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Why we love Huawei, Asus, and Samsung



Getting a quality laptop for college is must. Whether you’re saving the group project, watching Netflix during class (bad), or just showing off to your friends, you get through those four years  without one.

Clearly there are thousands of laptop choices on the internet, and lots of great cheap options. Attempting to pick the right one by yourself could take forever. Surprise: We researched the best laptops for students for you. These puppies are about to bring luxury to your learning and make even the most boring coursework fun. (OK, maybe not fun, but it’ll suck way less.)

You’ll want to look out for a good amount of memory and a quick processor, because you’ll probably procrastinate at some point and need to have a million tabs open (always) and you’ll probably have to save the group project at the last minute because the rest of your group did nothing (always).

It’s important to consider battery life as well. Unless you want to drag a charger around — most chargers are pretty compact but still, you might have to fight for an outlet spot — you’ll want one that can last through all-nighters or long study days.

A lot of laptops will hit a price point of $1,000 or more, and yes, we know paying that all at once seems like a hefty dent to your wallet — but that’s just because they’re nice AF and made to last. You’ll probably be using this laptop for all of your years of college and then some (my 2012 MacBook Pro is still kicking) so this is truly an investment that your future self will thank you for.

1. Our pick/best overall pick: The Huawei MateBook X Pro Traditional laptop with a stellar speakers and 3K touchscreen

2. Budget pick: Asus Chromebook Flip A well-reviewed and sturdy 2-in-1 for under $500

3. Pick with coolest specs: Samsung Notebook Pro 9 A 2-in-1 showoff for drawing, note taking, and movies

Good: Fingerprint reader, Dolby atmos speakers, 3K screen, 12-hour battery life

Bad: Awkwardly-placed, low-quality webcam, not fingerprint resistant like it claims to be

Bottom line: Sleek MacBook copycat with powerhouse insides and glorious battery life, relatively affordable for all that it gives you

If you’ve done any other laptop research recently, this pick isn’t quite a shocker. The Huawei MateBook X Pro has been dubbed *the best* laptop right now by numerous media brands including PCMag, The Verge, and Tech Radar. Mashable did a video on it earlier this year comparing it to the longstanding champ, the MacBook Pro, and guess who came out on top? Huawei. It’s a pretty obvious shameless copy of the MacBook Pro’s thin look with a fingerprint sensor, but has nicer specs packed into such a lightweight device — which is ideal for stuffing in a backpack and lugging around campus. Plus, the battery is said to last up to 12 hours (unheard of for a laptop this size), which will make those long days in the library significantly less painless.

The 13.9-inch, 3K 3,000 x 2,080 touchscreen display is crystal clear and movie-theatre like, featuring ultra thin bezels and a Nvidia GeForce MX150 2GB GDDR5 graphics card (for gaming after class, not while skipping class). Dolby Atmos speakers along the sides will also give your movie nights a boost. It’s also a powerhouse inside, with a quick Intel i7-8550U processor, 16GB of RAM, and 512 GB SSD (which you’ll need, because you’ll probably download a ton of books, and there’s no SD card slot.) 

Amazon customer Nathan J. Olsen writes:

“This is an absolutely beautiful piece of kit! The reviews are right, it’s a very high quality build. Tech is exactly where it needs to be, and it’s POWERFUL. The laptop fans are a bit noisy, but only under heavy workload. The screen is beautiful, well lit, small bezels, and a very useful aspect ratio!”

If you’re wondering where the camera fits in those thin bezels, we’ll let you know that the camera isn’t up there — it’s in a little pop-up button on the keyboard. This makes everything more compact, but gives an awkward up-the-nose angle. The camera isn’t HD either, but since the person on the other end will basically be looking directly into your nostrils, maybe low quality is better. That’ll be annoying if you’re Skyping with long-distance friends or have to video chat for an online class, but if your experience is anything like mine, your webcam usage will be minimal. Camera placement never would have been a deciding factor for me when buying a laptop for college, and the specs on this puppy completely outweigh any camera issues.

Learn more and get the Huawei MateBook X Pro for $1,499.99 here.

Good: Massive screen and thin bezels, facial recognition technology, extremely portable

Bad: Requires a lot of dongles, weird webcam placement, stylus isn’t included

The bottom line: A powerful and lightweight 2-in-1with Dell’s trusted name that can be taken anywhere 

Okay, showoff, we get it — you can do cool shit. The Dell XPS 13 2-in-1 laptop is finally a happy medium between Dell’s traditional powerhouse laptops and the elegance of a convertible. Dell’s entire line of XPS laptops has gotten a lot of kudos, but this 2-in-1 stands out above the rest, especially for functionality for college students. Type as you would on a traditional laptop or flip it into a tablet for note taking, movie watching, or reading an awkwardly-arranged online book for class that insists on being vertical instead of horizontal. I personally think the coolest part is its facial recognition technology (similar to how the iPhone X unlocks), which is a product of the Windows 10 upgrade.

