A Student’s Guide to Buying the Best College Laptop

College Laptop Reviews

Here at College Laptop Reviews we aim to provide all the necessary information to give a balanced and common sense view of what laptops are best suited to College students. The laptops and associated gear we review are not necessarily the latest and greatest out there, but they are the ones you should be considering for College use. We don’t review gaming or high end laptops specifically, but always include a couple of high performers for those who want the best of both worlds without breaking the budget.
And while we have some affiliate links, we review all laptops on their merits, and stand by our recommendations. We even use some of the laptops we’ve reviewed ourselves!

So let’s move on to Laptops. We might start with some basic info, as we like to cater for those, and especially parents who want a bit of an intro and background.

Laptops Fit for Students

No matter the age, status in life, gender, occupation or profession, one thing holds true: the laptop or the personal computer has become an essential electronic device for day-to-day use.

Laptops have become an essential tool for anyone to connect to the internet, conduct business, and to participate in several social media platforms. The same holds true for high school and college students. More so, in fact, because of the many school requirements of submitting papers as well as research works online.

Laptops come in different models and styles but not all laptops are perfect for college students or academic use. Although admittedly it is the nice deals and offers that usually impel a student to buy a certain laptop model or brand, most end up buying a type which does not cater very well to the specific needs of students.

To avoid this from happening, you should first determine the main purpose of the laptop. This will depend on your major, the activities you need to perform, and the applications you have to use. 

For example, If one only needs to write and edit documents and do simple research, then there is no need to buy a powerful laptop. If the student, on the other hand, needs to use heavy applications for editing photos, videos or making rich presentations, a powerful laptop will make the job better and easier.

Types of Laptops

Laptops come in many different types. The following are the main types of laptops available in the market now:

Traditional Laptop.

Despite the many new variations, the traditional laptop remains the preferred type when it comes to home and classroom use. The screen sizes for this type of laptop range from 14 inches up to 17.6 inches. it usually offers more power and storage for many applications.

Ultrabook.

This type is the premium light and thin laptop which focuses more on the style of the laptop, long battery life, and ultimate portability. The Ultrabook, however, does not come at cheap purchase price so this could be a little bit costly for regular college students.

This type of laptop has a better battery life than conventional laptops so it can last a long time despite continued use.

Convertible Laptop.

This is a laptop that can be converted into tablet form by folding the display against the keyboard. It is a combination of an Ultrabook and a tablet and the screen sizes range from 11.6 to3 inches.

The laptop’s screen is also a touchscreen in order to allow the laptop to be used as a tablet. One drawback of this type is its performance which is slower than the Ultrabook.

Tip: The hinge that allows the laptop to flip needs to handled with care to minimize the risk of breaking.

Chromebook

This type is a lightweight laptop which operates on Google Chrome OS. Most Chromebooks have a screen size from 11.6 to 14 inches and most are light ranging from 1kg to 2kg.

The Chromebook is a popular choice in schools because the device comes cheap and most of the services and apps are free. One of the downsides of the Chromebook is its incompatibility with the different basic Windows applications.

Also, this type is wholly dependent on cloud-based services and apps that would entail wireless connectivity.
At College Laptop reviews we understand that increasingly Universities are taking on Google for Classrooms so the Chromebook is becoming more  and more relevant.

Features of the Best Laptop for College Students

Choosing the best laptop for college students is not a one-size-fits-all scenario. You need to consider laptops on a case-by-case basis considering the purpose or main goal of the student.

Nevertheless, there are some aspects that are common to all laptops and the presence of most or all of those aspects would make a laptop a forerunner for the best laptop for college students. Here are the most important things to consider:

Budget

This is obviously a very important consideration because most college students have a limited budget for purchasing of a new laptop. The best laptop for college students does not always mean the most expensive. High end laptops can have lots of features that aren’t needed by most college students. Also, there are other quite affordable laptops that can hold their own against the more expensive laptops available on the market.

Before starting the search, it is important to set a fixed purchase budget for the laptop. Make sure that the allocated budget is the cost that one is able to and comfortable to spend on the device.

As the search goes on from one model to another, the goal is not to go overboard or exceed the budget for the purchase price, despite beneficial features a certain laptop may offer. The best laptop for college students is one that offers the most features but does not exceed the allocated budget for the purchase.

Design and Size

The design, particularly the screen display, and the size are important considerations. When the priority purpose in using the laptop is for graphic-related and/or gaming purposes, a laptop that offers a big screen like a 17-inch screen display will fit the requirements just right.

If portability, on the other hand, is the priority, then a compact laptop with a small-sized screen (around 13 inches) would be a good choice. Small laptops are easy to carry around and are not difficult to store.

