Help Me, LaptopMag! What's The Best $1,000 Laptop for School?

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When you have a decent-sized budget for a laptop, you can probably afford a great computer. But with so many options, you run the risk of investing your hard-earned money in a machine you may someday regret.

helpme xps9360 leadSo, we weren't surprised to see forum user talhaaslam650 ask this question:

"So I am looking for a laptop for my university, and it should handle light photo editing and offer good battery life for general use. $1,000 is my budget, but if the laptop is worth it, I can go $1,100. Kindly suggest the best laptop in this range."

Well, talhaaslam650, we kindly thank you for this question, and have an answer: the $899 Dell XPS 13 9360, with a 7th Generation Intel Core i5-7200U processor, 8 GB RAM, and a 128 GB SSD. Not only is it fast enough to handle all of your classwork and photo editing; it's also extremely lightweight at 2.78 pounds, so it's easy to bring from class to class.

MORE: Best College Laptop - Laptops by Major - Laptop Mag

But, before you run to Dell's website, let's go over why I specified the 9360 model number. Rather than the most current XPS model we tested this month (Jan. 2018), the 9360 is a device from 2017. Why are we recommending last year's model? It's simple, actually: It's because you mentioned how important battery life is to you. 

We agree that a long-lasting laptop is important, and that's why we'd recommend this 2017 model, which lasted 16 hours and 5 minutes on the Laptop Mag Battery Test (web browsing at 100 nits). In contrast, the XPS 13 9370 (2018) model topped out at 12 hours and 37 minutes. That extra 3-plus hours can make all the difference between a machine that lasts through your afternoon classes without its power cable, and one that dies during a critical lecture.

The other reason I'm recommending the 9360 is because the model we suggest is $100 less than the cheapest 2018 version ($999), which would max out your budget. This way, you've got money left over for food purchased outside of your university's meal plan. But, if you want more storage, we wouldn't argue against the $100 upgrade to turn this notebook's 128 GB SSD into a 256 GB drive.

Have laptop woes and need advice? To get answers fast, head straight to the Laptop Tech Support Forum for the latest tips from our resident experts and your fellow community members. 

Credit: Shaun Lucas/Laptop Mag

Author Bio
Henry T. Casey
Henry T. Casey,
After graduating from Bard College a B.A. in Literature, Henry T. Casey worked in publishing and product development at Rizzoli and The Metropolitan Museum of Art, respectively. Henry joined Tom's Guide and LAPTOP having written for The Content Strategist, Tech Radar and Patek Philippe International Magazine. He divides his free time between going to live concerts, listening to too many podcasts, and mastering his cold brew coffee process. Content rules everything around him.
Henry T. Casey, on
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1 comment
  • omegatalon Says:

    MSI GL62M 7REX 15.6” with Intel Core i7-7700HQ, NVIDIA GTX 1050Ti sells for $979; this is a high performance gaming notebook and the most bang for about $1K.

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