Are you looking for a new laptop for college? You have come to the right place. We have evaluated a number of laptops that our visitors use at college everyday. Continue reading for the best laptops for college students.

Given that most college students need to be mobile, we will keep this list to only laptops, but plan to review desktops as well in the future. The following guide of best laptops for college students is geared towards students who need lightweight laptop options to take to class, but anyone is free to read our guide.

Before we begin, let us define what makes a great laptop for college students:


What makes a great laptop for college students?

Buying a new laptop can be a challenge if you don’t know what to look for in a laptop. The eight key things you need to look for when buying a new laptop are below:

Recommended laptop configuration for college students:

Storage: These days, at least 250GB is ideal. If you travel a lot, you may want to look into an SSD drive upgrade

Graphics: Getting a discrete is recommended, but not necessary

RAM: Buy at least 4GB, but more than 6GB is preferred

Software: Buy Windows or Mac OSX and your preferred word processor

Processor: AMD A6/ Intel i3 OR better

Keyboard: Buying a full keyboard might be beneficial if you have to type numbers a lot, have big hands, or just prefer one. You can either get a larger laptop (heavier) or buy a lightweight USB keyboard. Also, we highly recommend getting a backlit keyboard so you can write in low light.

Weight: Since you will be carrying your laptop to class often, we highly recommend a lightweight laptop (less than 4 pounds)

Best Laptops for College Students 2017

LaptopProcessor | RAM | StorageWeightPrice
MacBook ProIntel® i5 | 8GB | 128GB SSD3.5 lbs$1,000+
Lenovo ThinkPad T450Intel® i5 | 8GB | 500GB3.81 lbsUnder $700
HP Notebook ay011nrIntel® i5 | 8GB | 1TB4.65 lbsUnder $550
Acer Aspire E15Intel® i5 | 8GB | 256GB SSD5.27 lbsUnder $600
HP Chromebook 14Intel Celeron | 4GB | 16B SSD3.4 lbsUnder $200
ASUS ZenBookIntel® i5 | 8GB | 256GB SSD3.2 lbsUnder $800
Dell InspironIntel® i5 | 8GB | 1TB5.3 lbsUnder $500
Microsoft Surface BookIntel® i5 | 8GB | 128GB3.3 lbsVaries

MacBook Pro (Editors’ Pick)

Apple MacBook ProNo list of the best laptops for college students would be complete without the MacBook Pro. We love this laptop since it is reliable, stylish, and comes with many of the programs college students need to get started.

The MacBook Pro 13.3-Inch Retina Display, 8GB RAM, a 128GB SSD, and up to 9 hours of battery life. MacBooks come with the Mac OS X Yosemite, but you can install Windows by using the Parallels program. It is also one of the lightest laptops on this list. It has a backlit keyboard for writing in low light and a spacious palm rest.

We recommend the MacBook Pro if you prefer the Mac OSX operating system environment or prefer a really great screen resolution. The asking price of $1,200 may be off-putting, but if you love the Apple ecosystem, this is the laptop for you.

Lenovo ThinkPad T450

Our ThinkPad T450 packs a lot of core features for college students including a fast process, lots or graphics support, a spill-resistant keyboard which is perfect for the college student working in the cafeteria.

This gem features a 14 inch full-HD LED screen, an Intel i5 processor, 8GB of DDR3 RAM, and a 500GB hard drive. For additional security, this Thinkpad laptop comes with a fingerprint reader.

The laptop comes preinstalled with the Windows 10 operating system, but that can be customized. The laptop is also lightweight coming in at 3.81 lbs.

Very rarely can you get a laptop with such great features for less than $700.

HP Notebook ay011nr

hp laptopThe HP Notebook ay011nr, packs a load of features for under $500. It’s really hard to match the bang for your buck with this laptop.

This gem features a 15.6 inch full-HD screen, an Intel i5 processor, 8GB of RAM, and a 1TB hard drive. It even has a backlit keyboard to boot. For an additional $30, you can get an SSD hard drive which will make it less prone to heating issues and will eliminate your worries about losing data from a hard drive crash.

