It wasn’t that long ago that buying a teenager his or her own laptop might’ve felt like a wildly extravagant and unnecessary investment. Even if you found an affordable option, that same high schooler who leaves food on counter, the front door wide open, and the toilet seat up will likely forget that pricey piece of tech in a public location. But then 2020 happened, and the coronavirus pandemic shuttered schools nationwide, making remote learning a necessity rather than a fanciful option. For the foreseeable future (likely into late 2021), the best laptops for high school students as essential as the teachers themselves. The good news for those new at remote schooling is that while computing power has climbed to incredible heights, computing price itself has dropped dramatically. What’s the best laptop for students? While we’ve tailored our list to every interest your child may have, there are still a number of overarching principles.
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.
The Best Laptops for High School Students
Is this computer overbuilt? Certainly. But it's worth leading our list for those parents who have already been through one laptop destroyed by a careless kid. If you're looking for a one-stop, can't-bust-'em workbook, this one by Panasonic is the alpha and omega. Its 10.1-inch screen isn't the largest, nor are its guts the fastest. But it's protected by a case so durable it could be run over by a bus or the entire school football team, weathering the trauma unscathed. The word 'rugged' is an understatement.
Maybe your child is a gamer. Maybe, after he or she goes to bed, you're the gamer. Regardless of who's staying up late to blast some pixels, one of you will appreciate this cutting-edge gaming PC laptop. With a 15.6-inch screen, the latest Intel i7 hard drive, and a ridiculous NVIDIA GeForce RTX 2060 graphics cards, the hard part will be remembering that it can also easily handle homework and streaming lectures. What you do in the non-school hours is your business.
Trust us, we understand that funds are tight in 2020 and there are a host of new expenses. That's why we love this basic and affordable laptop by HP. While it only has a mere 32 gigs of onboard storage, if your child is primarily streaming lessons, word-processing, and downloading worksheets, it's unlikely he or she will fill it up. An 11.6-inch screen is plenty big enough for homework and video, while a 13-hour battery has longevity for taking it on the road.
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, 256GB of storage, four USB-C ports, and two thunderbolt 3 ports. It weighs less than 3 pounds and has up to 18 hours of battery life. Because this is the latest model, you get the high-res retina display and touch ID.
When looking for the best laptop for a high schooler, we love seeing the word 'durable' prominently in the description. Lenovo does this. Drop- and water-resistant, it's near impervious to oopsies. A full suite of Google software comes pre-loaded.
True, Apple’s latest (and biggest) MacBook Pro is far from an economy option. But for those later years in high school where your virtuoso is into art and music, there’s not a better device on the market. The AMD Radeon Pro 5000M processor makes mincemeat of graphics-dependent programs like video, while a six-speaker system with dual force-canceling woofers will have you yelling to turn that laptop down. For kids who travel between work and home, four USB-C ports allow him or her to plug and unplug a host of accessories including external drives, monitors, and other must-haves for the creative life.
This hybrid is the perfect blend of tablet and laptop. It weighs just over one pound, which is a win. It has a sizable 10.5 inch touchscreen. The battery lasts 10 hours, and it's basically the perfect machine for emailing, note-taking, and homework. It has built-in WiFi, although the model with LTE is extra, as well full HD front- and rear-facing cameras.
The biggest selling point of the Chromebook is that it runs on chrome OS, a Google operating system, meaning that it seamlessly works with Google Classroom and other apps students will be using. It has an 11.6 inch display, 32GB eMMC, Google Chrome, and Up to 10 hours battery life. It's all hella fast, with a 2.8 GHz CPU. And it's Blueooth-enabled.
You get four devices in one: It goes from laptop mode to tablet, stand or tent mode for notetaking, drawing, and writing. The laptop has a built-in WiFi 6 connection, as well as a wide HD webcam for Zoom meetings and calls. The display is 14-inch HD; it has an ultra-fast processor; and it boots up in seconds. You get up to nine hours of battery life. When in tent mode, you can pinch, zoom, and touch to customize photos and layouts. Plus it's Alexa-enabled.
A solid, well-rounded, and ultra-affordable laptop with a crisp display, this one also runs on Google Chrome. It has an 11.6 inch display, a touch screen, and a 360 degree hinge for added flexibility. You get 10 hours of battery life.
Just like that YouTube yogi you watch when your partner isn't around, the Yoga C640 is surprisingly flexible and remarkably attractive. Less than three pounds total, it's equipped with a brilliant screen that is touch-responsive and swivels almost 360 degrees, allowing it to double as a tablet for those kids who need the versatility.
Acer makes a damn good—and affordable—product with a host of features found on more expensive models. The Aspire 5 features a 15.6-inch display (a size second only to the MacBook Pro) with the only slightly outdated 10th Gen Intel Core i5 processor, making it great for lighter (and slightly slower) processing, including photos. A decent tuned speaker system, called TrueHarmony, pumps out study tune and YouTube vids alike. The 9.5-hour battery life is no slouch, either.
If your kid prefers doing her algebra outdoors, she'll dig this laptop: It has a gorgeous anti-reflective screen combined with superior 500-nit brightness, suitable for any lighting or environment. It's also a beast of a laptop, cut from a single block of aluminum and outfitted with darn-near bulletproof Corning Gorilla Glass. It has a 13.4-inch screen, beautiful surround sound, and at 2.93 pounds, is a decent weight to carry around.
With 256 gigs of memory and eight of RAM, it’s a solid performer, and has a fast-charging battery that lasts for up to 18.5 hours. But the real show-stopper is its flip-screen design that opens just shy of 360 degrees, allowing for presentations and unparalleled group activity. It also features a touchscreen, making it as much a tablet as laptop. Fans of Samsung’s eye-popping TV colors will recognize the same Quantum Dot tech, which makes this a great streaming device.
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