We have tracked down the best laptops for school or university, including impressive models from top brands like Apple and Acer.

All products featured here are independently selected by our editors and writers.If you buy something through links on our site, Mashable may earn an affiliate commission.

Getting a quality laptop for school or university is essential. Whether you’re saving the group project, watching Netflix during class (we’ve all done it), or just showing off to your friends, you can’t get through those special years without one.

There are thousands of laptop choices on the internet with lots of cheap options, but attempting to pick the right one for you and your lifestyle can be tough, so it’s always good to have help. Surprise: we have researched the best laptops for students to save you from hours of tedious research. 

These models bring some luxury to your learning and make even the most boring lessons fun.

How do you choose a laptop?

If you’re a tech newbie, getting your head around all the jargon can be tricky. These are some basics to look out for when selecting a laptop:

CPU — This is the processor. It’s basically in charge of everything and controls and connects with all other parts of the laptop. If you’re studying something creative – such as design work or video editing – a powerful CPU is ideal. 

GPU — Also known as the graphic cards, this is responsible for the laptop’s visuals. Once again, if you’re a creative student (or you moonlight as a serious gamer), get a laptop with the best GPU you can afford. If you’re primarily writing essays, however, it’s not as important. 

RAM — This is short memory that allows you to keep multiple applications and programmes open and flit between them seamlessly. 

SSD — This is the standard type of storage included in most modern laptops – Solid State Drive. It keeps all your info on flash memory chips. 

Keep all of these features in mind when selecting a laptop. It’s things like this that can make all the difference, so it’s best to be aware of exactly what a laptop is offering.

What are the most important laptop features for students?

There are plenty of important things to consider when it comes to laptops for students. Look out for a good amount of memory and a quick processor, because you’ll probably procrastinate at some point and need to have a million tabs open (always) and you’ll probably have to save the group project at the last minute because the rest of your group did nothing (always). 

It’s also important to consider battery life. Unless you want to drag a charger aroundall day, you’ll want one that can last through all-nighters or long study days.

That brings us to another important feature: portability. It’s no good buying the biggest, blockiest gaming laptop. Sure, it will handle topnotch FPS without a nanosecond of lag, but do you really want to lug it around school all day, giving yourself chronic backache? A convertible laptop that flips into a tablet might be a better choice. 

How much should ou spend on a student laptop?

As a student, there’s one crucial aspect that reigns supreme: affordability. With a finite student loan or allowance, you might not be able to shop for every laptop with limited funds. You may need the power and functions on a top-of-the-line model, but your budget isn’t matching up. In this situation, you need to shop smart.

A lot of laptops will cost £1,000 or more, and yes, we know paying that all at once seems like a real blow to your wallet — but that’s just because they’re seriously nice and made to last. You’ll probably be using this laptop for all of your years of school and university (and then some), so this is truly an investment in your future.

We’ve taken this into consideration and included a range of laptops at a range of price points, from the budget to premium – something for every student and every budget.

These are the best laptops for students in 2021.

Fast, smooth, and responsive • Up to 15 hours of battery life • Available in silver, grey, and gold • No fan so it works silently
Disappointing low-res camera • Still no touchscreen • Worth the money but still expensive
Another high point from Apple that’s great for pretty much everything — for those who can afford it.

MacBook Air

The latest upgrade of the MacBook Air is one of Apple’s best ever laptops.

  • Storage:
    256GB SSD
  • RAM:
  • Battery life:
    15 hours
We couldn’t not include a MacBook, could we? While the mighty MacBook Pro is still the jewel in Apple’s firmly-held crown, for a price and portability that’s outweighed by impressive features – which is all thanks to new M1 CPU – the 2020 MacBook Air is the best Apple option for students. It’s slim and light but also a powerhouse that outstrips the previous Air.
For such a small machine – just 1.63cm thick and 2.8 pounds – the M1 makes it a powerful piece of hardware. It’s helped along by some nifty software called Rosetta 2 and the Big Sur operating system, which allows you to glide through most apps and software at lightning speed – whatever your studies require. 
As always with Apple laptops, this is a top choice for design and video editing – perfect if you’re a creative student. And when taking a break you’ll be pleased to find this is also Apple’s best gaming laptop to date. 
The 13.3-inch screen has a resolution of 2560 x 1600p, and the base model includes the M1 chip with an 8-core CPU and 7-core GPU, 8GB of RAM, and 256GB SSD. You can double up on storage (512GB) and add an extra GPU core for a higher-spec version.
Despite the big update, it’s going for roughly the same price as the previous gen MacBook Air, which is a huge bonus – and makes it an attractively priced option next to usually cheaper competitors. 

