What’s the best school laptop in 2020?
It’s not too long until school returns, and with homework becoming increasingly more important in the digital age, it makes sense to get your children a decent laptop. It’s not easy finding the best school laptop without going over budget though, so we’re here to help.
We’ve ranked the top five laptops we’ve tested that are ideal for school studies. Since you don’t need a powerhouse performer for primary and secondary school studies, we’ve opted for best value picks that prioritise functionality, battery life and portability. We’ve also stuck to the likes of ChromeOS and iOS, as they’re easier to navigate than full-fat Windows, and also help to prevent tykes from accidentally downloading malware.
- Best overall school laptop: Google PixelBook Go
- Best budget school laptop: Acer Chromebook 315
- Best school tablet: Apple iPad 7
- Best primary school laptop: Dell Chromebook 3100 2-in-1
- Best Microsoft school tablet: Surface Go 2
For more details on each school laptop, scroll down below where you’ll also find links to the full reviews.
1. Google PixelBook Go
Best overall school laptop
- Fantastic keyboard
- An attractive and understated look
- Impressive battery life
- Android apps on Chrome can be useful
- Can get far too expensive if you upgrade specs
- No fingerprint scanner / facial unlock
- Have to get the top model for 4K screen
A Chromebook is one of the best laptop options for school students, with the ChromeOS operating system preventing children from downloading nasty software and the general price being far more affordable than a Windows 10 ultrabook. The Google PixelBook Go is our top-rated Chromebook, proving to be a superb option for kids thanks to its long-lasting battery life, lightweight design and comfortable keyboard.
Black and pink colour options also allow for more stylish looks than the bland silver portables, although you have to spend a little more for the latter. With a £629 base price, the PixelBook Go is admittedly one of the more expensive Chromebook options, and so it’s probably only worth investing on those in secondary school. For Key Stage 2, you don’t need so much performance power and can probably get away with a cheaper device.
- Read our full Google PixelBook Go review
2. Acer Chromebook 315
Best budget school laptop
- Incredibly affordable price
- Big screen for a Chromebook
- Smooth performance for web browsing and video streaming
- Great selection of ports
- Poor battery life
- Unimpressive keyboard
- Heavy build
The Acer Chromebook 315 is available at an incredibly affordable price. It’s not the fastest laptop and the battery life isn’t very impressive, but if just want a cheap laptop for your kids to watch videos and do their homework, then it remains a decent option.
The biggest issue here is that it weighs a hefty 1.8 kg, which means you probably don’t want your tykes resting it on their lap. Treat it like a portable desktop computer that sits on a desk, and that shouldn’t be an issue.
The sizeable 15.6-inch Full HD touchscreen also makes it a good TV replacement, which will no doubt be a big incentive for parents who’ve had enough of Peppa Pig being the main focus of the living room.
- Read our full Acer Chromebook 315 review
3. Apple iPad 7 (with Smart Keyboard)
Best school laptop for Apple fans
- iPadOS is great
- Support for Pencil and Keyboard
- Bigger 10.2in display
- The display isn’t laminated
- 32GB starting storage feels low
Apple’s locked down operating system has similar benefits to a Chromebook, in that children are limited by what they can download to the device. But with MacBooks costing over £1000, they’re hard to justify for school children who only need to browse the web and watch YouTube. Apple’s iPad 7 is a far most cost effective alternative, only costing £508 with the Smart Keyboard included
While the Smart Keyboard doesn’t offer the same quality as a traditional laptop keyboard, it’s still comfortably good enough for schoolchildren who just need to enter keywords into Google or write up the odd homework essay. You can also buy an Apple Pencil stylus to allow your kids to express their creative side or practice their handwriting.
And of course, the iPad can operate without the Smart Keyboard to be used as a tablet. Subscribing to the like of Apple Arcade will also give your children a bounty of games to play, and iPadOS is full of creative and educational apps to play around with.
- Read our full Apple iPad 7 review
4. Dell Chromebook 3100 2-in-1
A hardy Chromebook ideal for young students
- Virtually indestructible
- 360-degree hinge design
- OK battery life
- Screen is small and low res
- Keyboard could be better
Giving an expensive laptop to a child is always a risk, as their grubby mitts and clumsy grip can cause irreparable damage in a matter of seconds. The Dell Chromebook 3100 2-in-1 is specifically designed to withstand such scrapes, and while it may look rather ugly as a result, it’s a far better alternative than having a stylish system that’s been snapped in half.
As you might have guessed by its name, the Dell Chromebook 3100 2-in-1 features a 360-degree hinge and a touchscreen, allowing you to use it like a makeshift tablet. It’s obviously not as portable and elegant as say Apple’s iPad, but it’s very much capable of handling school-related tasks and works out to be cheaper if a keyboard is essential.
- Read our full Dell Chromebook 3100 2-in-1 review
5. Surface Go 2 (with Type Cover)
Best Windows tablet for school students
- Slimmer bezels result in a more stylish design
- Bright and colourful display
- Good battery life
- Superb microphones and webcam
- Entry-level model has poor performance
- Windows 10 S mode has lots of restrictions
- Not a very touchscreen-friendly UI
- Type Cover is expensive and can’t replace keyboard
The Surface Go 2 is essentially just a Windows 10 (in S Mode) alternative to Apple’s iPad. We personally prefer Apple’s cleaner and more touchscreen-friendly iPadOS operating system, but the Surface Go 2 is a great secondary option if you’re more of a fan of Microsoft’s software.
There are lovely design features here though, with the stand being built into the rear of the device rather than being incorporated with attachable keyboard. The microphones and webcam are excellent too, which is important in an age where video calls are the norm.
It is rather pricey though, especially since you have to buy the Type Cover (keyboard) separately. But if you don’t want your kids getting smitten with expensive Apple products, the Surface Go 2 is among the best devices that can fulfil both laptop and tablet duties.
- Read our full Surface Go 2 review