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?
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.
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, next-day delivery.
1. Best Overall: HP Envy X360, 2-in-1 Convertible Laptop (2022)
- Touchscreen, edge-to-edge display
- Converts into tablet
- Slim build
- Privacy hotkeys for camera, screen and mic
- Backlit keyboard
- HP Pen has to be bought separately
HP Envy x360 is everything a student wishes their laptop would look like – thin and ultra-lightweight (1.30kgs), 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 13.3-inch FHD display with micro-edge bezels hits the sweet spot between a large laptop and a notebook for easy portability. As for the performance specs, enjoy the speeds AMD Ryzen 5 5500U six-core processor, no-lag multitasking with 16GB of RAM and 256GB of storage space in the SSD. Other cool 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 microSD card reader, topped with excellent battery life.
Bonus: Buy with zero per cent instalments and pay Dh200 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
- 6GB graphics card
- One-touch log in
- Connectivity ports include HDMI and Display Port
- Bulky build
- 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 NVIDIA GeForce RTX 3060 graphics card. 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. The only drawback that can be a deal breaker for some, is the absence of a webcam, though it does support an external camera.
Bonus: Buy with zero per cent instalments and pay Dh520.25 for 12 months with select banks.
3. Best Lightweight Laptop: Dell XPS 13 9305 Performance Ultrabook
- Only weighs 1.2kgs – great for portability
- Decent battery life
- 8GB of RAM with 256GB of storage
- Connectivity options include two Thunderbolt 4 ports
- Instant login with fingerprint power button
- Webcam quality could be better
Another lightweight laptop to consider is the Dell XPS 13 Ultrabook that makes the most of its 13.3-inch screen with nearly non-existent bezels. Just know that your study partner can handle all the rigours of a busy college student life, thanks to 11th Gen Intel Core i5 processors. Boot up and get back to work in mere seconds with 256GB SSD storage and 8GB of RAM, not to mention its fingerprint-integrated power button that lets you in instantly. Plus, this model comes with a 720p HD webcam. It even has not one but two Thunderbolt 4 ports that support up to two 4K displays. This is ideal for computing daily presentations and Word tasks.
Bonus: Buy with zero per cent instalments and pay Dh289.17 for 12 months with select banks.
4. Best Value: Lenovo Ideapad 5
- All-day battery life
- 16GB RAM for running multiple apps
- Fast core processor
- Privacy shutter webcam
- Rapid charge technology
- Has a low contrast display
- Subpar webcam quality
Students on the hunt for budget-friendly options can check out the IdeaPad series by Lenovo. We’ve picked the latest in line, IdeaPad 5, which has a 14-inch display and a whopping 16GB RAM at a mid-range value. It runs on an Intel Core i7, so it’s going to be lightning-fast for research-intensive majors. The laptop continues to sleep unless it detects your unique biometric signature on the power button, giving access to you and no one else. 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 HDMI or DisplayPort cables to the machine, or charge your smartphone using the USB-C port with power delivery.
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 1 billion colours
- 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 employs, so our eyes never discern 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 space gray. An eight-core graphics processing unit with 8GB of 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 just two Thunderbolt ports (that support up to 6K displays) and a headphone jack.
Bonus: Buy with zero per cent instalments and pay Dh416.58 for 12 months with select banks.
Warranty: Amazon offers one-year accidental damage protection for Dh454, a one-year extended warranty for Dh475, and a two-year damage protection plus one-year extended warranty for Dh605.
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.