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Best laptops for kids in 2021

(Image credit: Future)

The best laptop for kids may not sound crucial at first if they use a hand-me-down tablet or smartphone that might feel good enough for their digital needs. However, as we move towards the back-to-school season, computers are part of the curriculum for virtually every age group and familiarity with a laptop can be a real advantage.

The best laptop for kids presents some unique challenges due to their less careful handling of the laptop and at least initially fairly basic needs. That caused us to weigh durability a little more heavily than for most and ideally, it won't be too expensive in case anything happens to it. For slightly older children or those that are abundantly careful, those are less relevant, so we aren't eliminating all laptops that don't fit those criteria. 

Regardless of your child's needs after hours of researching and reviewing these laptops, we are sure that one will be the right fit — after you make one big choice.  

That one big decision is the operating system (OS) and, in most cases, you should probably go with Chrome OS. Google’s OS is easy to use, secure, and the most popular choice in schools today, so it should be familiar to kids and will help them to further excel in class. Modern Chromebooks, including those we have selected here also support Android apps and feature touchscreens, expanding the capabilities of these laptops and making them easier for kids to use. 

There are certainly some limitations to Chrome OS, for example, high-end gaming and video production are two categories that aren’t well served, still, a Chromebook is a great fit for most kids.

(Image credit: Laptop Mag)

If you have a gamer on your hands or your child is interested in some more intensive tasks that require specific software, like videography, game development, music creation, or things along these lines, then Windows 10 or macOS laptops are going to be the better fit. For younger kids, these operating systems will typically be more than they need, but for older kids or teenagers who have started to explore these topics in school already, it can be worth it. In virtually all cases, we would recommend Windows 10 over macOS at this stage as there simply aren’t any truly affordable macOS laptops. And with the exception of app development for iOS or macOS, there is nothing that cannot be achieved on either OS.

Once you have determined which OS is right for your child the hard work is over. Here are the best laptops for kids based on our reviews — each of these is an excellent option for your child.

Acer Chromebook C933T review

(Image credit: Acer)

1. Acer Chromebook C933T

Best overall laptop for kids

Specifications
CPU: Intel Pentium Silver N5030
RAM: 8GB
Storage: 64GB
Display: 14-inch, 1080p
Dimensions: 12.8 x 9.1 x 0.8 inches
Weight: 3 pounds
Reasons to buy
+Inexpensive+Very bright display+Solid battery life+Extremely durable
Reasons to avoid
-Chunky design-Weak speakers

Acer is the top seller of Chromebooks worldwide and that includes both high-end and more affordable models like the Chromebook C933T. While its boxy design may not stand out; the affordable price, solid display and excellent performance in this class will. 

The speakers are sufficient for listening to classroom videos, but a headphone jack is available if they need a more immersive audio experience or Bluetooth 5.0 for wireless headphones. Other ports include two USB-Type-C and two USB 3.1 Type-A.  The Acer Chromebook C933T managed 10 hours and 10 minutes in our continuous web surfing over Wi-Fi battery testing, which is a couple of hours beyond the category average.

The one disappointment with the Acer Chromebook C933T is that it lacks a touchscreen, this makes it less suited for younger students that may benefit from the tactile experience and support for Android apps. Those students should look to one of our other options including the slightly pricier Acer Chromebook Spin 713.

See our full Acer Chromebook C933T-P8SM review.

Asus Chromebook Flip C434

(Image credit: Future)

2. Asus Chromebook Flip C434

Best large screen premium Chrome OS laptop for kids

Specifications
CPU: Intel Core m3-8100Y
RAM: 4GB
Storage: 64GB eMMC
Display: 14-inch, 1080p touch screen
Dimensions: 12.6 x 8 x 0.6 inches
Weight: 3.1 pounds
Reasons to buy
+Premium and durable design+Vivid, 14-inch touch screen+Long battery life+Strong performance
Reasons to avoid
-Finicky touchpad-A tad pricey

The Asus Chromebook Flip C434 may at first seem expensive for a Chromebook, at over $500, but it is one of the best Chromebooks on the market. The advantage of this laptop is that it should easily stay with your kid through years of use as they will not outgrow its capabilities. The 14-inch touchscreen looks phenomenal and is an excellent match both for engrossing younger kids who are viewing more content while for older kids it allows for easy multitasking.

