The best laptops for college students 2018: all the best options for school work

 techradar.com  9/20/2018 2:15:00 PM  13  Joe Osborne

School is expensive, tuition, books, ramen – the prices add up. Thankfully, there are plenty of great devices that students can pick from to lighten the financial burden. The best laptops for college students will feature luxurious designs and serious horsepower, while maintaining a reasonable price point – so that even the most frugal college students can get stuff done.

We know it can be hard to scrounge up money when you’re studying, so the best laptops for college students don’t need to feature the best processors and GPUs – they feature what they need to get work done, no frills attached. They’re not limited to Windows 10, either – the best Chromebooks are some of the top laptops for college students, most will be able to get all of their work done on a Chromebook, saving hundreds of dollars.   

The next few years are going to be stressful, but the right tool is worth the expense if it’ll help you earn that degree. To alleviate some of the frustration, we’ve listed the top laptops for college students below so that you can buy one for yourself or a loved one. You won’t have to limit to yourself to an old clunker any more.  

1. Huawei Matebook X Pro

CPU: 8th-generation Intel Core i7-8550U | Graphics: Intel UHD Graphics 620, Nvidia GeForce MX150 | RAM: 16GB | Screen: 13.9-inch 3K (3,000 x 2,000) LED with touch panel | Storage: 512GB SSD

Gorgeous design 

Long battery life 

No SD card slot 

Once in a while we’ll get our hands on a laptop that completely revolutionizes everything – the Huawei Matebook X Pro is one such laptop. Not only does it feature modern, powerful components like an 8th-generation Kaby Lake R processor and 16GB of RAM, it’s also beautiful – incorporating all the latest trends in Ultrabook design. What’s more impressive, it manages to do all this while being a much more affordable than the competition. This is what makes it one of the best laptops for students – you’re not going to get a more powerful laptop for less cash than the Matebook X Pro. 

Read the full review: Huawei Matebook X Pro 

  • This product is only available in the US and UK at the time of this writing. Australian readers: check out a fine alternative in the MacBook Pro. 

2. Dell XPS 13

CPU: 8th-generation Intel Core i5 – i7 | Graphics: Intel UHD Graphics 620 | RAM: 4GB – 16GB | Screen: 13.3-inch FHD (1,920 x 1,080; non-touch) – UHD (3,840 x 2,160; touchscreen) | Storage: 128GB – 1TB SSD

Gorgeous new design

Impressive performance

Steeper starting price

White option is pricier

It’s not controversial to claim that the XPS 13 is the best laptop for college students. For the last few years, we’ve watched in awe as Dell has continued to top its best Ultrabook again and again. Thin, light and powerful enough to handle anything college students may throw at it – the Dell XPS 13 is back, albeit at a higher starting price than before. However, that higher price means you get an 8th-generation Intel Core i5 processor at the very least, paired with a gorgeous, bezel-less InfinityEdge display on top of an Alpine White woven into Rose Gold color scheme. Yeah, it may be expensive – but you’re getting the best laptop a college student could ask for. 

Read the full review: Dell XPS 13

3. Samsung Notebook 9 Pro

CPU: 7th generation Intel Core i7 | Graphics: Intel HD Graphics 620 – AMD Radeon Graphics (2GB GDDR5) | RAM: 8GB – 16GB | Screen: 13.3-inch – 15.6-inch FHD (1,920 x 1,080) LED display with Touch Screen Panel | Storage: 256GB SSD

Uses S-Pen to great effect

Excellent look and feel

Inconsistent battery life

Downward-firing speakers

The Samsung Notebook 9 Pro isn’t just one of the best laptops for students – it’s what the best 2-in-1 laptops aspire to be. It revolves around the S Pen, Samsung’s own proprietary stylus with 4,096 levels of pressure sensitivity (the same as the Microsoft Surface Pen), a nifty little accessory that’s not just good at taking notes – you don’t need to charge it. It might not have the brightest screen in the world, but it’s still packed with all the features that college students need in 2018. 

Read the full review: Samsung Notebook 9 Pro

  • This product is only available in the US as of this writing. Australian and UK readers: check out a fine alternative in the HP Spectre x360 15. 

4. Microsoft Surface Go

CPU: Intel Pentium Gold 4415Y | Graphics: Intel HD Graphics 615 | RAM: 4GB – 8GB | Screen: 10-inch, 1,800 x 1,200 (217 ppi; 3:2 aspect ratio) PixelSense touch display | Storage: 64GB eMMC – 128GB SSD

Affordable 

Fantastic build quality 

Pentium CPU 

The way we look at it, the best laptop for college students will manage to blend price and performance in a compelling way, without looking like a relic from some bygone age. The Microsoft Surface Go doesn’t just succeed, it does so while having build quality that rivals devices that cost twice as much. Don’t be fooled by the low-power processor either – Microsoft has engineered this 2-in-1 to be able to keep up with all of your schoolwork without breaking a sweat. Trust us, this is one of the best laptops for college students in 2018 – especially if you’re on a budget. 

