The best laptops for college students in 2024

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The life of a assemblage student is simply a hectic one. Classes to attend, papers to write, tests to take, and tuition to salary — it's a lot.

And while we can't return each that accent disconnected your sheet — you'll person to ace those tests connected your ain — we tin thief you cheque 1 stressful task disconnected your to-do list: Buying nan correct laptop for college.

Mashable shopping reporters person reviewed dozens of laptops, and successful this guide, we'll springiness you our apical hand-on-tested picks for nan champion laptops for assemblage students (with much recommendations coming successful early updates).

How do I take a laptop for college?

For nan student lifestyle, portability, performance, and value are key. Because you'll beryllium hopping astir from people to people connected a tight schedule, you'll request a laptop that you tin transportation astir easy without weighing you down. You're excessively young for backmost problems.

In position of performance, you astir apt won't request thing excessively fancy, but you will want a instrumentality pinch a CPU, GPU, and RAM that tin grip aggregate tasks astatine once. If you're an creation student who will beryllium utilizing your laptop to edit photos and videos, you should purpose for thing pinch higher processing powerfulness for illustration nan M3 Apple MacBook Pro.

As for price, assemblage students already person a immense financial load connected their shoulders, truthful don't bargain thing that's going to make life moreover harder. There are plenty of affordable laptops that'll do what you request them to do.

What are nan champion laptops for college?

We're excited to thief you prime retired your caller assemblage companion. Below, our hands-on-tested recommendations for nan champion laptops for assemblage students successful 2024.

MacBook Pro (M3) connected a desktop pinch plant

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Read Mashable's afloat reappraisal of nan 14-inch Apple MacBook Pro (M3).

Why we picked this:

Apple's M3-chip-equipped MacBook Pro is simply a powerhouse of a laptop that tin grip each of your college-centric needs, from basal note-taking to demanding Adobe Suite projects. The caller 14-inch surface feels conscionable correct compared to nan accustomed 13-and-16-inch models and boasts a Liquid Retina XDR show that looks perfectly stunning. Mashable Tech Editor, Kimberly Gedeon, besides praised nan device's audio output, saying that nan MacBook Pro "arguably has nan champion group of speakers connected nan laptop market." So, if you for illustration to perceive to euphony while you study, you're successful for a treat.

On apical of nan Pro's sheer velocity and power, it besides has an incredibly agelong artillery life, clocking successful astatine astir 17 hours connected a azygous charge. Unfortunately, it's not your cheapest action — nan exemplary our reviewer tested starts astatine $1,999. On apical of costly tuition payments, that mightiness not beryllium feasible for a batch of students (don't worry, we person a much affordable MacBook coming up).

Who it's for:

The MacBook Pro (M3) is simply a awesome prime for students who request a laptop that tin grip processor-heavy projects for illustration video and photograph editing. Its agelong artillery life and crystal-clear speakers besides make it a coagulated prime for anyone who likes to hunker down for extended study sessions. Finally, you whitethorn want this instrumentality simply because you're already ingrained successful nan Apple ecosystem, and that's okay, too.

Microsoft Surface Pro 9 connected a desktop

Why we picked this:

The Microsoft Surface Pro 9 is simply a powerful instrumentality successful its ain right, but nan sanction of nan crippled present is versatility. As a 2-in-1 laptop, nan Surface Pro 9 is highly impressive. It's a breeze to move from laptop to tablet mode, and pinch nan thief of nan computer's 12th Gen Intel Core processor, you'll get accelerated and soft capacity whether you're successful nan speech hall, posted up astatine nan schoolhouse cafeteria, aliases backmost successful your dorm room. The Pro 9 is besides nan first Surface to connection 5G support.

The Slim Pen 2 is included pinch this laptop and tablet combo, and it makes taking notes an enjoyable activity alternatively than a chore. The expertise to handwrite messages and person them to machine matter feels for illustration magic, and pulling up your go-to note-taking app by clicking nan pen's extremity is simply a neat trick. Art students will particularly emotion nan Slim-Pen-2-Adobe-Suite synergy. The kickstand is besides improved and feels overmuch much balanced successful tabletop mode than immoderate of its predecessors, but we still don't urge utilizing it connected your thigh (it's excessively unstable).

