10 best student laptops 2018: T3's best student laptop picks for school, college or university

Find the best student laptop for you so you can cruise and cram your way through education

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Welcome to T3's best student laptop guide. This guide has been expertly curated to present only the very best student laptops on the market today, with a wide-variety of systems to cater to every budget, as well as provide valuable information on what you should be looking out for in a top educational tool.

And, whether you're planning to kickstart your higher education at university, studying from home or something in between, finding the right kind of laptop can often be a trial in itself. There's so many makers now banging out systems, shouting about specs and promising the world, that's it hard to know one of the best student laptops from an overpriced dud.

Well, worry no more because we've got all the best student laptops that'll suit a variety of needs and spending restrictions. The following machines all range in price and performance, but each one is guaranteed to offer you all the space and power you need to ensure you’re working to your best on campus, at home or out and about.

If you just want one single recommendation, then our top choice of student laptop right now is the impeccable Dell XPS 13. The new and improved model has it all – a powerful CPU, a versatile GPU and a display that’ll make most spreadsheets and word processing docs look clean, crisp and on point. Oh, and it looks pretty swish, too.

There’s also the brilliant Acer Chromebook 15, too, a great all-round device that’s ideal for all students - providing you're happy with Google's Chrome OS rather than Windows 10 or OS X.

For more information about both of these best student laptops, as well as 8 more top systems, then read on. First, though, let's cover how to choose the best student laptop for you.

How to choose the best student laptop for you

Today's computers need to be able to do much more than the primitive number-crunchers of Turing's day. They need to support a huge range of software, given that several courses have special requirements, as well as the standard office packages – although that said, Google's Chromebooks and the associated Google Docs suite are extremely good (and free) substitutes if you don't want to pay over the odds for Microsoft Office.

They need to be able to run HD video lectures without juddering – and a set of good speakers always comes in handy when the university day is done. These machines also can't break the bank, given the increased cost of schooling all round the world. Integrated webcams are also important for web lectures and broadcast media-related courses.

Given that, these are our pick of the best student laptops currently available, ranging from humble typing machines to top-of-the-line desktop replacements for those hoping for a bit of LAN gaming between all that work...

The 10 best student laptops you can buy today

Best student laptop Dell XPS 13 (2018)

The Dell XPS 13 (2018) is the best student laptop money can buy.

1. Dell XPS 13 (2018)

Dell raises its game once again, and delivers the world best student laptop

Specifications
CPU: 8th-generation Intel Core i5 – i7
Graphics: Intel UHD Graphics 620
RAM: 4GB – 16GB
Screen: 13.3-inch FHD (1,920 x 1,080; non-touch) – UHD (3,840 x 2,160; touchscreen)
Storage: 128GB – 1TB SSD
Reasons to buy
+Powerhouse performance+For student use and beyond
Reasons to avoid
-Not cheap

If you’re looking for one of the most refined and revitalised laptops on the market, look no further than the impressive Dell XPS 13. When it comes to performance you won’t be left wanting, thanks to its super slick 8th-generation Intel Core i5 – i7 CPU, while you can game lightly with the Intel UHD Graphics 620 graphics card.

Add in a repositioned webcam (for vlogging and streaming purposes, naturally) and a simply stunning 13.3-inch Full HD display and you’ve got a powerhouse in portable form.

The only caveat is it’s quite the investment, but it’ll definitely see you through college, uni and beyond, and that raw quality and longevity, for us, make it the best student laptop in the world.

Read the full review: Dell XPS 13

Best student laptop Acer Chromebook 15

If you're fine using Chrome OS, then the Acer Chromebook 15 is  a great, budget-friendly student laptop choice.

2. Acer Chromebook 15

The best student laptop available in 2018 running Chrome OS

Specifications
CPU: Intel Celeron 3205U 1.5GHz (dual-core)
Graphics: Intel HD Graphics
RAM: 4GB
Screen: 15.6-inch, 1,920 x 1,080 pixels
Storage: 32GB SSD
Connectivity: 802.11ac Wi-Fi, Bluetooth 4.0
Camera: 720p
Weight: 4.85 pounds
Dimensions: 15.08 x 9.65 x 0.95-inches
Reasons to buy
+An amazing monitor+Long-lasting battery+Very attractive price point
Reasons to avoid
-Flat speakers-Big and heavy

The Chromebook 15 is a ridiculously cheap student laptop that is also very capable. The hardware is in line with that price, with lower specs across the board, but the machine is running Chrome OS, so doesn't seem to mind one jot, delivering a fast and responsive usage experience. 

And that 15.6-inch screen is an absolute delight. Again, its speakers are poor, with flat treble and weak bass – but at this price, you can afford an iPod as well. One of the best student laptops going for those shopping on a budget.

Huawei Matebook X Pro best student laptop

The Huawei Matebook X Pro is among the most premium student laptops available in 2018.

