Notebookcheck

The Best Notebooks for Teenagers and University Students

Florian Schmitt, Sabine Kückemanns (translated by Andreas Osthoff), 07/13/2017

November 2018 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.

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.

General guidelines for the size, features, etc. are available in this article: How to choose a laptop for college. In addition, the following top lists could help in the search for the most suitable laptop:

Class 1 (less than 500 USD/Euros)

In terms of hardware, these devices are generally equipped with Intel Pentium/Celeron or AMD 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-USD/Euro price range. We will devote a separate article to this new class in this aggressive price range.

Class 2 (500-800 USD/Euros) 

Lists all-rounders and high-quality entry-level business notebooks between 500 and 800 USD/Euros. 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 USD/Euros) 

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 USD/Euros, <13-inch)

Lists alternatives under 13-inches. We also include less powerful platforms such as Intel's Celeron.

Note: The cheapest street price at the time of the last revision of this article applies to the following list. The sales prices shown in the following table and in the price comparison with the individual articles are automatically updated daily and can therefore differ!

Best notebooks for students under 500 USD/Euros

Pos.DateRatingImageModelHeightWeightSizeResolutionKeyboardDisplayBatteryKeyboard, Display and Battery (avg.)Best Price
110/2018
New!
87%Microsoft Surface Go MHN-00003Microsoft Surface Go MHN-00003
Intel Pentium Gold 4415Y
Intel UHD Graphics 615
4 GB Memory, 64 GB eMMC
8.3 mm523 g10"1800x120076%92%89%86%
210/2018
New!
84%Lenovo Ideapad D330-10IGMLenovo Ideapad D330-10IGM
Intel Pentium Silver N5000
Intel UHD Graphics 605
4 GB Memory, 128 GB eMMC
18 mm1.1 kg10.1"1920x120077%83%94%85%
301/201882%Asus Transformer Book T102HA-GR022TAsus Transformer Book T102HA-GR022T
Intel Atom x5-Z8350
Intel HD Graphics 400 (Braswell)
4 GB Memory, 128 GB eMMC
14 mm770 g10.1"1280x80071%85%94%83%
410/2018
New!
83%Chuwi LapBook SEChuwi LapBook SE
Intel Celeron N4100
Intel UHD Graphics 600
4 GB Memory, 32 GB eMMC
17 mm1.4 kg13.3"1920x108087%71%90%83%
511/2018
New!
81%Trekstor Yourbook C11BTrekstor Yourbook C11B
Intel Celeron N3350
Intel HD Graphics 500
4 GB Memory, 64 GB eMMC
15 mm1.2 kg11.6"1920x108074%79%91%81%

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 - Microsoft Surface Go

Microsoft Surface Go
Microsoft Surface Go

So affordable and already a high-quality convertible! The Microsoft Surface Go already starts for less than 500 Euros, but this version is shipped without physical keyboard. You can either use a Bluetooth keyboard or the optional Type Cover, which will increase the price noticeably. The storage is also limited on the base model at just 64 GB, and Microsoft charges a hefty premium for the 128 GB option. You can at least use the microSD reader to store more data.

The quality of the magnesium case is excellent, the Surface lasts long on battery, and you get a bright as well as high-contrast screen. The performance is not that bad, either. You notice that the Surface Go is no real notebook when you look at the ports, because one USB-C port will have to suffice.

2nd - Lenovo IdeaPad D330

Lenovo IdeaPad D330
Lenovo IdeaPad D330

Lenovo offers a tough competitor for the Microsoft Surface Go: The IdeaPad D330 follows the same concept as Microsoft's smallest tablet, very long battery runtimes, an LTE modem, a bright screen, and a good keyboard dock. You also get 128 GB storage, but the IdeaPad with the keyboard dock is also much heavier and the quality is not as high compared to the rival from the Windows developer.

The Lenovo IdeaPad D330 is a 2-in-1 with a good price-performance ratio.

