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The Best Notebooks for School-Aged Kids and College Students

July 2021 Update. When looking for a laptop for school the requirements can be numerous. The following list contains our Notebookcheck laptop recommendations for K12 and college students, whether you’re looking for a laptop that won’t break the bank, a high-performance all-rounder, or a high-end premium luxury device.
Florian Schmitt (translated by Finn D. Boerne), 🇩🇪 🇪🇸 ...

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The Best Notebooks for School-Aged Kids and College Students
The Best Notebooks for School-Aged Kids and College 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.  It is unusual for these qualities to be 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. 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 platform - otherwise it may not have enough stamina to remain useful over the coming years. 

The following table contains notebooks and convertibles priced between 500 and 1,500 Euros ranked by weighted scores in the display, keyboard, and battery life categories. Many OEMs offer educational discounts for students and require proof of school or college enrollment. These prices are often noticeably lower than street prices and will thus allow you to save quite a bit of money. Keep in mind that our automatically updated price comparison cannot take educational discounts into account.

The Best Laptops for School-Aged Kids and College Students

Position
Weighted Rating
Total Rating
Date
Image
Model
Height
Weight
Size
Resolution
193 %91 %
12/2020
Apple MacBook Pro 13 Late 2020 M1 Entry (8 / 256 GB)Apple MacBook Pro 13 Late 2020 M1 Entry (8 / 256 GB)
Apple M1
Apple M1 8-Core GPU
8 GB Memory, 256 GB SSD
15.6 mm1.4 kg13.30"2560x1600
292 %91 %
08/2020
Lenovo ThinkPad T14s-20UJS00K00Lenovo ThinkPad T14s-20UJS00K00
AMD Ryzen 7 PRO 4750U
AMD Radeon RX Vega 7
32 GB Memory, 1024 GB SSD
16.1 mm1.3 kg14.00"1920x1080
392 %91 %
12/2020
Apple MacBook Air 2020 M1 EntryApple MacBook Air 2020 M1 Entry
Apple M1
Apple M1 7-Core GPU
8 GB Memory, 256 GB SSD
16.1 mm1.3 kg13.30"2560x1600
489 %88 %
04/2021
Schenker VIA 14 Late 2020Schenker VIA 14 Late 2020
Intel Core i5-1135G7
Intel Iris Xe Graphics G7 80EUs
16 GB Memory, 500 GB SSD
16.5 mm1.1 kg14.00"1920x1080
589 %88 %
12/2020
Schenker Vision 15Schenker Vision 15
Intel Core i7-1165G7
Intel Iris Xe Graphics G7 96EUs
16 GB Memory, 1024 GB SSD
15 mm1.7 kg15.60"1920x1080
689 %87 %
11/2020
Fujitsu LifeBook U7310Fujitsu LifeBook U7310
Intel Core i5-10210U
Intel UHD Graphics 620
8 GB Memory, 256 GB SSD
19 mm1.2 kg13.30"1920x1080
789 %88 %
05/2021
Lenovo ThinkPad T14 Gen2-20W1S00000Lenovo ThinkPad T14 Gen2-20W1S00000
Intel Core i7-1165G7
NVIDIA GeForce MX450
16 GB Memory, 1024 GB SSD
17.9 mm1.5 kg14.00"1920x1080
888 %89 %
05/2021
Asus ZenBook 13 UX325EAAsus ZenBook 13 UX325EA
Intel Core i7-1165G7
Intel Iris Xe Graphics G7 96EUs
32 GB Memory, 1024 GB SSD
13.9 mm1.2 kg13.30"1920x1080
987 %84 %
03/2021
Honor MagicBook Pro 10210UHonor MagicBook Pro 10210U
Intel Core i5-10210U
NVIDIA GeForce MX350
16 GB Memory, 512 GB SSD
16.9 mm1.7 kg16.10"1920x1080
1087 %88 %
11/2020
HP EliteBook 835 G7 23Y57EAHP EliteBook 835 G7 23Y57EA
AMD Ryzen 5 PRO 4650U
AMD Radeon RX Vega 6 (Ryzen 4000/5000)
8 GB Memory, 256 GB SSD
17.9 mm1.4 kg13.30"1920x1080

The table above contains an overview over the best notebooks between 500 and 1,500 Euros reviewed by Notebookcheck over the course of the past 12 months as well as still relevant and available older products. In cases of identical score the more recent device is listed first. All prices in above table and price comparisons are updated daily and can thus differ.
Link: all devices in this class reviewed

1st – Apple MacBook Pro 13 2020 i5

Apple MacBook Pro 13 2020 i5
Apple MacBook Pro 13 2020 i5

Starting at $1,300 Apple’s base model MacBook Pro 13 comes with a 1.4 GHz Core i5, 8 GB of RAM, and 256 GB of storage. This price can quickly skyrocket should you opt for Apple’s optional upgrades, such as an additional 256 GB of storage (+ $200). One of the great things about this laptop is that even the base model comes in a high-end and beautiful aluminum case, features an excellent high-resolution display, and very good input devices. A battery life of more than 10 hours in our real-life Wi-Fi test is yet another reason why the MacBook Pro managed to secure first place on this list.

