Buying a laptop for high school is simple. All one needs to know is what RAM stands for, how a hard drive works, and what exactly a microprocessor does. Only kidding, buying a laptop really is easy. All you need to do is ask yourself two questions: what do I need machine to do and how fast? For the most part, for simple word processing, document creation, and web browsing, all of the laptops on this list will do. That said, having a high-resolution screen and fast processor not only enables things like watching movies, it can also can make working easier and much more fun. Our list has three basic types of computers: Chromebooks (web-browsing and documents only), PCs (ranging from a basic machine to a gaming computer), and a Macbook (good for stability, documents, and web-browsing).
All in all, these are all great computers, but each one is suited to certain types of users. Here’s the top 10 best laptops for high school students.
1. Samsung Chromebook 3
Weight 2.54 lbs | Screen Size & Resolution 11.6″, 1366 x 768 | Processor Intel Celeron N3060 | Hard Drive 16GB SSD | RAM 4GB | Video Card Integrated |
Chromebooks are nothing but cheap, reliable, practical web-browsing machines. Sure, one can’t boot up Photoshop or Overwatch, but where Chromebooks lack in a full OS, they make up for it with their lightweight, stability, and price. Chrome OS is more than enough for many high school students. One can edit their documents with Google Docs, dabble in spreadsheets with Google Sheets, setup Powerpoints with Google Slides.
The Chromebook is a device that will leave many asking, “Why’d I think I needed a PC in the first place?” It’s fine for streaming Netflix, but needless to say, it’s not exactly a 4K outputting beast; it will stutter with higher resolutions and is best on its native display or outputting 1080P. Still, for many, this Chromebook is an affordable, lightweight, and convenient computer. If you want something with a more tablet feel, but still as a Chromebook, check out the second computer on our list.
Price: $187 (6 percent off MSRP)
- Sleek and compact design; lightweight
- Fine for document creation, web browsing, and simple web-based tasks
- Outstanding battery life of ~12 hours
- Solid keyboard and touchpad
- Excellent value
- ChromeOS is limiting compared to Mac OSX and Windows
- Small percentage of users had issues with reliability
- One user said load times and battery life got worse with age
- Only for casual computer usage
2. Asus Chromebook Flip 12.5″ (The Macbook of Chromebooks)
Weight 3.28lbs | Screen Size & Resolution 12.5″ 1920 x 1080 IPS & Touch | Processor Intel Core M (2.2GHZ) | Hard Drive 64GB SSD | RAM 4GB DDR3 | Video Card Integrated |
This tablet and laptop provides more screen real estate with 12.5″ and a higher resolution of Full HD. It also boots much more quickly. That said, it has the same amount of RAM and a similar processor to above machine, so you’re mainly paying for the touch screen features. All in all, it’s great for people who want the touch screen of an iPad, but still need an easy-to-access keyboard. Plus, it’s easy to set down and use as a display. The battery life is through the roof at 10 hours, and it includes all of the other benefits a Chromebook carries with it, including reliability, and simplicity.
For students who only need Chrome, this is another great machine for Chrome OS and a tablet (with some compromises, Chrome OS is not as good as iOS for a tablet) that’s still very handy. It has a superb build quality and uses a similar processor to a Macbook at almost 1/3 the price. It’s a great deal if you like Chrome OS and want a nice PC to run it.
- Convertible touch screen computer with 360 degree hinge
- Great for documents, web browsing, and watching video
- Up to 10 hours of battery life
- Metal body
- Some apps from the Google Play store are a bit glitchy
- Chrome OS is limiting compared to OSX or Windows
- Chrome OS isn’t perfectly tailored to tablet mode
3. HP Notebook 15.6″
Weight 4.6lbs | Screen Size & Resolution 15.6″ 1366 x 768 | Processor i3 2.4ghz | Hard Drive 1TB HDD (5400 RPM) | RAM 8GB DDR4 | Video Card HD Graphics 620 (Integrated) |
Now we’re talking about a real PC. This HP notebook boasts a sleek look and solid specs for people who want to store media, watch movies, browse the web, or even do some light Photo Editing. It has three USB ports and a DVD burner. It also has a touch screen. For basic computer use, simple games, Microsoft Office, and similar software, this laptop is bound to make any high-schooler happy.