Pricecompare

3rd – Asus Transformer Book T102HA

Asus Transformer Book T102HA
Asus Transformer Book T102HA

The Asus Transformer Book T102HA is a 10-inch convertible equipped with an Intel Atom processor. It features a particularly bright IPS display and decent battery life. Its system performance is adequate for everyday workloads in school and college. Keyboard and touchpad are comparatively small, and the display resolution is just 1280x800. That said it should suffice if constantly watching movies is not on the agenda. Moderate users will find an affordable yet decent companion in the Transformer Book T102HA.

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Pricecompare

4th - Chuwi LapBook SE

Chuwi LapBook SE
Chuwi LapBook SE

The Chuwi LapBook SE is already the second notebook from the manufacturer, which uses a design similar to the MacBook for a much lower price. It is once again a compact and inexpensive laptop from China, which offers a good choice of materials and a good build quality considering the price. It also runs completely silent and the SSD can easily be replaced via slot. However, you do not get a USB-C port, the screen is not very good, and you should not use the internal speakers if you like listening to music. The device is currently also available in China, but it is a bargain in return.

Pricecompare

5th - Trekstor Yourbook C11B

Trekstor Yourbook C11B
Trekstor Yourbook C11B

Except for the somewhat slow processor, the Trekstor Yourbook C11B is a recommendable convertible if you do not need the best performance: The screen resolution is high, and the battery lasts long. The device runs completely silent, the Wi-Fi is quick and the build quality is adequate for this price.

Pricecompare

Best notebooks for students from 500 to 800 USD/Euros

Pos.DateRatingImageModelHeightWeightSizeResolutionKeyboardDisplayBatteryKeyboard, Display and Battery (avg.)Best Price
103/201888%Lenovo ThinkPad E480-20KNCTO1WWLenovo ThinkPad E480-20KNCTO1WW
Intel Core i5-8250U
Intel UHD Graphics 620
4 GB Memory, 128 GB SSD
19.9 mm1.8 kg14"1920x108094%82%90%89%
207/201786%Dell Latitude 5580Dell Latitude 5580
Intel Core i5-7300U
Intel HD Graphics 620
8 GB Memory, 500 GB HDD
23.25 mm2.2 kg15.6"1920x108088%86%93%89%
308/201884%Acer TravelMate P2510-G2-MG-50WEAcer TravelMate P2510-G2-MG-50WE
Intel Core i5-8250U
NVIDIA GeForce MX130
8 GB Memory, 256 GB SSD
22.1 mm2.1 kg15.6"1920x108084%87%91%87%
403/201784%Fujitsu Lifebook A557Fujitsu Lifebook A557
Intel Core i5-7200U
Intel HD Graphics 620
8 GB Memory, 512 GB SSD
30.9 mm2.3 kg15.6"1920x108084%86%90%87%
510/2018
New!
84%Lenovo Ideapad D330-10IGMLenovo Ideapad D330-10IGM
Intel Pentium Silver N5000
Intel UHD Graphics 605
4 GB Memory, 128 GB eMMC
18 mm1.1 kg10.1"1920x120077%83%94%85%

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 E480

Lenovo ThinkPad E480
Lenovo ThinkPad E480

And once again a Lenovo E-series model can be found at the very top of our midrange recommendations. The ThinkPad E480 is Lenovo’s latest member of this entry-level business series and features several enhancements over its predecessor, as well as various ThinkPad benefits. Among others, these include a sturdy case, amazing input devices, and a matte IPS panel. However, we would steer clear of the SKUs equipped with dedicated AMD Radeon GPU as these tend to get incredibly hot under load. The more affordable ThinkPads come with just a few cutbacks – a shorter warranty, a microSD instead of an SD card reader, and a comparatively slow SSD (write performance). If you do not mind this, then the E480 is a brilliant business notebook for a very good price.

