The 11 Best Laptops for College in 2022

The best laptop for you depends on your budget and how you plan to use your computer. Discover our picks for the best laptops for college students.

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by Staff Writers

Published on May 3, 2022 · Updated on May 4, 2022

Edited by Tyler Epps
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The 11 Best Laptops for College in 2022
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Tackling college courses without a laptop is unimaginable for most students. Especially when considering the needs of online learners, a functional computer is essential. Whether communicating with professors, completing online coursework, or taking notes in class, students rely on their devices to perform many basic functions of college life.

Depending on their field, degree-seekers may want superior functionality for graphic design, basic word processing, or just simple note-taking. Whatever your needs, the best laptops for college cover a broad spectrum of performance, design, and cost.

We compared dozens of top laptop rankings to compile a list of the 11 best laptops for college students. Our methodology considers factors such as price, portability, and technical features that can affect a student's life.

Price Legend true

$ = Under $500 (Budget-Friendly) | $$ = $500-$1000 (Value/Overall) | $$$ = Over $1,000 (Premium)

Best Overall Laptops for Students

Best MacBook for Students
Apple MacBook Air M1

Pros

Lightweight and slim design State-of-the-art M1 processor Exceptional battery life

Cons

High price point No touchscreen interface Limited number of ports
Specs
  • Type: Traditional laptop
  • Display: 13.3-inch retina display (2560 x 1600)
  • Weight: 2.8 pounds
  • Processor: Apple M1
  • RAM: 8 GB
  • GPU: Apple 8-core
  • Battery Life: Up to 18 hours
  • Storage: 256 GB / 512 GB
  • Ports: 2x Thunderbolt 3, audio

Our Takeaway

Need a laptop for heavy graphics work, stunning presentations, or long nights at the library? A MacBook Air with Apple's M1 chip is one of the best laptops for college students. The sleek design and barely-there weight also make the MacBook Air a solid choice for undergrads hauling their laptop everywhere.

While the MacBook Air comes at a lower price than the MacBook Pro, it still ranks among the more expensive options for laptops.

$$ on Amazon

Best Traditional Windows Laptop for Students
Acer Swift 3

Pros

Great for photo editing and multitasking Relatively inexpensive ultrabook experience Lightweight design makes it highly portable

Cons

Not ideal for extended gaming use Speakers could use some improvement Does not include SD or microSD ports
Specs
  • Type: Traditional laptop
  • Display: 14 inches (1920 x 1080)
  • Weight: 2.62 pounds
  • Processor: AMD Ryzen 7 5700u Octa-Core
  • RAM: 8 GB / 16 GB
  • GPU: AMD Radeon Graphics
  • Battery Life: Up to 11.5 hours
  • Storage: 256 GB / 512 GB
  • Ports: USB 3.0 Type-C, 2x USB 3.2, HDMI, audio

Our Takeaway

The Acer Swift 3 is one of the best laptops for students looking for a highly portable laptop with a powerful processor. While the newly released Acer Swift 5 model has a few worthy features, the price jump makes it hard to recommend to students on a college budget.

The Acer Swift 3 may appeal to students who need a portable laptop with a minimal design and a powerful mix of hardware and software components.

$$ on Amazon

Best 2-in-1 Laptop for Students
Microsoft Surface Pro 8

Pros

Many hardware upgrade options Excellent battery life for a 2-in-1 laptop Kickstand allows for different viewing angles

Cons

Must buy keyboard and stylus pen separately Some software not compatible with the included stylus No USB-A port or MicroSD card slot
Specs
  • Type: 2-in-1 laptop
  • Display: 13-inch touchscreen (2880 x 1920)
  • Weight: Starts at 1.96 pounds
  • Processor: Intel Evo Platform Core i5 / Intel Evo Platform Core i7
  • RAM: 8 GB / 16 GB / 32 GB
  • GPU: ‎Intel Iris Xe Graphics
  • Battery Life: Up to 16 hours
  • Storage: 128 GB / 256 GB / 512 GB / 1 TB
  • Ports: USB-C, 2x Thunderbolt 4, Surface Connect, audio

Our Takeaway

Can't decide between a tablet and a laptop? Consider the Microsoft Surface Pro 8. You'll get all the benefits of a touchscreen with the perks of a full keyboard.