- Three USB ports
- Great for internet use
- Touch screen is nice though not particularly responsive like an iPad Pro
- Has SuperMulti DVD burner
- Speakers are decent
- Fast enough for everyday tasks
- A small percentage of users had reliability issues with the hard drive and battery
- Some users found keyboard and mouse to be inadequate
- Keyboard is not backlit, can be tough to see in dark room
4. ASUS 15.6″ (Editor’s Choice)
Weight 5.1lbs | Screen Size & Resolution 15.6″, 1920 x 1080 | Hard Drive 256GB SSD | RAM 8GB DDR4 | Video Card Integrated |
This is a really well-rounded PC with plenty of power for student uses. It has a nice screen size and a full HD screen. Plus, its 256GB SSD is going to keep things nice and snappy for years to come. While the cheaper laptops on this list may offer more bang for their buck now, this computer will last much longer and retain its speed much better. One minor issue, it is a bit on the heavy side at 5.1lbs, but for most, this laptop offers excellent value for the needs of high school students who are editing photos, creating documents, and browsing the web.
- Praised as great budget laptop
- Sound is solid, great style
- Acceptable for photo editing
- Decent multitasking ability
- Build quality is decent
- Includes some bloatware (bloatware is unwanted software)
- Many users advise installing extra RAM
- Not good for video editing or gaming
- No backlit keys
5. Inspiron 15.6″
Weight 6lbs | Screen Size & Resolution 15.6″, 3840 x 2160 | Processor 6th generation i7 | Hard Drive 128gb SSD (OS) + 1TB | RAM 16GB | Video Card GTX 960M |
This is a great computer. First of all, it has a stunning 4K screen. It also boasts a discrete graphics processor, the GTX 960m, which isn’t exactly bleeding edge, but will suffice to play modern games at decent settings. It also has 16GB of RAM and an SSD. All of these elements add up to a computer that’s decent for gaming, amazing as a workstation, and even usable for editing photos and 1080P video. It should also suffice for editing 4K but it won’t be smooth (or work with footage at full res). It’s a great deal for users who want a nice laptop that will deliver a lot of quality for almost any use case. 4K is a joy to work on, no matter what you’re doing.
Price: $879.95 (32 percent off MSRP)
- 4K touchscreen that’s portable
- Blazing fast performance with quad core processor, plenty of ram and solid graphics card
- Quiet keyboard with decent speakers
- Three USB 3.0 ports
- Multimedia beast
- Trackpad can be annoying, one might want a mouse
- Battery life merely average
- On the heavy side
- Ram isn’t DDR4
- Not really for gaming
6. Dell Inspiron 17.3″
Weight 7.58lbs | Screen Size & Resolution 17.3″, 1920 x 1080 pixels | Processor i7 – 6500U | Hard Drive 2TB 5400RPM | RAM 16GB DDR3 | Video Card Radeon R5 4GB |
This Inspiron model makes a few changes from the PC above. For one, it has a larger screen, but the screen has less resolution. It also has a slower hard drive, a two terabyte one at 5400RPM. The good news is: it retains 16GB of RAM and adds in a real graphics card, a Radeon R5. This means a few things. One, this PC is definitely capable of playing modern games at decent settings. It’s also decent for editing video. Still, with its HDD being 5400 RPM, it may be a bit less snappy overall than the PC above. If you’re planning on editing video, this is a slightly better choice, but it’s definitely better for gaming. As a workstation, it’s an inferior PC to the one above, but not by much. This is a great PC for a casual student gamer who needs something solid to work on too.
- Boasts 10 finger multi-touch support
- Built-in SD card reader
- Praised as great computer with little to no bloatware
- Powerful enough for photo and audio editing, 720P video editing
- Can play some games at decent settings
- Backlit keyboard with battery life up to 7 hours
- Hard drive is slow at 5400RPM
- Huge and heavy
- Not really a gaming PC, but has the profile of one
- A small percentage of users had issues with battery reliability
7. Acer Predator
Weight 5.95lbs | Screen Size & Resolution 15.6″, 1920 x 1080 | Processor i7 7700HQ | Hard Drive 256GB SSD | RAM 16GB DDR4 | Video Card GTX 1060 6GB |
This ACER predator is a bit more well-rounded that the above PC. It boasts a more powerful processor and an SSD. On top of that, it also has GTX 1060 6GB. This will give a $2500 Macbook Pro a run for its money and is absolutely a better machine for gaming. As a workstation, it’s solid, with a decent resolution. If you or your student needs a gaming PC or to edit 1080P video, this computer will do the job. Plus, with this much performance, it’s a smooth PC to work on.
