8 Best Laptops for Students in 2015
Looking for the best laptops for students right now? From cheap and cheerful to high-end machines, we've picked out the laptops that should help you stay at the top of your academic game.
Whether you’re pumping yourself up for freshers' week or grappling with your dissertation, we want to make sure you’re well equipped for university life, as far as technology is concerned anyway.
Wander into any electronics shop or trawl the masses of retailer websites and you’re guaranteed to find countless laptops, all of which are apparently perfect for you. We’ve filtered through the best of the bunch to help you make an informed choice, taking key features like screen quality, battery life and value for money into account.
We've added an excellent model to our round-up of the best student laptops: the Acer Aspire V Nitro Black Edition. Unusally for a gaming laptop, the Nitro is smart-looking and bag-friendly, so you won't have much trouble carrying it between lecture halls and the library. It's powerful too, making it ideal for students who are into gaming and editing.
Our list includes models running all three of the major operating systems: Microsoft’s Windows, Apple’s OS X and Google’s Chrome OS. Chromebooks tend to be the cheapest of these, since functionality largely depends on being connected to the internet.
MacBooks, meanwhile, are several times more expensive, but are superbly built and subject to Apple Education discounts. Windows is the most wide-ranging OS, and runs on budget, mid-market and high-end models.
Hit the dropdown menu above to head straight to our short reviews or read on for more buying advice.
See also: Best Cheap Tablets
Laptops for Students – Things to consider
What makes the best laptop for a student? Here are few things to consider when looking for your perfect laptop.Design and Build Quality
Nobody really wants to be weighed down by a laptop that breaks bag straps and functions better as a desktop. Thanks to more efficient hardware, fewer laptops require fans and so they’re getting thinner, lighter and more attractive by the year. All of the models in our round-up would fit comfortably into any standard rucksack or messenger bag and weigh comfortably less than 1.5kg.
We’ve also included highly-versatile hybrids that serve as both laptops and tablets. They’re equally adept at being used for typing up essays as they are for watching movies in bed or reading on the bus. A further bonus is that you won’t need to shell out on two separate devices. Generally, unless you need a more powerful laptop, it's best to look at thinner and lighter laptops under 2kg in weight.
Performance and Price
Hardware doesn’t just affect design, of course. Today’s best chips are powerful enough to handle complex 3D games and video editing, but they come at a cost, only featuring in the most expensive laptops.
The three priciest laptops in this round-up can be snagged for less than £700, depending on configurations and student discounts. They'll allow you to dabble with games and editing, but if you require a machine that can blast through such high-intensity tasks, we'd recommend shelling out extra to equip your model with a faster processor and additional RAM.
Generally speaking, however, students are restricted by tight budgets, and are thus constrained to the lower end of the market. Four of the laptops in this round-up cost less than £400, but offer excellent value for money. They're suitable for casual use, such as word processing, web browsing and streaming.
Unless you have guaranteed access to a power socket, there’s no point taking a laptop into university with you if you know it’ll run out of battery before the end of the day. None of the laptops in this round-up are lacking in this department, and a couple are capable of going for over 10 hours between charges. That's enough to conquer even the most gruelling of lecture timetables, even if your brain can't.
Screen and Sound
Movies and entertainment are central to all students’ university experience, so it’s important to keep an eye out for display size and quality. Resolution isn’t everything, with colour reproduction, black levels and viewing angles each dramatically affecting picture quality. While screens measuring 10 inches and below are great for using on the go, reading on the bus for instance, 11-inch%2B panels offer a vastly superior movie viewing experience.
Several of the laptops in this list feature touch-enabled displays, which are often easier to interact with than traditional trackpads. The Surface Pro 3 arguably makes the most of this feature, thanks to the seamless integration of its excellent stylus with OneNote.
Sound quality, too, is worth considering, though it’s best to invest in a speaker if you’re serious about your music. While several of the laptops in this round-up deliver in terms of volume and clarity, they're all lacking in one key area – bass.