The best student laptops 2021

The best student laptops 2021
RyDesk

The best student laptops 2021

Choosing the best student laptop for the matriculating member of the family isn’t as easy as you think. There are, after all, a few considerations to tick off the list. Those combined with price constraints – students, after all, generally have a lower budget than professionals – limit your options and make it trickier to find an ideal machine.

If you’re not strapped for cash, you could always choose one of the best laptops on offer. But, since you also need to consider the price on top of portability, durability, battery life, and performance, your options are more limited. To make things more complicated, some students will need a more robust performance than others, which means that they will need to spend a little more.

A college student’s life is hard enough without worrying about whether or not they’re picking the right machine to last them a few good years. So, we thought we’d lend a hand and gather the best student laptops for you. From budget laptops under $500 as well as some of the best Chromebooks and student Chromebooks to the more powerful laptops for engineering students and even high-end Ultrabooks, here are our top picks.

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MacBook Air (M1, 2020)

(Image credit: Apple)

1. MacBook Air (M1, 2020)

Best laptop for students with a flexible budget

CPU: Apple M1 chip with 8‑core CPU | Graphics: Integrated 7-core – 8-core GPU | RAM: 8GB – 16GB unified memory | Screen: 13.3-inch 2560 x 1600 Retina display | Storage: 256GB – 2TB SSD

macOS Big Sur is fast and responsive
Battery life is great
Silent in use
Fanless design could impact performance

Apple topped the previous year off with a bang, rolling out their much-talked about M1 silicon chip that’s so far been a real game-changer. And, the first laptop to receive it is the company’s thinnest and lightest, putting it on the list of the most exciting Apple laptops of recent years. With this new chip, the MacBook Air is better than ever, touting excellent performance alongside its brilliant battery life – without raising the price to keep it (fairly) affordable still. It’s not going to be the cheapest option for students, but for those who have a slightly bigger budget, this is the best student laptop to get.

Read the full review: MacBook Air (M1, 2020)

Google Pixelbook Go

The Google Pixelbook Go has earned our coveted “Editor’s Choice” award in the Chromebook category. (Image credit: Google)

2. Google Pixelbook Go

Google’s best Chromebook for budget consumers

CPU: Intel Core m3 – i7 | Graphics: Intel UHD Graphics 615 (300MHz) | RAM: 8GB – 16GB | Screen: Full HD Display – 4K Ultra HD Molecular Display | Storage: 64GB – 256GB

Incredible battery life
Amazing ‘Hush’ keyboard
No biometric login

Have you been waiting for the day you can finally afford the premium price of Google Pixelbook? Well, with Google releasing Pixelbook Go, your wait is finally over. Granted, it isn’t quite the actual luxury device you’ve been dreaming of. However, rest assured, you will love this Chromebook, just as we have during our time with it. We love it so much, in fact, that it earned our coveted “Editor’s Choice” award in the Chromebook category. It boasts incredible battery life, an even more impressive keyboard and a 1080p webcam, which you don’t see often in the more budget-friendly laptops even in 2021. And, that’s just to start.

Read the full review: Google Pixelbook Go

HP Chromebook 14

(Image credit: HP)

3. HP Chromebook 14

A well-balanced Chromebook

CPU: AMD A4 – A6, Intel Celeron N3350 – N3450 | Graphics: AMD Radeon R4 – R5, Intel HD Graphics 500 | RAM: 4GB – 8GB | Screen: 14-inch diagonal HD (1366×768) SVA anti-glare – FHD (1920×1080) IPS BrightView | Storage: 16GB – 64GB eMMC

Excellent keyboard and trackpad
Chrome OS is responsive
Crisp, vivid screen
Average battery life

The HP Chromebook 14 may not be as powerful as other Chromebooks, but this tiny laptop has a few aces up its sleeves, helping it secure a well-deserved top spot on our best laptops for students list. Those aces include striking a good balance between ample screen space and portability, as well as a surprisingly excellent keyboard and a decent trackpad. That’s without mentioning how vivid the display and how low its price tag is.

