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Best Student Laptop 2023: Our favourite devices for university and school

For most students, the most critical item you use will be your laptop. Whether you’re writing up your next essay or creating long-form video content, you will want to make sure that you’re using the correct machine. That’s where we come in.

We have a lot of experience when it comes to laptops, with our expert team reviewing new models almost every week. We’ve tested out reliable budget devices all the way to sleek MacBooks and MateBooks, giving us a great idea of what the best options are for students.

This list includes as many options as possible with varying price points, features and specs to reflect the wide array of courses that you might be taking. We have creative-ready devices best suited to graphic designers and upcoming movie makers to fantastic productivity devices that will make your next dissertation a joy to write.

We ensure to test every machine for at least a week, combining real-world anecdotal evidence with industry-standard benchmarks to give you the most accurate advice out there. This includes how capable the GPU and CPU are, how colour accurate the screen is and how comfortable the keyboard feels to type on.   

If you’re after something from a certain brand then take a look at our best Dell laptops, best MacBook laptops and best Huawei laptops. Plus, we’ve covered the best ultrabook laptops, the best budget laptops, the best laptops for video editing and the best laptops overall,  if you want a more specialised view of what’s on the market. 

If nothing on this list is catching your eye right now, then make sure you bookmark this page and come back soon. Every time we review another fantastic student-appropriate laptop we add it to this list, meaning that you should be able to find something to your liking very soon. With all that said, read on to find out our picks for the best student laptops on the market right now. 

Best student laptops at a glance

How we test

Learn more about how we test laptops

Every laptop we review goes through a series of uniform checks designed to gauge key things including build quality, performance, screen quality and battery life. 

These include formal synthetic benchmarks and scripted tests, plus a series of real world checks, such as how well it runs the most frequently used apps. 

We also make sure to use every laptop we review as our primary device for at least a week to ensure our review is as accurate as possible.

Apple MacBook Air 15-inch

Best overall student laptop
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  • Thin and light with a huge screen
  • The M2 remains a powerful chip for everyday tasks
  • Not a huge price increase over the 13-inch model


  • Annoying port placement
  • Internal upgrades are expensive
  • M2 not a massive jump over M1

Apple decided to boost its 13-inch student-friendly laptop and introduced the MacBook Air 15-inch (2023). Little changes from the smaller model other than an, expectedly, larger frame, larger display and a slightly higher price. Though, you do get a boosted speaker setup too.

We were already big fans of the MacBook Air, with the 13-inch model getting a 4.5-star review. The 15-inch version brings that same excellence along for the ride. What you get is a wondrously powerful productivity and student-friendly machine that, with its fanless design, is ideal for using in almost any workspace.

The 15-inch display gives this laptop a key edge over the 13-inch version when it comes to multitasking, a key component of any student’s workflow when it comes to referring to notes while you write an essay, or sneakily catching up on your favourite show alongside creating that all important presentation. The larger display just makes this a whole lot easier.

Along with its productivity capabilities, the M2 chip supports basic editing and the crisp 15.3-inch 2880 x 1864 LCD is great for watching video too. Media consumption is enhanced by even better speakers in the new 15-inch version, sporting a six-speaker system, up from four on the smaller model. MacBook laptop speakers are already some of the best on the market and the 15-inch Air provides surprisingly good bass for such a thin device, as well as clear vocals.

Reviewer: Max Parker
Full review: Apple MacBook Air 15-inch (2023) review

Apple MacBook Air M2 (2022)

Best 13-inch student laptop
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  • Fantastic performance
  • Sleek, updated design
  • Excellent keyboard and trackpad
  • Long battery life


  • Expensive starting price and upgrades
  • More colours would have been nice
  • The M1 version remains an excellent buy for less

Students shouldn’t feel pressured into spending this much on a laptop, but the MacBook Air M2 (2022) is a great pick for those who can afford it and want a reliable machine that can tackle tasks tougher than simple browsing and word processing.

The M2 chipset at the heart of this machine not only chews through everyday tasks, but it’s more than fast enough for photo editing, 4K video editing and even some gaming. During the review process, our reviewer spent (far) too long playing Football Manager 2022 – for testing purposes, of course.

