Go to Reviews.org US Edition
These are the best laptops for students in 2023
Most students only get one shot at buying the right laptop, so make it count.
Students searching for a laptop that'll last them are hardly unique in their technical needs, but the stakes are often slightly higher than they are for the average consumer.
If you're studying full-time, chances are you'll only get one shot at buying the right machine. More likely than not, you won't get a do-over. What you get is what you're going to be stuck with for the foreseeable future.
Thankfully, the field for uni student laptops is much broader than it used to be. There are a lot more options to choose from, and some are pretty good. If you're a student looking to buy a laptop in 2023, finding the right one is all about picking your battles. You might not be able to find a laptop that's the best at everything, but smart shoppers should be able to find one that's good at the things they need it to be good at.
If you're unsure of where you should start, let us help arm you for academic excellence with this round-up of the best student laptops (and student laptop alternatives) you can buy in Australia.
- : Best overall student laptop
- : Best cheap gaming laptop
- : Best Windows student laptop
- : Best 2-in-1 student laptop
- : Best student laptop alternative
|Best student laptop|| |
|Best cheap student laptop|| |
|Best Windows student laptop|| |
|Microsoft Store||12.4-inches||PixelSense||1.16kg|| |
|Best 2-in-1 student laptop|| |
|Best student laptop alternative|| |
|Amazon||8.3-inches||Liquid Retina||293g|| |
Apple MacBook Air (M1)
Best student laptop
While those who can afford the more recent MacBook Air should spring for it, cash-strapped students may be hard-pressed to find a better option than the 2020 version of Apple's iconic MacBook Air.
While this older model is synonymous with an older processor and a more traditional design, these details are hardly going to be dealbreakers when it comes to the demands of students. So long as you're not planning on any gaming, the M1 processor found inside the older MacBook Air still more than holds its own in 2023.
There’s a consistency and balance to the 2020 MacBook that's hard to find at price points that lean towards affordability. It's not quite as cheap as something like the Microsoft Surface Laptop Go 2 or Acer's Swift X, but when you factor in Apple's own student discount and the reality that what's here is better equipped to go the distance than most of the alternatives, the pros of stretching your budget that little bit further begin to outweigh the cons.
The MacBook Air won’t cover all the bases, but it’ll probably do a great job at almost all of your computing essentials if you're a student looking for an easy solution to laptop confusion.
Apple MacBook Air (M1)
Apple M1 Chip
Apple M1 GPU
Starts at 8GB unified memory
Retina display with True Tone
Starts at 256 GB of SSD storage
2x USB Type-C (Thunderbolt 3), combo audio jack
Wide stereo speakers with support for Dolby Atmos
720p FaceTime HD camera
Best budget laptops under $1500 in 2023
A cool grand (or even less) is more than enough capital to secure yourself some impressive portable power.
Huawei Matebook D14
Best cheap laptop
Ever since Huawei got its name notched on the US government’s infamous Entity List, the Chinese tech giant has been losing ground in Western markets. However, their desperation can sometimes be to the benefit of students looking to pick up a laptop that doesn't feel or look as cheap as it is.
If that's the brief, then the Matebook D14 is a solid pick. With a sleek form factor that’s designed to be a dead-ringer for Apple’s MacBook, this particular Matebook comes powered by an 11th Generation Intel Core i5 processor and armed with a gorgeous 14" FullView display.
With up to 512 GB of SSD storage, thinner 4.8 mm bezels, fast charging via USB Type-C and a fingerprint sensor for added security, the Huawei Matebook D14 comes with many of the premium perks of a luxury laptop at half the price.
Huawei’s fast depreciation in Western markets might be bad news for them, but it leaves the Matebook D14 looking like a steal for students on the hunt for a budget-friendly laptop in 2023.
Huawei Matebook D14
Starts at Intel Core i5-1135G7
Iris Xe graphics
14-inches, FHD, IPS
Up to 512GB PCIe SSD storage
2x USB-A 3.1, 1x USB-C 3.1, HDMI, combo audio jack
Stereo speakers, 2 x 2W
720p pop-up camera
Starting at 1.38kg
Microsoft Surface Laptop Go 2
Best laptop under $1000
While there are plenty of options available for those who want to go even cheaper, Microsoft’s own Surface Laptop Go 2 is hard to beat as far as budget-friendly options go for students.
It’s not difficult to find the limits of the humble hardware here, but there’s plenty to like about the simple aesthetics and decent battery life offered up by Microsoft's entry-level laptop. It’s probably not going to cut it was the last laptop you'll ever need to buy, but if you want something that can reliably handle the basics at an affordable price, it may be exactly what you’re after.
