Buying a new laptop for middle school and high school students can be a challenge. With online learning and virtual classes becoming the norm, it’s important to have a high-quality laptop that will meet all of the needs of your child’s school. You need a laptop that will be compatible with the software that the school provides as well as be fast enough to make sure your child can actually complete their homework.
While a desktop computer could certainly work, the mobility that a laptop provides (and the default included features such as a webcam) makes a laptop the ideal choice for middle and high school students, especially if your student has to be remote at least some of the time. The following guide of best laptops for middle school and high school students is geared towards students who need lightweight laptop options to carry around the house.
Best Laptops for Middle and High School Students
|Laptop||Processor | RAM | Storage||Price|
|1. Lenovo IdeaPad 3||Intel® i5 | 12GB | 256GB SSD||$649.99|
|2. MacBook Air||Intel® i5 | 8GB | 128GB SSD||$999.00|
|3. Acer Aspire 5||AMD Ryzen 3 | 4GB | 128GB SSD||$369.99|
|4. HP Spectre ×360||Intel® i7 | 8GB | 512GB SSD||Price not available|
|5. Asus Chromebook Flip||Intel Core M5 | 4GB | 64GB SSD||$891.99|
|6. MacBook Pro||Intel® i5 | 8GB | 256GB SSD||$1,270.82|
|7. Dell XPS 15||Intel® 8th Gen | 8GB | 64GB SSD||$1,999.00|
|8. Surface Laptop 2||Intel® i5 | 8GB | 128GB SSD||$899.00|
|9. ASUS ZenBook||Intel® i5 | 8GB | 256GB SSD||$829.99|
|10. Surface Pro 7||Intel® i5 | 8GB | 128GB SSD||$2,529.99|
What makes a great laptop for middle and high school students?
A great laptop has great specs for several main features including battery life, storage, type of keyboard, and more. Below are our recommendations for great laptop features if your primary purpose for using the laptop is for virtual classes.
Recommended laptop features for middle school and high school students
Storage: These days, at least 250GB is ideal. If you travel a lot, you may want to look into an SSD drive upgrade.
Webcam: Nowadays, a webcam is a must for all virtual classes. All of the laptops on this list have built-in webcams included.
Battery Life: Most laptops these days have plenty of battery life, but we recommend looking for one with at least 4 hours of battery life. This is especially important if you plan to take your laptop to class. Older classrooms don’t usually have enough outlets.
Keyboard: The most important factor for a keyboard is comfort. The amount of click is personal preference so you may want to try a few to see which ones make typing easiest. We highly recommend getting a backlit keyboard so you can continue using your laptop while your parents are sleeping.
Weight: Carrying a laptop around the house can be hard so make sure that you get a lightweight one.
Touchscreen/Writing Tablet: If you plan to take a lot of handwritten notes, you may opt for a writing pad or touchscreen instead of writing with pen and paper.
RAM: Buy at least 4GB, but more than 8GB is preferred.
Software: Buy Windows or Mac OSX. Your school may have a requirement for this. Since Windows is the most common platform, you may need to go with a Windows-compatible computer but check with your school.
Processor: You should get an Intel i5 or better these days.
Graphics: Getting a discrete is recommended, but not necessary.
1. Lenovo IdeaPad 3 – Best Laptop for Students
The Lenovo Ideapad received a major upgrade this year with the 3 model which makes it #1 on our list of middle and high school students laptops. The laptop now features 12GB of DDR4 Ram, 256GB solid-state storage, and an Intel i5 processor that is more than capable of handling most students’ needs.
Lenovo is known for making quality, lightweight laptops. The Ideapad has always been one of their most value-driven laptops available making it perfect for the budget-conscious middle and high school student.
Even with all of these features, the Ideapad weighs a mere 4lbs and is only 0.8 inches thick, so your backpack won’t be weighed down by this laptop.
2. MacBook Air – For macOS Lovers
The MacBook Air is the most portable laptop on this list. While it is one of the more expensive laptops, it weighs only 2.95 lbs, making it the lightest laptop on this list and a great choice for high school students on-the-go. It has everything a high school student needs and the Mac OS makes it extremely simple to use. Plus, it is super sleek and will definitely draw the envy of your classmates.
Note: Before buying a MacBook, make sure that your school’s software is compatible with macOS.
The MacBook Air features a 13.3-inch display, 8GB RAM, a 128GB SSD, and up to 12 hours of battery life. The MacBook Air doesn’t have a retina display so as to limit the amount of extra weight added from a bigger battery and graphics processor.