Claiming to be the smallest 13-inch 2-in-1 on the planet (though it’s technically 13.3 inches), the XPS 13 features Dell’s InfinityEdge technology, which is a fancy term for extra-thin bezels and a wide-as-possible, gorgeous screen. It’s equipped with a 7th-gen Intel Core i5 or i7 processor, a full HD display, Intel’s 615 graphics chip, and a promised 15-hour battery life. You’re gonna need an IV of coffee for those long days, but your laptop will be able to keep up seamlessly. Memory options range from 4 to 16GB, while storage starts at 128GB and ends with a 1TB SSD. The only thing I’d change would be the webcam placement, which sits near the hinges and gives an unflattering angle. To fix this, just video call in tent mode.

Amazon customer Kindle Customer writes:

“Great for the price. Been playing WoW with no issues. I don’t know that I would strain it more than that though. The facial recognition works like a champ. I works a lot faster than my Acer Aspire, with a fraction of the lag.”

Not having to lug physical paper around to take notes will clear up space in your bag, and you’ll always have a mini TV on you for Netflix-ing during those awkward hour-long breaks between class. (It doesn’t come with a stylus, though, so you’ll have to snag the Dell Active Pen for an extra $49.99.) Learn more and get the Dell XPS 13 for $1,199.99 here.

Good: Siri, ultra fast import and export speeds for large files, quick handling of apps like Adobe, and honestly, the street cred that comes with having a MacBook 

Bad: Janky battery life, pricey, and no USB-C ports lead to dongle hell

Bottom line: A classic from Apple with the highest specs of any MacBook ever built, ideal for photo and video editing

You had to know we’d throw a MacBook Pro in here. And not just because MacBooks give you great street cred, but because the newest MacBook is a badass powerhouse. They’re the most expensive in our list, but with a fast AF i9 chip, 2.9GHz, and Turbo Boost up to 4.8GHz, the price makes sense. Like we said, MacBooks will seriously last through beatings — if my MacBook from 2012 can last six years and counting, I have no doubts that a 2018 MacBook Pro will last well over a decade, taking you from college and straight into the working world.

While Apple hasn’t gotten around to a totally touchscreen laptop yet, the OLED touch bar is such an Apple thing to do. Here, you can control brightness, sound, use touch ID, and do what you would with FN keys. (A lot of people question the point of this, though.) The 2,880 x 1,800 display has True Tone technology, which automatically adjusts the yellow and blue tones in your screen to match your environment, making things easier on the eyes. As people who appreciate the iPhone’s Night Shift feature will say, the color of your screen can affect your health, and too much blue light before bed can affect your sleep. This is extra clutch for students, because you’re gonna need all the shut eye you can get. 

Amazon customer DAB writes:

“Purchased this laptop to replace a 2013 model. I have been blown away by the speed, the bright crisp display. The keyboard takes some getting use too for sure, but it’s not bad. I know I will get use to it quickly. The big trackpad is very nice. Then there is the touch bar, which is interesting. I have really gotten use out of it and I really didn’t think I would. Also I really like using Touch ID to be able to login to my computer. Apple computers are always expensive, but for me I can’t imagine ever going back to a windows machine so it’s worth the money.”

The 2018 Pro is a great general-use laptop (and is probably what everyone in your classes will have) but is especially nice for serious apps like Adobe Premiere. Its importing and exporting times are lickety split, even for large files like long 4K videos. If you’re in school for anything like photography, film, graphic design, or music, this will be an ace choice to keep up with your assignments. Its T1 internet connection and insane download speeds also allow most webpages and apps to load in less than a second. However, it does lack in gaming speed. Not everyone cares about gaming specs, but if you do, you could get an external GPU to fix the lag. Other lame things include the crappy battery life (as low as five hours on a bad day) and the fact that you’ll be living in absolute dongle hell.

At the end of the day, there are PC people and there are Mac people, and if you’re a Mac person, no amount of shortcomings will change your mind. The 13-inch starts at $1,799.99 and the 15-inch can be as much as $2,799, depending on how much you deck it out. You can also snag the 2017 MacBook Pro for $1,599.99 here or an even cheaper (but still good as new) refurbished one for $419.39 here.

