Trusted Reviews is supported by its audience. If you purchase through links on our site, we may earn a commission. Learn more.

Best student laptop: Top 10 student notebooks and convertibles

Trusted Reviews reveals the key things to look out for, how much you should spend and where to find discounts when you’re searching for the best student laptop

Looking for the best student laptop for school or university? Then you’re in the right place, as we’ve rounded up the best portables that offer bargain value.

We put a big focus on ultra-portable laptops here, so you won’t struggle lugging your new machine between lecture halls, but also ensured there’s enough performance power to whizz through research and word documents.

Knowing the limitations of a student loan, we also made sure the majority of the laptops on the list are priced under £1000, while also including options cheaper than £500 for those who don’t want to approach their overdraft.

Without further ado, here’s out Top 10 list of the best student laptop options currently available.

MacBook Air M1

The best student laptop you can buy

Pros:

  • Speedy performance
  • Exceptional battery life
  • Strong app support
  • Great keyboard

Cons:

  • Poor webcam
  • Same design as before
  • Poorly positioned (and only two) USB ports

Why we liked the MacBook Air M1

The MacBook Air has shot right to the top of our Best Student Laptop list thanks to the introduction of Apple’s M1 chip.

This new processor not only offers the fastest CPU speeds you can find in an ultra-portable laptop, but also excels at graphics-based workloads such as 4K video editing, animation and game design. Improved battery life performance is the cherry on top for the MacBook Air, making this one of the most capable and versatile laptops currently available.

We’re disappointed that Apple hasn’t refreshed the design, but it’s still a good looking laptop. The biggest issue is the underwhelming webcam quality, especially since Zoom calls are so common now. But if you can ignore those slight blemishes, this is absolutely the best student laptop for the majority, as long as you’re happy using macOS instead of Windows.

Read the full review

MacBook Air M1 Technical Specs

  • Display: 13in, 2560 x 1600
  • CPU: Apple M1
  • RAM: 8/16GB
  • OS: macOS
  • Storage: Up to 2TB
  • Weight: 1.29kg

Latest live deals

Surface Laptop Go

The best value student laptop you can buy

Pros:

  • Incredible value
  • Small and classy design
  • Excellent performance
  • Comfortable keyboard

Cons:

  • Low-resolution display
  • No keyboard backlight
  • No fingerprint scanner on base configuration

Why we liked the Surface Laptop Go

The Surface Laptop Go is the ideal laptop for students who can’t justify spending around £1000. Microsoft is offering this dinky 12.4-inch laptop at a cheaper price than the larger Surface Laptop 3, and it represents fantastic value considering the top-notice performance and comfortable keyboard.

There are a few compromises you’ll have to accept though, including the low-resolution display and lack of a keyboard backlight, but it’s easy to overlook such issues if you’re looking something that prioritises productivity, whether that’s bashing out essays or browsing the web for research. Students on media-savvy courses will need to look elsewhere though, as it lacks a decent GPU performance.

The biggest boon here though, is that Microsoft offers a student discount on their online store, seeing the base model price tumble down to a very affordable £521.55 price point. This makes the Surface Laptop Go the absolute best value choice for students of all ages.

Read the full review

Surface Laptop Go Technical Specs

  • Display: 12.4in (1536 x 1024)
  • CPU: 10th Gen Intel
  • RAM: 4/8GB
  • OS: Windows 10
  • Storage: Up to 256GB
  • Weight: 1.1kg

Latest live deals

Lenovo Yoga Slim 7

Best mid-range student laptop

Pros:

  • Great value price
  • Fantastic battery life
  • Speedy performance
  • Nice Full HD screen

Cons:

  • Basic design
  • No Thunderbolt
  • No fingerprint scanner on select models

Why we liked the Lenovo Yoga Slim 7

The Lenovo Yoga Slim 7 is a good compromise if you want something more powerful than the Surface Laptop Go, but don’t fancy spending a grand. Featuring AMD’s Ryzen 4000 processor, the Slim 7 can power through productivity tasks with ease, making it a good choice for students who keep multiple web browser tabs open simultaneously.

The Ryzen processor also ensures a lengthy battery life, as the laptop lasted 14 hours and 39 minutes on a single charge during our benchmark tests. This means you won’t need to worry about being in reach of a power supply when taking the laptop to a lecture hall or library.

