Best College Laptops 2017

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Best Laptop for College (Overall)

Asus ZenBook UX330UA

Editor's Choice

Asus's 2.7-pound ZenBook UX330UA is light enough to carry to class, powerful enough to do almost any homework you can imagine and affordable enough not to break the bank. For under $700, you get a sharp 1080p screen, a generous 256GB SSD and a speedy 7th Generation Intel Core i5 CPU. Best of all, the UX330UA lasts over 10 hours on a charge so you can leave your power brick back in the dorm room.

Asus ZenBook UX330UA Review

Best College Laptops 2017
Product: Use Case: Rating:
Asus ZenBook UX330UA Best Laptop for College (Overall) 4 out of 5
Dell XPS 13 For Science Students 4.5 out of 5
Alienware 13 with OLED Display For Campus Gamers 4.5 out of 5
Apple MacBook Pro 13-inch (2017) For Art & Design Students 4 out of 5
Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon (2017) For Business Students 4 out of 5
Lenovo ThinkPad T470 For Computer Science Students 4 out of 5
Apple MacBook Pro 15-inch For Film & Animation Students 4.5 out of 5
Microsoft Surface Book For Medical Students 4 out of 5
Dell Precision 5520 Workstation For Engineering & Architecture Students 4 out of 5
Microsoft Surface Pro For Law Students 4 out of 5
Acer Aspire E 15 (E5-575-33BM) For Students On a Budget 4 out of 5
  • For Science Students

    Dell XPS 13

    Editor's Choice

    Regardless of whether you're devoted to organic chemistry, anthropology or atmospheric science, you need a solid machine like the Dell XPS 13. This system packs a powerful 7th-generation Core i5 processor with 8GB of RAM and a 128GB SSD. The virtually borderless, 13-inch display with full HD resolution will make sure your notes and graphs pop, giving the illusion of a much bigger screen. The $899 XPS 13 lasts nearly 14 hours on a charge, while the $1,399 version adds a touch display.

    Dell XPS 13 Review

  • For Campus Gamers

    Alienware 13 with OLED Display

    Editor's Choice

    If you want a laptop that's portable enough to take to class or the library but powerful enough to play your favorite games, look no further than the Alienware 13. This lightweight gaming behemoth has a gorgeous 13.3-inch OLED display, the first ever on a laptop, and the ability to play demanding titles like Metro: Last Light at very high frame rates.

    Alienware 13 (OLED) Review

  • For Art & Design Students

    Apple MacBook Pro 13-inch (2017)

    Editor's Choice

    The latest 13-inch MacBook Pro has upgraded to a 7th-generation Core i5 CPU for even more performance than ever before. You'll get through all of your classes with 8 hours of battery life, and at just 3 pounds it's easy to pack into a bag. Between its Core i5 CPU, Intel Iris graphics and lightning-fast PCIe SSD, it'll handle anything you throw at it. Want more battery life? Try a model without the Touch Bar.

    MacBook Pro 13-inch Review

  • For Business Students

    Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon (2017)

    Editor's Choice

    You may only be an intern, but why not carry the same kind of laptop as a CEO? The 14-inch ThinkPad X1 Carbon is ready for the boardroom with a vibrant 1080p or 2K display, a super-svelte 2.49-pound body and one of the best keyboards you can get on any laptop. Better still, this Intel 7th Gen Core-powered Ultrabook lasts over 12 hours on a charge and packs a wide variety of ports, including Thunderbolt 3, USB 3.0 and Ethernet connectors.

    Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon Review

  • For Computer Science Students

    Lenovo ThinkPad T470

    Editor's Choice

    When you're coding all night, you shouldn't have to worry about running out of juice. The ThinkPad T470 provides more than 17 hours of battery life, along with a screen that's sharp enough for multitasking, a comfortable keyboard and enough processing power to compile all your projects. A Thunderbolt 3 port also lets you connect to external graphics docks for extra processing power.