Incredible battery life • High resolution camera than MacBooks • Top of the range keyboard
Chrome OS still doesn’t match Mac or Windows • Others available at the price point
Not necessarily the best – or even cheapest – option, but what it sets out to do it does very well indeed.

Google Pixelbook Go

A stripped-down, budget version of the celebrated Google Pixelbook.

  • Storage:
    64GB SSD
  • RAM:
  • Battery life:
    12 hours
The regular Google Pixelbook was hailed as the best Chromebooks of all time. The Google Pixelbook Go packs all that brilliance – and a few easily overlooked downsides – into a cheaper, student-friendly bundle that’s made for working on the move.
It includes an 8th Gen Intel CPU, with a 13.3-inch touchscreen display that delivers a resolution of 1920 x 1080p. The base level model has 64GB storage (128GB and 256GB also available) and 8GB RAM. That of that is encased in an easy-to-grip, matte texture chassis – a feature that makes this especially good for carrying around. Not to mention its lightweight dimensions, measuring just 0.5 inches thick and weighing 2.3 pounds.
The real bonuses are an excellent 1080p webcam – if your studies include a lot of video calls, you’ll look sharper than ever – and a ‘Hush’ keyboard, which is joyously comfortable and just the right amount of quiet. It seems an obvious thing to say, but this really is a laptop for typing on – all day, every day. 
Perhaps most useful for mobile workers and students is the battery. It boasts a battery life of up to 12 hours and charges very quickly – perfect if you’re moving from home to library to café to the train. 
This is one instance where the cheaper, lower spec version of the laptop is actually better value. If you’re willing to spend the cash on the top end model, it might be worth spending a little more extra on a competing model with better features.

Speedy WiFi connection and charging • Small but gorgeous HD screen • Affordable
Cheap-feeling touchpad • No legacy desktop apps
The best bang for your buck when it comes to a 2-in-1 without sacrificing high quality specs.

Asus Chromebook Flip

A well-reviewed and sturdy 2-in-1 for under £500 with specs that blow others in this price range out of the water.

  • Storage:
    64GB SSD
  • RAM:
  • Battery life:
    10 hours
The Asus Chromebook Flip falls either side of the £500 mark – depending on the specific model – which is half (or more) off the price of some other laptops on this list. You may be thinking that a weirdly low price means that it’s not good, but you’d be wrong. When the Flip first flipped its way onto shelves, it was an immediate game-changer for Chromebooks. Subsequent upgrades have continued to improve. 
This version, the Asus Chromebook Flip C433, is physically sturdy, has the iconic thin and sleek MacBook look, and has specs that can compete with the best of them.
Inside, you’ll find a 6th generation Intel Core m7 processor, up to 4GB RAM, a fully backlit keyboard, and ultra-fast loading speeds thanks to the 802.11 ac WiFi connection. In other words, the Chromebook Flip is pretty powerful. 
It has a four-side NanoEdge touchscreen with ultra-slim bezels that essentially pack a 14-inch screen into what feels and looks like a much smaller laptop. It gives you an impressive 85% screen to body ratio. As the name suggests, just flip it over to convert into a tablet. 
A fully charged battery should last around 10 hours, and there are two USB-C ports, a headphone jack, and a micro SD card slot.
A sturdier (and of course more expensive) model is also available – the Asus Chromebook Flip C434.

Solid gameplay • Dual controllable fans • Impressive power to price ratio
Thick, cheap bezel looks outdated • Budget build • Clunky trackpad
Anyone who knows their gaming knows that halfway decent hardware is expensive. But this offers big gaming power at a relatively small price.

Acer Nitro 5

Gaming laptops usually don’t come cheap,but the Acer Nitro 5 sort of does.