The versatility of the Surface Pro makes it a solid choice for business students who need to type up a report and then give a presentation from their tablet. But when you're budgeting for your laptop, keep in mind that you'll need to buy the keyboard and stylus separately.

$$ on Amazon

Best Chromebook for Students
Acer Chromebook Spin 713

Pros

Sharp 3:2 display Quality performance Wide variety of ports

Cons

Heavier than other options No stylus included Reduced battery life from previous model
Specs
  • Type: 2-in-1 laptop
  • Display: 13.5-inch touchscreen (2256 x 1504)
  • Weight: 4 pounds
  • Processor: Intel Core i5
  • RAM: 8 GB
  • GPU: Intel UHD Graphics
  • Battery Life: Up to 10 hours
  • Storage: 128 GB
  • Ports: USB-A, 2x Thunderbolt 4, microSD, HDMI, audio

Our Takeaway

This relatively affordable, premium Chromebook boasts a sturdy design and stand-out performance. This 2-in-1 option is the first Chromebook to receive Evo verification — the laptop meets rigorous standards for battery life, performance, and responsiveness.

The Acer Chromebook Spin 713 also benefits from serious durability due to its Corning Gorilla Glass touchscreen and sturdy aluminum body. These features protect the laptop from shortfalls, more extreme temperatures, and humidity.

$$ on Amazon

Best Premium Laptops for Students

Best Premium MacBook for Students
Apple MacBook Pro M1 Chip

Pros

Compatible with iOS apps and Apple products Spacious keyboard and highly responsive trackpad Excellent battery life

Cons

May be too expensive for some college students Unable to upgrade the internal RAM or hard drive Very few ports considering the high price point
Specs
  • Type: Traditional laptop
  • Display: 13.3-inch (2560 x 1600)
  • Weight: 3 pounds
  • Processor: Apple M1
  • RAM: 8 GB
  • GPU: Apple 8-core
  • Battery Life: Up to 20 hours
  • Storage: 256 GB / 512 GB
  • Ports: 2x Thunderbolt 3, audio

Our Takeaway

Students who prefer Apple products and can afford to spend more than $1,000 on a laptop should consider getting an Apple MacBook Pro. The laptop includes a Touch Bar, which is a slim OLED touchscreen that changes functionality depending on the application.

As one of the most powerful laptops on the market, the MacBook Pro can handle an array of activities, including note-taking, entertainment, and light gaming. It's worth noting that a new 2021 version was recently released; however, the price tag ($2,500) makes it hard to recommend to college students.

$$$ on Amazon

Best Premium Traditional Windows Laptop for Students
Dell XPS 13

Pros

Sleek and lightweight design Improved graphics Excellent battery life

Cons

Runs hot Lacks premium webcam No legacy ports
Specs
  • Type: Traditional laptop
  • Display: 13.4-inch touchscreen (1920 x 1200)
  • Weight: 2.8 pounds
  • Processor Intel Core i7
  • RAM: 16 GB / 32 GB
  • GPU: Intel Iris Xe Graphics
  • Battery Life: Up to 14 hours
  • Storage: 512 GB / 2 TB
  • Ports: 2x Thunderbolt 3, microSD, audio, USB-C AC adapter included

Our Takeaway

An upgrade from Dell's successful 2019 XPS 13, the 2020 update features a large display and comfortable touchpad and keyboard. This laptop provides up to 14 hours of battery life while boasting the performance of Intel's 11th Gen Core i7 processor. While this laptop comes with a relatively steep price tag, students who require exceptional performance in a sleek package should consider this computer alongside other options.

$$$ on Amazon

Best Premium 2-in-1 Laptop for Students
HP Envy x360

Pros

Fast processing speeds Stand-out graphics Excellent battery life

Cons

Pricier than other 2-in-1 options Larger and heavier than some alternatives Lags when using Adobe software
Specs
  • Type: 2-in-1 laptop
  • Display: 15.6-inch touchscreen (1920 x 1080)
  • Weight: 4.1 pounds
  • Processor: AMD Ryzen 7 Octa-Core
  • RAM: 32 GB
  • GPU: AMD Radeon Graphics
  • Battery Life: Average of 16 hours
  • Storage: 512 GB / 1 TB
  • Ports: USB-C, USB-A, HDMI, SD, audio

Our Takeaway

One of the best laptops for college, the HP Envy x360 is a versatile 2-in-1 device with impressive graphics and top-notch performance. Its large screen and keyboard make typing easy, and the webcam kill switch and fingerprint reader provide extra security.