Good: The S pen is included and gives stellar drawing and note-taking capabilities, HD webcam

Bad: Wonky battery life, have to upgrade to more expensive 15-inch model for better graphics card

The bottom line: Clutch choice for writing/drawing/stylus fans that also happens to be attractive

Another sweet option for a 2-in-1 tablet notebook (and our choice for the most teched-out laptop) is the Samsung Notebook Pro 9. Unlike the Dell XPS 13, this one comes with Samsung’s famous stylus, the S pen. As you can guess, that snazzy pen makes the NoteBook Pro ideal for creative students, whether their major is something like drawing or design, or they simple enjoy doing these things as a hobby. Plus, we’re sure you’ve at least heard through the grapevine that taking notes via writing helps you retain information better than typing notes, and the S Pen makes that possible without having to lug physical paper around. It features 4,096 levels of pressure sensitivity, has an ultra-precise pencil-like tip, and, get this, never needs to be charged. Even Mashable’s Ray Wong, who is team Apple all the way, was blown away. Would we expect anything less from Samsung?

The color-rich full HD touch screen (1920 x 1080 pixels) offers complete hands-on control, and in tandem with the S-pen, users can mold the Notebook Pro 9 to their personal creative needs. It’s not the highest res display in this list, but after all of its other aspects, you probably won’t mind that. We’d usually tell you it’s up to you to choose between the 13-inch or 15-inch version (I mean, it is still up to you), but this may be the one time where we’ll insist that the 15-inch model is the way to go, even if it’s a bit heavier and expensive. You’ll want as much space as you can to draw and write with the S pen, and the 15-inch has the beautiful Radeon 540 graphics card while the 13-inch model has Intel’s integrated one.

Amazon customer Michael Vazquez writes:

“Bought this for my wife for Christmas since she started going back to school. She does a lot of online classes so the screen write on feature is great. The more she gets familiar to it, the more she loves it. For what she does, it works very fast (and she’s the type to leave like 10 tabs open at once :D). Definitely worth it.”

Not many laptops offer this much versatility. Though a seemingly small addition, the S Pen being included raises the Notebook Pro 9’s creative possibilities infinitely, and IMO, makes the hefty investment worthwhile. Learn more and get the Samsung Notebook Pro 9 for $1,154.49 here.

Good: Speedy WiFi connection and charging, small but gorgeous HD screen, affordable

Bad: Cheap-feeling touchpad, no legacy desktop apps

Bottom line: The best bang for your buck when it comes to a 2-in-1 without sacrificing high quality specs

Let us introduce you to our budget pick — because books can get expensive and you might be thinking ahead to those pain-in-the-ass student loan payments that will hit after graduation. The Asus Chromebook Flip C302 rolls in at just $469, which is over half off of the price of some others on our list. You may be thinking that that weirdly low price means that it’s shitty, but you’d be wrong. It’s physically sturdy, has the iconic thin and sleek MacBook look, and has specs that can compete with the best of them. It’s a little smaller than the rest, featuring a 12.5-inch full HD touchscreen that can be flipped 360 degrees, and weighs under three pounds, making it one of the best choices for people who care about a heavy bag.

Inside, you’ll find a 6th generation Intel Core m7 processor, up to 4GB DRAM, a fully backlit keyboard, and ultra fast loading speeds thanks to the 802.11 ac WiFi connection. In other words, the Chromebook Flip is pretty flippin’ powerful. (One blogger even said that this is the laptop that made him come back to Chrome OS.) A fully charged battery should last around 10 hours, and there are two USB-C ports, a headphone jack, and a micro SD card slot (no USB-A, though). Oh yeah, and if you wouldn’t already be saving a ton of money with this purchase, Asus will also throw in 100GB of free storage on Google Drive for two years. That’s 33,000 pictures, 20,000 songs, or 150 hours of HD video. You’re welcome.

Walmart customer Albert writes: 

“I’ve been in IT for many years and used many makes and models of laptops. This is my first chrome book. With that said I really like this machine. It is a well made device. Everything feels solid, and it is very responsive. The screen is gorgeous, and the keyboard is great to type on.”

Our point? Having a smaller budget will *not* limit you to a glorified children’s LeapPad that will break within the first few months. Asus has always been a dependable, affordable brand, and we love them for that. Learn something and get the Asus Chromebook Flip for $469 here.

