Below are our current recommendations for student laptops. We have selected two Windows devices and one Macbook. Remember that these recommendations are not in any way binding. You are free to use any sort of computer you like. If you aren’t interested in our recommended models, our buyer’s guide can help you find a laptop that suits your needs.
Dell XPS 13
The 2017 edition of Dell’s XPS 13 model is one of the best-reviewed laptops currently on the market. Thanks to the very narrow bezel bordering the display, this 13-inch laptop has the footprint and weight of an average 11-inch laptop, allowing increased portability without sacrificing usability. Because this model’s memory (RAM) cannot be upgraded after purchase, we recommend the 8GB model. The standard 128GB storage will be enough for many users, though you may want to consider upgrading to 256GB if you’re unsure of your storage needs.
- 1080p display comes standard; 3200 x 1800 display upgrade available
- Excellent weight and portability for its screen size
- Long battery life
- Off-center webcam
Microsoft Surface Pro
Microsoft’s Surface Pro is a hybrid device: with its removable keyboard, it is both a tablet and a laptop. Thanks to Windows 10, users can switch seamlessly between these two modes. With its 12-inch display, the Surface Pro is the smallest and lightest of our recommended devices, making it perhaps the best choice for users whose main concern is portability. For performance reasons, we recommend choosing a model with at least 8GB of RAM.
- Highly portable
- Less powerful hardware
- Less stable on uneven surfaces than standard laptops
- May be uncomfortably small for some users during prolonged use, e.g. writing a paper. Consider supplementing with a full-size USB or bluetooth keyboard.
Apple currently has three laptop lines: Macbook, Macbook Air, and Macbook Pro. The Macbook Air prioritizes portability, the Macbook Pro favors performance, and the Macbook attempts to strike a balance between the two.
The Macbook offers a balance of portability and performance. It actually weighs less than the current Macbook Air line while offering a higher-resolution display. While it lacks some of the performance and connectivity options of higher-end Macbook Pros, it is significantly less expensive, and most users will not notice the performance difference.
- High-resolution display
- Relatively slim and lightweight
- 256GB solid-state drive comes standard
- Higher cost
- Limited connectivity options; single USB-C port serves as both charging port and peripherals, requiring the use of an adapter sold separately by Apple