If your day mainly consists of typing, then the MacBook Air M2 (2022) is one of the best machines on this list. Our reviewer found the keyboard a joy with just enough travel and big function keys. Below the keyboard sits a huge trackpad that’s very responsive, and while this particular MacBook doesn’t feature a Touch Bar, it offers simple function keys in its place like pre-2016 MacBooks.

Battery Life is strong enough to make it through a full day of work. During our testing, the M2 MacBook Air lasted for 14 hours in a video loop test (two hours longer than the previous model). In addition,  the display is great for bouts of Netflix after class, and while it isn’t Mini LED like with the new MacBook Pro, the 13.6-inch IPS LCD panel here is still more than serviceable for work as much as it is for play.

If you don’t need the extra graphics firepower that the latest Air offers, it’s also worth checking out the more affordable MacBook Air M1 laptop. It may be a couple of years older, but it still provides a stellar productivity performance.

Reviewer: Max Parker
Full review: Apple MacBook Air M2 (2022) review

Microsoft Surface Laptop Go 2

Best value student laptop
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  • Fantastic value for money
  • Extremely portable design
  • Smooth performance for basic tasks
  • Better battery life than the original


  • Low-resolution display
  • Lack of keyboard backlight
  • No fingerprint scanner on base configuration

If you need a laptop for school or university, there’s a good chance you’ll be on a tight budget and can’t justify spending over a grand. If that’s the case, we recommend checking out Microsoft’s Surface Laptop Go 2.

This is one of the most affordable Windows laptops on the market, and yet still offers excellent build quality and is portable enough for frequent trips to the library.

Its processor is slightly out of date compared to more expensive laptops, but our tests proved it’s still perfectly speedy enough for day-to-day tasks such as web browsing, opening emails and hammering out essays. We’d only advise opting for a more powerful option if you need a laptop for gaming or content creation.

Our only major concern with this laptop is the poor screen resolution. At just 1536×1024, we found that video doesn’t look as sharp as it does on a more conventional 1080p laptop display. That dinky 12-inch screen isn’t ideal for video streaming either, proving problematic if you want to view multiple web browsers and apps simultaneously.

But if you don’t need a laptop for video streaming, or simply don’t care about crystal clear picture quality, then the Surface Laptop Go 2 remains one of the best student laptop options for your studies.

Reviewer: Ryan Jones
Full review: Microsoft Surface Laptop Go 2 review

Asus ROG Zephyrus G14 (2022)

Best gaming student laptop
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  • Customisable light-up lid
  • Lightweight and sleek design
  • Great battery life
  • Consistently impressive performance


  • Fans can get loud

Need something for studying with graphical prowess, whether it’s for editing, gaming or otherwise, but don’t want to sacrifice portability? Enter the Asus ROG Zephyrus G14 (2022).

The G14 is a remarkable laptop that manages to pack a whole of power into a portable chassis, something only the likes of the MacBook Pro 14-inch carry off as well. But, as a Windows laptop, it gives you access to a world of gaming. The range of games available to you is backed up by impressive power, with the ability to offer you high-quality AAA gaming, depending on your configuration of choice.

If the idea of taking a gaming laptop to school or university gives you pause for thought, because many are typically not the best-looking pieces of hardware, don’t worry with the ROG Zephyrus G14. Asus has created a device that has a smidge of gaming vibes but its angular shape and unique lid design is a look that everyone can appreciate. However, some models do offer a lid that lights up, which may or may not be to your liking.

Another reasonable concern for students looking at a more powerful laptop is battery life. Well, the G14 does a surprisingly good job despite its powerhouse performance. Of course, when you’re pushing this machine with intensive gaming, you’re not going to get much longevity – at around an hour. But, when being used for typical productivity-flavoured student activities, you can expect more than 6 hours. Just enough for a full day of studying.

Reviewer: Gemma Ryles
Full review: Asus ROG Zephyrus G14 (2022) review

Asus Zenbook Pro 14 OLED (2023)

Best content creation student laptop
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  • Powerful, and ready to play games
  • Pixel-rich OLED screen
  • Quality keyboard and touchpad
  • Unusual DialPad virtual rotary controller


  • High-pitch fan noise
  • Portable design does involve performance concessions

The Asus Zenbook Pro 14 OLED (2023) is another remarkable laptop from the prolific manufacturer, again demonstrating Asus ability to pack tons of performance in a portable chassis without sacrificing too much.

