It’s that time of year again when parents wonder when their kids grew up and graduation parties are giving way to packing away high school memories.
Back-to-school season is even more exciting for incoming college students looking to start a new chapter in their academic careers with an eye for some freedom and the best tech tools available.
No matter the student or parent’s budget, there are a number of notebooks available with the flexibility and computing power to give young adults a competitive advantage - at whichever academic institution they call “home” this fall.
Check out this list of the best HP laptops for college students to learn about the available options for stocking their dorm rooms and learning labs for success.
Benefits of a laptop computer for college students
No matter your academic major, today’s HP notebooks and laptops are made to go anywhere you do. The special attention given to battery life and connectivity has led many students to find that the best HP laptop for college is the one that they can use as a powerful research tool. Of course, they also want a multimedia center designed for enjoying their favorite music and streaming services.
When shopping for a notebook or laptop be sure you know how the device will be used. Not every student values the same computer accessories and features, so take time to assess how days - and nights - will be spent to determine which laptop makes the most sense for their college journey.
Certain features, such as internal processing and touch screen capabilities, are best decided up front. Picking out peripherals and add-ons (such as external storage devices, extra monitors, or exterior speakers and cameras), however, can always wait until you’ve selected the right laptop for your school needs.
Do you need a laptop for college?
Writing up a packing list for school can seem daunting, and it may lead some to question if a laptop is even necessary for college. After all, many institutions provide computer labs and public desktops for students to use free of charge, which means it’s entirely possible (though not very convenient) to do most of your work with the tools the college provides.
The reality is that much of the studying, documenting, and researching a typical student performs will be done outside of these computer hours or in places not equipped with a lab. A student who wants to study over spring break or needs some extra quiet time studying alone will find that laptops are most suitable for accessing work anytime and anywhere.
Laptops have also become part of a student’s personal life by filling a need for entertainment and personal communication that isn’t handled easily by a smartphone.
From watching streaming movies, playing the latest games, to storing personal photos and video chatting with family, a reliable laptop can fill many roles: school computer, multimedia center, communication dashboard, and digital filing cabinet.
And once classes start, students may soon discover that many academic programs (such as certain testing applications) only work on a computer.
This makes it even more desirable for students to have their own laptop for both work and play, instead of relying solely on a phone or tablet.
What if they already have a device? It’s not mandatory to buy a new model every year, of course, but you may find that the student’s needs change as their academic rigor increases. They may also have a desire for a faster processor or more storage than a year or two ago.
Some other indications that you may need to upgrade your laptop include:
The model is older than a couple of years - even if it’s functioning properly.
The battery is 18 months old and is expensive to replace.
Graphics cards and some internal peripherals are nearing two years with regular use.
While a laptop may be running fine now, one that’s close to one of these milestones is at risk of failing.
What is the best HP laptop for a college student?
As a parent, your answer depends entirely on the needs of the student.
It’s recommended that parents have an honest discussion with their kids to know how the laptop will be used, including what types of non-academic activities are popular.
Students who plan to spend a lot of time in their dorm or apartment, using their laptop for everyday and entertainment activities, will need a model with more storage and processing speed than a student with more basic word processing and research needs.
If your child plays video games, consider a model that has moderate gaming abilities, even if they have a separate gaming console for most of their play sessions. Many students find themselves switching back and forth between entertainment, gaming, and studying on the same laptop, so it makes sense to combine those capabilities into one device.
HP Pavilion 15z laptop
For a budget-friendly laptop that can do it all, nothing beats the HP Pavilion 15-inch touch screen laptop. It offers more than enough power to get standard student tasks done with its AMD Quad-Core A12 APU processor and 8GB memory, and it can be upgraded to a full 16GB for heavy use.
Where this computer excels, however, is in its addition of a DVD-RW drive, expansion slot, and a touch screen. These features all come at a higher cost than other models, but you also get color choices of silver, gold, blue, or red. This perfectly balanced model gives students all that they need, and a little bit more, without breaking the bank.
HP OMEN gaming laptop
Gamers don’t stop gaming when the school year starts, and students wanting the best of all worlds will want a model that can handle work and play. That’s why the HP OMEN gaming laptop is a popular back-to-school shopping pick, earning it a top spot as a best HP laptop for college students.
The HP OMEN’s impressive 7th Generation Intel® Core™ i7 processor can handle today’s top gaming titles, while the NVIDIA® GeForce® GTX 1050 prevents unnecessary lag in play.
And because it comes standard with Windows Office software, up to 2TB storage, and over 8 hours of battery life, this machine is well poised to handle homework too.
