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Best student laptops in 2021: We select the top 10

Best student laptops
(Image credit: Rubberball/Mike Kemp on Getty Images)
Top 5 student laptops

Jump straight to the best student laptops...
01. Acer Swift 3 (2020)
02. Acer Chromebook 314
03. Google Pixelbook Go
04. MacBook Air (M1, 2020)
05. Microsoft Surface Go 2

Knowing what the best student laptops are is essential in a world where remote learning is becoming ever more important. However, there's a huge amount of choice out there, so to make things easier, on this page you'll find a wide range of brilliant student laptops.

When looking for a laptop for the student in your life, there are certain things you need to keep an eye out for. First, you'll want to make sure that it's powerful enough to handle day-to-day apps that most students will need. So, web browsing, word processing and being able to make presentations is essential.

For more information, jump to the what to consider when buying a student laptop section. And if you're specifically after one of Apple's products, check out our guide on how to get an Apple student discount

Read on for our pick of the best laptops for students available now – and let our built-in price comparison tool find the very best deals. It's also worth checking our list of the best Walmart laptops if you're in the States, as it features a number of budget-friendly options that are great for schoolwork.

The best student laptops available now

The best student laptopsCB

(Image credit: Acer)

01. Acer Swift 3 (2020)

The best student laptop overall

CPU: 11th-generation Intel Core i5 – i7 | Graphics: Intel Iris Xe Graphics | RAM: up to 16GB LPDDR4X | Screen: 13.5” 3:2 IPS VertiView Display or 14” 16:9 FHD IPS | Storage: up to 1TB PCIe Gen SSD

Highly portable
Excellent multitasker
Speakers are "meh"

The Acer Swift 3 (2020) ticks pretty much every box for what makes the best student laptops. It's affordable, without making too many compromises, and yet it's powerful enough to easily handle day to day tasks, including web browsing and document creation, making it perfect for students.

It's also thin and light enough to easily carry around school or campus, but with a decent build quality which means it won't easily break. The latest model brings some choice hardware upgrades, so it's now a better performer than ever before, and battery life has been given a boost as well.

It's not the most powerful laptop in the world, and it won't handle games, but for an affordable and dependable student laptop, this one is hard to beat.

The best student laptops: Acer Chromebook 314

(Image credit: Acer)

02. Acer Chromebook 314

The best budget Chromebook for students

CPU: Intel Celeron N4000 | Graphics: Intel UHD Graphics 600 | RAM: 4GB | Screen: 14-inch LED (1366 x 768) high definition | Storage: 32GB eMMC

Excellent battery life and performance
Bright, crisp screen
No touchscreen
No fingerprint reader

Many of the best student laptops are Chromebooks due to their fantastic value for money. They run Chrome OS, which is less resource-hungry than Windows 10, which means Chromebooks can use lower-powered hardware and still offer excellent performance. 

This means Chromebooks are often a lot cheaper than Windows 10 devices, and the Acer Chromebook 314 is in our view the best budget Chromebook for students. With a low price, it means you're not blowing your student loan on a laptop, and it still offers great features including a bright and vibrant 14-inch display and 12 hour battery life. So, you can work on this thing throughout an entire school day, and you'll still have battery life left over.

The keyboard is also incredibly comfortable, which is very important in a student laptop, as you're going to be doing a lot of typing on this thing.

It's also a good media playing machine, so you can whack on Netflix when you (or the student in your life) needs to unwind - and all for a very affordable price.

Just bear in mind that Chrome OS doesn't run all of the programs you usually get on Windows 10, but there are usually great alternative applications.

The best student laptops: Google Pixelbook Go

(Image credit: Google)

03. Google Pixelbook Go

The best Chromebook for students

CPU: Intel Core m3 – i7 | Graphics: Intel UHD Graphics 615 (300MHz) | RAM: 8GB – 16GB | Screen: Full HD Display – 4K Ultra HD Molecular Display | Storage: 64GB – 256GB

Incredible battery life
Amazing ‘Hush’ keyboard
No biometric login

The Pixelbook Go is the best Chromebook money can buy right now – which also makes it one of the best student laptops as well. While the Acer Chromebook 314 is higher up on this list because of its ultra-low price, the Pixelbook Go is the better all-round Chromebook, packing a premium design and powerful components that would shame many Windows 10 laptops.

Even with its more premium bells and whistles. the Pixelbook Go is still a lot more affordable than many other laptops, and it's got a fantastic battery life as well. It's slightly more expensive than many other Chromebooks, but you really are getting some brilliant extras with this thing, including a fantastic screen, excellent webcam (essential these days with lots of remote learning) and top-notch performance.

However, what really makes it stand out as a brilliant student laptop is its excellent keyboard. This really is one of the best keyboards we've seen on a laptop, and it means you can type on it comfortably all day long.

