Purchasing a laptop for college marks a rite of passage for many high school graduates; however, with hundreds of available options in today's tech market, choosing the right device can be a difficult decision.

Good laptops for college must possess at least four gigabytes (GB) of RAM to handle basic software and ensure strong, consistent wireless connectivity across campus. Nearly all modern laptops meet these criteria, so the best laptops for college often depend on personal priorities. Some students may prioritize price point, while others might seek computers with high-definition screens, versatile configurations, folding hinges, or a large amount of onboard storage space. Some students narrow their options based on operating systems.

Ultimately, the ideal college laptop meets all of your needs and preferences, and does so at a reasonable price point. See below our picks for the 25 best laptops for college students. We chose these laptops using a comprehensive methodology focusing on various features and performance factors. Our list represents an array of manufacturers, price ranges, operating systems, technical specs, and versatility features.

For our methodology we ranked the 25 laptops listed below according to three equally weighted criteria: portability, hardware, and versatility. Portability scores account for size and weight, while hardware scores measure memory, onboard storage space, and processing speed. Versatility scores consider the physical versatility of a laptop's design and activities users can accomplish with the device. Versatility scores may factor in touch-screen pens for design work, processing speed for gaming, or enhanced visuals for streaming media.

Each criterion, ranked 1-5, contributes to a composite ranking score, which ranges from 7.5 to 12. We listed our top 25 picks below, in alphabetical order.

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Acer Aspire E

Price: $329.99

The Acer E Series consists of four laptop models with expansive, high-resolution 15.6 inch displays, and powerful dual-core processors. The standard model includes 6GB of onboard RAM and 1 terabyte (TB) of SSD storage, which suffices for most students. The more advanced E Series models also feature sophisticated touchpads, which disregard unintended movements; four USB 3.0 ports; and built-in data archiving software, which permanently saves photos, videos, and other important files. These laptops offer exceptionally quick wireless file transfers, as well. All E Series models come with numeric keypads for efficient typing and data entry, which can help students working on tight deadlines.

E Series laptops weigh between 4.9 and 5.2 pounds, and have battery lives of up to 13 hours. The four models in this series cost between $329.99 and $799.99.

Acer Nitro 5

Price: $569.99

The Acer Nitro 5 represents a powerful, inexpensive option for students on a budget. The standard model includes Ryzen 5 Quad-core processors, which reaches speeds of up to 2 GHz; 8GB of onboard RAM; and 256GB of SSD storage. The laptop also features a high-resolution display, which toggles between anti-glare and LCD settings, making it ideal for watching videos or playing games. The built-in Acer CoolBoost system helps the laptop to maintain a steady, optimal temperature after hours of use. It weighs just under six pounds.

Upgrade models offer processing speeds of up to 2.3 GHz, and as much as 1TB of SSD storage. All Acer Nitro 5 laptops feature 15.6-inch screens. The standard Acer Nitro 5 starts at $569.99, and all upgrade models cost less than $1,000.

Acer Spin 7

Price: $999.99

The Acer Spin 7 is a lightweight, powerful, and relatively inexpensive laptop. The standard Spin 7 model features a 14-inch, high-resolution display, 8GB of onboard RAM, and 256 GB of SSD storage. It weighs 2.65 pounds and measures 10mm thick, and its battery lasts up to eight hours, making this laptop an exceptionally compact, well-suited option for students on the go.

Other cool features include an integrated webcam and microphone, along with a fingerprint reader for quick, easy logins. An adjustable hinge allows users to convert the laptop into an upright screen for watching movies or playing games, and offers a tablet option.

Apple 12-Inch MacBook

Price: $1,149

The Apple 12-Inch MacBook offers ample storage space, fast processing speeds, and a portable design -- ideal for college students. Apple currently sells two versions of its 12-inch MacBook. The standard model comes with a 7th Generation Intel Core processor featuring a turbo setting of up to 3 GHz, 8GB of onboard RAM, and 256GB of SSD storage. The upgrade model doubles that SSD storage and boasts a maximum processing speed of 3.2 GHz.

Other features include vivid HD displays, and butterfly mechanism keyboards with thinner keys for faster, more efficient typing. Both 12-inch MacBook models weigh roughly two pounds.

Buyers qualify for interest-free financing if they completely pay off their MacBook within 18 months. As part of the Apple GiveBack program, previous purchasers may receive a refund of up to $1,100 when they trade in an eligible laptop.

