HL Tech: The Best Laptop Computers for College Students in 2016

AddThis Social Bookmark Button

Students on laptop

For students entering college, a laptop computer is no longer a luxury. In today's mobile world, students will fare best with a laptop that's small enough for travel, but powerful enough to handle the tasks associated with high-level academics. Two considerations - budget and durability - remain important for consumers to determine which computer will survive four years of dorm life.

The data experts at SpecOut, a consumer tech research site powered by Graphiq, developed a list of the top 25 laptops for students entering college in 2016. To make the list, computers must weigh five pounds or less, have a battery life of six hours or more, a screen size of 15.6 inches or less, at least 128 GB of storage and at least 4 GB of RAM. Every entry on the list is a current model.

Analysts considered different budget considerations and broke the list down into price categories of less than $500, $500 to $800, $800 to $1,100, $1,100 to $1,400 and more than $1,400. It is important to note that a student's major will play a role in his or her choice of laptops. An English major who surfs the web and writes a lot of papers, for example, will have completely different storage, graphics and RAM requirements than an engineering student who runs powerful design software.

In each price category, the laptops are ranked by Smart Rating, a ranking system based on specs, expert ratings and display and dimensions considerations. In the case of a tie, the computers are listed according to price.

#10. Dell Inspiron 11 3000 3147 Mid-Range

Price Category: Less than $500

Smart Rating: 86.23
Price: $449.00
Battery Life in Hours: 8
Screen Size in Inches: 11.6
Ram in GB: 4
Storage in GB: 500
Weight in Pounds: 3.07

Inexpensive compared to the average all-purpose laptop, this Dell is as portable as it is cheap. The detachable two-in-one format enables it to convert into a fully functioning tablet with little more than a snap.

#9. HP Pavilion x360 13t

Price Category: Less than $500

Smart Rating: 89.16
Price: $439.99
Battery Life in Hours: 10
Screen Size in Inches: 13.3
Ram in GB: 4
Storage in GB: 500
Weight in Pounds: 3.77

With a Core i3 engine that is fast enough for most users, the Pavilion x360 13t is notable for its powerful audio and flexible design. The touch-screen feature enables users to closely interact with the operating system.

#8. ASUS Zenbook (UX305CA-EHM1)

Price Category: $500 to $800

Smart Rating: 96.07
Price: $689.00
Battery Life in Hours: 8
Screen Size in Inches: 13.3
Ram in GB: 8
Storage in GB: 256
Weight in Pounds: 2.60

This Zenbook comes with a full HD touch screen that is surprisingly resistant to glare. The speakers are weak but the keyboard and trackpad are cutting edge.

#7. Dell XPS 13 DNCWT5128B

Price Category: $500 to $800

Smart Rating: 99.11
Price: $800.00
Battery Life in Hours: 15
Screen Size in Inches: 13.3
Ram in GB: 4
Storage in GB: 128
Weight in Pounds: 2.60

Fast and portable, this revised XPS 13 has a long battery life and a display so brilliant that it looks bigger than its 11 inches. A direct challenge to the MacBook Air, Computer Shopper called it "perhaps the best all-around Windows laptop you can buy."

#6. HP Spectre x360 (13-4110dx)

Price Category: $800 to $1,100

Smart Rating: 94.54
Price: $998.97
Battery Life in Hours: 12
Screen Size in Inches: 13.3
Ram in GB: 8
Storage in GB: 256
Weight in Pounds: 3.17

With smooth 360-degree hinges, a full 12-hour battery life and a truly impressive display, the Spectre x360 is packaged in a handsome aluminum body. It's not as light as a MacBook Air, but it easily converts to tablet mode.

#5. Apple 13-inch MacBook Air 2015 Base Model

Price Category: $800 to $1,100

Smart Rating: 95.53
Price: $949.00
Battery Life in Hours: 12
Screen Size in Inches: 13.3
Ram in GB: 4
Storage in GB: 128
Weight in Pounds: 2.96

The best MacBook Air available in this price range, the 2015 Base Model is equipped with 8 GB of graphics memory, which equips it for intense gameplay. Its i5 core processor is fast, and it boasts an impressive 12-hour battery life.

#4. Dell XPS 13 Touch

Price Category: $1,100 to $1,400

Smart Rating: 96.00
Price: $1,357.99
Battery Life in Hours: 18
Screen Size in Inches: 13.3
Ram in GB: 8
Storage in GB: 256
Weight in Pounds: 2.90

Surprisingly small, this Dell is wrapped in a sturdy, carbon-fiber body. The laptop boasts a fast dual-core processor, beaming 1800p resolution and a staggering 18-hour battery life.

#3. Apple 13-inch MacBook Pro with Retina Display 2015 Base Model

Price Category: $1,100 to $1,400

Smart Rating: 99.66
Price: $1,179.00
Battery Life in Hours: 10
Screen Size in Inches: 13.3
Ram in GB: 8
Storage in GB: 128
Weight in Pounds: 3.46

The 2015 MacBook Pro saw the arrival of the innovative new Force Touch trackpad, and impressive gains in speed and battery life. The storage is just satisfactory and the design hasn't changed, but the display is truly stunning.

#2. Microsoft Surface Book

Price Category: $1,400+

Smart Rating: 95.84
Price: $1,499.00
Battery Life in Hours: 12
Screen Size in Inches: 13.5
Ram in GB: 8
Storage in GB: 128
Weight in Pounds: 3.34

With a lightning-fast, 2.4-gigahertz dual-core processor, an impressive 12-hour battery life and a detachable hybrid tablet, the Surface Book is ergonomic and powerful. It comes with a satisfactory 8 GB of RAM, but can be upgraded to a full 16 GB.

