Notebookcheck

The Best Notebooks for Teenagers and University Students

Staff, 03/06/2017

March 2017 update. Whether you are looking for a notebook that will not break the bank, a high-performance all-rounder, or a luxury laptop, here you will find relevant notebook recommendations from Notebookcheck for school-aged kids and university students.

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From our point of view, notebooks designed for educational purposes need to meet very specific requirements. These include things such as a certain degree of mobility, an ergonomic design and solid input devices. These are qualities that usually are not adequately addressed by a pamphlet at a store or a manufacturer's website. To assist you in the decision-making process, we have looked back over our huge data collection compiled from the many notebooks we have reviewed, and we will make recommendations split into three different price ranges.

As a general rule, we stick to 13-inch to 15-inch devices, as these sizes constitute a good compromise between mobility and a reasonable display size for school work. The display should have an ergonomic, matte surface, and the notebook's performance should be on par with at least that of an Intel Core i3 or AMD A8/A10 platform - otherwise it may not have enough stamina to remain useful in the coming years.

General guidelines for the size, features, etc. are available in this article: How to choose a laptop for college.

Class 1 (less than 500 Euros; ~$552) or “tight budget” is limited to notebooks under 500 Euros (~$552). Due to the small number of reviews available, the recently released competitors with "Bing Windows" - that is, devices under 290 Euros (~$320) that have Windows 8.1 with Microsoft Bing as the standard search engine pre-installed - are not yet on this list. In terms of hardware, these devices are generally equipped with Intel Celeron or AMD Beema processors and therefore fall more into the netbook category. As a result of Microsoft's subsidization, there is a hole in the 300 to 400-Euro price range (~$331 to ~$442). We will devote a separate article to this new class in this aggressive price range.

Class 2 (500-800 Euros; ~$552-~$884) lists all-rounders and high-quality entry-level business notebooks between 500 and 800 Euros (~$552 to ~$884). Some of these notebooks also have CPUs and GPUs with more processing power, which means that the computers can handle more demanding applications - such as PC games.

Class 3 (800-1500 Euros; ~$884-~$1657) is comprised of more expensive devices that set themselves apart from the masses with features such as particularly high-quality materials and very good displays.

Class 4 (less than 1000 Euros, ~$1104, smaller than 13-inch) lists alternatives under 13-inches. We also include less powerful platforms such as Intel's Celeron.

Top 5 notebooks for students under 500 Euros

Pos.DateRatingImageModelHeightWeightSizeResolutionKeyboardDisplayBatteryKeyboard, Display and BatteryBest Price
107/201683%Lenovo ThinkPad E560 20EV000MGELenovo ThinkPad E560 20EV000MGE
Intel Core i3-6100U
Intel HD Graphics 520
4 GB Memory, 500 GB HDD
27.1 mm2.4 kg15.6"1366x76887%75%90%84%
202/2017
new!
79%Acer Swift 1 SF114-31-P6F6Acer Swift 1 SF114-31-P6F6
Intel Pentium N3710
Intel HD Graphics 405 (Braswell)
4 GB Memory, 128 GB eMMC
17.9 mm1.6 kg14"1366x76873%80%94%82%
305/201679%Acer Aspire One Cloudbook 14 AO1-431-C6QMAcer Aspire One Cloudbook 14 AO1-431-C6QM
Intel Celeron N3050
Intel HD Graphics (Braswell)
2 GB Memory, 32 GB eMMC
17.9 mm1.6 kg14"1366x76875%76%93%81%
408/201579%Fujitsu Lifebook A514Fujitsu Lifebook A514
Intel Core i3-4005U
Intel HD Graphics 4400
4 GB Memory, 128 GB SSD
30.9 mm2.2 kg15.6"1366x76877%78%87%81%
579%Medion Akoya S4219Medion Akoya S4219
Intel Pentium N3700
Intel HD Graphics (Braswell)
4 GB Memory, 128 GB eMMC
20.5 mm1.6 kg14"1920x108073%83%83%80%

Top 5 notebooks of the last 10 months at the time of writing, order based on NBC subratings "keyboard, display and battery life", current reviews first

Link: All reviewed notebooks under 500 Euros, order based on overall rating

1st

Lenovo ThinkPad E560
Lenovo ThinkPad E560

The Lenovo ThinkPad E560 replaces the smaller E460 at the top of the cheap notebooks for school and university. This is primarily due to the fact that the smaller model is hard to find and always costs more than 500 Euros (~$552). If you are happy to search, you can find offers of the 15-inch variant with Core i3 or even Core i5 for 499 Euros (~$551) on the Internet. While the display is rather dark, you will get a very good keyboard and a great Wi-Fi battery life of 9:26 hours.

