Nearly 18 million students are enrolled at the 4,000 universities and colleges in the United States. Each and every one of them will need a computer, but with so many options, the choice can be a daunting one. Sure, the student bookstore probably has some good discounts on computers, but will any of those be the right laptop for your studies? Start by reviewing our recommendations for the best laptop for your college major, and then check with your specific school to make sure its configuration meets the minimum requirements. Then, you'll want to pick up a few extras, such as a comfortable mouse and a well-appointed backpack. And don't forget to preload some antivirus software before you head to campus.
It's lightweight (just less than 3 pounds) and easy to type on, offers zippy performance with a Core i5 processor and 128GB of flash storage, and lasts for 14 hours on a charge. What more could a college student want from an all-purpose laptop? We also love the Air's sleek and sturdy aluminum design. Starting at $999, this ultraportable is a great value.
Regardless of whether you're devoted to organic chemistry, anthropology or atmospheric science, you need a solid machine like the Dell XPS 13 (2015). This Windows 8.1 system packs a powerful 5th-generation Core i5 processor with 4GB of RAM and a 128GB SSD. The virtually borderless 13-inch display with a 3200 x 1800-pixel resolution will make sure your notes and graphs pop, giving the illusion of a much bigger screen. The $899 XPS 13 lasts nearly 12 hours on a charge, while the $1,299 version adds a touch display and comes with 8GB of RAM.
The ThinkPad T450s has what budding developers and IT managers need, including a best-in-class keyboard for typing commands quickly, a full HD for putting code files side by side and over 15 hours of battery life. A durable chassis and a powerful Intel 5th generation Core series processor round out this impressive package.
Whether you're sitting in a lecture hall or doing work for that make-or-break internship, the ThinkPad X250 is your best business-learning tool. Its small, lightweight chassis fits easily on your lap, a tiny desk or a tray table, while a snappy keyboard and full-HD screen make taking notes, crunching spreadsheets or editing presentations a breeze. With over 15 hours of battery life, the X250 lets you leave your AC adapter at home.
With a full 10-key number pad on the Lenovo Flex 2 15, your fingers will fly across the AccuType keys, filling in charts and spreadsheets. The Intel Core i5 processor with 6GB of RAM will give you plenty of performance. We also love that you can switch from laptop to stand mode in a second. That's all for less than $500.
The Toshiba Chromebook 2 was practically built for online college students. We love both the affordable, $249 starting price tag and the nearly 8 hours of battery life. At less than 3 pounds, this 13-inch machine is pleasantly portable as well. The dedicated row of Chrome OS-specific keys will come in handy, and the crisp audio quality will make listening to lectures (and music) a pleasure.
Buying a workstation doesn't mean you have to break your budget. Starting at $1,079, the Dell Precision M2800 can be outfitted with a powerful, Intel Core i7 processor with 8GB of RAM. The 15.6-inch, 1,920 x 1,080-pixel, anti-glare screen means group projects will pop. Plus, when you're on a worksite, you can rest assured that your machine is protected against water, dust and shock.
Tap your creative energy with the updated 15-inch MacBook pro with Retina Display. Apple has upped the ante by adding much faster flash storage along with optional AMD Radeon R9 M370X graphics, which should make quick work of any project. Still, the entry-level $1,999 model with Intel Iris graphics should still be plenty powerful for most students. Add in a Force Touch trackpad and longer battery life, and you have a winner.
With the gorgeous 4K, Ultra-HD touch screen on the Asus Zenbook NX500, you'll see every piece of the human body in living color. The Intel Core i7 processor with Nvidia GeForce GTX 850M graphics and a 512GB SSD all add up to one powerful study companion. The aluminum design will definitely turn heads on campus.
Engineering is a big field with many subdisciplines, but for many of those, you'll need a powerful PC. Some of the software these college students will need to run -- such as AutoCAD, MATLAB and Simulink -- won't run on a MacBook. The HP ZBook 14 fits the bill nicely. This Windows 7 Pro (64-bit) system comes with a 14-inch, 1920 x 1080-pixel display and a sleek design. Inside, you'll find a fast 2.1-GHz Intel Core i7 CPU with 16GB of RAM, and a 240GB solid-state drive (SSD).
The latest 13-inch MacBook Pro offers speedy performance, a top-notch screen and excellent endurance -- everything that an art and design student needs. Plus, there's a new Force Touch trackpad that saves you time. The starting config offers a 2.7-GHz Intel Core i5 CPU with 8GB of RAM and a 128GB flash storage drive, plus a 13-inch, 2,560 x 1,600-pixel display that's sharp and colorful. Add 12 hours of battery life, and you have a masterpiece.
Students of the law should start by looking for a PC, because chances are, some of the exams you'll be required to pass won't work on a Mac. Beyond that, a Lenovo IdeaPad Yoga 2 Pro should offer all the flexibility and power you need. Not only does this hybrid feature a touch screen and tabletlike functionality, but it also houses a zippy 1.6-GHz Intel Core i5 CPU with 4GB of RAM and a 128GB SSD.