The Slim 7 does unfortunately miss out on a few noticeable features such as Thunderbolt and a fingerprint scanner (on select models) for hassle-free logins, but they’re minor omissions when you can get this excellent laptop for a few hundred quid less than a MacBook Air.

Read the full review

Lenovo Yoga Slim 7 Technical Specs

  • Display: 14in FHD
  • CPU: Ryzen 7 4700U
  • RAM: Up to 16GB
  • OS: Windows 10
  • Storage: 512GB
  • Weight: From 1.4kg

Latest live deals

MagicBook 14

Most affordable AMD laptop

Pros:

  • Student-friendly premium style
  • Superb value
  • Pleasant typing experience
  • More than capable productivity performance

Cons:

  • Webcam position on keyboard
  • Below average display

Why we liked the Honor MagicBook 14

The Honor MagicBook 14 (2020) was the best value Windows laptop around until the Surface Laptop Go turned up. The arrival of Microsoft’s small laptop has dulled the appeal of the MagicBook to some extent, but it’s still a worthy buy.

The biggest benefit of the MagicBook 14 over the Go is the bigger display and Full HD resolution, making it a better option for Netflix and YouTube video content. Plus, Honor can go toe to toe with Microsoft for performance and keyboard quality, so it really is a tight contest between the two.

So what’s the catch? The pop-up camera is unfortunately located below the display, giving the classroom a good look at your nostrils on Zoom. But if you’re willing to ignore that flaw, this is still a fantastic value student laptop worth considering. And if you fancy an even bigger 16-inch screen, you’ve also got the option of the Honor MagicBook Pro at a slightly more expensive price.

Read the full review

Honor MagicBook 14 Technical Specs

  • Display: 14in FHD
  • CPU: Ryzen 5 3500U
  • RAM: 8GB
  • OS: Windows 10
  • Storage: 256GB
  • Weight: 1.4kg

Latest live deals

Lenovo Chromebook Duet

Best budget student laptop, with versatile 2-in-1 form factor

Pros:

  • Very affordable price
  • Bundled keyboard offers versatility
  • Superb screen for video content
  • Excellent battery life

Cons:

  • Lack of headphone jack
  • Poor speaker quality
  • Keyboard is uncomfortably small

Why we liked the Lenovo Chromebook Duet

The Lenovo Chromebook Duet is arguably more of a tablet than a laptop, but since it comes bundled with a magnetic clip-on keyboard, you’re able to easily turn it into a makeshift clamshell when you need to get some work done.

This is arguably a better option for school students rather than those attending university, as you’ll want a better keyboard and performance when tackling a 10,000 word dissertation, but the Duet’s versality makes it a great option if you like the idea of watching Netflix and YouTube in bed.

The lack of headphone jack is a major issue here for those who haven’t made the move over to Bluetooth buds. Alternative options include the iPad 7 and the Surface Go 2, although you’ll have to buy the attachable keyboard separately which pushes the prices up considerably.

Read the full review

Lenovo Chromebook Duet Technical Specs

  • Display: 10.1in FHD
  • CPU: MediaTek Helio P60T
  • RAM: 4GB
  • OS: ChromeOS
  • Storage: 128GB
  • Weight: 920g

Latest live deals

MacBook Pro 16

A high-end laptop ideal for creative-focused courses

Pros:

  • Incredibly powerful
  • Bigger display still looks stunning
  • Scissor keyboard a huge improvement
  • More stylish with smaller bezel

Cons:

  • Very expensive
  • Stingy port offering
  • Lack of Wi-Fi 6

Why we liked the Apple MacBook Pro 16-inch

The Apple MacBook Pro 16-inch is easily one of the most expensive laptops on this list, and is therefore only recommended to those who require a powerful performance. The MacBook Pro packs a high-end processor and GPU, helping it to excel at the likes of photo and video editing. 

Such power is wasted if you’re only going to be browsing the web and typing out essays, so so make sure you really do need the extra grunt before purchasing. Even if money is no issue, the extra power means the laptop is lumbered with extra heft, making it more difficult to lug around.

It’s also worth remembering that Apple is in the process of adding Apple Silicon to its entire Mac range. If you can wait another 12 months, it’s likely Apple will launch the MacBook Pro 2021 with significantly improved performance power and battery life.