Apple 13-Inch MacBook Air

Price: $999.99

The lightweight, 13-inch MacBook Air comes in three designs. The standard MacBook Air features a dual-core processor, with turbo boost speeds of up to 2.9 GHz; 8GB of onboard memory; and 128GB of SSD storage. Students may also choose between two MacBook upgrade models. Both come with Touch ID and a Turbo Boost processing speed of up to 3.6 GHz. These models boast a retina display, and offer crisp, high-resolution visuals that go easy on the eyes, making them optimal for long study sessions.

A standard Apple 13-Inch Macbook Air with 128GB of SSD storage is priced at $999.99, while upgrades with faster processors and/or more storage cost between $1,199.99 and $1,399.99. The standard and upgrade models qualify for special financing for up to 18 months.

Apple 13-Inch MacBook Pro

Price: $1,185

The Apple 13-Inch MacBook Pro suits students who need a laptop with speedy delivery. An i7 Intel Core processor powers the computer, featuring a turbo boost setting that reaches 4.5 GHz -- much faster than previous versions of the MacBook Pro. The laptop also features a 13.3-inch display with sharp resolution and two USB ports. An ambient light illuminates the keyboard, helpful for late-night study sessions. At roughly 3 pounds, the laptop proves highly portable.

The 13-inch MacBook Pro comes with 8GB of onboard RAM and 128GB SSD storage. When used for video playback or wireless Internet, its battery lasts up to 10 hours.

Purchasers qualify for interest-free financing if they pay off their MacBook Pro in full within 18 months. The standard 13-inch model costs $1,299. Students may upgrade to 13-inch models with faster processors and more storage space for an additional cost.

ASUS ZenBook 13

Price: $820

Measuring 16.9mm thick and weighing 2.6 pounds, the ZenBook 13 from ASUS represents one of the most compact laptops out there. It boasts a frameless, 13.3-inch FHD display, with a 95% screen-to-body ratio. The ZenBook 13 also features the Ergolift hinge, which enables users to adjust the screen and keyboard angle for the most comfortable position. This helps prevent neck and back strain, hand cramps, and other physical discomforts associated with long typing and studying sessions.

The keyboard also comes with a touchpad and numeric keypad for faster data entry. The ZenBook 13 includes 8GB of onboard memory and 512GB of SSD storage. It supports Wi-Fi speeds of up to 1,734 mbps, along with dual-band Wi-Fi.

Students can purchase a new ASUS ZenBook 13 from ASUS for $849, or through a wide range of third-party retailers with varying price points. Those seeking a ZenBook with a larger screen can opt for the ZenBook 14 or 15 models.

Dell G7

Price: $899.99

The Dell G7 laptop models best suit students who enjoy playing video games. The standard 15-inch G7 model boasts advanced graphics and a high-performance video card, for immersive gameplay. This model also comes with 16GB of onboard RAM and 256GB of DDS storage, allowing it to accommodate the newest games. Buyers can upgrade to the new 15-inch or 17-inch G7 laptop, which features higher storage and video card capacities.

Upgrades also include the Alien Command Center, a built-in software program that enables users to calibrate controllers and adjust various game settings. G7 purchasers can customize their laptop purchases to include built-in Microsoft Office Home and Students 2019 software.

The price point for a Dell G7 varies by model and specific configuration. The standard G7 15-inch starts at $899.99, while upgrade models cost slightly more. Buyers may qualify for financing as low as $27 per month.

Dell Inspiron Chromebook

Price: $549.99

The Dell Inspiron Chromebook is highly portable, weighing 3.9 pounds and measuring less than 18mm thick. It's also very efficient, thanks to its 8th Generation Intel Core processor, which reaches speeds of up to 4GHz. These attributes make the Inspiron Chromebook ideal for students seeking a fast laptop that provides consistently strong connectivity.

The standard model comes with 4GB of onboard RAM and 128GB SSD storage, along with a 14-inch touchscreen display and a built-in screen pen. The screen offers four viewing modes, and a hinged design enables users to fold the laptop into a tablet.

In addition to the standard model, buyers can upgrade to Inspiron Chromebook laptops with a wireless mouse and/or accidental damage protection. All standard and upgrade models are available for less than $600. Orders qualify for free standard delivery and customers may receive financing for as low as $20 per month.

