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Best Laptops for Elementary and Secondary Students

Best Laptops for Elementary and Secondary Students
(Image credit: Pixabay)

The best laptops for elementary and secondary students covers a broad range of needs but thankfully there are a similarly wide selection of laptop options available. The downside is that can make picking the right one challenging. Fortunately, you're in the right place to make that a whole lot easier.

Whether you're a design student who needs a lot of processing power or you're simply in need of a Chromebook workhorse, there are options here. From battery life and connectivity to portability and screen quality – it's all been taken into account here and organized accordingly.

All these options offer reliability, and there is a broad range of prices so that there should be something for everyone. That includes both students buying for themselves and schools or districts buying at scale.

Which is the best choice for you needs? Below are the best laptops for students of elementary and secondary schools.

1. HP Spectre x360 (2020): The best laptops for elementary and secondary students top pick

HP Spectre x360 (2020)

(Image credit: HP)

HP Spectre x360 (2020)

Best laptop for students overall

Specifications

CPU: 10th-generation Intel Core i5 – i7
Graphics: Intel Iris Plus Graphics
RAM: Up to 16GB
Screen: 13.3" FHD (1920 x 1080) IPS BrightView micro-edge WLED-backlit multitouch – 13.3" diagonal 4K (3840 x 2160) UWVA BrightView micro-edge AMOLED multitouch
Storage: 256GB – 2TB SSD

Reasons to buy

+
Tablet and laptop in one
+
Useful stylus
+
Gorgeous design and build quality
+
Powerful security

Reasons to avoid

-
Battery life could be better
-
Expensive

The HP Spectre x360 (2020) is the best laptop for students right now, however, thanks to its power, this is one aimed more at the secondary school end of the age range. As such, this is also an expensive option, but then it does do it all.

With a 4K, 13.3-inch touchscreen display, stylus, and the machine's ability to work as a laptop or tablet, this is a device that will suit all situations. From remote learning to note taking in class, this handles multiple tasks quickly and smoothly. That's thanks to the 10th Gen Intel Core processing and options for lots of RAM. 

Connectivity is excellent with dual Thunderbolt ports and a single USB-A port. Security is also top notch, due to the Windows 10 OS smarts built into this laptop.

The only downside, apart from that price, is the battery life, which could be better. That said, it's enough to last a full day so students shouldn't need to carry around a charger.


2. Acer Swift 3 (2020): Best laptop for students on a budget

Acer Swift 3 (2020)

(Image credit: Acer)

Acer Swift 3 (2020)

Best laptop for students on a budget

Specifications

CPU: Up to Intel Core i7-1065G7
Graphics: Up to Intel UHD Graphics
RAM: 4GB – 8GB
Screen: 14-inch FHD (1,920 x 1,080) ComfyView IPS – 15.6" Full HD (1920 x 1080)
Storage: 256GB – 512GB SSD

Reasons to buy

+
Superb value
+
Great keyboard and trackpad
+
Decent performance

Reasons to avoid

-
Modest look

The Acer Swift 3 is a more affordable option that still delivers plenty of laptop bang for your buck, making it ideal for both elementary and secondary students. The great build quality means this device is rugged enough to withstand a day of being lugged about classes, yet it is also lightweight thanks to its chassis.

That weight is impressive when you consider it is packing in a large 15.6-inch Full HD display, USB 2, USB 3, Thunderbolt 3, and HDMI ports. The keyboard and trackpad are high-quality with a responsive feel that's built to last longer-term use.

All that makes this a great option for districts buying devices at scale, allowing savings to be made with this impressive Windows 10 machine.


3. Google Pixelbook Go: Best powerful Chromebook for students

Google Pixelbook Go

(Image credit: Google)

Google Pixelbook Go

Best powerful Chromebook for students

Specifications

CPU: Intel Core m3 - Intel Core i7
Graphics: Intel UHD Graphics 615
RAM: 8GB - 16GB
Screen: 13.3-inch Full HD (1,920 x 1,080) or 4K LCD touchscreen
Storage: 128GB - 256GB eMMC

Reasons to buy

+
Superb battery life
+
Wonderful Hush keyboard
+
Gorgeous design
+
Lots of processing power

Reasons to avoid

-
Not cheap
-
No biometric logins

The Google Pixelbook Go is a Chromebook that caters to the high end, packing in lots of powerful features and a top-build quality that is reflected in its price. As such, this is more suited to the elementary school end of the student spectrum. 

The Hush keyboard is a standout feature, offering near silent typing that makes it ideal for the classroom. This build quality extends throughout the unit, making it a durable machine that's ideal for young student use.

This highly portable 13.3-inch Full HD screen laptop lasts a full day on a charge, aka 12 hours, making it ideal for those who don't want to carry a charger. And since it's a Chromebook, it integrates perfectly with schools running Google's G Suite for Education system.


