The best laptops for teachers are now a vital companion for anyone working in education. Whether you work for a school, college or specialist provider or you teach private classes, a laptop is an essential tool for the job. That goes for lesson planning, and often for actually delivering your class.
f you deliver physical classes, you're likely to need a portable device for lesson planning and to correct students' work at school, home or on the move. A laptop is also a useful way to bring materials into the classroom. But these days, there's another reason to choose one of the best laptops for teachers, because more and more classes are being delivered remotely via online classrooms or services such as Zoom.
The best laptop for teaching will depend on which of these situations applies to you, but, generally, you'll want a device that's easy to carry around and that sports a webcam. Beyond that, it will largely depend on what software you need to run. If you'll only use a laptop to write lesson plans and materials and to correct students' work, a Chromebook or a budget Windows laptop may be all you need. If you need to run more demanding software, you'll need higher specs (scroll to the bottom for advice on what to consider when choosing the best laptop for teachers).
We've made our own selection of the best laptops for teaching based on these different use cases, and we've aimed to cater to different budgets. Our reviewers have personally tested all of these devices over a period of several days and for different kinds of work. For each option, we've listed its strengths and weaknesses and linked to our more detailed review in case you want to learn more. You'll also find links to the retailers with the best prices for each laptop.
For more back-to-school essentials, see our guide to the best Apple back-to-school discounts. We also have a guide to the best student discounts, which may include some options to tell your class about.
The best laptops for teachers available now
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The MacBook Air (M1, 2020) is Apple's most affordable but it's no slouch. Powered by Apple's own M1 chip, it offers fantastic performance in a super light and portable fanless package. It looks fantastic, but it's practical too. We got well over a day of use on a single charge of the battery when we tested it, and we found it perfectly capable of handling even more demanding design software.
It has two Thunderbolt 3 ports, which are handy if you need to plug in or charge peripherals. Apple's just released a newer 2022 model of the MacBook Air with an M2 chip, which we've yet to review but have heard great things about. However, we think the 2020 MacBook Air can still cover most teachers' needs. The added bonus is that it's now coming in for fairly regular discounts since there's a newer model.
See our full MacBook Air (M1, 2020) review for more details.
If you prefer to work in Windows (or you need to because it's favoured by your school or college), the Acer Aspire 5 is a great option if you're priority is value and you don't need powerful specs. This isn't the best laptop for doing heavy lifting, but if you only need to plan lesson materials and correct student work, it will do just fine. Best of all, it has a price as low as some Chromebooks, without the software limitations that Chromebooks imply.
We found that it feels like a durable, if slightly old-fashioned device. It comes with a proprietary charger rather than USB-C, which is a bit of a pain, but with a 720p webcam, a decent amount of storage and a fair selection of ports, this may well be everything you need in a laptop for teaching.
Read our detailed Acer Aspire 5 review to learn more.
Getting into even more budget territory, Chromebooks are great options for teachers who priortise portability and battery life over high-powered specs. It's important to know what a Chromebook is – they run Google's ChromeOS instead of Windows or MacOS, and this means that means you have a more limited range of software that you can use.
That said, you can edit Windows Office files in ChromeOS, and Google has its own very good office tools, which have the convenience of being located in the cloud. If you only need to edit documents, browse the internet, reply to students' emails and teach a class online, a Chromebook makes total sense. The Acer Chromebook 314 is one of the best we've tested. We found the keyboard comfortable to use, the 14in HD screen is fantastically crisp for a Chromebook, and we got a good 13 hours out of a single charge of the battery.
See our Acer Chromebook 314 review for more details.
Many teachers won't need a hugely powerful laptop for their classroom needs, but that may be a different story if you're teaching visual design or media courses. If you need to demonstrate techniques and prepare work (and view student work) in a video-editing course, for example, you're going to need something more powerful that can handle the software you'll be using.
The MacBook Pro 16 is the most powerful MacBook yet, with a choice of the M1 Pro or M1 Max chips, which have enhancements for more efficient video handling. This laptop should be able to handle pretty much anything, and the benefit of the 16in model over its smaller 14in sibling is that the screen's a better size for use in class. You get better battery life too – we got 17 hours on a single charge for general online work.