  • Storage:
    256GB SSD
  • RAM:
  • Battery life:
    7 hours
If you’re looking for a laptop that can both work and play – and won’t cost your entire student loan – look no further than the Acer Nitro 5. It’s an attractively priced machine that handles pretty much anything – easy essay writing on its comfortable keyboard, creative tasks such as photo and video editing, and real-time ray tracing on up-to-the-minute games. 
That’s all down to an 8th Generation Intel i7 CPU and Nvidia GeForce GTX graphics card, which are backed up by 256GB SSD and 16GB RAM. It boasts up to 189fps on games such as Fortnite
All of that plays out across a 17.3-inch screen with a resolution of 1920 x 1080p. That means the Acer Nitro 5 is a solid choice if you like to wile away your leisure time watching movies too. Serious gamers will enjoy the addition of adjustable dual fans, which allow you to control heat and power usage. It’s packed with multiple USB ports too.
If gaming is your thing, the Acer Nitro 5 looks the business with its red trim and backlit keyboard. It also has a decent – though not mind-blowing – battery life for a budget-level gaming laptop, lasting up to seven hours. At this price you’ll have to excuse the less-than-inspiring craftsmanship but it’s a palatable downside at this price.
Different configurations are available at various price points, including versions which are equipped with Ryzen CPUs.

Massive screen and thin bezels • Extremely portable • Very versatile
Stylus isn’t included • Shallow key travel
A powerful and lightweight 2-in-1 with Dell’s trusted name that can be taken anywhere.

Dell XPS 13 2-in-1

A powerful and lightweight 2-in-1 with Dell’s trusted name that can be taken anywhere.

  • Storage:
    512GB SSD
  • RAM:
  • Battery life:
    13 hours
The Dell XPS 13 is a well-known and well-loved laptop. It’s often cited as the go-to premium choice for students who use Windows 10. And not just students. The Dell XPS 13 is arguably the best Windows 10 laptop for anyone.
The 2-in-1 version, which flips over to convert into a tablet, isn’t just a nifty design quirk. The 2-in-1 feature isn’t especially unique either – not even unique on this list. But there’s more to it than added portability.
In the past we called the Dell XPS 13 2-in-1 a happy medium between Dell’s traditional powerhouse laptops and the elegance of a convertible model. This rebooted version puts the Dell XPS 13 2-in-1 into a league of its own. 
It’s powered by an 11th gen Intel i7 quad-core processor – part of Intel’s celebrated “Tiger Lake” family of CPUs – with integrated graphics and a 13-hour battery life. The Dell XPS 13 2-in-1 will handle all your apps and jobs like a champion multi-tasker. It’s even a competent gamer when you’re trying to find ways to ignore those deadlines. It also has unusually big storage for a 2-in-1.
If you’re all about looks, the Dell XPS 13 2-in-1 features Dell’s InfinityEdge technology, which is a fancy term for extra-thin bezels and a wide-as-possible, gorgeous screen. Other features include a variety of ports – two USB-C ports, and two Thunderbolt 4 ports, and a headphone jack – plus a specially designed cooling system that uses internal vapour chambers.

3K screen • Glorious battery life • Quad speakers
Awkwardly placed, low-quality webcam • Some features require a Huawei phone
If you can ignore the webcam placement, this laptop’s 3K touchscreen and stellar speakers make it a powerhouse for studying (and playing).

Huawei MateBook X Pro

Huawei’s Matebook is one of the very best laptops not made by Apple.

  • Storage:
    1TB SSD
  • RAM:
    16 GB
  • Battery life:
    13 hours
If you’ve done any other laptop research recently, this pick isn’t quite a shocker. The Huawei MateBook X Pro has been dubbed the best laptop by numerous media brands. 
It’s a pretty shameless copy of the MacBook Pro’s thin look, but packs some excellent specs into such a lightweight device — which is ideal for people who travel a lot or have an annoying commute to work. Plus, the battery is said to last up to 13 hours (especially impressive for a laptop this size), which will make long days significantly more painless.
It’s also a powerhouse inside, with an Intel Core i7 1165G7 processor, 16GB of RAM, and 1 TB SSD. The 13.9-inch, 3K touchscreen display is crystal clear with a 3000 x 2000 resolution for movie theatre-like visuals, featuring ultra thin bezels and integrated Intel Iris XeGraphics. Quad speakers will also give your movie nights a boost. 
If you’re wondering where the camera fits in those thin bezels, we’ll let you know that the camera isn’t up there — it’s in a little pop-up button on the keyboard. This makes everything more compact, but gives an awkward up-the-nose angle. 
That’ll be annoying if your long-distance relationship relies on Zoom, but don’t let that sway your choice too much. Your smartphone can more than make up the difference.