12 Best Budget Laptops for College Students in 2024
January 24, 2024
Laptops have become an essential tool for college students, allowing them to study, research, and complete assignments from anywhere at any time.
Whether you’re taking notes, storing data, coding or preparing spreadsheets…
In addition, with so many online classes, video meetings and virtual collaborations, students are spending more time on their laptops than ever before.
Got a tight budget but need a good-oiled laptop? But with so many models out there, it can be overwhelming to choose the best one for a student.
Every course has its technical demands and choosing the best laptops for students may not be the same for everyone.
For example, graphic design major students might look for some graphics features while business students for something else.
Don’t sweat it! We did all the research so you don’t have to, we discuss the key specifications to look for in a student laptop: CPU, GPU, storage, RAM, battery life, operating system, screen, etc.
We also provide a list of the 12 best laptops for students to help you make your choice. We evaluate the features, design, price, portability and durability of each laptop.
Whether you are studying STEM fields such as science, engineering, technology and mathematics along with economics and business management, there is an option for you.
12 Best laptops for students in 2024
We’ve scoured the internet to find the best laptops that’ll cope with student life while also being value for money.
Here’s our pick of the best laptops for students:
1. Apple Macbook Air
Apple MacBook Air M2 has a bright and colorful 13.6-inch Retina panel with 2560 x 1664 pixels resolution for watching videos, editing photos and everything else you want to do with no trade-offs.
The max brightness is 500 nits, which makes it easier to use outdoors and just more comfortable to look at all day long. Also, it covers 99% of the DCI-P3 color gamut. This is a prerequisite for a vibrant and punchy image.
The M2 chip offers stunningly fast productivity performance, with little slow down to be seen in tasks and multi-tasking being an absolute breeze.
Macbook Air comes without a fan, meaning you get a whisper-quiet experience every day. But the lack of a fan does mean sustained performance for more demanding tasks like video and photo editing is limited.
The base model has an 8GB of RAM, and 256GB of storage, while You can upgrade to 512GB storage.
It’s remarkably thin and the metal unibody soars above many rival manufacturers. And the improved Magic Keyboard is reliable and easy to use – with decent travel and less noise.
On top of that, the 18-hour battery life is almost unbeatable. That’s especially the case if you consider how thin and light this laptop is.
Only catch is the lack of ports. Macbook air comes with 2 thunderbolt 4 ports and a headphone jack. So you’ll have to spend extra on an external hub.
Anyone searching for a high-quality, powerful laptop that is still lightweight and portable should consider this laptop.
The ASUS VivoBook 15 OLED (K513) is a great starting laptop to get yourself into photo or video editing. It’s great for those looking reliable performance and lightweight body within a reasonable price.
It comes with a 15.6-inch OLED display with 1080p resolution, which can deliver a brightness of up to 600 nits. OLED panel is just as vibrant and colorful as you’d hope.
The display is also DisplayHDR 600 certified and can show up to 1.07 billion colors, and almost any sort of content looks great on this screen.
It supports a 100% DCI-P3 wide color gamut, colors are displayed accurately on this device, great for editing photos and videos.
VivoBook 15 is equipped with the Intel i5-1135G7 processor, integrated Intel Iris Xe Graphics, along with 12GB of RAM and a 512GB SSD storage, offers plenty of performance.
You can get a good keyboard with a dedicated num pad, the keyboard even supports backlit lighting.
The laptop comes with a full-sized HDMI port, a microSD card slot, a USB Type-C port, a 3.5mm headphone jack and a couple of USB-A ports.
This VivoBook laptop’s 42Wh battery pack lasts for less than 7 hours of light productivity, and you can’t use its USB-C port for charging.
The Lenovo IdeaPad 3i is a good budget laptop that suitable for home, and College use. And it is available in different configurations, you can choose according to your preferences.
The laptop features a 15.6-inch Full HD 1080p IPS display with 46% NTSC color gamut. It offers plenty of room for everyday taks, but the color performance is only mediocre and not a good idea for Processing photos or videos.
IdeaPad 3i basic model features an Intel Core i5-1235U processor, 8GB of memory and a 512GB SSD. This hardware won’t win any speed records, but it will handle web browsing, word-processing and other Office tools well.
Lenovo’s machine looks the part, with metal-effect plastic used throughout, and it offers reasonable build quality. It also has a soft, comfortable keyboard that will stand up to the rigours of essays and assignments, and the touchpad is good.
IdeaPad 3i offers plenty of connectivity ports: 2 USB Type-A ports , one USB-C Port, an HDMI monitor port, an audio jack, and a SD card slot.
You can get a two-cell, 35Wh battery that offers a battery life of up to 6 hours on a single charge.
The HP 15-dy5024nr laptop is a well-built and classy-looking mid-range notebook that can handle most of the tasks you throw at it.
