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The best laptops for college [2018]

Today, it is much more important that students have laptops than ever before. Lecturers and professors are no longer giving written notes, and the age of textbooks is almost over. Students read online, hand in their projects as soft copies and do most of their research for these projects online.

Even if you decide to use your laptop for much more, it is likely that you are looking for a device that handles multimedia content perfectly (therefore sound and the display are important), can handle light to medium web browsing and can handle some gaming on low to medium settings.

On top of all this, you are likely looking for a device that will give you a full day of charge, that has a comfortable keyboard and trackpad and one that is not a hustle to carry around.

Since we are exploring laptops for students, I think we would all agree that price is an important metric to look at too.

So what are the best laptops for college?

Instead of giving you a list of laptops to consider, we will look at a few use cases and maybe one or two devices that fit that mould. Sounds good? Let’s get to it then.

Cheap laptops for students without too many requirements

In this category, we are looking at college students who need a laptop for the bare minimums. This includes web browsing, working on word documents and maybe watching a movie or listening to some music here and there.

For this use case, all you need is a laptop with a decent processor, 4-8GB of RAM as well as 128-256GB of storage. If love some entertainment and would like to save larger movie and music files, then you might consider a laptop with 500GB of storage. Investing in a cheap external hard drive would be awesome, too.

Of course, you need a decent keyboard for those late night typing sessions, enough ports for all your external devices (hard drives, mice etc.), headphone jack and decent battery life.

Consider the Asus Chromebook Flip C302.

Asus Chromebook Flip C302
Asus Chromebook Flip C302

This is a 2 in 1 laptop that runs Chrome OS but bear with me. Inside, you get an Intel Core M processor, 4 GB of RAM and a backlit keyboard that is pretty decent. You also get fast wifi for when you need to download or watch something and a battery that lasts for about 10 hours. As for the ports, you get two USB-C ports, a microSD slot and a headphone jack.

It is going for $449 on Amazon right now.

Asus Chromebook Flip C302

12.5-inch Touchscreen Convertible Chromebook, Intel Core m3, 4GB RAM, 64GB Flash Storage, All-Metal Body, USB Type C, Corning Gorilla Glass, Chrome OS

in stock
52 new from $484.99
3 used from $510.87
as of December 17, 2018 12:09 am
Free shipping

We have extensively reviewed the Lenovo Yoga 720 here(opens in new tab). In summary, it is a 13.3 inch or 15.6-inch laptop depending on the screen real estate you need.

Lenovo yoga 720
Lenovo Yoga 720. Courtesy CNET

The 15.6-inch, 1080p display offers beautiful colours, high contrasts an looks really beautiful. Although it is not a 4K screen, it has vivid colours and sharp details. The bezels on the side are very small.

Recommended: Lenovo Yoga Deals

On the left of the Yoga 720, you get a full-size USB 3.1 port and a headphone jack. On the right, there is another USB port and a Thunderbolt 3 port.

The keyboard feels very responsive, and the trackpad remains one of the best we have seen on Always Good Stuff.

Lenovo reports about 12 hours of battery life on a single charge.

Lenovo Yoga 720

13.3-inch model.

13.3″ FHD IPS 2 in 1 Touchscreen Laptop/Tablet, Intel Quad-Core i5-8250U 1.6GHz 8GB DDR4 256GB SSD Backlit Keyboard Dolby Audio Fingerprint Thunderbolt Win 10

in stock
24 new from $727.00
as of December 17, 2018 12:09 am
Free shipping

15-inch model

15.6″ FHD IPS Touch-Screen Ultrabook, Quad-Core Intel i7-7700HQ, 8GB DDR4 RAM, 256GB SSD, Thunderbolt, Fingerprint Reader, Backlit Keyboard, Built for Windows Ink-Win10

in stock
26 new from $823.99
11 used from $721.29
as of December 17, 2018 12:09 am
Free shipping

College laptops for the light gamer

In addition to a perfect keyboard, sufficient battery life, a reasonable price and at least a Full HD(1080p) display, students looking to do some gaming will need a bit more. A good gaming laptop for a college student should have sufficient RAM(at least 8GB) and a decent CPU.