The Microsoft Surface Laptop Go 2 knits together a tighter 12.4-inch PixelSense display, an 11th-generation Intel Core processor and up to 256 GB of SSD storage. That being said, there aren’t that many ports and some might come away irked by the size and brightness of the display. If you can afford to spend a little bit more, it'll probably be worth that.
On the other hand, penny-pinching students looking for an affordable laptop that nails the basics and delivers plenty of bang for their buck will find that the Surface Laptop Go 2 delivers exactly that.
Microsoft Surface Laptop Go 2
Starts at 10th Gen Intel Core i5-1135G7
Intel Iris Xe Graphics
Starts at 4GB RAM
12.4-inch PixelSense Display
Starts at 128GB SSD storage
1 x USB-C, 1 x USB-A, 3.5 mm headphone jack, 1 x Surface Connect port
Omnisonic Speakers with Dolby Audio
720p HD (f/2.0)
VivoBook Flip 14
Best cheap 2-in-1 laptop
ASUS has been steadily gaining ground in the wider laptop ecosystem for a few years now, and the Vivobook Flip 14 is solid sign that this is more of a long-term trend that a short-term triumph. It’s got a spec-sheet that promises compelling performance and a price tag that puts it well below most of the competition.
If you're student seeking out a laptop with the flexibility and versatility that comes with a 2-in-1 form-factor, it's hard to ask for more. The Vivobook Flip 14 doesn’t offer up all that extras or unique riffs on the established, but when all you're asking for is solid fundamentals that's far from a bad thing.
|Specs||ASUS Vivobook Flip 14|
|Processor||Up to 11th Gen Intel Core i7 processor|
|Graphics||Intel Iris Xe Max graphics|
|Memory||Up to 16GB of RAM|
|Display||Up to 14.0-inch FHD|
|Storage||Up to 1TB of M.2 NVMe PCIe SSD storage|
Apple iPad Mini (6th Gen)
Best student laptop alternative
If you’re a student looking for an easy way to save money on the laptop you know you need to buy, it might be worth your while to seriously think about whether an alternative like the latest iPad Mini might be able to cut it.
Yes, you’ll probably have to invest in a keyboard and an extra accessory or two to get the most value out of it. However, if your workflow can play nice with or fit within the lines and limits of what a modern iPad can do, then it might just work out.
There are plenty of things that a proper laptop can do that an iPad simply can’t match. But if all you’re doing is answering and writing emails, editing documents and reading required texts, then one of Apple’s tablets might be able to do the job better and at a cheaper price.
Apple’s iPads continue to be the default tablet for good reason, and if you can get away with using one for your studies, they can be an option worth investigating.
|Specs||Apple iPad Mini (6th Gen)|
|Graphics||Integrated A15 Bionic GPU|
|Memory||4GB of RAM|
|Display||8.3-inch Liquid Retina display|
|Storage||Up to 256GB of storage|
Student laptops we also considered
Lenovo Ideapad V14
Best super cheap laptop
The Lenovo IdeaPad V14 is exceptional among sub-$500 laptops in that it runs on an AMD 3020E processor rather than one made by Intel. While this detail doesn't magically transform the machine into something it obviously isn't, it does give it a huge edge over the competition.
Throw in a sizable 8GB of RAM and 256GB of SSD storage and you've got a cheap laptop that swings well above its weight when it comes to performance. The design and form factor offers little more than the essentials, but if you're after a cheap student laptop with a little more oomph to it then the Lenovo Ideapad V14 is a solid pickup.
The ASUS E410 is a lean and mean Windows machine that nails the basics and squeezes in a few fun extras. If you’re satisfied with the idea of a budget-friendly Windows laptop that handles the essentials and not much else, it’s hard to beat - even if it’s not hard to wish for a little more.
The ASUS E410 comes kitted out with one of Intel’s Celeron processors, 4 GB of RAM and 128 GB of SSD storage. While it’s not hard to imagine a beefier version of this product armed with a Core processor instead, the upshot is that the E410 comes with the lofty promise of 12 hours of day-to-day usage.
In addition to a quirky and eye-catching rear design that helps the E410 stand out and avoid feeling generic among other laptops at this particular price point, the machine also boasts ASUS’ nifty TouchPad 2.0. Your mileage may vary, but this feature does add utility that many other budget laptops can’t match.