3. Huawei Matebook X Pro

Mobile computing on steroids for students with serious studying needs

Specifications
CPU: 8th generation Intel Core i5 – i7
Graphics: Intel UHD Graphics 620, Nvidia GeForce MX150 2GB GDDR5
RAM: 8GB – 16GB
Screen: 13.9-inch 3K (3,000 x 2,080)
Storage: 512GB SSD
Reasons to buy
+Clean and vibrant display+Impeccable battery performance
Reasons to avoid
-Poor in-built webcam

If you’re going to kickstart your education, regardless of the subject or the level, why not invest in a student laptop that’s not only built to last, it’s one of the most powerful laptops you can buy in 2018? That’s what Huawei is offering with the robust MateBook X Pro, and it’s going to have you covered whatever your major.

Its attractive and sleek chassis is home to a lovely 13.9-inch 3K display, a meaty Nvidia GeForce MX150 2GB GDDR5 GPU and a battery that will serve you well through even the lengthiest of all-nighters.

With all these specs and more, the Huawei MateBook X Pro has proved itself the new gold standard, and one of the very best student laptops going today.

Best student laptop Samsung Notebook 9 (2018)

Samsung gatecrashes the best student laptop market with the stylish and capable Notebook 9 (2018).

4. Samsung Notebook 9 (2018)

Samsung raises its laptop game with a gorgeous and capable student laptop

Specifications
CPU: 8th-generation Intel Core i7
Graphics: Nvidia GeForce MX150
RAM: 16GB DDR4
Screen: 15-inch FHD LED
Storage: 256GB SSD
Reasons to buy
+Gorgeous display+Impressive performance
Reasons to avoid
-Keyboard is a letdown

Samsung’s latest iteration of the Notebook 9 sees some of its most impressive specs to date, with all manner of top of the line components jostling to be king.

There’s that 8th-generation Intel Core i7 CPU producing top notch performance, while the graphical powerhouse that is the Nvidia GeForce MX150 will ensure your games and video rendering rarely falter. Oh, and what about that eye-catching 15-inch FHD LED display? And in a Samsung machine, no less.

Indeed, really the only thing that isn't top tier is the keyboard, which feels cheap. Regardless, though, this is a quality all-round student laptop at an attractive price point.

Best student laptop Dell XPS 15

The best student laptop running Windows 10 for tech enthusiasts right now is the Dell XPS 15.

5. Dell XPS 15

A portable student laptop powerhouse

Specifications
CPU: 2.6GHz Intel Core i7 6700HQ (quad-core, 6MB cache, up to 3.5GHz with Turbo Boost)
Graphics: Nvidia GeForce GTX 960M (with 2GB GDDR5)
RAM: 16GB Dual Channel DDR4 (2,133MHz; 8GB x 2)
Screen: 15.6-inch, 4K Ultra HD (3,840 x 2,160) InfinityEdge touch
Storage: 512GB PCIe SSD
Reasons to buy
+Dazzling 4K display+Portable for a 15-incher
Reasons to avoid
-Average battery life-A bit heavy

Like its smaller sibling, the awesome XPS 13, Dell's XPS 15 sports an almost bezel-less InfinityEdge display but is better for long hours of work because of the larger display. It brings the dual benefit of making whatever you're doing on its gorgeous 15-inch '4K' screen come to life while also lending it the dimensions of a 14-inch laptop. 

It's bag-friendly to boot and comes packing the goods, including an Nvidia GTX 960M mobile graphics card that's beefy enough to handle just about any game so long as you stick to 1080p.

The XPS 15's battery life is its main weakness, so don't expect its runtimes to stretch into the double figures without taking a booster pack along for the ride.

Read the full review: Dell XPS 15

Best student laptop MacBook Pro 15-inch (2018)

If money is no object, then the MacBook Pro 15-inch (2018) is the best student laptop you can buy running macOS.

6. MacBook Pro 15-inch (2018)

The best student laptop for Apple fans shopping at the premium end of the market

Specifications
CPU: 8th generation Intel Core i7 – i9
Graphics: AMD Radeon Pro 555X – 560X, Intel UHD Graphics 630
RAM: 16GB – 32GB
Screen: 15.4-inch, 2,880 x 1,800 Retina display
Storage: 512GB – 4TB SSD
Reasons to buy
+Impressively thin design+Incredible performance
Reasons to avoid
-Very, very expensive

Another 2018 iteration of an already impressive model, the 15-inch Macbook Pro offers some of the most powerful specs on this list. If you’re studying any form of graphic design or video production, this is the machine for you. 

Those sturdy 8th generation Intel Core i7 – i9 processors will ensure any program you throw at it runs like a dream, while that AMD Radeon Pro 555X GPU will be sure to have graphical performance covered.

It also boasts an improved keyboard for quieter keystrokes, so you can even take it to the local library without fear of being kicked out for noise pollution. A simply stunning student laptop.

