The best laptops for remote learning can help ensure that even away from the classroom a student can do their best. Some of these students may be just as well served by our best college laptops, but there are some unique pieces to remote learning that lead us to draw a line there and we'll highlight those when relevant.
Whether the remote learner is in elementary school, middle school, high school or beyond these are the best laptops to help them succeed in a remote learning environment.
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For many remote learners, a Chromebook is probably the right answer. The simplicity, security and familiarity make them an excellent solution. Students can log into the Chromebook with their school address and the Chromebook will immediately be populated with all of the apps and content that they need. With touchscreens and support for Android apps now commonplace in these versatile laptops, a Chromebook is ideally suited for many remote learners.
For high school age and beyond, some remote learners will want to consider Windows 11 or macOS laptops depending on their areas of study. Students who are working with content creation, whether that be photography, videography, or music will require the software and hardware performance found in laptops with either operating system. And while there are numerous learn-to-code resources available for Chromebooks, the more robust tools found in Windows or macOS will be necessary especially for those interested in iOS or macOS programming as this can only be done on a Mac.
Now that you have a general idea of what to look for depending on the age or grade level of the remote learner, let’s take a look at which specific laptops are going to be the best for remote learning.
What is the best laptop for remote learning?
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The Acer Chromebook Spin 713 is the best laptop for remote learning. It can typically be found for under $500, which is a bit pricey for a Chromebook, but its superior specs help it keep up with increasingly demanding tasks.
The 13.5-inch 2256 x 1504 pixel touchscreen is vivid and bright and strikes an excellent middle ground between portability and screen real estate. The larger panel should allow for multitasking or for an engrossing viewing experience.
The aluminum chassis should also hold up well over time. And thanks to its more premium looks, specs, and approximately 12 hours of battery life, the Acer Chromebook Spin 713 is more than capable of being a top-tier remote learning laptop for years to come.
If you are looking for something a bit smaller, but still want premium hardware, the Google Pixelbook Go is a fantastic option with even better specs, but it’s also pricier, at around $650. On the more affordable end of the spectrum is the Lenovo Chromebook Duet. It offers an incredibly handy 2-in-1 detachable form factor that is going to be well suited to particularly younger remote learners and is available for less than $300. The more recent Lenovo IdeaPad Duet 5 Chromebook is pricier at $499, but it ups the ante with a gorgeous 13.3-inch OLED display, while delivering surprisingly solid performance.
Turning to the older remote learners, the HP Envy 13 is a beautiful Windows 10/11 laptop that has plenty of power to tackle any task that might arise all the way through a college curriculum. And at less than $1,000 for the FHD model, which delivers over 11 hours of battery life, it is a solid value. To save a few hundred dollars, the Acer Swift 3 with its AMD processor offers stellar performance and battery life at an unbeatable price, with the dim display being the one major trade-off.
Finally, if macOS is a must-have, then the new MacBook Air is the best option, with enough power for most remote learners and an affordable starting price at $899 for students. But for budding filmmakers, developers, or music majors, the extra power of the MacBook Pro 13 is advisable.
The Acer Chromebook Spin 713 is one of the best Chromebooks on the market and that makes it one of the best laptops for remote learners. Even at its retail price, it was worth the investment, but now frequently available for under $500 it's a steal compared to comparably specced Windows laptops.
The Acer Chromebook Spin 713 won a spot on the best Chromebooks list for its colorful and bright display, speedy performance and versatile form factor. Remote learners, in particular, may appreciate the form factor given their more varied learning environments.
For remote learners at any level seeking an inexpensive, portable and durable laptop, the Acer Chromebook Spin 713 is certainly one of the best laptops they could choose for their everyday device.
Read our full review of the Acer Chromebook Spin 713.
The HP Envy 13 is the best sub-$1,000 laptop on the market, making it an easy choice for remote learners that want a powerful laptop without spending too much. The lack of an IR camera shouldn't be much of a concern as a remote learner and HP fixed our other complaint from the previous model which was the lack of Thunderbolt 4, meaning any extra port needs can be solved with a docking station.
The bright, vivid display and beautiful aluminum chassis make this laptop a pleasure to look ad the keyboard is a joy to type on. Best of all the new Intel processor manages to deliver over 11 hours on a charge so you can work from anywhere in your home for a full day without worrying about plugging in.
For remote learners who have software needs that Chrome OS can’t meet, this Windows 10 laptop is going to be a great fit. Like the Envy 13 but want a 2-in-1 laptop, then check out the HP Envy x360 13 (2020).
See our full HP Envy 13 (2021) review.
For a premium and portable Chromebook experience for remote learners who take their laptops outside of the home, the Pixelbook Go is hard to beat. It has a gorgeous 13.3-inch FHD touchscreen display that is one of the best we’ve seen on a Chromebook.
Its slim frame and unique ribbed underside make it a pleasure to carry and easy to fit into virtually any bag for when you're on the go. And if you are away from a charger, the incredible battery life (11 hours and 29 minutes in our testing) will ensure that the day’s classwork can be finished with room to spare for some extracurricular activities.
The speakers are one potential downside for the Pixelbook Go as they are a bit harsh sounding.
See our full Google Pixelbook Go review.
