Back to Uni Laptop Buying Guide

Ainsley McKay By Ainsley McKay - updated July 18th, 2023
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It’s time to head back to university and it looks like you’re on the hunt for a new device to take with you. Don’t you worry - we’re one step ahead of you! To help you find the best laptop for your studies, we’ve put together a list of our top laptop recommendations for students. These laptops all feature the latest Windows 11 operating system which is designed with robust security features and safeguards to keep you, your device, and your data protected - that leaves you with one less thing to worry about!

Choosing a Laptop For University

There are a number of factors to consider when choosing a laptop to take to university. Make sure to keep these in mind during your decision-making process!

Portability: Choose a lightweight laptop that's easy to carry around. You'll likely be carrying this device to lectures, libraries, or study groups, so portability is a key consideration. Ideally, look for laptops that are lightweight (around 1-2 kg) and on the slim side.

Durability: University life can be hectic and unpredictable. Your laptop may face a fair share of knocks and bumps, so a sturdy build is essential. And let’s be real, as a university student, paying for repairs or a new laptop a couple of years down the line is definitely not ideal. So, if you’re a bit clumsy, keep durability a key priority. Pay attention to construction materials: metal casings are durable but heavier, while plastic is lighter but may not offer the same strength.

Battery Life: Look for a laptop with good battery life, so you won't always be dependent on charging points. While a day's worth of classes usually take up several hours, a laptop with around 7 to 10 hours of battery life would be ideal. This ensures you're not always chained to a charging point and can work in places such as the library, coffee shops, or outside on a sunny day.

Performance: Here's where your area of study comes into play. Depending on your course, you may need a high-performance laptop for certain software or you may only need a fairly basic one. For humanities or social sciences for example, a basic or mid-range laptop will suffice. However, for courses like engineering, graphic design or video editing that require specific software, invest in laptops with higher processors (like i5 or i7), more RAM (16GB or more), and in some cases, a dedicated graphics card.

Storage: Look for a Solid-State Drive (SSD) over Hard Drive (HDD) for better speed and performance. Considering the size and type of files you'll be dealing with, a 256 GB SSD should suffice. However, if you're handling larger files or using powerful software for your coursework, opt for a larger capacity. 

Budget: Laptops vary in price dramatically depending on features and brand. Set a budget that matches your needs and remember that high cost doesn't necessarily mean better performance. Consider cost-to-performance ratio instead of merely going for the most expensive one.

Display: A comfortable screen size, usually between 13 to 15 inches, offers up a good balance between practicality (for long study sessions) and portability. Additionally, look for a laptop with good screen resolution for easier reading; and if you’re a design student, you may benefit from a higher resolution screen. 

Keyboard Quality: Last but not least, a comfortable keyboard is crucial. Smooth typing will make your study life more comfortable.It should have good travel distance and a layout that's comfortable for typing. After all, you'll be making tons of notes, writing essays, and more.

Now let’s jump into the devices - we’ve ordered this list with the most affordable option first, leading up to the highest end option. 

1. Acer Aspire 3 15.6" Laptop

We’re kicking this list off with our most affordable pick - the Acer Aspire 3 laptop. This 15.6" companion is a great choice for students who have fairly straight forward computing needs. If you're predominantly using it for things such as watching lectures (and YouTube videos or Netflix), taking notes, writing assignments, or conducting research, then a simple laptop like the Aspire 3 is all you need. All while offering super solid performance, it's affordable enough that you could cover most of it with your course-related costs!

Picture of Acer Aspire 3 AMD Laptop
Powered by an AMD Ryzen 5 7520U processor
Picture of Acer Aspire 3 AMD Laptop
Now has the addition of a full-function USB Type-C port

The Aspire 3 is powered by an AMD Ryzen 5 7520U quad-core processor which is made for practical multitasking and productivity. It features a 1080p FHD display, providing sharp and detailed images whether you're casually web browsing, streaming videos, or working on a presentation. It also has a solid 16GB of RAM and 512GB of speedy SSD storage! This laptop will keep up with you and your studies with ease. Plus, it's thinner and lighter than ever before at just 1.6kg and 18.9mm making it super convenient to tote around with you for a full day at university. It also has an incredible battery life that'll last up to 17 hours on a single charge! It now has the addition of a full-function USB Type-C port, Wi-Fi 6E, and HDMI 2.1.

