Graduation season is in full swing, and lots of families are planning to buy a new laptop for a loved one who is graduating from high school or college. There are a lot of options to choose from, and all those choices can be a bit overwhelming. We’ve rounded up a few models that are ideal for grads. Here are five of the best laptops you can buy for a new grad. You might also want to check out our gift guides to the best tablets for grads and the best college graduation gifts. Want more great gift ideas? Check out our post on the best gifts for women, or peruse our ultimate guide to the best gifts for men.
1. New Apple MacBook (2015 Model)
The brand new MacBooks are great graduation gifts. The 2015 MacBook line is super light, super thin, and available in silver, space gray, or gold. It weighs just two pounds and is a mere 13.1mm thin. The new Macs run OS X, but have some interesting new features.
This new trackpad has the taptic engine built in, which means this MacBook is borrowing some of the new tech you’d find inside the Apple Watch. You can click anywhere on the pad for the same sensation, or even customize the feel of the pad. New gestures called “force clicks” let you make a deep push with your cursor hovering over a word to get automatic Wikipedia info for that word. Force clicking on an address pulls up a map.
One interesting design feature is the lack of a fan. This laptop is so thin and small that it simply doesn’t need a loud cooling fan. With no fan, Apple used the space where a fan used to go to house extra batteries. The resulting laptop looks cool, but is also packed with lots of powerful features. If you opt for this great laptop, you might want to include a new MacBook bag, MacBook sleeve, or other MacBook accessories for your grad as well.
Price: $1,299 and up, depending on options selected
2. Lenovo Flex 2 14 14.0-Inch Touchscreen Convertible Laptop
Being able to use your laptop in stand mode is a great selling point for some people, especially students who want to use their laptop to watch movies or share presentations. This Lenovo Flex 2 is a comfortable size for most people, and should run for seven hours on a charge. It clocks in at just over four pounds: not as light as some other laptops out there, but certainly not the heaviest option, either. It’s packing an Intel Core i5 1.7 GHz processor and 4GB of RAM, alongside a 500GB 5400 RPM hard drive. While this may not be the ideal laptop for a student studying engineering or design, this is a great laptop for the average student.
Looking for something more powerful? Check out our guide to the best ultrabooks.
Price: $489.99 (25 percent off)
3. Acer C720 Chromebook
The Acer C720 Chromebook is a great graduation gift for those with a limited budget. Despite some limitations, Chromebooks remain a great laptop option for Google fans, and for people who already do a lot of work on documents in the cloud. For the average student who just needs to be able to create Word-compatible documents, spreadsheets, or forms, a Chromebook is usually sufficient for classwork. It’s unlikely to be a good fit for gamers or designers, however.
Price: $250.75 and up, depending on options selected
4. Dell Inspiron 11.6-Inch 2 in 1 Convertible Touchscreen Laptop
This Dell Inspiron 2-in-1 is great for parents who can’t decide whether their child’s next computing device should be a laptop or a tablet. This versatile device can be operated in laptop, stand, tent, or tablet mode, so it easily works in whatever orientation you need for the task at hand. It runs on an Intel Pentium N3530 processor, and boasts up to 7.5 hours of battery life. The hard drive is a zippy 500 GB 7200 RPM job, and the whole laptop runs Windows 8.1.
Price: $399.99 (11 percent off)
5. ASUS F555LA-AS51 Core i5 15.6-Inch Laptop
This ASUS laptop has a nice big screen, making it ideal for people with poor eyesight, or those who need to work on complex projects. It also has a DVD drive, which is a feature that is increasingly hard to find on new laptops. In terms of specs, this laptop boasts a powerful 5th gen. Intel Core i5 processor (2.2GHz, with turbo speed up to 2.7GHz), along with 8GB of RAM. If your student lives in a hot climate, consider adding on one of these laptop cooling pads to your gift.
Price: $579.73 (3 percent off MSRP)