Best Laptops for College Students Windows Central 2020
A good laptop is critical for today's college students. It's 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.
All things to all students.
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 eighth-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?
The Spectre x360 hasn't been updated in a while, but is still housing latest generation hardware from Intel and NVIDIA, so it's a great time to buy.
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 of the x360 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.
The x360 can be all things to all students.
Additionally, the x360 is a convertible, something which many others in the Ultrabook space are not. That means you can get your hands all over that gorgeous display with the touchscreen, or make it more comfortable to enjoy some post-class movies in tablet or stand mode. The optional NVIDIA MX150 graphics will even let you do 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.
Microsoft adding a touch of class
The Surface Laptop 2 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 2 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. The laptop itself can get a little expensive at the higher spec models, but there's no denying it stands out from the crowd. Education customers can also get special pricing, which is worth looking at.
The best Dell laptop you can get
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, a GTX 1650 GPU from NVIDIA, and one of the best 4K displays you'll find on a laptop.
With 9th-generation Intel processors inside now, you're getting 6-core i7 options or even a Core i9 at the very highest end. Dell's latest revision also adds the option for a 4K OLED display if you're feeling really flush. It's non-touch, but it looks absolutely incredible. This is a portable, extremely powerful laptop.
Gaming doesn't have to be expensive
The Dell G3 series is a superb balance of affordable price and gaming power. For not a lot of money you get an eighth-generation Intel Core i5 and a 4GB GRX 1050 GPU perfect for work and play.
The affordable nature of this gaming laptop makes it perfect for students, and even though the GTX 1050 is the entry level GPU, it's still got enough power to play current titles at 1080p. It's also fairly subtle in its styling, so you can take it to class without screaming "gamer."
A nice laptop with a small price
The Herobook proves it's possible to have a good laptop with a larger screen without jacking up the price. It's good by any standards.
It has a full-size keyboard and a decent trackpad, not to mention plenty of ports and a large battery that should last most days away from a charger. The build quality is excellent, and it's truly amazing that you can get a good 14-inch laptop for this price. It's a great laptop to get work done without spending a lot of money.
It's a really fantastic time to be choosing a laptop for you or a loved one to take to college. The Windows hardware ecosystem has never been stronger, and whatever your specific needs or budget there's something to suit. Ultimately, the HP Spectre x360 is the best of all worlds, and is the one we'd be packing in our own bag for class.
All things to all students.
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).
Credits — The team that worked on this guide
Richard Devine is an Editor at Windows Central. A former Project Manager and long-term tech addict, he joined Mobile Nations in 2011 and has been found on Android Central and iMore as well as Windows Central. Currently you'll find him covering all manner of PC hardware and gaming, and you can follow him on Twitter and Instagram.
Daniel Rubino is executive editor of Windows Central. He has been covering Microsoft since 2009 back when this site was called WMExperts (and later Windows Phone Central). His interests include Windows, Surface, HoloLens, Xbox, and future computing visions. Follow him on Twitter: @daniel_rubino.
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