laptop students
Kick off the new semester with a reliable partner in academia - an ultraportable student laptop. Check out our picks below that cater to different majors and budgets. Image Credit: Pexels/William Fortunato

University students are always on the lookout for sleeker laptop models. Since they shuttle between several classes in a day, students prefer a display small enough to slip into a tote bag but large enough to tackle lengthy projects. A worthy candidate should also be snappy and responsive when it comes to jotting down notes or completing online quizzes, without any unexpected surprises.

But the best laptop for higher education boils down to one's university major. Are you a liberal arts student with weekly essay submissions, or an architect in the making, who renders 3D plans? Different machine specifications will cater to different users, so as a pre-emptive measure, it’s important think about the array of tasks you want the laptop to perform for you.

Which student laptop is best for me?

laptop student
For a lighter backpack, filter your search results to 13- to 14-inch laptops. Image Credit: Unsplash/Dimitar Donovski

We asked Naushad Mohammed, the owner of an IT solutions company Trutech Information Technologies L.L.C. in Abu Dhabi, for a quick breakdown on student laptops. Based on over 20 years of experience in the industry, Mohammed says minimum specs for students include an Intel Core i5 processor, 8GB of RAM (random access memory) and an SSD (solid state disk) storage.

“A business administration student can use a regular laptop with these specs, but an architecture or a design student will at least need a dedicated 2GB graphics card. When it comes to Windows, you have a lot of variety in HP, Dell and ASUS. Since 3D modelling and rendering can slow down a computer, engineering students should look for Intel Core i7 and 16GB of RAM. The laptop needs to last for the next three to four years of study, so be prepared to spend,” he said.

On the other hand, designers often opt for a MacBook for its retina display and ease of use, Mohammed adds. If you’re on a tight budget, you could settle for an affordable i3 processor laptop, but do note that it may not deliver the kind of snappy performance you're looking for.

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We’ve included a range of options below, so have a look and compare the configurations listed to find the best model for you. If you're looking for a tablet for school instead, we have some great options for you. Shop with Amazon Prime for free, same-day delivery, and don't forget to check out discounts during the Back to School sale.

1. Best Overall: HP Envy X360 2-in-1 15.6 FHD Convertible Laptop


  • Touchscreen, edge-to-edge display
  • Converts into tablet
  • 8GB RAM and 512GB storage
  • Privacy hotkeys for camera, screen and mic
  • Ports for USB-C, USB-A, media card reader and HDMI


  • HP Pen has to be bought separately

HP Envy x360 is everything a student wishes their laptop would look like – thin and ultra-lightweight, with a durable aluminium chassis. This is a convertible two-in-one device, which flips 360 degrees on its hinges to transform into a tablet whenever needed – add an HP Pen for note-taking. The 15.6-inch FHD display with micro-edge bezels offers just enough screen real estate to make tablet mode comfortable. As for the performance specs, enjoy the speeds of 11th Gen Intel Core i5 processor (faster than a 10th Gen i7 chip), no-lag multitasking with 8GB RAM and 512GB of storage space in the SSD. Other neat features like the button-triggered privacy screen mode, mic muting and camera shutter help you create your own study bubble at the library. It’s got plenty of connectivity options, too, from a Thunderbolt 4 port to a multi-format SD card reader, topped with excellent 13-hour battery life. Reviews comment on how fast the laptop is, and say that it's even suitable for light gaming. Interested in more convertible models? Check them out here.

Bonus: Buy with zero per cent instalments and pay Dh158.25 for 12 months with select banks.

2. Best for Engineering Students: Asus ROG Zephyrus G14 Gaming Laptop


  • Fast AMD Ryzen 9 processor
  • 16GB of RAM and 1TB storage
  • Nvidia GeForce RTX 3050 Ti graphics card
  • One-touch log in
  • Connectivity ports include HDMI and Display Port


  • No webcam

A gaming laptop is your best bet at running demanding CAD (computer-aided design) software. ASUS ROG Zephyrus G14 offers sufficient 16GB of RAM with 1TB SSD storage; it’s also supported by a powerful AMD Ryzen 9 processor. In short, your rendering apps are going to run super fast here. Because it’s a gaming device, it can feel a bit bulky to lug around, but that’s all part and parcel of a machine with high-end specs. You can log in to your system within seconds using the built-in fingerprint reader and enjoy separate HDMI and DisplayPort connectivity to see projects better on a bigger screen. This edition, unfortunately, doesn't feature a webcam. Reviewers call the laptop a work of art, and especially find the customisable LED animation on the chassis an excellent bonus feature.