Read the full review: Microsoft Surface Go 

5. Dell XPS 15

CPU: 8th-generation Intel Core i5-i9 | Graphics: Intel UHD Graphics 630 - Nvidia GeForce GTX 1050 Ti | RAM: 8GB - 32GB | Screen: 15.6-inch FHD (1,920 x 1,080) - 4K UHD (3,840 x 2,160) LED with optional touch panel | Storage: 1TB 5,400RPM HDD - 1TB PCIe SSD

Plenty of horsepower  

Affordable 

More of the same 

Dell’s XPS lineup has been among the best laptops for college students for years now, and the new XPS 15 is no different. Taking the approach of ‘if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it’, not much has changed year over year – but that’s not necessarily a bad thing. What you’re getting here is a reliable Ultrabook with enough horsepower to carry you through all of your coursework without costing an arm and a leg. While the entry level is perfectly fine for most people, you can configure this thing with up to a Core i9 CPU and 32GB of RAM, transforming the Dell XPS 15 into a killer media editing workstation. We just wish Dell would move that webcam.

Read the full review: Dell XPS 15 

6. Samsung Notebook 9 (2018)

CPU: 8th-generation Intel Core i7 | Graphics: Nvidia GeForce MX150 | RAM: 16GB DDR4 | Screen: 15-inch FHD LED | Storage: 256GB SSD

 Fantastic Performance 

 Great battery life 

 Not enough storage 

It shouldn’t be surprising that the Samsung Notebook 9 has a beautiful monitor – it is Samsung, after all. But, even ignoring that screen, this laptop just radiates quality, from its useful fingerprint scanner, it’s portable design to its extremely fast 8th-generation Intel Core i7 CPU. Sure, the keyboard is a little mushy, and you’re sure to fill up that tiny SSD pretty quickly, but even those flaws are serviceable. And, when you consider the insane battery life, this is one of the best laptops for college students today. Period. 

Read the full review: Samsung Notebook 9 (2018) 

  • This product is only available in the US at the time of this writing. Australian and UK readers: check out a fine alternative in the Dell XPS 13  

7. Microsoft Surface Pro

CPU: 7th generation Intel Core m3 – i7 | Graphics: Intel HD Graphics 615 – Iris Plus Graphics 640 | RAM: 4GB – 16GB | Screen: 12.3-inch, 2,736 x 1,824 PixelSense display | Storage: 128GB – 1TB SSD

Hugely improved battery life

Comfier, punchier type cover

Surface Pen pulled from package

Only Core i7 can challenge A10X

The 2017 Surface Pro isn’t just one of the best Windows tablets, it’s one of the best laptops for college students, period. Everything from its rounded edges to its refined hardware lineage. There's also the fact that the Surface Pro draws inspiration from all-in-one PCs in the way it can bend back 165 degrees. Its portability, flexibility and fantastic build quality all make the Surface Pro one of the best laptops for college students – it’s an extremely compelling purchase. 

Read the full review: Microsoft Surface Pro

8. Lenovo Flex 6 14

CPU: Intel Pentium 4415U - Intel Core i5-8250U | Graphics: Intel HD Graphics 620 | RAM: 8GB DDR4 | Screen: 14-inch FHD (1,920 x 1,080) IPS; multi-touch; anti-glare | Storage: Up to 256GB SSD

Powerful enough for daily tasks 

Affordable 

Lower-end models not worth it 

College, with all the textbooks and the tuition costs, can get extremely expensive. That’s why the best laptops for college students are going to offer respectable performance at a decent price – that’s where the Lenovo Flex 14 comes in. At under a four-digit price, you’re getting an Ultrabook that can handle anything the semester throws at you – and it’ll look good while you’re doing it, with a bright touchscreen and 2-in-1 capabilities. You’re not going to find a much better laptop at a lower price, trust us.

Read the full review: Lenovo Flex 6 14 

9. MacBook Pro 15-inch (2018)

CPU: 8th generation Intel Core i7 – i9 | Graphics: AMD Radeon Pro 555X – 560X, Intel UHD Graphics 630 | RAM: 16GB – 32GB | Screen: 15.4-inch, 2,880 x 1,800 Retina display | Storage: 512GB – 4TB SSD

Gorgeous design 

Stellar performance 

Expensive 

If you have the cash for it, and you’re attached to macOS, the new MacBook Pro is the most powerful Mac you can buy today. With its impressive hexa-core processors, and up to 32GB of RAM this Cupertino workstation will get you through whatever your class workload happens to be – even if you need to do some video and photo editing work. It also includes an improved keyboard that will not only be less distracting to the students around you, but will be less prone to failure if some dust comes within 10 feet. 

Read the full review: MacBook Pro 15-inch (2018) 

10. Acer Aspire E15

CPU: 8th-generation Intel Core i5-8250U | Graphics: Nvidia GeForce MX150 | RAM: 8GB DDR4 | Screen: 15.6-inch FHD (1,920 x 1,080; non-touch) | Storage: 256GB SSD

 Work friendly keyboard 

 Lots of ports and inputs 

 Flimsy construction 

While it’s not going to win a beauty contest, the Acer Aspire e15 does one thing, and it does it well: work. If you need a laptop that you can carry with you between classes and get your work done, with no frills attached, this is one of the best laptops for college students. With new 8th-generation Kaby Lake-R processors, you’ll never have to worry about your laptop slowing down in the middle of an important project again. Just don’t expect a flashy chassis. 

Read the full review: Acer Aspire e15 

  • This product is only available in the US and UK at the time of this writing. Australian readers: check out a fine alternative in the Dell Inspiron 15 7000 Gaming  

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