The 7 best laptops for college students

Finding the right laptop doesn't have to be a challenge

Credit: Reviewed / Jackson Ruckar
Our editors review and recommend products to help you buy the stuff you need. If you make a purchase by clicking one of our links, we may earn a small share of the revenue. Our picks and opinions are independent from any business incentives.

Finding a good college laptop isn't exactly easy. You'll want something that's inexpensive, capable of handling day-to-day tasks, and durable enough to last you about four to five years. That's a tough combination right there.

Fortunately, to make your life easier, we've created a curated, diverse list of laptops that fit the bill for all types of college students (and all types of college student budgets).

So, without further ado, here are the best laptops for college students.

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1. Asus ZenBook UX330UA

Not only is this Asus affordable, but you're also getting a lot for your money. Performance is zippy, the design is eye-catching, and you can't really beat the all-day battery life. For a ~$770 machine, that's pretty darn good.

In addition to the wide selection of connectivity options (old and new ports alike), the keyboard is an absolute dream to type on. So, if you're looking for an inexpensive machine that's great for homework, you can't get much better than this.

Asus ZenBook
Credit: Reviewed / TJ Donegan

Read the full review here

2. Acer Aspire E 15

Like the Asus ZenBook, the Aspire E 15 is another budget-friendly machine. For just a little under $600, you're getting a full HD display, an Intel Core i5-8250U processor, and loads of ports. I'm not sure about you, but I think that's a wicked awesome deal.

But what we like best about this machine is that it's very upgradeable, thanks to the easy-to-access panel on the back. Need more RAM or storage? All you have to do is take out three screws, and you can swap out the components effortlessly.

Acer Aspire
Credit: Reviewed / Jackson Ruckar

Read the full review here

3. Acer Nitro 5

Looking for a powerful gaming laptop that won't break the bank? With its kick-ass internals and barely audible fan noise, the Nitro 5 is great choice. Plus, the subtle design is a welcome change from the flashy gaming aesthetic.

It's a really bulky machine, though. So, unless you've got arms like the Hulk, you may not want to lug it all over campus. Drawbacks aside, the Nitro is fine for casual gaming or general-purpose use. If gaming is a top priority, you can play most AAA titles at 1080p.

Nitro
Credit: Reviewed / Jackson Ruckar

Read the full review here

4. Acer Chromebook 11

If you're strapped for cash, the Chromebook 11 ($270) is both affordable and beautiful. Between the indigo blue exterior and textured lid, it's one of the snazziest-looking Chromebooks I've ever seen. Performance is good, too. You can run multiple programs at once with zero lag.

For the everyday user, it's a good option for surfing the web and writing papers. It's not the most powerful laptop, but it's robust enough for basic tasks. The Chromebook 11 also lasted a little over eight hours on a single-charge.

Acer Chromebook 11
Credit: Reviewed / Jackson Ruckar

Read the full review here

5. Dell XPS 13 (2018)

If you're a design student, the XPS 13 is the way to go. Tiny bezels (the part surrounding and framing the screen) means a larger screen that can fit more pictures, and that's exactly what you're getting here. In addition to the barely-there bezels, the display is absolutely gorgeous; its colors are amazingly vibrant.

The high-end model features a 4K display, which is cool if you've got the budget. If you can live without the 4K display, however, we'd recommend the 1080p non-touch display, which gets the job done just fine.

The one thing we don't like is the lack of USB-A ports; while Dell also provides you with compatible adapter in the box, it's a little annoying (but not a deal breaker) to need an adapter for many of your accessories and storage devices.

Dell XPS 13
Credit: Reviewed / Jackson Ruckar

Read the full review here

6. Dell XPS 15 (2018)

If you need tons of graphics power, the XPS 15 will deliver. It may not look like a gaming laptop, but it definitely performs like one. I was able to run Witcher 3 on ultra settings, and it played smoothly, without freezing or juddering. What can I say? The XPS 15 is no joke.

The cool thing about this machine is its 360-degree hinge. You can prop it up like an easel or swing the screen around and use it like a tablet. Whether you want to curl up on the couch and watch Netflix, or share information in the classroom, the XPS 15 can accommodate you.

It's a very expensive machine, though, so it may not be the best option for the budget-conscious buyer. If you don't care about playing games, we'd recommend opting for the refreshed model (sans 360-degree hinge). Not only is performance impressive, it's more affordable too.

Dell XPS 15
Credit: Reviewed / Jeremy Stamas

Read the full review here

7. Apple MacBook Pro 13-inch

The 13-inch MacBook Pro may not be for everyone, but we still think it's worth considering. With its powerful speakers (great for dorm room parties), long battery life, and steady performance, it's a solid machine. The minimalist design is lovely, too.

But the Touch Bar—a long, slim touchscreen situated above the keyboard—is nothing more than a flashy feature. Though it's designed to give you intuitive shortcuts, it's not the most groundbreaking feature. Plus, you have to keep looking down to use it.

If you're married to macOS, we'd recommend opting for the model without the Touch Bar. The entry-level model (sans Touch Bar) isn't as powerful, but it'll save you a couple of hundred dollars.

MacBook
Credit: Reviewed / Jackson Ruckar

Read the full review here

Our editors review and recommend products to help you buy the stuff you need. If you make a purchase by clicking one of our links, we may earn a small share of the revenue. Our picks and opinions are independent from any business incentives.

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Our editors review and recommend products to help you buy the stuff you need. If you make a purchase by clicking one of our links, we may earn a small share of the revenue. Our picks and opinions are independent from any business incentives.
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