Notebookcheck

The Best Notebooks for Teenagers and University Students

Staff, 03/06/2017

May 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. 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.

As a 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%
202/201779%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 because 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
103/2017
new!
84%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%
202/201784%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%
301/201785%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%
401/201779%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%
511/201682%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%

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

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 Euro ($552). 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.

2nd

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 inferior chassis stability to the almost poor quality. 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.

3rd

Lenovo ThinkPad E470
Lenovo ThinkPad E470

The ThinkPad E470 is an entry-level device Lenovo's legendary 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 all right 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.

4th

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.

5th

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.

Top 5 notebooks for students over 800 Euros

Pos.DateRatingImageModelHeightWeightSizeResolutionKeyboardDisplayBatteryKeyboard, Display and BatteryBest Price
104/2017
new!
87%Lenovo ThinkPad T570-20HAS01E00Lenovo ThinkPad T570-20HAS01E00
Intel Core i7-7500U
NVIDIA GeForce 940MX
8 GB Memory, 512 GB SSD
20.2 mm2 kg15.6"3840x216094%90%89%91%
203/2017
new!
86%Dell Latitude 5480Dell Latitude 5480
Intel Core i7-7600U
Intel HD Graphics 620
7.9 GB Memory, 256 GB SSD
22.5 mm1.8 kg14"1920x108092%77%99%90%
304/2017
new!
87%Lenovo ThinkPad Yoga 370-20JJS00100Lenovo ThinkPad Yoga 370-20JJS00100
Intel Core i5-7200U
Intel HD Graphics 620
8 GB Memory, 512 GB SSD
18.2 mm1.4 kg13.3"1920x108092%84%91%89%
405/201685%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%
504/2017
new!
86%HP Spectre x360 13-ac033dxHP Spectre x360 13-ac033dx
Intel Core i7-7500U
Intel HD Graphics 620
16 GB Memory, 512 GB SSD
13.8 mm1.3 kg13.3"3840x216088%86%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

Lenovo ThinkPad T570
Lenovo ThinkPad T570

The ThinkPad T570, probably the most famous business notebook series, is back with a new, more compact case, great input devices, long battery runtimes and meets almost all of your requirements in terms of keyboard and battery life.

The third important aspect, the display, does not perform that well: It is slightly dark and its gamut is small - improvements are possible here. In addition, software problems literally slow down the ThinkPad T570. Apparently, the fan control cannot sufficiently cool the actually undemanding processor. Lenovo might be able to fix this with a BIOS update.

Despite its weaknesses, you cannot go wrong with the ThinkPad T570: You will get a robust companion with good features.

2nd

Dell Latitude 5480
Dell Latitude 5480

Laptops from Dell's Latitude series are well established in the office and probably, in the near future, also in schools and universities. They are durable and stable with many interfaces and good input devices. Recently, Dell has divided its business notebooks into three series. The Latitude 14 5480 is mid-range, i.e. it offers a good compromise between price and performance.

The latest laptop of this business series actually convinces with a no-frills, yet stable case with excellent build quality, brilliant battery runtimes, and high performance. However, the keyboard and TrackPoint buttons fall behind our expectations on high-end office devices. In addition, the high performance sometimes comes at the expense of a loud fan noise.

3rd

Lenovo ThinkPad Yoga 370
Lenovo ThinkPad Yoga 370

The ThinkPad Yoga 370 is one of the best Yoga devices from Lenovo so far. The 13.3-inch device is a compromise solution between its two predecessors. The latter were either 14 or 12.5 inches, which might have been either too large for carrying around or too small for work for many customers. With that said, the Yoga 370 has the perfect intermediate size. In addition, display, battery life, and input devices are convincing. However, the device is quite expensive and only includes a short warranty. On top of that, the cooling system is not perfectly tuned. However, Lenovo might be able to improve this with a software update.

4th

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.

5th

HP Spectre x360 13
HP Spectre x360 13

The HP Spectre x360 13 has always appeared to be high-quality. This year's revision is optionally available with a 4K display with great gamut and very high color accuracy. In addition, an active input pen is available. The device is still very light and portable. At the same time, the battery runtimes are quite respectable with just under nine hours in the Wi-Fi test. Despite the slim profile, a keyboard with backlight is incorporated. The typing experience is reasonably good. The device is a great compromise between mobility and performance and appears premium. However, you have to accept the steep price.

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%
504/2017
new!
82%Dell Latitude 3189Dell Latitude 3189
Intel Pentium N4200
Intel HD Graphics 505
4 GB Memory, 128 GB SSD
20.75 mm1.4 kg11.6"1366x76882%83%91%85%

1st

Microsoft Surface Pro 4
Microsoft Surface Pro 4

Microsoft has won many fans with the Surface tablets and the Pro variant is 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 that 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 Transformer Book T302CA is the excellent battery runtime of more than 13 hours in the Wi-Fi test. We like the design and glossy screen. 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 allowing comfortable productivity.

5th

Dell Latitude 3189
Dell Latitude 3189

Dell's Latitude 3189 has actually been specifically designed for the education segment. The convertible features an 11.6-inch touchscreen with a rather low resolution of 1366x768 pixels. The display is not especially bright, yet viewing-angle-independent and can be used with an active input pen if desired. The battery runtimes of above ten hours in the Wi-Fi test are particularly delighting thus, battery life should not even be an issue on long school days. The case is designed to be extraordinarily stable, in order to survive occasional accidents. With a price of just under 800 Euros ($884), the device is not a bargain. Due to its very balanced performance, it is still recommendable.

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> Notebook / Laptop Reviews and News > Reviews > Archive of our own reviews > The Best Notebooks for Teenagers and University Students
Staff, 2017-03- 6 (Update: 2017-05- 7)