The display of the HP consists of a 15.6-inch IPS panel that offers a resolution of 1920×1080 pixels. But Most colors are inaccurate due to the panel’s narrow color gamut of 65% sRGB, this cause the screen lack of vivid colors.
The Intel Core i5-1235U processor with Intel Iris Xe Graphics inside consumes very little energy. The basic model comes with 8GB of RAM and 256GB SSD storage, but you can upgrade to 16GB RAM and 512GB SSD Storage Version.
While the top and bottom, as well as the edges of the affordable HP 15, are made of metal, the areas around the keyboard and display are made of a more affordable-looking plastic. It’s Lightweight and sturdy with Minimalistic but stylish design.
HP has equipped the 15 with the most necessary connections: a SuperSpeed USB Type-C port, 2 SuperSpeed USB Type-A ports, a headphone/microphone combo jack, an HDMI port, and an SD card reader.
This laptop also has a three-cell 41Wh Li-ion battery, which can lasts for 9 hours and 30 minutes of Web browsing, or 9 hours of video playback. It also has a fast charge feature that allows you to charge the battery up to 50% in just 45 minutes.
HP 15-dy5024nr is not going to handle intensive gaming and video editing. But it’s perfect for writing up essays, doing research on the web, or something else.
If you had between $800 and $1,500 to spend on a laptop capable of running AAA titles at a decent frame rate then the Acer Nitro lineup was one of the first places to look.
Acer Nitro 5 sports a 15.6-inch IPS display with a full HD (1920×1080) resolution, 144Hz refresh rate, 300 nits of peak brightness, and a mediocre 60% of the sRGB gamut.
If you want to play games with a breathtaking visual experience, the Nitro 5 isn’t for you. While the display’s 144Hz refresh rate creates buttery smooth motion in games, the washed-out colors won’t make the action pop.
The base configuration has an 12th-gen Intel Core i5 processor, an Nvidia GTX 3050 graphics card, 16GB of memory, and 512GB of storage. That’s a combination that can deliver very impressive gaming frame rates at Full HD.
The chassis is aesthetically pleasing and stays cool during tough workloads. RGB keyboard backlighting is included but works on a per-zone, not per-key basis.
Its subpar battery life and thick body limit its portability, but it’s otherwise a great gaming machine for a reasonable price.
Whether you’re an e-sports gamer or an RPG enthusiast, the Nitro 5 can keep up.
Is a Windows, Mac or Chromebook better for students?
There are three leading laptop operating systems: Windows OS, macOS and Chrome OS.
Your choice of OS involves much more than just features, hardware, and software support. It also involves what the people around you use, your ecosystem (including your smartphone and tablet), your academic needs, and your personality.
Because Microsoft sells Windows licenses to more or less any PC manufacturer to load on their laptops, and other devices, you can get a Windows laptop at almost any size, shape, or price.
Because of its worldwide availability and longevity, Windows also boasts the biggest library of traditional software on the planet. It also ships with Microsoft Office, a one-stop-shop for all Office programs, including Word, Excel, Powerpoint, OneNote and more.
If you want the most comprehensive array of capabilities, Windows is the way to go.
MacOS can quite literally be used for the exact same things as Windows, but is undoubtedly much more polished and is also easier to use.
Mac users love the Mac OS for its ease of use, intuitive interface and wide range of features.
But Apple doesn’t sell macOS to anyone, so it only runs on computers that Apple itself makes. And the hardware (especially storage) is often expensive.
Mac laptops and MacOS are for students who want a premium, fine-tuned, maintenance-free desktop experience.
If you already have apple products (iphone, ipad, apple watch, etc), get a macbook. having an apple ecosystem really saves time esp when it comes to transferring data as compared to a windows-apple combo.
If you’re going to do engineering or want to be able to play games, don’t get a Mac. file management on macs isn’t very comfortable and there are few free tools for programming.
Chromebooks are known for their long battery life, ease of use, portability and affordability. To let you know, They runs on Chrome OS.
If you’re a student or someone on a limited budget who can do everything you need in a cloud-based application, Chrome OS may be for you.
Unfortuantely, You won’t find some specific Windwos & Mac software applications on Chrome OS, such as the Adobe Photoshop, Microsoft Office and more.
On the other hand, Google has created a full suite of apps and services for the education market, and third-party offerings cater to that market as well.
You even can install all your favorite Android apps on your Chromebook now.
How to Choose the best Laptop for College Students?
Various factors affect laptop performance, For a suitable choice, you must keep in mind the tech specifications and check if they meet your requirements.
A laptop with high quality display is essential for students who spend long hours working on their laptops.
Size: Laptops have different screen sizes, such as 13.3″, 14″ ,15.6″ , and 17.1-inch. The bigger, the better but less portable and more expensive.
Resolution: For everyday use, a HD 1366 x 768 resolution can still be perfectly adequate, but for those who work extensively with visual content, a higher resolution may be preferable for a better user experience.
