Winter break doesn’t last forever. Alas, as it arrives at its inevitable conclusion, you’ll wonder why you haven’t upgraded your laptop sooner. Lugging around a notebook from four years ago can’t be good on your back – they have gotten significantly thinner, after all.
If you’re clinging to a weathered workhorse that shudders at the thought of 4K photo editing, there’s no denying that it’s time for an upgrade. Fortunately, you don’t need to take out another student loan to afford the latest Surface Book i7. Sometimes you can find something just as sleek, stylish and artsy in chrome.
In this list, we’ve brought together our most recent, top-ranking reviews so that you don’t have to, trickling in only the best laptops for college and high school students. From the modestly-priced HP Chromebook 14 to the rigorous and capable Dell XPS 13, one of these laptops is bound to get the job done.
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Call it a MacBook Air knockoff if you want, but the Asus ZenBook UX305 is one of the best Ultrabooks you can buy at the moment considering the low price-point. With a full HD screen, a whole 8GB of RAM and up to 512GB of SSD storage, the Asus ZenBook UX305 is a steal.
Like the Dell XPS 13 listed below, this is further proof that you can find a truly primo, general use laptop for less than a thousand bucks. The ZenBook UX305 is an honest-to-goodness laptop, presented in an attractive package, that takes home the gold when it comes to exhibiting the basics.
The HP Chromebook 14 is no performance powerhouse, sure, but thanks to the zippiness of Chrome OS combined with a funky blue case, this is one fun notebook to use.
Because of its low cost and ease of use, the HP Chromebook 14 is ideal for high school or liberal arts college students while simultaneously providing access to nearly every major service an undergrad would need to survive. It’s nothing fancy in terms of specs, but it is at the very least a sight for sore eyes.
For students impressed by the sleek-and-alluring 12-inch MacBook, but unsatisfied by the lack of power and ports, the 13-inch MacBook Pro is an obvious solution. Featuring a lengthy battery life (7 hours and 24 minutes in our anecdotal battery test) and a powerful, full-fledged Intel Core i5 processor, the latest 13-inch MacBook Pro is replete with everything you need to get through the coming semesters.
Weighing in at only 3.02 pounds (1.37kg), the 13-inch MacBook Pro is lighter than ever before, thanks in part to its slimmed-down keyboard and covert cooling system. Not only that, but the MacBook Pro manages an even larger trackpad despite the laptop itself being thinner. And, like all macOS-outfitted devices, it even ships with Pages, iMovie and Garageband pre-installed at no extra cost.
If you’re convinced that every Chromebook on the market has to be less than 14 inches, you’d be dead wrong. The Acer Chrombook 15, for example, boasts not only a whopping 15.6-inch screen, but it also packs an equally impressive range of processors.
Despite some slight discomfort experienced during prolonged use, but you can snatch the Acer Chromebook 15 at a much cheaper price now than when it originally released, making it well worth the sacrifice.
Though it’s yet to adopt Apple’s Retina display standard, the benefit to this compromise is a 12-hour battery life coupled paired with a dual-core, Broadwell processor and now 8GB of RAM at the entry level.
Plus, if you don’t like the feel of the 12-inch MacBook‘s low-travel butterfly keys, the MacBook Air uses a more traditional chiclet-style keyboard. And hey, a MacBook Air is the most affordable (and pretty much the only) way to get that backlit Apple logo on the back of your laptop.
Look, you’re bound to have some down time outside of class, so why not invest whatever disposable income you have into one of these bad boys? The Lenovo IdeaPad Y700 looks nice and its price tag only tempts us more.
Don’t expect to run the latest best-selling games on Ultra settings, but hey, with a system like this you can accomplish just about anything else. From cranking out essays to editing videos, the Lenovo IdeaPad Y700 is one of the best laptops for students money can buy.
Packing a high-resolution screen and serious processing power, there’s more to the Dell XPS 13 than being a surprisingly small Ultrabook.
There’s a 13-inch display crammed into an 11-inch body, a truly worthy competitor to a certain aluminum laptop line perfect for any basic coursework scenario. After all, Apple doesn’t make the only premium, general use laptop worth batting an eye at, and the Dell XPS 13 is the proof.
The HP Pavilion x2 might be a little tike of a 2-in-1 laptop, but for media and basic computing tasks, it’s a stellar Windows 10 device, thanks to its voluminous set of stereo speakers and absurd battery life of 7 hours and 34 minutes, according to our PCMark 8 test.
If you seek something suitable for those Sundays spent streaming Netflix in bed in addition to taking notes in the classroom, this is a fine place to begin that search. Lightweight and capable for but a relative pittance, you’ll get a tablet and a laptop that nail the essentials in equal measure.
A higher resolution screen, a thinner design and a move to Intel’s more powerful Skylake processors all help to make this portable tablet a capable substitute for your other computing hardware.
What you get is one of the few tablets we can say for certain can replace your laptop. Luckily, with Windows 10, it serves as a great companion device, too. Sadly, the Type Cover keyboard is still an optional necessity for this laptop replacement.
For less than a grand, you could get a MacBook Air, complete with a sub-1080p screen and a Broadwell processor or you could buy a Samsung Notebook 7 Spin. A 2-in-1 laptop with an HDR-enabled, Full HD touchscreen, the Spin boasts both a discrete Nvidia graphics chip and one of the latest Intel CPUs.
Considering the sheer horsepower you can exert from this thing and – we can’t stress this enough – an HDR screen, the Samsung Notebook 7 Spin is perfect for the classroom or the dorm. Sure, it uses an old-school hard drive and a standard-def webcam, but at the same time, but few concessions are made to keep the price down and its value up.
Gabe Carey has also contributed to this article