Best Laptops for College Students

By thenerdz | Computer Articles

Aug 31

A laptop is an absolutely essential tool for any college student. Between internet research, writing papers, checking class Blackboard sites, and responding to emails, it is hard to imagine how any college student could manage in today’s academic environment without one. However, buying the best laptops for college students is also a major investment, and something that a student will likely be using for a long time. The size of the purchase, and the importance of it for one’s academic career, leaves many potential college students feeling overwhelmed. With so many models on the market today, we've taken it on ourselves to make your search easy.

>> Jump to the Best Laptop Under $500

Featured Best Laptop for College Students

Apple MacBook MLHE2LL

best laptops for college students

Features:

  • 256 GB Pcle-based onboard flash storage
  • 2304 by 1440 HD resolution
  • Mac OS X El Capitan operating system
  • Compatible with Microsoft Office

What really are the top laptops for college students? We have reviewed some of the most popular models on the market today to help you choose the best laptop for school. All of our analyses are based on real consumer-written reviews, so you know they are trustworthy. If you need to purchase a laptop for college and are overwhelmed at the prospect, read on for some advice on how to choose good laptops for college students.

Best Computers for College

Product

Image

Rating

More Info

Apple MacBook MLHE2LL

best laptops for college

Apple MacBook Air MJVG2LL

good laptops for college

LG gram 15Z960 i5 Laptop

best college laptops

Tablet Revolution Microsoft
Surface Book 2-in-1 Laptop

best computer for college

Dell 15.6-Inch Gaming Laptop

best laptop for college 2016

ASUS UX305 13-Inch Laptop

Cell content

top laptops for college

College Laptop Reviews

Apple MacBook MLHE2LL - Best laptop for college students

student laptop

Pros

  • 256 GB Pcle-based onboard flash storage
  • 2304 by 1440 HD resolution
  • Mac OS X El Capitan operating system
  • Compatible with Microsoft Office

Cons

  • No major cons

The Apple MacBook MLHE2LL is a very high quality product. It has a 1.1 GHz Dual-Core Intel Core M3 Processor with a 4 MB shared L3 cache. It has 8GB of 1866 MHz LPDDR3 RAM with 256 GB Pcle-based onboard flash storage. It boasts a 12-Inch IPs LED-backlit display with 2304 by 1440 resolution, which is an incredibly high resolution. It also has Intel HD Graphics 515.

It comes with the OS X El Capitan operating system, making this a great choice for a college student opting for a modern Apple product. It has only a USB-C Port, but the technology has advanced so that this is the only USB port that is necessary. Even though it is an Apple product, this model is compatible with Microsoft Office, likely an important consideration for a college student.

At $1199.99, this is definitely an expensive model, but its enormous storage capacity and high resolution makes it remain a good value. This product has 60 reviews on Amazon.com, which is too small of a sample size from which to garner a reliable impression. Still, it has an overall rating of 4.4 out of 5 stars, with 68% of reviewers giving it a 5 star review and 27% giving it less than a 4 star review. Most consumers are very happy with this computer. They report that it has a nice, lightweight feel and that it has a very impressive resolution. 

There are few complaints about quality assurance. The main complaint is about the battery life, that it dies very quickly and constantly needs to be recharged. Overall, however, if you are looking for one of the best laptops for college students and are willing to pay for it, this is an excellent choice.


Apple MacBook Air MJVG2LL - 2nd best computer for college

what is the best laptop for a college student

Pros

  • 256 GB Pcle-based flash storage
  • Mac OS X Yosemite operating system
  • Compatible with Microsoft Office

Cons

  • Lower Resolution than the big MacBooks

The Apple MacBook Air MJVG2LL is similar to the previous Apple MacBook reviewed, but has some differences as well. This laptop has 1.6 GHz dual-core Intel Core i5 with 2 MB shared L3 cache and 4 GB of 1600 MHz LPDDR3 RAM, which is half of that of the Apple MacBook MLHE2LL. However, it still has 256 GB of pcle-based flash storage.

The screen is 13.3 inches with an LED-backlight glossy widespread display and a resolution of 1440 x 900, which is significantly lower than the previous MacBook as well. However, at $853.12, it is also significantly less expensive. It comes with the Mac OS X Yosemite operating system and boosts a twelve-hour battery life, a major improvement over the newer MacBook model. It also only weighs three pounds, and that combined with the 13.3-inch screen makes it easy for the college student to cart around in her backpack.

This product has 331 reviews on Amazon.com, which is a decent sample size, meaning the results are relatively reliable. It has an overall impression of 4.7 out of 5 stars, with 81% of reviewers giving it a 5 star review and 10% giving it less than a 4 star review. 

Most consumers are very happy with how this laptop functions, but the main complaint is about the screen resolution. Compared to true high definition screens, this one falls slightly short. However, if you are not concerned about resolution and instead are focused on a better price for an equally high quality machine, this MacBook is one of the best laptops for college students.


