Choosing the right laptop as a college student is vital. With various options to choose from, the search for the best can be overwhelming. From battery life and CPU performance to reliability and build quality, the ideal laptop for any college student needs to have it all.
With the new school year upon us, countless students—and their parents—will be keen to find the best laptops for college-goers. Whether it’s a freshman’s first college laptop, or a replacement/upgrade for an older laptop or tablet, there’s plenty to consider.
For example, durability remains extremely important when choosing a laptop for college. It will be dragged from class to study groups to a friend’s dorm and everywhere in between. So any computer will need to stand up to the rigors of college life. Ideally, it should last a student right through their studies and not need replacing before then.
It also needs to perform faultlessly, even under pressure – particularly in the lead-up to important exams. Then, when it comes time to relax, the same laptop should be similarly well-suited to streaming movies, listening to music or doing some gaming.
With all of that in mind, here’s a closer look at five of this year’s top-rated laptops for college students in 2021.
HP Envy 13
HP has long been a go-to brand for college students’ laptops, thanks in no small part to its famously robust build quality. The 2021 model HP Envy 13 is no exception, especially at under $1,000. Powerful with a long-lasting battery, the latest HP Envy 13
also gets a Thunderbolt 4 port – something not offered on the previous version and brand-new for 2021.
Performance-wise, it packs an 11th generation Intel Core i5 processor and 16GB of RAM with 256GB of storage. Its 1080p 13.3-inch screen is bright, and its keyboard offers just the right amount of clicky feedback, perfect for typing and taking notes.
Privacy features include an unhackable camera shutter and a dedicated microphone mute button. It’s good for up to 11 hours on a single charge and it looks sharp, even alongside more expensive devices. Students can quickly share files using HP QuickDrop, including with other laptops and PCs plus Macs, iPhones, iPads and Android devices.
Apple MacBook Air M1
The latest MacBook Air
was introduced at the end of last year, and it is perfect for students. Undercutting pricier models from Apple, such as the MacBook Pro, it still delivers outstanding performance thanks to the brand’s cutting-edge new M1 processor
It’s customizable with up to 16GB of RAM and 2TB of storage. As a result, prices also vary depending and start at just $999. Regardless of specs, all models have a beautifully crisp 13.3-inch display. Lastly, they have excellent battery life, with up to 14.5 hours possible on a single charge.
The macBook Air is the ideal choice for those seeking macOS over Windows for college. Benefits include exceptional build quality, a unibody aluminum chassis, and the brand’s proprietary Magic Keyboard.
Fan-free and therefore silent in operation, it’s also one of the slimmest and lightest high-performance laptops currently on the market. With that, it’s a breeze to carry around campus, between lectures, and anywhere else that it may need to go.
Dell XPS 13
First unveiled around six months ago, Dell’s latest XPS 13
has quickly established itself as something of a workhorse. With that, it’s perfect for college. It’s hugely customizable, as is Dell’s trademark, with prices that start from around $1,000.
Slimmer and lighter than any of its predecessors, its 13.4-inch edge-to-edge display features almost no bezel, making the very most of every inch available and a pleasure to look at. It’s also highly practical with a large trackpad, a solid keyboard and up to 12 hours of battery life on offer.
You have a choice between Intel Core i3, i5, and i7 processors and up to 2TB of storage – just like on the MacBook Air M1. It also weighs in at the same as the Apple device, offering an equally impressive blend of portability and performance.
Acer Swift 3
Those searching for a more affordable laptop for college need look no further than Taiwanese brand Acer. With a straightforward specification and an impressive 14-inch display, there’s plenty to love about the $649 Swift 3
An AMD Ryzen 7 processor, Radeon graphics, 8GB of RAM, and 512GB of storage are all wrapped up in a package weighing just 2.7 pounds. That’s less than either the MacBook Air M1 or XPS 13
– two laptops widely regarded as among the lightest and most compact high-performance models on the market.
The Acer Swift 3’s AMD CPU also outperforms the pricier Dell XPS 13’s processor and even gives the latest MacBook Air’s blisteringly fast M1 chip a good run for its money. It’s perfect for multitasking. What it lacks slightly in terms of the glitz, it more than makes up for in usability across the board.
Even with its low price, the Swift 3 from Acer gets a robust aluminum and magnesium body. There’s also a built-in fingerprint scanner – an excellent precaution for security at college.
Google Pixelbook Go
Last but by no means least is Google’s Pixelbook Go
. Just as people often have a preference for Windows or macOS, a growing number of individuals are now actively seeking out the latest Chrome OS devices.
Packing in all of the benefits that Chromebook fans have come to love in recent years, the Google Pixelbook Go is arguably among the best, especially as a more school-focused device. Rather than relying on colossal performance figures, the Pixelbook Go does most of its work in the cloud – ideal for keeping classwork backed up.
It’s also the lightest of the five best laptops for college students in 2021 considered here. At the same time, its bright and colorful 13.3-inch display and impressive battery life of up to 12 hours mean that it’s perfectly capable of standing up against the competition. Like the Acer Swift 3, prices start at just $649.
College Laptop Warranty Coverage
Any of the above laptops should see a student through at least two or three years of college study. In the unfortunate event that something goes wrong, HP, Apple, Dell, Acer and Google all provide a one-year limited warranty
. With that, any manufacturer defects will be taken care of for 12 months from the date of purchase.
However, these limited warranties only cover a very specific range of faults and exclude wear and tear or damage from a drop, spill or other accident. Fear not, though, because Upsie
is on hand to help bridge this gap in all-important laptop computer warranty
Upsie also extends a laptop’s original manufacturer warranty for two or three years after it expires, providing peace of mind straight through college. Whether a computer falls victim to a manufacturer defect, mechanical failure, or even an accidental mishap, Upsie has it covered.
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