Dell XPS 13

Price: $1,149.99

The Dell XPS 13 offers three versions for students with varying needs and preferences. The standard model includes 4GB of onboard RAM and 128GB of SSD storage, along with an 8th Generation Intel Core i5 Processor. An upgraded model offers a more advanced i7 processor, 8GB of onboard memory, and 256GB of SSD storage. A touchscreen model is also available with 512GB of SSD. All three versions weigh roughly 2.7 pounds and feature 13.3-inch displays.

All purchases qualify for a one-year subscription to McAfee LiveSafe security software. Music enthusiasts enjoy the XPS 13 because of its speakers, which are professionally tuned using the Dell Waves MaxxAudio Pro program.

Financing is available starting at $35 per month. Purchasers may also receive money-back rebates of up to $95.

HP Chromebook x360 – 14"

Price: $599.99

The HP Chromebook series features a wide selection of practical, portable laptops at affordable price points. The 14-inch Chromebook x360 boasts an array of advanced features, plus a low starting price of $599.99. These features include high-performance Chrome OS, glass-to-glass touchscreen display with LED backlighting, and a Wide Vision HD camera with an integrated microphone.

The Chromebook x360 comes with 8GB of onboard RAM and 64GB SSD storage. The computer weighs 3.7 pounds, and its battery lasts for up to 13.5 hours.

Students seeking an even more affordable laptop may opt for the Chromebook x360 11-inch model, which weighs 2.6 pounds and includes many of the same features. Both Chromebook x360 models qualify for a three-year accidental damage plan and a 100% money-back rebate.

HP ENVY - 13t

Price: $699.99

The ENVY - 13t from Hewlett-Packard offers an array of helpful features for students. Its 13.3-inch diagonal FHD display boasts excellent visuals and streaming quality, and the computer features 8GB of onboard memory and 256GB SSD storage. The laptop comes with built-in trials for McAfee Safe and Microsoft Office software. The ENVY - 13t also stands out as stylish and durable, with an island-style keyboard featuring helpful backlighting.

The laptop's battery typically lasts 10.5-14 hours. Less than three pounds, the ENVY - 13t proves exceptionally light and portable.

HP currently sells the ENVY - 13t for $699.99. Customers qualify for free shipping, and HP honors laptop returns or exchanges within 30 days of the original purchase.

HP Spectre x360

Price: $989.99

The HP Spectre x360 stands out for several reasons, including exceptional battery life. The laptop features 15.6-inch and 13-inch display options, which offer up to 17.5 and 22.5 hours of life, respectively. The Spectre benefits from advanced security thanks to its fingerprint reader, privacy camera settings, and other protective features. All students, but particularly those earning degrees in art- and design-related fields, can use the computer's built-in 4K video-editing, inking, and 3D-rendering software programs to complete assignments and portfolios.

Both models measure less than 20 mm thick, and the 13-inch model weighs 2.9 pounds, while the 15.6-inch model weighs 4.8 pounds. Available accessories include the wireless HP Spectre Mouse and the HP Tilt Pen, which works with the laptop's touchscreen.

Prices for the HP Spectre x360 start at $989.99. HP also offers one-, two-, and three-year protection and accidental damage plans, starting at $199.99.

HP ZBook Studio

Price: $1,799

The HP ZBook Studio suits students majoring in software engineering, architecture, and other design-related fields. The laptop boasts a vivid display, incorporating more than 1 billion colors and 600 nits of brightness, and offering better, brighter resolution than many competing laptop models. The ZBook Studio boasts built-in security features such as automatic file backup software, an integrated privacy screen, and HP Sure Click antivirus software.

The battery lasts up to 16 hours, and the laptop fully recharges within 90 minutes. The computer measures less than 19mm thick and weighs roughly 4.4 pounds.

The standard HP ZBook Studio costs $1,799 and comes with 8GB of onboard memory and 256GB of SSD storage. Upgrade models feature faster processors and more storage space for higher prices. All HP ZBook Studio laptops ship within one business day of purchase.

HUAWEI MateBook 13

Price: $999

Most laptops and other devices with screens -- such as televisions and smart phones -- emit blue light. Blue light boosts attention and alertness, which can disrupt sleep cycles for students who spend hours in front of their computers. The HUAWEI MateBook 13 addresses this issue with a blue light filter, built into its 13-inch display. This filter can block up to 30% of blue light emitted by the screen.