This high-end creation laptop is a pricey one at over £2000, similar to the MacBook Pro 14-inch, and, as such, it’s really for students and creators who are going to make good and frequent use of its immense graphical prowess. That graphics power comes from a combination of a 13th Gen Intel H-series processor alongside an Nvidia GeForce RTX 40-series graphics chip. The result is a surprisingly performant 14-inch laptop, with the ability to eat up intensive editing workloads as well as AAA gaming at high settings.

The creative capabilities of the Zenbook Pro 14 OLED are backed up by a luscious display. It’s an OLED panel with a resolution of 2880 x 1800, with support for HDR content too. As an OLED, it’s a remarkably colour-accurate screen and offers deep blacks. There is also stylus support for its touchscreen.

Lots of power in a slim chassis: battery life is going to be awful, right? Wrong. Despite offering strong gaming and creative performance, we managed to get around 8-hours out of this machine when tested using productivity-based tasks.

Reviewer: Andrew Williams
Full review: Asus Zenbook Pro 14 OLED (2023) review

Asus Zenbook S 13 OLED (2022)

Best lightweight student laptop
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  • Excellent performance, even for gaming
  • Dazzling OLED screen
  • Remarkably thin and light
  • Great battery life


  • Poor port offering
  • Can run hot and loud under strain

Few laptops can rival the 13-inch MacBook Air on build quality and stunning portability but the Asus Zenbook S 13 OLED (2022) does just that. This AMD-powered machine is impressively lightweight at under 1kg and measures just 14.9mm. This is a laptop that feels completely natural to carry under one arm and go about your day as if it was a mere textbook.

AMD’s Ryzen 7 6800U may require a fan to regulate its performance, unlike Apple’s M2 chip, but the results to what the Apple Silicon component can offer. This chip absolutely eats up intensive productivity workloads, feel free to go wild with tabs on this device. But, surprisingly, the Ryzen chip manages consistent low-end gaming and creativity performance too – nice to have if you’ve got some light video editing to do or fancy a quick game of Rocket League.

The impressively portable design gets a dose of luxury too, with a vibrant OLED panel included on the Zenbook S 13 OLED. It’s got a productivity-friendly 16:10 aspect ratio and a resolution of 2880 x 1800. The OLED tech means getting vivid colour and truly deep blacks. It’s glorious.

Despite the powerful chip and luxurious display, battery life holds up. We managed a remarkable 13 hours on a single charge with this device – students who are particularly frugal with their battery spending could see this stretch to two days’ worth of lectures.

Reviewer: Ryan Jones
Full review: Asus Zenbook S 13 OLED (2022) review

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What should a student look for in a laptop?

A good keyboard, long battery life and snappy performance are all key things to consider when purchasing a student laptop. You’ll also want to make sure it isn’t too heavy, with 1.3kg and under being an ideal heft. Screen quality is worth thinking about if you plan on using the laptop for Netflix and YouTube.

Do students need a laptop with a GPU?

A dedicated GPU is only worth considering if you’re a creative/design student who will be doing lots of video editing, 3D modelling or animation. Gamers will also benefit from a powerful GPU. But be warned, a GPU will crank up the price, make the laptop heavier and shorten the battery life, so only get a laptop with one if it’s essential.

How much RAM does a student laptop need?

Honestly, most people will be fine with 8GB RAM, but it may be worth investing in 16GB of RAM or beyond for heavier workloads such as content creation and gaming.

Specs compared

Screen Size
Storage Capacity
Front Camera
Battery Hours
Size (Dimensions)
Operating System
Release Date
First Reviewed Date
Model Number
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Touch Screen

Trusted Reviews test data

PCMark 10
Cinebench R23 – multi core
Cinebench R23 – single core
Geekbench 5 single core
Geekbench 5 multi core
Geekbench 6 single core
Geekbench 6 multi core
3DMark Time Spy
CrystalDiskMark Read speed
CrystalDiskMark Write Speed
Brightness (SDR)
Black level
White Visual Colour Temperature
Adobe RGB
PCMark Battery (office)
Battery Life
Borderlands 3 frame rate (Quad HD)
Borderlands 3 frame rate (Full HD)
Horizon Zero Dawn frame rate (Quad HD)
Horizon Zero Dawn frame rate (Full HD)
Dirt Rally (Quad HD)
Dirt Rally (Full HD)

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