    Lenovo ThinkPad T470 Review

  • For Film & Animation Students

    Apple MacBook Pro 15-inch

    Editor's Choice

    Tap your creative energy with the updated 15-inch MacBook Pro. Apple has upped the ante with a faster 6th Gen Intel CPU, AMD Radeon Pro 455 graphics and its new Touch Bar. Video editors and animators will love the Touch Bar, which replaces the function keys with a custom toolset that can be different in Photoshop than it is in Final Cut. Four Thunderbolt 3 ports make it easy to connect to multiple 4K displays or transfer uncompressed media files to external backup drives with ease.

    Apple MacBook Pro 15-inch Review

  • For Medical Students

    Microsoft Surface Book

    Editor's Choice

    A detachable 2-in-1 with a screen that turns into a standalone tablet is idea for taking notes as you do your hospital rounds or work standing up in a lab. The Surface Book provides an excellent slate experience, with a gorgeous 13.5-inch display and a stylus that feels a lot like a real pen. When paired with its comfortable keyboard, Microsoft's notebook lasts more than 12 hours on a charge and, unlike most detachables, balances easily on your lap.

    Microsoft SurfaceBook Review

  • For Engineering & Architecture Students

    Dell Precision 5520 Workstation

    Editor's Choice

    If you're doing CAD work or 3D modeling, you need a high-end mobile workstation. However, the Dell Precision 5520 shows that you don't need to settle for an ugly, bulky laptop in order to get premium processing power. This 4.4-pound system is just 0.44 inches thick and has a gorgeous edge-to-edge display, along with an Intel 7th Generation Xeon processor and Nvidia Quadro graphics. Best of all, the Precision 5520 lasts a full 11 hours and 57 minutes on a charge.

    Dell Precision 5520 Review

  • For Law Students

    Microsoft Surface Pro

    Editor's Choice

    Microsoft's Surface Pro is a great pick for students who need a system that's as good in the courtroom as it is in the classroom. Its folding kickstand and brilliant 12.3-inch display make the Surface Pro a great presentation device, while its best-in-class folding keyboard ensures you'll get a full laptop experience when it's time to get some writing done.

    You'll have to pay extra for the Surface Pen and Type Cover keyboard, but having both accessories makes it easy to take notes or write legal briefs whether you're sitting down or standing in line to get into the lecture hall. The front and rear cameras take great pictures so you can easily capture the whiteboard at the front of your classroom or pages from a book at the law library.

    Microsoft Surface Pro Review

  • For Students On a Budget

    Acer Aspire E 15 (E5-575-33BM)

    If you're on a shoestring budget and only need office and web apps for your major, the Acer Aspire E15 will do the job. It boasts a vivid, 1080p display, Core i3 CPU, 4GB of RAM and a 1TB HDD. It has every port you'll need, including USB Type-C. It will also survive a day of classes with more than 8 hours of battery life. If you have a bit more to spend, you can get a Core i5 CPU, 256GB SSD, 1080p display and 8GB of RAM with the ($580) E5-575G-57D4 configuration.

    Acer Aspire E 15 (E5-575-33BM) Review

How to Find the Right College Laptop

Nearly 18 million students are enrolled at the 4,000 universities and colleges in the United States. Each and every one of them will need a computer, but with so many options, the choice can be a daunting one. Start by reviewing our recommendations for the best laptop for your college major, and then check with your specific school to make sure its configuration meets the minimum requirements.

If you're undecided on your major or your school doesn't have any particular recommended specs, consider a laptop that's lightweight (sub 4 pounds), lasts long on a charge (8+ hours) and has a high-res (1080 or greater) screen for easy multitasking. We also have a detailed list of laptop buying tips for students.

Whatever laptop you get, you'll also want to pick up a few extras, such as a comfortable mouse, a well-appointed backpack and perhaps a solid all-in-one printer. And don't forget to preload some antivirus software before you head to campus. If you're going to use a multi-monitor setup in your dorm room, try a good docking station, either over USB or Thunderbolt 3.