Trusted by professionals but simple enough for beginners to master, it’s a sleek mobile workstation that’s undergone 120,000 hours of testing to prove it can handle whatever today’s inspired student can put it through.
The HP ZBook comes standard with the industry’s best tools and boasts Windows 10 Pro, NVIDIA Quadro M1200M graphics, and dual Thunderbolt™ 3 ports.
The best entry-level college laptop for students
Every college student is unique, so their computing needs will be vastly different from anyone they know.
Today’s HP laptops are designed to grow with your student and many are easily expandable to give you more storage, power, and accessories when you need them most. For those who just aren’t sure where to start, there are a few basic models available that can help a student grow into the idea of owning a laptop at school.
HP Stream 11-inch laptop
The HP Stream 11-inch laptop, for example, is an ideal entry-level notebook for all the requirements of college life - and at a price that parents and students can feel good about. Write, research, take notes, stream, and communicate effortlessly with all the perks of one of the best laptops for college students.
The included Intel® Celeron® N3350 processor can handle all the jobs of a classroom, with a vivid 11.6-inch HD display that makes watching movies and web browsing easy on the eyes.
Another all-around good choice for any student is any of the HP Chromebooks. These were designed specifically for the student who wants to minimize clutter, as the series runs on Google's Chrome OS™ and integrates seamlessly with existing Google accounts (such as YouTube, Docs, Drive, and Gmail).
With a choice between the 11-inch or 14-inch screen sizes, there’s a good chance that this affordable-yet-powerful notebook will be the favorite thing in his or her backpack this year. A student favorite, an HP Chromebook is lightweight and does it all for under $500.
HP ENVY x2 detachable laptop
There is something to be said for endurance, too. With today’s college student experiencing long days of studying, working, practicing, and relaxing, the ideal laptop should be ready to deliver.
That’s why some students are turning to the HP ENVY x2 laptop, an amazingly versatile 2-in-1 notebook with up to 22 hours of battery life. Take this lightweight machine (just 2.67 lbs with keyboard) to all the classes, games, and study groups you want. It’s equipped to run on Wi-Fi or 4G LTE all day long, and it’s ready to recharge when you are.
The best HP laptop for online college students
Not all students live in dorms or even visit a physical classroom.
In fact, 28 percent of college students are enrolled in at least one online course for their post-secondary education, and having their own dependable computer is vital. Many choose laptops or notebooks for this purpose, but what are college kids raving about this season?
These top picks are designed to make online classes a breeze:
HP EliteBook 1040 laptop
The HP EliteBook 1040 is considered one of the best HP laptops for college, especially for students taking online classes.
A powerhouse of a computer, it’s traditionally used as a business notebook, but its communication features make it ideal for live courses, conversing with instructors, and conferencing in study groups. Its thin 15.99 mm body and 2.99 lb weight make it easy to pack up and go while staying charged for an impressive 18 hours.
HP Chromebook 13-inch laptop
For the budget-focused student who still wants it all, nothing beats an HP Chromebook 13-inch laptop. This newest generation of the popular notebook has all the reliability and versatility of the Chromebook™ line, with a few extra perks that online students can’t live without.
Watch lectures and videos online - without losing quality - via the QHD+ Panel with 5.76 million pixels. Then chat with your peers using integrated Google Hangouts. Up to 11.5 hours of battery life gets students through the day and much of the night without having to recharge, making this Chromebook™ model the perfect tool for work and play.
HP ENVY x360 convertible laptop
Many online students need powerful tools to support their creative endeavors, which is why the HP ENVY x360 laptop is a top choice for taking notes, sketching, and bringing beautiful things to life using the integrated Windows Ink software suite.
Students can also configure the four-mode, versatile HP ENVY x360 to work as a tablet, laptop, standing screen, or presentation tent display. Customize it to get up to 15GB of RAM for big jobs, and go from 0 to 90 percent charged in just 90 minutes (when powered down).
Students today need a durable laptop that can keep up with their increasingly busy lifestyles, and these top picks for 2018 have something for every college major, interest, and life goal. Even if a student isn’t quite sure what next steps lie ahead, their trusty laptop will be there when they need it.
HP laptops are versatile, rugged, and innovatively designed to keep top trends in mind, without sacrificing quality. With all the decisions a college student will make - from picking a roommate to choosing their next meal at the dining hall - selecting a laptop model from this list may be the easiest thing they do to prepare for next semester.
About the Author: Linsey Knerl is a contributing writer for HP® Tech Takes. Linsey is a Midwest-based author, public speaker, and member of the ASJA. She has a passion for helping consumers and small business owners do more with their resources via the latest tech solutions.
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