The best laptops for students


Although some of us are old enough to remember when you had to handwrite your undergraduate dissertation, those times are very much behind us. Even secondary school pupils can work on tablets and computers for exams these days, so most students have a keen eye on a new laptop (parent bank account permitting in some instances). 

But there are a lot of laptops, and a lot of budgets. While expensive MacBooks and Surface Pros are more than adequate for relatively basic student needs, you can spend much less and still get that first. And stream Netflix until 4am. 

There are a few things to consider when buying a student laptop besides price, though. 

Ports and drives 

Do you need a CD drive? Probably not, but if you want to play DVDs rather than stream or if you want to copy files to a disc then go for it – just remember they are now fairly hard to come by and also add a lot of bulk and weight. The more moving parts in a laptop the more can go wrong, too.


How large a screen do you need? You may not want to type 10,000 word essays on an 11in screen, but 15in may be too big. We think anywhere between 12in and 14in is the sweet spot, but it’s worth carefully considering. 

Keyboard and trackpad

Not all keyboard and trackpads are equal. MacBook trackpads are best in class, but you pay for the privilege, while what type of keyboard you prefer is quite a personal thing. 

Do you want a lot of travel on your keys, or something flatter and slim? Do you need a full size keyboard with a numberpad? Sacrificing that will allow you to get a more compact design handy for toting round campus.

Battery life

It depends what you do on your laptop, but look out for what the expected battery life is. Word processing without Wi-Fi is likely to let it last for ages, but if you’re going to be away from a plug on Wi-Fi and streaming video lots then a laptop conking out after three hours isn’t much fun. 

Manufacturers will tell you in the small print under what conditions they tested the laptop to get the projected battery life, so take a look. It’s best to get one that quotes at least ten hours to be safe.


Ah yes, budget. Do you need a £1,000 laptop? Will it get broken or worse, stolen? While more expensive laptops will give you better gaming performance, should you really be playing World of Warcraft for that many hours with those deadlines?

Then again, it’s not our place to patronise. But, you can get a solid performing laptop for less than half a grand these days, so you might want to save the cash for all those books you still need to buy.

A lot to consider then! Good luck with the degree.

1. Asus VivoBook Max X541SA

2. Lenovo IdeaPad 320S

Lenovo IdeaPad 320S

3. Microsoft Surface Laptop

Microsoft Surface Laptop

4. Dell Inspiron 11 3000

Dell Inspiron 11 3000

5. Acer Swift 3

Acer Swift 3

6. Jumper EZBook 3 Pro

Jumper EZBook 3 Pro

7. MacBook 2016

MacBook 2016

8. Xiaomi Air 12

Xiaomi Air 12

9. Microsoft Surface Pro (2017)

Microsoft Surface Pro (2017)

10. Acer Chromebook 14

Acer Chromebook 14

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