College Students with Laptop

(Updated July, 2017) What is the best laptop for college students in 2017? It isn’t easy trying to figure out which options make the best laptops for college!  Each college or university has their own requirements that they want their students to have in any laptop for school.  Before making an investment in one for yourself or your high school graduate, it’s smart to know which laptops would meet the needs of most schools.

In our research, we examined the requirements of over 50 different colleges and universities, including schools like Harvard, Cornell, Boston College, University of Denver, UMASS-Amherst, and Marquette University, to name a few – and, in general, the standard or basic configuration that many schools were recommending for PCs is as follows:

Best Laptops for College – PC Laptop Configurations

  • Processor: iSeries 1.8 Ghz or higher
  • Screen Size:  Most schools recommended at least a 13inch screen
  • Memory: 8 GB minimum (16 GB preferred)
  • Storage Capacity: 250 GB minimum (500 GB preferred)
  • Wireless card: 802.11n minimum (802.11ac preferred)
  • Graphics Card: 512 MB Video Memory or higher
  • Operating system: Most recent version for your hardware
  • Battery Life: Over 6 and prefer closer to 10-12
  • Up-to-date anti-virus / anti-malware software, installed before coming to campus
  • Webcam (many laptops come with an integrated webcam and will not require an external device)
  • Headphones or headset with microphone
  • Microsoft Office was not required for all schools but was listed for several
  • Other helpful options: 8 GB or higher USB Flash Drive, external hard drive (for data backup/extra storage), wired or wireless external mouse, video out adapters (dvi/hdmi), and a laptop security cable

Most of our sample schools talked strictly in terms of laptops.  There were a few schools in our sample that gave specifications for both desktops and laptops and Boston College was the one school that recommended laptops but did not require them, noting their available technology centers for students to use.

Check Out Lenovo IdeaPad – Best Laptop for College Students Under 500!

Check Out Dell Inspiron 17 Inch – Best Laptop for College Under 700!

A much smaller percentage of our schools gave Apple laptop specifications as well. One of those exceptions was Harvard, they provided specified minimum requirements for Apple laptops in addition to the PC setup. Based on our smaller group of schools detailing Mac specs, we found the most common requirements were:

Best Laptops for College – Apple Laptop Configurations

  • Processor:  MINIMUM:  Core i5 Processor RECOMMENDED: Core i7 Processor
  • Screen Size:  Most schools recommended at least a 13inch screen
  • Memory: 8 GB minimum (16 GB preferred)
  • Storage Capacity: 250 GB minimum (500 GB preferred)
  • Wireless card: 802.11n minimum (802.11ac preferred)
  • Graphics Card: 512 MB Video Memory or higher
  • Operating system: Macintosh OS 10.10.5 or higher
  • Up-to-date anti-virus / anti-malware software, installed before coming to campus
  • Webcam (many laptops come with an integrated webcam and will not require an external device)
  • Headphones or headset with microphone
  • Microsoft Office was not required for all schools but was listed for several
  • Other helpful options: 8 GB or higher USB Flash Drive, external hard drive (for data backup/extra storage), wired or wireless external mouse, video out adapters (dvi/hdmi), and a laptop security cable

In addition to these base specifications, what you are studying will also impact your computer requirements.  If you are focusing on subjects such as:

  • Art
  • Architecture
  • Programming (of any type)
  • Engineering
  • Graphic Design & Digital Media
  • Film Making
  • Game Design & Animation

The specifications for these fields will require upgraded models from the base configuration that we lay out above. You need to strike a balance between affordability and performance which is the key in finding the best laptop for a student while keeping the necessary features in mind.

What we’ve outlined are general specifications that laptops for college students should include and will allow you to handle just about anything a professor can throw at you! We’ve picked out the best laptops for college students 2017 to make it easier for you to find a laptop that fits your budget and lets you have some fun as well.

Lucky for you, now you have a wide variety of options of laptop or notebooks to choose from, according to your budget. Any current laptop, 2-in-1 and some tablets can handle basic functionality like number crunching, word processing, email etc.