Support for Android apps is present and, with the more powerful Intel processor found in the Asus Chromebook Flip C434, there is no Android app or game that it won’t be able to handle. Unless your child needs some specific Windows 10 or macOS software, there simply isn’t a need to look beyond the Asus Chromebook Flip C434.

See our full Asus Chromebook Flip C434 review.

Lenovo Chromebook Duet

(Image credit: Future)

3. Lenovo Chromebook Duet

Best budget Chrome OS laptop for kids

Specifications
CPU: MediaTek Helio P60T
RAM: 4GB
Storage: Up to 128 eMMC
Display: 15.6-inch, 1920 x 1080-pixel
Dimensions: 9.6 x 6.6 x 0.7 inches
Weight: 2 pounds
Reasons to buy
+Long lasting battery+Tablet and laptop form factors+Colorful display+Ultraportable+Affordable
Reasons to avoid
-Small keyboard-No headphone jack

If you are trying to make up your mind between getting your child a tablet or a laptop, the Lenovo Chromebook Duet is an excellent middle ground choice with its detachable 10.1-inch touchscreen that will be easy for small hands to use. And, in a moment, the keyboard can be reattached to return back to laptop mode. 

While the other Chromebooks can fold flat, they are obviously still bulky in that position due to the keyboard. With Android app support on the Lenovo Chromebook Duet, you are really getting two devices in one with a solid Android tablet and Chromebook experience. And while adults or teenagers may find the keyboard a bit cramped, elementary school kids in particular are going to find the keyboard to be exactly the right size for them.

Another bonus with the Lenovo Chromebook Duet is that, due to its tablet form factor, it features an 8MP rear camera, not something you are going to find on any other laptop. Kids love being able to snap photos and take little videos and this laptop will be miles better for those tasks than the webcam found on most notebooks. Finally, the battery life on the Lenovo Chromebook Duet is second to none at roughly 13 hours in our testing.

See our full Lenovo Chromebook Duet review.

Google Pixelbook Go

(Image credit: Laptop Mag)

4. Google Pixelbook Go

Best premium lightweight Chrome OS laptop for kids

Specifications
CPU: Intel Core i5-8200Y
RAM: 8GB
Storage: 128GB SSD
Display: 13.3-inch, 1080p touch screen
Dimensions: 12.2 x 8.1 x 0.5 inches
Weight: 2.3 pounds
Reasons to buy
+Great battery life+Solid performance+Bright, colorful display+Grippy design
Reasons to avoid
-Lackluster speakers-Limited ports-Keyboard is a bit shallow

The Google Pixelbook Go is one of the most premium Chromebooks on the market and while it's overkill for most kids, it's a great option for older children who don't need Windows or macOS. This laptop is thin and light enough to take anywhere and delivers fast performance that makes it an excellent laptop for years to come. 

The battery life is similarly solid with 11 hours and 29 minutes in our testing, which should be enough to get most kids through at least a couple of days of use. The magnesium-alloy build and textured bottom of the laptop make it durable and easy to carry around.

The 13.3-inch 1080p touchscreen display on the Pixelbook Go is bright and colorful, particularly when compared to most other Chromebooks on the market. Our reviewer was disappointed with the speakers, but the headphone jack allows user to plug in when they need a better audio experience.

See our full Google Pixelbook Go review.

HP Envy x360 13 (2020)

(Image credit: Laptop Mag)

5. HP Envy x360 13 (2020)

Best premium Windows laptop for kids

Specifications
CPU: AMD Ryzen 5 4500U
GPU: AMD Radeon Graphics
RAM: 8GB
Storage: 256GB
Display: 13.3-inch, 1080p
Size: 12.1 x 7.7 x 0.7 inches
Weight: 2.9 pounds
Reasons to buy
+Outstanding performance+Bright and vivid 1080p touchscreen+Longer battery life+Excellent value+Compact and durable aluminum design
Reasons to avoid
-No Thunderbolt 3-A bit thicker and heavier than rivals

While the HP Envy x360 (2020) is on the pricier side when compared to most of the laptops on this list (with the exception of the MacBook Air), it would be a mistake not to include it. For older kids, this is just a flat-out exceptional laptop and a great value. That’s why you will also find it among our best 13-inch laptops and best college laptops

The AMD 4000-series processor will run circles around any of the other laptops here, including the more expensive MacBook Air. If your kid is looking to do some light gaming or heavier content creation, like video editing on their laptop, this is going to serve them well.

