- The college experience is quiet different from the one you had in school and so are the needs and requirements for studies.
- Laptops are one of the basic requirements for a college students as they need to use the internet, complete projects and take notes on a regular basis.
- Out of all the available options we have accumulated a list of laptops that fulfil all the needs while also being affordable.
School supply shopping gets a lot more fun when you get to college. From dorm decor to new textbooks, from degree-specific requirements to the best laptop for college, there’s a lot to gather before you start your first year. The last is the laptop, which is often the most challenging decision. How can you know which is best for you?
When choosing a laptop for college in 2023, you might be surprised to discover many more options than just Mac or PC. Apple, Windows, Chromebook, 2-in-1 laptops… the list goes on, making your decision even harder than it seemed to begin with.
Here are the best laptops for college in 2023:
- Best overall: HP Envy 13
- Best price: Acer Swift 5
- Best under $500: Acer Aspire 5
- Best for Apple users: MacBook Air
- Best for Windows users: Dell XPS 13
- Best Chromebook: Acer Chromebook Spin 713
- Best 2-in-1 laptop: Microsoft Surface Pro 8
Best Overall: HP Envy 13
- Touch Screen Type : Adaptive
- Intel Core i7-1165G7
- 8GB DDR4 RAM and 256GB SSD storage
- 13.3" FHD touchscreen display
- Windows 10 Home with Fingerprint Reader
- Camera Kill Switch
A vibrant and colorful display, sleek and lightweight design, a fast Core i5 CPU, and a long battery life of more than 11 hours make the HP Envy 13 a favorite of many college students. This particular model comes with a 13.3-inch, 1080p display. With 16 GB of RAM and 256 GB of storage with space for an external hard drive to be attached, the HP Envy 13 is seemingly designed with the college student in mind. It checks all the boxes of what a college student might need without breaking the bank. Best of all, it isn’t packed with advanced features that might not be useful to an average student.
Check out the HP Envy 13 on Amazon.
Best Price: Acer Swift 5
- 14" Full HD widescreen with Multi-Touch Display
- 8GB LPDDR3 memory and 256GB SSD storage
- Sleek casing with magnesium-lithium alloy chassis
- Windows 10 Home comes pre-installed
- Up to 8 hours of battery life per charge
(Please note that as of July 19th, 2023, the Acer Swift 5 Laptop is currently unavailable on Amazon. Please check back later.)
For students, the laptop with the best price is the Acer Swift 5 Laptop. Intelligently designed with high-speed performance, the Swift 5 has an Intel Core i7 CPU, 16 GB of RAM, and over 1 TB of SSD storage. Moreover, it features a 14-inch 2560 x 1600 display and weighs less than three pounds. While its price tag is up there, its design, features, and specs make it worth purchasing.
Check out the Acer Swift 5 on Amazon.
Best Under $500: Acer Aspire 5
- Intel Core i5 processor, 8 GB DDR4 RAM, and 256 GB storage (SSD)
- Robust build and decent performance
- Multiple ports for charging, data transfer, and mirroring
- Alluring 15.6" display
- Up to 9,5 hours of battery life per charge
While the Acer Aspire 5 might sound similar to the Acer Swift 5, the Aspire is the less expensive model. Coming in under $500, it’s remarkably more affordable. However, Acer doesn’t sacrifice performance despite its much lower price point. Equipped with the latest Intel chips and a comfortable keyboard and touchpad, the Acer Aspire 5’s specs far exceed its shockingly low price of under $500. Its battery might not last as long as the competition’s (or even as long as other Acer models). You won’t also get the same performance you’ll see in laptops that cost two or three times Acer Aspire 5’s price, but for students on a budget, this laptop can perform everyday tasks like emailing and word processing.
Check out the Acer Aspire 5 on Amazon.
Best For Apple Users: Macbook Air
- Can handle professional photo and video editing
- Long-lasting battery for routine work (18 hours)
- Powerful M1 chip with an 8-core CPU for faster performance and 8GB of RAM
- Stunning 13.3-inch Retina display with sharp visuals and vibrant colors
If you’re an Apple fan and a college student in search of a laptop, then the Macbook Air is the choice for you. Its performance capabilities, incredible battery, shockingly slim and lightweight design, and ability to integrate with other Apple products like your Watch, iPhone, iPad, and AirPods make it an unbeatable choice (especially if you’re already a fan of the brand). The Pro is just as good of a choice; unless you’re performing high-performance tasks such as video editing, you should be okay with an Air.
Check out the MacBook Air on Amazon.
