Students need a well-stocked set of learning tools to succeed these days, and technology leads the list of ways schools and parents are working to fill educational gaps and give kids what they need to grow and create. Many classrooms are requiring students to be computer-literate by the time they reach elementary school and expect them to have their own notebook or laptop by middle school. If you’re on the fence about what kind of device to buy your student, this guide featuring the best laptops for students can help.
What kids want in a laptop
If you ask 50 kids what they want in a device, you’ll get close to 50 different answers. That’s because students aren’t always aware of what makes a laptop run smoothly; they only notice after the fact if a notebook isn’t keeping up with their demands. It’s up to the parents, teachers, or other decision-maker to know what good laptops for school are made of and sort out the hype from those non-negotiable qualities your child will really use. The following must-have features are required for any device you and your student choose for school.
Have you ever felt how heavy today’s student backpacks can get? When looking to buy one of the best small laptops for school, consider a laptop that’s thin, lightweight, and under five pounds. Kids already have a lot of stuff they need to carry around, including regular textbooks, paper, and supplies. Make sure that your choice of laptop doesn’t add too much more to the bulk of what they need to support with their bodies.
While there are many student laptops on the market that are designed for basic web browsing and cloud-based applications, these are generally more appropriate for younger children. Once kids reach junior high, they appreciate a laptop with a processor that has a little more kick. Because processing speed determines how many applications and programs a student can use at once without experience lag or freezing, look for a processor that’s designed to handle three or four major processes at once. Many kids browse the web, chat on social media, work on documents, and listen to music in one session, so make sure the laptop you decide on is made to keep up with today’s busy, multi-tasking student.
Laptops must have a stable WiFi connection, but there are other considerations for the on-the-go student. A reliable notebook should also have Bluetooth connectivity for all of their external devices, such as wireless headphones or a cordless mouse. Check to be sure that your laptop also has communication features built right in. Most students will ask for a laptop with an integrated webcam and microphone, too.
Even as kids age, accidents still happen. That’s why it’s important to look for a laptop that’s sturdy, well-built, and protected for when the worst happens. While most laptops aren’t designed to take a lot of abuse, some features help to protect against those minor bumps and blemishes that are bound to happen in the course of a school day. Look for screens made by brands you trust, like Corning® Gorilla® Glass, and consider adding on a protection plan that covers all the spills and drops students are at risk of experiencing.
Best HP laptops for any student
Are you looking for notebooks that cover all the bases outlined above? These best laptops for school do all of that and more.
1. HP Pavilion x360 15t convertible laptop
This convertible notebook is the best of all worlds. It gives students a sturdy laptop to use when at their desk, complete with a full-sized keyboard, but the HP Pavilion x360 15-inch laptop also easily converts to a tablet. A durable 360-degree hinge makes it simple to flip the touch screen over to draw, sketch, or play games with simple hand gestures. The 15.6-inch screen is vibrant and clear, allowing students to use it to watch online lectures or their favorite streaming web shows. They can edit and share photos with amazing resolution, too. Kids will get over 10 hours of battery life as well, although that depends on how they use their new laptop. This computer runs on the popular Windows 10 Home 64 operating system, which is a favorite among schools. The 8th Generation Intel® Core™ i3 processor and 8GB of memory give kids enough speed to manage multiple programs at once without making the laptop unattainable budget-wise. Store photos, games, school papers, and more on the 1TB hard drive, which is paired with 16GB of Intel Optane Memory so they can access their stored work quickly. Choose from two colors – natural silver or pale gold – to allow your kids to show off their personality. If you’re looking for more speed, power, storage, or features, the HP Pavilion is the perfect pick for customization. You can upgrade just about every component when you order, including the chance to snag 12GB of memory and an Intel Core i7-8550U processor.
2. HP ENVY x360 13z touch screen laptop
With about the same processing speed and memory as the HP Pavilion x360, the HP ENVY x360 convertible laptop is a smaller, more portable solution for students. The screen measures just 13 inches, so it’s easier to tuck into a messenger bag or backpack, and overall the device weighs just 2.87 lbs. Like the HP Pavilion highlighted above, this laptop is convertible, too, as the “x360” name implies. Use it in the traditional sense as a notebook, fold it over to use it as a tablet, or take advantage of the two other modes to watch videos or work while reclined. This laptop is fully equipped for the life of a student and easily fits the category of a best laptop for school work. It has Bang & Olufsen quad speakers with HP Audio Boost and all the slots and ports a student needs for accessorizing and sharing projects. The case comes with a microSD card slot, a single USB 3.1 Type-C™ port, two 2 USB 3.1 ports, and a port for headphones or microphones. There’s no need to hook up an external webcam or mic, either, because this laptop comes with an HD cam built right inside. For students hoping to make it the best laptop for school work, consider bumping up the storage to the full 1TB.