#1. Apple 15-inch MacBook Pro with Retina Display 2015 Flagship

Price Category: $1,400+

Smart Rating: 100.00
Price: $2,289.00
Battery Life in Hours: 9
Screen Size in Inches: 15.4
Ram in GB: 16
Storage in GB: 512
Weight in Pounds: 4.49

With a blazing-fast hard drive, a strong nine-hour battery life and 220 pixels per inch, this big, 15.4-inch MacBook Pro works hard to justify its price tag. For gamers, however, the graphics may not be worth the investment.

Learn More About These Laptops

Haute Tease

  • UPDATE: Fourth Victim, Cousin of Shooter, in Washington State School Shooting Dies;Brings Total to Five

    AddThis Social Bookmark Button

    The fourth student victim of the deadly shooting at Marysville-Pilchuck High School in Washington State, has claimed its fifth victim as parents and survivors are returning to school while trying to cope with the senseless tragedy.

     
  • Zero Motivation Review - A Clever, Amusing Comedic Drama of Life Inside The IDF

    AddThis Social Bookmark Button

    “Zero Motivation,” from Zeitgeist Films, brings to the screen a witty, satirical, award winning, comedic drama of life for a regiment of female soldiers as they invent ways of passing the mandated time in the Israeli Defense Forces.

     
  • Beltway Insider: Obama Farewell; Trump; France/African; London Tube Strike; Dylann Roof/Steven McDonald; Guns/Abstinence

    AddThis Social Bookmark Button

    President Barack Obama went home to Chicago, this week, to deliver his final State of the Union speech to a city and nation that while divisions remain are profoundly changed by his dedication, courage, and leadership.

     
  • HL London: The New Wave British Sound Part 1

    AddThis Social Bookmark Button

    Coming to us from London, another chance to review some of the indie-rock bands showcased recently, all of whom are attracting coverage and airplay from media outlets all over the world. Jump right in, give the sound a listen.

     
  • Girl, 10, Pulled from Italian Earthquake; Death Toll Increases Passes 250

    AddThis Social Bookmark Button

    A girl, 10, after surviving more than 24 hours hanging upside down, was pulled from the rubble of a decimated Amatrice where the death toll has risen sharply following initial reports and the town is in ruins.

     
  • Playboy Mansion Sells to Neighbor; Allows Bunny Patriarch Lifetime Living

    AddThis Social Bookmark Button

    Hugh Hefner sold his Holmby Hills Mansion for a cool $100Million, half of the original listing price, to his neighbor, Daren Metropoulos, the owner of Hostess Snack Foods. The Playboy Enterprises founder will live out his days dolling out $1M annually for expenses.

     
  • Beltway Insider: Iran Deal Finalized; ISIS Attack; Drug Lord Escapes; Greece; Memphis Soul

    AddThis Social Bookmark Button

    President Obama, after a series of delays, announced an historic deal with President Rhouhani and the people of Iran that will greatly reduce the nuclear power generated and permanently dismantle the ability to develop atomic weapons.

     
  • Beltway Insider: Obama On Oregon Shooting; Gun Control; RSM/NATO/Kunduz Mission; DWB Hospital; UNGA

    AddThis Social Bookmark Button

    President Obama, determined to have Common Sense Gun Reform legislation enacted, explained his intent to "politicize" the Umpqua College shooting and stop the plague of gun violence that continues to manifest itself in mass shootings across America.

     
  • CURE SPA MALIBU Review - A Blissful Indulgence

    AddThis Social Bookmark Button

    CURE MED SPA Malibu, a health and wellness center, offering a variety of treatments guaranteed to calm body, mind and soul recently provided an afternoon of treatments at its newest facilities overlooking the incredible Pacific Ocean.

     
  • Where God Left His Shoes - A Gritty Portrayal of Post War Life in America

    AddThis Social Bookmark Button

    Where God Left His Shoes, directed by Salvatore Stabile, a realistic portrayal of a down on his luck Gulf War Vet who attempts to integrate himself back into a society that has no place for him.

     
  • Colorado Officials Find Remains of 170 People, Including Infant Boy, In Basement

    AddThis Social Bookmark Button

    The remains of 170 individuals who did not receive proper burial or cremation were discovered in the basement of a Montrose, Colorado funeral home after the property was purchased and the new funeral director began renovations.

     
  • Trudeau Lumina Copper Fondue Set Review - Retro Favorite Modernized For Elegance

    AddThis Social Bookmark Button

    Dust off those Fondue Pots, the 1970’s party must have is seeing a resurgence thanks to prop placement in film and television, a retro favorite Fondue Parties have been modernized for elegance with sleek, stylish sets.

     
  • Donnie Wahlberg Rocks Chicagoland Raising $759k to Help Kids with Autism for Generation Rescue (Photos)

    AddThis Social Bookmark Button

    New Kids On The Block member Donnie Wahlberg joined forces with Generation Rescue for Another Evening with Donnie Wahlberg and Special Guests concert, raising $759,000 to spread awareness and help fund autism treatment for low-income and at-risk families.

     
  • Judge Declares Mistrial in Bill Cosby Sex Assault Trial

    AddThis Social Bookmark Button

    After more than 50 hours of deliberation the jury in the Bill Cosby aggravated sexual assault trail remained deadlocked, even as they were ordered to return and continue to deliberate they came back today, Saturday, and remained deadlocked.

     
  • Slenderman Tween Found Incompetent to Stand Trial; Legal Commentary By Whitey Bulger Defense Attorney Hank Brennan

    AddThis Social Bookmark Button

    Morgan Geyser, 12, known as one half of the Slenderman Killers, who stabbed a twelve year old friend 19 times, has been found incompetent to stand trial for her participation in the crimes that shocked this tiny Wisconsin city.