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Student life is exciting. You get to learn new things, meet new people, and enjoy all the activities and social events. On the flip side, student life can also be quite stressful. We all remember the feeling when we are staying up late trying to meet the deadlines or spending hours and hours going through the notes before an exam.
It is definitely helpful to have a tool that helps you keep track of your assignments, collect all your notes, and let you browse the Internet to find the information you need. If that sounds about right, laptops might be what you’re looking for.
Whether it is your first laptop or not, it can be confusing to know which laptop is right for you with new technologies and many models to choose from. If you are wondering whether a laptop is the right tool for you, or what features to look out for when buying one, you’ve come to the right place. This guide will give you all the information you need to help you choose the best laptop for students.
12 Best Laptops for College Students in 2022: Apple, HP, Dell, and More
What’s the one thing that can help you write papers (and print), take online classes, and stream movies while chilling in your dorm room? A laptop. From late-night studying to catching up with friends and family over a webcam — the best laptop for college students will help make life all around easier, which is why it’s important to find the right one.
If you’re headed back to school and want to upgrade or purchase a new laptop, let us help you find the right pick. We’ve scoured through numerous customer reviews, ratings, and more to find the best ones because every student knows how essential a laptop is.
Out list includes a variety of options, if you enjoy playing video games, you’ll benefit from a laptop with a good GPU, high resolution, and fast speed. If you're going to be shooting and video editing for class projects, you’ll most likely need something that has a long battery life, is lightweight to carry around in your backpack, and comes with a great display.
With so many software options, processors, and other features to consider, weighing the pros and cons of each is definitely worth your while. There’s no avoiding the fact that laptops are the more pricer kind of school supplies, but it’s absolutely a great investment item that can last you for a very long time. (I’ve had my Macbook Pro for 10+ years and it still works great!).
Ahead, check out Teen Vogue’s picks for the best laptops for college students for the upcoming semester, complete with accessible explanations and pros and cons for each.
Best Overall Laptop for Students
The MacBook Air is easily one of the most sought-after laptops for college students all over the country. The brand's latest release is an absolute dream. If you’re looking for something lightweight and slim (as a tester, I can confirm it feels like a small notebook), this is going to be your best bet. It has a next-generation M2 chip, which means it no longer needs a fan, so your laptop will stay completely silent no matter how many videos you’re editing (no more sounding like an airplane about to take off). Plus, it’s made from 100% recycled aluminum — we love technology that is also sustainable.
The other amazing qualities include a beautiful liquid retina display, up to 18 hours of battery life, advanced camera and audio features, and a 10-core GPU. All students get a $150 Apple gift card and 20% off AppleCare+ with a laptop purchase.
Pros: 10-core GPU, Excellent battery life, Touch ID
Best for Large Display
This big-screen laptop delivers a full-HD display. Plus, it features a powerful intel core processor with 16GB of memory and a 512GB SSD for maximum storage space. It operates with Windows 11 Home and comes with one multi-format SD media card reader, a wide vision HD camera, and dual HP audio boost speakers. You can upgrade to higher-end models to get even more storage space and features, but if you don't want a higher model, the entry-level Envy is still a great pick for students. And you can save some coins using the student discount schoolHP10.
Best College Laptops: Tested Picks for Research, Writing, Gaming and More
For a college student, there is no more important tool than a laptop. It's a catch-all for note taking, studying, homework, collaboration, procrastination (don't tell your professors) and extracurricular activities. When you pick one, you're likely choosing a tool for at least four years of education, if not further studies or just life afterwards.
Picking a college laptop can feel like homework in itself. There are a ton of laptops on the market, and you may get some help by checking out recommendations from your school or department. In our opinion, most students should prioritize on portability, battery life and then performance, unless your school recommends something else.
Going into the Spring 2023 semester, the latest parts in laptops include Intel's 12th Gen CPUs, AMD's Ryzen 6000 processors (though these have been difficult to find) and GPUs, Apple's M2 chips and Nvidia's RTX 30-series GPUs. There are a select few laptops with discrete Intel GPUs, but we haven't had the opportunity to test them as of this writing.
