Enjoy the holiday break while you can, because the spring semester is just around the corner and it'll hit you hard if you're not prepared. To start the year off right, arm yourself with a powerful laptop that'll give you the speed you need to enhance your productivity.
A student on the Tom's Guide forums asked us for help choosing between three sleek and powerful laptops for school.
CaptainVenomFTW writes, "I know all these laptops are overpowered for just school, however, I want something nice to last me for a while. I want a light and nice looking laptop [with good internal specs]."
The choices that CaptainVenom gave us are as follows:
- HP Spectre x360 ($1,449 for Core i7, 16GB of RAM, 512GB SSD, Poseidon Blue) (opens in new tab)
- HP Spectre x360 ($1,249 for Core i7, 8GB of RAM, 256GB SSD, Dark Ash Silver) (opens in new tab)
- Asus ZenBook Flip 14 ($1,298 for Core i7, 16GB of RAM, 512GB SSD, Slate Gray)
- Lenovo Flex 5 ($649 for Core i7, 8GB of RAM, 256GB SSD, Onyx Black)
Don't worry, CaptainVenom, we'll make sure you're good to go before the spring semester rolls around.
HP Spectre x360: Best Performance and Keyboard
The Spectre x360 (2.9 pounds, 0.5 inches thin) we tested is a similar configuration to the one you're considering, with an Intel Core i7-8550U processor, 16GB of RAM, a 512GB SSD and an Intel UHD 620 GPU. It nailed 13,568 on the Geekbench 4 overall performance test and 79,528 on 3DMark's Ice Storm Unlimited graphics test, meaning it has more than enough power to handle any school-related tasks.
The lower-tiered configuration that you recommended won't be able to multitask as many programs with half the RAM, and you're also sacrificing half the storage. In that case, we'd recommend power over style.
Its 13.3-inch, 1080p display offers solid colors but weak brightness, producing 109 percent of the sRGB spectrum and registering 261 nits on our light meter. The Spectre x360 did last a solid 8 hours and 26 minutes on the Laptop Mag Battery Test.
Despite having a lower 1.3 millimeters of key travel (we prefer travel in the 1.5 to 2.0 mm range), the Spectre x360's keyboard was incredibly comfortable to type on during our tests due to its 80 grams of required force.
Asus ZenBook Flip 14: Best Graphics and Battery Life
Our ZenBook Flip 14 (3.3 pounds, 0.5 inches thin) was outfitted with an Intel Core i7 8550U processor, 16GB of RAM, a 512GB SSD and an Nvidia GeForce MX150 GPU.
It scored 12,799 on Geekbench 4 and 110,792 on 3DMark Ice Storm Unlimited, making it great for some light gaming but a slightly slower performer than the Spectre x360.
Buy Asus ZenBook Flip 14 on Amazon.com (opens in new tab)
The ZenBook's 14-inch, 1080p panel covers a vivid 115 percent of the sRGB color gamut and emits an average 274 nits of brightness, beating the Spectre x360 in both vibrancy and color. Despite having a discrete GPU, the ZenBook Flip 14's battery lasts an impressive 9 hours and 27 minutes.
Its keyboard, however, offers a measly 1.0 millimeters of key travel, but its 70 grams of required actuation force actually gives it some solid tactile feedback.
Lenovo Flex 5: Best Value
We tested last year's version of the Lenovo Flex 5 (4.7 pounds, 0.8 inches thin), which was outfitted with a Core i7-7500U CPU, 16GB of RAM, a 512GB SSD, a 1TB HDD, an Nvidia GeForce 940MX GPU and a 4K display. Due to its last-gen CPU, it hit only 7,177 on Geekbench 4, but its discrete GPU registered 100,242 on 3DMark Ice Storm Unlimited.
Your configuration with the 8th Gen CPU and GeForce MX130 GPU should be able to keep up with the competition, but the graphics will be somewhat less powerful than the ZenBook Flip 14’s.
The 15.6-inch, 4K panel that we tested on the Flex 5 produces 133 percent of the sRGB spectrum and emits up to 270 nits of brightness. However, the 1080p panel will most likely land closer to the competition in color and brightness. Because the panel is 4K, it soaks up a lot more power than it should, causing it to last only 5 hours and 50 minutes on our battery test. You can expect to it last longer with a 1080p screen.
Similar to the Spectre x360, the Lenovo Flex 5's keyboard has 1.3 millimeters of key travel, but it’s not as comfortable due to its much lower 60 grams of actuation force.
If you're on a budget, save yourself $800 and go for the Lenovo Flex 5. The configuration you get should be powerful enough to help you get your work done and even let you do some light gaming.
However, if you're willing to spend the extra cash, the Asus ZenBook Flip 14 offers stronger gaming performance, an excellent battery life and a vivid display. I would only recommend the Spectre x360 (opens in new tab) if you desperately need a smaller profile and slightly better performance. Plus, you will get a much better keyboard than the rest.
We hope that this helped narrow down your choices. Let us know which you decide to go with!
Credit: Laptop Mag