While we really loved nan consciousness of nan Pro 9's detachable keyboard, it was a small spot flimsy, truthful you whitethorn want to prime up a carrying lawsuit to guarantee its information passim nan semesters to come. We besides don't emotion nan perspective that nan laptop sits astatine while successful tabletop mode for video calls. It makes you look downright awkward connected nan different extremity of nan camera feed, truthful if you be schoolhouse virtually, support that successful mind (the camera value is really good, though). Lastly, it doesn't person a headphone jack (bummer), truthful make judge you person a brace of Bluetooth headphones aliases a 3.5mm-to-USB-C dongle handy.

Who it's for:

The Microsoft Surface Pro 9 is champion for students who prioritize versatility supra all. If you request a instrumentality that tin do a small spot of everything, and do it well, look nary further. It's a laptop, it's a tablet, and it's a powerful productivity machine. The note-taking features besides make it indispensable successful nan classroom.

Acer Chromebook 516 GE connected desktop pinch plants and accessories

Why we picked this:

All activity and nary play makes assemblage an absolute slog, but nan budget-friendly Acer Chromebook 516 GE will thief you do both. This affordable gaming laptop promises its users a awesome cloud-based PC gaming acquisition and nan expertise to enactment connected apical of schoolwork. After taking it for a spin, we tin opportunity that it decidedly delivers.

At this value point, awesome gaming laptops are difficult to travel by, but nan Chromebook 516 GE breaks that mold by offering top-notch capacity during gaming and wide use, a beautiful display, slayer perks, and much for conscionable $649 (we've moreover seen it connected waste for only $499). During our testing, each crippled we booted up ran smoothly, prevention for a flimsy nonaccomplishment successful fidelity (which is highly communal pinch unreality gaming). We knowledgeable zero input lag aliases stuttering.

While we utilized Xbox Game Pass to trial retired nan unreality gaming features, that's not your only option. Along pinch your purchase, you tin redeem 3 free months of NVIDIA GeForce Now astatine nan Priority level, which grants you entree to NVIDIA's high-end unreality servers pinch enhanced solution and framework rate. You get different perks, too, including 3 months of YouTube Premium, a year's worthy of Google One unreality storage, and a period of entree to Boosteroid.

The Acer Chromebook 516GE is besides a coagulated general-use laptop that'll service you good passim your assemblage career. The build value feels durable and sturdy and features a bully RGB keyboard pinch anti-ghosting tech that's perfect for taking notes, editing documents, and performing mundane tasks. You'll besides get a bevy of ports, including USB-C, HDMI, and Ethernet. But, nan existent showstopper is nan laptop's display. The 16-inch, 1600p surface looks awesome and boasts clear, bright, and vibrant colors, and it supports a 120Hz refresh rate.

The only sound we person against nan device? The artillery life. It lasted astir six hours for america (while utilizing it heavy for gaming, truthful your mileage whitethorn vary).

Who it's for:

Students who person hobbies extracurricular of schoolwork (which we presume is astir of you) will admit nan Acer Chromebook 516 GE's arsenic awesome gaming and general-use features. It comes successful astatine a budget-friendly value and goes connected waste often, truthful if your fund is tapped retired aft purchasing your textbooks, this whitethorn beryllium your champion stake (you'll prevention moreover much money erstwhile you redeem those rank perks we mentioned above).

MacBook Air (M1) connected a desktop pinch unfastened screen

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Read Mashable's afloat reappraisal of nan 13-inch Apple MacBook Air (M1).

Why we picked this:

We told you we'd beryllium backmost pinch a much budget-friendly MacBook option.

Even though nan Apple M1 MacBook Air came retired measurement backmost successful 2020, it's still an fantabulous laptop to this day. The pint-sized overachiever is simply a no-brainer prime for assemblage students who still want a MacBook but don't want to ammunition retired $2,000 for nan M3 MacBook Pro.

One of nan Air's biggest draws is that it's lightweight and portable, which fits successful nicely pinch nan fast-paced manner of assemblage students. Don't deliberation its mini framework makes it a dud erstwhile it comes to power, though. On nan contrary — nan M1 MacBook Air has capable processing powerfulness for each of your basal schoolhouse needs, including much demanding tasks for illustration photograph and video editing. We besides emotion nan quiet, fanless design, all-day artillery life, and awesome build quality, thing Apple users person gotten utilized to complete nan galore MacBook generations.

The included ports are lacking successful position of assortment (as is nan lawsuit pinch a batch of MacBooks), and nan value of nan webcam leaves a batch to beryllium desired, but those 2 points go easier to look past if you're dead-set connected getting a MacBook nether $1,000. Even better, this exemplary is almost ever connected waste for astir $749.99, making an already-great woody that overmuch sweeter.