The laptop can also perform for longer periods of time, thanks to a sophisticated fan system that keeps the computer cool and working properly. Other state-of-the-art features include a borderless display with an 88% screen-to-body ratio, a 10-point touchscreen, and a cinema-quality Dolby Atmos sound system.

The MateBook 13 weighs 2.9 pounds and measures less than 15mm thick, making it highly portable. The battery performs for up to 10 hours with video playback.

HUAWEI MateBook X Pro

Price: $1,199

The HUAWEI MateBook X Pro is an excellent laptop choice for students who enjoy streaming movies or playing games. The 13.9-inch, borderless display offers a 91% screen-to-body ratio and crisp 3000x2000 resolution, creating exceptional visuals. Users can adjust the angle of the display 178 degrees. When the computer is fully charged, users can enjoy up to 12 hours of video playback. The Dolby Atmos Sound System also ensures top-notch audio quality.

The laptop's 10-point touchscreen is constructed from durable glass with anti-fingerprint coating, which extends the product's overall lifespan. The MateBook X Pro weighs 2.9 pounds and measures less than 15mm thick, making it highly portable.

Those who enjoy taking and sending photos can use HUAWEI Share, a non streaming program that allows users to quickly share and exchange files across HUAWEI devices. The MateBook X Pro is currently available through Microsoft for $1,199.

Lenovo Flex 15"

Price: $629.99

The Lenovo Flex 15" is a high-performance laptop with a relatively low price point. The computer boasts a speedy processor, with a turbo boost option that reaches up to 3.4GHz. The laptop also features 8GB of onboard RAM and 128GB SSD storage. Customers may upgrade to faster processors and more storage space for higher prices, but none of these configurations exceed $800 in total cost.

The Flex 15" also offers a vivid, anti-glare display and a Dolby Audio Premium sound system with high-quality speakers, allowing students to enjoy high-quality videos and music. The laptop's sophisticated touch screen includes a fingerprint reader for easier logins, and works with the Lenovo Active Pen accessory.

Buyers may qualify for financing as low as $25 per month. All models come with a one-year warranty, which allows owners to ship their computers to Lenovo or bring them into local stores if a defect develops.

Lenovo ThinkPad X390

Price: $1,209

Lenovo's ThinkPad X Series consists of high-performance business laptops. The ThinkPad X390 sells at the series' lowest price point, but this model should suffice for most students. Key features include an i5 Intel Core processor, with turbo boost speeds reaching 3.9 GHz; a high-res 13.5-inch display; and a fingerprint login option. Its battery lasts for up to 17.6 hours -- much longer than average -- and the frame weighs roughly 2.7 pounds. A standard X390 comes with 8GB of onboard RAM and 256GB of SSD storage.

Lenovo offers a one-year depot or carry-in warranty, allowing students to ship their laptop to a company or visit a brick-and-mortar store if the device needs repairs. Lenovo offers interest-free financing for the X390, if buyers fully pay it off within 12 months.

Lenovo Yoga C930

Price: $1,070.99

Part of the Lenovo Yoga C Series, the C930 two-in-one laptop features a thin, lightweight chassis, plus flexible hinges, which allow owners to use multiple positions. Cutting-edge additions include a touchscreen and digital pen with more than 4,000 sensitivity points, a rotating sound bar for optimal speaker playback, a webcam privacy option for added security, and a battery that operates for up to 14.5 hours. The standard C930 comes with an aluminum frame and a 14-inch display, enhanced with crisp Dolby Vision.

Buyers may also upgrade to the C930 Glass, with a sleek cover design and an HD 4K display, for prices starting at $1,223.99.

Students on a budget may also opt for the cheaper Yoga Book C930, which starts at $854.99, or the Yoga Chromebook for $512.99. Though these versions lack all the bells and whistles of the C930 and C930 Glass, the lower-cost Lenovo models still offer optimal speed, storage space, and Wi-Fi connectivity for any modern student.

Lenovo Yoga 700 Series

Price: $519.99

The Lenovo Yoga 700 Series consists of four compact, lightweight laptops with two-in-one convertible designs. The standard Yoga 720 comes in a 12-inch model, with 8GB of onboard RAM and 512GB of SSD storage, and a 15-inch model, containing 16GB of onboard memory and 256GB SSD storage. Both feature touchscreens and integrated cameras, and their batteries perform for up to eight hours.