Read the full review: HP Chromebook 14

Microsoft Surface Go 2

(Image credit: Microsoft)

4. Microsoft Surface Go 2

Premium design, more affordable price

CPU: 8th Gen Intel Core m3 – Intel Pentium Gold Processor 4425Y | Graphics: Intel HD Graphics 615 | RAM: 4GB – 8GB | Screen: 10.5” 1920 x 1280 (220 PPI) PixelSense Display | Storage: 64GB eMMC – 128GB SSD | Connectivity: IEEE 802.11a/b/g/n/ac/ax, Bluetooth 5.0, Qualcomm Snapdragon X16 LTE Modem

Premium design
Affordable
Can run full Windows 10
No Touch Cover or stylus included
Base model’s specs are weak

Microsoft’s devices are known for their higher price tags, which is why the Surface Go line proves popular with the more budget-conscious crowd. It’s Microsoft’s best affordable premium tablet, and the follow up, Surface Go 2, continues that tradition with its reasonable price and premium design. It even runs the full Windows 10 operating system, so it’s even more capable than other tablets out there as far as what applications it can run. Unfortunately, as with the original, it suffers from the same curse of being underpowered, especially at the base configuration. However, it does offer a slight bump in performance over its predecessor. If you’re looking for the best student laptops, this one’s certainly a great contender.

Read the full review: Microsoft Surface Go 2

Acer Chromebook Spin 311

(Image credit: Acer)

5. Acer Chromebook Spin 311

Versatile little Chromebook for study and play

CPU: Intel Celeron N4000 | Graphics: Intel UHD Graphics 600 | RAM: 4GB | Screen: 11.6″ HD (1366 x 768) 16:9 IPS touchscreen | Storage : 64GB Flash Memory

Great design and build
Lovely size
Excellent touch screen and flip mechanism
Dim screen
Massive bezels drastically reduce actual screen size

If versatility is a top priority, then look no further than the Acer Chromebook Spin 311. This all-rounder has all the makings of a great student laptop, from its good battery life to its robust build and solid usability. However, the Acer Chromebook Spin 311 takes it further with its impressive levels of versatility, thanks to its abundance of ports considering its size, 2-in-1 design, portable size and excellent touchscreen display. It also boasts a keyboard and a touchpad that are not only reliable, but also satisfying to use. That’s a rare thing in a machine at this price point.

Read the full review: Acer Chromebook Spin 311

Acer Spin 5 (2020)

(Image credit: Acer)

6. Acer Spin 5 (2020)

A fantastic 2-in-1 laptop

CPU: 10th-generation Intel Core i5 – i7 | Graphics: Intel Iris Plus Graphics | RAM: 8GB – 16GB | Screen: 13.5″ (2256 x 1504) 3:2 touchscreen display | Storage: 256GB – 512GB SSD

Fantastic battery life
3:2 display perfect for note-taking
Feature-rich stylus included
3:2 display not ideal for 16:9 video
Bloatware includes desktop pop-up ads

A great feature set definitely adds a lot of value, and if you’re looking for the best laptops for students, that’s one thing to keep an eye out for. It’s that combined with its affordability that makes the Acer Spin 5 (2020) a terrific candidate. This 2-in-1 laptop isn’t just versatile due to its form factors and fantastic battery life. It also comes with a 3:2 display and a feature-rich stylus that together give it that extra advantage for students over its rivals: an easy and seamless note-taking experience. If you’re one of those folks who have a contempt for typing up notes in class, this old-school approach might just seal the deal.

Read the full review: Acer Spin 5 (2020)

Lenovo ThinkPad C13 Yoga Chromebook

(Image credit: Lenovo)

7. Lenovo ThinkPad C13 Yoga Chromebook

A pricey, but nearly perfect Chromebook

CPU: AMD Athlon Gold 3150C – AMD Ryzen 7 3700C | Graphics: Integrated AMD Radeon | RAM: 4GB – 8GB | Screen: 13.3-inch FHD (1,920 x 1,080) IPS LED | Storage: 32GB eMMC – 256GB SSD

Powerful AMD processor
Outstanding security features
Expensive
Less than 10-hour battery

The Lenovo ThinkPad C13 Yoga Chromebook lands straight in our best student laptops list due to the fact that it is one of the most powerful Chromebooks money can buy in 2021. While you’re going to pay extra for this kind of horsepower, especially if you want some of the best features that come with the high-end models, it’s well worth it if you’re looking for a future proof Chromebook that’s going to last you for years to come – four years of college at the very least. As a 2-in-1 device, it’s got the flexibility that many other Chromebooks lack, and the screen on this thing is stunning. Best of all, it comes packing the new AMD 3000C-series processors – starting with an Athlon 3150C and scaling up to a Ryzen 7 3700C – and this means you’ll get more processing power out of this Chromebook than many of it’s competitors.