The best student laptops: MacBook Air (M1, 2020)

(Image credit: Apple)

04. MacBook Air (M1, 2020)

The best MacBook for students

CPU: Apple M1 chip with 8‑core CPU | Graphics: Integrated 7-core – 8-core GPU | RAM: 8GB – 16GB unified memory | Screen: 13.3-inch 2560 x 1600 Retina display | Storage: 256GB – 2TB SSD

macOS Big Sur is fast and responsive
Battery life is great
Silent in use
Fanless design could impact performance

At the end of 2020, Apple produced what many people (including us) think is the best laptop it ever made - the M1-powered MacBook Air. Rather than using hardware made by Intel, Apple has created its own chip to power the new MacBook Air, and it's a gamble that has paid off massively.

Performance is excellent, easily beating older MacBook Airs, and it has a hugely improved battery life as well. It can now also run iOS apps, giving you a larger library of apps than ever before. Its screen also supports the P3 colour gamut, making this an excellent laptop for photography or video editing students. It's also the most affordable MacBook, and while it's more expensive than other laptops, it offers you the cheapest way to get a MacBook, making it a great choice for students with a slightly larger budget.

The best student laptops: Microsoft Surface Go 2

(Image credit: Microsoft)

05. Microsoft Surface Go 2

Premium design, more affordable price

CPU: 8th Gen Intel Core m3 – Intel Pentium Gold Processor 4425Y | Graphics: Intel HD Graphics 615 | RAM: 4GB – 8GB | Screen: 10.5” 1920 x 1280 (220 PPI) PixelSense Display | Storage: 64GB eMMC – 128GB SSD | Connectivity: IEEE 802.11a/b/g/n/ac/ax, Bluetooth 5.0, Qualcomm Snapdragon X16 LTE Modem

Premium design
Affordable
Can run full Windows 10
No Touch Cover or stylus included
Base model's specs are weak

If you're looking for a student laptop that can also be used as a tablet, then the Microsoft Surface Go 2 is an excellent choice. Offering the premium and stylish build quality of Microsoft's other Surface products, the Go 2 is a lot more affordable.

While it's not as powerful as the Surface Pro 7, for example, it's more than capable of  helping students with their studies. From researching on the web, to writing up documents or creating presentations in Microsoft Office, the Surface Go 2 is a great choice, and it runs Windows 10, so you have access to a wide variety of applications as well.

Not only is it a tablet that's great for scribbling down notes using a stylus (or watching Netflix on when you have some down time), if you get the keyboard attachment (which we strongly recommend), you can comfortably type up whole essays on this thing as well.

The best student laptops: Dell Inspiron 13 7000 2-in-1

(Image credit: Dell )

06. Dell Inspiron 13 7000 2-in-1

A powerful and reliable student laptop

CPU: 10th Generation Intel Core i5 – i7 | Graphics: Intel UHD Graphics | RAM: 8GB – 16GB | Screen: 13.3-inch FHD (1920 x 1080) – 15.6-inch UHD (3840 x 2160) Truelife Touch Narrow Border WVA Display with Active Pen support | Storage: Intel Optane Memory H10 32 GB with 512 GB Solid-State Storage – 1TB M.2 PCIe NVMe SSD

Competent performance
Highly versatile
Premium design
Quirky display
4K battery drain
Bunk speakers

The Dell Inspiron 13 7000 2-in-1 is a versatile hybrid device that can be used as a laptop and a tablet, making it a great choice for students who'd like to have both, but don't want to buy two devices. While it's not got the premium design (or price tag) of Dell's XPS line of laptops, the Dell Inspiron 13 7000 2-in-1 still offers excellent build quality and an attractive thin and light design.

You can get the Dell Inspiron 13 7000 2-in-1 in a variety of configurations to suit your budget, including a gorgeous 4K display and extremely impressive speakers. Battery life isn't the best, but for a solid and dependable workhorse of a laptop, this is a brilliant choice. 

The best student laptops: Dell G3 15

Dell G3 15 (Image credit: Dell)

07. Dell G3 15

The best gaming laptop for students

CPU: 9th Generation Intel Core i5 – i7 | Graphics: NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1050 – 1660 Ti with Max-Q Design | RAM: 8GB – 16GB | Screen: 15.6-inch FHD (1920 x 1080) Anti-glare LED Backlit Non-touch | Storage: 1TB HDD – 512GB SSD

Affordable
Great performer
Flimsy build

Being a student involves a lot of hard work, but you still need to unwind and blow off steam. If you like doing that by playing games, then getting a gaming laptop like the Dell G3 15 is ideal. It also means you don't have to lug around a big gaming desktop if you're moving to Uni.

The Dell G3 15 also proves you don't have to spend a fortune if you want a great gaming laptop. This is an affordable gaming laptop that offers excellent performance with modern games without leaving you with no money for rent or study essentials.

