As you move on to the next phase of your life as a graduate student, you’ll want the right tools to succeed. A laptop is a crucial investment for any grad student. While you don’t have to spend a fortune to buy the best laptop, there are certain considerations to keep in mind as you begin shopping.
We’ve compiled a list of the best laptops for grad students based on a number of features. For starters, you’ll probably want a lighter weight computer that can be easily carried around without straining your shoulders or back. Battery life is also important. If speed and efficiency is a top concern, consider a laptop with a Solid State Drive (SSD) and a faster processor.
If you’re debating between a PC or Mac, consider whether compatibility might be an issue. The last thing you want after working hard on a research paper or project is to have trouble submitting it to your professors or classmates because you’re using a different operating system. For this reason, many schools suggest sticking with a Windows PC.
Don’t worry if this list doesn’t have what you need, as there is a wide selection of the best laptops for grad students on Amazon. You can also check out the Top 5 Best Convertible Laptops and Top 5 Best Sales on 2-in-1 Laptops Under $500.
1. ASUS VivoBook S
When you consider all that comes with it, the ASUS VivoBook S provides lots of bang for your buck. The 7th Generation Intel Core i7-7500U processor is particularly notable for its uninterrupted performance when it comes to media. The 15.6-inch display features wide viewing angles and a narrow bezel for your viewing pleasure. Choose between available normal, manual, vivid, and eye care display modes to best suit your needs. Other highlights include an ergonomic backlit keyboard, 128 GB HDD, and 1 TB HDD. There’s also a fingerprint reader, HD webcam, and the latest Windows 10 operating system. This laptop has Bluetooth 4.1, USB 3.1 and USB 3.0 ports, and a lithium polymer battery that recharges in less than one hour.
- Fast Intel Core i7 processor
- Ergonomic backlit keyboard
- 128 GB SSD and 1 TB HDD
- Can’t charge with USB Type-C port
- At 4.4 pounds it’s not the lightest on the market
- Battery life could be better
2. Apple MacBook Pro
The Apple MacBook lineup has been around for years, and remains a top pick among those looking for a lightweight, portable laptop with a high-end display. This laptop has an Intel Core i5 processor with Turbo Boost to 3.6 GHz. It also comes with a 256 GB SSD and 8 GB memory and is available up to a dual-core Intel Core i5 processor with 512 GB SSD storage in the 13-inch model. At just 13.3 inches, the screen size is ideal for long days spent taking notes. Additionally, built-in Retina display makes images as detailed and crisp as possible due to a high pixel density. You can expect up to 10 hours of battery life on a single charge. Features such as a Touch Bar and Touch ID add an element of convenience.
If you don’t need the latest features, consider the Apple MacBook Air.
Price: $1,699.00 (6 percent off MSRP)
- Slender and easily portable
- High resolution Retina display
- Touch Bar and Touch ID
- Some wish it was lighter
- Not the fastest processor in this price range
3. HP ENVY 17
If you’re looking for a high performance laptop with a large display, consider this 17-inch HP ENVY. Aside from its 17.3-inch diagonal display, this laptop also comes with a full-size keyboard so that you can comfortably take notes during the day. It also has a variety of ports, including a USB-C port for charging and transferring data when necessary. A lifted hinge design promotes air circulation to keep the laptop from overheating. This model comes with a backlit full HD display, a backlit keyboard, integrated HD webcam, and a speedy 7th Generation Intel Core i7-7500U processor. There’s also 16 GB RAM, expandable up to 32 GB, and a 1 TB SATA hard drive along with Bluetooth connectivity and a DVD burner.
- 17.3-inch diagonal HD display
- Backlit keyboard and display
- Intel Quad-Core i7 processor
- A bit heavy
- Subpar battery life
4. Acer Aspire E
This budget-friendly Acer laptop is a solid choice for those who need a basic computer. Features include a 7th Generation Intel Core i3-7100U processor and a 15.6-inch full HD backlit display. There’s also 4 GB DDR4 memory and a 1 TB HDD. If battery life is a concern, you’ll appreciate the fact that this laptop can run up to 12 hours on a single charge. The backlit keyboard will come in handy when you’re working late at night or in low light settings. The laptop has USB 3.0 and 3.1 Type-C ports for fast charging, display, and data transfers. A bundle version with Microsoft Office is also available.
