Hardware Laptops

What’s the best laptop for university?

We’re often asked which is the best laptop for university, and as ever there’s no simple answer. However, here we’ll slim down your options based on exactly how much money you have to spend…

What to look for in a university laptop

Here are our non-negotiables:

  • Must be a reliable brand – this needs to last for 3-4 years
  • Doesn’t need to be super-fast but will need to keep students happy in 2022, not just 2019
  • Should be portable enough to carry to lectures
  • Must include at least 256GB of storage (this ties in with the three-year lifespan)
  • Must include 8GB of RAM (ensures Windows runs smoothly)

And our nice-to-haves:

  • Looks attractive
  • Full HD resolution (Full HD = 1,920 x 1,080 pixels)
  • Good enough speakers to watch Netflix etc
  • On sale from John Lewis so you can take advantage of the two-year warranty

Best university laptop for under £500

HP Pavilion 15

Best university laptop under £500

This pushes our portability criterion to the limit – the HP Pavilion 15 weighs 1.85kg – but in return you’ll get a solid-quality 15.6in Full HD screen, a stylish design and fast enough performance to keep going for the full course.

Best university laptop for under £600

Lenovo IdeaPad S340 bundle

We had to hunt around for this deal, which is only on sale direct from the Lenovo website. We’re fans because it’s a solid laptop with all the key features on our wishlist, plus a 14in Full HD screen, and because it bundles not only a mouse and backpack but also a three-year on-site warranty.

NOTE: Lenovo’s website is a pain to navigate. Once you land at the page following our link, press the NEXT button above the row of laptops. This will take you to the offers in two different colours. Pick the one you like and press Add to Basket and then follow the prompts.

Best university laptop for under £800

HP Envy 13

best laptop for university

We’re big fans of HP’s Envy 13 range, and this model is currently a bargain: while it has an £849.95 price, you get £100 in John Lewis vouchers (£125 if you’re a John Lewis member). The main thing it offers over lesser machines is a superior screen (a 13.3in Full HD display), a lighter weight and a half-decent graphics chip. It’s looks aren’t a lecture-hall embarrassment, either.

Note the voucher offer ends on 24 August 2019. Also note there are cheaper versions of the Envy 13 with an AMD processor, but we’d choose the Intel version below for its better battery life.

Best university laptop for under £1,000

Huawei MateBook X Pro

This is last year’s model of the X Pro, but that’s fine – in fact, it’s an absolute steal while you can still buy it. We love the 13.9in touchscreen, while the specification you’re buying for the price is unbeatable when combined with the build quality. It should easily last for three years, but we suggest buying a 14in laptop sleeve to keep it looking shiny and new.

Best university laptops for under £1,250

2018 Apple MacBook Air

If you don’t want to spend £1,499 on a MacBook Pro (we don’t blame you), then this is a great alternative. It lacks a fancy graphics chip or the Touch Bar, but it screams industrial chic and has excellent build quality. Plus, unlike most other laptops here, you can sell it for a few quid at the end of your course as it will still be coveted.

best laptop for university

Dell XPS 13

Dell probably had executives in mind more than students when designing the XPS 13, but it’s an excellent choice due to its light weight, lovely screen (perfect for watching TV and films) and superb battery life. Don’t be tempted by cheaper specifications with a 128GB SSD.

Best university laptop for under £1,500

2019 Apple MacBook Pro

A ridiculously over-the-top choice for most students? Absolutely. But if your course involves using demanding software then you’ll appreciate the power on offer here. Then factor in the Touch Bar (which can come in useful for those power apps), sleek design and the sheer build quality, and you have a winning combo for well-heeled and demanding students.

READ THIS NEXT: How can you improve Windows 10 laptops’ battery life?

About the author

Tim Danton

Tim Danton is editor-in-chief of PC Pro magazine and has written about technology since 1999. He enjoys playing with gadgets, playing with words and playing tennis. Email tim@bigtechquestion.com

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