While the spec isn't going to let you play intensive games like Cyberpunk 2077 with ray tracing and other visual effects all whacked to max, you'll still be able to play almost any modern game with a few tweaks.

The best student laptops: MacBook Pro 13-inch (M1, 2020)

(Image credit: Apple)

08. MacBook Pro 13-inch (M1, 2020)

Apple’s little MacBook Pro gets a big refresh

CPU: Apple M1 chip with 8‑core CPU | Graphics: Integrated 8-core GPU | RAM: 8GB – 16GB unified memory | Screen: 13.3-inch 2560 x 1600 LED-backlit Retina display | Storage: 256GB – 2TB SSD | Dimensions (H x W x D): 30.41 x 21.24 x 1.56 cm

Huge battery life
Great performance
Can run iOS apps
Still lacks ports

If you're a student looking for a powerful laptop, and you want an Apple device, then the new MacBook Pro 13-inch (M1, 2020) is for you. Like the new MacBook Air, this new MacBook Pro also comes with the M1 chip, but with a few tweaks to make it even more powerful. This means this is an absolute beast when it comes to video editing or 3D rendering.

It's also got the best battery life ever in a MacBook, while keeping that gorgeous thin and light design that MacBooks are renowned for.

Without doubt, this is one of the best, and most powerful, student laptops money can buy right now. It's expensive, but definitely worth the investment if you need something with a bit more oomph.

The best student laptops: Microsoft Surface Pro 7

(Image credit: Microsoft)

09. Microsoft Surface Pro 7

A brilliant tablet that can also double as a laptop for students

CPU: 10th Gen Intel Core i3 – i7 | Graphics: Intel UHD Graphics – Iris Plus Graphics | RAM: 4GB – 16GB | Screen: 12.3” PixelSense Display | Storage: 128GB – 1TB | Connectivity: 802.11ax Wi-Fi 6 (2 x 2 MIMO), Bluetooth 5 | Camera: 8MP rear-facing, auto-focus camera (1080p HD); 5MP front-facing, 1080p HD camera | Weight: 1.7 pounds (771g) | Size: 11.5 x 7.9 x 0.33 inches (292 x 201 x 8.5mm; W x D x H)

USB-C finally
Now with Wi-Fi 6
Overall loss in battery life
USB-C isn’t Thunderbolt 3

While not strictly a laptop, the Microsoft Surface Pro 7 more than earns its place on this list of the best laptops for students. It's actually a Windows 10-powered tablet, but by attaching the Type Cover, which is an optional extra, you can turn it into a laptop-like device that's perfect for writing up essays on.

As a tablet, it's also compact and easy to carry around, and it's powerful as well. It comes with a quad-core Intel processor, and up to 16GB of RAM, which means it can handle pretty much any app you need for your studies. And, as we mentioned earlier, it runs on a full version of Windows 10, so you have a huge library of compatible software.

It also features a USB-C port and Wi-Fi 6 connectivity, and you can configure it before you buy to ensure you're getting a device that's ideal for your needs - and your budget.

The best student laptops: Asus Chromebook Flip

(Image credit: Asus)

10. Asus Chromebook Flip

The another brilliant Chromebook for students

CPU: Intel Pentium 4405Y – Intel Core m3-6Y30 | Graphics: Intel HD Graphics 515 | RAM: 4GB | Screen: 12.5-inch, FHD (1,920 x 1,080) LED backlit anti-glare | Storage: 32GB – 64GB eMMC

Elegant tablet mode
Tactile keyboard
No out-of-box Android app support
Middling speakers

This is yet another Chromebook on this list, which just goes to show how good these Chrome OS-powered devices are for students. With a low price and long battery life, the Asus Chromebook Flip is ideal for students who want a machine they can work on throughout the day without worrying about running out of juice, while also not spending too much money at the same time.

It can handle day-to-day tasks when studying, including writing up documents or creating presentations, and it can be used as a tablet-like device for watching Netflix on after a hard day's work (films look great on its 1080p screen).

The Asus Chromebook Flip is also great for younger students as well, or as a first laptop for children. Not only is it cheap and sturdy, but it's easy to set parental controls on the laptop, and as it's a Chromebook, you don't have to worry about viruses or keeping it updated. 

Best student laptops: What to consider

If the laptop is going to be used by students studying specialised subjects, then you may need something that's a bit more powerful – for example, graphic design students may benefit from a laptop with a modern graphics card. You'll certainly want something that will last at least three years, if not longer. What you don't want to end up with is a laptop that halfway through a course gives up the ghost.

But not every student will need massive specs. Many Chromebooks make excellent student laptops, replacing massive storage with a super speed. This is because the apps they run don't take up much space, and with built-in support for Google Drive, it means your documents are all saved in the cloud as well.

The best student laptops also offer excellent battery life. You'll want something that lasts all day in lessons and lectures (either when studying at home, or if you're on campus), and when the battery does run out, it needs to be able to be recharged quickly.

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