7 Best Laptops for Students in 2015
Looking for the best laptops for students available in 2015? 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 two excellent models to our round-up of the best student laptops: the Surface 3 and the Dell XPS 13 2015. The Surface isn't the most powerful device out there, but it's versatile and very portable, while the XPS 13 is one of the best all-round packages we've come across.
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.
Click the ‘Next’ arrow or browse the list to start the round-up, or keep scrolling for more laptop buying guidance.
Best Laptops for Students – Recommended
These five laptops have all received a TrustedReviews Recommended Award, something we only hand out to the very best laptops around.Best Under £200 – HP Stream 11 – An 11-inch Windows 8.1 laptop that costs just £160. It's great if you need something portable and cheap.
Best Under £300 – Toshiba Chromebook 2 – A 13-incher with a superb display. If you're curious about Chromebooks, this is your best bet.
Best Cheap Hybrid – Surface 3 – A light and versatile 11-inch hybrid with impressive stamina. It's both stylish and enjoyable to use. NEW ENTRY
Best Hybrid – Surface Pro 3 – A 12-inch hybrid that's great as both a laptop and a tablet, it's more tablet than laptop and great for taking notes in classes.
Best MacBook Alternative – Asus Zenbook UX305 – A 13-inch laptop with a wide selection of connections. A great Windows alternative to a MacBook.
Best Windows Laptop – Dell XPS 13 2015 – A 13-inch laptop that's a steal at £799. It's as close to a perfect student laptop as we've seen. NEW ENTRY
Best for Apple Fans – 13-inch MacBook Air – A 13-inch laptop with great looks and class-leading battery life, the MacBook still delivers where it counts.
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.