Bonus: Buy with zero per cent instalments and pay Dh441.58 for 12 months with select banks.

3. Best Ultrabook: Acer Swift 3 14-inch OLED 


  • Only weighs 1.4kgs – great for portability
  • 2.8K OLED display
  • Runs on 12th Gen Intel Core i7
  • 16GB RAM with 1TB storage
  • Connectivity options include two Thunderbolt 4 ports


  • Battery life could be better

If you want unmatched performance on the slimmest machine possible, you'll want to look into Ultrabooks. The Acer Swift 3 is our best Ultrabook pick of 2023, for weighing less than 1.5kg at a height of 0.7 inches. Yet, the laptop still carries a stunning 14-inch OLED screen that boasts a 2.8K resolution - perfect for bingeing TV shows and movies during study breaks. Just know that it can handle all the demands of a busy college student life and more, thanks to 12th Gen Intel Core i7 processor. Boot up and get back to work in mere seconds with 1TB SSD storage and 16GB RAM, not to mention its fingerprint-integrated power button lets you in instantly. Plus, this model comes with a 1080p HD webcam. It even has not one but two Thunderbolt 4 ports that support up to two 4K displays. Thanks to the next-gen Wi-Fi 6E support, connecting to the internet is blazingly fast, say reviewers. They also find the machine compatible for programming. The only drawback is that the battery life could be better, due to the power-hungry display technology.

Bonus: Buy with zero per cent instalments and pay Dh399.37 for 12 months with select banks.

4. Best Value: Lenovo IdeaPad 5i Gen 7


  • All-day battery life
  • 16GB RAM for running multiple apps
  • Runs on 12th Gen Intel Core i7 with Nvidia graphics card
  • Privacy shutter webcam
  • Rapid charge technology


  • Storage could be more

Students on the hunt for budget-friendly options can check out the IdeaPad series by Lenovo. We’ve picked the latest in line, IdeaPad 5i Gen 7, which has a 14-inch display and a whopping 16GB RAM at a mid-range value. It runs on a 12th generation of Intel Core i7 processor, so it’s going to be lightning-fast for research-intensive majors. But, there's more - this edition comes with the Nvidia GeForce MX550 2GB graphics card to support demanding media processing. Expect its all-day battery life to last you throughout extended lectures, where you can hit the privacy shutter to turn the webcam off for good. You can hook up an HDMI cable to the machine, or charge your smartphone using the USB-C port with power delivery. And, if you're a fan of a minimalistic chassis that's understated and void of any ridges or logos, then this model is perfect for you.

Bonus: Buy with zero per cent instalments and pay Dh291.58 for 12 months with select banks.

Warranty: Amazon offers one-year accidental damage protection for Dh332, a one-year extended warranty for Dh369, and a two-year damage protection plus one-year extended warranty for Dh424.

5. Best for Design Students: Apple MacBook Air (2022)


  • Blazingly fast M2 processor chip
  • Liquid retina display that supports one billion colours
  • Up to 18 hours of battery life
  • 1080p HD webcam
  • Weighs 1.24kgs


  • Limited connectivity options

Have you ever noticed how crisp the graphics on a MacBook always look? It’s all thanks to the high-pixel density retina display that Apple uses, so our eyes never discern the individual coloured dots but see things liquid smooth as they are. For this exact reason, most designers flock to MacBook machines, and the faster M2 chip in the 2022 models simply seals the deal. Our pick is the 13.6-inch MacBook Air to keep the load in your bag light, and it comes in a cool dark shade of midnight. An eight-core graphics processing unit with 8GB RAM handles heavy-duty editing software without breaking a sweat. Apple promises up to 18 hours of battery life on a regular day. Be prepared for limited connectivity though, with only two Thunderbolt ports (that support up to 6K displays) and a headphone jack. Rave five-star reviews pour in for the laptop, commending its speed, smooth display, portability and battery life.

Bonus: Buy with zero per cent instalments and pay Dh366.58 for 12 months with select banks.

Warranty: Amazon offers one-year accidental damage protection for Dh427, a one-year extended warranty for Dh426, and a two-year damage protection plus one-year extended warranty for Dh545.

Our recommendations are independently chosen by Gulf News editors. If you decide to shop through links on our website, we may earn an affiliate commission, as we are part of Amazon Services LLC Associates Program.