4. Microsoft Surface Go 2: Best pure Windows 2-in-1 laptop for students

Microsoft Surface Go 2

(Image credit: Microsoft)

Microsoft Surface Go 2

Best pure Windows 2-in-1 laptop for students

Specifications

CPU: Intel Pentium Gold 4415Y
Graphics: Intel HD Graphics 615
RAM: 4GB – 8GB
Screen: 10-inch 1800 x 1200 touchscreen
Storage: 64GB eMMC – 128GB SSD
OS: Windows 10 Home in S mode

Reasons to buy

+
Stunning design and build quality
+
Decent price
+
Full Windows 10

Reasons to avoid

-
No Touch Cover or stylus included

The Microsoft Surface Go 2 is a great way to get a pure Windows 10 experience from the manufacturer of both the software and hardware. As a result, this is a powerful-yet-portable laptop that doubles as a tablet, using the optional Touch Cover keyboard case to let you type. Yup, you'll need to pay for that in your initial setup to use this as a full laptop rather than a tablet alone – presuming you don't already own a keyboard that you can use with it, of course. 

The touchscreen display is large and clear with its 10-inch, 1800 x 1200 resolution setup. It's also super portable, easily slipped into a bag, making it great for elementary students on the move a lot. Although with a five-hour battery life, you'll likely need to carry a charger to get through a full school day.

This does feature a stylus, making it great for note taking or even sketching. Beyond pure work, this is also powerful enough to run Minecraft, and it'll do everything securely thanks to Windows 10 built-in security.


5. Apple MacBook Pro: Best laptop for students of graphics and video

Apple MacBook Pro

(Image credit: Apple)

Apple MacBook Pro

Best laptop for students of graphics and video

Specifications

CPU: 9th-generation Intel Core i7 – i9
Graphics: AMD Radeon Pro 5300M – Radeon Pro 5500M
RAM: 16GB – 64GB
Screen: 16-inch Retina display with True Tone
Storage: 512GB – 8TB SSD

Reasons to buy

+
Lots of graphical power
+
Stunning build and design
+
Great keyboard
+
Super display

Reasons to avoid

-
Expensive
-
Thunderbolt 3 ports only

The Apple MacBook Pro is a very expensive laptop but that's for a reason – this is a super powerful machine. One that's specifically built for graphics, making it ideal for elementary students who need it for design, engineering, and art. It'll also work as a gaming machine for gaming clubs, helping justify its price.

This portable machine offers Apple's True Tone display in a 16-inch form factor backed by plenty of Intel Core processing power, and an AMD Radeon Pro graphics card. The Touch Bar is a helpful addition with shortcuts that change to suit the program being used, making it a time efficient tool.

While this is portable and built strong to last, that battery life will only last a day at a stretch. Of course that depends on what it's being used for, however, a charger in the bag if moving about is probably advisable.


6. Acer Chromebook 314: Best affordable Chromebook for students

Acer Chromebook 314

(Image credit: Acer)

Acer Chromebook 314

Best affordable Chromebook for students

Specifications

CPU: Intel Celeron N4000
Graphics: Intel UHD Graphics 600
RAM: 4GB
Screen: 14-inch LED (1366 x 768) high definition
Storage: 32GB eMMC

Reasons to buy

+
Very affordable
+
Brilliant battery life
+
Crisp, clear display
+
Plenty of power

Reasons to avoid

-
No touchscreen

The Acer Chromebook 314 is a low-price laptop that does everything needed for most secondary and elementary school students. The big brand name means it's well built for longevity and quality, while the Chromebook OS makes it agile and ideal for schools running G Suite for Education.

The well-sized 14-inch display offers clarity and brightness, if not quite the highest resolution compared to some. But the keyboard and trackpad are both responsive and fashioned to last, and connectivity is decent with dual USB-A and USB-C ports plus a MicroSD card slot.

Chromebook battery life is famously great, so don't expect to carry a charger around. Also, at this price, it's an ideal candidate for districtwide purchases in bulk so even more savings can be made on this highly capable student laptop.


7. Lenovo Yoga Slim 7i Carbon: Best lightweight and portable laptop

Lenovo Yoga Slim 7i Carbon

(Image credit: Lenovo)

Lenovo Yoga Slim 7i Carbon

For portability this is a super slender pick

Specifications

CPU: 11th Gen Intel
Graphics: Intel Iris Xe
RAM: 8GB+
Screen: 13.3-inch QHD
Storage: 256GB+ SSD

Reasons to buy

+
Super 13.3 QHD display
+
Very lightweight
+
Facial recognition

Reasons to avoid

-
Battery life could be better

The Lenovo Yoga Slim 7i Carbon is a great choice for anyone who is moving between classes in the day as it's made to be very portable; it's lightweight and slim enough to slip into a book bag. Despite the form factor, this still crams in a super 13.3-inch QHD display with 100% sRGB color and 11th Gen Intel processing power – more than enough for most students. Although for graphics, that Intel Iris Xe GPU may be lacking.

The battery life is the only gripe as this is decidedly average. You may need to plug it in during the day, which means carrying a charger and detracts from that portability. That said, you may find it does the job if you're not using it constantly – expect up to 15 hours.

The carbon build makes this military-grade tough for taking knocks and drops, and it also protects the high-quality keyboard, which provides a very intuitive typing experience. 

Luke Edwards is a freelance writer and editor with more than two decades of experience covering tech, science, and health. He writes for many publications covering health tech, software and apps, digital teaching tools, VPNs, TV, audio, smart home, antivirus, broadband, smartphones, cars and much more.