles and details. As you could have guessed, the device does not have dedicated graphics. Instead, some connectivity and convenience-oriented features have been added to the package in general.
Coming to connectivity, the ASUS VivoBook 15 is an all-rounder. In addition to the new-gen USB Type C port, there are USB 3.0 and USB 2.0 ports available for legacy connectivity. There is also HDMI connectivity and a well-built chiclet keyboard with backlit. So, when you consider the practicality of everything, the laptop will not let you down.
The compromises in terms of performance have helped in making a lightweight laptop. Weighing just 3.75 pounds, it is one of the lightweight options in the price bracket right now. Coming to the section of battery, ASUS does not make any estimate but mentions that it has fast-charging capacity. That is, you can charge the VivoBook 15 to up to 60% within just 49 minutes.
- Really affordable
- Standard performance
- Backlit keyboard
- Average battery life
10. Best for Portability: Microsoft Surface Go
One of the most lightweight laptops in the entire list, Microsoft Surface Go is an amazing choice if you value portable performance over everything else. The device is powered by a quite old Intel Pentium processor — with a clock speed of 1.6GHz. However, the addition of 8GB of RAM and 128GB of SSD storage would be an amazing way to ensure overall performance.
Coming to the display, it’s also one of the smallest in the list. The 10-inch PixelSense display has a resolution of 1800 x 1200, which means the details would be top-notch and noticeable at best. Of course, you shouldn’t be expecting a dedicated graphics card with a device of this slimness to begin with. However, the visual feel of the device is just awesome to say the least.
The best part about the Microsoft Surface Go is that you can use the device in various modes, including the Laptop mode, Tablet Mode, and Studio Mode. And, when you purchase the right accessories such as Surface Pen and Surface Go Signature Type Cover, the device gets unleashed performance. For connectivity, it has a USB Type C port as well.
Weighing just 1.15 pounds, the Microsoft Surface Go is the best choice if you want lightweight performance. You cannot go wrong about the level of flexibility it offers. Coming to the battery department, the device offers an unplugged use of up to 9 hours. This should be enough to get an all-day performance, whether you are listening to lectures or watching something on Netflix.
- Really portable design
- Long battery life
- Processor is old
Frequently Asked Questions
Here are some of the common questions you might have, answered.
How much should you invest on a laptop for online schooling?
You should invest according to the type and nature of the course you are taking up. For instance, if you are trying to learn Final Cut Pro and film editing, you should invest as much as to buy a MacBook. On the other hand, if you are learning some arts-based subjects, a common laptop with standard performance would do.
Is dedicated graphics necessary for a school laptop?
No, you can expect a good level of performance even if your laptop does not have a dedicated graphics card. However, if your course requires you to create content or play games, you should go for a device with dedicated graphics onboard.
What is the ideal weight of a student’s laptop?
The weight of your laptop would vary according to the performance you are expecting. You should, however, aim for something that lasts through your day-to-day activities. If you want to make the best of portability, you should go for something even lightweight.
What are the features required for online classes?
You should always look for features that are related to the course you are studying. However, in general, it’s good to have a backlit keyboard with nice key travel. Fingerprint scanner and latest-generation Wi-Fi would help you keep everything on track as well.
Do I need a Full HD display for a virtual classroom?
Being an online schooling student, you will have to listen to a lot of lectures and other learning materials. In that process, it is good to have a screen that does not compromise details. So, we would always recommend going for a laptop with at least a full HD display.
Are convertible laptops suitable for online schooling?
Convertible laptops with touchscreen and stylus support are really good if you are learning creative subjects. When it’s time to draw or photo edit, you can make the best out of a dedicated pen and gesture support. In addition, you get the benefits of portability.
The list finally comes to an end, we’ve made sure that the laptops mentioned in this list satisfy the diverse online schooling requirements. It doesn’t matter whether you want a high-end or an affordable machine for your online school, you’ll surely find a suitable option.
Make sure that you are investing enough, as a laptop can make or break your online schooling experience. It’s always good to spend some money and get high-performance than sitting idle in front of it, doing nothing, as it’s slow, isn’t it?
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