Choosing the Best Laptops for College at Lenovo
When choosing the best laptop for a student in college, there's a lot to consider
and questions that need to be answered. These laptops aren't just meant for case
studies and assignments, but also for browsing the internet, watching movies,
and playing games.
There’s a wide range of laptops that you can choose from depending on a wide
range of features and your budget. Choosing a laptop isn't easy when you have
all of these factors to consider, but in this FAQ guide, we’ll simplify things
for you. From the best laptop series for students to the important factors to
consider when choosing one, we’ve created a guide to help you choose the best
student laptop for college.
What's the best student laptop?
When shopping for the best laptop for
school or college, you should try to future-proof the system -- within
your budget -- so it will fit the student's educational and lifestyle needs both
today and when they are completing their curriculum in several years. This FAQ
will help you balance the cost of each new feature against the benefit it will
provide, now and tomorrow.
Forget about finding the best laptop for all students. Find the right laptop for
ONE student by considering their personal feature and specification needs in the
broad categories described below. When you're ready, you can browse through our
wide selection of Lenovo student laptops,
including Yoga laptops that feature built-in tablet touch
The market itself has answered this question: yes, the vast majority of students
laptops as their primary computing device (not counting smartphones,
etc.). The rare student who won't ever work outside the dorm room might be able
to use a desktop PC or even a workstation. And some students, such as artists who are
already adept at using touch screens for creative work, might choose a 2-in-1 that's both a laptop and a tablet. But laptops
are the clear student choice.
The portability of a laptop makes it ideal for everything from classroom
note-taking to library research to science field work. [Not to mention streaming
movies, posting on Facebook, editing photos for Instagram, and all the other
important parts of student life!] Netbooks and Chromebooks -- the more economical,
laptop-like devices built mostly for web surfing and using cloud applications --
are even more portable than laptops, but their very small size limits their
usability for students facing long hours of study each day.
Budget laptops for students
The first thing to think of when choosing the best laptop for students is the
budget, especially since students might not be able to afford high-level and
expensive laptops. With laptops, less expensive models mean fewer features, but
this doesn't always mean lower quality. You can get entry-to-mid-level laptop
prices at Lenovo.com for your student needs.
Before you go shopping for a student laptop, you should decide on the budget
range that you want to go for and then look at the laptops in that range.
As you'll see in the sections below, each key laptop specification includes a
wide range of performance options (faster or slower processors, different
display technologies, and so on). It's easy to spend a lot of money. But you
don't have to. Here are some ways to save on a student laptop:
- Processors with multiple cores and clock speeds over 4.0 GHz are the new top
of the line. But the vast majority of students will do fine with anything
over 2.0 GHz, especially if it's multi-core.
- Hard drive size is less important thanks to cloud storage and music/video
streaming. If you find the right price and specs, don't worry if the system
has limited internal storage.
- Unless the laptop will also be used for advanced streaming games or
computer-assisted design, a Full HD (1080p) display will suit most students.
- Don't buy add-on word processing or spreadsheet software until you ask about
school discounts or the availability of cloud-based versions of these tools
(sometimes provided by the school).
Additional money saving tips are presented later in this FAQ, in the section
"Other factors to consider in a student laptop."
Choosing the Best Laptop for College
When considering which is the best college laptop for you, there are a several
factors you need to keep in mind to make sure that you purchase the right one.
Screen size, weight and battery life
The first choice you'll face is three-fold: picking the laptop's screen size and,
with that, its weight and battery life (time unplugged). For most students,
screen size and weight will be the determining factors, especially where
electrical outlets are easy to find. For others, who might anticipate lots of
travel or remote study locations, the need for lighter weight or longer battery
life might outweigh the value of a bigger display.
The best student laptop is one that offers portability and a space-saving design
because this is what college students usually focus on. If you're in college,
you’d likely prefer a laptop that you can carry around from place to place, and
a bulky or large device would not be convenient.
If you do require a large screen and high performance, like students in computer
science, larger devices might be better.
First, know that improving display technology (Full HD, Quad HD, etc.) has
enabled impressive viewability in all laptops. So, the decision will be less
about clarity than functionality. And it's a sliding scale: students who mostly
read documents and write text can utilize smaller (but not too small) screens
while those whose learning involves more visual or creative activities can
benefit from larger ones.