LG gram 15Z960 i5 Laptop - 3rd best college laptop

what laptop should i buy for college

Pros

  • 256 GB storage
  • Windows 10 Operating System

Cons

  • No major cons

The LG gram 15Z960 i5 is another great product. It has a 2.8 GHz Core i5 6200U processor and 8 GB DDR3L SDRAM. Like the MacBooks, the LG gram has 256 GB of storage, but it has a 15.6 inch screen, which is larger than the MacBook Air. At only 2.2 pounds, it is incredibly lightweight, making it exceedingly portable. However, the maximum screen resolution is only 1920 x 1080 pixels, which is lower than the newer MacBook but higher than the MacBook Air.

It comes with a Windows 10 operating system, meaning it is definitely compatible with Microsoft Office and is a good choice for someone who prefers Windows operating systems. At $946, it is reasonably priced for its capabilities according to market value.

This product has only 25 reviews on Amazon.com, and with this small of a sample size, it is almost impossible to gain a reliable overall impression. 

Still, it has an overall rating of 4.7 out of 5 stars, with 76% of reviewers giving it a 5 star review and 8% giving it less than a 4 star review. Most reviewers are very happy with this product. They report that it is very lightweight and functions quite well. Overall, this seems like a good option for someone who wants a high quality computer with a Windows operating system.


Tablet Revolution Microsoft Surface Book 2-in-1 Laptop Review

what is a good laptop for college

Pros

  • Touchscreen
  • Windows 10 Pro Operating System

Cons

  • Pricey

The 2015 Tablet Revolution Microsoft Surface Book 2-in-1 Laptop is a top of the line product. It is a touchscreen and comes with a digitizer pen and a keyboard, appealing to a variety of potential users. It has a 6th generation Intel Core i5 processor with 128GB SSD and 8GB RAM. Its operating system is Windows 10 Pro, which means it is definitely compatible with Microsoft Office. It only weighs 3.5 pounds, making it easy to carry in a backpack as well.

It costs $1399.99, which is more expensive than other products on the market. However, its touchscreen capacity is the reason for the increase in price. This product only has one review on Amazon.com, so its one 5 star rating is meaningless when it comes to overall impressions. If you are looking for a high quality, touch screen product and are willing to pay for this feature, the 2015 Tablet Revolution Microsoft Surface Book 2-in-1 Laptop is a great choice. However, if you are not concerned with the touchscreen feature, there are equally valuable products for a lower price.


Dell 15.6-Inch Gaming Laptop - 6th Gen Intel Quad-Core i5-6300HQ

best dell laptop for college

Pros

  • 256 GB of storage
  • Windows 10 Operating System
  • Good for videogame usage

Cons

  • Not lightweight

The Dell 15.6-Inch Gaming Laptop is one of Dell’s highest quality products. It has an Intel i6-6300HQ 2.3 GHz Quad-Core with 8 GB DDR3L and 256 GB of Solid-State Drive storage. The screen is 15.6 inches with 1920 x 1080 pixel resolution. This is a high resolution, but not as high as the newest MacBook model. It advertises a wide-angle, anti-glare screen, however, targeted towards videogame users.

At seven pounds, this is significantly heavier than other models reviewed, making it harder to carry to class. However, at $779.99, it is also significantly less expensive, making it a good value. It comes with a Windows 10 operating system, so it is definitely compatible with Microsoft Office.

This product has 943 reviews on Amazon.com, and this sample size is large enough to give a reliable overall impression. It has an overall rating of 4.2 out of 5 stars, with 57% of reviewers giving it a 5 star review and 21% giving it less than a 4 star review. Generally, consumers are happy with the quality of this laptop, particularly for videogame usage, which appeals to many college students. 

However, some consumers complain about its portability problems at seven pounds. Overall, if you are looking for a good laptop for videogames that is relatively less expensive, this is a good model. If, however, you are looking for a laptop to take to class, there may be better models.


ASUS UX305 13-Inch Laptop

best affordable laptops for college students

Pros

  • 256 GB of storage
  • Comes with Windows 10 Operating System
  • 10 hour battery life

Cons

  • Not geared for graphic intense programs.

The ASUS UX305 13-Inch Laptop is a great laptop for college students. It has a 2.2 GHz Core i5-5200U processor with 8 GB DDR3 RAM and 256 GB of storage. It comes with a 13.3 inch full HD IPS Anti-Glare Matte Display with a wide 170 degree viewing angle and a screen resolution of 1920 by 1080 pixels. It also has a 1.1 MP High Definition webcam and comes with a Windows 10 operating system.

It is incredibly lightweight, weighing only 2.86 pounds and being .6 inch thin, making it easy to carry to class. It also boasts a 10-hour battery life, important for students who use their laptop all day long. At $601.34, it is clearly on the inexpensive side as well.

This product has 480 reviews on Amazon.com, and while this is not an enormous sample size, it is large enough to give a decent overall impression. It has an overall rating of 4.1 out of 5 stars, with 58% of reviewers giving it a 5 star review and 22% giving it less than a 4 star review. 

