When heading off to college, you’ll need a laptop capable of handling your academic workload. Depending on your program, the best laptop for students might be a simple Chromebook, an ultraportable Windows laptop, a MacBook, or a powerful mobile workstation. Ideally, you’ll want a portable, well-built device with sufficient battery life to last through the day. Additionally, features like a sharp, bright display, a comfortable keyboard, and a responsive touchpad are essential for a good user experience. Port selection is also crucial if you use multiple peripherals or external displays. Price is a significant consideration for many students, so we’ve included budget-friendly options as well.

After testing over 120 laptops, here are our recommendations for the best laptops for college you can buy. We also cover the best student Chromebooks, lightweight laptops, and 15-16 inch laptops.

Best Laptop For College

Apple MacBook Air 13 (2024)

  • School: 8.6
  • Size: 13.6″
  • Portability: 9.1
  • Maximum Brightness: 453 cd/m²
  • Typing Quality: 8.0
  • Touchpad: 9.2
  • Geekbench 5 (Synthetics): 9.3
  • Battery Life (Web Browsing): 11.6 hrs
  • Fan Noise Under Load: N/A

The Apple MacBook Air 13 (2024) is ideal for college students who need a thin, light laptop for writing papers, browsing the web, and consuming media. Its M3 SoC handles light productivity tasks and even some video editing and 3D graphics. It offers an excellent user experience with a sharp, bright display, spacious keyboard, and large haptic touchpad. Battery life is impressive, though charging takes some time. Its main drawback is the limited port selection with only two USB-C/Thunderbolt 3 ports. If you prefer a larger screen, consider the Apple MacBook Air 15 (2024), which offers better speakers but at a higher cost.

Best Windows Laptop For College

HP Spectre x360 14 (2024)

  • School: 8.4
  • Size: 14″
  • Portability: 8.7
  • Maximum Brightness: 400 cd/m²
  • Typing Quality: 8.5
  • Touchpad: 8.8
  • Geekbench 5 (Synthetics): 9.0
  • Battery Life (Web Browsing): 12.0 hrs
  • Fan Noise Under Load: 35.0 dBA

The HP Spectre x360 14 (2024) is a premium ultraportable Windows laptop with a 14-inch 120Hz 2.8k OLED display, spacious keyboard, and large haptic touchpad. It includes Wi-Fi 7, a 4k webcam, and a good port selection. Its 2-in-1 convertible design allows for tablet mode and pen support. Note that the display isn’t as bright as the MacBook Air’s, and OLEDs are susceptible to burn-in, requiring active measures to prevent it.

Best Mid-Range Laptop For College

Lenovo Yoga 7i 16 (2023)

  • School: 8.1
  • Size: 16″
  • Portability: 7.8
  • Maximum Brightness: 378 cd/m²
  • Typing Quality: 8.0
  • Touchpad: 7.9
  • Geekbench 5 (Synthetics): 8.9
  • Battery Life (Web Browsing): 12.4 hrs
  • Fan Noise Under Load: 41.0 dBA

For a mid-range option, the Lenovo Yoga 7i 16 (2023) is a great 2-in-1 convertible with a large 16-inch display. The QHD+ panel is recommended for better brightness and sharpness. It includes Wi-Fi 6E, a fingerprint sensor, a facial recognition camera, and a wide port selection. Its Intel 13th Gen CPUs are suitable for general productivity tasks, but it may struggle with more intensive tasks due to thermal throttling.

Best Budget Laptop For College

ASUS Vivobook 16 M1605 (2023)

  • School: 7.4
  • Size: 16″
  • Portability: 7.7
  • Maximum Brightness: 253 cd/m²
  • Typing Quality: 8.0
  • Touchpad: 8.1
  • Geekbench 5 (Synthetics): 7.7
  • Battery Life (Web Browsing): 8.3 hrs
  • Fan Noise Under Load: 42.0 dBA

The ASUS Vivobook 16 M1605 (2023) is a solid budget option with a sturdy build and adequate performance for text processing, web browsing, and video playback. It offers user-upgradeable RAM and a good overall user experience with a comfortable keyboard and a responsive touchpad. The display is sharp but dim and washed out, typical for budget devices. It also includes Wi-Fi 6E and a fingerprint sensor, though the USB-C port doesn’t support video output.