If you're taking classes remotely, be sure to take the webcam into consideration. More and more laptops are finally getting 1080p webcams, which often include higher-quality lenses for better images.
Also, don't forget to look for student discounts. Many vendors may give you a break, gift card or free extra when you can prove that you're a student, either with a email address or other proof, like a schedule or ID, in person.
Quick College Laptop Shopping Tips
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Consider your major or specialization: Science majors and liberal arts majors may have different needs. An engineering major working with computer-aided design software might want a notebook with a discrete graphics card, while students who primarily do research and write papers may be fine with a thin ultrabook. Your school or department may also have recommended specifications, so be sure to check those out.
Science majors and liberal arts majors may have different needs. An engineering major working with computer-aided design software might want a notebook with a discrete graphics card, while students who primarily do research and write papers may be fine with a thin ultrabook. Your school or department may also have recommended specifications, so be sure to check those out. Learn if your work will live locally or in the cloud: Find out if your school or department uses cloud storage, such as Google Drive or Microsoft OneDrive. If they do, you may be able to get by with less internal storage. Of course, if you want your own copies of your work or would like to keep personal files as well as school files, budget for a bit of extra space.
Find out if your school or department uses cloud storage, such as Google Drive or Microsoft OneDrive. If they do, you may be able to get by with less internal storage. Of course, if you want your own copies of your work or would like to keep personal files as well as school files, budget for a bit of extra space. Weight and battery life matter: After all, you'll be carrying this laptop around all day in a backpack as you move from class to class. Lightweight and long battery life can both save your back and leave more room for books.
After all, you'll be carrying this laptop around all day in a backpack as you move from class to class. Lightweight and long battery life can both save your back and leave more room for books. Consider how you take notes: A good keyboard is always important, especially when you're writing papers. But some students still prefer to take notes by hand, and those people will want to consider a convertible or detachable 2-in-1 with a stylus.
A good keyboard is always important, especially when you're writing papers. But some students still prefer to take notes by hand, and those people will want to consider a convertible or detachable 2-in-1 with a stylus. See if you can get a student discount: Some stores will offer you a discount with your proof of affiliation with a university or college. It's also possible that your school will have a relationship with a vendor for deals on certain models. Others may just throw in a gift card or some free earbuds. If you can find a deal, great; school is expensive enough.
Best College Laptops You Can Buy Today
The MacBook Air with M2 is the best college laptop you can buy with a thin design and plenty of power. (Image credit: Tom's Hardware)
1. MacBook Air (M2) Popular in the Lecture Hall Specifications CPU: Apple M2 8-core CPU GPU: 10-core GPU Display: 13.6-inch, Liquid Retina, 2560 x 1664, True Tone Weight: 2.7 pounds (1.24 kg) Today's Best Deals View at Amazon (opens in new tab) Reasons to buy + Sleek, thin new design + M2 is powerful and efficient + Long-lasting battery + 1080p webcam + Bright display + MagSafe returns to MacBook Air Reasons to avoid - Starts pricier than previous generation - Supports only one external display - Display notch will bother some people
The MacBook Air with Apple's new M2 chip is likely to be one of the most popular laptops on college campuses this fall. Apple has brand cache, and the new Air has the performance and battery life to back it up.
Apple's new redesign has abandoned the classic wedge in favor of a flatter design reminiscent of the 14-inch and 16-inch MacBook Pro , which also includes the MagSafe 3 charger to connect the charger magnetically and save the laptop from spills if you trip over it.
The new MacBook Air also has a nicer display than the prior model and can easily last a day on a charge (it ran for over 14 hours on our test). The 1080p webcam is also an upgrade, either for joining remote classes or for video calling family from campus.
This M2 verison starts at $1,299, so those looking to save a bit might want to consider the M1 model, which is still on sale and starts at $999, though it lacks some of the niceties.
