10 Best Laptops for College

Wally Nowinski
editor

Our experts used the PerfectRec decision engine to comb through our laptop database and find the best laptops for college available in 2024. Here are our top picks.

Our criteria for the best laptops for college:

  • Usage: We focused on laptops for general use.
  • Portability: We placed some emphasis on portability because students tend to move often with their laptops.
  • Battery: We placed some emphasis on battery because students are often on the go with their laptops.
  • Budget: We set a budget of upto $1,500
To consider others factors, try the PerfectRec decision engine to get your personalized laptop recommendation
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10 Best Laptops for College

1
ASUS 13.3”

Zenbook S 13

BEST RATING
Portability:
4.9
General: A-
Size: 13.3"
Overall Performance: Excellent
Portability: Very thin, very light
Battery: Very Good




Expert Summary
The ASUS Zenbook S 13 is a premium, lightweight laptop, making it highly portable and suitable for on-the-go use, especially with its long battery life. With a midrange price, you're getting solid build quality, a vivid OLED touchscreen, and excellent heat management. It has an Intel i7-1355U processor paired with 32GB RAM, which will handle general use very efficiently. Its Intel Iris Xe graphics are fine for casual gaming and moderate creative tasks, but might fall short for intensive 3D rendering or engineering software. The laptop offers a good selection of ports, including Thunderbolt 4, and a comfortable backlit keyboard, although it lacks an Ethernet port and an option for hardware upgrades due to having no available RAM or storage slots.
Pros
  • Thin and lightweight design
  • High-resolution OLED display
  • Large color gamut coverage
  • Excellent portability score
  • Backlit keyboard with fingerprint reader
Cons
  • No dedicated number pad
  • Not suitable for hardware ray tracing
  • Limited engineering performance
  • No touchscreen option
2
BEST RATING
Build Quality:
5.0
General: A-
Size: 15.3"
Overall Performance: Very Good
Portability: Very thin, light
Battery: Excellent




Expert Summary
The Apple MacBook Air 15 (2023) comes with an appealing combination of features for those who prioritize a blend of performance and portability. It has a larger 15-inch display and a powerful Apple M2 chip with ample memory for smooth multitasking and everyday tasks. However, note that it's priced in the upper midrange spectrum. While it has a very slim design and light weight, enhancing its portability, it may not be the first choice for those seeking the utmost in gaming or intensive engineering due to its display limited to a standard refresh rate and integrated GPU. It offers fanless operation for a silent experience and a backlit keyboard. Although excellent for general use, performance may be fair for more demanding 3D and machine learning applications, and good for engineering tasks. Battery life is solid, allowing for extended use between charges. The MacBook Air has a top-tier build quality, excellent keyboard, and great speakers, making it a strong all-around laptop, but the premium price reflects its status as a high-end Apple product.
Pros
  • Large, high-resolution screen
  • Lightweight and thin design
  • Long battery life
  • Silent, fanless operation
  • Excellent build and keyboard quality
Cons
  • No touchscreen
  • Limited ports availability
  • Average 3D performance
  • No Ethernet port
3
BEST RATING
Battery Life:
4.7
General: A-
Size: 16"
Overall Performance: Excellent
Portability: Med. thick, light
Battery: Very Good




Pros
  • High-resolution 16-inch screen
  • 32 GB RAM for multitasking
  • Powerful Intel Core Ultra processor
  • Ample 1024 GB storage
  • Thunderbolt and USB-C support
Cons
  • No touchscreen or high refresh rate
  • Limited battery life
  • On the heavier side for portability
  • No room for additional RAM, storage
4
LG 17”

Gram 17

BEST RATING
General Use:
4.6
General: A-
Size: 17"
Overall Performance: Excellent
Portability: Med. thick, very light
Battery: Very Good




Expert Summary
The LG Gram 17 is a midrange-priced laptop that is highly portable, weighing only 2.98 pounds despite its large 17-inch IPS screen with a resolution of 2560 x 1600. It has generous amounts of storage and RAM, ensuring smooth performance for general use. Equipped with an Intel i7-1260P processor and integrated Iris Xe graphics, it's capable of basic 3D tasks and engineering software but is not designed for intensive gaming or high-end machine learning tasks. It offers a long battery life, a full backlit keyboard with a number pad, and multiple USB-C ports, including two that support Thunderbolt 4. The build quality, heat management, and fan noise are rated good. Suitable for users seeking a large-screen laptop that is easy to carry and capable of handling everyday tasks efficiently.
Pros
  • Lightweight and highly portable
  • Large, high-resolution screen
  • Long battery life
  • Good build quality and heat management
  • Has backlit keyboard and number pad
Cons
  • Integrated graphics limit performance
  • Not ideal for gaming or intensive engineering
  • Limited upgradeability for RAM and storage
  • No facial recognition or hardware ray tracing
5
HP 16”

Spectre x360

BEST RATING
Battery Life:
4.6
General: A-
Size: 16"
Overall Performance: Very Good
Portability: Med. thick, med. heavy
Battery: Very Good




