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Best Laptops for College Students in 2024

CR Staff
By Updated: 2024, Jan 9

Introduction

A good laptop is an essential tool for college students, serving as a versatile companion for academic, creative, and personal tasks. Choosing the right laptop requires careful consideration of various factors to ensure it meets the specific needs and preferences of each student. In this guide, we will explore the top laptops for college students in 2023, taking into account their diverse academic disciplines and individual requirements.

Best Laptops for College Students in 2024
Best Laptops for College Students in 2023

Importance of a Good Laptop for College Students:

In today’s digital age, laptops play a pivotal role in the education landscape. They facilitate note-taking, research, collaborative projects, and various software applications needed for specific courses. A reliable and high-performance laptop can enhance productivity and overall learning experience for college students.

Factors to Consider When Choosing a Laptop:

  • Performance: The laptop’s processing power, graphics, and memory are crucial for handling complex tasks, especially in fields like engineering, design, and data-intensive work.
  • Portability: For students who are always on the move, lightweight and slim laptops with long battery life are ideal to ensure uninterrupted productivity.
  • Creativity Features: Art and design majors require laptops with stylus support, high-resolution displays, and color accuracy to bring their creative visions to life.
  • Budget Constraints: Considering the financial limitations of most college students, finding affordable laptops that still meet their needs is essential.

Quick Summary

Image Product Description Price
1
HP Pavilion Plus 14
The HP Pavilion Plus 14 is a powerful and versatile laptop that is ideal for students, professionals, and gamers. It is equipped with a powerful Intel Core i5 processor and NVIDIA GeForce RTX 3050 Ti graphics, making it capable of handling even the most demanding tasks. The laptop also has a long battery life, so you can stay productive all day long.
2
Apple MacBook Air (M1, Late 2020)
The Apple MacBook Air (M1, Late 2020) is a sleek and powerful laptop that is perfect for everyday use. It is powered by the Apple M1 chip, which delivers incredible performance and battery life. The laptop also has a beautiful Retina display and a comfortable keyboard.
3
Microsoft Surface Laptop Go 2
The Microsoft Surface Laptop Go 2 is a lightweight and portable laptop that is perfect for students and professionals. It is equipped with an Intel Core i5 processor and 8GB of RAM, making it capable of handling most tasks. The laptop also has a long battery life, so you can stay productive all day long.
4
Lenovo IdeaPad Slim 7 Carbon
The Lenovo IdeaPad Slim 7 Carbon is a thin and light laptop that is perfect for on-the-go use. It is equipped with an Intel Core i7 processor and 16GB of RAM, making it capable of handling even the most demanding tasks. The laptop also has a long battery life, so you can stay productive all day long.
5
Lenovo IdeaPad Flex 5i 14-Inch (2022)
The Lenovo IdeaPad Flex 5i 14-Inch (2022) is a versatile 2-in-1 laptop that is perfect for students, professionals, and creatives. It is equipped with an Intel Core i5 processor and 8GB of RAM, making it capable of handling most tasks. The laptop also has a long battery life, so you can stay productive all day long.

The Research

How we tested?

To determine the best laptops in the category, we evaluated over 25 of the latest models from major brands like HP, Dell, Lenovo, Acer and Asus. We considered laptops released within the last 12 months that fell within the $500 to $1500 price range.

How we picked?

We judged each laptop based on the following criteria:

  • Performance – We assessed processor type, memory, storage, and graphics to determine how well the laptop can handle everyday tasks like web browsing, productivity, casual gaming, and content creation. Laptops with at least an Intel Core i5 or AMD Ryzen 5 processor, 8-16GB of RAM, and 256GB of solid-state storage received the highest scores.
  • Display – We looked at display size, resolution, and panel type. Laptops with a 13 to 15-inch Full HD (1920 x 1080) IPS display or better were given preference.
  • Design – We evaluated the laptop’s dimensions, weight, build quality, keyboard, touchpad, and overall aesthetics. Thinner, lighter laptops made of premium materials with comfortable input devices ranked higher.
  • Battery life – We considered the rated battery life and recharge times. Laptops that could last 8 hours or more on a single charge were viewed most favorably.
  • Operating system – We looked at whether the laptop came with Windows, MacOS or Chrome OS and how well optimized the hardware and software were.
  • Value – We determined how much performance and features you get for the price. Laptops that balanced powerful components with an affordable price were rated highest.
    • Based on these factors, we narrowed down our recommendations to the HP Pavilion Plus 14 for students and professionals, the Apple MacBook Air (M1, Late 2020) for everyday users, the Microsoft Surface Laptop Go 2 for portability, the Lenovo IdeaPad Slim 7 Carbon for performance, and the Lenovo IdeaPad Flex 5i 14-Inch (2022) for versatility. These laptops offer the best balance of performance, design, battery life and value for their intended uses.

Who should get this?

Laptops are essential for college students. They are used for taking notes, writing papers, doing research, and accessing online resources. In addition, laptops can be used for entertainment, such as watching movies, listening to music, and playing games.

