You’ll need to use your computer for a number of different purposes, from doing homework and researching online to streaming your favorite movies, often running several applications at once.
Choosing the right computer for school requires that you think about what you will most likely use it for.
Your computer can be as essential to your academic success as your textbooks, so knowing what you need in advance can only help you when it comes down to making the final decision.
Here’s what you should keep in mind when looking for the best computer for students.
Know your classes and your school
Where you will be attending school can actually have a big influence on the type of laptop you might need.
Most colleges tend to use software that runs well with the Windows operating system, and they may request that you have the same for your own computer. Before you purchase your laptop, make sure that any software you’ll use is compatible with your operating system.
Upkeep and repair
Most schools have an IT department with technicians manning a help desk. This often includes an on-site repair center that will service your laptop if something goes wrong.
Many colleges also work with specific companies like HP®, so it’s a good idea to know if you can get your PC fixed on campus or if you’ll need to visit an actual store. A simple call to them can answer a lot of your questions.
Some schools also work with companies to provide purchasing deals for students. If you are looking for a chance to use your student discount, it might be worth it to look into the models your school bookstore offers or programs such as HP®’s UNiDAYS.
Consider laptop weight and size
It may be tempting to purchase a computer with a large screen for streaming movies and playing your favorite games, but you should keep in mind that you’ll probably need to carry your PC from one end of campus to the other.
And when it comes to tasks like taking notes and writing papers, you’ll only need a more basic laptop. With that in mind, it’s important to find something that balances your needs and wants.
It’s also likely that you won’t just be carrying your computer in your backpack. You’ll also need room for your books and papers.
For most students, a 13-inch laptop or 14-inch laptop should be just the right size in order to have a functional display while avoiding muscle strain.
You will most likely be using your computer to write papers and chat online with friends and family too, so you’ll probably want the experience of having a full keyboard.
Laptops smaller than 13 inches tend to have a more cramped keyboard, which can cause problems when you are spending hours upon hours typing. If you do want a smaller computer, consider purchasing a standalone keyboard for those particularly long papers.
Also, you can always purchase an additional computer monitor for your desk to be the larger display you need for entertainment or homework. You can simply plug your laptop in when you get back from class for a desktop-computer-like experience.
Consider laptop battery life and power
Long battery life can be extremely helpful. As a student, you’ll need your computer for nights spent at the library or hours in class. You may not always be able to predict when you’ll have a power source nearby, so batteries that can run for 8 or 9 hours are ideal, especially on days with a full class schedule.
Much of how long your laptop battery lasts will depend on how you use your laptop, of course. Activities like web browsing and word processing shouldn’t eat up too much power, while gaming and streaming videos will.
The same concept applies to the processing power you’ll need. Those who will mostly be browsing and writing papers will be fine with an Intel® Core™ i5 or i7 processor. These are more than strong enough to handle those needs, but high-powered users may need a little something extra.
While they carry a higher price tag, a gaming laptop is usually much more powerful than your more standard model. You will need to consider graphics cards and how much computing speed you’ll need in order to play your favorite games. These laptops also tend to have a shorter battery life simply because of how they’re used.
Consider laptop hard drive storage
In the past, storage was a much bigger consideration when purchasing a laptop for school. Cloud storage and file sharing has made having room on your physical hard drive less crucial. But adequate storage may be necessary if you plan to run a number of applications at once or if you want to save your favorite movies and TV shows on your laptop for offline viewing.
For most students, 500GB of hard drive space should be more than enough to handle any documents and media files you need for assignments or entertainment. Storage also affects the speed of your computer, so if you want applications to load more quickly, then you may need to free up hard drive space or supplement existing storage capacity. External hard drives are another option and can be a nice complement to the aforementioned monitor and keyboard setup.
Should I purchase a hybrid laptop?
Hybrid laptops are becoming a common sight on campuses and there are several reasons students would want one. Because they can be used as both a laptop and tablet, they can serve several functions that would normally require two devices.
The two main designs of hybrid laptops are convertibles, which allow you to flip the keyboard away from the screen so it can be used as a tablet, and detachables, which have been designed for the keyboard to be completely removed.
They are also pretty affordable, especially for those who don’t need a high-powered laptop.
Best HP laptops for students
HP® has a number of great models available for students and their various needs. These laptops combine power and battery life without having to sacrifice portability or price. Here are some options to consider before the new school year.
1. HP Pavilion laptop
The HP Pavilion 15-inch laptop combines functionality with a classic design while providing plenty of power and space on a student’s budget.
You also have the choice of adding a touch screen and a choice in color with either silver or navy blue available. One of the best features is its slim frame, which makes it easy to slip into a backpack. Its Intel Core i5 processor offers plenty of computing power for basic functions and video creation.
Enhanced speakers and audio with HP Audio Boost
15.6-inch optional touch screen
Deals on Microsoft Office
2. HP ENVY x360 convertible laptop
One of the great things about the HP ENVY x360 touch screen laptop is how it delivers amazing graphics in such a small package. It is available in three different screen sizes (13-inch, 15-inch, and 17-inch) to help students find the option that best suits them and what they need from their laptop. It also includes a touch screen, so it can be used for multiple purposes.
While it may seem like an investment for a student, the HP Spectre x360 touch screen laptop comes with a solid warranty and plenty of features to keep users happy through four or more years of college. With an Intel Core i5 processor, this sleek computer can handle almost anything you can throw at it.