To be able to strike a balance between affordability and performance is the key in finding the best laptop for a college student.

Best Laptops for College Students

Best Laptops for College StudentsRatingCheck Price
Apple MacBook Air - Best Laptops Under 10004.7 Star Rating
ASUS ZenBook UX330UA - Best Laptops Under 7004.7 Star Rating
Dell Inspiron 174.7 Star Ratingcheck price
Acer Aspire E 15 E5 - Best Laptops for College Under 6004.5 Star Rating
Lenovo IdeaPad 510 - Best Laptops Under 5004.4 Star Rating
Acer Chromebook 15 - Best Laptops Under 3004.4 Star Rating

Acer Aspire E 15 E5 – Best Laptops for College Under 600

Acer Aspire e15 Best laptops for college
Acer Aspire 15inch- Laptops for College: Check it out on Amazon for the latest price!

The Acer E 15 E5 is by far one of the best laptops for college students you can buy at an affordable price today. With just the right balance between features, price and performance the Acer E 15 E5 offers the most value for the best price. At half the price of ultrabooks with the same specs, the Acer E 15 E5 is every student’s best friend.

One look at this laptops specs and you’ll be able to tell that this laptop will be doing a lot more than just helping you study this year and beyond!

The Acer E 15 E5 is powered by a 7th Generation Intel Core i5 processor that can go up to 3.1 GHz, 8 GB DDR4 RAM, and a super-fast 256 GB SSD memory. The Acer E 15 E5 also a powerful graphics card the Nvidia 940MX that can run most games at a decent FPS and provide journalist and design students with the right power to flawlessly use software like Photoshop. Though it is a bit heavy at 5.27 pounds, considering it has a gorgeous 15.6″ Full HD Widescreen supporting Acer Color Blast technology it’s more than worth the extra weight.

As you can tell, with specs like this you’ll be doing a lot more than studying on this laptop. Couple all this with its 12 hours long battery life and you have a laptop that can be used for everything from gaming to streaming Netflix to getting assignments done – all at an affordable price.

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ASUS F556UA-AB32 – Best Laptop for College Under 500

ASUS 15 Inch best laptops for students
ASUS 15inch- Laptop for Students: Check it out on Amazon for the latest price!

The ASUS F556UA-AB32 might not be the absolute cheapest laptop out there but when you’re on a tight budget and want high performance it’s your best bet.

The ASUS F556UA-AB32 is one of the few laptops in its range that offers true 1080p display making it ideal for any students that want to work and enjoy having a laptop for life outside of the classroom. When I reviewed the laptop I was surprised that the 15.6-Inch Full-HD Display was bright, colorful and high quality which is something I was not expecting to find in a laptop priced below $400.

It’s powered by an Intel i3-6100U 2.3 GHz Processor which is below our minimum specs but considering its price it does feel justified. It has a high-capacity 1TB 5400 RPM HDD storage with 4GB DDR4 RAM with Intel HD Graphics that keeps everything running smoothly. This is not the ideal laptop for design students but for the average college student this is the best laptop you can hope to get especially if you enjoy streaming movies/videos online.

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Lenovo IdeaPad Miix 510 –

Lenovo IdeaPad Miix 2-in-1
Lenovo IdeaMiix 2-1n-1 laptop: Check it out on Amazon for the latest price!

The Lenovo IdeaPad Miix 510 is a 2 in 1 tablet and laptop that will make your time at college and home a lot easier and enjoyable. Having a tablet that can seamlessly be converted into a laptop is something every student can appreciate.

The Lenovo IdeaPad Miix 510 is a good and cheaper alternative to the Microsoft Surface Pro 4 for those looking to stay within a certain budget.   And it manages to deliver a solid 2-in-1 laptop that actually can work for most every college student.