Most consumers are happy with the product. It's great for general college work, but if you are looking for a more powerful laptop computer for college (one that can play games, or launch graphic intense programs), then you might want to spend a little more money and get something with more horsepower.


Best Laptops for College Students Under $500

Clearly, laptops are quite expensive, and the price may be overwhelming for many college students. If you are looking for cheap laptops for students, read on.

HP Notebook 15-ay011nr Laptop

Best Laptops under 500

Pros

  • Windows 10 Operating Service
  • Comes with Windows 10 Operating System
  • Inexpensive

Cons

  • Less Storage than the more expensive options

The HP Notebook 15-ay011nr 15.6-Inch Laptop is one of the best cheap laptops for college students. It has an Intel it 2.3 GHz Dual-Core Processor and 8 GB DDR3L-SDRAM Memory. It has a 5400RPM hard drive and a 15.6” full HD LED-backlit screen with a 1920 x 1080 resolution. This is a good mid-range resolution, higher than some but not as high as others.

It comes with a Windows 10 operating system, meaning it is definitely compatible with Microsoft Office. It weighs 4.65 pounds, which is heavier than some models, but still light enough to carry to class without much difficulty. At $449.99, it is significantly more affordable than similar products.

This product has 348 reviews on Amazon.com, which is a large enough sample size to give a reasonably reliable impression. It has an overall rating of 4.0 out of 5 stars, with 55% of reviewers giving it a 5 star review and 24% of reviewers giving it less than a 4 star review. 

Most consumers are happy with this product and believe that it is a good value for the price. If you are looking for a less expensive laptop that is still capable of doing all of your basic student functions, this is one of the best laptops for college students under 500.


Lenovo Thinkpad X140e

Best Laptops for College Students Under $500

Pros

  • Built-in HD 720 webcam
  • Comes with Windows 7 Professional operating system

Cons

  • Lower Storage Capacity compared to the more expensive options

The Lenovo Thinkpad X140e is another great product for college students. It has an AMD APU A4-5000 Quad Core Processor with 4GH DDR3 1600MHz and a 500 GB 7200 rpm hard drive. It comes with a 11.6” HD screen with an LED backlight and a resolution of 1366 x 768. This resolution is lower than that of other models, but it also is much less expensive, costing only $349.99.

It comes with a built-in HD 720 webcam and installed with a Windows 7 Professional operating system, meaning it can definitely support Microsoft Office. At 3.9 pounds, it is light enough to carry in a backpack to class without much concern.

This product has 144 reviews on Amazon.com, and this sample size is too small to give a reliable review. Still, it has an overall rating of 4.1 out of 5 stars, with 59% of reviewers giving it a 5 star review and 19% of reviewers giving it less than a 4 star review. Most of the consumers are very happy with this product, particularly the value for the price.  

Given the low price, the Lenovo Thinkpad appears as a solid choice and one of the best cheap laptops for students.


Things to Consider When Purchasing A Laptop for College

Choosing a good laptop for college can be a very individual decision. However, there are some universal considerations to keep in mind. Try and pay attention to the following things when shopping:

  • Storage. How much storage will you need for college? Will you need to store lots of images, videos, and documents? If so, you will need to opt for a computer with a higher storage capacity. Storage is measured in GB; the more GB, the more storage capacity. However, price is also positively correlated with storage capacity, so make sure you set a realistic expectation of your storage needs, particularly if price is a major concern.
  • Software. What software will you need for your classes? You may want to check with your college’s Office of Academic Affairs about this. Will you need Microsoft Office? Photoshop? This is probably the most important consideration for college students, as you need to be sure that you purchase a computer that can support your software needs.
  • Operating System. Do you want a Windows or a Mac? What are the pros and cons of both? You probably will be able to install your necessary software on either operating system, but do your research and make sure. Also, do you have a preference for a certain operating system within those two brands? Choose an operating system that aligns with your personal preferences and your academic needs.
  • Portability. In college, you likely will need to bring your laptop to class, which means you will need to carry it with you. What kind of weight are you comfortable carrying? If you know that you will need to be carrying your laptop frequently, you likely will want to look for something lightweight. Pay attention to the size and weight of the laptop and consider how this weighs into your priorities.
  • Price. There is enormous variance in price when it comes to laptops. You probably do not want to buy the cheapest model possible, as it likely will not meet your needs, but you do not have to buy the most expensive model either. Come up with a budget that you are comfortable with before you begin shopping. This will help you stay within your financial constraints.

How to Choose the Best Laptop for College Students

When choosing the best computer for college students, it is important to keep your priorities in mind. Are you looking for a lot of storage? Great resolution? A certain operating system or software? A lower price? Whichever model aligns with your priorities will be the best model for you. For instance, if you are looking for a Mac computer with a great resolution, the Apple MacBook MLHE2LL might be best. However, if you are concerned with price but also want a solid resolution, the HP Notebook 15 might be your best option. As long as you focus on your priorities and keep the things to consider in mind, you should be able to find one of the best laptops for college students.