Battery life is excellent at 11 hours and 52 minutes in our testing and the 13.3-inch touchscreen is bright, vivid and offers a crisp 1080p resolution. While it might not be durable enough for young kids, the aluminum construction should hold up well to the kind of occasional bumps that will still happen with older kids.

See our full HP Envy x360 13 (2020) review

MacBook Air

(Image credit: Laptop Mag)

6. MacBook Air (M1, 2020)

Best macOS laptop for kids

Specifications
CPU: Apple M1
GPU: Apple M1 GPU
RAM: 8GB/16GB
Storage: 256GB/512GB/1TB/2TB
Display: 13.3-inch, 2560 x 1600-pixel
Size: 12 x 8.4 x 0.6 inches
Weight: 2.8 pounds
Reasons to buy
+Breathtaking performance+Outstanding battery life+Slim unibody aluminum chassis
Reasons to avoid
-Few ports-Design could use an update

If your kid has to have a MacBook due to either software needs or strong preference, then the MacBook Air is really the only logical choice. The hardware reliability with the keyboard is back up to Apple’s old standards with the move to the Magic keyboard, and the aluminum construction is as solid as ever.

While the $899 (with the education discount) starting price is outside of what we consider reasonable for a kid's laptop, with the new Apple M1 chip this laptop is worth it if you feel that macOS is the way you want to go. It outperforms most everything in its class and delivers endless battery life (14 hours and 41 minutes in our testing) which is nice for a kid that may not always remember to plug it in. 

The webcam on the MacBook Air still isn't amazing, but it's a significant improvement over previous years and more important the mic and speakers are excellent so they'll be able to hear everything and be heard.

See our full MacBook Air (M1, 2020) review.

Asus Chromebook Detachable CM3 laying on a chair

(Image credit: Laptop Mag)

7. Asus Chromebook Detachable CM3

Best affordable Chromebook with built-in stylus

Specifications
CPU: MediaTek MTK 8183
GPU: Integrated Arm Mali-G72 MP3
RAM: 4GB LPDDR4X
Storage: 128GB eMMC
Display: 10.5-inch, 1900x1200-pixel touchscreen
Size: 12.7 x 8.9 x 0.68 inches
Weight: 2 pounds
Reasons to buy
+Excellent battery life+Detachable 2-in-1 design+Durable+Built-in stylus
Reasons to avoid
-Weak performance for the price

The Asus Chromebook Detachable CM3 cloaks itself in the guise of a tweed-bound journal. However, lift the cover and you’ve unlocked a versatile 2-in-1 laptop that happens to include a stylus in case you did want to do some journaling. 

Its small 10.5-inch detachable form factor makes it an excellent choice for students as it is equally at home as a tablet or as a laptop. This hybrid build, much like the Lenovo Chromebook Duet, also means it gets a superior back camera that is ideal for capturing images for homework assignments or scanning in documents without having to use a second device. 

Despite the small size, the touchscreen is bright and vibrant, making it perfect for watching content as well. Performance is the weak spot for the Chromebook Detachable CM3, but it's equal to the kind of tasks that a student will encounter running dozens of browser tabs without issue. As a consequence, the battery life is spectacular at 11 hours and 41 minutes in our testing, which should easily power a kid through days without having to worry about charging up.

See our full Acer Chromebook Detachable CM3 review

Sean Riley

Sean Riley has been covering tech professionally for over a decade now. Most of that time was as a freelancer covering varied topics including phones, wearables, tablets, smart home devices, laptops, AR, VR, mobile payments, fintech, and more.  Sean is the resident mobile expert at Laptop Mag, specializing in phones and wearables, you'll find plenty of news, reviews, how-to, and opinion pieces on these subjects from him here. But Laptop Mag has also proven a perfect fit for that broad range of interests with reviews and news on the latest laptops, VR games, and computer accessories along with coverage on everything from NFTs to cybersecurity and more.