For college students who need to carry their laptops on a daily basis, having a small and lightweight laptop (with a screen around 13 to 15 inches wide) is the way to go.

Choose the Correct OS

There are three main OSs or operating systems being used in laptops, namely:  Windows, MacOS, and Linux OS. Windows is the go-to OS if there are a lot of applications to be installed on the laptop.

Because Windows has strong and wide app support and easy operation, it is the most commonly used OS in laptops. When it comes to the most refined OS and for heavy multi-media usage, the title goes to MacOS.

A problem, however, would occur when the application to be installed is not compatible or Mac supported. Also, customization is limited with MacOS, unlike with Windows. Although sometimes this is a good thing

When it comes to the most secure OS, the Linux OS bags the title. One can lock all the data even up to the file level, making it less prone to malware. However, Linux is more suited to tech oriented students who like to program and tweak their laptops

RAM

4 GB RAM is generally enough for running the basic applications that will be installed on the laptop. As a rule of thumb, the best laptop for a college student is one that offers a large amount of RAM. The more storage a laptop has, the better it is.

8 GB RAM will do the work just fine for more demanind applications and will prevent the presence of lag when several applications are opened at the same time. Solid State hard drives (SSD) are known for having fast performance but limited storage space.

When performance is preferred over storage capacity, this is a viable option. An external storage device can pick up the slack of the SSD.

Battery Life

A typical college student who brings his laptop to class would need a long laptop session. Thus, the longer the battery life, the better and more productive students can be.

Also, since the laptop is normally used in the campus, electric outlets are not always present for charging. So a laptop that can offer at least 8 to 10 hours of uninterrupted use is a nice advantage for students.

Popular Laptops

Here are five product reviews of bestselling and popular laptop models available in the market now covering their key features, pros and cons. Also, please check out the Top Laptop Picks article for the laptops we believe here at College Laptop Reviews are the best in their class!

Acer Aspire E 15 Laptop

When it comes to all-round laptops for students, the Acer brand is a popular and reliable choice. The Acer Aspire E 15 laptop has a 7th Generation Intel Core i3-7100U Processor, 3MB L3 cache, 2.4GHz, 15″ Full HD Widescreen, LED-backlit Display, 4 GB DDR4 Memory, 1TB 5400RPM HDD, 1920 x 1080 pixels max display resolution, Windows 10 Home OS, maximum of 12 hours battery life, and 3.0 and 3.1 type C USB ports. In addition, the obsidian black laptop uses ColorBlast technology and TrueHarmony speakers. Finally, the device is 802.11 A/C wireless compatible, weighs roughly 5.27 lbs. and has the dimensions of 15.02 in x 10.2 in x 1.19 in.

Pros:

  • Powerful processing
  • Long battery life
  • Smooth and clean look
  • Easy access
  • Faster the wireless performance
  • Uses MU-MIMO technology and the latest 802.11ac wireless
  • Large, full HD LED backlit LCD display
  • Maximum viewing experience
  • ColorBlast technology for superb display
  • TrueHarmony speakers full bodied & accurate audio reproduction
  • Faster display, charging and even data transfers

Cons:

  • Trackpad has no separate buttons & not textured
  • Keyboard is backlit only for few minutes
  • Battery not removable
  • Only comes in black
  • Not equipped to be a workhorse PC or a gaming laptop

ASUS ZenBook Flip UX360CA-DBM2T Laptop

When it comes to a ZenBooks, what better way to experience their capacity than using a top-of-the-line example like the ASUS ZenBook Flip UX360CA-DBM2T Laptop? Go lightweight, portable and touchscreen with this Aluminum gray laptop which offers a 13.3 inch touchscreen IPS FHD display, 1920 x 1080 display resolution, 6th generation Intel Core M CPU, Intel HD Graphics 515, 8 GB RAM, 512GB Solid State Drive and Windows 10 OS. In addition the 2.9 lbs. ultrabook has 2x USB 3.0 and 1x USB 3.1 Gen1 Type-C, 1x Micro HDMI, 1-year International Warranty and Accidental Damage Protection. Finally, the device is Bluetooth 4.1 capable, 802.11AC Wi-Fi compatible and ZenBook certified with Microsoft Cortana with Voice-Premium with a 3 cell 54 Whr battery and has dimensions of 17.6 in x 10.4 in x 2.2 in.

