These are the best laptops for students in 2023

Most students only get one shot at buying the right laptop, so make it count.

Best overall student laptop
Macbook Air (M1)
Apple MacBook Air (2020)
4.5 out of 5 stars
4.5
Starts at
$1,499
Processor
M1
Graphics
Integrated M1 GPU
Display
13-inch True Tone Retina Display
Best cheap student laptop
Huawei MateBook D14
Huawei Matebook D14
3.8 out of 5 stars
3.75
Starts at
$1099
Processor
Intel Core i5-1135G7
Graphics
Intel Iris Xe
Display
14-inch, FHD, IPS
Best Windows student laptop
Microsoft Surface Laptop Go 2
Microsoft Surface Laptop Go 2
4.2 out of 5 stars
4.15
From
$1,099
Processor
Intel Core i5-1135G7
Graphics
Intel Iris Xe Graphics
Display
12.4-inch PixelSense display
Best 2-in-1 student laptop
VivoBook Flip 14
ASUS Vivobook Flip 14
3.3 out of 5 stars
3.25
Starts at
$999
Processor
11th Gen Intel Core i7
Graphics
Intel Iris Xe Graphics
Display
14-inch, FHD, IPS,
Best student laptop alternative
Apple iPad mini Wi-Fi (256 GB)
iPad Mini (6th Gen)
4 out of 5 stars
4
From
$829
Processor
A15 Bionic
Graphics
Integrated A15 GPU
Display
8.3-inch Liquid Retina
Fergus Halliday
Digital Content Editor
Read More
January 09, 2023
8 min read

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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.

Category
Product
Price [RRP]
Availability
Display size
Resolution
Weight
Rating
Best student laptop
From
$1499
13-inchesFHD1.29kg
4 out of 5 stars
4
Best cheap student laptop
From
$999
14-inchesFHD1.38kg
3.8 out of 5 stars
3.75
Best Windows student laptop
From
$1099
12.4-inchesPixelSense1.16kg
4.2 out of 5 stars
4.15
Best 2-in-1 student laptop
From
$999
14-inchesFHD1.5kg
4 out of 5 stars
4
Best student laptop alternative
From
$829
8.3-inchesLiquid Retina293g
4 out of 5 stars
4

Apple MacBook Air (M1)

Best student laptop

Macbook Air (M1)
Apple MacBook Air (2020)
Our Rating
4.5 out of 5 stars
4.5
Performance
5 out of 5 stars
5
Design
4 out of 5 stars
4
Display
3.5 out of 5 stars
3.5
🔥 Save 13% $1499
$1,297
pro M1 processor
pro Apple ecosystem
con Limited ports
con Chunky bezels

Pricing and availability only accurate as of last page update.

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.

Model

Apple MacBook Air (M1)

Processor

Apple M1 Chip

Graphics

Apple M1 GPU

Memory

Starts at 8GB unified memory

Display

Retina display with True Tone

Storage

Starts at 256 GB of SSD storage

Ports

2x USB Type-C (Thunderbolt 3), combo audio jack

Battery

49Whr

Speakers

Wide stereo speakers with support for Dolby Atmos

Webcam

720p FaceTime HD camera

Weight

1.29kg

Friends in colorful clothes sitting in a row holding laptops and computers

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

Huawei MateBook D14
Huawei Matebook D14
Our Rating
3.8 out of 5 stars
3.75
Performance
3 out of 5 stars
3
Design
4 out of 5 stars
4
Display
3 out of 5 stars
3
Starts at
$1099
pro Thin bezels
pro Great price
con Redundant smartphone integration features
con Recessed webcam

Pricing and availability only accurate as of last page update.

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.

Model

Huawei Matebook D14

Processor

Starts at Intel Core i5-1135G7

Graphics

Iris Xe graphics

Memory

8GB RAM

Display

14-inches, FHD, IPS

Storage

Up to 512GB PCIe SSD storage

Ports

2x USB-A 3.1, 1x USB-C 3.1, HDMI, combo audio jack

Battery

56Whr

Speakers

Stereo speakers, 2 x 2W

Webcam

720p pop-up camera

Weight

Starting at 1.38kg

Microsoft Surface Laptop Go 2

Best laptop under $1000

Microsoft Surface Laptop Go 2
Microsoft Surface Laptop Go 2
Our Rating
4.2 out of 5 stars
4.15
Performance
3 out of 5 stars
3
Display
3.5 out of 5 stars
3.5
Design
3.5 out of 5 stars
3.5
Starts at
$1099
pro Minimalist design
pro Improved processor
con Limited storage
con Too few ports

Pricing and availability only accurate as of last page update.

