C 2018
Notebookcheck

The Best Notebooks for Teenagers and University Students

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

Update July 2018. 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
101/201882%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%
210/201780%Lenovo IdeaPad 320s-14IKBLenovo IdeaPad 320s-14IKB
Intel Pentium Gold 4415U
Intel HD Graphics 610
4 GB Memory, 128 GB SSD
19.3 mm1.5 kg14"1920x108074%85%90%83%
310/201777%Lenovo Ideapad 110S-11IBRLenovo Ideapad 110S-11IBR
Intel Celeron N3060
Intel HD Graphics 400 (Braswell)
2 GB Memory, 32 GB eMMC
17.8 mm1.1 kg11.6"1366x76880%77%89%82%
404/2018
neu!
80%Asus VivoBook Flip 14 TP401NAAsus VivoBook Flip 14 TP401NA
Intel Pentium N4200
Intel HD Graphics 505
8 GB Memory, 128 GB eMMC
15.4 mm1.5 kg14"1920x108073%82%89%81%
502/201880%Asus VivoBook E12 E203NA-FD026TAsus VivoBook E12 E203NA-FD026T
Intel Celeron N3350
Intel HD Graphics 500
2 GB Memory, 32 GB eMMC
21.4 mm992 g11.6"1366x76873%74%91%79%

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 – 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.

2nd - Lenovo IdeaPad 320s

Lenovo IdeaPad 320s
Lenovo IdeaPad 320s

Good keyboard, low weight, and solid build quality are features of the https://www.notebookcheck.com/Test-Lenovo-IdeaPad-320s-4415U-HD610-Laptop.249224.0.htmlLenovo IdeaPad 320s, an inexpensive 14-inch model. The 1080p screen is unfortunately a bit dark and the speakers are more of an emergency solution. You cannot maintain the device, either, but the IdeaPad 320s is still a very solid device for everyday tasks at home or in school for less than 500 Euros.

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3rd - Lenovo IdeaPad 110s

Lenovo IdeaPad 110s
Lenovo IdeaPad 110s

Colorful is the right word for the Lenovo IdeaPad 110s: The manufacturer sells the device in blue, red, silver, or white. It is not the perfect device for long school days due to the high power consumption and the resulting runtimes, but it still manages more than 6 hours in our WLAN scenario. It is also lightweight and you can expand the storage via microSD card. The case could be more stable, the display is matte, but also pretty dark. However, you should not expect too much for less than 300 Euros. You still get a decent device for simple tasks if you can live with the limitations.

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4th – Asus VivoBook Flip 14

Asus VivoBook Flip 14
Asus VivoBook Flip 14

Asus’s VivoBook Flip 14 is a particularly slim 14-inch convertible, and it is perfect for schools and colleges thanks to its FHD display and quiet mode of operation. However, battery life is not the best – the convertible lasted for just 6:31 hours in our Wi-Fi test. And while this is average, by and large it could be too short for a long day at school. We liked the keyboard a lot, and can thus highly recommend the VivoBook Flip 14.

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5th – Asus VivoBook E12

Asus VivoBook E12
Asus VivoBook E12

One should not expect more than a solid notebook for typing, browsing the web, and watching videos in the notebook category of devices up to 300 Euros. And that is exactly what you get with the 11.6-inch Asus VivoBook E12: a plain and simple notebook without any bells and whistles but a very decent keyboard instead. In addition, it remained very quiet, cool, and is very light to boot. It also comes with Windows 10 by default.

Its downsides include the available storage and the rather dark display with poor viewing angles. Still, at just 250 Euros the notebook is not half bad.

Pricecompare

Best notebooks for students from 500 to 800 USD/Euros

Pos.DateRatingImageModelHeightWeightSizeResolutionKeyboardDisplayBatteryKeyboard, Display and Battery (avg.)Best Price
103/2018
neu!
88%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%
303/201784%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%
402/2018
neu!
83%Lenovo IdeaPad 320s-14IKBLenovo IdeaPad 320s-14IKB
Intel Core i5-7200U
NVIDIA GeForce 920MX
8 GB Memory, 256 GB SSD
19.3 mm1.7 kg14"1920x108078%85%91%85%
501/201883%Acer TravelMate P2510-M-51ZQAcer TravelMate P2510-M-51ZQ
Intel Core i5-7200U
Intel HD Graphics 620
8 GB Memory, 256 GB SSD
22.1 mm2.1 kg15.6"1920x108084%81%91%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.

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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.

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3rd - 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.

4th – Lenovo IdeaPad 320s

Lenovo IdeaPad 320s
Lenovo IdeaPad 320s

If you are looking for a notebook with a dedicated GPU, the 14-inch IdeaPad 320s might be worth a second glance. Granted, the GeForce 920MX is certainly not the fastest GPU available and not really made for ambitious gamers, but it helps with those less demanding simpler games. Its downsides include the fairly dark display and the unlit keyboard. On the plus side several components are user replaceable, and you get 9 hours of battery life, a matte display, and last but not least a very quiet notebook.