See our full MacBook Pro 16 (2021) review for more details.
A premium laptop for teaching doesn't have to mean Apple. Microsoft has been producing some fantastic Windows devices, especially its Surface range of 2-in-1 laptop-tablets. The Surface Laptop Studio is firmly on the laptop side of this form factor, but the screen can be slid forwards over the keyboard and laid flat so you can use the laptop as a tablet, and you can also prop it up over the keyboard in an easel position – handy for showing media in class.
The touch screen is brilliantly designed and offers good brightness and colour coverage (505 nits and 82% Adobe RGB). We also appreciated the 3:2 aspect ratio, which is taller than a usual widescreen laptop display. This could be very handy for lesson planning and correcting students' work since it makes better use of space, allowing you to see more of a document on the screen at once.
The touchscreen offers great stylus support too, which could be useful for making annotations and corrections by hand. The Laptop Studio can be configured up to some pretty powerful specs to, so this could also handle visual design or image editing if you teach in a creative area.
See our full Microsoft Laptop Studio review for more details.
If you don't need a lot of power, the best laptop for teaching for you might not even be a laptop. The Surface Go 3 is the most affordable 2-in-1 tablet in the Microsoft family, and while it's not very powerful, it runs Windows rather than Android so it can handle desktop software (within reason) and web-based applications.
It's a great solution if portability is a priority but you need to be able to run Windows. And the speakers offer impressive output for such a small device too. Just note that to use it as a laptop, you'll need to buy Microsoft's keyboard separately (and the stylus too if you want that). This starts to push the price up a little. It's also very limited in terms of ports, with just the one USB-C.
You can read more details in our full Microsoft Surface Go 3 review.
Which is the best laptop for teachers?
The best laptop for teachers will depend to an extent on what you teach and what you use your laptop for. If you mainly need a laptop to write notes for lesson plans, to write up tests and assignments and to receive and correct homework or course work from students or to show videos in class, then you might not need a lot of power.
Even the lowest spec laptops can handle these sorts of tasks, so for the best value, great portability and fantastic battery life, you might want to consider a Chromebook. It's important to note that these are laptops that run Google's ChromeOS, not Windows or MacOS, so they can't run all the desktop software packages that you might be familiar with, but you can edit Microsoft Word, Excel and PowerPoint documents on a Chromebook, and of course, Google has its own suite of cloud-based word processing, presentation and spreadsheet tools.
If you teach on a course in the creative fields, for example, design or video production, then you'll probably want a more powerful machine, especially if you'll be using it to demonstrate work or processes in class. For that you'll want enough processing power and RAM to be able to handle more demanding software – at least 8GB RAM, but ideally 16GB if you use more demanding programs.
Another reason you might need a laptop as a teacher is to teach classes online. For this you'll want a webcam, which most laptops have these days, but you might also want to consider screen size, to allow you to move windows around and see your students and your lesson materials at the same time.
Screen size is also a consideration if you need to show work or videos in class. It might not be an issue if you have a projector or external screen to hook up to. But otherwise, you'll want to make sure that the screen on your laptop is large enough for the size of your class – an 11in Chromebook may not cut in this case since students may have to huddle around quite close to be able to see.
What else should I consider when choosing the best laptop for teachers?
Another consideration when choosing the best laptop for teachers is the setup at the school or college where you work. If the school uses Windows computers or Macs, you might want to follow suit to guarantee compatibility if you need to share work with colleagues. Using the same system as other teachers will also make it more likely that someone will be able to help out if you need technical advice or assistance.
It's also worth considering the wider technical setup at your school or college. If you're planning to hook up your computer to an external projector or television that's installed in your classroom, then you'll need to check what connections you need – for most TVs, you'll need an HDMI cable, while monitors will usually require HDMI, USB-C or DisplayPort. If your laptop doesn't have the necessary ports, you'll need an adapter.