A good laptop is critical for today's college students, as the beating heart of the working environment. Whatever the budget, you want a quality laptop for work and play, and the HP Spectre x360 fits that bill perfectly.

Our pick

HP Spectre x360

The HP Spectre x360 has a fantastic build quality and a crazily thin body. The 13.3-inch, 1080p touch display works well while in tablet, stand or tent modes, and the keyboard and touchpad are a joy to use while in notebook mode. Inside you get an 8th generation Intel Core i7-8550U processor, up to 16GB of RAM, and a 1TB NVMe solid-state drive (SSD).

Who should buy the HP Spectre x360

When you're going to college, you're going to want great value, and the HP Spectre x360 is right at the top of that list. It's better priced than some of the competition, including the Dell XPS 13, while going toe-to-toe and beyond in the hardware department. It's a great choice for any student.

Is it a good time to buy?

As we're firmly in the back to school season, along with the impending holiday period, now is definitely a great time since the chances of a deal are even higher.

Reasons to buy

  • Fully convertible laptop.
  • Great performance
  • Optional dedicated NVIDIA graphics.
  • Superb price.
  • Beautiful design and excellent build quality.

Reasons not to buy

  • Screen wobble.
  • Speakers don't have enough bass.
  • Would work better with a taller 3:2 display.

A great all-rounder for college

The latest revision is a striking-looking machine that's sure to turn heads, and it has room inside its svelte frame for a Core i7 processor, up to 16GB of RAM and up to 1TB of SSD storage. Throw in a superb precision trackpad and a wonderful keyboard, and the Spectre x360 is a laptop you want to use again and again.

But as the x360 in the name alludes to, it's also a convertible, something which many others in the Ultrabook space are not. That means you can get your hands all over that gorgeous display, or make it more comfortable to enjoy some post-class movies. The optional NVIDIA MX150 graphics will even provide some light gaming, especially if you're a fan of titles like Fortnite and CS:GO.

The x360 is a laptop that excels across the board. It combines power with a stunning design and a terrific typing experience, with a sprinkling of great battery life. It's a PC a college student shouldn't leave home without.

Alternatives to the HP Spectre x360

If you're going away to college and want to make sure you have the best tool for the job, the HP Spectre x360 is for you. There's little room to fault it, but if your desires are a little more specific, you can't go wrong with any of the choices on this list.

Runner-up

Microsoft Surface Laptop

Launched at an education event, the Surface Laptop is for the student who wants a little more style. It combines a stunning design and build with a unique alcantara keyboard and a pen enabled touchscreen. It doesn't fold around or detach, but you can draw on it.

The Surface Laptop comes with Windows 10 S out of the box, which means store apps only. But it's also very easy and inexpensive to upgrade to Windows 10 Pro and be on your merry way. It can get expensive at the higher spec models, but there's no denying it stands out from the crowd.

Premium choice

Dell XPS 15

Dell's XPS 15 is seriously awesome. It crams a high-end, 15-inch notebook into the form factor of a 14-incher, thanks in no small part to the InfinityEdge display.

The latest models have a fingerprint scanner for Windows Hello, 10 series GPUs from NVIDIA and one of the best 4K displays you'll find on a laptop.

With 8th-generation Intel processors inside now, you're getting 6-core i7 options or even a Core i9 at the very highest end. Prices start at $999, but you'll be going up to the $2,500 mark at the top end.

Budget choice

Chuwi Lapbook 12.3

Chuwi is a Chinese brand you might not be familiar with but that is putting out some really great, really affordable Windows 10 hardware. The Lapbook 12.3 has a 2K IPS display that looks terrific along with some decent internal hardware for the price.

You'll find an Intel Atom quad-core processor, 4GB of RAM, and 64GB of internal storage with a microSD card slot to expand it. It has a full-size keyboard and a decent trackpad, too, not to mention plenty of ports and a 36.48 Wh battery.

It looks great, and it costs only $390. There's a lot to like and very little to complain about.

For gamers

Dell Inspiron 15 7577

You work hard and you play hard, right? The Dell Inspiron 15 gaming series is a superb balance of affordable price and gaming power. The latest revision can have a 6GB GTX 1060 inside, a sweet spot for laptop gaming. The difference here is that prices start at $950, with a quad-core i5 processor, 256GB SSD and 8GB of RAM on board with it.

It's still a pretty high-end laptop, though, and it's still fairly portable. Best of all, you can fairly easily upgrade the RAM and storage yourself after the fact, which is always cheaper than buying from a manufacturer.

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