Best HP laptops for younger teens and tweens
If your kids prefer to do most of their heavy computing at home, including gaming and multimedia creation, younger students may be better off with a simplified version of the adult laptop. HP Chromebooks are getting a reputation as some of the best laptops for middle school students, thanks to their simplified platform and ability to connect anytime and anywhere to the Google apps and programs kids use most. Whether your student is eager to learn from YouTube or needs to access a school document on the classroom’s Google Drive, working with an HP Chromebook couldn’t be easier. These durable devices are embraced by schools everywhere and frequently become part of school-approved student laptop programs. Because these laptops run on the Chrome OS, they start up quickly and get kids browsing without the hassle of unnecessary and bloated programs. The slim design makes them a perfect pick for back-to-school commutes, too.
3. HP Chromebook x360 convertible laptop
While there are several entry-level HP Chromebooks available, the HP Chromebook x360 14-inch laptop is geared toward kids who want a more versatile computing experience. The design of this model allows them to use the device as a laptop or as a tablet with the touch screen. There is also more memory and storage on the device, giving kids the ability to create and communicate at faster speeds. An 8th Generation Intel Core i3 processor comes standard on this 14-inch device as well, giving it a bit more power than other HP Chromebooks.
Best HP laptop for older teens
If your student has proven themselves to be responsible enough for a more robust workstation, it’s time to consider a device with more memory, speed, and customization options. When researching the best laptops for high school students, consider what they may do after high school. Will they gravitate toward a career in the creative arts? Are they interested in classes or programs that will require a more powerful device? By getting them used to a workstation that’s equipped to handle their future, you are giving them time to adapt, learn, and embrace the options available to them. And be sure to check out the HP student discounts to make sure you get the best laptop for school at the best possible price.
4. HP Spectre x2 detachable laptop
If you’re not afraid of giving your student one of the most innovative computing options available, consider the amazing possibilities of the HP Spectre x2 detachable laptop. A favorite of professionals in many industries, it blends the versatility of a tablet with a laptop and sacrifices nothing in the way of task management. This detachable laptop comes completely out of its paired keyboard, giving students the chance to experience true tablet form. The compatible HP Pen lets them take notes, draw, and edit as if they are working with pen and paper. The HP Spectre x2 is just 12 inches diagonal, but it shows everything with incredible definition, thanks to the Intel Iris™ Plus Graphics 640. With a 7th Generation Intel Core i7 processor, perhaps the best available for consumer laptops, students can compute, create, communicate, and download without ever missing a beat or waiting for a lagging program to finish. Lightweight laptop portability with a full-size keyboard has earned this 2-in-1 hybrid PC rave reviews from older students and professionals.
Best HP laptop for school and gaming
Kids don’t spend all of their time in the classroom, so it makes sense to look at a device that also fits their desire to kick back and relax in the evenings and on weekends. Computer gaming is by far one of the top hobbies for tech-savvy students, but parents shouldn’t have to buy a separate device for work and play. It’s possible to pick the best laptop for school and gaming, combined in one device.
5. HP OMEN 15t gaming laptop
This high-performing notebook is geared for gamers, which makes it perfect for completing that multimedia project for school, too. With an 8th Generation Intel Core i5 processor, the HP OMEN 15-inch gaming laptop offers the perfect balance of processing speed and value, because it’s one of the most affordable gaming laptops available. This HP OMEN starts with a minimum of 8GB of memory and 1TB of HDD laptop storage, but don’t hesitate to upgrade to a bigger capacity if needed. The 15.6-inch FHD display makes any game title come alive and is just what creative kids need for video and photo rendering. Paired with the NVIDIA® GeForce® GTX 10 Series graphics, it’s one of the most competitive options for laptop gaming. While you would expect a notebook of this quality to weigh a lot, you’ll be glad to know it doesn’t. Even with the mid-sized beveled edge screen and amazingly responsive full-size keyboard, this truly portable gaming computer weighs just 5.26 lbs. It’s still small enough to take to class and be charged up to go when it’s time for your student’s next gaming tournament. The 10-hour maximum battery life is just what today’s productive student needs both in and out of the classroom. Here’s one bonus consideration when choosing a gaming laptop for your student: expandability. While it’s best to know how they’ll use the laptop before you buy, kids can continue to customize it even after you’ve brought it home. The HP OMEN 15t gaming laptop is made for change, offering single panel access to the components kids will want upgraded most often: storage and RAM. Also, you get even more opportunities to expand gear with ports for just about every application, including HDMI 2.0, Mini DisplayPort™, RJ-45, USB, and Thunderbolt™ 3. There’s also a headphone and mic port.
Why it’s OK to give the best
Kids can be finicky about the devices they use, and no one can deny that tech changes fast these days. Be sure to ask your student what they will use their laptop for, not just the activities they are supposed to be doing at school. Take an interest in their hobbies and creative pursuits to ensure you don’t overlook an important functionality they crave. By investing in an HP laptop that’s in tune with their personal priorities, you can customize it to just what your student needs with options to grow and expand in the years ahead. Related school laptop articles:
- Best HP Budget Laptops
- Best HP Laptops for Students
- Best HP Laptops for College Students
About the Author: Linsey Knerl is a contributing writer for HP® Tech Takes. Linsey is a Midwest-based author, public speaker, and member of the ASJA. She has a passion for helping consumers and small business owners do more with their resources via the latest tech solutions.