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Which is the best student laptop? we asked the students

Best Laptops for Kindergarten to College Students

Laptop shopping can be stressful – doubly stressful if you or your kids are learning online for the first time. Kids of different ages have different laptop use cases and different needs. And as the best laptops and best Chromebook alternatives evolve, so do the needs of students. So I talked to some experts on the subject: the students themselves.

Here are my recommendations to accommodate different preferences and price ranges. But they are a jumping off point rather than an exhaustive list: Every student is different. Before you decide, you'll want to make sure you read the reviews and try the tool yourself if you can. I will do my best to keep this article up to date with items in stock.

For younger students, touchscreen devices are easier to use than keyboards and touchpads, says Michelle Glogovac. Glogovac's five-year-old son uses an iPad for Webex meetings with his kindergarten class. He is aware of it; Glogovac says he has already learned to mute and unmute himself, "a skill not many adults are familiar with."

That said, it might be worth investing in a keyboard case if you go the tablet route. Glogovac has to type in his son's meeting code and password, which can be cumbersome on the iPad's flat screen.

As kids get older, their best laptop choice will vary based on their needs. As parents, it's important that you and your child are in sync about how they want to use it and the size of programs they want.

Kristin Wallace bought a budget HP laptop for her daughter, Bella, but had no idea how quickly the nine-year-old would fill up to 32GB of storage. "It's really slow and there's no room for games. I need a computer with more storage space," said Bella, who uses a laptop for Zoom with friends and virtual guitar lessons and math enrichment. takes classes. Wallace plans to buy Bella a better device in the next few weeks.

Audio quality is an important consideration for a kids laptop. Lisa Mitchell, an elementary library media specialist, says her students use their devices to watch YouTube videos in addition to their online classes. Battery life is also a plus, even for distance learners who can't get away from a wall outlet. Bela prefers to use her laptop throughout the house and does not want to bring a rope with her.

According to Mitchell, durability is also worth paying for. If you're using a tablet, get a protective case. "If a reasonably priced insurance or replacement policy is available, it's usually worth the extra expense."

check out:

Amazon Fire HD 10 Kids Edition ($199): A colorful, fast tablet with kid-friendly content
Lenovo Chromebook Duet ($219.99): Small 10-inch Chromebook with detachable keyboard
Apple 10.2-inch iPad ($329): A great budget tablet that supports the Apple Pencil
Microsoft Surface Go 2 ($399): A solid Windows tablet with a built-in kickstand
Google Pixelbook Go ($649): A sturdy touchscreen Chromebook

Best laptop for middle school:
The middle school students I spoke to don't use their laptops for much more than web-based schoolwork and browsing. Don't worry too much about power - prefer a machine that is comfortable and easy for your child to use.

"We just got the most basic Chromebook and it's totally perfect," says Gabrielle Hartley, an attorney and mother of three who takes a mix of in-person and online classes. "The most basic Chromebook fits all the basic middle schooler's needs."

Hartley's son Max, who is in eighth grade, agrees. "I'd really prefer a gaming PC or gaming laptop that can plug into a monitor and play video games with 120fps, but I don't really need that," Max says. "Most eighth grade students are not going to play any video games on their laptops or any software that requires a lot of power."

Max mostly uses his laptop for Google Classroom applications including Gmail, Slides, Google Docs and Google Sheets. They're super easy to use on his device, which he describes as a "run-of-the-mill Samsung Chromebook." That said, if your child is starting middle school this year, it may be worth checking in with their teachers to see which operating system is most compatible with their workflow. Sweden's ninth grader Caspian Fischer Oden tells me he has trouble with his Chromebook because his school has stopped downloading apps from the Google Play Store.

Even kids with more demanding hobbies think that a budget tool can get the job done. Sam Hickman, a UK eighth-grader who uses his laptop for photo and video editing, says, "For most secondary schools, any processor developed within the last two years will be able to handle any task they are doing. You can throw it at him."

So, what's worth paying for? A comfortable keyboard, several students told me. Many middle school kids are not used to typing for long periods of time. You should also look for a device that is compact and handy for them, especially if they are preparing for school individually. Shoot for 11- to 13-inch models—certainly nothing larger than 15 inches.

check out:

HP Chromebook x360 ($249): An affordable Chromebook with great battery life
Lenovo Flex 3 Chromebook ($350): A small but sturdy laptop built for students
Lenovo 300e ($369): Durable 2-in-1 with Stylus
Acer Aspire 5 ($459): Portable option for kids who need a 15-inch screen
Microsoft Surface Laptop Go ($549): An attractive, lightweight Windows laptop

Best laptop for high school:
The laptop needs of high school students can vary based on their interests, but most don't need powerful machines with lots of bells and whistles—especially if they come with messes or serious downsides that are part of the school. may interfere with work. Laguna Beach High School student Miles Rihle has a high-end Surface Pro 7, but it feels heavy. "There are a lot of other things I don't use very often," he said. "Something simple can be a little more straightforward."

