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The 10 best laptops for college students in 2017

Despite common battery life issues plaguing staples like the MacBook Pro, leading Apple to replace some of them with newer models, a laptop is essential in college. Providing you with unwavering freedom practically unheard of in the desktop space, your mouse, monitor and keyboard are tightly kept in the form of a single, versatile device.

  • Discover the best laptops you can buy in every category

Whether you crave the autonomy of playing your favorite PC games on the go or simply prefer the efficacy of drafting up documents using a full-size physical keyboard, the top laptops for students have it all: some are even compatible with Google Chrome version 60’s extended Touch Bar functionality.

With hybrids, Ultrabooks, traditional clamshells and – more powerful than ever – gaming laptops in tow, these are the best laptops for college. To get straight to the reviews, check the links below, or keep reading for a brief synopsis of each of these top laptops for college.

  • Dell XPS 13
  • Samsung Notebook 9 Pro
  • Asus Chromebook Flip
  • Microsoft Surface Pro
  • Samsung Notebook 7 Spin
  • Dell Inspiron 15 Gaming
  • Asus ZenBook UX310
  • Microsoft Surface Laptop
  • Huawei MateBook X
  • Apple MacBook Pro (13-inch, Late 2016)

best laptops for students

Packing a high-resolution screen and serious processing power, there's more to the Dell XPS 13 than its status as a tightly kept Ultrabook. Now featuring new processors and better integrated graphics, clearly there’s an advantage to the Dell XPS 13 besides the fact that it comes in Rose Gold. The 13-inch display, crammed into an 11-inch body, a worthy rival to a certain other aluminum laptop line. What’s more, the Dell XPS 13’s utility is extensive, spanning everything from writing to video editing to everything in between.

Read the full review: Dell XPS 13 review

The Samsung Notebook 9 is what other 2-in-1 laptops have aspired to be since their conception. It hones in on the S-Pen, Samsung’s own proprietary stylus with 4,096 levels of pressure sensitivity (the same as Microsoft’s new Surface Pen), a nifty little accessory that conveniently doesn’t require charging. Although the touchscreen display is only 1080p, at between 350 and 450 nits of brightness, you won’t be paying any mind to the pixels, or lack thereof. Plus, the lengthy battery life more than makes up for this hybrids few setbacks.

Read the full review: Samsung Notebook 9 Pro

  • This product is only available in the US as of this writing. UK and Australian readers: check out a fine alternative in the HP Spectre x360 15.

Clearly learning from Google’s mistakes with the now-defunct Chromebook Pixel, the Asus Chromebook Flip C302 sees the rebranding of the premium Chromebook. This time, instead of charging users over a grand for top-tier performance on a notebook that’s limited to a web browser and a handful of cloud-based apps, Asus has cut this price in half and given its Chromebook a 360-degree makeover. Now you can experience a Chromebook whose style rivals that of the MacBook Pro without spending even remotely what you would on one of Apple’s machines. 

Read the full review: Asus Chromebook Flip

Microsoft Surface Pro 4

The 2017 Surface Pro is – in every way, shape and form – the Surface Pro 5 we’ve been waiting for. From its rounded edges to its refined selection of accessories, there’s no denying it’s a true Surface Pro 4 successor. There’s also the fact that the Surface Pro draws inspiration from the Surface Studio insofar as it bends back 165 degrees. The only real downside then (besides having to buy the Surface Pen separately this time) is that only the i7 version of the Surface Pro can compete with even the most affordable iPad Pro.

Read the full review: Microsoft Surface Pro

  • This product is only available in the US and Australia as of this writing. UK readers: check out a fine alternative in the Lenovo Miix 510.

best laptops for students

For less than a grand, you could get a MacBook Air, complete with a sub-1080p screen and a Broadwell processor … or you could buy a Samsung Notebook 7 Spin. A 2-in-1 laptop with an HDR, full HD touchscreen, the Spin is home to both a discrete Nvidia graphics chip and a 6th-generation Intel Core “i” CPU. Though the spinning hard drive and 480p webcam aren’t ideal, they keep the price of the Samsung Notebook 7 Spin modest and its reputation positive.

Read the full review: Samsung Notebook 7 Spin

  • This product is only available in the US and UK as of this writing. Australian readers: check out a fine alternative in the Asus ZenBook Flip UX360.  

Ditching the Alienware moniker for once, the Dell Inspiron 15 Gaming doesn’t cost much and exhibits unparalleled performance for the price. For the price, you wouldn’t even be able to afford a MacBook Air, and this is a laptop that can handle practically every game you throw at it, albeit not at the highest settings. And, if you were worried about the battery life, the Inspiron 15 Gaming lasted a whole 5 hours and 51 minutes in our tests, longer than some Ultrabooks priced significantly higher.

Read the full review: Dell Inspiron 15 Gaming

After the wonderfully brilliant Asus Zenbook UX305 was discontinued, we were skeptical that Asus could follow it up with something even better. Still, the Asus ZenBook UX310UA surprises with the same all-aluminum chassis we’ve come to know and love in addition to a higher resolution screen and an impressive swath of ports, including the latest USB-C interface. The best news is that it does all of that without slipping above the price point of the current MacBook Air, making it an even better value.

Read the full review: Asus ZenBook UX310

best laptops for students

The Surface Laptop is Microsoft’s first stab at a “traditional” laptop, if you can even call it that knowing full well that its PixelSense touchscreen and Alcantara keyboard are anything but conventional. Featuring a full stack of U-series 7th generation Intel Core “i” processors, the Surface Laptop beats out Apple’s 12-inch MacBook any day of the week, and for a lower starting price at that. Despite the ports and operating system being limited, the Surface Laptop is appealing for its laudable design, beautifully vivid screen and impressive performance.

Read the full review: Surface Laptop

A thin and light notebook that resembles a MacBook, in reality the Huawei MateBook X is so much more. Instead of wielding a measly Intel Core M- or Y-series processor, the Huawei MateBook X goes for gold with a full on U-series CPU of the Core i5 and i7 variety without resorting to a clunkier form factor. Other than the lukewarm battery life and a notable shortage on ports, this is an honest first attempt at crafting a premium Windows notebook with portability at the forefront.

Read the full review: Huawei MateBook X

  • This product is only available in the US as of this writing. UK and Australian readers: check out a fine alternative in the HP Spectre.

Apple 13-inch MacBook Pro with Retina display (early 2015)

With battery life exceeding seven hours and a powerful Intel Core i5 processor, the latest 13-inch MacBook Pro is replete with everything you need to get through the coming semesters. This late 2016 MacBook Pro weighs only 3.02 pounds (1.37kg), making it lighter than ever before as the result of a slimmed-down, “butterfly” mechanism-powered keyboard and stealthy cooling system. The MacBook Pro even manages a larger trackpad despite the laptop itself being thinner. And, like all macOS-outfitted devices, it ships useful apps pre-installed at no extra cost.

Read the full review: Apple MacBook Pro (13-inch, Late 2016)

  • Now, check out the best 2-in-1 laptops

Gabe Carey has also contributed to this article

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