2. ASUS Vivobook 15X OLED Laptop

Our next pick offers an awesome balance of performance and affordability. The ASUS Vivobook 15X OLED will make a great everyday companion that's always ready to make light work of your agenda, whether it's studying, presentations or play. This feature-packed device features a brilliant 15.6" FHD OLED HDR display and a cinema-grade DCI-P3 gamut. It reproduces colours with incredible accuracy for high-grade visuals, making it up to par for every one whether you're a business student or creative student. The nature of an OLED display also reduces harmful blue light by up to 70% compared to LCD displays, making it extra gentle on your eyes to reduce the risk of eye strain - perfect for long study sessions that go into the night!

Picture of ASUS Vivobook 15X OLED Laptop
A great everyday companion for whatever uni throws your way
Picture of ASUS Vivobook 15X OLED Laptop
Features a precision-engineered 180-degree lay-flat hinge

It boasts a AMD Ryzen 7 5800H processor, 16GB of RAM, and 512GB of SSD, providing plenty of power to take on demanding workloads that your studies might throw your way. The precision-engineered, 180-degree lay-flat hinge makes it easy to share content with others, or collaborate with a group of people around a table. Because you're going to be typing a lot, you'll really appreciate the full-sized ErgoSense keyboard. It's engineered to enable an unrivaled input experience for total comfort, featuring dished key caps with long key travel and great tactile feedback. The keyboard has an incredibly satisfying feel, with the optimum bounce and travel calculated with fine-tuned precision. All-in-all, a great choice for a wide range of students!

3. ASUS Vivobook S 14 Flip OLED

Next up is the ASUS Vivobook S 14 Flip OLED. This incredible laptop combines with style, versatility, and performance, ticking all the boxes for a student laptop. It’s powered by an AMD Ryzen™ 5 5600H processor, and features a 2.8K OLED display, a 360° hinge, 16GB of total RAM, and 256GB of fast SSD storage. For the ultimate durability, the precision-engineered 360° hinge on Vivobook S 14 Flip underwent a 20,000-cycle open-and-close test. Use it in laptop, tent, stand or tablet mode - or anything in between - with the assurance that your Vivobook S 14 Flip will go the distance! Further, the Vivobook S 14 Flip OLED has a best-in-class colour gamut and reproduces colors with superb accuracy for professional-grade visuals - this makes it perfect for students doing creative work or anyone who simply wants to enjoy top-notch colour fidelity. An OLED display, due to the nature of the special organic light-emitting compounds it uses, reduces harmful blue light by up to 70% compared to LCD displays, making the screen extra gentle on your eyes to reduce the risk of retinal damage. 

If you’re at university all day, ideally you’d have a laptop that can last the day without having to stay close to a power outlet. Luckily, this device has a large 70 Wh battery capacity that’ll make your on-the-go life effortless, keeping you productive or entertained for longer. It also has real-time image optimisation built into the webcam, and noise-cancellation, so you’re ready to go for zoom calls and online lectures. All-in-all, this laptop covers all bases and is the perfect choice for students looking to fulfill their productivity, creativity, or entertainment needs!