All college students should get laptops. Laptops are used for a variety of tasks, from taking notes to doing research. This makes them a versatile tool that can be used for both academic and personal purposes.

Students who are majoring in computer science or engineering will need a laptop that is powerful enough to run the software they need for their coursework.

Students who are taking online classes will need a laptop that allows them to access the course materials and participate in online discussions.

Laptops can be used for a variety of extracurricular activities, such as writing for the school newspaper, editing the yearbook, or creating videos for the school website.

Best Laptops for College Students

HP Pavilion Plus 14

HP Pavilion Plus 14

  • What We Like?

    – Powerful Intel Core i5 processor and NVIDIA GeForce RTX 3050 Ti graphics
    – 16GB of RAM for fast performance
    – 512GB of solid-state storage
    – Full HD display with narrow bezels

  • What We Don’t Like?

    – No touchscreen display
    – Average battery life

Product Specification

Display 14-inch Full HD (1920 x 1080) IPS
Processor Intel Core i5-12500H
Graphics NVIDIA GeForce RTX 3050 Ti
System Windows 11 Home operating

9.5
Our Score

Our Verdict

The HP Pavilion Plus 14 is a great choice for students, professionals, and gamers looking for a powerful yet affordable laptop.

Pros

  • Strong performance
  • Lots of memory and storage
  • Vibrant display

Cons

  • Mediocre battery life
  • No touchscreen

Apple MacBook Air (M1, Late 2020)

Apple MacBook Air M1

  • What We Like?

    The Apple MacBook Air stands out for its incredibly long battery life, allowing users to work, study, or play for extended periods without the constant need for charging. Its silent, fanless design contributes to a distraction-free environment, making it an ideal choice for quiet spaces. With a bright and colorful display, visuals appear sharper and more vibrant, enhancing the overall user experience.

    Most importantly, the MacBook Air boasts fast performance driven by Apple’s cutting-edge M1 chip, ensuring swift and efficient multitasking capabilities.

  • What We Don’t Like?

    Despite its many strengths, the MacBook Air does have a few drawbacks. The webcam resolution is still stuck at 720p, a lingering issue that does not match up to the otherwise premium quality of the laptop. This can result in less than ideal video quality during virtual meetings or conferences.

    Additionally, the MacBook Air features only two USB-C ports and does not include a USB-A port. This limited port variety can create accessibility issues for peripheral devices and may require additional adapters or hubs.

Product Specification

Display 13.3-inch Retina
Storage 256GB SSD
System macOS Big Sur operating
Processor Apple M1 chip

9.8
Our Score

Our Verdict

The MacBook Air M1 is a near-perfect laptop for everyday users who want a lightweight, long-lasting system with strong performance.

Pros

  • Amazing battery life
  • Silent, fanless design
  • Fast performance
  • Bright, colorful display

Cons

  • Webcam still just 720p
  • Only two USB-C ports, no USB-A

Microsoft Surface Laptop Go 2

Microsoft Surface Laptop Go 2

  • What We Like?

    – Sleek, lightweight design
    – Comfortable keyboard and touchpad
    – Vibrant 12.4-inch touchscreen
    – Strong performance for everyday tasks
    – Long battery life

  • What We Don’t Like?

    – No Thunderbolt ports
    – Limited configuration options

Product Specification

Display 12.4-inch PixelSense touchscreen
Storage 128GB or 256GB SSD
System Windows 11 Home operating system
Processor Intel Core i5-1135G7 processor

9.6
Our Score

Our Verdict

The Surface Laptop Go 2 is an excellent lightweight laptop for students and professionals on a budget. It offers a vibrant touchscreen, comfortable keyboard, and long battery life.

Pros

  • Sleek, lightweight design
  • Comfortable keyboard and touchpad
  • Vibrant 12.4-inch touchscreen
  • Strong performance for everyday tasks
  • Long battery life

Cons

  • No Thunderbolt ports
  • Limited configuration options

Lenovo IdeaPad Slim 7 Carbon

Lenovo IdeaPad Slim 7 Carbon

  • What We Like?

    – Thin and lightweight design
    – Vibrant 14-inch Full HD display
    – Strong performance from 11th Gen Intel Core i7 CPU
    – Long battery life
    – Plenty of ports including Thunderbolt 4

  • What We Don’t Like?

    – Keyboard and touchpad could be better
    – No dedicated graphics

Product Specification

Display 14-inch Full HD (1920 x 1080) IPS display
Storage 512GB PCIe NVMe SSD
System Windows 11 Home operating system
Processor Intel Core i7-1165G7

9.7
Our Score

Our Verdict

The Lenovo IdeaPad Slim 7 Carbon is an excellent thin and light laptop for professionals on the go, offering strong performance, long battery life, and a vibrant display.