Best Cheap Laptop For College

Lenovo IdeaPad Slim 3i Chromebook 14 (2023)

  • School: 7.6
  • Size: 14″
  • Portability: 7.8
  • Maximum Brightness: 362 cd/m²
  • Typing Quality: 6.5
  • Touchpad: 6.1
  • Geekbench 5 (Synthetics): 5.2
  • Battery Life (Web Browsing): 13.3 hrs
  • Fan Noise Under Load: 31.5 dBA

The Lenovo IdeaPad Slim 3i Chromebook 14 (2023) is a great budget Chromebook for basic tasks like web browsing and writing papers. It has a compact design, long battery life, and a sharp, bright display with touch support. However, the keyboard feels mushy, and the touchpad is small and sometimes unresponsive. It has an excellent 1080p webcam, making it a solid choice for students who can work within Chrome OS limitations.

Best Workstation For College

Apple MacBook Pro 14 (M3, 2023)

  • School: 8.8
  • Size: 14″
  • Portability: 8.5
  • Maximum Brightness: 548 cd/m²
  • Typing Quality: 8.0
  • Touchpad: 9.2
  • Geekbench 5 (Synthetics): 9.6
  • Battery Life (Web Browsing): 15.5 hrs
  • Fan Noise Under Load: 40.0 dBA

The Apple MacBook Pro 14 (M3, 2023) is ideal for students in technical fields needing a high-performance laptop for intensive applications. It offers a fantastic user experience with a sharp Mini LED display, comfortable keyboard, and large haptic touchpad. Its M3 Pro/Max SoCs handle demanding tasks effortlessly, and it has a wide port selection and an outstanding 1080p webcam. For more screen real estate, consider the MacBook Pro 16 (M3, 2023).

Best Gaming Laptop For College

ASUS ROG Zephyrus G14 (2024)

  • School: 8.2
  • Size: 14″
  • Portability: 7.5
  • Maximum Brightness: 484 cd/m²
  • Typing Quality: 8.3
  • Touchpad: 8.0
  • Geekbench 5 (Synthetics): 9.2
  • Battery Life (Web Browsing): 9.1 hrs
  • Fan Noise Under Load: 42.0 dBA

The ASUS ROG Zephyrus G14 (2024) is a top choice for students who game and need a laptop for school. It’s powerful, portable, and has a high-refresh-rate display. With an AMD Ryzen 9 processor and NVIDIA RTX 4070 GPU, it handles the latest games and intensive applications. Battery life is decent for a gaming laptop, but fan noise can be loud under load. Its design is stylish and compact, making it easy to carry around campus



Choosing the best laptop for college depends on your specific needs and budget. Whether you need a high-performance machine for demanding tasks, a lightweight device for portability, or a budget-friendly option for basic tasks, there’s a laptop on this list to suit you. The Apple MacBook Air 13 (2024) and HP Spectre x360 14 (2024) are excellent all-around choices, while the ASUS ROG Zephyrus G14 (2024) is perfect for gamers. For those on a tighter budget, the ASUS Vivobook 16 M1605 (2023) and Lenovo IdeaPad Slim 3i Chromebook 14 (2023) provide great value without sacrificing essential features.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

Q: Should I get a Mac or a Windows laptop for college? A: It depends on your preferences and requirements. MacBooks are known for their build quality, battery life, and user experience, making them a popular choice for students. Windows laptops offer more variety in price and features, which can be beneficial if you have specific needs or a tighter budget.

Q: Is a Chromebook sufficient for college? A: Chromebooks are a good option for students who primarily need a laptop for web browsing, document editing, and streaming. They are generally more affordable and have excellent battery life. However, they may not be suitable for programs requiring specific software that isn’t available on Chrome OS.

Q: How much RAM do I need for a college laptop? A: For most students, 8GB of RAM is sufficient for multitasking and running common applications. However, if you’re in a field that requires heavy multitasking, graphic design, video editing, or programming, 16GB or more is recommended.

Q: What is the best size for a college laptop? A: The ideal laptop size depends on your portability needs and personal preference. A 13-14 inch laptop is typically lightweight and easy to carry around campus. A 15-16 inch laptop provides more screen space, which can be helpful for multitasking and media consumption but is heavier and less portable.

Q: How important is battery life for a college laptop? A: Battery life is crucial for students who need to use their laptops throughout the day without access to a charger. Aim for a laptop with at least 8 hours of battery life to ensure it lasts through classes, study sessions, and other activities.

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