Pros:

  • Has a flip feature
  • 360-degree rotation capacity
  • Versatile and convenient for use
  • Four different modes: tablet, laptop, standing position, and tent mode
  • Microsoft with Voice-Premium certification
  • Offers a 13.3 in of IPS anti-glare display
  • Allows 178 degrees of viewing angle
  • Light & portable device
  • One of the lightest and thinnest ultrabooks
  • Has an advanced cooling mechanism
  • Long battery usage life
  • Full sized and ergonomic keyboard
  • Can be started in just a few seconds
  • Makes the transfer of data faster and easier
  • Smoother and nicer real-time quality HD quality videos & photos

Cons:

  • Keyboard is not backlit
  • Flexing on the bottom half may lead to pressing for accidental commands
  • Home/end/PgDn/PgUp function key on the left portion
  • Does not come with a mini to HDMI adapter
  • Speakers distort at high volumes
  • Not a gaming laptop

HP 14-an013nr Notebook

Excited about going to university or college for the first time? Before going, you need to make sure you have a good portable laptop for school work and research. A dependable device like the HP 14-an013nr Notebook will help you through college. This notebook has impressive features such as a 14 in diagonal display, full HD IPS UWVA Brightview WLED-backlit display, 1920 x 1080 pixels maximum display resolution, AMD E2-7110 QC, 1.8GHz processor speed, 4 GB DDR3L-SDRAM Memory, 32 GB hard drive size, Quad-Core Processor, and a Windows 10 Home operating system. The 3.86 lbs. notebook is 802.11 A/C wireless compatible and has the following dimensions: 13.6 in x 9.51 in x 0.94 in.

Pros:

  • Dependable performance on most tasks
  • Latest AMD processors
  • Full vibrant display
  • DTS Studio Sound
  • Uses Windows 10 operating system
  • Long battery life
  • Has Snapfish
  • Portable
  • Replaceable batteries
  • Good connectivity and networking features
  • Fairly affordable purchase price

Cons:

  • Small storage space
  • Needs an external storage device for big files
  • Can only handle limited installations of applications
  • Slows down or completely hangs when several applications are used at the same time

Samsung Chromebook 3 Laptop

Whether you need to browse the web, write an email or create documents, having a laptop around for work or study makes things easier and faster. With the Samsung Chromebook 3 Laptop, such functions can be easily covered. This black 2.54 lbs. lightweight Chromebook features an Intel Celeron N3050 processor, 2.16 processor speed, memory of 4 GB, Chrome operating system and an 11.6 in HD Anti-Reflective Display with Image Enhancer. The device’s display is LED-Lit, it has a 16 GB hard drive size, 1366 x 768 pixels maximum display resolution, at least 11 hours of battery life, spill-resistant keyboard, AirDroid application. The Chromebook offers a portable design, one USB port, 802.11 A/C wireless compatibility and 8.04 in x 11.37 in x 0.7 in dimensions.

Pros:

  • Portable
  • Lightweight design
  • Long battery life – 11 hours
  • Retains battery capacity even after 3 years
  • Spill-resistant design
  • Connects to an HDTV with built-in HDMI output
  • Affordable price
  • Uses applications rather than programs
  • Backs up important data in the cloud
  • Has offline connectivity feature
  • Auto update
  • Compatibility with Android mobile devices

Cons:

  • Needs to have a Google Cloud-enabled printer in order to print documents
  • Cannot run software that calls for a true OS
  • Short charger cable
  • Performs best for basic functions only
  • Several extensions and tabs cause lag in browsing & running applications

Apple MacBook Air Laptop

Whether for business, styudy or personal entertainment, it cannot be denied that having a laptop conveniently accessible at any time makes life easier.

When it comes to computers, the Apple brand has made a name for itself in the field. If you are looking for a portable yet quality laptop, then you can never go wrong with purchasing an Apple MacBook Air Laptop that has a 1.6 GHz dual-core Intel Core I5 which allows a Turbo Boost up to 2.7 GHz with a 3 MB shared L3 cache.

The other specifications of the MacBook are 8 GB of 1600 MHz LPDDR3 RAM, PCIe-based flash storage of 128 GB, LED backlit and glossy widescreen display of 13.3 in (diagonal) in size, 1440 x 900 pixels maximum display resolution, Intel HD Graphics 6000, and operating system of OS X El Capitan. This Silver MacBook is 802.11abg, 802.11 A/C, 802.11A, 802.11 a/b/g/n wireless compatible, weighs 2.96 lbs., has dimensions of 12.8 in x 8.94 in x 0.68 and a battery life that can last up to 12 hours.

Pros:

  • High quality and performance
  • High powered processors & heavy duty hardware
  • Crashing down incidents are limited
  • No problem with lagging
  • 128 GB PCIe-based flash storage
  • Long battery life
  • Lightweight design
  • Portable
  • Comfortable and convenient to use
  • Allows maximum connectivity with its several ports
  • Sleek and modern looking design
  • Easy to use & set up
  • User-friendly operation & interface

Cons:

  • Low 1440 x 900 pixels display resolution
  • Colors displayed not very accurate
  • Expensive purchase price
  • Expensive replacement parts and repairs