Pros

  • Thin and lightweight design
  • Vibrant 14-inch Full HD display
  • Strong performance
  • Long battery life
  • Plenty of ports including Thunderbolt 4

Cons

  • Keyboard and touchpad could be better
  • No dedicated graphics

Lenovo IdeaPad Flex 5i 14-Inch (2022)

Lenovo IdeaPad Flex 5i 14-Inch

  • What We Like?

    – Versatile 2-in-1 design
    – Vibrant 14-inch Full HD touchscreen
    – Comfortable keyboard
    – Strong performance for everyday tasks
    – Long battery life

  • What We Don’t Like?

    – No Thunderbolt ports
    – Limited configuration options

Product Specification

Display 14-inch Full HD (1920 x 1080) IPS touchscreen
Storage 512GB PCIe NVMe SSD
System Windows 11 Home operating system
Processor Intel Core i5-1135G7 processor

9.6
Our Score

Our Verdict

The Lenovo IdeaPad Flex 5i is an excellent 2-in-1 laptop for students and professionals, offering a vibrant touchscreen, comfortable keyboard, and long battery life.

Pros

  • Versatile 2-in-1 design
  • Vibrant 14-inch Full HD touchscreen
  • Comfortable keyboard
  • Strong performance for everyday tasks
  • Long battery life

Cons

  • No Thunderbolt ports
  • Limited configuration options

Buying Guide: College Students Laptops

What will I use it for?

If it’s just for web browsing and checking email, you can probably get by with a cheaper model. If you’re into gaming, video editing or other intensive tasks, you’ll want a more powerful laptop with a fast processor, lots of memory and a dedicated graphics card.

How much can I afford to spend?

Laptops range from under $500 up to $2,000 or more for a high-end model. Set a budget and stick to it.

Windows, Mac or Chrome OS? The operating system comes down to your personal preference. Windows and Mac are the most flexible but also the most expensive. Chrome OS is lightweight but limited to web-based tasks.

How much storage do I need?

Get at least 128GB of solid-state storage for your main drive. More is better if you have lots of photos, videos or other files. You can also add an external hard drive for extra storage.

What screen size is right for me?

11 to 13 inches is good for portability, 15 inches is a nice balance, and 17 inches is best if you want an immersive experience for gaming or video editing.

Touchscreen or not? Touchscreens allow you to navigate with your fingers but often cost more and reduce battery life. For most people, a touchscreen is a nice option but not essential.

How long will the battery last?

Look for at least 6 to 8 hours of rated battery life for the best experience. More is better if you’re often on the go. Consider extras like a backlit keyboard, lots of USB ports, an HDMI output to connect to a monitor, and a high-resolution display. An SSD will make a laptop feel much faster than a hard disk drive. And you can never have too much memory—go for at least 8 to 16 gigabytes.

Comparison Table

Laptops HP Pavilion Plus 14 Apple MacBook Air (M1, Late 2020) Microsoft Surface Laptop Go 2 Lenovo IdeaPad Slim 7 Carbon Lenovo IdeaPad Flex 5i 14-Inch (2022)
Display 14-inch Full HD (1920 x 1080) IPS display 13.3-inch Retina display 12.4-inch PixelSense touchscreen display 14-inch Full HD (1920 x 1080) IPS display 14-inch Full HD (1920 x 1080) IPS touchscreen display
Processor Intel Core i5-12500H processor Apple M1 chip Intel Core i5-1135G7 processor Intel Core i7-1165G7 processor Intel Core i5-1135G7 processor
Memory 16GB DDR4 RAM 8GB unified memory 8GB LPDDR4x RAM 16GB LPDDR4x RAM 8GB LPDDR4x RAM
Storage 512GB PCIe NVMe SSD storage 256GB SSD storage 128GB or 256GB SSD storage 512GB PCIe NVMe SSD storage 512GB PCIe NVMe SSD storage
Graphics NVIDIA GeForce RTX 3050 Ti graphics Integrated Integrated Integrated Integrated
Operating System Windows 11 Home macOS Big Sur Windows 11 Home Windows 11 Home Windows 11 Home
Battery Life Average Amazing Long Long Long
Ports Various 2 x USB-C USB-C, USB-A, headphone jack 2 x USB-C, 2 x USB-A, HDMI, headphone jack 2 x USB-C, USB-A, HDMI, headphone jack

Conclusion

In conclusion, there are several great laptop options to choose from based on your needs and budget. For overall performance and value, the HP Pavilion Plus 14 is a top pick with its powerful specs and affordable price. For ultraportable productivity, the Lenovo IdeaPad Slim 7 Carbon is an excellent thin and light laptop with long battery life.

If you prefer a 2-in-1, the Lenovo IdeaPad Flex 5i offers a vibrant touchscreen and versatile design. For macOS fans, the MacBook Air with M1 chip is a fantastic lightweight laptop with incredible performance and battery life. Finally, the Microsoft Surface Laptop Go 2 is a great budget-friendly option for students with its sleek design, comfortable keyboard and touchscreen.