The upgraded Yoga 730 laptops include 13-inch and 15-inch models, which feature more storage, an anti-glare display setting, and batteries that last up to 11.5 hours. The 15-inch 720 and 730 models also come with GTX graphics and high-resolution displays for enhanced, immersive gaming.

All Yoga 700 Series laptops are priced at less than $850, after using a coupon, making them reasonably inexpensive for most students. The laptops are all compatible with the Lenovo active pen, which users can utilize to write or draw on the touchscreen.

Microsoft Surface Book 2 – 13.5"

Price: $1,149

The 13.5-inch Microsoft Surface Book 2 is the fastest, most powerful model in the Surface collection. It boasts a battery life of up to 17 hours and a processing speed that can reach 4.2 GHz at its fastest setting. The device also features a high-resolution, PixelSense display with a user-friendly, 10-point touchscreen, plus a Windows Hello camera with face authentication options.

The Surface Book 2 boasts a compact frame, weighing no more than 4.2 pounds and measuring roughly 23mm thick. It comes with 8GB or 16GB of onboard RAM, and up to 1TB of SSD storage, depending on the selected configuration.

The Surface Book 2's adjustable hinge allows users to prop up the screen when watching movies or playing games. Those who purchase the Surface 2 Bundle receive a one-year subscription to Microsoft Office 365 and two years of warranty coverage.

Microsoft Surface Go

Price: $399

The Microsoft Surface Go represents one of the most affordable laptops for students, though it still comes with many of the same features found on higher-cost competitors. These include 4-8GB of onboard memory and 64-128GB of SSD storage, depending on the selected configuration, which should suffice for most learners. Other features include along a sharp, PixelSense 10-inch display, and a Windows Hello face authentication camera.

Owners may activate the touchscreen using a finger or the Surface Pen accessory, which sell separately. The Microsoft Surface Go also enables users to detach the keyboard and use the machine in various positions, such as a tabletop mount for watching movies and videos or a handheld tablet suitable for playing games or snapping photographs.

The Microsoft Surface Go sells for prices starting at $399. Students may also lease the laptop for 24 months at $24.99 per month, with 0% APR.

Microsoft Surface Laptop 2

Price: $999

The Microsoft Surface Laptop 2 offers several storage options for students with different needs. These include 8GB or 16GB of onboard RAM, along with 128GB, 256GB, 512GB, or 1TB of SSD storage. Buyers can also choose from models with 8th Generation Intel Core i5 or i7 processors, both of which weigh under three pounds. The Surface Laptop 2 features a 13.5-inch display with a 10-point touchscreen, which works with the Surface Pen accessory.

The battery offers up to 14.5 hours of video playback. Prices start at $999, but students, parents, teachers, and military service members can purchase the laptop at reduced rates.

Buyers receive a one-year subscription to Microsoft Office 365 and a two-year manufacturer's warranty. They also qualify for discounts on Surface accessories, and interest-free financing if they pay off the laptop within 24 months of original purchase.

Microsoft Surface Pro 6

Price: $899

Designed for portability and versatile use, the Microsoft Surface Pro 6 features a foldable flap in the back. Users can put the flap in an upright position for typing or studying, or fold down the flap and use the computer as a tablet device. The Surface Pro 6 also weighs 1.7 pounds, making it one of the lightest laptops available today. Operators may use their fingers or the Surface Pen accessory to activate the 10-point touchscreen.

The laptop's built-in Cortana virtual assistant can set reminders, look up terms, and sync with smartphones and other communication devices. The battery offers up to 13.5 hours of video playback, as well.

The Microsoft Surface Pro 6 comes with Windows 10 Home, plus a 30-day trial for Microsoft Office 365. Shoppers save $200 on their purchase when they buy the laptop directly from Microsoft.

Choosing the Right Device

75% of our time engaged with technology

The average student spends close to 75% of their time engaging with technology, so it's important to work comfortably with a laptop. Schools that provide laptops offer a variety of models, and the laptop market includes options spanning a wide range of price points. We've compiled a chart of laptops commonly offered by colleges, and narrowed down the specs we consider most important.

Size and Weight

College students tend to prioritize laptop portability. Whether you opt for the smaller, 11-inch models or the larger, 15-inch ones, there is a tradeoff in size, power, and performance. Light, small, and simple laptops may work fine for basic tasks such as web browsing and word processing. Still, some students may prioritize screen size and faster processing power.