Pricecompare

2nd - Dell Latitude 5580

Dell Latitude 5580
Dell Latitude 5580

The Dell Latitude 5580 is a classical business notebook, which can score points with a decent display, very good input devices, and decent Wi-Fi battery life of above 10 hours. The performance is sufficient for demanding tasks and the temperature remains in the normal range. A matte coating ensures that the display is legible outdoors. Several security features emphasize the business background. Moreover, the device has a good price-performance ratio. Those who are looking for a solid, yet not too expensive companion might find a good choice in the Latitude 5580.

Pricecompare

3rd - Acer TravelMate P2510

Acer TravelMate P2510
Acer TravelMate P2510

First things first: we have had bad luck with our particular TravelMate P2510 review unit. The case was severely twisted and not particularly well-made. We really hope we got a lemon, because apart from the slightly too dark display, the notebook was almost ideal for everyday use in school. It is quiet and cool, offers long battery life and features decent input devices. And at a price of less than $800 our particular configuration was even somewhat affordable. There are even SKUs cheaper than ours.

Pricecompare

4th - Fujitsu LifeBook A557

Fujitsu LifeBook A557
Fujitsu LifeBook A557

The Fujitsu LifeBook A557 is unspectacular, yet reasonably priced. You have to do without many security features for the cheap price of just above 500 Euros ($595). However, many school children and university students will not need these anyway. It is a more serious problem that the interface layout is not sophisticated: For example, most of the USB ports are on the left side - which is quite inconvenient for right-handers who want to attach a mouse. Another reason not to buy this notebook might be that the keyboard lacks a keyboard light.

But enough of complaints: You will get decent system performance, good input devices and easy maintainability for little money. The LifeBook A557 is a good choice if you do not need a designer piece and are on a tight budget.

Pricecompare

5th - Lenovo IdeaPad D330

Lenovo IdeaPad D330
Lenovo IdeaPad D330

Lenovo offers a tough competitor for the Microsoft Surface Go: The IdeaPad D330 follows the same concept as Microsoft's smallest tablet, very long battery runtimes, an LTE modem, a bright screen, and a good keyboard dock. You also get 128 GB storage, but the IdeaPad with the keyboard dock is also much heavier and the quality is not as high compared to the rival from the Windows developer.

The Lenovo IdeaPad D330 is a 2-in-1 with a good price-performance ratio.

Pricecompare

Best notebooks for students over 800 USD/Euros

Pos.DateRatingImageModelHeightWeightSizeResolutionKeyboardDisplayBatteryKeyboard, Display and Battery (avg.)Best Price
109/2018
New!
92%Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon G6-20KG0025UKLenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon G6-20KG0025UK
Intel Core i5-8350U
Intel UHD Graphics 620
8 GB Memory, 256 GB SSD
15 mm1.1 kg14"1920x108095%92%93%93%
206/201892%Dell XPS 15 2018 i5 FHD 97WhDell XPS 15 2018 i5 FHD 97Wh
Intel Core i5-8300H
NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1050 (Laptop)
8 GB Memory,  SSD
17 mm1.9 kg15.6"1920x108089%91%99%93%
306/201883%Lenovo ThinkPad P52s-20LB000HGELenovo ThinkPad P52s-20LB000HGE
Intel Core i7-8550U
NVIDIA Quadro P500
8 GB Memory, 256 GB SSD
20.2 mm2.2 kg15.6"1920x108094%85%99%93%
410/2018
New!
92%Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Extreme-20MF000RGELenovo ThinkPad X1 Extreme-20MF000RGE
Intel Core i5-8300H
NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1050 Ti Max-Q
8 GB Memory, 256 GB NVMe
18.4 mm1.7 kg15.6"1920x108095%86%91%91%
504/201889%Dell Latitude 7390Dell Latitude 7390
Intel Core i5-8350U
Intel UHD Graphics 620
8 GB Memory, 256 GB SSD
16.5 mm1.3 kg13.3"1920x108090%89%93%91%

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 – Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon

Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon
Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon

You will definitely find the ThinkPad X1 Carbon if you are looking for an extremely mobile laptop. Thanks to a weight of just 1.1 kg and a height if just 1.6 cm, it easily fits in every bag. There are some small design changes, but we basically know the chassis from last year's model.