It also includes HP®’s Fast Charge feature, making it simple to achieve full battery life between classes. The fingerprint reader and IR security camera add an extra layer of security for peace of mind, and the touch screen allows for an interactive experience for those who like to go hands-on for completing projects and writing notes.
Bang & Olufsen speakers for high-quality audio
Full-sized backlit keyboard
Up to 16 hours of battery life
Light at 2.78 lbs
4. HP OMEN gaming laptop
Those who like to game in their spare time may look for some different specifications than students who just need basic functions. The HP OMEN 15-inch gaming laptop straddles the line between offering functionality and performance. And with the NVIDIA® GeForce® GTX 1050 graphics card, it can handle all of your favorite games.
It also boasts a 4K monitor with a 144 Hz refresh rate to provide a desktop-like experience in a compact laptop. It has plenty of storage, too, to support your entertainment needs alongside more crucial files like your homework and class projects.
15-inch or 17-inch display options
HP Wide Vision HD camera for webcasting or video chat
5. HP Chromebook x2 detachable laptop
For students who need versatility in their laptops and want something more streamlined, the HP Chromebook x2 detachable laptop is for you. It also boasts features that promote creativity such as the included pen that allows students to take notes by hand. It has a removable keyboard and easy-to-use magnetic hinge that can turn your device into a multi-functional tablet.
The HP Chromebook x2 has plenty of battery life to last through work and play, too, and packs a surprising amount of power into a small device. At 12.3 inches, students will easily slip it in their bag without worrying about it weighing them down.
Chrome OS™ operating system
Up to 12 hours of battery life
B&O PLAY for high-quality sound
Light at 1.62 lbs for tablet alone and 3.07 lbs for tablet and keyboard
6. HP Spectre x2 detachable laptop
The HP Spectre x2 detachable laptop offers all the basics that a student needs while also offering a full entertainment system. The touch display can be used with your fingertips or with the included stylus, and the Intel Core i7 processor offers power that many detachable laptops can lack.
This petite laptop is made for notetaking and offers the ideal writing angle. Students can decide whether they feel like using the included keyboard or if they would prefer to write directly on the stunning screen. It’s also a great option for art students who may need a laptop that supports graphic design.
6 million pixel display
Stainless steel kickstand
8GB of RAM
7. HP Notebook
Sometimes, you just want the basics. The 14-inch HP Notebook offers simplicity for those who need a functional, affordable computer with plenty of power to accomplish basic homework assignments. Its compact design means you can take it anywhere, and it also includes HP®’s Fast Charge technology so you can get back to your papers after a short period of downtime.
The laptop battery will keep you powered on for hours, and the Full High Definition (FHD) IPS micro-edge display offers students a chance to unwind by making their favorite TV shows look great. The included USB-C™ port keeps this laptop up-to-date, too, because more accessories are using this technology.
14-inch anti-glare screen
Finding the right laptop as a student doesn’t have to be difficult. With HP®, you can find a device that works for both your homework and your hobbies. There are also models in every price range, making it simpler to narrow down the options that will carry you all the way until graduation.
About the Author: Daniel Horowitz is a contributing writer for HP® Tech Takes. Daniel is a New York-based author and has written for publications such as USA Today, Digital Trends, Unwinnable Magazine, and many other media outlets.
Popular HP Student Laptops for High School and College
Prices, specifications, availability and terms of offers may change without notice. Price protection, price matching or price guarantees do not apply to Intra-day, Daily Deals or limited-time promotions. Quantity limits may apply to orders, including orders for discounted and promotional items. Despite our best efforts, a small number of items may contain pricing, typography, or photography errors. Correct prices and promotions are validated at the time your order is placed. These terms apply only to products sold by HP.com; reseller offers may vary. Items sold by HP.com are not for immediate resale. Orders that do not comply with HP.com terms, conditions, and limitations may be cancelled. Contract and volume customers not eligible.
HP’s MSRP is subject to discount. HP’s MSRP price is shown as either a stand-alone price or as a strike-through price with a discounted or promotional price also listed. Discounted or promotional pricing is indicated by the presence of an additional higher MSRP strike-through price
The following applies to HP systems with Intel 6th Gen and other future-generation processors on systems shipping with Windows 7, Windows 8, Windows 8.1 or Windows 10 Pro systems downgraded to Windows 7 Professional, Windows 8 Pro, or Windows 8.1: This version of Windows running with the processor or chipsets used in this system has limited support from Microsoft. For more information about Microsoft’s support, please see Microsoft’s Support Lifecycle FAQ at https://support.microsoft.com/lifecycle
Ultrabook, Celeron, Celeron Inside, Core Inside, Intel, Intel Logo, Intel Atom, Intel Atom Inside, Intel Core, Intel Inside, Intel Inside Logo, Intel vPro, Itanium, Itanium Inside, Pentium, Pentium Inside, vPro Inside, Xeon, Xeon Phi, Xeon Inside, and Intel Optane are trademarks of Intel Corporation or its subsidiaries in the U.S. and/or other countries.
In-home warranty is available only on select customizable HP desktop PCs. Need for in-home service is determined by HP support representative. Customer may be required to run system self-test programs or correct reported faults by following advice given over phone. On-site services provided only if issue can't be corrected remotely. Service not available holidays and weekends.
Microsoft Windows 10: Not all features are available in all editions or versions of Windows 10. Systems may require upgraded and/or separately purchased hardware, drivers, software or BIOS update to take full advantage of Windows 10 functionality. Windows 10 is automatically updated, which is always enabled. ISP fees may apply and additional requirements may apply over time for updates. See http://www.microsoft.com.