The consensus among technology writers and analysts is that a 13-inch laptop --
give or take an inch -- could be a good, middle-of-the road choice for most
students. It would be easy to carry, big enough for most detailed work, and
small enough to fit in a backpack or on a crowded study table. And for buyers
who anticipate extra long hours of on-screen learning, nearly every model
available includes a port to attach a larger, external monitor.
Weight is determined largely by screen size -- each added inch brings added
ounces of plastic and metal to support it. Other factors that can influence a
laptop's weight include the number of batteries (dual-battery models are
increasingly popular), the type of storage (traditional hard drives are heavier
than solid state ones), whether it has integrated peripherals such as DVD
drives, and the presence (or not) of any durability or hardening features.
What's the sweet-spot for laptop weight? Most buying guides say it's about 4 lbs,
give or take. If that's too heavy for a particular student, consider splitting
your purchase and adding one of the low-cost laptop alternatives mentioned above
-- take the ultra-portable to class, save your notes to a cloud storage account,
then complete the assignment on your laptop back at the dorm.
All students should think of the battery life when considering a laptop for
college because you might have to use the device without charging it for a
while. Most laptop batteries last between 10 and 14 hours. Smaller laptops work
more efficiently and have a longer battery life, while it's the opposite for
high-performing and larger laptops.
You should think about how long you want your battery to last based on your
course schedule and other needs.
Some new models with dual-battery configurations offer unplugged work time of 20
hours or more, and the ability to change batteries without shutting down (Lenovo
calls this feature Power Bridge). But where is the typical student in this range
of available unplugged times? Consider these factors:
- How big is it? Screen size is a key factor in battery life. If you need a
bigger display, you'll get less time unplugged.
- How will you use it? Word processing consumes little power compared to
streaming games or complex artistic or rendering programs.
- Where will you use it? Battery life might be critical for marine field work,
but far less so in the dorm or library.
There's also a new battery-related term to know: watt-hours or Wh. Most
manufacturers have added Wh their published specifications to describe the
amount of energy stored in the battery rather than the amount of usage time the
battery will provide. Many experts consider Wh to be a more useful term, as it
is independent of how the battery will be used (word processing versus gaming,
with or without peripherals such as smartphones attached, etc).
Processor, RAM and storage
RAM is the Random-Access Memory, and it determines how many programs on your
computer can run simultaneously. Most of the best laptops for students have 4GB
RAM, but those that need advanced features should go for 8GB. It all depends on
how many applications that you plan to use and how large the applications would
be. Always check the RAM before selecting one of the student laptops from
Student laptop shoppers will also need to evaluate the specifications and
descriptions for processing power, RAM, and permanent storage. Storage is less
important today (see below). RAM shopping is easy: 4 GB is the minimum, 8 GB is
considered typical, and the ability to add more RAM chips is a useful option.
But it is processor (CPU) power that truly matters from an educational/work
product perspective, since it determines how much your laptop can accomplish for
you (and how fast).
Hard Drive and Storage
Everything that you create in your laptop is stored in the hard drive, and so if
you’re choosing good laptops for students, you need to think of how much space
you need. If you need a laptop for simple tasks like word processing, then a
device with moderate storage space would work well.
But students that need high-performance devices, like for computer science or
engineering, should look for laptops with more space. Always check the laptop
storage before making a purchase.
First, a note about storage. The size of the disk space in a new laptop is less
important since the advent of the cloud, which provides new options for storing
files and hosting applications, and from which students can, for example, stream
music rather than downloading and saving it. However, the TYPE of storage you
choose can make a difference. Traditional spinning had drives are economical and
still very popular, but they're slower than solid-state drives, which have no
moving parts and thus can accelerate boot-up speed, program launch times, and so
In terms of the CPU, despite its importance, most student laptop buyers will find
chasing the latest/greatest CPU to be a fool's errand -- and an expensive one.
Any CPU released within the last 1-2 years will typically provide around 2.0 GHz
-- or more -- of "power," which in a CPU refers to the number of instruction
cycles it can complete (a 2.0 GHz machine, for example, can make 2 billion
cycles per second). But GHz alone is not a strict indicator of a processor's
speed, since other factors (advanced memory caching, etc.) can give a processor
with fewer GHz more real-world computing ability. This makes the choice of CPU
-- more than other laptop specs -- mostly a question of "how much do you want to
The processor in a laptop is used to handle all the major functions, like running
applications or working on assignments. It’s one of the most important parts of
the laptop, making it an important factor to consider when choosing the best
college laptop. Most college students can get by with an entry-level or
mid-level processor, especially when they only need it for simple tasks.