The best operating system may depend on what your child is used to. Aryan Nambiar, a student at Barrington High School in Illinois, has an iMac at home and prefers to use an iPad for his school work. Rihley says he would prefer a Chromebook because he has an Android phone and uses Google services frequently.

But nearly every student I spoke to agreed that the most important feature of a high school laptop is portability. Children attending classes in person can carry their equipment around with a pile of other books for most of the day. Look for a 13- or 14-inch screen, or a lighter 15- to 17-inch model.

Students also give some strong advice. "I've seen most high schoolers throw their laptops in their bags without any care," says Moses Buckwalter, a student at Penn Manor High School. Backpacks can be jostled in the hallway too. Distance learners can still get into trouble at home. "Anything can happen," says high school student Adit Agarwal from India. "My own brother scratched my laptop with his fingernail."

Battery life is another key feature. "It can be a real struggle to find a place to charge in orbit," says Cass Heimskerk, a sophomore from the Netherlands. Unlike college students, many high schoolers don't have frequent breaks to juice up their equipment, so try to find something that can last all day.

Many students recommend a touchscreen with stylus support. Nambiar uses this feature for his biology class, where he does a lot of visual modeling. “Touchscreen is always a bonus for drawing diagrams, whereas if you are using a laptop it will be a whole process of rendering the diagram you have created,” says Nambiar. Riehle uses a Surface Pen to fill out school forms and annotate PDFs. Agarwal finds it useful to take notes on the same screen as in his online lessons.

Depending on the broadband conditions in your area, you may also want a laptop with multiple connectivity options. Agarwal's online classes are sometimes interrupted by power cuts, so he recommends the LTE model. Matej Plewski, a junior at Yahya Kemal College in North Macedonia, suggests looking for an Ethernet port in case a slow connection interrupts meetings. It's hard to find on smaller laptops, but there are several affordable dongles and docks to consider.

check out:

Acer Chromebook Spin 513 ($349): Convertible Chromebook with all-day battery
Apple iPad Air ($599): A powerful tablet with a great screen
Acer Chromebook Spin 713 ($629): A great Chromebook that's not too expensive
Dell XPS 13 ($1019): A solid clamshell Windows laptop
Surface Laptop 4 ($999): An excellent, lightweight laptop that's easy to use

Best laptop for college:
College kids are justified in spending a little more money than other age groups. Some (especially in STEM courses) can expect to do some fairly demanding jobs. Asad Abid, an electrical engineering graduate from Pakistan, needs to run simulation software for his assignment. Akash Chandra, a student of New Horizon College of Engineering in India, does a lot of coding in Premiere Pro and Photoshop and gaming, apart from doing creative work. Students also noted that it's worth paying for a laptop that will last a few years after graduation. That means you won't have to worry about finding and financing your next device until you (hopefully) do the job.

But there's still a wide array of choices among high-end, capable devices. The students insisted that the college laptop should be light. Expect to bring it between classes, meals, meetings, the library and other places on campus. "It's a boon that I can carry a few notebooks with my laptop without feeling like I'm working around six hours a day for too much," says Haseeb Wasim, a senior at Villanova University.

Another universally acclaimed feature: battery life. Wasim, who uses the HP Specter, says that drinking juice throughout the day allows him to study "in different places and even outside."

Even among top devices, speakers and webcams are often overlooked. But students say that if you are starting college this year then looking for good people. Zoom will be a big part of university life this semester: many kids will attend virtual classes, while others will still be meeting friends online in clubs, study groups and professors as well. Wasim is not satisfied with the audio and picture quality of his laptop, which he says has made it difficult to concentrate in class and connect with other students.

Many students will need to invest more in areas to suit their interests and schoolwork needs. Chandra's dream laptop will include a high-end GPU along with a stylus and touchscreen for his creative work. Wasim, who uses his laptop for a range of activities including streaming, coding, social media, video chatting and Microsoft Office work, would prefer a bigger screen to keep track of his multitasking.

check out:

Acer Swift 3 ($734): A super light laptop that performs well
HP Envy x360 13 ($699): A fast and stylish 2-in-1
Dell XPS 13 ($1019): A solid clamshell Windows laptop
Surface Laptop 4 ($999): An excellent, lightweight laptop that's easy to use
HP Specter x360 14 ($1,199): A premium convertible with standout battery life


  1. Very cool. I bought the 1.2k chromebook and it is the best. come to brazil

    1. BTW i can't wait to see my favorites eva marie and doudrop fight sister bliss at the biggest hottest party of the summer (no relation to the party in kevin nash's butt in the summer of 92 (no relation to the poo in cm punk's butt))...