Best For Windows Users: Dell XPS 13
- Screen: 13.4 inches (1920 x 1200 pixel resolution)
- CPU: Intel's 11th gen i7
- Storage: 512GB SSD, RAM: 16GB LPDDR4X
- Includes Intel's Iris Xe integrated graphics
For students who would prefer a PC over a Mac, there are notable Windows laptops worth exploring, with the Dell XPS 13 being the best. Offered with Intel Core i3, i5, or i7, depending on the model, the Dell XPS 13 is like the PC answer to the MacBook. It also comes with different RAM, storage, and display options ranging from 8-16 GB of RAM, 256 GB-2 TB of storage, and 2K-4K 13-inch display. All these features make it a highly customizable choice for various college students with different needs.
Check out the Dell XPS 13 on Amazon.
Best Chromebook: Acer Chromebook Spin 713
- Sleek, LED-backlit 13.5" touch display
- 128GB SSD storage and 8GB Memory
- Fingerprint Reader, Wi-Fi 6, Backlit Keyboard, and more
- Multiple USB ports ( USB 3.1 Type C, USB 3.1, USB Charging, HDMI 2.0
If you’re considering getting a Chromebook instead of a PC or a Mac, look no further than the Acer Chromebook Spin 713. Chromebooks are known for being more affordable than either of its two competitors without sacrificing much on performance, battery, or display, and the Acer Chromebook Spin 713 is the best of its kind. With an Intel Core i5 CPU, 8 GB RAM, 256 GB of storage, and a 13.5-inch 2K display, the Acer Chromebook Spin 713 is a dependably worthy option for college students searching for a good Chromebook. Its battery lasts 10 hours or more, meaning you won’t have to worry about rushing to the nearest wall outlet in the middle of class.
Check out the Acer Chromebook Spin 713 on Amazon.
Best 2-in-1: Microsoft Surface Pro 8
If you can’t make up your mind between a laptop and a tablet, consider a 2-in-1: specifically, the Microsoft Surface Pro 8. A growing trend in college classrooms and lecture halls the world over, the Microsoft Surface Pro 8 is a good option for those searching for the best of all 2-in-1 laptops. Capable of functioning as both a laptop and a tablet, the Surface Pro 8 gives college students the large display, the high performance, and the versatile compatibility they need to succeed. While it might come at a higher price than your average tablet, it still comes at a lower price than many top-of-the-line laptops. It’s truly the best of both worlds.
Check out the Microsoft Surface Pro 8 on Amazon.
How To Pick The Best Laptops For College: Step by Step
Choosing the best laptop for college requires much more than just weighing the pros and cons of your favorite models. It would help if you considered these four factors that matter to laptop users:
- Syllabus Requirements
Start by looking at what your degree or specific courses require of you. If you’re studying a subject that isn’t necessarily computer-heavy, you go for some of the cheaper, more lightweight laptops. If your degree field requires heavy computer use, pick a more robust and reliable laptop that can handle demanding tasks. Of course, if you aren’t sure what your syllabus will require, ask a fellow student or reach out to your advisor for help. You can even ask the employees at your school store if need be.
Another crucial thing to consider is performance. How long will your daily lectures be? How much homework do you expect to have? What kind of classwork are you going to be doing on your laptop? Ask around for answers if you’re not sure. Battery life, hard disk storage, and RAM are performance specs worth considering.
Just as vital as performance is portability. Will you be trekking across campus, or are all your classes based in the same building? Will you have long days and packed weeks, or will you only have one or two classes every few days? The weight of your laptop can make or break you if you aren’t careful. A lightweight laptop might be a better option for students who’re always on the move. Those who don’t walk far or have many classes can get by with a slightly heavier laptop.
Last but not least is the price. Ranging anywhere from under $500 to well over $2,000, the cost of a laptop can vary dramatically. Set a budget, then go from there. Other considerations will have to fit within that budget. You might have to make some sacrifices. A good rule of thumb is to buy a laptop you can afford.
What To Know Before Buying One of the Best Laptops For College
Before buying a laptop for college, consider some of the many student deals available. Some online retailers like Amazon or Walmart might have great deals at various times of the year, while other retailers like Apple or your school store might offer discounts based on your student status. Before you make that purchase you need to make, you should do some searching around to make sure you’re getting the best deal on the market. You might be able to shave off $100 or $200 from that price tag you’re looking at.
Using One of the Best Laptops For College: What it’s Like
As with any new product, you can always expect a period of adjustment as you get accustomed to your new purchase. This is especially true if you’re a Mac loyalist switching to PC or vice versa. If you find yourself metaphorically lost at sea with your new laptop, there are always plenty of helpful online tutorials. These videos and guides can help you get the most out of your new laptop so that you’ll be ready and able to succeed by the time your first lecture begins or your first assignment is due.
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The image featured at the top of this post is ©iStock.com/Valeriy_G.