 

The Lenovo IdeaPad Miix 510 is powered by an Intel Core i5-6200U along with 8 GB DDR4 Ram to keep everything running smoothly. It runs on a native resolution of 1920 x 1200 and with its 12.2-inch FHD IPS GL touch display it looks absolutely simply beautiful. It provides more than enough space for a college student with it super-fast 256GB PCIE SSD. The touch display feels exceptionally good to use and its 39 Wh battery provides decent battery life at about 5 hours.

It’s lightweight, portable and easy to carry around making it one of the best laptops for college students.

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ASUS ZenBook UX330UA – Best Laptops Under 700

ASUS ZenBook 13 Inch laptop for college students
ASUS ZenBook 13” laptop for college: Check it out on Amazon for the latest price!

When you need high performance with portability, the ASUS ZenBook UX330UA is your best option to check out.

This Zenbook is extremely lightweight which makes one wonder how they got a 13.3-Inch wide-view Full-HD Display without it impacting the weight very much (it only weighs in at 2.6lbs).

It’s powered by a 7th generation Intel i5-7200U 2.5 GHz Processor which is an extremely powerful processor ensuring smooth system operations. It has a super-fast 256GB SSD with 8GB DDR3 RAM allowing fast file transfer and online streaming.

It has a Fingerprint Reader for added security and the overall build of this laptop is solid, making it ideal for college use. The ASUS ZenBook UX330UA is one of the best laptops for college students especially when you consider the price and features.

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Acer Chromebook 15 – Best Laptops Under 400

Acer Chromebook 15 inch best laptops for college
Acer Chromebook 15 inch – Best Laptops for College Students: Check it out on Amazon for the latest price!

The Acer Chromebook 15 was the world’s first Chromebook with a 15.6-inch Full HD IPS display. It is also the first Chromebook featuring the latest Intel processor, 4GB DDR3L, 16GB SSD for storage and it uses the new dual-band 802.11ac wireless technology.

It all adds up to the right mix of features to make you think bigger and re-imagine what’s possible with a Chromebook.

Chromebook 15 brings videos and games to the next level with a stunning large-scale display. The display is bright and crisp with a 1920 x 1080 Full HD resolution display making it easy to share content easily with those around you. Acer Chromebook 15 has 9 hours of battery life and it’s big enough for all day use. This laptop is designed to withstand heavy daily use that you will put it through in college.

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Lenovo IdeaPad 510 – Best Laptops Under 500

Lenovo IdeaPad 510 laptops for college students
Lenovo IdeaPad 15 Inch: Check it out on Amazon for the latest price!

The Lenovo IdeaPad 510 an impressive machine for a laptop under $500!  There’s a lot of laptop packed into this budget priced machine.

It comes fully equipped with everything a college student needs to breeze through school this year.

 


Standard equipment includes an Intel Core i5 as well as 8 GB of RAM, 1 TB hard drive and NVIDIA GeForce 940MX graphics, which is pretty sweet!  In addition, it’s loaded with Windows 10.

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Apple MacBook Air – Best Laptops Under 1000

Apple MacBook Air 13 inch best laptops for college
Apple MacBook Air – Best Laptops for College: Check it out on Amazon for the latest price!

Adding an Apple Macbook Air to our list of The Best Laptops for College Students was a no brainer!  However, finding one that was affordable and under $1000 was a bit harder to do.

There were definitely used ones available (and some of them were impressive configurations) but we wanted a well built, recent model at a college student price point, or slightly higher! 😉

Apple provides a 13” screen on a MacBook Air. Priced at under $900, MacBook Air is a state of the art laptop. It can edit film and create pictures. It has 8 GB of Ram, a 128 GB solid state hard drive with Intel processor and, drum roll please, 12 hours of battery life! The MacBook Air is thin and light weight at 5.29 lbs.

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Dell Inspiron 11 3000 – Best Laptops Under 400

Dell Inspiron 11 inch tablet laptop
Dell Inspiron 2-in-1 laptop: Check it out on Amazon for the latest price!

The Dell Inspiron 11 inch 2-in-1 is a compact yet efficient option for college students to consider. And considering the fact that it’s current price is under $400, it’s a truly affordable model to check out.