Refresh Rate: The usual refresh rate on all the laptops are 60 Hz. Higher refresh rates like 120Hz in your monitor make everything from gaming to basic computer tasks appear nice and smooth.
Color Gamut: If you’re looking to buy a laptop for graphic design and digital art , Color accuracy (Measured in NTSC, sRGB, Adobe RGB, or DCI-P3) is an essential feature. because it affects your display screen’s ability to accurately reproduce colors.
Panel: Almost all screens these days use an IPS LCD panel, which are known for their durability and good value for money.
If you have a good budget, go for an OLED Panel Screen. which is superior to IPS monitors when it comes to quality. They produce darker black levels, more vivid colors, and have better response times.
Processor is the brain of the laptop, the better the processor, the faster your computer will run.
Look for a processor that meets your performance needs. For general use, like streaming, note-taking, a mid-range processor should suffice.
If you plan to do demanding tasks like video editing or gaming, consider a higher-end processor.
A laptop’s RAM (random access memory) is essential for students who need to run multiple applications at once. More RAM can give you a speed boost and work efficiently.
Chrome alone eats up around 2GB of RAM nowadays, so if you like opening up multiple tabs on web browser or open up many apps simultaneously, then you will need to have more RAM.
So please ensure that you have a minimum of a 8GB RAM. For running the heavy design software, you need 16GB or 32GB.
Students need enough storage to save their assignments, documents, and other files. A laptop with at least 256GB of storage is ideal for students.
If you’re a student in the field of creativity you will need at least 1TB Hard disk for work like photography, video editing and music production.
For storage drives go with SSD (Solid State drive) instead of HDD (Hard Disk drive).
Although HDD gives you more options for larger storage capacities, SSDs are much better in many ways. In terms for life, loading speed as well as data security SSDs are better.
Some laptops give you option for both HDD and SSD together. In such a case, you can keep your important applications and files in SSD and rest storage in HDD.
Graphics or GPUs are usually preferred for students who have opted for the design stream, like for mechanical or civil engineers, or the ones who have opted for graphic design.
For GPUs, NVIDIA is a good choice as they have shown better performance in the graphics, but if you feel they are expensive go for AMD.
Students who are planning to make a switch from a tablet to a laptop usually prefer going for a touchscreen laptop due to its convenience.
For students who do not have to work on the laptop regularly, a touchscreen laptop is optional. So, it usually depends on the needs of the individual to find whether a touchscreen laptop is needed or not.
Students often carry their laptops around with them, so portability is crucial. A small, lightweight and thin laptop is ideal for students who need to carry it around campus or to different locations.
Look for a laptop with long battery life to ensure it lasts throughout the school day.
Keyboard and Trackpad
A comfortable keyboard and responsive trackpad will help students work more efficiently.
A laptop with fast and reliable Wi-Fi and Bluetooth connectivity is important for students who need to access online resources and connect with classmates and teachers.
Most laptops come with a built-in Ethernet port, a few USB ports and a HDMI – all of these features are pretty standard and essential.
If you’re gonna be working with embedded electronics, look for at least one USB A (the old rectangle one) ports. There have some hardware that won’t run on a USB hub, or a USB C to A adapter.
A college laptop should not cost you a fortune. Consider a laptop that is affordable for a student’s budget.
Most of the laptops we have listed are laptops with all the good features at affordable prices.
Price is important, of course, but it shouldn’t be your sole criteria. That’s why our guide covers so many options, manufacturers and operating systems: every student is different and that means their requirements will differ.
There are many well-known laptop brands available in the market like Apple, Dell, HP, Asus, Lenovo, Acer, Microsoft, etc. Every brand has the best laptop models with the latest technologies.
The best laptop for students is a combination of portability, performance and price.
Your major, preferences and budget will determine which student laptop is best for you.
We’ve mentioned everything in detail above, hope the above information gets you a better laptop to your cost.
You can easily differentiate with the specifications when you go to buy in the Local store.
If you plan to buy laptops online, you can go through our list and analyze the best one for you.
How are student laptops different from regular laptops?
Student laptops do not need too much RAM or storage space. These laptops must be lightweight and offer a long battery backup. This will allow students to carry laptops conveniently wherever they go.
Often, students prefer going for laptops that are available with a screen size of 15.6 inches or less. A convertible laptop will be an added bonus. All these features will make the laptop more convenient for students.
What are good specs for a college laptop?
It depends on your major. Generally It’s important to consider factors such as processing power, screen quality, portability, and battery life when selecting a laptop for college.
Additionally, many universities and colleges have specific recommendations or requirements for student laptops, so it’s worth checking with your institution as well.
Should I go for AMD or Intel processors?
Both AMD Ryzen and Intel processors offer competitive options.
AMD is better value while Intel is expensive but definitely bang for your buck.
About the author : Clinton Kane
A technical content writer, passionate about sharing high-quality knowledge of pc technology, software, and creative workflows.