10 best laptops for students – The Independent

Whether it’s for checking Facebook, streaming a movie, or perhaps even writing an essay, we’ve rounded up the laptops which are more than capable of catering to a student’s needs. 

However, before choosing your device, it’s probably worth making a list of features that are important to you. Do you really need a big screen? A 15-inch display may provide a better viewing experience, but it will also add weight and bulk. An 11-inch screen, though lighter, will inevitably mean a smaller laptop and a cramped keyboard. What about an optical drive for CDs and DVDs? Is battery life important? How about processing power, storage, speakers and software? 

And should your laptop be a Chromebook? They are extremely good value laptops running on Google’s Chrome operating system, and although designed to run when connected to the internet, most of the essential apps you’ll need also work offline. For working with documents, using the internet, sending emails, the apps on the Chrome OS platform perform just like traditional PC software – so do you really need Office when Google Docs will do? 

Whatever you choose, don’t forget to shout: “Student discount!”

1. Lenovo ThinkPad 11e Chromebook: £264.70, Lenovo

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Tested against high pressure, humidity, vibration, high temperature, temperature shock, low pressure, low temperature and solar radiation – not forgetting dust and fungus, too – this laptop should handle even the worst student accommodation. With an 11.6-inch HD display and up to 12 hours’ battery life, this Chromebook is built like a tank, with toughened hinges, ports, and corners, and can withstand drops of up to 90cm – that’s more than bar table height. 

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2. Lenovo Yoga 300 11-inch: £299.99, Lenovo

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The Yoga can contort through the full 360 degrees. It transforms from laptop, to stand, tent, then tablet mode where the 11″ screen flips round against the body, utilising the touchscreen display. Powered by the new Intel Pentium processor and packaged with Windows 10 Home, it also has surprisingly good connectivity for such a small machine, with three USB ports (one USB 3.0), a full-size ethernet port, HDMI socket and a full-size SD card slot.

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3. Acer Chromebook 15.6-inch: £229.99, Currys 

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If you’re on a budget, a Chromebook is a great alternative to a Windows or Mac laptop. The compromise is usually a screen of 11 or 13 inches, but at 15.6 inches, this model claims to have the largest display of any Chromebook, and it’s available in full HD. Needless to say, a large display is great for movies, and with an IPS screen you can view from wide angles without distortion. But the size also means less clutter and scrolling when you actually get down to doing some serious work.

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4. Dell Chromebook 11: £190.17, Amazon

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Liquid damage is the ruination of many laptops, so a Dell Chromebook 11 with a fully spill-proof keyboard will prove a smart choice for the more self-aware student. A rubberised base to absorb shock adds further protection from accidents, as does the optional scratch-resistant touch screen. The Intel Celeron processor and 4GB of RAM easily copes with browsing while streaming video at the same time, and has a battery life of over 10 hours.

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5. HP 15.6-inch Intel Pentium 4GB 1TB Laptop: £249.99 Argos

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Dragonfly Blue, Cardinal Red, Modern Gold, Sport Purple. No, not Farrow and Ball’s latest explorations in emulsion, but a visually exciting departure by HP from the usual black and silver colour schemes of most laptops. This is a more conventional Windows machine, with an HD screen, 1TB hard drive, Dual Core Intel Pentium processor, and all the connection ports you’ll need.  

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6. HP Pavilion x2: £189.99, Currys 

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The X2 transforms seamlessly between a tablet and a notebook by means of a nifty magnetic hinge that allows you to not only position the display in any position, but also detach the screen completely. Packaged with Windows 10 and an Intel processor, it’s also very quiet – there’s no need for a whirring fan. An IPS display gives you screen clarity from almost any angle.

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7. Toshiba Satellite Click 10 LX0W: £269.97, Currys

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With a battery life of over 14 hours, this unit will keep going for two whole working days (or perhaps a month’s work on some university courses). The press of a button detaches the screen enabling you to switch between a laptop and a tablet. It’s extremely light – just over 1kg in laptop mode, and half that in tablet mode. The full HD display has a viewing angle of almost 180 degrees, so it’s designed to be great for both work and play.

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8. Asus X553SA: £249.99, Very

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‘Instant On’, a feature that revives from sleep mode to full functionality in two seconds (an attribute many students would wish for themselves) means you can immediately get back to what you were doing. Equipped with a 15.6-inch display and DVD drive, rare in this price bracket, the X553 is extremely well-specced for quality sound and visuals. Loaded with the Windows 8.1 operating system, upgradable to Windows 10, it’s a good all-round value laptop.

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9. ASUS Vivobook E200HA: £179, Tesco

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Ultra-light, ultra-slim, and under £200 – if you’re searching for a budget-friendly Windows 10 notebook with decent battery life, then look no further. It also comes with a year’s subscription to Office 365 (Word, Outlook, Excel and PowerPoint plus others), and is capable of playing video for 13 hours. There’s an Atom Quad-Core processor, which provides the power to handle all your daily computing tasks. 32GB of storage gives you plenty of space for your favourite music, video, photo and data files.

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10. Dell Inspiron 15.6-3552: £289, Tesco

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This Windows 10 machine is lightweight and slim. It comes with Windows 10 and a 1TB hard drive, which is more than enough storage for all your photos, music, video and work. There are dual-core and quad-core versions of the laptop available, and both cost less than £300.

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Verdict

It’s possible to find a very capable multi-purpose laptop for under £300, and you may wonder why you would want to spend more. If you’re after a machine running Windows 10 and its related software, a terabyte of storage, with a DVD drive, a large HD screen with which to work and watch movies, then both the Asus X553SA and the Dell Inspiron 15.6-3552 will serve you well. However, with superb battery life, portability and durability, a Chromebook might well tick all your boxes. The indestructible Lenovo ThinkPad 11e (which, as Chromebook, will always have the latest software updated automatically, and for free), might just last forever.

IndyBest product reviews are unbiased, independent advice you can trust. On some occasions, we earn revenue if you click the links and buy the products, but we never allow this to bias our coverage. The reviews are compiled through a mix of expert opinion and real-world testing

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