Choose a laptop that best suits your tasks at hand; unless you work in a computer science field or require a large screen and high performance for detailed tasks like design work, an 11- to 13-inch laptop under five pounds should suffice.

Battery Life

All students should consider battery life when choosing a laptop. Most batteries last 10-14 hours. Smaller computers tend to boast the longest battery lives, since they work more efficiently, while higher-performing laptops use more power and therefore perform less efficiently than their smaller counterparts. Laptops sport an average battery life of 8-10 hours, on the low side, and 12-17 hours, on the high side.

Display and Resolution

Students should consider whether they need a larger display for future coursework, or if they simply need a web-browsing and word processing tool for their college experience. Since displays have advanced in recent years, even lower-priced models boast high-resolution displays. Low-resolution displays are most common in low-budget models with smaller screens. The ideal resolution setting is 1080p, or 1920x1080. Higher resolutions are available, but come with higher price tags.

RAM/Processing

In computers, random access memory (RAM) determines how many programs run simultaneously. Laptops with more RAM can run more applications at the same time. Most laptops and tablets start with 4GB of RAM, which suffices for web browsing and word processing. Though 4GB is the standard, 8GB of RAM lets you comfortably run multiple programs at once.

As computer programs advance, update, and increase in memory use, your computer's RAM stays the same, hence why your computer may slow down over time. Four gigabytes of RAM may get the job done when running simple applications, but 8GB may make a better long-term investment.

Hard Drive and Storage

A computer stores your data in its hard drive. Hard drives contain moving parts, which read and write data and store your documents, music, and pictures. Essentially, all the digital information you create and collect on your computer stores on your hard drive. Regular hard drives vary in size, and in most cases, an increase in size signals an overall increase in performance.

A Solid State Drive (SSD), an alternative type of hard drive, contains no moving parts and therefore makes computers faster and more stable than standard hard drives. SSDs often cost more, but the upgrade in speed and performance may warrant the price. SSDs run three to four times more quickly than regular hard drives, and are becoming the standard in storage.

If your budget allows for it, opt for the SSD. If you go with a regular hard drive, look for the most storage available at your preferred price point. If a larger hard drive isn't in your budget, you may want to consider external storage sources, such as flash drives or external hard drives. Optimal standard hard drives offer 128GB of storage, but students should try to get at least 250GB of storage.

Platform

Operating systems are often a matter of personal preference. Consider trying out Windows computers and Mac computers at your local library, to see which suits you.

Stretching Your Laptop Budget

$708 per year average tech cost for student

Fortunately for cash-strapped students, and especially those without school-sponsored programs, there are alternatives to buying a new laptop. Remember that lower up-front costs may not equal lower costs down the road and as a student you require a reliable computer that can last for at least four years. Some alternatives to retail purchasing can carry hidden costs, which outweigh any discounts you might receive in the short term. With that caveat in mind, consider the following avenues:

  • Leasing

    Students may lease or rent computers until they've paid their full value, at which point they assume ownership. Leases like this often resemble auto or house payments, charging interest in addition to the property's value. Most computer leasers can expect to pay off their laptop's full value within two years.

    Some companies offer a same-as-cash clause, which allows those who are leasing to avoid interest charges if they pay the amount due within a specified time period. If you're confident you can meet this deadline, this could make for a solid short-term solution. Without a same-as-cash clause, or if you fail to pay the loan on time, high interest rates can kick in. Paying exorbitant "convenience" charges can quickly add up to more than the computer is worth, so approach these vendors with caution.

  • Financing

    Consumer electronics vendors often offer financing packages, extending the cost of the computer in a loan to the consumer. Similarly to rental or leasing centers, financing plans incur interest; however, this option is credit-based and generally charges much lower interest rates. Financing a computer may help you build credit, as well, as long as interest rates are reasonable. Remember that these vendors often carry high overhead costs, and increase their prices accordingly.

  • Student Financing

    Computer manufacturers may offer direct financing programs, structuring some specifically for higher education. Lenovo, Dell and Apple each offer discounted pricing on products for college students. Some schools negotiate pricing and payment options for their enrolled students. For other institutions, you may still enjoy discounted products and financing options. As with any financing offer, read the fine print and understand your total cost.