Downsides include limited connectivity (4x USB Type-C Thunderbolt 3) and a meagre 256 GB of storage on the base model. Keep in mind that our review was conducted with a slightly different SKU featuring a 2.9 GHz i5 CPU and a 512 GB SSD. The base model can differ slightly from our review unit in regard to performance, emissions, and battery life. These should, however, have no significant impact on everyday use, except for of course the limited storage capacity.

Pricecompare

2nd – Lenovo ThinkPad T14s AMD

Lenovo ThinkPad T14s AMD
Lenovo ThinkPad T14s AMD

The Lenovo Thinkpad T14s is basically the more “portable” version of Lenovo’s universal ThinkPad T14 workhorse. Universally adopted by numerous corporations world-wide this laptop meets all the criteria to qualify for everyday school reality. The T14s can be equipped with both Intel and AMD hardware, and the latter is slightly cheaper and thus better suited for cash-strapped students.

In our review, we found a robust and sturdy case, excellent input devices, a very good FHD display, a decent battery life of up to 10 hours in our real-life test, low emissions particularly under low load (office tasks), and fast Wi-Fi 6. Depending on country of purchase the T14s can also come with up to three years of manufacturer warranty by default. Prices for the AMD-equipped SKU hover around $1,400, which already includes potential edu discounts.

Pricecompare

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3rd – Apple MacBook Air 2020 M1

Apple MacBook Air 2020 M1
Apple MacBook Air 2020 M1

To nobody’s surprise the Apple MacBook Air 2020 is selling like hot cakes. After all, the M1 turned out to be a great success. It is Apple’s first self-developed ARM-based microprocessor, and it is not only capable of keeping up with current Intel and AMD processors but even outperforms them in some situations. And it does all that without active cooling. And to add insult to injury it is just the beginning, and the entry-level version of Apple’s CPU.

True, there are some teething issues with emulating older macOS software but in return you get access to a large catalog of iOS applications. We are expecting these issues to subside over the next few months as developers adapt to the new platform and architecture.

Otherwise, the device is practically identical to the well-known Intel-based Apple MacBook Air 2020, which means it still lacks a touchscreen. Storage space is somewhat limited, and prices for optional upgrades are as steep as ever. We would have also wished for a better webcam and Wi-Fi modem. Nevertheless, the MacBook Air 2020 with Apple’s own processor is incredibly impressive.

Pricecompare

4th – Schenker VIA 14

Schenker VIA 14
Schenker VIA 14

A lightweight notebook with a large battery? Schenker's VIA 14 is just that. Despite its weight of just 1.1 kg (2.43 lbs) it manages to offer very long battery life, and given the high quality of its keyboard we can definitely recommend this 14-inch notebook for school and college.

Other benefits include its cool case, its decent performance, fast Wi-Fi, a decent display, plenty of connectivity, and its good upgradability.

The Schenker VIA 14 definitely deserves our endorsement, and the next generation could do a lot better with just a few minor improvements.

The device can be configured and customized on Schenker’s homepage and ships to all countries within the EU as well as select others in Europe.

Pricecompare

5th – Schenker Vision 15

Schenker Vision 15
Schenker Vision 15

The Schenker Vision 15 is based on Intels own reference notebook and a Windows alternative to Apple’s MBP16. At a price of around 1,500 Euros, you get plenty of performance, a high-quality unibody chassis, modern connectivity with Thunderbolt 4, and last but not least good input devices.

On the flip side we see a display that is not quite what we would have expected in a notebook at this price. Its color accuracy is pretty poor, which can be a deal breaker for those doing photo and video editing, design, and art. Its fan management is also in need of improvement, which should be easily done via firmware update according to the manufacturer.

Overall, the Schenker Vision 15 is an interesting and powerful device whose up-to-date connectivity is a unique selling point at the time being.

Pricecompare

6th – Fujitsu LifeBook U7310

Fujitsu LifeBook U7310
Fujitsu LifeBook U7310

Minor manufacturing imperfections in a notebook for more than $1,200? We think not! However, our Fujitsu LifeBook U7310 review unit exhibited just that, and surprised us with a clattering mouse button. This could of course be a one-time thing and not representative for the entire series. Apart from that Fujitsu’s business notebook may not have been eye candy per se, but it was well made and offered interesting options for safely storing data on the laptop itself.

Graphical applications are too much to ask for of this notebook, and performance was only adequate for everyday office applications. On the plus side, it supports Thunderbolt 3 and features a full-sized SD card reader.

Pricecompare

7th – Lenovo ThinkPad T14 G2

Lenovo ThinkPad T14 G2
Lenovo ThinkPad T14 G2

The ThinkPad T14 G2 continues its 2019 predecessor’s design language and introduces some minor and subtle changes. Which, considering a ThinkPad’s overall rather timeless and iconic design is not necessarily a bad thing to begin with. However, performance increased dramatically over its predecessor.