2nd

Acer Swift 1
Acer Swift 1

The Swift 1 is the entry-level model of Acer's Swift series. Acer has produced a cheap, slim, and compact notebook, which can convince with silent operation, a decent keyboard, and a matte display. However, the display is poor: It is dark, low-contrast, and even flickers at maximum brightness due to PWM, which might cause problems in sensitive users. However, it is good news that 100 GB of flash memory is available to the user.

Those who do not require high performance will get a good notebook in the Acer Swift 1.

3rd

Acer Aspire One Cloudbook 14
Acer Aspire One Cloudbook 14

Small internal storage capacity - storage space in the Cloud. This might summarize Microsoft's concept, with which the Redmondians want to fight Google's Chromebooks. The Acer Aspire One Cloudbook 14 is also based on this principle. It has only about 15 GB free for the user out-of-the-box, but allows using Microsoft's online services OneDrive and Office 365, and microSD cards for expanding the storage capacity.

15 GB is usually sufficient for simple tasks. Those who only store their notes and presentations at university might get along well with the Acer Aspire One Cloudbook 14, since the notebook does not use a fan and features an enduring long-lasting battery. Moreover, we liked the matte display. However, it is a pity that it is not possible to open the case, eliminating the option to upgrade the system

4th

Fujitsu LifeBook A514
Fujitsu LifeBook A514

The Fujitsu LifeBook A514 for 500 Euros (~$552) is equipped with an Intel Haswell Core i3 processor and even an SSD. The business notebook can convince with a good battery runtime of 5:50 hours in our Wi-Fi test. The dark screen and the speakers on the other hand cannot convince us. The device is also pretty expensive compared with other notebooks. It is therefore a solid working device that has its strengths, but you will have to live with the high price as well as the dark display.

5th

Medion Akoya S4219
Medion Akoya S4219

Medion competes with the Akoya S4219, an actually quite common 14-inch device. However, its IPS panel with Full HD resolution has impressed us, since you will seldom come across such in this category. In addition, we liked the 128 GB flash memory and the fact that you can add a 2.5-inch HDD or SSD.

While the Akoya S4219 will not win any prizes in terms of performance, it is sufficient for office applications and web surfing. In addition, the keyboard is rather unsuitable for prolific writers. Annoying: the display flickers when you connect the device to the power adapter. Hopefully, Medion can fix this with a software update.

Overall, the Akoya S4219 certainly has its flaws, but you will hardly get a Full HD screen for so little money.

Top 5 notebooks for students from 500 to 800 Euros

Pos.DateRatingImageModelHeightWeightSizeResolutionKeyboardDisplayBatteryKeyboard, Display and BatteryBest Price
102/2017
new!
84%Lenovo ThinkPad E570-20H6S00000Lenovo ThinkPad E570-20H6S00000
Intel Core i5-7200U
NVIDIA GeForce GTX 950M
8 GB Memory, 256 GB SSD
25.4 mm2.3 kg15.6"1920x108087%84%90%87%
201/2017
new!
85%Lenovo ThinkPad E470-20H2S00400Lenovo ThinkPad E470-20H2S00400
Intel Core i5-7200U
NVIDIA GeForce 940MX
8 GB Memory, 256 GB SSD
23.7 mm1.9 kg14"1920x108087%82%87%86%
301/2017
new!
79%Dell Inspiron 15 5578-1777 2-in-1Dell Inspiron 15 5578-1777 2-in-1
Intel Core i5-7200U
Intel HD Graphics 620
8 GB Memory, 256 GB SSD
20.2 mm2.8 kg15.6"1920x108085%82%89%85%
411/201682%Lenovo Yoga 510-14IKBLenovo Yoga 510-14IKB
Intel Core i5-7200U
AMD Radeon R5 M430
8 GB Memory, 256 GB SSD
20.9 mm1.7 kg14"1920x108085%80%88%84%
509/201684%Lenovo IdeaPad 510S-14ISKLenovo IdeaPad 510S-14ISK
Intel Core i5-6267U
Intel Iris Graphics 550
8 GB Memory, 256 GB SSD
19.5 mm1.5 kg14"1920x108085%87%81%84%
Discussion

