The best laptops for students: MacBooks, Microsoft Surface, and more

Check out our top picks for the best laptops for college students based on in-depth performance tests.

The best laptops for students: MacBooks, Microsoft Surface, and more
Person using Apple MacBook Pro.

If you’re a college student, your laptop is your toolbox, your textbook, your everything — and you need a solid machine that’s going to last you from orientation to graduation. It’s an essential tool, and you need one that you can rely on. No one has the extra cash to replace a subpar laptop halfway through school, and you don’t want to be dealing with unexpected repairs when you have papers to write and parties to attend.

Luckily, there are a ton of affordable student laptops worth buying — as well as ones that (while a little pricier) are the specialized tools you need if you’re going into a field that requires specific hardware (think video game engineering). Better yet, even some pricier options are often on sale, like the Microsoft Surface Pro 9, our favorite 2-in-1 laptop on this list.

Whether you’re looking for a Mac or PC (and yes, you should definitely consider a PC), there’s something out there for any college student.

Memory and processors are important when you’re looking for the best laptops for students: You’ll want something that can handle a ton of tabs and simultaneous programs, as well as enough storage to save downloaded lectures, textbooks, films, the dreaded term project, and other study materials. And that’s just speaking generally — if you’re studying graphic design, computer science, video production, or other computer-intensive subjects, you’ll need a laptop that has a little more oomph in the CPU department so you can power through those projects.

What's the best laptop for students?

If you plan to go into a graphics-heavy field like video game engineering or data visualization, you’re going to want to have a machine that’s a little more powerful than your average Chromebook to get you through your processor-intensive coursework. Keep an eye out for video editing laptops or even gaming laptops — you’ll want to look for features like 8-core or AMD Ryzen processors that deliver superior smoothness when there’s a lot going on, as well as souped-up graphics cards.

It’s hard to get over the fact that most quality laptops cost north of a grand, so think of this as an investment in your education. That being said, the broke student life is real, so we’ve included some budget options that balance not-eye-watering price tags with performance and durability. Here are our favorite student laptops for 2024.

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