Good: Impressive gaming graphics, extremely fast i5-8250U processor, tons of different ports

Bad: Bulky look with unattractive bezels, feels flimsy at times

The bottom line: It’s big and chunky, but where it lacks in the looks department it makes up for with speed and sheer power

Okay, the bulky Acer Aspire E15 won’t be the prettiest one in the room, but hey, it’s what’s on the inside that counts, right? And what this puppy has on the inside is sheer power. Its 256GB SATA SSD and i5-8250U processor are the main selling points — they seriously gets shit done, and do it significantly faster than older 7th generation processors, which will be a lifesaver for heavy coursework when you have a ton of tabs and apps open. Another unique thing about the Aspire E15 is its legacy port selection (some of which are extremely rare and borderline ancient). We’re talking USB ports from 2.0 to C, an ethernet port, a VGA port, and even an optical drive. Just about the only thing it doesn’t have is a VHS player. The fact that it’s only $600 is pretty wild.

As for the size, we know it looks pretty hefty, but it’s actually lighter than it looks — it’s still nearly five pounds, but for 15 inches, that’s not bad at all. (You can tell Acer tried to make it light on purpose, which may explain why it feels a bit flimsy and bendy at times.)

Amazon customer Pablo Garza writes:

“‘She may not look like much, but she’s got it where it counts, kid. I’ve made a lot of special modifications myself. ‘ —Han Solo

I couldn’t have put my feelings about my new Acer Aspire E 15 better. The 8th generation processor and SSD make for a very snappy computer, and the easy upgradability is helpful now and will be useful in the future. This is a killer laptop for a killer deal! Acer has done a great job of creating this workhorse of a computer and selling it at the $600 price point. Kudos to them. If you’re on the fence I challenge you to find another computer with all these feature at a similar price. Buy this computer and you’ll be very happy with it.”

Now, we’re *obviously* only condoning gaming when if it’s happening when all of your studying is done, BUT…this laptop is pretty damn good for entry level gaming. It’s not usually marketed as such, and isn’t for hardcore gaming, but when it comes to having the best of both worlds, the Aspire E15 and its Nvidia GeForce MX150 blows most of its competition out of the water.

If you’re fine with the fact that you may have the ugliest laptop in Starbucks, you won’t be disappointed by the interior quality and price of this bad boy. Learn more and get the Acer Aspire E15 for $599.99 here.

Good: Compact and portable, unique, a very affordable 2-in-1

Bad: Has a slight toy-like look, less-than-awesome display, power-intensive apps are a no-go

The bottom line: Aside from the colors, it’s a pretty no-frills laptop — but it’ll get the job done and the price is to die for.

Attention, party animals: The Dell Inspiron 11 3000 2-in-1 is a laptop with personality that sits at the top of many “best cheap laptops” lists. They’re bright, all plastic, and definitely have a more child-like look than your traditional black or silver aluminum laptop. The color selection is a bit strange (gray, red, and blue when it’s not sold out) but you can at least be sure that someone else won’t mistake your laptop for theirs. (This happened to my roommate in college, so having that unique look might be a good idea.) And honestly, with the fact that you’re getting a 2-in-1 for under $199 from a trusted name like Dell, the color and material are pretty much an afterthought.

The Inspiron 11 3000 is a compact and personal 11 inches and is ideal for minuscule desk space or working on the bus or train — PCMag even named it their top pick for cheap, ultraportable laptops. Though it’s plastic instead of the traditional aluminum, it’s sturdy where it needs to be and doesn’t feel cheap. Where it falls a bit short is with the display: At a measly 1,366 x 768 resolution with less-than-stellar viewing angles, don’t be expecting to impress your boo with a Netflix and chill night. (There is an HDMI port to stream to your TV, though.) The 32GB of memory will probably need to be upgraded, but there is an SD card slot as well as two USB 2.0 ports. As for speed, it’s equipped with an 1.6GHz Intel Celeron N3050 processor and 64-bit operating system, which isn’t the best but also isn’t the worst. Battery life is apparently 10 hours.

Walmart customer SarahScara writes:

“I got the Dell Inspiron for school. I love it for what it’s for, but I did wish I had a little more RAM. So watching any movies on it is impossible and sometimes YouTube videos even! But it’s a good computer for jotting down notes, watching short videos for class, and editing/coding.”

I guess you get what you pay for *shrug.* As Mashable’s Ray Wong said in his review of this guy, it’s really not too shabby for a $200 laptop. Learn more and get the Dell Inspiron 11 3000 2-in-1 for $199 here.

The best advice we can give you is to not wait until the day before moving in to order yours, and to not shy away from the more expensive models just because of the price. This thing is gonna be your sidekick for the next few years, and picking one that you want to throw out the window every time you use it will just be more stress on top of your actual schoolwork, and that’s not what we want. Check out our guide to the 10 best laptops under $500 if you want to compare other affordable options.

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