  • Direct Purchasing

    The open market offers opportunities for low-cost computers, and many college students conclude their searches with eBay or Craigslist purchases. Learners should exercise caution in these situations, as most third-party sites conduct little to no policing of their vendors.

    Before you begin your search, understand which features and models interest you, so that you can search intelligently. Build awareness of typical market pricing or resale value on particular models. Finally, exercise the utmost care in transacting with individuals from these sites. Most online vendors are honest individuals, but it's important to detect poor deals or unsafe situations.

Taking Care of Your Device

31% lose their files due to events beyond their control

Technology requires basic maintenance to perform at its best. Whether your tuition includes the cost of a laptop or you purchase one yourself, you need the device to last through your time at school. Protect your financial investment and avoid aggravation by caring for your device.

Keep the following in mind as you use your new computer:

Warranty

Standard manufacturer warranties for new computing products last one year. Since you plan to use your laptop for two to four years, consider purchasing an extended warranty. Evaluate options for theft and accidental damage, standard insurance policies generally do not cover. Some schools that lease or sell laptops to students also offer additional insurance.

Data Backup

Avoid the classic college nightmare of working tirelessly on a paper or project that inexplicably disappears right before you finish. Routinely back up data on your hard disk or into a cloud service, and consider making extra copies of important material on a flash drive.

System Updates

Both Apple and PC products update their operating systems periodically. Each update works to repair errors in previous versions, and introduce features that make the software more efficient and speedy. Keeping your device up-to-date guarantees it will run as well as possible.

Cleaning

All computers, and especially portable devices, gather dirt, dust, and grime from constant use. Regular cleaning keeps your device functioning optimally. Learn which cleaning methods to use -- and not to use -- and employ them.

  • Never use harsh chemicals like bleach, kitchen, or bath cleaning products on your computer. Use a lint-free cloth, like chamois or the cleaning cloth that comes with a pair of glasses.
  • Carefully wipe plastic surfaces with computer cleaning solution, a 50/50 mix of white vinegar and water, or plain water.
  • An inexpensive can of compressed air cleans crumbs, lint, and dirt from between crevices and under the keyboard. Remember to keep the can upright, and tilt the keyboard toward it for safe use.
Virus Protection

Many new computing products come with built-in virus protection software in the form of limited-time, bundled services. Be aware of the expiration date on your product, and renew or replace it close to its expiration date. Schedule regular system scans at convenient times, and respond immediately to virus definition update notifications. Antivirus programs feature some nuances, so to better understand your options, check out PCMag's Best Antivirus of 2019 breakdown.

Other Options

Popular Student Deals

Many laptop manufacturers understand that students compose a key buying demographic. As a result, they offer discounted rates on laptop models and accessories for those currently enrolled in college courses. Read on to learn about four major brands offering student deals on laptops and other tech supplies.

Microsoft Student Deals

Microsoft offers a host of student deals. These include 10% on Surface series laptops and machines with Microsoft Office 365, at no extra charge. Many student-friendly laptops from Microsoft benefit from relatively low price points.

Apple Student Deals

Apple offers several popular student products at reduced prices, including MacBook laptops, iMac desktops, and iPad tablets. Students who trade in eligible Apple devices also receive credits toward a new MacBook.

Best Buy Student Deals

Best Buy offers a wide range of rotating deals on computers and other home electronics products. Current discounts include $100 off of eligible Windows and Samsung laptops, along with savings on select mouses, keyboards, and headphones.

Lenovo Student Deals

Lenovo offers discounts to students, teachers, and school administrators. These include 25% off ThinkPad laptops and 20% off for other qualifying devices. All orders include free shipping.

Other Financial Aid Options

Some students' budgets simply don't allow for a new laptop. Fortunately, many colleges and universities incentivize students by offering free or discounted laptop computers and accessories. Additionally, some students cover computer costs with scholarships, grants, and other forms of financial aid. Three BestColleges guides related to these topics are listed below.

Colleges Offering Free Laptops

This guide lists more than a dozen top online U.S. colleges offering laptops and/or tablets to students. The guide also includes some tips for students, and a general overview of today's most popular laptops.

College Planning Guides

These planning guides from BestColleges cover the fundamentals of college planning, including some financial tips for students planning to buy a laptop for their coursework.

Financial Aid Guides

BestCollege's comprehensive financial database includes a detailed rundown of scholarship types and recipients, a step-by-step guide for filling out the FAFSA, and resources for Spanish-speaking students.