Read the full review

Apple MacBook Pro 16-inch Technical Specs

  • Display: 16in (3072 x 1920)
  • CPU: 9th Gen Intel Core
  • RAM: 16GB
  • OS: macOS
  • Storage: Up to 8TB
  • Weight: 2kg

Latest live deals

Incredibly lightweight student laptop

Pros:

  • Lightweight design
  • Superb battery life
  • Competitive performance
  • Plenty of ports onboard

Cons:

  • Concerning build quality
  • Reflective screen could be an issue outdoors
  • Lack of Caps Lock indicator

Why we liked the Acer Swift 5 (Late 2020)

The Acer Swift 5 (Late 2020) is currently available at a similar price point to the MacBook Air, which means it’s got serious competition. However, with an outstandingly light 1.05kg design, it may well be a better pick for those tired of lugging hefty portables around campus.

Featuring Intel’s 11th Generation processor, it offers a competitive performance that be ideal for study work. The battery life is very impressive too, lasting a stunning 15 hours and 21 minutes on a single charge during our testing process.

However, there are drawbacks to having such a lightweight design. The magnesium-aluminium chassis feels a little suspect on the bottom, with a build quality you’d ben concerned to bash about. Still, if you’re prepared to spend the money, this is a superb ultra-portable laptop.

Read the full review

Acer Swift 5 (Late 2020) Technical Specs

  • Display: 14in FHD
  • CPU: 11th Gen Intel Core
  • RAM: Up to 16GB
  • OS: Windows 10
  • Storage: Up to 1TB
  • Weight: From 1.05kg

Latest live deals

Avita Pura

Best budget Windows laptop

Pros:

  • Decent screen for the price
  • Pleasing typing experience
  • Good port selection
  • Good performance for basic needs

Cons:

  • Poor speakers
  • Chunky bezel
  • Runs on Windows 10 in S Mode
  • More expensive model faces tougher competition

Why we liked the Avita Pura

The Avita Pura is one of the cheapest laptops you can buy that still offers a solid productivity performance. It is admittedly running on Windows 10 in S Mode, which is similar to a Chromebook in that it’s restricted to an app store for downloads, but the Pura is still very much capable of doing the basics.

But despite its sub £400 price point, the Avita Pura has a surprisingly good screen, keyboard and performance. That means it should be up for any basic jobs, whether that’s streaming video, writing up essays or scrolling through Twitter.

Other laptops at this price are generally Chromebooks, so if you really can’t stomach ChromeOS the Avita Pura is a superb option for both school and university students.

Read the full review

Avita Pura Technical Specs

  • Display: 14in FHD
  • CPU: Ryzen 5 3500U
  • RAM: 8GB
  • OS: Windows 10 S Mode
  • Storage: 256GB
  • Weight: 1.2kg

Latest live deals

Google PixelBook Go 

Best clamshell Chromebook for students

Pros:

  • Fantastic keyboard
  • An attractive and understated look
  • Impressive battery life
  • Android apps on Chrome can be useful (even if buggy)

Cons:

  • Can get far too expensive if you upgraded specs
  • No fingerprint scanner / facial unlock
  • Have to get the top model for 4K screen

Why we liked the Google PixelBook Go

The Google PixelBook Go is our favourite Chromebook that has the same form factor as a conventional clamshell laptop. It excels at all the basics, with the keyboard, performance and high-end design all proving impressive in our review.

Our biggest issue with the laptop is that it’s pretty expensive compared to other Chromebooks, especially if you opt for high-end configurations with fingerprint scanning, facial unlock and a 4K resolution display.

When the total spend starts approaching £1000, it probably makes more sense to go for the less restrictive Windows or macOS operating systems instead. But if you’re happy with the streamlined ChromeOS approach, the PixelBook Go is as good as it gets.

Read the full review

Google PixelBook Go Technical Specs

  • Display: 13in FHD/4K
  • CPU: 8th gen Intel Core
  • RAM: 16GB
  • OS: ChromeOS
  • Storage: 256GB
  • Weight: 1.06kg

Latest live deals

Asus ROG Zephyrus G14 Best Student laptop

Best student laptop for gamers

Pros:

  • Incredible CPU performance
  • Great for Full HD gaming
  • Ultra-portable design
  • Impressive battery life

Cons:

  • Lack of RGB lighting
  • No integrated webcam
  • Underwhelming SSD speeds

Why we liked the Asus ROG Zephyrus G14

The Asus ROG Zephyrus G14 is currently our absolute favourite gaming laptop, packing enough power to competently run AAA games in 1080p while remaining light and slim enough to carry in a bag without giving you back strain.