New features include the mechanical docking port on the left side, which consists of two USB-C ports and a proprietary network connector. Intel's current quad-core ULV processors are obviously available as well, and the performance utilization is decent considering the slim case, even though this results in warm surface temperatures under load.

Another highlight is the new HDR screen with WQHD resolution. It is extremely bright with wide color gamut, but there are also drawbacks. The panel is very glossy, for example, and the fan still tends to pulsate even during light workloads.

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2nd - Dell XPS 15 2018

Dell XPS 15 2018
Dell XPS 15 2018

Dell did not really change the design of its slim and successful XPS 15 this year, but the manufacturer improved the internals: Longer battery runtimes, silent operation at light workloads, and the higher performance are just some of the highlights. Dell manages to implement a lot of ports into the chassis, which is slimmer than 2 cm and lighter than 2 kg. You also get a good screen with a matte surface as well as decent speakers. There is not much more you could ask for.

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3rd - Lenovo ThinkPad P52s

Lenovo ThinkPad P52s
Lenovo ThinkPad P52s

How about a real workstation on your desk? The Lenovo ThinkPad P52s is a nice option thank to its efficient processor and its – for a workstation – affordable price. You obviously do not get as much CPU performance, but it is still more than sufficient for school tasks. The great input devices, the very sturdy chassis, and a three-year warranty are important advantages of the system. We are not very happy about the low color gamut of the screen, which is particularly annoying if you want to edit some pictures or graphics. Otherwise, the display is excellent for everyday tasks and features a matte screen. The ThinkPad P52s also offers long battery runtimes.

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4th - Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Extreme

Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Extreme
Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Extreme

Lenovo's ThinkPad X1 Extreme is a very well-equipped notebook for many different usage scenarios. You have the choice when it comes to the display: Better picture quality or matte screen with longer battery runtime: The 1080p panel consumes less power, so the stamina is superior compared to the 4K HDR SKU.

The Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Extreme is a multimedia laptop with excellent performance figures and a lot of features. It combines multiple devices, because you can use it as your daily business device and the use the CPU/GPU performance to play some games after work. We liked the 4K panel with HDR support as well as the high-quality chassis and the excellent input devices. The CPU performance is very good and the system noise is very adequate during everyday tasks.

The CPU performance is unfortunately reduced on battery power. The battery runtime of the X1 Extreme is not great, either, and WWAN is not available at all. All in all, Lenovo still offers a very good 15.6-inch notebook.

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5th – Dell Latitude 7390

Dell Latitude 7390
Dell Latitude 7390

Let us take a look at the Latitude's flaws first, because there are quite a few at this point. Like the annoyingly clattering space bar on the keyboard – unacceptable for a notebook that costs more than $1,400. Or the non-user-replaceable battery. Or the pretty poor sound system. Or the lack of Thunderbolt 3. What you do get is a great and very well-made case, 3 years of warranty, a great keyboard, and a great display. In addition, the level of performance achieved by the Latitude 7390 is very high, and the device thus deserves our full endorsement.