Read: MacBook Air (M2) review
The HP Pavilion Plus 14 is one of the best college laptops thanks to top tier screen specs at a good price. (Image credit: Tom's Hardware)
2. HP Pavilion Plus 14 A Great Screen at a Great Price Specifications CPU: Intel Core i7-12700H GPU: Intel Iris Xe (Integrated) Display: 14-inch, 2880 x 1800, 90 Hz, 16:10 Weight: 3.09 pounds / 1.4 kg Today's Best Deals View at HP (US) (opens in new tab) Check Amazon (opens in new tab) Reasons to buy + 16:10 OLED display + Strong port selection + Configurations under $1,000 + A capable performer Reasons to avoid - Disappointing battery life - Lots of pre-loaded software
You can get a laptop under $1,000 with plenty of trappings. The HP Pavilion Plus 14 offers strong performance with up to an Intel Core i7-12700H series processor and a beautiful OLED display with a 16:10 aspect ratio. You don't often find that combination at the $999 price point we reviewed.
There is a bit of a hit on battery with the combination of a high-res OLED screen and an H-series processor. But those may be worth the tradeoff for those who want those high-end features, alongside a suite of ports that include USB Type-C, USB Type-A, HDMI 2.1, a headphone jack and microSD card reader.
For those on a budget, there are non-plus models with 1080p displays that go even lower in price, as well as AMD Ryzen models. The Plus also comes in its own variety of configuration that includ eIntle' s12th Gen P and U series processors. (The U series likely does the best on battery in a tradeoff for performance, but we haven't tested that one.)
Read: HP Pavilion Plus 14 review
The Lenovo Yoga 9i is one of the best college laptops with great sound and a variety of ports. (Image credit: Tom's Hardware)
3. Lenovo Yoga 9i (Gen 7, 14-inch) A Well-Rounded Machine Specifications CPU: Intel Core i7-1260P GPU: Intel Iris Xe Display: 14-inch, 3840 x 2400, 16:10, OLED touchscreen, Dolby Vision Weight: 3.09 pounds (1.4 kg) Today's Best Deals View at Walmart (opens in new tab) Check Amazon (opens in new tab) Reasons to buy + Slim, sleek design + Bright OLED display option + Loud, versatile 360-degree sound bar + Thunderbolt 4 and USB Type-A ports Reasons to avoid - Too much preinstalled software - Difficult to upgrade SSD - Extra laptop keys should be programmable
The Lenovo Yoga 9i is one of the best ultrabooks with a rounded, thin design with plenty of ports, including both Thunderbolt 4 and USB Type-A, for your mice, backup drives or other peripherals.
We tested the Yoga 9i with an OLED display that measured 352 nits of brightness and covered 140.1% of the DCI-P3 color gamut. It's bright, colorful and very impressive, especially with Dolby Vision support.
If you want to use the Yoga to take notes, you can flip it into a tablet. When you're ready to start your term paper, it works as a laptop. You can also use it as a display to give presentations, with audio coming from the excellent 360-degree sound bar.
Read: Lenovo Yoga 9i (Gen 7, 14-inch) review
(Image credit: Tom's Hardware)
There are two versions of the Microsoft Surface Pro 9 — one with Intel chips and one with Arm. Both come in the same sleek aluminum chassis, though if you want fun colors like blue or green, you have to go for the Intel model.
We feel that most people will want the performance boost from the Intel model, which also has the benefit of starting at a lower price. It has fewer issues with app compatibility because the Intel chips don't need to emulate any software.
If Wi-Fi doesn't cover the quad, you may want the SQ3 version, which works with 5G (assuming you have a cellular plan for it). It also has slightly longer battery life, though you should get a day's charge out of either model.
Microsoft hasn't changed much with the Pro 9, but it's still the Windows tablet to beat. It's still expensive, though, and a keyboard and stylus continue to add more to the cost.
