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: ASUS VivoBook E203MA
- Best Budget Convertible: Dell Inspiron 11 3000 2-in-1
- Best 15-inch: Dell Inspiron 15 5000
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 the 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 — ASUS VivoBook E203MA
The VivoBook E203 11.6-inch notebook from ASUS brings some of the style of the company's more expensive models at an affordable price. It's not all good looks, though, as underneath, you'll find a dual-core Intel Celeron processor, up to 4GB of RAM, and 32GB of internal storage.
Despite the size, there's still a full-size keyboard, a MicroSD slot, HDMI out, USB-C, and full-size USB ports. The display is on par with competitors at 1366x768. And with all-day battery life, you'll be able to send the laptop off to school and leave the charger at home. It's durable, too, which makes it great for packing in a school bag.
ASUS has a long reputation for making quality laptops, and that's true even here on the entry-level products. The keyboard is particularly good, and it feels very much like what you'd find on a more expensive ASUS laptop. It makes typing all day an enjoyable experience, which is especially crucial if you're pounding the keys all day on schoolwork.
- All-day battery life
- Superb keyboard
- Great port selection
- Low internal storage
- Lower resolution screen
- Quite small
Best Convertible - Dell Inspiron 11 3000 2-in-1
This little 2-in-1 is a highly-portable laptop with an 11-inch 1366x768 resolution display that folds around to be used either as a tablet or to be propped up when you want to watch a movie. The entry-level model comes with 32GB of eMMC storage and 4GB of RAM, but you can spend a little more and get 128GB of storage.
eMMC and not SSD is a little disappointing, but it's a credit to Dell that you can even get a decent convertible laptop for this kind of money. It uses AMD hardware inside, though here you'll find the AMD A9-9420e dual-core APU with Radeon R5 graphics. It's not as good as Ryzen, but in a small laptop like this and for everyday computing, it's fine, and since it's passively cooled, it's also quiet.
And even though it's small, it's still well equipped with ports. You get a full-sized HDMI output, microSD card slot, even USB 3.1. That's fantastic to see on a budget laptop. It's a more affordable alternative to the Surface Go 2 that delivers many similar features at a lower price. There's no inking, but the keyboard is at least included!
- Great price
- Convertible with touch display
- Quiet operation
- Older AMD APU
- eMMC storage is slow
Best 15-inch - Dell Inspiron 15 5000
The Inspiron 15 5000 is incredibly well equipped for a sub-$500 laptop. Part of that is down to what's inside it, and you are limited at this price point to the 10th Gen Intel Core i3, but it's still a reliable laptop for the money. But the fact you can get your kids a good quality 15-inch laptop for not a lot of money is itself a remarkable thing.
You get an Intel Core i3-1005G1, and surprisingly you get a 128GB PCIe SSD included as well, so it's affordable but still has fast storage for a smooth and snappy Windows experience. It's also upgradeable, so if the built-in drive fills up with, er, work, you can easily add more at your leisure.
The Core i3-1005G1 is a robust budget laptop processor, too. It's got excellent single and multi-core performance and is much better than we'd be seeing in a laptop this affordable even a couple of years ago. It's well built, too, and ultimately a lot of PC for not a lot of money. Perhaps the only real downside is that it's pretty big, so it's probably not going to go in a school bag for the day, this one is better suited to home use.
- 10th Gen Intel processor
- PCIe SSD storage
- Great build quality
- Upgradeable RAM and SSD
- No touchscreen
- Chunky bezels
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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