And let’s be honest, Dell laptops have been popular at colleges and universities for awhile now, so it’s likely that you’ll get all the support you need from the tech team at your school!

Dell Inspiron 11 3000 is a convertible hybrid Laptop. It can work as a laptop as well as touchscreen tablet. It has 11.6 inch screen and 10 point touch screen. It comes with an HDMI port, SD card reader, and 2 USB ports. The system has 4 GB RAM, 500 GB hard drive and an Intel Pentium N3700, up to 2.3 GHz Processor. Pretty solid configuration for a machine of this type.

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Dell XPS 13 Inch 2-in-1 Laptop

Dell 13 inch 2in1 convertible
Dell XPS 13 inch 2-in-1 laptop: Check it out on Amazon for the latest price!

The 13 inch Dell XPS 2-in-1 laptop is definitely one of the cooler gadgets to come along and it comes with Touch display 7th Gen Intel i7, 1 TB hard drive as well as 8GB DDR4 2400 MHz Memory, and has no optical drive. Some of the benefits you’ll get include excellent portability and premium construction. With the 7th Gen Intel Core i5 power, Dell XPS is packed with amazing features and also boasts an incredible display. It’s amazing how much of a 13-inch has been fitted into 3.4lbs!

Additional features that we love: It comes with Win 10, Pro Dell Active Pen plus Best Notebook Stylus Pen light. 

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Dell Inspiron 17″ – Best Laptops Under 700

Dell Inspiron 17 inch laptop for college students
Dell Inspiron 17 inch: Check it out on Amazon for the latest price!

If you want a great laptop on a budget, then the Dell Inspiron 17″ might just be the best pick!  Coming in as a laptop around $700, with all that it has to offer – that’s an impressive price point!  that supports your interest in Multimedia, Dell Inspiron 17 is an excellent option. It has a 17.3 Full HD LED touchscreen (1920 x 1080),  it has Windows 10 preinstalled. It’s load with 16GB DDR4 RAM, 1TB Hard drive 5400RPM a Backlit keyboard(for late night cramming), 6th Gen Intel Core i7 processor, this Dell is a great choice for you.  

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HP Stream 13 Inch – Best Laptop Under 300

HP Stream 13 inch
HP Stream 13 inch laptop: Check it out on Amazon for the latest price!

The ultra-portable laptop comes in at a very low price! It currently is priced at under $300 which is a steal! It has a 13.3 inch screen. Comes equipped with a 32 GB hard drive and 2 GB RAM which is enough for the basics but below the recommendations of some schools. It is great system for day to day work. It has a strong battery life of 9 hrs and is highly portable weighing in at only 3.42lbs.

If web browsing, Microsoft Office apps and basics use is all you are going to need, this laptop for students just might do the trick!  And at this price, it can’t be beat.

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Before you buy your next laptop, search and research. Compare and see for yourself. The feel of the keypad and comfort of the touch pad is very important. Look at your school requirements and match that with the laptops available is an essential part of shopping for your next laptop and getting the right one for your needs. You must also check the add-ons when you purchase your next laptop like the bag, a mouse and external hard disk.

If you make a smart choice, you’ll have the perfect tool to help make your college years a lot easier! Good luck!


Best Laptops for College Students 2015 & 2016

We’ve got a few of our best laptops for college from past years still ranking and performing well!  Some are available new at lower than low prices because newer models have come out and some are only available as refurbished laptops for college which can still make for some incredible deals!

They are definitely worth checking out and seeing if there’s a laptop for you waiting here!

Acer Aspire E1

ACER Aspire V3
Acer Aspire E1 15 inch: Check it out on Amazon for the latest price!

Acer Aspire E1 is great value for money. It costs around $400 at this time. It has Intel’s 1.6 GHz and i5 core. With 15.6 inch screen it is a pleasure to work on. The screen resolution is 1366 by 768 pixels. It has a full size numeric keypad. It comes with Windows 8 preinstalled.

Definitely worth checking out at this price!

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Acer C720 Chromebook Best Laptops Under 200

Acer Chromebook c720
Acer Chromebook: Check it out on Amazon for the latest price!