Pricecompare

Best subnotebooks for students under 13-inch and 1,000 USD/Euros

Pos.DateRatingImageModelHeightWeightSizeResolutionKeyboardDisplayBatteryKeyboard, Display and Battery (avg.)Best Price
108/201789%Microsoft Surface Pro (2017) m3Microsoft Surface Pro (2017) m3
Intel Core m3-7Y30
Intel HD Graphics 615
4 GB Memory, 128 GB SSD
8.5 mm1.1 kg12.3"2736x182689%89%93%90%
203/201887%Huawei Matebook EHuawei Matebook E
Intel Core i5-7Y54
Intel HD Graphics 615
4 GB Memory, 256 GB SSD
7 mm1.1 kg12"2160x144084%86%89%86%
310/2018
New!
87%Microsoft Surface Go MHN-00003Microsoft Surface Go MHN-00003
Intel Pentium Gold 4415Y
Intel UHD Graphics 615
4 GB Memory, 64 GB eMMC
8.3 mm523 g10"1800x120076%92%89%86%
410/2018
New!
84%Lenovo Ideapad D330-10IGMLenovo Ideapad D330-10IGM
Intel Pentium Silver N5000
Intel UHD Graphics 605
4 GB Memory, 128 GB eMMC
18 mm1.1 kg10.1"1920x120077%83%94%85%
501/201885%Lenovo Yoga 720-12IKB Lenovo Yoga 720-12IKB
Intel Core i5-7200U
Intel HD Graphics 620
8 GB Memory, 128 GB SSD
15.8 mm1.2 kg12.5"1920x108083%83%88%85%

1st - Microsoft Surface Pro

Microsoft Surface Pro
Microsoft Surface Pro

The newest Microsoft Surface Pro variant no longer carries a version number but is referred to by year. A cheap 2017 variant with Core m processor is available for significantly under 1000 Euros (~$1191). It is a great bundle: high-end build quality and a Wi-Fi battery runtime of above 11 hours convey a great deal. Moreover, its very good display and silent operation are big advantages. The system performance is sufficient for everyday tasks. The glossy display and the lack of a USB-C port are slightly disappointing. Nevertheless, the Surface Pro (2017) is a very good convertible which hardly shows serious weaknesses.

Pricecompare

2nd – Huawei MateBook E

Huawei MateBook E
Huawei MateBook E

Huawei’s notebooks and convertibles are something of a rare specimen in Europe. However, their price-performance-ratio tends to be pretty good quite often. Not so in this particular case, though, but at least the MateBook E's 2-in-1 design is fairly unique. A vintage faux leather cover and a case clad in Gold will certainly find many fans. It was also decently fast and featured a very nice display.

Pricecompare

3rd - Microsoft Surface Go

Microsoft Surface Go
Microsoft Surface Go

So affordable and already a high-quality convertible! The Microsoft Surface Go already starts for less than 500 Euros, but this version is shipped without physical keyboard. You can either use a Bluetooth keyboard or the optional Type Cover, which will increase the price noticeably. The storage is also limited on the base model at just 64 GB, and Microsoft charges a hefty premium for the 128 GB option. You can at least use the microSD reader to store more data.

The quality of the magnesium case is excellent, the Surface lasts long on battery, and you get a bright as well as high-contrast screen. The performance is not that bad, either. You notice that the Surface Go is no real notebook when you look at the ports, because one USB-C port will have to suffice.

Pricecompare

4th - Lenovo IdeaPad D330

Lenovo IdeaPad D330
Lenovo IdeaPad D330

Lenovo offers a tough competitor for the Microsoft Surface Go: The IdeaPad D330 follows the same concept as Microsoft's smallest tablet, very long battery runtimes, an LTE modem, a bright screen, and a good keyboard dock. You also get 128 GB storage, but the IdeaPad with the keyboard dock is also much heavier and the quality is not as high compared to the rival from the Windows developer.

The Lenovo IdeaPad D330 is a 2-in-1 with a good price-performance ratio.

Pricecompare

5th – Lenovo Yoga 720-12IKB

Lenovo Yoga 720-12IKB
Lenovo Yoga 720-12IKB

Lenovo’s Yoga 720-12IKB is a convertible with a good display, decent input devices, and stylus support. We liked the design, and the device turned out to be very quiet to boot. The disadvantages include short battery life, which should suffice for a normal school day though, and a slow Wi-Fi modem. Other than that, it has a lot to offer for its price of around $800. You get a very flexible companion if you can live with these minor flaws.

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> Notebook / Laptop Reviews and News > Reviews > Archive of our own reviews > The Best Notebooks for Teenagers and University Students
Florian Schmitt, 2017-07-13 (Update: 2018-11-26)