The Envy is a bit uncomfortable to use as a tablet due to its size, and the price point may be out of reach for many students. However, for learners who want a powerful laptop/tablet combo, HP's Envy x360 2-in-1 is tough to beat.

$$$ on Amazon

Best Premium Chromebook for Students
Google Pixelbook Go

Pros

Keyboard is comfortable and quiet to type on Thin, lightweight design makes it highly portable Excellent battery life

Cons

Relatively steep prices for high-end models Lacks ports that other high-end laptops usually include Base model features an underpowered processor
Specs
  • Type: Chromebook
  • Display: 13.3-inch touchscreen (1920 x 1080)
  • Weight: 2.3 pounds
  • Processor: Intel Core m3 / Intel Core i5 / Intel Core i7
  • RAM: 8 GB / 16 GB
  • GPU: Intel UHD Graphics 615
  • Battery Life: Up to 12 hours
  • Storage: 64 GB / 128 GB / 256 GB
  • Ports: 2x USB-C, audio

Our Takeaway

One of the best laptops for college, this premium option comes in different models. The Google Pixelbook Go ranges from $650-$1,400 depending on the version you choose, making this a great option for most budgets. The laptop stands out due to its long battery life, sleek design, and 1080p webcam.

This Chromebook also shines due to its colorful display and solid performance. While this laptop does not have the best speakers and lacks some port options, this top performer is a great option for students looking for a reliable, lightweight computer.

$$$ on Amazon

Best Budget-Friendly Laptops for Students

Best Traditional Windows Laptop for Students on a Budget
Dell Inspiron 3510

Pros

Relatively affordable at just over $500 Quality battery life Impressive variety of ports

Cons

Lower-quality screen No USB-C ports Lacks the power necessary for high-level gaming or streaming
Specs
  • Type: Traditional
  • Display: 15.6-inch (1366 x 768)
  • Weight: 3.91 pounds
  • Processor: Intel Pentium N5030
  • RAM: 8 GB / 16 GB
  • GPU: Intel UHD Graphics
  • Battery Life: Up to11 hours
  • Storage: 256 GB / 512 GB / 1 TB
  • Ports: USB 2.0, USB 3.1, SD, HDMI, ethernet, audio

Our Takeaway

College students who want a laptop to write papers, conduct research, and study for exams will find a lot to like about the Dell Inspiron 3510.

Although it's not the best laptop for streamers or gamers, it offers a solid mix of affordability and performance. Users can expect up to 11 hours of battery life. And you can upgrade the RAM and hard drive for a performance boost.

$$ on Amazon

Best 2-in-1 Laptop for Students on a Budget
Microsoft Surface Go 3

Pros

Affordable 2-in-1 Windows laptop Lightweight design makes it highly portable Excellent battery life for a small machine

Cons

Interface changes in tablet mode Smaller screen may lead to eye strain Far less powerful than the Surface Pro
Specs
  • Type: 2-in-1 laptop
  • Display: 10.5-inch touchscreen (1920 x 1280)
  • Weight: 1.2 pounds
  • Processor: Intel Pentium Gold / Intel Core i3
  • RAM: 4 GB / 8 GB
  • GPU: Intel HD Graphics 615
  • Battery Life: Up to 10 hours
  • Storage: 64 GB / 128 GB
  • Ports: USB-C, microSDXC, audio, Surface Connect adapter included

Our Takeaway

The Microsoft Surface Go 3 is a steal for students looking for an affordable 2-in-1 laptop. The lightweight design also appeals to students who take their laptop everywhere.

But the price does come with a few drawbacks. The keyboard and stylus come separately, adding to the total cost. Still, the Surface Go 3 might be the perfect fit for students wanting a mix of affordability and flexibility.

$ on Amazon

Best Chromebook for Students on a Budget
Lenovo Chromebook Duet

Pros

Features Android phone integration Decent camera Impressive battery life for its size

Cons

Sluggish performance Just one port Very small keyboard
Specs
  • Type: 2-in-1 Chromebook
  • Display: 10.1-inch touchscreen (1920 x 1200)
  • Weight: 3.3 pounds
  • Processor: 8-core MediaTek Helio P60T
  • RAM: 4 GB
  • Graphics: Integrated ARM G72 MP3 Graphics
  • Battery Life: Up to 10 hours
  • Storage: 128 GB eMMc
  • Ports: USB-C

Our Takeaway

For budget-conscious students who don't need a high-performing computer, Lenovo's Chromebook Duet is an affordable option. This 2-in-1 Chromebook offers quality battery life in a slim package, and it comes with a detachable keyboard and cover.

While users may notice the Chromebook's cramped keyboard and lack of ports, the low price and functional performance make this an incredibly accessible choice for students.

$ on Amazon
Finding the right laptop for college can be tricky. Learn what to look for in terms of RAM and display and how you can save money with student discounts. Get ready for school this year by checking out our list of must-have college supplies that every student needs. Use this guide to prepare for college dorm life! Incoming students can get tips from this comprehensive list of college and dorm essentials.

BestColleges.com is an advertising-supported site. Featured or trusted partner programs and all school search, finder, or match results are for schools that compensate us. This compensation does not influence our school rankings, resource guides, or other editorially-independent information published on this site.

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