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.

Model

Microsoft Surface Laptop Go 2

Processor

Starts at 10th Gen Intel Core i5-1135G7

Graphics

Intel Iris Xe Graphics

Memory

Starts at 4GB RAM

Display

12.4-inch PixelSense Display

Storage

Starts at 128GB SSD storage

Ports

1 x USB-C, 1 x USB-A, 3.5 mm headphone jack, 1 x Surface Connect port

Speakers

Omnisonic Speakers with Dolby Audio

Webcam

720p HD (f/2.0)

Weight

1,127g

Dimensions

 

278.2mm x 206.2mm x 15.7mm

VivoBook Flip 14

Best cheap 2-in-1 laptop

ASUS Vivobook flip 14 laptop
ASUS VivoBook Flip 14
Our Rating
4 out of 5 stars
4
Display
4 out of 5 stars
4
Performance
3 out of 5 stars
3
Design
4 out of 5 stars
4
From
$999
pro Great keyboard
pro NumberPad 2.0
con Slightly on the heavy side
con No internal housing for stylus

Pricing and availability only accurate as of last page update.

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.

SpecsASUS Vivobook Flip 14
RRPFrom $999
ProcessorUp to 11th Gen Intel Core i7 processor
GraphicsIntel Iris Xe Max graphics
MemoryUp to 16GB of RAM
DisplayUp to 14.0-inch FHD
StorageUp to 1TB of M.2 NVMe PCIe SSD storage

Apple iPad Mini (6th Gen)

Best student laptop alternative

Apple iPad mini Wi-Fi (256 GB)
iPad Mini (6th Gen)
Our Rating
4 out of 5 stars
4
Display
4 out of 5 stars
4
Performance
4 out of 5 stars
4
Design
4 out of 5 stars
4
Starts at
$829
pro Apple Pencil 2 support
pro Goregeous design
con No FaceID
con No expandable storage

Pricing and availability only accurate as of last page update.

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. 

SpecsApple iPad Mini (6th Gen)
RRPFrom $829
ProcessorA15 Bionic
GraphicsIntegrated A15 Bionic GPU
Memory4GB of RAM
Display8.3-inch Liquid Retina display
StorageUp to 256GB of storage

Student laptops we also considered

Here are more gaming laptops that we considered that didn't make the cut.

Lenovo Ideapad V14

Best super cheap laptop

Lenovo IdeaPad V14
Lenovo IdeaPad V14
Our Rating
3.5 out of 5 stars
3.5
Performance
3.5 out of 5 stars
3.5
Design
2.5 out of 5 stars
2.5
Display
3 out of 5 stars
3
Starts at
$430
pro AMD processor
pro Thrifty price
con Plain design
con Hard to find

Pricing and availability only accurate as of last page update.

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.

ASUS E410

ASUS E410
ASUS E410
Our Rating
2.8 out of 5 stars
2.75
Performance
2.5 out of 5 stars
2.5
Design
3 out of 5 stars
3
Display
3 out of 5 stars
3
From
$499
pro Extremely cheap
pro Decent design
con Low RAM
con Limited performance

Pricing and availability only accurate as of last page update.

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.

Our methodology

How we chose the best student laptops

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

What to look for when comparing student laptops
Lenovo Yoga Slim 7 Pro OLED product shot 5

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.

Laptop FAQs

Here are the most commonly asked questions about laptops
How much RAM do I need?

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.

How fast is the RAM in my laptop?

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.

How much does a good laptop cost?

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.

What Core is best for a laptop?

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.

What makes a laptop fast?

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.

Fergus Halliday
Written by
Fergus Halliday
Fergus Halliday is a Digital Content Editor for Reviews.org who specialises in technology, entertainment, gaming and pop culture. His work has been published in Gizmodo, Kotaku, Press Start Australia, The AU Review, Screen Rant, Superjump and more. You can follow him on Twitter.

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