Who it's for:

Students who want to stay successful nan Apple ecosystem but don't want to driblet complete $2,000 connected a current-generation MacBook tin still get an astonishing assemblage laptop successful nan M1 MacBook Air. It'll execute each of your regular student-centric tasks and past immoderate pinch flying colors, and it will clasp up for years to travel acknowledgment to its future-friendly design.

Mashable Staff aliases contributors person hands-on tested each laptop proposal successful this shopping guide. Each prime earned a spot connected our database for different reasons, but each of them stock 1 point successful common: They fresh effortlessly into nan engaged lives of assemblage students. When choosing these laptop, we considered specs specified as:

  • Processor: The cardinal processing unit, aliases CPU, is responsible for really accelerated your laptop tin complete a fixed task. High-end CPUs will beryllium capable to grip aggregate demanding tasks astatine once, whereas much budget-friendly options whitethorn beryllium amended solely for basal tasks for illustration web browsing and archive editing.

  • Graphics processor: The graphics processing unit, aliases GPU, is responsible for rendering clear and elaborate visuals. It's particularly important for gaming and photo/video editing, truthful if that's thing you'll beryllium utilizing your laptop for, salary adjacent attraction to GPU specs while you shop.

  • RAM: A laptop's RAM is wherever progressive exertion information is temporarily stored to assistance nan CPU. Essentially, if you person much RAM, you'll beryllium capable to tally much applications astatine nan aforesaid time. Look for devices pinch a minimum of 8GB of RAM.

  • Storage: This is wherever your laptop saves semipermanent information for illustration files and downloads. Keep successful mind that SSD retention is faster than eMMC flash and regular difficult thrust storage. For students, we urge starting astatine 256GB of retention and above, but you tin astir apt get distant pinch 128GB if you mostly usage unreality retention aliases don't usually person that galore files saved connected your instrumentality astatine once.

  • Battery life: Eight to 10 hours is nan "sweet spot," but your mileage whitethorn vary. Generally speaking, nan much artillery life, nan better.

  • Portability: Smaller laptops will beryllium easiest to return connected nan go, but they are usually little powerful than their counterparts. Still, arsenic a assemblage student, you whitethorn attraction much astir convenience than power.

  • Price: College ain't cheap, and neither is simply a laptop. But dissimilar college, location are much affordable options for laptops. We kept that successful mind erstwhile sourcing our picks.

  • Student-friendly features: Laptops that excelled successful schoolwork-related tasks for illustration note-taking, archive editing, and moving photo/video editing applications sewage higher marks during our testing period, and those are nan recommendations you'll find successful this roundup. You're already dishing retired a beautiful penny for a laptop, truthful you're going to want 1 that tin support and heighten your student lifestyle.

  • Fun stuff/extras: College tin (and should) beryllium fun. We originated picks that person nosy extras for illustration cloud-gaming support, vivid displays for streaming services, and much truthful that you tin return a break from nan assemblage grind each erstwhile successful a while.

Frequently Asked Questions


It's up to your preference, but if you inquire us, students will want to spell for thing connected nan much portable side. The M3 MacBook Pro sits astatine a awesome mid-point astatine 14 inches, but arsenic agelong arsenic you don't spell supra 16 inches, you'll beryllium successful a bully spot. Anything complete that whitethorn measurement you down while hopping from people to class.


We deliberation that 8 to 10 hours of artillery life is simply a bully number to sprout for if you're a engaged assemblage student. But, if you tin spend a laptop pinch a longer charge, spell for it.


If you want your laptop to beryllium capable to grip aggregate demanding tasks astatine once, we don't urge going beneath 8GB of RAM, pinch 16GB being ideal. When it comes to storage, we urge starting astatine 256GB and above, but if you return advantage of unreality retention options, you tin astir apt get distant pinch 128GB.

author photo

Dylan Haas is simply a Lead Shopping Reporter for Mashable, wherever he covers each things gaming, pets, fitness, sleep, and shopping events for illustration Black Friday and Prime Day. Before joining nan squad astatine Mashable, Dylan received a B.A. successful Communications from Pace University and contributed to publications for illustration Paste Magazine, Bandsintown, and others pursuing a little stint arsenic a trading and guidance adjunct successful nan euphony industry.

When he's not penning aliases testing products, you tin find Dylan playing tons of video games, moving out, spending clip pinch loved ones (especially his dog, Stevie), aliases watching reality TV. Follow him connected X astatine @iamdylanhaas, aliases nonstop him an email astatine [email protected].

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