Top 5 notebooks of the last 10 months at the time of writing, order based on NBC subratings "keyboard, display and battery life"

Link: All reviewed notebooks between 500 and 800 Euros, order based on overall rating

1st

Lenovo ThinkPad E570
Lenovo ThinkPad E570

Lenovo has upgraded its cheap E series, previously sold as Edge, and has equipped it with a Kaby Lake processor and a powerful graphic card. While the GeForce GTX 950M appears slightly outdated, occasional gamers should get their money's worth and benefit from the good, yet not perfect input devices at the same time. The display is solid. Unfortunately, there are several disadvantages ranging from the suboptimal interface layout to the almost poor quality and stability of the chassis. In addition, the CPU throttles during the stress test. However, the Turbo clock can be maintained during normal load. Thereby, the 15-inch laptop always remains cool and quiet.

2nd

Lenovo ThinkPad E470
Lenovo ThinkPad E470

business notebooks. This becomes particularly apparent in the heavy and quite bulky case and the very modest connectivity: For example, there is only a single HDMI port for connecting displays and only one headset audio port.

On the other hand, the build quality is alright and the keyboard is great. The laptop even features a dedicated graphic card, which, however, is only attractive to occasional gamers. Fast Wi-Fi connections and decent battery runtimes add to the overall good impression.

3rd

Dell Inspiron 15 5578
Dell Inspiron 15 5578

The Dell Inspiron 15 5578 is a 15.6-inch convertible. The 2-in-1 device even features a keyboard light beneath the good and quite large keyboard. Finger and input pen can be used as input devices via the touchscreen. The device is quite quiet and delivers very good battery runtimes with 6:34 hours. A fast SSD works inside. While we liked the wide viewing angles of the display, it is not so suitable for outdoor use due to its rather low brightness and glossy surface.

4th

Lenovo Yoga 510
Lenovo Yoga 510

Lenovo's Yoga 510 is a 14-inch convertible. Chassis and input devices are definitely highlights of this system. The battery runtime of 6:13 hours in the WLAN test is good, but not overwhelming for an ultra-portable device. The graphics card does not have many advantages, but the security features are okay, including a fingerprint scanner.

The display could be slightly brighter and there is also a slight blue cast; the Yoga 510 has the lowest display rating in our Top 5.

5th

Lenovo IdeaPad 510S
Lenovo IdeaPad 510S

Lenovo's subnotebook IdeaPad 510S is a good offer for 799 Euros: Advantages include a 14-inch display with consistent brightness distribution and high resolution, a good case, a fast SSD, and a quiet system noise. However, the battery life of 6:24 hours in the Wi-Fi test is relatively low, but it should be sufficient for a day at the university.

The device is supposed to be equipped with the current generation of Intel processors soon. Hence, it might be worth delaying the purchase.

Top 5 notebooks for students over 800 Euros

Pos.DateRatingImageModelHeightWeightSizeResolutionKeyboardDisplayBatteryKeyboard, Display and BatteryBest Price
105/201685%Acer Aspire S 13 S5-371-71QZAcer Aspire S 13 S5-371-71QZ
Intel Core i7-6500U
Intel HD Graphics 520
8 GB Memory, 512 GB SSD
14.6 mm1.3 kg13.3"1920x108090%88%90%89%
202/2017
new!
87%Dell XPS 13-9365Dell XPS 13-9365
Intel Core i7-7Y75
Intel HD Graphics 615
8 GB Memory, 256 GB SSD
13.7 mm1.2 kg13.3"1920x108087%82%94%88%
306/201689%Acer TravelMate P648-M-757NAcer TravelMate P648-M-757N
Intel Core i7-6500U
Intel HD Graphics 520
8 GB Memory, 256 GB SSD
21.2 mm1.6 kg14"1920x108088%86%91%88%
406/201587%Apple MacBook Air 13 inch 2015-03Apple MacBook Air 13 inch 2015-03
Intel Core i7-5650U
Intel HD Graphics 6000
8 GB Memory, 256 GB SSD
17 mm1.4 kg13.3"1440x90089%81%93%88%
505/201587%Toshiba KIRA-10DToshiba KIRA-10D
Intel Core i7-5500U
Intel HD Graphics 5500
8 GB Memory, 256 GB SSD
17.9 mm1.1 kg13.3"1920x108082%90%91%88%

Top 5 notebooks of the last 10 months at the time of writing, order based on NBC subratings "keyboard, display and battery life".