The Acer Swift 3 is the best value around for a remote learning laptop. The AMD Ryzen 7 4700U CPU puts it on par in terms of performance with laptops more than twice its price. Seriously, we’ve pitted it against the MacBook Pro and Dell XPS 13 and this notebook has really held its own. This makes it suitable for virtually any level of remote learner as this laptop is ready for whatever task you have the throw at it and then some. Battery life is similarly impressive with about 11 hours between charges.
Obviously, it’s not perfect. There are a few tradeoffs such as the relatively dim display, but for the price and performance, we think you’ll let it slide. Especially if the laptop is going to be mostly used indoors. The pros are going to outweigh the cons for many users.
See our full Acer Swift 3 (AMD, 2020) review.
If you absolutely need a MacBook due to either macOS or investment in other Apple hardware, the best option for most remote learners is the MacBook Air. Starting at $899 for students, it is a solid value by Apple laptop standards, particularly considering the performance and battery life with the new Apple M1 chip.
The keyboard on the MacBook Air was finally fixed in 2020, as the company ditched the horrid Butterfly keyboard in favor of the new Magic keyboard. This is an excellent update as the last thing you need as a remote learner is an uncomfortable or unreliable keyboard. While there will be some slight growing pains as developers update for the new M1 chip, most apps already work perfectly fine with Apple's Rosetta 2 emulation so unless you know a critical piece of software won't work for you this shouldn't be a problem.
See our full MacBook Air (2020, M1) review.
The Asus Chromebook Detachable CM3 will fool others into thinking you're carrying a tweed-bound journal, but in reality, you've got a spectacular 2-in-1 laptop in your hands. As a cherry on top, the Chromebook Detachable CM3 actually comes with a built-in stylus, so you could definitely get some journaling in with some high-tech handwriting or for younger remote learners can simply practice their handwriting.
We also can't talk about the Chromebook Detachable CM3 without raving about its battery life. You might never need to bring your charger along with you because this Asus Chromebook can last for nearly 12 hours, according to our in-house battery life test. You also don't need to worry about hauling the Detachable CM3 everywhere in your bag as it meets U.S. MIL-STD810H standards. This means that in can handle bumps, shocks and temperature changes. Bolstered by the case and keyboard, it has quite a bit of protection, and if you are worried about that fabric covering, it's stain-resistant.
See our full Asus Chromebook Detachable CM3 review.
If you are willing to spend a little bit more money to have considerably more performance, the Dell XPS 13 (2020) is the laptop for you. The notebook is a fantastic performer and the best premium Windows 10 laptop on the market for remote learning.
The new 10th Gen Intel Core i7 processor with Intel Iris Plus graphics is sufficient for any kind of remote classwork that could be thrown at it, including videography or photography. The 13.4-inch near-bezelless display is also well suited to those kinds of tasks as there is nothing to distract from the content on screen. Plus, it’s just a beautiful screen to take a study break and watch some Netflix.
The keyboard and touchpad are excellent and larger than those on most Windows laptops. With 12 hours and 39 minutes of battery life, even the heaviest day of remote learning will not kill the Dell XPS 13. For an even steeper price, the Dell XPS 13 OLED adds updated internals and a gorgeous new display.
See our full Dell XPS 13 (2020) review.
The MacBook Air (M1, 2020) should be enough to handle the performance needs of just about any remote learner, but if you are in videography, graphic design or some other processor-intensive course of study then you might need to step up to the MacBook Pro 14-inch.
While it lacks a 4K display option, the 14.2-inch Retina display offers high-res views. The new design with three Thunderbolt 4 ports, an SD card slot, a headphone/mic jack, an HDMI 2.0 port and MagSafe charger is a welcome change from the last few years of MacBooks.
The new M1 Pro or M1 Max processor is going to be more than enough power for any task and while apps are still being updated to fully support these chips, Rosetta allows for virtually anything to run at an acceptable rate. Combine that power with over 14 hours of battery life and this laptop is a dream, although with a starting price of $1,999 that dream will cost you.
See our full MacBook Pro 14 review.
The Asus ZenBook 13 UX325EA features a brand new Intel Tiger Lake CPU and the powerful new Intel Iris Xe graphics, which makes this an impressive performer with a sleek business laptop exterior. Military-grade durability will keep it safe from the occasional drop or spill.
Ports are plentiful with two Thunderbolt 4 ports, a USB 3.2 Gen 1 Type-A port, an HDMI 2.0 port and a microSD slot. No headphone jack, unfortunately, so you'll need to pick up some wireless headphones. The massive touchpad is fantastic to use and has a clever feature that turns it into a calculator if that's something you need.
Now this isn't going to replace a true gaming laptop anytime soon, but if you are looking to fit in some gaming after classes are over for the day the Intel Xe graphics will let you play modern AAA titles as long as you don't push the settings too hard. And despite that performance, the battery is fantastic at 13 hours and 47 minutes in our battery test, almost 4 hours beyond the category average.
There's a number of solid Windows 10 options out there around the $1,000 price point, but with the stylish design and latest Intel processors, the Asus ZenBook 13 UX325EA belongs on the shortlist for those that need a little more performance out of their remote learning laptop.