Read: Microsoft Surface Pro 9 review
(Image credit: Tom's Hardware)
5. Acer Nitro 5 For Budget College Gamers Specifications CPU: Intel Core i5-12500H GPU: Nvidia GeForce RTX 3050 Ti Display: 15.6-inch, 1920 x 1080, 144 Hz Weight: 5.51 pounds / 2.5 kg Today's Best Deals View at Walmart (opens in new tab) View at Woot! (opens in new tab) View at Amazon (opens in new tab) Reasons to buy + Affordable + Clean design + Decent performance for the price Reasons to avoid - Way too much bloatware - Display is a little washed out
The Acer Nitro 5 proves you can get a solid gaming machine for under $1,000, which is fitting for the gamer on a budget, as long as your expectations for performance are reasonable.
It doesn't hurt that the Nitro 5's latest design is a bit more adult. Sure, it still has a backlit RGB keyboard, but without an aggressive design with tons of angles and red accents, it will fit in in the classroom as well as your school's gaming meetups.
The Nitro 5 also comes with a SATA cable in the box so you can add more storage later. This is a decent way to save money, as laptop companies often charge an arm and a leg for more storage, so those who are handy with a screwdriver can get more storage on the cheap.
Read: Acer Nitro 5 review
(Image credit: Tom's Hardware)
6. Dell XPS 15 (9520) For Sciences, Coding and Video Specifications CPU: Intel Core i7-12700H GPU: Nvidia GeForce RTX 3050 Ti Display: 15.6-inch, 3456 x 2160, 16:10, OLED touchscreen Weight: 4.31 pounds / 1.96 kg Today's Best Deals View at Dell (opens in new tab) View at Walmart (opens in new tab) View at Amazon (opens in new tab) Reasons to buy + Sturdy aluminum design + Vivid OLED display + Surprisingly long battery life for the specs + Strong performance Reasons to avoid - Limited ports - Middling webcam
Some students may need a bit of GPU power. For that, we like the Dell XPS 15, which is portable enough to carry around, but also goes up to an Nvidia GeForce RTX 3050 Ti alongside 12th Gen Intel H-series CPUs. Students who are making in some sciences, those coding with deep learning models or arts or journalism students exporting video may appreciate the extra kick of performance. (If you want an even bigger screen, consider the Dell XPS 17 .)
We found the XPS 15 to offer a surprisingly long battery life considering its powerful components. It ran for nine hours and 43 minutes on our test.
The XPS 15 has a sturdy design with thin bezels around the display, making it easy to carry around and putting plenty of focus on your work. The OLED display option is a treat, if you're willing to pay for it.
If you need an HDMI output, you'll need to use a dongle to connect to an external monitor, unlike Apple's latest MacBook Pros, which have it built in.
Read: Dell XPS 15 (9520) review
(Image credit: Tom's Hardware)
7. Asus ROG Zephyrus G14 Power and Battery Life Specifications CPU: AMD Ryzen 9 6900HS GPU: AMD Radeon RX 6800S Display: 14-inch 2560 x 1600, 16:10, 120 Hz Weight: 3.79 pounds / 1.72 kg Today's Best Deals View at Best Buy (opens in new tab) View at Amazon (opens in new tab) View at Walmart (opens in new tab) Reasons to buy + Long battery life + Sleek, portable design + Asus finally added a webcam + Surprisingly good speakers Reasons to avoid - Some keyboard touchpoints run uncomfortably warm - Pricey
You can use the same laptop for gaming and your studies. The Zephyrus G14, with its AMD Ryzen 9 6900HS and AMD Radeon RX6800S, delivers gaming-grade performance, but also has some features great for working on campus.
For instance, on our battery test, the Zephyrus lasted more than 10 and a half hours, which means you can go through long lecture halls or stints at the library without plugging in (unless you're gaming, of course). The AMD Advantage model has a 16:10 aspect ratio to show a bit more text, spreadsheets or other work than prior versions.
And while it goes without saying on most laptops, Asus brought the webcam back to this model, for when you need to work remotely or collaborate with others from your dorm room.
Read: Asus ROG Zephyrus G14 review
Finding Discounts on the Best College Laptops
Whether you're shopping for one of the best gaming laptops or another model that didn't quite make our list, you may find some savings by checking out our lists of Dell coupon codes, HP coupon codes, Lenovo coupon codes, Razer promo codes or Newegg promo codes.
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