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Best Laptops for Elementary and Secondary Students

Included in this guide:

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

The best laptops for students is a relative term as variations in age and studies can mean different students have very different needs. That said, there are plenty of do-it-all laptop options out there. 

From the best laptop for remote learning to the best laptop for secondary students studying design, there are many choices to consider. Battery life, processing power, screen size, portability and connectivity are just a few features worth keeping in mind.

Price is also an important feature, especially if you're buying for a district and want to make a saving at scale. That brings to mind another important aspect – reliability and flexibility that can make that investment last.

So which to consider? Read on to find out the best laptops for students of elementary and secondary schools, below.

1. HP Spectre x360 (2020): The best laptop for students overall

HP Spectre x360 (2020)

(Image credit: HP)

HP Spectre x360 (2020)

Best laptop for students overall

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, but 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 excellent 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

(Image credit: Acer)

Acer Swift 3 (2020)

Best laptop for students on a budget

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 but 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

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 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

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

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 of graphics, 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 but 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

CPU: Intel Celeron N4000
Graphics: Intel UHD Graphics 600
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.

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.