4. HP Envy X360 15.6" Flip Ultrabook

The HP ENVY X360 15 Flip Ultrabook is an excellent laptop for university students because it perfectly balances performance and versatility - two crucial factors in a student’s everyday life. Equipped with an AMD Ryzen 7 5825U Processor and 16GB RAM, it has smooth multitasking capabilities whether you're working on a group project, writing an essay, carrying out research, or streaming lectures. The fast 512GB SSD offers ample storage for all your files, including your personal content, plus it promotes speedy retrieval of data and quick booting times. One standout feature of the HP ENVY X360 is its flip design. It conveniently transitions into a tablet for note-taking, sketching diagrams, or simply browsing the web, thanks to its 360-degree hinge. You can also prop it up in tent mode which is perfect for watching videos or lectures! It features a FHD (1920x1080) touchscreen display that delivers clear images, and also makes interacting with the device a breeze. 

Picture of HP ENVY x360 Flip Ultrabook
Equipped with an AMD Ryzen 7 5825U Processor and 16GB RAM
Picture of HP ENVY x360 Flip Ultrabook
Super versatile with multiple ways you can use it

Its sturdy all-metal construction ensures durability while the slim design makes it easy to tote around campus. Plus, with up to 12 hours of battery life, it's great for those long uni days and study sessions. And let's not forget the backlit keyboard that provides a comfortable typing experience even in low light conditions. The HP ENVY X360 15-ey0017AU brings together the convenience, performance, and durability that makes it an awesome choice for university students. If you need extra RAM or storage, we've also included a couple of upgraded options too, allowing you to choose up to 32GB of RAM and up to 1TB of SSD storage!

5. Microsoft Surface Pro 9

The Microsoft Surface Pro 9 swiftly earns its place as an excellent choice for university students, thanks to its versatility, portability, and power. A unique 2-in-1 design feature enables it to shift effortlessly from a tablet to a laptop (requires a Surface Keyboard Cover purchased separately), adding a layer of convenience for different use cases - a feature beneficial for whatever a day at university might throw your way, whether that’s lectures, workshops, or simply studying. With a 12th Gen Intel Core Processor, it delivers impressive performance, making it perfect for multitasking, running demanding applications required for different coursework, or enjoying some streaming in leisure hours. 

The Surface Pro 9 has a compact and lightweight design, weighing just 879g (without the Type Cover), making it incredibly portable – a perk for students on the go. Plus, it offers up to 10.5 hours of battery life to support those long campus days. An added advantage is the stunning 13" PixelSense touchscreen display that offers vivid visuals and easy interaction. Moreover, if note-taking or drawing is a major part of your workflow, pairing it with the Surface Pen can truly enhance your productivity. Universally accommodating and reliable, the Surface Pro 7 is truly geared toward a student's diverse needs. However, if you’re a design student who needs ultimate power and performance, we recommend checking out the Microsoft Surface Laptop Studio.

6. Microsoft Surface Laptop 5

For students who prefer the traditional clamshell design without compromising on modern features, the Microsoft Surface Laptop 5 presents itself as a superior choice. From the get-go, what makes it an attractive pick is its combination of elegant design and robust performance. Powered by a 12th Gen Intel Core processors with Intel Irix Xe Graphics, it caters seamlessly to a student's variable tasks - be it running complex software for course work, streamlining multiple tasks, or taking a study break over Netflix. The Surface Laptop 5 shines in the realm of portability too, with its slim profile and weight starting at just 1.56kg for the 15" model.

The Surface Laptop 5 features a vibrant PixelSense display which delivers a high-contrast, low-glare, and incredibly sharp visual experience, making extended screen times more comfortable. Driving the point home for students is the long-lasting battery, offering up to 17 hours of use on a single charge, depending on the model and usage. Beyond the technical aspects, the Microsoft Surface Laptop 5 doesn’t ignore the need for a comfortable typing experience - a vital factor for students. It equips a comfortable, full-sized keyboard with backlighting and 1.3mm key travel. The addition of a large precision trackpad further adds user convenience. With its flexibility, power, and ease of use, the Surface Laptop 5 is a great choice for every type of student!

We hope you found this list helpful! We also recommend checking out our list of Top Ultrabooks - there is a great selection of thin and light laptops on that list that offer a great balance of performance and portability for university students.

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Ainsley McKay

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