Chromebooks are a hit with students worldwide for being a perfect companion for hauling around all day at school and this one has definitely been a favorite. This machine is about 11.62 inches with a 12 inch screen. It comes equipped with a 2 GB DDR3L SDRAM  as well 32 GB Solid-State Drive. It is light weight and costs under $200 at this time.

 

These machines are fast and free of maintenance. It is perfect for writing notes and browsing online. With 1.40 GHZ Celeron processor it is perfect for students that only need a lightweight machine.

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HP Chromebook

HP Chromebook is priced at $359. It has 16 GB SSD. The keyboard is responsive with an 11“ screen. With 5 hrs battery life , it is stylish and affordable.

This laptop model is no longer available! Check Out Our Favorite HP Laptops Here!

Dell Inspiron 17 5000

If you want a great laptop on a budget, that supports your interest in Multimedia, Dell Inspiron 17 5000 is an excellent option. It has a 17” screen, a DVD burner, and SD card reader all at $449. It has Windows 8.1 preinstalled and a 500 GB hard drive. Equipped with 1.7 GHz and a dual core processor Dell is a great choice for you.

This laptop model is no longer available! Check Out Our Favorite Dell Laptops Here!

Lenovo IdeaPad Z500

With a 15.6 inch touchscreen Lenovo IdeaPad is designed for gaming as well as studies. Priced right around $500 (at the time of this review) it is a great system with Core i5, 8GB Ram and a 1 TB hard drive. It comes with Windows 10 and NVIDIA GeForce 940MX  which gives it an edge within this price range.

This laptop model is no longer available!

HP Pavilion TouchSmart Sleekbook

HP offers the best in class laptops for your need. This ultrabook costs $643 but weigh only 2.1 kg. It offers great value for the money. With a 15.6 “touch screen, windows 8 and 1.9 GHz AMD processor it is definitely one worth checking out. It does not have an optical drive but 3 USB ports. With excellent keypads and great trackpad, the laptop is a great choice for writing assignments.

This laptop model is no longer available! Check Out Our Favorite HP Laptops Here!


How to Choose the Right Laptop in 7 Easy Steps (What You Need to Know Before You Buy)

You need to look into what you want from your laptop. Use this basic laptop shopping guide to select the right one for you:

Why are you getting a new laptop?

  • This is perhaps the most important question you can ask!  How you answer it determines all of the rest of the results. For example, the power and quality of a laptop for someone that is just browsing online and checking emails is very different than that of someone that is going to be doing programming, graphic or gaming on their laptop.
  • CPU

A good processor is the back bone of any system. More cores mean good processing time of the laptop. Multitasking depends on your processor. To choose from Intel or AMD processors is the first step that you want to consider in determining what your computer has.

  • Operating system

Operating system is the heart of your laptop. The choice of operating system depends upon your personal preference. Microsoft Windows is the most common one and Apple Mac’s have definitely moved into a stronger position within the academic market, especially in certain majors and fields.

  • RAM

Depending upon how you are using your computer, you need to choose the right amount of RAM. Most standard laptops come with either 4 GB, 6 GB or 8 GB memory.  More is possible at a higher price of course and we have to say, we recommend going for the higher end where possible.

  • Hard Drive

Hard drive is where you save all your photos and documents along with media files. 250 GB to 500 GB is enough for your general needs. You can always buy an external hard disk for additional storage capacity.

You Might Be Interested in: 7 Laptops with Best Battery Life to Work Better

  • Size and Weight

Portability of the system is very important. You need to carry your laptop everyday to college so you need to buy a laptop that is comfortable to carry along with your text books. These days it’s possible to find laptops that are weighing in at under 3lbs, and no one can complain about that weight!

  • Battery Life

How long the battery lasts is very important, you don’t want battery dying up on you in the middle of the class.  This is definitely one place where there is variation between companies so check out the reviews and opinions of others in this area.  Aim for as good battery life as possible, some can get up to 10 hours or more depending upon use.

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