Link: All reviewed notebooks over 800 Euros, order based on overall rating

1st

Acer Aspire S13 S5
Acer Aspire S13 S5

The Acer Aspire S13 is supposed to be the happy medium between the cheap and the expensive ultrabooks and, therefore, settles at a price point of about 1000 Euros (~$1104). Thus, it is a competitor to many ZenBooks from Asus, which can also be found in this chart. However, the Aspire S 13 has to do with one of the bottom places because of the test model's high-frequency fan noise and high case temperatures. Positive aspects include the good display, high-end performance and battery life, and decent input devices.

2nd

Dell XPS 13 9365
Dell XPS 13 9365

The Dell XPS 13 9365 is a Convertible from Dell's most high-end series. Its build quality is great; the keyboard is good, yet not quite as precise as the XPS 13 Ultrabook’s. Since there is no fan, the device can be used in the lecture hall without any noise annoyance. The long battery life of 11:26 hours also contributes in making the device recommendable. The sound is not that great and the CPU and GPU throttle under permanent load. The XPS 13 convertible is still a very recommendable device for everyday tasks of school children and students.

3rd

Acer TravelMate P648
Acer TravelMate P648

Actually, the Acer TravelMate P648 is a business device, but it is also suitable for demanding schoolchildren and university students. The handy 14-inch device houses a fast SSD, a contrast-rich display, and great input devices. The battery lasts over 9 hours in the Wi-Fi test. This should be long enough for a day at university or school.

Optionally, an LTE modem is available in case the Wi-Fi network is unreliable in the auditorium. However, the case is not as slim and light as that of a subnotebook and the design is quite plain. If you can accept this, you will get a great notebook for work.

4th

Apple MacBook Air 13
Apple MacBook Air 13

The competition never sleeps. Thus, Apple could only place a single device in our pricey recommendations for school children and university students this time. While the Apple MacBook Air 13 2015 (see review) is a little more efficient with the Broadwell chip from Intel, its weaknesses, including the TN panel with narrow viewing angles and difficult maintenance have not been removed. The resolution of just 1440x900 pixels has also remained unchanged. At least the competitors offer Full HD, and some of them even offer an anti-reflective coating (ThinkPad X250, ZenBook UX305FA).

The realistic battery life of more than 10 hours in our Wi-Fi test is impressive. Together with the enormous system performance, it brings real notebook power onto the desk or the lap. The fast SSD in particular surprised the tester. Despite its slim build, the system noise is low during normal usage. However, the small fan gets loud under load (stress test). Aside from the stress test, typical load generates an acceptable 40 dB(A).

All things considered, the MacBook Air 13 2015 is a well-made product and using it is fun.

5th

Toshiba Kira
Toshiba Kira

Toshiba offers the KIRA-10D, short KiraBook 2015, for 1350 Euros (~$1492). The Broadwell chipset brings better runtimes (8:38 hours in the Wi-Fi test) and by omitting the touchscreen has reduced the weight by 200 g (~0.44 lb). Therefore, the KiraBook is one of the lightest 13.3-inch subnotebooks on the market with a weight of 1100 grams versus 1286 grams (~2.4 lb versus 2.8 lb/XPS 13 2016). The Full HD display is bright and anti-reflective. As a result, outdoor use is not restricted. The KiraBook 2014 was heavily criticized in this respect, since its glossy touchscreen was not bright enough. Advantages include good input devices, longer battery runtimes and a very good system performance. The high-quality metal case heats up only slightly during normal use, but the fan gets very loud under load.

