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The 5 best laptops for college students in 2019: all the best options for school work

Included in this guide:

School can get really expensive very quickly: books, tuition and accommodation – those things add up fast, and that’s without adding one of the best laptops for students to the mix. The silver lining, though, is that many of the best student laptops on the market could save you an impressive amount of cash. In fact, the best laptops for students are budget-friendly devices that exude style and tout power without breaking the bank.

That’s more than a good thing, especially because when you’re spending all your money on textbooks and instant ramen, saving up for a new laptop can be hard. The prime candidates for a student laptop will put value above having the top-of-the-line processors and graphics cards, yet still boast enough juice to get you through your demanding workload at school – and offer some post-schoolwork entertainment.

You need not limit yourself to Windows 10, either, as some of the best Chromebooks are capable of going head-to-head with some of the best laptops, which means you can get everything you’ll need in a laptop without shelling out some serious silver.

Going to school, after all, can be a stressful time, and you don’t need the added pressure of running around campus with a barely functional laptop to your plate. You deserve to have an excellent laptop, and that’s why we sought out the best laptops for students that you can afford with your budget. Because no one should be limited to an ancient relic just to get some work done, but you shouldn’t have to sell a kidney, either.

1. Huawei Matebook 13

The best laptop for most college students

CPU: 8th-generation Intel Core i5 - i7
Graphics: Intel UHD Graphics 620, Nvidia GeForce MX150 (optional)
Screen: 13.3-inch 2K (2,560 x 1,440) with touch panel
Storage: 256GB - 512GB SSD
Reasons to buy
+Extremely affordable+Powerful
Reasons to avoid
-  Limited to 8GB of RAM  


We’re massive fans of laptops that can skillfully combine price and performance with hardly any compromises, and the Huawei MateBook 13 comes closer to hitting that perfect balance than anything in 2019 so far. It’s thin and light, ideal for stuffing it in your backpack as you hurry from class to class; and it’s fast and affordable. This beautiful 13-inch Ultrabook will let you get all your work done in style, without burning a hole in your pocket. Just be sure to have that charger handy, as the battery life is underwhelming.

Read the full review: Huawei MateBook 13 

(Image credit: Microsoft)

2. Surface Laptop 2

Look beyond the surface

CPU: 8th-gen Intel Core i5-i7
Graphics: Intel UHD Graphics 620
RAM: 8GB – 16GB
Screen: 13.5-inch, 2256 x 1504 PixelSense touch display
Storage: 128GB – 1TB SSD
Reasons to buy
+Huge performance boost+No Windows 10 S
Reasons to avoid
-Still no Thunderbolt 3

While the Surface Laptop was one of the best laptops for students, it was held back by below average performance, a lack of ports and Windows 10 in S Mode. The Surface Laptop 2 greatly improves on its predecessor, however – except for the port situation. It’s now packed with 8th-generation Intel Kaby Lake Refresh processors, full-fat Windows 10 Home and a black color option. We wish it had even a single USB-C port, but that doesn’t change the fact that you’ll get all your tasks done in style with this laptop.

Read the full review: Surface Laptop 2

3. Apple MacBook Air (2018)

The most popular Mac, reborn

CPU: 8th-generation dual-core Intel Core i5
Graphics: Intel UHD Graphics 617
Screen: 13.3-inch, 2,560 x 1,600 Retina display (backlit LED, IPS)
Storage: 256GB-1.5TB SSD
Reasons to buy
+Thinner and lighter+Most affordable Mac
Reasons to avoid
-Dual-core processing

Much to many MacBook Air users’ relief, Apple has finally ushered the MacBook Air into the modern age, with 8th-generation fanless processors, a thinner and lighter design, and perhaps most importantly – a Retina display. You won’t have to compromise on modern features if you want an “affordable Mac,” which makes the MacBook Air one of the best laptops for students, especially those in college.

Read the full review: MacBook Air 

4. Microsoft Surface Pro 6

Tablet? Laptop? Both.

CPU: 8th generation Intel Core i5 – i7
Graphics: Intel UHD Graphics 620
RAM: 4GB – 16GB
Screen: 12.3-inch, 2,736 x 1,824 PixelSense display
Storage: 128GB – 1TB SSD
Reasons to buy
+Quad-core processors+Long battery life
Reasons to avoid
-Still no USB-C

The Microsoft Surface lineup has made a name for itself for being among the best Windows devices out there, with gorgeous touch screens, impressive performance and long-lasting battery life. The Surface Pro 6 continues that tradition, even if it doesn’t bring anything new to the table. You’re getting a speedy Windows tablet that can effortlessly turn into a laptop through the Surface Type Cover, making it one of the best laptops for students. You can get your work done then effortlessly transition into break time.

Read the full review: Surface Pro 6

best laptops for students

5. Dell XPS 13

Powerful, functional, aesthetically pleasing

CPU: 8th-generation Intel Core i5 – i7
Graphics: Intel UHD Graphics 620
RAM: 4GB – 16GB
Screen: 13.3-inch FHD (1,920 x 1,080; non-touch) – UHD (3,840 x 2,160; touchscreen)
Storage: 128GB – 1TB SSD
Reasons to buy
+Webcam in a reasonable location+Powerful
Reasons to avoid
-Small upgrade

Dell’s flagship laptop has always ranked among the best laptops for students and professionals alike, not to mention casual, everyday users. But, the Dell XPS 13 2019 brings back the entry-level model, making it inexpensive for college students again. Dell has also managed to fix our biggest issue with the XPS lineup – the webcam. The manufacturer has moved the webcam back up to the top of the display where it belongs, so your family and friends don’t have to stare up your nose when you’re video chatting.

Read the full review: Dell XPS 13 review