The laptop comes preinstalled with the Windows 10 operating system, but that can be customized. The only downside to this laptop is the weight which comes in at a little under 5 lbs.

Very rarely can you get a laptop with such great features for less than $500. We highly recommend you snatch this laptop up before it’s gone!

Acer Aspire E15

The Acer Aspire E15 could be one of your best investments if you’re willing to pay a little more than the HP above.

Like the HP, the Acer Aspire E15 packs a 15.6 inch full-HD screen, an Intel i5 processor and 8GB of RAM. The main difference between the Acer and the HP is the 256GB SSD that comes built-in to the Acer. Also, the Acer includes 2GB of dedicated graphics RAM so if you are planning to do a lot of image editing, the Acer will be a better buy over the HP.

The laptop comes preinstalled with the Windows 10 operating system, but that can be customized. It also included a backlit keyboard which is great for college students who love late nights.

The only reason the Acer did not get our top spot for 2016 is the price tag, but it’s still a great laptop nonetheless!

HP Chromebook

The lowest priced laptop on our list, the HP Chromebook certainly offers many of the tools college students are looking for out-of-the-box.

While it may not pack the same power as the other laptops on this list, the Chromebook doesn’t need to. It has a 14-inch screen, which is plenty for writing,  4GB of RAM, and a 1.4 GHz processor. It only has 16GB of storage, but that’s because everything it does is stored in the cloud so you never have to worry about losing files!

All Chromebooks run on Google’s proprietary Google OS which functions very much like the Google Chrome browser.

For the price of only $250, it’s hard to beat the Google Chromebook, especially when it has all the features college students are looking for.

ASUS ZenBook

One of the higher-priced laptops on our 2016 list, the Asus ZenBook book offers plenty of perks to make up for the price tag.

This laptop features a 13.3-inch multi-touch (yes, you can tap it!) screen, an Intel i5 processor, 8GB of RAM, and a 1TB hard drive. It even has a backlit keyboard and it is the lightest laptop on this list. Obviously, the main differentiator between this laptop and the others on this list is the touchscreen. This is a huge benefit for college students who want to archive their work immediately in real-time on their laptops.

If you’re looking for a laptop on which you can handwrite notes, this is the laptop for you!

Dell Inspiron

Dell InspironAnother great laptop, the Dell Inspiron has everything you’d expect from a great laptop for college students at a reasonable price.

An i5 Intel processor, 8GB RAM, 15.6 inch touchscreen, a 1TB HDD, and Windows 10 operating system. This touchscreen is cheaper than the Asus ZenBook which makes it a great buy if you are looking for a touchscreen. The wide palm area is ideal for college students as well. The 7 hours of battery life also makes this laptop a steal since you since through several classes without worrying about finding an outlet.

If you are a looking for a reliable, great laptop with a touchscreen this is a great laptop.

Microsoft Surface Book

Microsoft Surface BookMicrosoft really knocked it out of the park when the developed the Surface Book. It is a beautiful laptop that is perfect for college students who love touchscreens. While a lot pricier than most of the laptops on this list, it definitely makes up for it with value. We do only recommend this laptop for college students with deep pockets though due to the price.

Being a Microsoft laptop, the Surface Book comes preinstalled with Windows 10. The base model comes with 4GB RAM, a 13.5-inch PixelSense Display works perfectly with the included pen, an Intel i5 processor, 128 GB of storage, 8GB RAM, and up to 12 hours of battery life. The keyboard disconnects from the screen, allowing you to use it as a tablet as well.

The best part about this laptop is the screen. The included pen works seamlessly with the laptop, making this is the best touchscreen we have on this list. If you enjoy writing on laptops or tablets, this is the laptop for you.

In Conclusion

We tried to list the best laptops for college students in our review, but there are so many great laptops we missed such as the Dell XPS. If there are any laptops in particular that you prefer, feel free to list them in the comments. In the end, laptop choice is very personal, so if none of these laptops fit your style, find one that does!