Students that need high-performing laptops would need a high-level processor
Today's best processors include multiple cores (each core is, essentially, a
processor unto itself) and within each core have multiple threads (each thread
carries separate command/response strings for whatever programs happen to be
running). These new CPUs further multiply their computational power with new
methods of using the threads simultaneously and offer new cooling methods to
offset the heat generated by all the extra electrical activity.
A FAQ file like this one can't keep up with each new CPU release, so buyers who
are concerned with the relative newness of their processor technology should
consult online sources such as Wikipedia to learn about the latest CPUs from
Intel and AMD. As of mid-2018, the companies were releasing their latest
seventh- and eighth-generation mobile processors:
- Seventh-generation ("Kaby Lake" microarchitecture)
- Eighth-generation & Ninth-generation ("Coffee Lake" microarchitecture)
- Tenth-generation (“Ice Lake” microarchitecture)
- Seventh-generation ("Zen" microarchitecture)
You should also think of the operating system that you want to use, whether it’s
Windows, Linux, or Mac. These two are known for offering full functionality and
compatibility. Most laptops offered by Lenovo are fitted with Windows OS, which
is affordable and allows for easy customization.
This kind of operating system is great for the UK best laptops for college
because it allows you to easily carry out simple tasks that students would
Other factors to consider in a student laptop
Of course, there's much more to consider than just the top-line specifications.
Here's a quick rundown of some additional feature choices you'll face when
shopping for a student laptop.
Display and Resolution
You should also look at the display and resolution when selecting the best
student laptop for college. Consider whether you want a large or small display,
and how high the resolution should be. Students that carry out everyday tasks on
the laptop will need only a small display and average resolution, but it's not
the same for those that need advanced features.
When it comes to resolution, good laptops for students tend to feature
Graphics capabilities: You'll have to choose between systems with
integrated graphics (which generate images from within or very near the main CPU
chip) or ones with dedicated graphics cards (sometimes called Graphics
Processing Units (GPUs)), which are placed separately on the motherboard, are
typically more powerful, and sometimes carry additional cooling features to
enable them to speedily render highly complex graphics and images. Most student
users will be satisfied with integrated graphics, but dedicated GPUs might be
best for those who intend to also play advanced computer games or whose course
of study (such as engineering, videography, etc.) involves the creation or
rendering of complex images or artwork.
Wireless connectivity: Once an option, screaming fast wireless is now
essential in student laptop -- not just for research but for lifestyle
activities such as movie streaming and social media. The latest wireless
standard to look for is 802.11ac, which has a theoretical maximum of 1300
megabits per second (Mbps), approx. three times that of the previous consumer
Ports and accessories: When it comes to USBs, the more the better,
especially with all of the peripherals, such as smartphones, that a student
might need to plug in. The same goes for external connection options (HDMI,
DVI-D, USB Type-C); the more you have, the greater your flexibility. Other
features and accessories are less vital. Does a student need an integrated DVD
drive? Perhaps, but they're getting harder to find, especially in smaller models
where manufacturers need space to fit other features such as fans or extra
batteries. Does a student need a printer? Maybe, but many schools now allow work
to be submitted electronically, so check before buying, or wait to buy a printer
until a few weeks into the first semester.
Durability and protection: Laptops with added features for hard use or
rugged environments are already popular in industrial settings and are quickly
moving into the student market, too. Models with spill-proof keyboards (in which
any small amounts of liquid are directed away from the interior electrical
components) are ideal for students and available in every price category. More
expensive models might use magnesium alloy or carbon fiber construction to
protect against short drops or falls, and some laptops (and laptop cases) are
put through military-level durability tests (MIL-SPEC 810G, for example).