The ASUS E410 is armed with everything you expect from a lean budget laptop, plus a few fun extras. When most of its competition sticks solely to the former, it’s easy for the latter to win you over.
When it comes to picking and choosing the best laptops on the market, the easiest place to start is with the similarities that each brand brings to the table. This helps give us a basis for what the "meta" of laptops looks like at any given time.
The next phase in our analysis specifically looks into the details. Where do the different laptop designs brought to market by hardware manufacturers like Lenovo, Dell, HP and ASUS differ, and why? What additions or twists on the formula are novelty versus necessary? How much value do these niche features really provide end consumers?
We then weigh the findings of this process against the price expectations market segment attached to the category involved. While the overall category assumes you're a consumer who isn't looking to cut corners, neither does it act like your budget is unlimited. This helps us determine which laptops are providing the best bang for our buck and value for money.
Student laptop buying guide
The limits of student laptops
There’s a knack for finding a student or budget laptop that works for your needs. However, in order to get there, you’re inevitably going to have to accept some level of compromise. The trick to making that sacrifice work in your favour is to calculate it ahead of time rather than at the till.
Ask yourself what you’re planning to use your budget laptop for, work you what specs matter the most for that purpose, and rank your potential picks accordingly. If you’re only planning to use your budget laptop for streaming or social media, then maybe a bigger or better screen matters more than additional hard drive space or RAM.
It’s rare to find a budget laptop that does it all, but if you know what you’re looking for, it’s much easier to find one that does what you need it to do.
Try last year’s stock
Looking for online deals or clearance sales for last year’s laptops can be a great way to expand your options when it comes to shopping for a new laptop on a budget.
One of the biggest mistakes that many budget shoppers make when it comes to laptops is exclusively looking at the most recent ranges from major brands like Acer, HP and Dell. While you can go awry by rewinding the clock back too many years, there’s a good chance that a depreciated laptop from last year will serve you just as well as its successor.
Try to make a "budget buy" last
If you’re buying a budget laptop but want it to last a bit longer, it can be worth spending that bit of extra cash for the model with a better CPU, more RAM or SSD storage.
Even if doing so doesn’t feel like it makes a massive difference in the short term, it could help you eke out an extra year or so of usage before you eventually have to upgrade. No laptop is going to last forever, but the version of a budget laptop that’s best positioned to go the distance is usually a good investment.
16GB is a good place to start when it comes to RAM, but it's not necessarily going to be the end of the road if your needs are more demanding. It's enough to get by, but it might not be enough for the future or for more performance-oriented users.
If your next laptop doesn't support upgrading your RAM later down the line, it's usually smart to overshoot and aim for 32GB of RAM instead.
Not all RAM is born equal. Size isn't everything. Speed also matters.
If you're looking to find out just how fast the RAM in your laptop is, the quickest way to do so is to identify the type of memory and then Google the standard expected speeds that it should offer. For example, LPDDR5 offers speeds of up to 6400Mbps while DDR4 memory can only rev up to 3200Mbps.
If you want to go one step further and determine whether the RAM in your laptop is delivering the speeds it should be capable of offering, then it might be worth putting the hardware to the test with a benchmarking tool like Novabench.
It's easy to spend too much or too little on your next laptop, but our take is that the best-value laptops tend to sit between $1600 and $2200 in terms of price. PCs that occupy this price point might not be able to outperform more expensive alternatives, but the bump up in quality over cheaper ones is well worth the cost involved.
Simply put, laptops of this price segment tend to sidestep all the compromises of going cheaper while getting most of the performance you'll get from spending more.
These days, there are three types of Intel Core processors found in laptops. The first is the humble Intel Core i5 processor, then there's the middle-of-the-range Intel Core i7 and the power user-oriented Intel Core i9.
If you're going purely by the numbers, the Intel Core i9 is going to provide the best results. However, it's also the most demanding in terms of thermal management. A laptop running an Intel Core i9 processor will be faster than one with an Intel Core i7 or Core i5, but it'll also run hotter.
If you're an everyday or more casual user, an Intel Core i5 is probably going to be fast enough for you. If you're more discerning or planning to play a lot of games, then the up-sell to an Intel Core i7 probably makes sense.
While there's no single component responsible when it comes to laptop speed, the part that usually takes the credit is the processor. If you want your next laptop to be a fast one, you'll want to make sure it has a good processor in it.
As with desktop PCs, the processor is only part of the picture, however. If your laptop lacks enough RAM or relies on a slower hard drive for file storage, that'll act as a bottleneck on the performance of the machine as a whole.