We’re in the final stretch of summer, and now is one of the best times of the year to shop for a new laptop. With back-to-school sales in full swing, this is the moment to find a great deal.
You can now get an entry-level laptop for $200 to $400. But we think it’s worthwhile to spend at least a few hundred more to get a machine that will last longer and perform better. This list, which represents our top choices for college, university and even high school students, is based on our own hands-on use and benchmark testing.
Most of these laptops cost $500 or more. If you’re looking for something less expensive — or if you’re interested in an alternative to Microsoft Windows and Apple’s macOS — we’d recommend checking out our list of the best Chromebooks for students.
Best College Laptops For 2019
HP Chromebook x2
We really liked HP’s x2 at $540. Selling for less than $450, we like it even more. It’s a terrific laptop with a great detachable display, a keyboard that’s comfortable to type on and surprisingly peppy performance. And it doubles as a fabulous standalone tablet — thin and lightweight, responsive to touch and stylus and perceptive to orientation.
Plus — and this is a big one — it comes with stylus and keyboard included at a time when many premium hybrids insist you buy them separately. If you can live without the few remaining apps that require Windows or macOS — and trust me, most of you can — the Chromebook x2 is your jam.
Lenovo Yoga Chromebook C630
The Yoga C630 Chromebook is a great, inexpensive laptop — one that doubles as an enormous tablet — with a killer 4K display and blazing performance for everyday productivity and entertainment tasks.
This is the Chromebook version of Lenovo’s excellent C930, one of our all-time favourite two-in-one convertibles, which costs hundreds more.
Acer Nitro 5
Just about any laptop can handle the basics at this point — but if you’re looking for one that can double as a gaming system, that narrows the field considerably. Starting at around $650, the Nitro 5 is wallet-friendly but still brings a respectable graphics card to the table: the Nvidia GeForce GTX 1050 or 1050Ti,
which is sufficient for solid gameplay. Amazon currently has a nice deal on a step-up configuration with 12GB of RAM for $700.
Microsoft Surface Pro 6
The Surface Pro remains the standard-bearer for Windows devices that work as both laptop and tablet, though they’re better tablets than they are laptops. (If you’re looking for the opposite,
Lenovo’s Yoga devices, which are also two-in-ones, are better laptops than they are tablets.) Amazon’s deal — a Pro 6 for about $800, including the essential Type Cover, which usually costs $89 on its own — is a no-brainer.
Dell XPS 13
If you’re committed to the Windows operating system and want a balance of portability, power and price, it’s hard to find a better laptop than the XPS 13. This CNET Editors’ Choice is attractive, incomparably slim and offers a ton of customization (and price) options. Dell also makes a 15-inch version. Both start at around $1,000.
Apple MacBook Air (2019)
In 2018, Apple announced a new version of the MacBook Air — an evergreen student favourite — upgrading it with a Retina display, Touch ID and USB-C ports. After debuting at $1,199, which seemed a tad expensive to me,
Apple has since lowered its price (and added True Tone display technology to models sold after July 9). And at the moment, Best Buy is selling the brand-new 2019 MacBook Air for $900. It’s a killer deal on one of the best and most versatile laptops on the market.
Asus ROG Zephyrus S
I reviewed the Zephyrus S last year and loved its 15.6-inch HD display and backlit keyboard. This configuration delivers very solid performance for the price: For around $1,400, you get an Intel Core i7 CPU and a GeForce GTX 1070, with 16GB of DDR4 RAM and a 512GB PCIe SSD.