ThinkPads have been infamous for their excellent input devices for a long time, and the ThinkPad T14 G2 is no exception. It is available with a low-power display and features plentiful connectivity including two Thunderbolt 4 ports.

Overall, the device most certainly deserves our endorsement despite a few flaws that were uncovered during our review. It gets very hot under load, its battery life is not as great as it used to be, and it lacks a full-size card reader slot.

A custom configuration can be ordered through Lenovo’s own webstore. Select preconfigured models are also available through the usual retail channels, such as Amazon or Walmart.

Pricecompare

8th – Asus ZenBook 13

Asus ZenBook 13
Asus ZenBook 13

Are you in the market for a subnotebook with an OLED display? Then look no further, because the Asus ZenBook 13 has you covered. Its excellent display is incredibly color accurate, its AMD processor is powerful, and it features Wi-Fi 6 and a backlit keyboard to boot.

Its low weight, its robust yet compact case (a mere 14 mm / 0.55 inches thick), and its low weight of just 1.2 kg (2.65 lbs) make this a notebook that is easy to carry around all day every day.

However, your 3D performance expectations have to kept in check, and RAM is not expandable. Good thing our review unit already came with 16 GB. We also did not like its weak hinge mechanism as well as its overall power consumption despite of which it managed a good result of over 9 hours in our Wi-Fi battery test.

If you are looking for a powerful notebook with great display the ZenBook 13 with OLED display can be a great choice.

An Intel SKU is also available. It comes with Thunderbolt and extra GPU power. In return, its CPU performance is worse.

Prices for both the Intel and AMD model start at around $800, for example on Amazon and Newegg.

Pricecompare

9th – Honor MagicBook Pro

Honor MagicBook Pro
Honor MagicBook Pro

The Honor MagicBook Pro is a decent multimedia notebook based on Intel’s Core i5 or AMD’s Ryzen 5 CPU. It comes with a somewhat gaming-capable dedicated GPU. In direct comparison the Intel SKU performed slightly worse than the AMD SKU.

Both variants feature the same base model and therefore pretty much all pros and cons. Our review unit came equipped with 16 GB of RAM and a 512 GB SSD and would thus be well-suited for the average user.

Downsides include its mediocre speakers as well as the annoying soundscape produced by the fan. In addition, the webcam position was a poor choice. If you don’t mind these downsides, you get a good-looking and thin multimedia notebook in the Honor MagicBook Pro.

The device is not officially sold in North America and has to be imported from China, e.g. through sellers on eBay.

Pricecompare

10th – HP EliteBook 835 G7

HP EliteBook 835 G7
HP EliteBook 835 G7

Over the course of the last year AMD-based laptops have become an increasingly interesting alternative to their Intel counterparts, even in price brackets where high levels of performance are not optional but expected and a given. Accordingly, the HP EliteBook 835 G7 offers great CPU performance as well as long battery life.

Extra care has to be taken when choosing the display as HP opted for a rather dim panel unbefitting its price range. We would definitely prefer the SureView option. We also disliked the lack of Thunderbolt support, albeit this may not even be particularly important for school and university use.

On the plus side, there are quite a few positive surprises making the EliteBook 835 G7 an attractive option for students, including a great keyboard, an accurate touchpad, a robust case, and, depending on country of purchase, up to three years of warranty by default.

Pricecompare

Size Comparison

369 mm / 14.5 inch 234 mm / 9.21 inch 16.9 mm / 0.665 inch 1.7 kg3.75 lbs355 mm / 14 inch 230 mm / 9.06 inch 15 mm / 0.591 inch 1.7 kg3.66 lbs329 mm / 13 inch 227 mm / 8.94 inch 17.9 mm / 0.705 inch 1.5 kg3.26 lbs329 mm / 13 inch 225.8 mm / 8.89 inch 16.1 mm / 0.634 inch 1.3 kg2.8 lbs322 mm / 12.7 inch 216.8 mm / 8.54 inch 16.5 mm / 0.65 inch 1.1 kg2.37 lbs311 mm / 12.2 inch 217 mm / 8.54 inch 19 mm / 0.748 inch 1.2 kg2.62 lbs307.8 mm / 12.1 inch 204.6 mm / 8.06 inch 17.9 mm / 0.705 inch 1.4 kg3 lbs304.1 mm / 12 inch 212.4 mm / 8.36 inch 16.1 mm / 0.634 inch 1.3 kg2.8 lbs304.1 mm / 12 inch 212.4 mm / 8.36 inch 15.6 mm / 0.614 inch 1.4 kg3.05 lbs304.2 mm / 12 inch 203 mm / 7.99 inch 13.9 mm / 0.547 inch 1.2 kg2.56 lbs
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> Notebook / Laptop Reviews and News > Reviews > Archive of our own reviews > The Best Notebooks for School-Aged Kids and College Students
Florian Schmitt, 2021-07- 6 (Update: 2021-07- 6)