If you’re a university student moving away from home, you’ll probably want a laptop that’s not only great for homework but also excels at entertainment. The Zephyrus G14 is an ideal candidate, especially since it features Ryzen 4000 processors that are insanely quick for productivity tasks.

The biggest issue here is the lack of webcam, so you’ll need to purchase a separate camera in order to take part in Zoom calls with your tutor. But this is arguably a small price to pay when you can start playing Call of Duty or Assassin’s Creed to ease the stress of exams.

Read the full review

Asus ROG Zephyrus G14 Technical Specs

  • Display: 14in FHD
  • CPU: Ryzen 9 4900HS
  • RAM: 16GB
  • OS: Windows 10
  • Storage: 1TB
  • Weight: 1.7kg

Latest live deals


  1. MacBook Air M1 – The best student laptop you can buy
  2. Surface Laptop Go – The best value student laptop you can buy
  3. Lenovo Yoga Slim 7 – The best mid-range student laptop
  4. Honor MagicBook 14 (2020) – Most affordable AMD laptop
  5. Lenovo Chromebook Duet – Best budget Chromebook
  6. Apple MacBook Pro 16-inch – High-end laptop ideal for creative-focused courses
  7. Acer Swift 5 (Late 2020) – Best lightweight student laptop
  8. Avita Pura – Best budget Windows laptop
  9. Google PixelBook Go – Best clamshell Chromebook for students
  10. Asus ROG Zephyrus G14 – Best student laptop for gamers

1. Operating system:

Make sure the OS fits your needs. Chromebooks are cheaper, but are more restrictive than Windows 10 and macOS devices.

2. Performance:

Ensure the processor is fast enough to meet your demands. Check out our Best Intel processor and Best AMD processor guides for more details.

3. Graphics:

If you want to edit video, animate or play games, you’ll need a decent integrated or dedicated GPU. The latter is recommended for high-end workloads.

4. Ports:

Ensure the laptop has all the ports you need, as the likes of USB-A, Ethernet and SD Cards are often omitted. Adapters can be used as workarounds.

5. 2-in-1 designs:

Look out for 2-in-1 laptops that can flip into ‘tablet mode’ as they’re useful for taking notes and watching Netflix.


Still not sure which laptop you want to buy? We’ve included a couple of tables below to offer more detailed comparisons between the best student laptop options.

Below you’ll see a summary of all the laptop specs so you can find exactly what you’re looking for:

Display CPU RAM Operating system Weight
1) MacBook Air M1 13-inch,
2560 x 1600
Apple M1 8/16GB macOS 1.29kg
2) Surface Laptop Go 12.4-inch,
1536 x 1024
10th Gen Intel Core 4/8GB Windows 10 1.1kg
3) Lenovo Yoga Slim 7  14-inch,
1920 x 1080
Ryzen 7 4700U  8/16GB Windows 10 1.4kg
4) Honor MagicBook 14 (2020) 14-inch,
1920 x 1080
Up to Ryzen 5 3500U 8GB Windows 10 1.4kg
5) Lenovo Chromebook Duet 10.1-inch,
1920 x 1080
MediaTek Helio P60T 4GB ChromeOS 920g
6) Apple MacBook Pro 16-inch 16-inch,
3072 x 1920
9th Gen Intel Core 16GB macOS 2kg
7) Acer Swift 5 (Late 2020) 14-inch,
1920 x 1080
11th Gen Intel Core 8/16GB Windows 10 1.05kg 
8) Avita Pura 14-inch,
1920 x 1080
Ryzen 5 3500U 8GB Windows 10 S Mode 1.2kg
9) Google PixelBook Go 13-inch,
Full HD / 4K
8th gen Intel Core 16GB Chrome OS 1.1kg
10) Asus ROG Zephyrus G14  14-inch,
1920 x 1080
Ryzen 9 4900HS 16GB Windows 10 1.7kg

 

Why trust our journalism?

Founded in 2004, Trusted Reviews exists to give our readers thorough, unbiased and independent advice on what to buy.

Today, we have 9 million users a month around the world, and assess more than 1,000 products a year.

author icon

Editorial independence

Editorial independence means being able to give an unbiased verdict about a product or company, with the avoidance of conflicts of interest. To ensure this is possible, every member of the editorial staff follows a clear code of conduct.

author icon

Professional conduct

We also expect our journalists to follow clear ethical standards in their work. Our staff members must strive for honesty and accuracy in everything they do. We follow the IPSO Editors’ code of practice to underpin these standards.