Expert Summary
The HP Spectre x360, a 2-in-1 convertible, can serve as both a laptop and tablet and sits at an upper midrange price. It has a solid combination of a large screen, significant storage, and ample RAM, paired with an Intel i7 processor and integrated graphics, making it capable for general use and multitasking. Its higher battery capacity should offer long hours of typical usage, but the weight is a consideration for portability. Its assortment of ports, including USB-C and Thunderbolt, adds versatility for connecting peripherals. The build quality and display are noted for being high-quality, with a bright screen that supports touchscreen interaction. Its performance is sufficient for general work and some engineering applications, though dedicated gaming or intensive 3D rendering may be limited due to the absence of a discrete GPU. The keyboard and speakers are highly regarded, ensuring a comfortable typing experience and good sound quality.
Pros
  • Convertible laptop-tablet design
  • High-resolution touchscreen
  • Good battery life
  • Backlit keyboard with fingerprint reader
  • Multiple Thunderbolt ports
Cons
  • No dedicated number pad
  • Limited engineering performance
  • No hardware ray tracing support
  • Heavier than ultra-portables
6
ASUS 14”

Zenbook 14

BEST RATING
Portability:
4.7
General: A-
Size: 14"
Overall Performance: Excellent
Portability: Thin, very light
Battery: Good




Pros
  • Excellent general use performance
  • Very good keyboard quality
  • High screen color accuracy
  • Good build quality
  • Good portability
Cons
  • Moderate battery life
  • Fan noise is noticeable
  • Good, not excellent, speaker quality
  • Heat management could be better
7
Apple 13.6”

MacBook Air (2022)

BEST RATING
Build Quality:
5.0
General: A-
Size: 13.6"
Overall Performance: Good
Portability: Very thin, very light
Battery: Excellent




Expert Summary
The Apple MacBook Air (2022) is a midrange-priced laptop with a strong emphasis on portability and build quality, making it an excellent choice for general use. It features powerful Apple M2 processing capabilities, 8 GB of RAM, and a high-resolution, color-accurate IPS display that's suitable for professional creative work, though not specialized for intensive 3D rendering or engineering simulations. While not designed for gaming, it offers silent operation with a fanless design. This MacBook Air has a long battery life, bolstered by energy-efficient hardware. However, it's limited in upgradability with no available RAM or storage slots. For connectivity, it includes multiple USB-C and Thunderbolt ports, though it lacks traditional USB ports, an HDMI output, or an Ethernet port. If you work on-the-go and appreciate a lightweight laptop with a premium feel and high-quality keyboard and screen, but do not require intensive computational performance for specialized tasks, this MacBook Air is a formidable option.
Pros
  • Excellent performance
  • Best-in-class build quality
  • Silent, fanless operation
  • Good ecosystem integration
  • Very good display
Cons
  • Midrange price point
  • Fair port variety
  • Good but not top battery life
  • Fair webcam quality
8
Acer 14”

Swift Go 14

BEST RATING
Portability:
4.7
General: A-
Size: 14"
Overall Performance: Very Good
Portability: Thin, very light
Battery: Good




Expert Summary
The Acer Swift Go 14 offers robust performance with its Intel Core Ultra 7 processor and Intel Arc graphics, suited for general use and capable of handling some engineering and creative tasks. The OLED display is of high quality, boasting a high resolution and color accuracy, which is great for visual work but not touch-enabled. This laptop is lightweight and thin, enhancing its portability, but the tradeoff comes in battery life, which is moderate. There are ample ports, including Thunderbolt, for connectivity, and features such as a backlit keyboard and fingerprint reader are present for convenience. It's described as having a lower midrange price, indicating a balance between affordability and features. Overall, it's a versatile choice for everyday use, with some capacity for more demanding applications.
Pros
  • High-resolution screen
  • Good for general use
  • Backlit keyboard
  • Good color coverage
  • Efficient heat management
Cons
  • Moderate battery life
  • Average 3D/Machine Learning performance
  • Limited port variety
  • No hardware ray tracing
9
Apple 13.6”

MacBook Air (2022)

BEST RATING
Build Quality:
5.0
General: A-
Size: 13.6"
Overall Performance: Very Good
Portability: Very thin, very light
Battery: Excellent




Pros
  • High screen pixel density
  • Excellent battery life
  • Silent, fanless operation
  • Lightweight and portable
  • Strong general use performance
Cons
  • Not suitable for high-end gaming
  • Limited hardware upgrade options
  • Minimal port variety
  • No touchscreen available
10
Dell 15.6”

XPS 15

BEST RATING
Operating Noise:
4.8
General: A-
Size: 15.6"
Overall Performance: Very Good
Portability: Med. thick, med. heavy
Battery: Very Good




Expert Summary
The Dell XPS 15 is positioned at a midrange price level, offering a substantial balance between performance and cost. For storage, it comes with a decent size, accompanied by a sizeable amount of RAM for multitasking. It is powered by a modern Intel processor, alongside an Intel Arc GPU which makes it suitable for general usage and some more intensive tasks like light engineering work, but it might struggle with very demanding 3D or machine learning tasks. You'll find the battery life suited for a full day's work. Its 15.6-inch display is an IPS type with a good resolution, although it's not a touchscreen. Portability is good, not too heavy nor too bulky, making it a solid choice if you need to move around with your laptop. There are multiple USB-C ports, including Thunderbolt 4, enhancing connectivity and data transfer speed. The laptop has a backlit keyboard and a fingerprint reader for extra convenience and security, an excellent build quality, and manages heat well. Overall, the Dell XPS 15 is versatile and well-rounded, fitting for general use, professional work, and some creative tasks, yet not the ultimate choice for high-end gaming or very demanding computational tasks.
Pros
  • Premium build quality
  • Excellent keyboard
  • Good general performance
  • Reliable heat management
  • High-resolution display
Cons
  • Average battery life
  • Limited gaming performance
  • No touchscreen option
  • Moderate portability