You will also need enough space for all your games and decent connectivity options to download said games.

Although there are lots of variants of the Acer Aspire E15, we have picked one that offers what we consider to be the best value for your money. This variant comes with an Intel Core i7-7500 Processor clocked at 2.7GHz, and that boosts up to 3.5 GHz.

Acer Aspire E15
Acer Aspire E15

For around $510, you also get 8GB of DDR4 RAM, a 1TB hard drive, 1 USB-C port, 1 USB 3.0 port, 2 USB 2.0 ports, an HDMI port as well as a headset jack.

The display on the Acer Aspire E15 is a 15.6 Full HD(1080P) display. This is perfect for media consumption and coupled with the core i7 processor, you will be crushing enemies in Full HD.

Acer Aspire E15

15.6″ Full HD, 7th Gen Intel Core i7-7500U (up to 3.50 GHz), 8GB DDR4 RAM, 1TB HDD, USB-C 3.1, Bluetooth, HDMI, Webcam, Win 10

in stock
28 new from $527.99
1 used from $492.00
as of December 17, 2018 12:09 am
Free shipping

For the college student who wants to go all out

In this use case, we are talking to students who will not take any compromises on performance, build quality or anything else while still getting at least one good laptop for students under $1000 or thereabouts.

The HP Pavilion model we are going to look at comes in at about $900 and it packs a mean punch.

HP Pavilion
HP Pavilion

Under the hood, you have two options:

1. The base model with

  • 15.6-inch diagonal Full HD (1920 x 1080) display
  • An NVIDIA GeForce 940MX Graphics with 4GB DDR3 Video RAM
  • An Intel Core i7-8550U Quad-Core CPU (1.8 GHz up to 4 GHz with Intel Turbo Boost)
  • 8GB DDR4 RAM, 256GB PCIe NVMe SSD (boot) + 2TB HDD for longer storage

2. An updated model with all the above but with 16GB of RAM

This HP Pavilion laptop for college students comes with Bluetooth 4.0 connectivity, a Headphone jack, one USB 3.0 Type-C port (Data up to 5Gb/s), two 3.1 Gen 1 USB port and one HDMI connection.

HP Pavilion

15.6 inch Full HD Gaming Laptop PC, Intel 8th Gen Core i7-8550U Quad-Core, 16GB DDR4, 256GB PCIe NVMe SSD (boot) + 2TB HDD, NVIDIA GeForce 940MX, Windows 10, Backlit Keyboard

out of stock
as of December 17, 2018 12:09 am
Free shipping

For the other option for the student looking to go all out, we have the 13.3 inch Apple MacBook Pro with the touch bar.

13.3 inch Apple MacBook Pro
13.3 inch Apple MacBook Pro

In summary, you get:

  • A 6-core 8th-generation Intel Core i5 CPU (2.3GHz with Turbo Boost up to 3.8GHz)
  • 8GB of RAM so you can easily multi-task.
  • A 256GB SSD with Intel Iris Plus Graphics 655.
  • A 13-inch Retina LED-backlit display with IPS technology supports millions of colours.
  • An includes Touch Bar with integrated Touch ID sensor.
  • Four Thunderbolt 3 (USB-C) ports, support for high-speed I/O video out.
  • A headphone jack and stereo speakers for amazing audio

13.3 inch Apple MacBook Pro

2.3GHz Quad-Core Intel Core i5, 8GB RAM, 256GB SSD Storage, Retina display, Touch Bar

out of stock
4 new from $1,599.00
10 used from $1,533.09
as of December 17, 2018 12:09 am

In conclusion

Although this is an oversimplified view, you will probably fall in one of three categories:

  1. A student looking for cheap laptops for students for everyday student tasks like word processing, watching videos and listening to some music
  2. A student looking for a laptop to not only satisfy their student needs but one that also allows for a bit of gaming
  3. A student looking for a powerful laptop for much more than student work and certainly one they can take with them once they are done with school.

We hope the above selections help you find what you are looking for!

So, what type of student are you and what are you looking for in a laptop? Please leave a reply below and do not forget to share so we can help more students find the laptop they deserve.



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