- Backlit keyboard and display
- Battery lasts up to 12 hours per charge
- Comes with USB 3.0 and 3.1 Type-C ports
- A few mention battery life seems shorter than advertised
- Only comes with 4 GB memory, but can be upgraded
- Some find the touchpad too sensitive
5. ASUS ZenBook
With a razor thin design and spun-metal finish, the ASUS ZenBook UX330UA looks more expensive than its price tag suggests. Aside from its stylish appearance, this laptop stands out for its generous battery life of up to 12 hours per charge. Highlights include a 7th generation Intel i5-7200U 2.5 GHz processor and 256 GB SSD. There’s also 8 GB DDR3 RAM and a built-in fingerprint reader. At 2.6 pounds, the laptop won’t weigh you down during your daily routine. Other features include an SD card reader, USB Type-C and HDMI ports, and a 13.3-inch full HD display.
Price: $699.00 (8 percent off MSRP)
- Spun-metal finish gives it a stylish appearance
- 7th generation Intel i5-7200U 2.5 GHz processor
- Weighs just 2.6 pounds
- Speakers could be better
- Some find the SSD sub-standard
- Relatively small screen
6. LG gram
Weighing in at slightly more than 2 pounds, the LG gram is one of the lightest laptops on our list. Highlights include a conveniently sized 14-inch full touch screen display and a speedy 7th Generation Intel Core i5 processor. There’s also 8 GB RAM and 256 GB SSD. Whether you’re spending your day going from one class to the next or are working hard to hit a deadline, you can expect to get up to 14.5 hours of power. Other features include an ergonomically designed keyboard, USB Type-C and other ports, and a sleek, stylish metal alloy body. This laptop is also available with an i7 processor.
- Full HD touch screen display
- Ultra-slim bezel
- Battery lasts up to 14.5 hours
- Not the fastest processor for the price
- Subpar sound quality
- A bit pricey
7. Acer Chromebook R 11
The Acer Chromebook R 11 is a solid choice for those who want a budget-friendly computer that covers all the basics. This Chromebook features a Intel Celeron N3150 Quad-Core processor and a 11.6-inch widescreen HD display. The display is also backlit. For the price you get a respectable 4 GB DDR3L memory and 32 GB internal storage space. If used lightly, you can expect up to 10 hours ob battery life. Other features include built-in stereo speakers, Bluetooth 4.0 technology, and one USB 3.0 and one USB 2.0 port. The 360 degree hinge lets you use the device in notebook, tablet, tent, and display modes.
Price: $249.99 (17 percent off MSRP)
- Decent processor for the price
- Backlit HD display
- 360 degree hinge
- A bit heavy
- Some wish the viewing angles were better
- Case is mostly plastic
8. Lenovo Yoga 910
The Lenovo Yoga 910 is a slender and powerful laptop that doesn’t cut corners when it comes to performance. As a grad student who probably spends several hours a day staring at a screen, you’ll appreciate the high-definition 4K display on this laptop. Whether it’s on a desk or a table at the local coffee shop, it’s metal unibody design helps set it apart from the crowd. A 7th Generation Intel Core i7-7500U processor provides plenty of power for gaming, watching movies, and advanced photo and video editing. There’s also a 256 GB SSD and 8 GB memory. The laptop weighs just over 3 pounds and features a 360 hinge along with JBL stereo speakers. Battery life is approximately nine hours.
- High-definition 4K display
- Powerful Intel Core i7 processor
- Includes USB 3.1 Type-C port
- Lid can be tough to open
- No optical drive
- Some complain that the touchpad lags a bit
9. Dell Inspiron 15
This Dell laptop is available with a very capable Intel Core i5 processor with an option for the Intel Core i7 processor. There’s also 1 TB HDD storage so that you can keep your collections of photos, videos, and other files on the computer. A 15.6-inch touch display with wide viewing angles makes everything from watching movies to taking notes in class that much easier. Unlike most smaller laptops on the market today, this one still offers a DVD drive.
- 8 GB memory
- Has a DVD drive
- Choice between Intel Core i5 and i7 processors
- Start time could be faster
- A bit heavy
- Some mention the fan is loud
10. ASUS Chromebook Flip
With features such as an Intel Core processor with 64 GB flash storage space and up to 4 GB RAM, this computer performs closer to a laptop than your average Chromebook. It also stands out for its durable aluminum metal body and 12.5-inch full HD touschreen. You can choose to use it in laptop or tablet mode. Other highlights include a boot time of 3.5 seconds and a battery that can provide up to 10 hours on a single charge. A 360 degree hinge provides flexibility to use the device in laptop, stand, tablet, and tent modes. It also has a USB 3.1 Type-C port for charging and speedy data transfer.
Price: $469.00 (6 percent off MSRP)
- Sleek aluminum metal body
- 12.5-inch full HD touchscreen
- Boots up in just 3.5 seconds
- A bit heavy
- Touchpad can lag and be jittery, according to some users
- Some mention it can take awhile to switch from laptop to tablet modes
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