It wasn’t that long ago that buying a teenager their own laptop might’ve felt like a wildly extravagant and unnecessary investment. For better or worse, laptops are now essential gear for most high-school and college students, as fundamental to pursuing an education as books (which are still fundamental!). The good news is that while computing power has climbed to incredible heights, the price of basic computing power has dropped dramatically. The best laptops for high schoolers balance those two things: performance and price.
Today, you get way more horsepower for your money: The best laptops for students are packed with features and promise peak performance at an affordable price. We focused our search on price, performance, size, touch-screen capability, and flexibility (both literal and figurative) to find the laptops that are worth a student’s time.
What to Look for in Laptops for High Schoolers:
- Price: Student laptops will most likely take a beating, because kids aren’t the most responsible of humans; there’s no reason to buy the splashiest laptop you see.
- Tech: Make sure it can smoothly run HD video lectures, and has a solid set of speakers. A great laptop should also have an integrated webcam because students aren’t tied down to physical classrooms or in-person study groups anymore.
- Performance: Battery life matters. A fully charged laptop should last an entire school day. And pay attention to the weight. Kids will be lugging these laptops around, and backpacks get heavy. Fast.
If you have a kid who's taking tons of notes, consider this laptop: The keyboard is tilted up to make typing easier and more comfortable.This 15.6-inch laptop runs on Windows 10 S. It's also among the most versatile of the laptops in terms of connectivity: It has reversible USB Type C, HDMI, a microSD card reader and USB 3.1 and 2.0 ports. Its standout feature is it ergonomic key dish keyboard design, which makes typing easier. The battery life is roughly six hours.
It's not cheap, but for our money, the MacBook Air is the leanest, meanest laptop you can buy. It has a 13-inch display, 128GB of storage, two USB 3 ports, and a thunderbolt 2 port. It weighs less than 3 pounds and has up to 12 hours of battery life. Note that this is not the latest model, which means you save money, but you also don't get the Retina display. This model has the LED-backlit widescreen display.
If size and weight are an issue, this is one of the thinnest, most lightweight student laptops you can buy — it's also insanely affordable. It has a 15.6-inch display, weighs just under 4 pounds, and is .7 inches thick. It has up to 7.5 hours of battery life, which isn't ideal, but you do get 256GB of storage. There's an HDMI output, two USB 3.0 ports and one USB 2.0 port.
This laptop runs on Chrome OS, an operating system by Google. It has a solid 15.6-inch HD display, weighs just under 5 pounds, and has 32GB of storage. It's a great starter laptop for the price. No, the speakers won't blow you away, but the price will, as will the 12-hour battery life. And given that the speakers aren't exactly Bose-worthy, you can always spring for an external one since the laptop has Bluetooth connectivity.
If you have a kid who's into drawing, this is a fantastic, albeit pricey, laptop that's part tablet, part art studio. The new Surface segues from laptop to tablet to studio mode, for the ultimate in versatility. It has a 12.3-inch touchscreen with pen input, runs the Windows 10 Home operating system, and has a solid 10.5 hours of battery life.
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