Choosing a laptop can feel overwhelming with the amount of options available. Whether you’re looking for something light to help take the (literal) load off your back, something with a large screen for watching or creating videos, something with lots of hard drive space to easily store large media files or something that won’t break the bank, we’ve got you covered.
If you’re unsure which laptop is best for high school, read on to learn what you need to know and have one less thing to worry about during the school year.
What to look for when buying a laptop for a high school student
Size, hard drive, RAM and processing
The specifications worth looking into before buying a laptop computer include its dimensions and weight, available ports and configuration details (which includes hard drive storage), amount of RAM, processor speed, screen size, graphics card and operating system (Mac OS, Microsoft Windows, Linux or ChromeOS).
Standard hard drives range in size from 128GB to 512GB and use solid-state technology, making them fast and efficient at managing your files as you work. More RAM allows you to multitask between programs easily, Laptops under 150 and a faster processor means that the computer is more responsive, starts up quickly, and can handle high-intensity tasks such as streaming, rendering, or transferring large files at high image resolutions.
However, you may not need the most extensive configuration; 8GB of RAM and a processor speed between 3.5 and 4.2 GHz is sufficient for most environments.
If you’re taking graphic design or video classes, you’ll probably want something with a large screen and a fast processor. If you already carry around a heavy backpack, a lighter laptop would be a great choice. If you want something basic that can handle taking notes, sending emails, streaming media and browsing the web, there are versatile options with plenty of storage space and RAM in a variety of screen sizes. If you’re on a budget, there are laptops out there for under $500 that do the job.
While most standard laptops have a screen size of at least 13 inches, “mini laptops” can often pack just as much punch.
Microsoft Surface Go 2: available at Amazon and Best Buy
Microsoft Surface Go is a touchscreen laptop with a 10.5-inch screen. At just under two pounds, it offers the portability of a tablet with the functionality of a computer and is perfect for browsing the web, checking email and doing homework.
Lenovo Yoga C740: available at Amazon
At three pounds, this laptop can fit easily in a student’s backpack without weighing them down. Despite its small size, it still has plenty of ports, 8GB of RAM and 256GB of storage.
Laptops with screen sizes as large as 17 inches are still fairly portable. If your high school student needs a large screen for editing videos or working on multiple school projects, these laptops may be a good fit.
LG Gram: available at Amazon and Best Buy
This largest laptop in the LG Gram series is ideal for gaming or design. It has a robust battery and ample hard drive storage and RAM. This series is also available in a 15.6-inch model.
Dell XPS: available at Best Buy
This Dell laptop can be configured with up to 2TB of storage and 64GB of RAM, making it a versatile option for media editing and streaming or gaming, as well as more basic computing tasks such as word processing and browsing the web. It has an Intel i7 processor meant for multitasking and a 4K Ultra HD screen resolution, which has four times the pixels of HD displays. Even though it has a larger screen, it has a relatively small footprint for its screen size and won’t take up too much room in your backpack or on your desk.
Most laptops weigh between two and seven pounds.
Apple MacBook Air: available at Best Buy and Amazon
The MacBook Air is one of the most enduring MacBook models and has evolved into a workhorse. It has a 13-inch Retina display, a long-lasting battery (15 to 18 hours of use) and weighs less than three pounds.
Best all-purpose laptops
These models give you enough RAM for typical computing tasks such as email, word processing and basic photo editing. They also give you a good amount of hard drive space without exceeding $1,000. These are ideal if you’re looking for an all-purpose configuration that offers a little bit of everything.
This touchscreen HP Envy starts at $959.99 with 256GB of storage and 8GB of RAM. It has a 360-degree hinge so you can angle the display however you’d like, and an 11th Gen Intel processor which makes it good for power users.
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