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Best college laptops in 2021: Best laptops for students

Once the refuge of geeks and considered distinctly ‘uncool’ computers are now an essential aspect of student life. Gone are the days of computer rooms with a few kilobytes of memory. Today’s students need power, practicality, and proper features to complete their studies.

Whether you’re an essay writer or an architecture student, a laptop is something no student can do without. In this article, we’ll consider some of the best laptops for college students as a whole, although some may be more suited to others as we shall explain in due course.

1. Chromebook

A Chromebook is a computer, either a laptop or a tablet, that runs Chrome OS as the operating system. These computers use cloud computing for a streamlined set of tasks. If you’re working on software like Unity or AutoCAD, this is not the laptop for you. However, if you’re a student who is studying for a degree that involves mostly writing and reading, a Chromebook is a viable, cheap option worth considering.

Brands like Acer, Samsung, and Google themselves all make Chromebooks. If we had to pick one standout Chromebook from the bunch, we’d go for the Lenovo Ideapad Duet. It’s a tablet with a clip-on keyboard. It has 4GB of ram and a battery that will last all day.


2. HP Envy

Yes, as the name suggests, you’ll be the envy of your peers when you rock up with the HP. It has a fantastic display that’s bright and clear. The haptics of the keyboard is satisfying and sturdy – excellent for typing up long assignments. The Envy has an i5 CPU that can handle the dozens of tabs you’ll inevitably keep open for way too long, and the 11-hour battery life is unbeatable if you’re spending less than $1,000.

On the downside, the touchpad is a bit plastic-y. Other than that, the 16GB of ram and the 13” screen make this a great option for most college student needs.


3. MacBook Air, M1

Not everyone likes Windows operating systems. Apple has really set the bar when it comes to clean design not just in hardware terms but concerning the operating system too. The M1 chip has been launched to great fanfare recently, and it has garnered raving reviews for the performance and efficacy it lays down.

While MacBooks are excellent machines, they’re also rather pricey. Students may find cheaper options on pre-owned sites, but buying new protects them with an Apple warranty. It’s very much horses for courses.

Students with specific system requirements may find themselves left out in the cold if they do choose to go with a MacBook and OS X. So be sure to check if there are any pieces of software on your course that require Windows or a Linux operating system before diving in.


4. Dell XPS 13

The XPS 13 is a real powerhouse laptop perfect for students who need a top-of-the-line piece of kit and who don’t want a MacBook. The XPS has a body that matches the quality of MacBooks, something that other manufacturers struggle to do. 

In addition to this, there is a fantastic battery life coupled with real power – you can have an Intel Core i7 processor if you wish, as well as up to 16GB of RAM. The only downside to the XPS is something it has in common with Apple machines – they’ve stripped away some of the more ‘legacy’ style ports. However, a simple extender or adaptor is cheap enough and will connect quickly through the ports that are available. 


5. Lenovo ThinkPad X1

The 8th generation of the ThinkPad is ideal for students of business and STEM subjects. It packs a powerful punch, up to 16GB of RAM, and a speedy processor in addition to a 4K or a 1080p display. The 4K display option does limit battery life, so it’s worth checking out the 1080p version. 

The ThinkPad design has only been improved upon, with military-grade materials used in the body, a fantastic feeling keyboard, and those classic black and red stripes that everyone recognizes. 


Ultimately, the best laptop for students depends on the need of the student. Some will require lots of RAM and a large hard drive, whereas others only need something to type up the essays and assignments that come their way. Either way, there’s an option to go for which everyone can choose for themselves.

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