Read the full review: Lenovo ThinkPad C13 Yoga Chromebook

HP EliteBook x360 1040

(Image credit: HP)

8. HP Envy x360 15 (2021)

Powerful performance if not the most comfortable

CPU: AMD Ryzen 5 – 7 / 11th-generation Intel Core i5 – i7 | Graphics: AMD Radeon / Intel Iris Xe Graphics | RAM: 8GB – 16GB | Screen: 15.6″ diagonal 4K UHD, UWVA, BrightView, AMOLED – 15.6″ diagonal FHD, IPS, micro-edge, WLED-backlit | Storage: up to 256 GB Intel SSD + 16 GB Intel Optane memory

Best-in-class performance
Exceptional battery life
Fantastic price
Tablet mode a bit unwieldy
No docked stylus

The HP Envy x360 15 (2021) is nearly in a class in its own right, a 2-in-1 laptop that combines impressive CPU and GPU power with an elegant yet robust design, a stunning display, and outstanding battery life – all for an incredible price. In fact, if you don’t want to spend a fortune, you’ll be hard pressed to find a better value for a 2-in-1, making it among the best student laptops right now. Its huge collection of ports make it an even better value, especially if you have a few peripherals in your arsenal. It’s not the most comfortable to use as a tablet, but even the most premium contenders aren’ perfect, so it’s easy to forgive this laptop for that.

Read the full review: HP Envy x360 15 (2021)

LG Gram 16 (2021)

(Image credit: LG)

9. LG Gram 17 (2021)

A productivity powerhouse

CPU: 11th-generation Intel Core i7 | Graphics: Intel Iris Xe Graphics | RAM: 16GB LPDDR4X | Screen: 17-inch WQXGA (2560 x 1600) IPS LCD | Storage: up to 2TB NVMe SSD

Excellent battery life
Large, high-quality display
Very light
Expensive
Subject to screen glare

Laptops for work are rejoining the 17-inch fray and leading them is the much-lauded LG Gram 17, whose amazingly thin and light form factor has won awards and makes it among the best Ultrabooks on the market. It’s back in 2021 and better than ever, with more powerful internals like the 11th-generation Intel chips and the Iris Xe graphics as well as two Thunderbolt 4 USB-C ports. The long battery life and stunner of a screen are back, though as is its steep price tag. It’s worth it though if you want the power and portability of Ultrabooks yet also need a bigger screen.

Read the full review: LG Gram 17 (2021) 

MacBook Pro 13-inch (M1, 2020)

(Image credit: Apple)

10. MacBook Pro 13-inch (M1, 2020)

Apple’s little MacBook Pro gets a big refresh

CPU: Apple M1 chip with 8‑core CPU | Graphics: Integrated 8-core GPU | RAM: 8GB – 16GB unified memory | Screen: 13.3-inch 2560 x 1600 LED-backlit Retina display | Storage: 256GB – 2TB SSD | Dimensions (H x W x D): 30.41 x 21.24 x 1.56 cm

Huge battery life
Great performance
Can run iOS apps
Still lacks ports

The MacBook Pro 13-inch (M1, 2020) may not have gotten a massive design overhaul, but what it lacks in that department, it makes up for big time in performance and battery life. Thanks to Apple’s groundbreaking M1 chip, the new MacBook Pro 13-inch delivers excellent performance and exceptional battery life. Its performance is so impressive, in fact, that it can easily handle 4K – and even 8K – videos, which is great news for film students. If you’re looking for a powerful laptop that keeps things small and lightweight, this is the best student laptop money can buy.

Read the full review: MacBook Pro 13-inch (M1, 2020)

With the best student laptops, you’ll often be taking them out and about, so it’s always a good idea to get them insured. If you’re in the UK, then you can shop around and compare contents insurance to keep your gadgets, including laptops, protected.