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5th - 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

Pricecompare

Best notebooks for students over 800 USD/Euros

Pos.DateRatingImageModelHeightWeightSizeResolutionKeyboardDisplayBatteryKeyboard, Display and Battery (avg.)Best Price
106/2018
New!
92%Dell XPS 15 2018 i5 FHD 97WhDell XPS 15 2018 i5 FHD 97Wh
Intel Core i5-8300H
NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1050 (Notebook)
8 GB Memory,  SSD
17 mm1.9 kg15.6"1920x108089%91%99%93%
206/201791%Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon 2017-20HR0021GELenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon 2017-20HR0021GE
Intel Core i5-7200U
Intel HD Graphics 620
8 GB Memory, 256 GB SSD
15.95 mm1.1 kg14"1920x108095%89%91%92%
304/201889%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%
403/201890%Lenovo ThinkPad T480-20L6S01V00Lenovo ThinkPad T480-20L6S01V00
Intel Core i7-8550U
NVIDIA GeForce MX150
8 GB Memory, 512 GB NVMe
20 mm1.8 kg14"1920x108094%83%94%90%
507/201789%Asus Zenbook UX3430UQ-GV012TAsus Zenbook UX3430UQ-GV012T
Intel Core i7-7500U
NVIDIA GeForce 940MX
16 GB Memory, 512 GB SSD
15.9 mm1.3 kg14"1920x108088%91%91%90%

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 - 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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2nd - Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon 2017

Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon 2017
Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon 2017

Lenovo has revised the compact ThinkPad X1 Carbon this year. The new case has an even smaller footprint and still houses a 14-inch display. Currently, the decent Full HD display is the only option.

The slim ThinkPad's input devices are excellent, but the thin case also has its disadvantages. First of all, cooling it is difficult. Therefore, the surface temperatures are high under load. In addition, the Core i7 processor cannot permanently keep up its high performance. The fan turns on under short load peaks in real-world scenarios.

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3rd – 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.

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4th – Lenovo ThinkPad T480

Lenovo ThinkPad T480
Lenovo ThinkPad T480

Out of the box our particular SKU of Lenovo’s ThinkPad T480 was suffering from odd and unexplainable sudden drops in performance. However, a BIOS update was able to fix those for good. Great input devices and a bright, high-contrast display more than make up for it, and the notebook comes with a plethora of business features. It even has a swappable battery should you run out of power on a particularly long day at school. Courtesy of its low color space coverage, the display is not suited for photo editing purposes. 

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5th - Asus ZenBook UX3430UQ

Asus ZenBook UX3430UQ
Asus ZenBook UX3430UQ

Have you already been waiting for a slim, stylish subnotebook for a long time? If so, Asus might have the right offer for you with the ZenBook UX3430UQ: The 14-inch device is an excellent high-end business subnotebook with great input devices, excellent display, low emissions and long battery life of 8:47 hours. Moreover, it features a fingerprint sensor and TPM 2.0. However, the GeForce 940MX is dispensable. The iGPU variant for 1200 Euros (~$1430) might be the better choice for many users. It allows saving money and is certainly sufficient for everyday tasks.

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%
203/2018
neu!
87%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%
301/201885%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%
407/201784%Acer Switch 5 SW512-52-5819Acer Switch 5 SW512-52-5819
Intel Core i7-7500U
Intel HD Graphics 620
8 GB Memory, 512 GB NVMe
9.6 mm1.3 kg12"2160x144088%81%88%85%
508/201784%Acer Switch 3 SW312-31-P5VGAcer Switch 3 SW312-31-P5VG
Intel Pentium N4200
Intel HD Graphics 505
4 GB Memory, 64 GB SSD
9.95 mm877 g12.2"1920x120087%85%83%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.

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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.

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3rd – 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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4th - Acer Switch 5

Acer Switch 5
Acer Switch 5

The Acer Switch 5 costs just under 1000 Euros (~$1191). The convertible brings decent performance for its price, but you have to accept less-than-ideal battery life and temperatures. A keyboard dock with light and an input pen are included. Moreover, the input devices are of high quality and the build quality is good. The device cannot fully keep up with the Microsoft Surface Pro, but it is a good alternative for all those looking for high performance for little money.

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5th - Acer Switch 3

Acer Switch 3
Acer Switch 3

The Acer Switch 3 is a 12.2-inch convertible with pen input and Full HD display for under 500 Euros (~$595). This is in itself an achievement. In addition, the device is stable and light, features good input devices and it does not run too warm. Certainly, it is hardly apt for demanding tasks, but it is well suitable for everyday office tasks.

Cost cuts become obvious with the display. While it features quite a high resolution, its contrast is quite modest and it reflects heavily. Hence, it is difficult to work with it in bright environments. Furthermore, the storage capacity of only 64 GB is quite low.

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> Notebook / Laptop Reviews and News > Reviews > Archive of our own reviews > The Best Notebooks for Teenagers and University Students
Florian Wimmer, 2017-07-13 (Update: 2018-07- 5)