We recommend the MacBook Air if you want a lightweight laptop that features the Mac operating system. The asking price of ~$900 may be off-putting, but if you love the Apple ecosystem, this is the laptop for you.
3. Acer Aspire 5 Slim Laptop – Best Budget Laptop
An AMD Ryzen 3 3200U, 4GB RAM, 15.6-inch display, a 128GB SSD, backlit keyboard, and Windows 10 operating system. This touchscreen is cheaper than the Asus ZenBook which makes it a great buy. The wide palm area is ideal for students writing essays. It comes with a generous 7.5 hours of battery life.
4. HP Spectre ×360
While the exterior casing might be the first thing you notice about the HP Spectre, the insides are amazing as well. HP’s 2-in-1 flagship laptop got a major (and really needed) refresh this year offering superior power and capabilities to make it one of the best writing laptops out there.
First and foremost, the keyboard is extremely comfortable. It will let you write for hours without fatigue. Second, the Intel 10th generation processor will make sure you have plenty of computing power to handle any writing or content creation application.
The battery life did decline slightly this year, but the laptop should still last over 12 hours.
5. Asus Chromebook Flip
While it may not pack the same power as the other laptops on this list, the 2-in-1 ASUS Chromebook doesn’t need to since it makes up for it in portability. It has a 12.5-inch screen touchscreen that converts to a writing tablet, 4GB of RAM, and an Intel M5 processor.
It only has 64GB of flash storage which is plenty since you can store everything else in the cloud. The tablet runs on Chrome OS so like the Pixelbook you will need to be ok with using Google Docs.
The battery lasts for up to 10 hours which should give you plenty of time to study at the library with no external power.
6. MacBook Pro
While the older models of the MacBook Pro were bulkier, the new MacBook feel slimmer and is much more powerful than the previous model. The return of the magic keyboard, which has been completely redone and returns to the old butterfly-style keys, makes writing one MacBook once again an enjoyable experience.
The MacBook Pro 13.3-Inch Retina Display, 8GB RAM, a 256GB SSD, and up to 12 hours of battery life. 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 may be off-putting, but if you love the Apple ecosystem, this is the laptop for you.
7. Google Pixelbook Go
The Google Pixelbook Go is a great laptop for any middle and high school student. It has an extra long battery life (12 hours), a backlit keyboard with Hush keys for quiet typing, and weighs just over 2lbs. Our only concern is that your middle and high school may require software, such as Microsoft Office, that will not run on this.
The Google Pixelbook Go packs a 13.3 inch full-HD touchscreen, an 8th Gen Intel processor (M3, i5, or i7) and 8 or 16GB of RAM depending on the configuration you choose. The backlit keyboard with Hush Keys means you can write day or night without slowing down or waking anyone up. The laptop also has no fan so you won’t have to worry about it being noisy when the processor gets busy.
The only downside to this laptop is that it runs on Chrome OS so you need to be comfortable using Google Docs and other Google products for your content creation.
8. Microsoft Surface Laptop 2
This laptop features a 13.5-inch touchscreen, an Intel i5 processor, 8GB of DDR4 RAM, and a 128GB solid-state hard drive. It also only weighs 2.8 lbs so it won’t weigh down your backpack. Add to that 14.5 hours of battery life and you have a great laptop for writing.
9. ASUS ZenBook
One of the higher-priced laptops on this list, the ASUS Zenbook laptop that comes in two models: a regular laptop and a 2-in-1 (the Zenbook Flip).
This laptop version features a 13.3-inch multi-touch (yes, you can tap it!) screen, an Intel i5 processor, 8GB of RAM, and a 512GB SSD. 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 middle and high school 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!
10. Microsoft Surface Book Pro 7
Microsoft really knocked it out of the park when the developed the Surface Book. It is a beautiful laptop that is perfect for middle and high school 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 serious middle and high school students though due to the price.
Being a Microsoft laptop, the Surface Book comes preinstalled with Windows 10. The base model comes with a 12.3-inch touchscreen, an Intel i5 processor, 128 GB of solid-state storage, 8GB RAM, and up to 10.5 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.
While these are the best laptops for middle and high school students according to us, you may find a laptop that better suits you. Since there are so many great laptops, feel free to list your favorite in the comments to help visitors after you who are looking for laptops for their middle and high school students. In the end, laptop choice is very personal, so if none of these laptops fit your style, find one that does!
Prices last updated on 2021-10-04