Help Me, Laptop: I Need a Laptop for a 10th Grader

When it comes time to buy a computer for your child, we have some advice. Don't spend too much money on a system they'll outgrow or possibly drop, but buy something that's appropriate for their age.

Reader splunge wants to buy a new laptop for their son, who is in 10th grade. Splunge writes:

"I'm looking for a laptop for my son. His Toshiba Chromebook has had charger problems and he wants to upgrade to a Windows machine. He mainly uses Google Docs for school work, plans to stream video and possibly some low-demanding applications. Portability and durability are priorities - he's accustomed to a 13.5" screen (I believe). Hard drive doesn't need to be large, speed is nice but doesn't need to be top of the line and integrated graphics is probably adequate. Battery life is nice, but he usually keeps it plugged in at home and doesn't run it during classes in high school."

Wow, that Toshiba Chromebook is a blast from the past, since Toshiba stopped making Chromebooks several years ago. So let's take a look at what highly portable Windows 10 laptops are available for a budget price.

The Asus VivoBook E403NA comes to mind, because of its lightweight  chassis and low price. For $399, you get a a premium metal design, a 1080p screen and over 8 hours of battery life. The 14-inch laptop weighs just 3.1 pounds, so it's very easy to carry around or balance on your lap. Its Pentium processor isn't particularly speedy, but it is more than adequate for Google Docs and streaming video.

MORE: Which Laptop CPU is Right for You?

If portability doesn't matter (but it sounds like it does), you can get the 15-inch Acer Aspire E15-575-33BM, which is just $349 and provides a faster, Core i3 CPU, a 1TB hard drive and a more colorful display. However, the E15 weighs a hefty 5 pounds, so your son will probably just leave it in his room at home.

If you can stretch your budget all the way up to $749, the Asus ZenBook UX330UA is a great choice. It weighs just 2.7 pounds and has a full-HD, 13-inch display, a quad-core Core i5 CPU and a 256GB SSD. It also lasts all day on a charge.

Credit: Laptop Mag

Avram Piltch
Online Editorial Director
The official Geeks Geek, as his weekly column is titled, Avram Piltch has guided the editorial and production of since 2007. With his technical knowledge and passion for testing, Avram programmed several of LAPTOP's real-world benchmarks, including the LAPTOP Battery Test. He holds a master's degree in English from NYU.