A good laptop is absolutely necessary in school to crank out papers, finish assignments, and conduct research. Whether you're wrapping up a thesis or trying to survive your first year of high school, we've got some solid laptops lined up here that are portable, powerful, and fits into the modest student budget.
Many tablets (namely the Surface Pro 3) can do double duty as laptop replacements, especially if you don't want to spend a lot of money, put a premium on portability, and need freehand writing support for class notes. Be sure to read up on our latest tablet coverage to see what's around. Also, check in with your school and shop around for educational discounts. They're more common than you think.
Dell XPS 13
The Dell XPS 13 made a big splash at CES as an ultrabook with an exceptionally thin border around the display. Touch and non-touch varieties of the XPS 13 are available, and the whole package weighs in at about 2.6 pounds and 0.7 inches at its thickest. Under the hood of the base model is an i3 2.1 GHz processor, which can be bumped up to i5 2.7 GHz processors in the higher-end versions. That's paired up with 4 GB of DDR3 RAM, which can be upgraded to 8 GB in the top-of-the-line model. A 128 GB SSD should be enough to cover your storage needs, and two USB 3.0 ports can handle peripherals. The resolution of the 13.3-inch display comes in at 1920 x 1080.
Asus ZenBook UX305
The Asus ZenBook UX305 is a light and portable laptop that goes easy on the wallet. In terms of thickness, the UX305 is just a hair under half an inch, and weighs in at 2.6 pounds. Despite the price, you still get a generous 3200 x 1800 13.3-inch display, 512 GB SSD, 8 GB of RAM, and three USB 3.0 ports (one of which will keep charging devices even when the PC is shut down). The Asus ZenBook features a mid-range Core M processor. The whole affair is fanless, so there's little worry about noise.
Lenovo ThinkPad Carbon X1
The newest Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon has a hard drive option that offers exceptional speed. Being 2.9 pounds and 0.6 inches thick, the X1 Carbon is well-suited for working on the road. You can get up to an i7 3.2 GHz processor and 8 GB of RAM if you need serious horsepower. 512 GB of SSD storage is available, depending on model. The 14-inch display starts at 1920 x 1080 and goes up to 2560 x 1440.
You're not going to spend all of school studying, right? For a beefy workstation that's mostly going to stay in one place, Alienware offers a big 15-inch screen that can be upgraded to a 4K touchscreen if you've got the budget for it. The i7 quad-core 3.5 GHz processor, 8 GB of RAM, and 2 GB GDDR5 NVIDIA GeForce card typically get put to work for 3D games, but can just as easily cover any graphically-intense assignments. In case that's not enough, there's an optional Graphics Amplifier unit you can get that houses another graphics card to work in tandem with the rest of the system. Gamers will have to play their cards just right to convince their parents to pick this one up. Also, be prepared to lug around 7 pounds to lectures if you plan on taking notes with this bad boy.
HP Stream 11
The HP Stream 11 is a colorful laptop with great build quality perfect for a student on a shoestring budget. Under the hood you'll find an Intel Celeron 2.1 GHz processor, 2 GB of RAM and 32 GB of storage. The 11.6-inch LED screen offers a resolution of 1366 x 768. There are two USB ports (one 3.0), HDMI out, and a battery that claims 8 hours of battery life. HP also has a convertible Pavillion X2 lineup if you've got a bit more money kicking around.
Your favorite laptop for students?
Your needs for a laptop will vary with what you're studying, but hopefully this provides a few good options to consider. Which laptop would you use in school? Let us know in the comments!
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