Best laptop for grade school students Windows Central 2021
When shopping for a new portable PC, you're always going to be looking for the best Windows laptops even if you're shopping for something for your kids to do their schoolwork on. However, school is also not an environment for thousand-dollar Ultrabooks, especially when they're young. Instead, you need something compact, affordable, and durable, but that still has great hardware and performance. For that, we'd pack the excellent Microsoft Surface Go 2.
- Best overall: Microsoft Surface Go 2
- Best value: Samsung Galaxy Book Go
- Best convertible: Lenovo Flex 5
- Best 15-inch: EVOO Gaming 15
Best overall: Microsoft Surface Go 2
The Surface brand is desirable, and thanks to the Surface Go 2, it's no longer out of reach for folks on tighter budgets. The base model is easily a match for any other low-cost laptop, with the bonus of a touchscreen with inking support. Inking is essential because the size of the Surface Go 2 makes it a truly spectacular digital notebook and sketchpad when used with something such as Microsoft OneNote.
The Intel Pentium processor, 64GB of storage, and 4GB of RAM are perfect for lighter computing needs. While the optional Type Cover will get the best experience from it, it's not a compulsory purchase. You can alternatively just use any wired or wireless keyboard you may already have to type on the Surface Go and save money.
The Surface Go is a proper Surface but with a much more attractive price. And that's what makes it so special; it's a Surface for everyone. And for schoolwork, in particular, this is a fantastic device, with enough flexibility to be used for recreation time when the work is all done. It's a grown-up PC that younger users will adore.
- All-day battery life
- Kickstand built-in
- Touchscreen with inking
- Plenty of storage
- Keyboard not included
- Pen not included
Best value: Samsung Galaxy Book Go
The Galaxy Book Go is Samsung's latest Windows laptop but comes at a much more affordable price point than some of its others. For those shopping for younger kids or just want to get the best possible laptop for the lowest price, this is hard to ignore.
It's an ARM-powered laptop, specifically using Qualcomm's new 7c Gen 2 CPU for more affordable devices. The added bonus to using an ARM CPU is battery life and near instant on, and Samsung says you can expect up to 18 hours of battery life from the Galaxy Book Go. Whatever schoolwork needs doing, the Galaxy Book Go will be able to crank it out and keep on going.
Spec wise there are a few different options, including 4GB or 8GB of RAM and 64GB or 128GB of storage, and there are also versions with a cellular connection, too. This depends on which region you're buying in, but both 4G and 5G are options, though the latter, in particular, will certainly boost the price.
But with a really nice-looking 1080p display, a compact, incredibly slim 14-inch form factor, good keyboard and trackpad, and even a microSD card slot, the Galaxy Book Go is a great laptop for getting that important schoolwork done.
- Fantastic battery life
- Optional cellular
- 1080p display
- Decent RAM and storage options
- microSD card slot
- Won't be able to handle more intense workloads
- Cellular models a bit pricier
Best convertible: Lenovo Flex 5
A convertible laptop has many advantages over a regular notebook, especially for the younger crowd. The inclusion of a touchscreen and the fact you can fold the keyboard out of the way entirely gives even the youngest a device they can use comfortably for work and play.
Windows isn't short of good convertible laptops, but the Lenovo Flex 5 gets the nod here for its combination of great hardware and an attractive price. The latest refresh adds AMD's latest generation Ryzen 3 5300U quad-core processor into the mix with Radeon graphics for more than enough power to even get a little gaming going. If your kids are into Minecraft, this laptop will do just fine.
The entry model pairs 4GB of RAM with a 128GB NVMe SSD, but the storage is upgradeable so if you need more you can almost certainly do it yourself and save a few bucks. The 1080p touch display is superb, and as it's a Lenovo, so is the keyboard. And the upward-firing speakers ensure that you're never muffling the sound whatever mode you're using the laptop in.
- AMD Ryzen 5000 processor
- Convertible with touch display
- Great keyboard
- Upgradeable storage
- 4GB of RAM is quite low
- No pen support
Best 15-inch: EVOO Gaming 15
15-inch laptops usually cost a little more, after all, there's just more laptop. You're also probably not shopping specifically for a gaming laptop for grade school kids, but if you can get a 15-incher that can also game for an affordable price, it's impossible to ignore. And since you have added performance, its lifespan is going to be much longer than a budget alternative.
The EVOO Gaming 15 provides a 15.6-inch 1080p display, 8GB of RAM, and 256GB SSD for storage. It also gives you a 10th Gen Intel Core i5 and an NVIDIA GTX 1650 dedicated GPU. With this you'll be able to crush kid-friendly games like Minecraft and Roblox, while also being able to step up into some more serious titles as they get older.
You also get THX Spatial Audio, USB-C, full TPM 2.0 support for Windows 11 upgrades, Bluetooth 5.0, HDMI, and Mini DisplayPort, a quite remarkable amount of ports and connectivity options, frankly, for such a low-priced laptop. This one is a bit of a hidden gem.
- 10th Gen Intel Core i5 processor
- Dedicated NVIDIA GPU
- Tons of connectivity
- Upgradeable RAM and SSD
- Battery life isn't great
- Quite chunky
As the modern world moves ever more digital, it's only right that your kid's educational needs are catered for by a good quality laptop. It might not be the obvious choice, but the Surface Go 2 is the one we'd go for right now. It's flexible, it's tougher than it looks, and it's reasonably affordable.
You will, sadly, have to pay extra for the keyboard cover, which is essential, but with it, you have one of the best small laptops money can buy. It's perfect for the kids without looking like something you'd buy for someone so young.
The Surface Pen might also be a worthwhile investment in the long term. The Surface Go 2 is about the same size as an A4 notebook, and it's great for writing and drawing on, with a genuinely natural-feeling handwriting experience.
Credits — The team that worked on this guide
Richard Devine 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.
Rich Edmonds is a staff reviewer at Windows Central, which means he tests out more software and hardware than he cares to remember. Joining Mobile Nations in 2010, you can usually find him inside a PC case tinkering around when not at a screen fighting with Grammarly to use British words. Hit him up on Twitter: @RichEdmonds.
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