Price: $1049 (5 percent off MSRP)
- Praised as best gaming laptop in the $1000 price range
- Backlit keyboard is a nice touch
- Can edit 4K video and photos very effectively
- Speakers are loud with decent WiFi
- One user felt need to reinstall Windows, felt process was annoying
- Computer can get very hot
- No G-sync on the display
- Monitor is on the dim side
- Screen feels a bit cheap
8. Apple Macbook 12″
Weight 3.4lbs | Screen Size & Resolution 12″ 2304 x 1440 | Processor 1.2ghz M3 | Hard Drive 256GB SSD | RAM 8GB | Video Card Intel HD 615 (integrated) |
At this point, the Macbook is practically a fashion statement. Boasting a nice resolution screen (higher than 1080P, but nowhere near 4K), and very middle of the road specs, this Macbook’s best feature is Mac OSX. By many people’s appraisal, the best operating system in the world. Still, despite this advantage, this Macbook is best-suited to documents, web-browsing, and light photo-editing. There’s not much power underneath the hood. Of course, with Mac you do get more: more reliability, more battery life, more stability, and a longer lifespan. What you don’t get is more performance for gaming or editing. For many, however, this is a beautiful, lightweight, and effective way to study and get the job done. It’s just not a whole lot more than a fancy Chromebook in terms of power. The keyboard is fast and responsive, but some do say it takes getting used to.
Price: $1198 (8 percent off MSRP)
- Keyboard feels great with second generation butterfly mechanism
- Tiny and beautiful laptop with outstanding build quality
- Great for web browsing and document editing
- 10/10 ergonomics with a wonderful trackpad and responsive OS that’s flawlessly stable
- Splendid battery life
- In order to hook up devices, one needs dongle that connect to USB 3.0
- Not good for any kind of editing, laptop isn’t powerful
- One user hated keyboard and couldn’t type above 50 WPM on it
- Slow for anything but basic use; almost comparable to a ChromeBook
- Dongles are pricey for using this device’s one USB port
9. Samsung Notebook 9 – 15″
Weight 2.7lbs | Screen Size & Resolution 15″, 1920 x 1080 | Processor i7, 2.7ghz | Hard Drive 256GB SSD | RAM 16GB | Video Card 940mx |
If the Macbook appeals to you, but you want a lot more power, this Samsung Notebook is almost as pretty and much more powerful Boasting 16GB of RAM, an i7 processor and an acceptable video card, it’s able to play modern games at low to decent settings, edit photos and video (1080P), and be an overall decent user experience. Sure, it lacks OSX and doesn’t look quite as pretty, but it does have a neat quick charging feature (see Pros below), and has way more power for different uses.
- Fast charging mode allows for 20 minutes of charge to yield 2.1 hours of use
- Quiet fans and keyboard, light and portable; trackpad as good as Macbook Air
- Has a MicroSD slot, praised for great performance for photo editing, documents, and web browsing
- Thin bezel, and thinner than the macbook air
- Built-in fingerpruint reader; USB port plus USB 3.0 port
- Full-sized HDMI port, 10 hours of battery life
- A tiny percentage of users had issues with blue screen of death
- Some had issues with touch screen
- Speaker quality is poor
- Some users had issue with keyboard
10. MSI Dominator Pro
Weight 6.48lbs | Screen Size & Resolution 15.6″, 1920 x 1080 pixels | Processor i7 7700HQ | Hard Drive 256GB SSD + 1TB HDD | RAM 16GB DDR4 | Video Card GTX 1070 – 8GB |
If you or your high school student is a gamer or 4K video editor, this is the beastly laptop for them. With a ton of RAM, and the second to the top of the line graphics card, a GTX 1070, there’s basically nothing this PC can’t do. It also has a G-Sync display, so all of your games will play perfectly. The processor is a monster and it has plenty of ports with a solid cooling system. Really, the biggest problem with this PC is that it’s a lot to lug around. Beyond this, it’s a beast and priced to sell. One will struggle to get a desktop with these specs that’s even a few hundred dollars cheaper. This is a great buy for the high school-er who needs it.
- G-Sync display
- Extremely powerful graphics card capable of playing all modern games at great settings
- Awesome for video editing 4K footage
- Excellent multimedia computer capable of processing huge numbers of RAW photos etc.
- Praised as great value
- Very powerful cooling system; users claim laptop stays cool
- Battery life is four hours for movie watching and web surfing
- A few users had issues with reliability of Wi-Fi
Heavy, Inc. is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by linking to Amazon. Our product recommendations are guided solely by our editors. We have no relationship with manufacturers.
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