Best overall: HP Spectre x360

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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). There's now also in the latest refresh an option for NVIDIA MX150 dedicated graphics, proving this laptop is perfect for all scenarios.

Bottom line: This is a laptop that does it all

One more thing: HP also has a larger, 15-inch version of the Spectre for fans of bigger screens.

Why the HP Spectre x360 is the best

When you're going to college, you're naturally interested in getting 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.

This is a laptop that excels across the board.

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 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.

Runner-up: Microsoft Surface Laptop

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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.

Bottom line: Microsoft's first proper laptop and it's a winner.

One more thing: Prices start at $999 but you'll probably want to go up at least one model.

Premium: Dell XPS 15

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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.

Bottom line: It packs power, performance and stunning good looks.

One more thing: The latest models come with six-core Intel Core i7 or i9 processors.

Affordable: Chuwi Lapbook 15.6

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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 15.6 has a Full HD 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 10,000mAh battery.

It looks great, and it costs only $240. There's a lot to like and very little to complain about. p.

Bottom line: Looks and performs great at a ridiculously low price.

One more thing: The Lapbook 15.6 has a full HD 1080p display for under $300.

For gamers: Dell Inspiron 15 7577

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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.

Bottom line: Dell's refreshed model is still the best budget gaming laptop around.

One more thing: Easily upgradeable to add more storage and up to 32GB of RAM.

Conclusion

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.

Best overall: HP Spectre x360 15t

See at HP

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). There's now also in the latest refresh an option for NVIDIA MX150 dedicated graphics, proving this laptop is perfect for all scenarios.

Bottom line: This is a laptop that does it all

One more thing: HP also has a larger, 15-inch version of the Spectre for fans of bigger screens.


Updated May 11, 2018: We've updated the list for 2018 with new models of HP Spectre x360, Dell Inspiron Gaming, XPS 15 and the Chuwi Lapbook 15.6 joins for the first time.