Top 5 subnotebooks under 13-inch and 1,000 Euros for students

Pos.DateRatingImageModelHeightWeightSizeResolutionKeyboardDisplayBatteryKeyboard, Display and BatteryBest Price
111/201588%Microsoft Surface Pro 4, Core m3Microsoft Surface Pro 4, Core m3
Intel Core m3-6Y30
Intel HD Graphics 515
4 GB Memory, 128 GB SSD
8.5 mm1.1 kg12.3"2736x182487%90%89%89%
205/201590%Apple MacBook 12 (Early 2015) 1.1 GHzApple MacBook 12 (Early 2015) 1.1 GHz
Intel Core M-5Y31
Intel HD Graphics 5300
8 GB Memory, 256 GB SSD
13.1 mm920 g12"2304x144085%90%89%88%
311/201683%Asus TransformerBook T302CA-FL010TAsus TransformerBook T302CA-FL010T
Intel Core m3-6Y30
Intel HD Graphics 515
8 GB Memory, 128 GB SSD
20.3 mm1.5 kg12.5"1920x108080%84%96%87%
407/201687%HP Spectre x2 12-a001ngHP Spectre x2 12-a001ng
Intel Core m3-6Y30
Intel HD Graphics 515
4 GB Memory, 256 GB SSD
13.1 mm1.2 kg12"1920x128090%84%88%87%
506/201686%Acer Aspire Switch Alpha 12 SA5-271-56HMAcer Aspire Switch Alpha 12 SA5-271-56HM
Intel Core i5-6200U
Intel HD Graphics 520
4 GB Memory, 256 GB SSD
11 mm1.3 kg12"2160x144085%83%87%85%

1st

Microsoft Surface Pro 4
Microsoft Surface Pro 4

Microsoft has won many fans with the Surface tablets and the Pro variant is also popular among businessmen. There is still not much to complain about with the fourth generation of the Microsoft Surface Pro 4: we would have wished for a few more fast USB ports, use on the lap is only possible with limitations, and the design does not allow maintenance and upgrades. But, with the Type Cover you will get a keyboard which can keep up with ultrabooks'.

The Core m models do not have a fan and are silent. Build quality and design meet the highest standards, the display is great, and the battery life lasts for a medium-haul flight. Those who do not necessarily want a notebook will find a great alternative in the Microsoft Surface Pro 4.

2nd

Apple MacBook 12
Apple MacBook 12

With the MacBook 12, Apple surprisingly launched a new product series last year. Since it has been reduced to the basic essentials, the 12-inch notebook weighs only 920 g (~2 lb) and is about 13 mm high (~0.5 in). Apple has split opinions with this device: With only a single USB 3.1 Type-C (Gen. 1) port, you have to make do with the flexibility of a smartphone. It is not possible to charge the device and connect a mouse at the same time - at least not without the optional adapter. The keyboard with its robust touch-sensitive keys is also debatable. Nevertheless, the MacBook 12 performs excellently in the core disciplines of a highly mobile notebook: realistic battery runtimes of over 7 hours, an excellent display, extremely light weight, low emissions (silent operation), yet satisfactory performance.

3rd

Asus TransformerBook T302CA
Asus TransformerBook T302CA

The big highlight of the Asus TransformerBook T302CA is the excellent battery runtime of more than 13 hours in the Wi-Fi test. We like the design, the glossy screen while the not so durable magnetic hinges are only minor drawbacks on the way to the perfect student laptop.

There is almost nothing to criticize in terms of input devices, and the keyboard enables comfortable typing, but there is no illumination. The touchpad could be bigger, but you get a precise touchscreen and a pen, which can be used for precise and pressure-sensitive inputs.

4th

HP Spectre x2
HP Spectre x2

HP also offers a competitor to the Surface Pro 4 for consumers. The handy Spectre x2 12 (see review) certainly delivers. It comes with a brand new Core m3 or m7. Microsoft does not offer m5 or m7 variants.

Is the Spectre x2 12 therefore an option for those looking for the best possible performance without a fan? Unfortunately, the answer is a clear no: The m7 variant does not perform significantly better than the m3 model. Quite the reverse, the m3 edition even comes with a slightly faster SSD.

Nevertheless, the Spectre x2 12-a003ng achieved quite a good result and impressed the tester. However, the Real Sense camera had the smallest impact on this. We liked the extraordinary good concept of keyboard (backlight, good haptics) and tablet. The combination is actually subnotebook-like and productivity use is comfortable without any major limitations.

5th

Acer Aspire Switch Alpha 12
Acer Aspire Switch Alpha 12

The Acer Aspire Switch Alpha 12 is actually a special device: Water cooling is seldom used in notebooks, but it is almost a sensation in a convertible. In addition, it works quite well: absolutely quiet and reliable. However, the device gets quite hot in several spots under load.

The battery runtimes could be higher and the speakers do not really match the sensational concept. But, we liked the build quality and input devices, especially in view of its price of 899 Euros (~$993). Many more expensive convertibles perform worse in this respect. Those who want to run demanding applications in quiet environments should definitely consider the Switch Alpha.

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Staff, 2017-03- 6 (Update: 2017-03- 7)