The Best Laptops and Chromebooks for Students

Laptops have become a must-have, back-to-school buy. Here are the best bets so you get your money's worth.


Whether you're shopping for a student or yourself, the range of laptop choices can be a bit confusing and intimidating at times. Here are nine great options to consider, from very affordable Chromebooks and Windows laptops to slightly higher-end Macbooks and ultraportables.

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Acer Spin 1
Acer $306.15

Acer’s Spin 1 may come in at just over the $300 mark, but found the convertible laptop to be more in line with a higher-end device—complete with an all-metal enclosure, a great-looking IPS touchscreen, and an included active stylus. 

It is expectedly a bit bulkier and heavier than most of its pricier counterparts, however, and while its performance is great for the price, it shouldn’t come as much of a surprise if it starts to slow down when you’re doing some more demanding tasks.

Samsung Chromebook Plus V2
Samsung $449.00

Samsung’s original Chromebook Plus won its share of praise when it was released in early 2017, but , and others have found the company’s latest iteration to be an even better all around laptop.

It’s faster, with an Intel Celeron processor instead of an ARM chip, and it still comes with a great display—albeit one that now boasts a 16:10 aspect ratio instead of the less common 3:2 found on the previous version.

Acer Predator Helios 300
Acer $1,049.00

It may not be the thinnest or lightest option for hauling around campus, but Acer’s Predator Helios 300 laptop won’t disappoint if you’re concerned with keeping your grades and your gaming skills up. It’s PC Gamer’s for their favorite budget gaming laptop, and packs some features like a GeForce GTX 1060 6GB graphics card that are normally only found in more expensive laptops. 

There are unsurprisingly a few tradeoffs for the price, however, including a 256GB SSD that could fill up quickly, and a display that PCWorld says “runs dimmer than its rivals.”

ASUS ZenBook 13
Asus $770.77

If you're looking for a laptop that has a bit of a high-end look and feel without too much of a premium price, you're not likely to do much better than the Asus ZenBook UX330UA. It's a top pick of   and , among others, which praise the laptop's great screen and impressively long battery life, as well as its thin and light (and stylish) design. 

It's available in different configurations if you need a bit more power, but the $700 setup with a Core i5 processor, 8GB RAM and a 256GB SSD hard drive should be more than enough for most students.

Asus Chromebook Flip
ASUS $499.00

Some students may not be able to get by with a Chromebook if they need to run Mac or Windows apps, but they're a great affordable option for those who only need the basics. Asus' Chromebook Flip is a clear favorite of many, including ,  and . 

It's not the cheapest Chromebook around, but you'll get a decent-sized (12.5-inch) full-HD touchscreen, as well as ample battery life and fast startup times. As its name suggests, the laptop can also easily convert into tablet mode when you don't need the keyboard.

Acer Aspire E15
Acer $599.99

A Chromebook is one option if you're looking for a sub-$500 laptop, but there's plenty of full-fledged Windows laptops just north of the same price range. 

Acer's Aspire E 15 is one of the more well-reviewed options in that price range and packs a decent set of features, including full HD 15.6-inch display, impressive battery life, and a Core i5 processor. There are some trade-offs at this price point, of course, not the least of which is a slightly bulkier and heavier design—though it is one that  found is solidly built.

Apple MacBook Pro
Apple $1,099.00

A MacBook is never going to be the most affordable laptop option for a student, but they do have their advantages, and even the lowest-end MacBook Pro or MacBook Air should easily hold up well for a number of years.  singles out the 13-inch MacBook Pro as its top pick for college students, which is a bit pricier than the MacBook Air but has a much better Retina display and is still fairly thin-and-light with great battery life.

Dell XPS 13
Dell $809.99

Like the MacBook Pro, Dell's XPS 13 is veering into high-end territory, but it's a tough laptop to beat if you're after a Windows-based system that doesn't compromise on features or portability. Laptop Mag was  with the XPS 13's nearly 14-hour battery life, as well as its full array of ports (including an SD card reader), which offers more connectivity option than most other ultra-light laptops.

Asus Chromebook
Asus $209.00

It might not quite cut it for college or university, but Asus' very affordable Chromebook C202SA should easily get the job done for younger students. It's standout feature is a ruggedized (and water resistant) design that should easily hold up to plenty of wear and tear. 

Specs are otherwise lower than something like the Chromebook Flip, however, including a smaller, lower-resolution screen and less onboard storage, but it still has great battery life in a light package.

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