Best student laptop Samsung Notebook Pro 9

The Samsung Notebook Pro 9 is one of the best student laptops for running multiple programs at once.

7. Samsung Notebook Pro 9

An all-round best student laptop powerhouse

Specifications
CPU: 7th generation Intel Core i7
Graphics: Intel HD Graphics 620 – AMD Radeon Graphics (2GB GDDR5)
RAM: 8GB – 16GB
Screen: 13.3-inch – 15.6-inch FHD (1,920 x 1,080) LED display with Touch Screen Panel
Storage: 256GB SSD
Reasons to buy
+Powerful enough for light gaming+Great support for S-Pen

When it comes to 2-in-1 laptops, it’s often hard to find a model that ticks most of the major multi-tasking boxes needed for student computing. Doubly so when you try and do it at an affordable price point. 

Samsung’s latest Notebook aims to do all that (and more), with a Radeon RX 540 GPU, an integrated S-Pen and a relatively decent battery. It might not hold up to the HP Spectre x360 in terms of raw performance, but it’s not far behind. 

If you’re looking for a student laptop to run multiple programs at once with minimal slowdown - and the ability to support low-level gaming - then this is a sound investment for the semesters ahead.

Best student laptop

Get top laptop and tablet performance in a single system with the Microsoft Surface Pro.

8. Microsoft Surface Pro

The best student laptop for hybrid, 2-in-1 versatility

Specifications
CPU: 7th generation Intel Core m3 – i7
Graphics: Intel HD Graphics 615 – Iris Plus Graphics 640
RAM: 4GB – 16GB
Screen: 12.3-inch, 2,736 x 1,824 PixelSense display
Storage: 128GB – 1TB SSD
Reasons to buy
+Seamless 2-in-1 experience+Significantly better performance than previous model

Once upon a time, tablets lagged far behind the raw power of a laptop, but that chasm of performance has long been covered by the likes of Microsoft and its impressive Surface range of hybrid, 2-in-1 systems.

The latest Pro model is as versatile as they come, with a 7th generation Intel Core m3 – i7 CPU and a fanless cooling system for truly silent running. If you’re looking to keep working on the commute to and from class, on campus, in halls or at home, the Surface Pro can flip in and out of either mode with silky smooth ease as well, making it very bus or train friendly.

Naturally, if you are a student and don't already have a tablet, then the Surface Pro can deliver excellent slate functionality, too, saving you money and keeping the amount of expensive tech to lug round to a minimum.

Best student laptop Asus Chromebook Flip

A budget-friendly, hybrid, best student laptop.

9. Asus Chromebook Flip

A 2-in-1 best student laptop that won’t cripple your bank balance

Specifications
CPU: Intel Core m3
Graphics: Intel HD Graphics 515
RAM: 4GB
Screen: 12.5-inch, Full HD (1,920 x 1,080) LED backlit anti-glare
Storage: 64GB eMMC + TPM
Reasons to buy
+Impressively vibrant 1080p display+Android app support

If you’re looking to bring the world of 2-in-1 computing into your student life without burning your bank balance to the ground, then the Chromebook Flip from Asus is an ideal choice.

At less than £500, you’re not getting knockout specs, but with an Intel HD Graphics 515 and a Intel Core m3 CPU this acrobatic laptop offers enough grunt to run all the programs you could need for school, college or university.

The real selling point here is its gorgeous 920 x 1080 Full HD 12.5-inch display that runs its support for Android app and the Google Play store with vibrant style. 

Best student laptop Apple MacBook (12-inch)

If you are an iPhone user, then the Apple MacBook (12-inch) is the best student laptop for you.

10. Apple MacBook (12-inch)

The best student laptop for Mac fans

Specifications
CPU: 1.1GHz or 1.2GHz dual-core Intel Core M processor
Graphics: Intel HD Graphics 5300
RAM: 8GB
Screen: 12-inch 2,304 x 1,440 pixel-resolution Retina display
Storage: 256GB or 512GB PCIe-based flash storage
Connectivity: USB-C (USB 3.1)
Camera: 480p FaceTime camera
Weight: 0.92 kg
Dimensions: 28.05cm x 19.65cm x 1.31cm (W x D x H)
Reasons to buy
+Thin and light+Retina display+Apple desirable
Reasons to avoid
-One USB-C port-Shallow keyboard

Apple's 12-inch MacBook isn't just the most portable MacBook of them all, you won't find a more compact laptop with a high-resolution display full stop, and that makes it our top choice of best student laptop for Apple fans.

Every inch of Apple's impossibly-thin machine is gorgeous and, if you don't mind carrying one around in a case, the MacBook's surprisingly punchy speakers, good battery life and catwalk looks make it a unique (and fun to use) student laptop.

Read the full review: Apple MacBook

Lead image credit: Getty