Pre-loaded consumer software: Most computer shoppers are familiar with the
kinds of add-on deals they'll be offered to purchase pre-loaded word processing,
presentation, and other software. Before buying, check with the student's school
to see if they already offer cloud-based versions of such programs, which could
be cheaper (or even free). And note that pre-loaded software can still be a good
deal. Manufacturers such as Microsoft have long offered special discounts for
students and having the software resident on the machine (versus relying on
cloud-based apps) could be essential if working beyond the reach of wireless
Technical support and warranty options: Depending on the student's
technical know-how, the quality and availability of technical support from the
laptop manufacturer could be an important factor, so consider checking the
online forums where these matters are discussed. And check the length and terms
of the laptop warranty. If you truly need a new student laptop to last 4-5
years, consider the cost-benefit value of any extended warranty that might be
Keyboard comfort and clickety-clack: If you're the kind of buyer who
evaluates everything down to the 10th or 12th line of specs, you might want to
evaluate (or test if shopping in person) the sound and feel of the keyboard.
Taking notes in class or working in the library are great, but there might be
some dirty looks from others if every key-press generates an ugly click or
Which Laptop Is Best for Students?
If you’re not sure which best student laptop that you need, we have the list of
the best ones here at Lenovo. These laptops meet the factors we have previously
explored, although you have to keep in mind that the best laptop for you might
not be the best for another student.
So, we’ll be recommending the most reliable laptop series available, and you can
decide which one fits your needs and budget. All these laptops and their
accessories can be purchased directly from Lenovo.com at a student-friendly
First on our list are Chromebooks, which are fitted with all the latest
functions for students, whether you need something basic or high-performing.
These devices use technology intuitively, offering a user-friendly experience.
You can integrate all the Google functions you know and love like Photos, Music,
Docs, Drive, and more. The laptop also automatically updates to add more
features whenever they become available.
Apart from the fact that you can easily collaborate and integrate different
Google apps, you also have access to the Chrome Web Store for a wide range of
apps like Kindle, Netflix, and Spotify. A Chromebook laptop also gives you
access to educational functions like School Loop and Khan Academy. If you have
online classes, you can easily enjoy attending them through Skype. All the
laptops in the Chromebook series offer these functions.
Chromebook laptops are also very rugged and durable, so you can use them for a
long time as you finish school. These laptops endure cold temperatures,
mechanical shocks, and explosive atmosphere testing, so regardless how much you
knock it around, your laptop will remain durable.
IdeaPad Flex Series
Another impressive laptop series that you can select your laptop for college from
is the IdeaPad Flex series. The device connects high performance with
entertainment and high productivity, making it the perfect student laptop. These
devices are known for being very versatile and durable, so whether you're
watching movies or typing your assignment, you can do it all with a laptop from
The IdeaPad Flex laptops feature
tent mode, which allows you to bend it inside out and use it as a touchscreen
tablet. The touchscreen feature also makes it great for students, as you can use
it for a wide range of functions. Wherever you are, you can tuck your IdeaPad
Flex laptop in your bag and take it to your classes.
Apart from the versatility, the IdeaPad Flex laptops have amazing battery life
and high processors, with the necessary ports and connectivity for your everyday
tasks. Depending on the laptop for college that you need, you can choose one
from this series and set it up for your school use.
Keep in mind that you get the Lenovo Premium Care when you purchase IdeaPad Flex
laptops, which is an advanced form of customer care provided 24/7. You also get
a free annual PC health check and real-time solutions on your first contact with
Yoga laptop series is another one of the laptops good for college on our
list, with a wide range of versatile features and functions that a student would
need. Yoga divides its laptops into the 2-in-1, Slim, and All-in-One, and so you
can choose from these miniseries based on your needs and budgets. The Yoga
laptops feature attractive designs and advanced processors, so whether you're
developing games or typing up case studies, there's a laptop for you. If your
budget can take it, there's also the Yoga all-in-one desktop.
Apart from laptops for college, Yoga also has different accessories in its series
that allow students who need more advanced devices. See what we have here at
Lenovo.com to pair perfectly with your laptop.
Purchase Your Student Laptop Today!
In the 21st century, it seems like no one can survive without a laptop,
especially students. With loads of work on your hands, there's no better way to
get things done than with a student-friendly laptop that won't break the bank or
be difficult to carry around.
If you need a student laptop for college, you can choose any of the devices
offered by Lenovo, and go for the one that works for you. Remember to consider
the factors we mentioned previously, including the battery life, portability,
budget, and hard drive.
Find a Laptop for 2021 Back to School
No matter what you’re planning to study, we’ve got a student laptop for you that
can meet your budget and still offer the performance you need. Check out our student deals on
laptops for school, and let us help you find the computer you need to
succeed for this upcoming semester.