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For students in 2021, college is an entirely different beast from what it was in years past. A laptop is no longer a helpful accessory but is now a tool that will be essential to complete basic assignments and projects. Of course, as any tech guru will tell you, different laptops are made to perform different functions. If you’re a student looking to purchase a new laptop to complete your coursework, then start your research with this list of top-performing laptops for college students.

1. Asus Zenbook UX305

Ultrabooks are in high-demand right now, but will often run you upwards of $1000 for something reliable. The Asus Zenbook UX305, however, is a solid option that won’t break the bank. This model boasts an HD screen, a respectable 8 GB of RAM and 512 GB of storage. This means that whether you’re looking to study late into the night or play a couple games during an early-morning lecture, the Asus Zenbook is a versatile option. Toss in a light, thin frame to make for easy class-to-class transport, and this laptop is a steal at only $635.

2. Apple MacBook Pro 13-Inch

If your major relates at all to the digital arts, then you need to seriously consider trying out the Apple MacBook Pro 13-inch. Weighing only 3 pounds, this model features stunning Intel Iris Graphics, 10 hours of battery life and a 6th Generation Core i5 CPU to let you run programs like Photoshop and Final Cut without worrying about losing your work to a nasty crash. All these features mean that this laptop is decidedly high-end, which is why the price point is set at $1299.

Schools That Offer the Apple MacBook Pro:

3. Asus F556UA-AB32

You might be, like many college students, working with a tight budget. Just because your pockets aren’t endless, however, doesn’t mean you have to settle for a sub-par laptop. The Asus F556UA-AB32 comes with a 15.6-inch screen and offers beautiful HD graphics, which will make a world of difference if you’re taking a virtual class and need to see what your professor or classmates are doing on a video call. With an Intel Core i3 processor to top it all off, this laptop may not play the latest games, but it’ll work with you through late-night projects for only $390.

4. Samsung Notebook 7 Spin

If you’re after a top-of-the-line 2-in-1 laptop, then look no further than the Samsung Notebook 7 Spin. With a 365-degree hinge, this laptop doubles as a touchscreen tablet, which makes it ideal for taking detailed notes with a keyboard or hand-drawing diagrams in class. You can choose between a 13.3-inch and 15.6-inch screen, although the larger screen does come with a substantially stronger processor. With Ethernet capability, HDMI and multiple USB ports, the Spin is perfect for hooking up with any other mediums and comes in at a reasonable $630.

Not all sponsored colleges have laptop programs

5. Microsoft Surface Pro 4

This laptop is ideal if you’re a law student or in a major that requires you to get lots of hands-on experience. The SP4 comes with Microsoft’s Surface Pen to jot down quick notes in a busy environment, and its flexible keyboard means you’ll always be ready when you need to sit down and write out a lengthy report. As an added bonus, a well-illuminated 12.3-inch display makes this laptop ideal for office presentations. The SP4 is priced at $647, but you can typically get 10% at the Microsoft store with an active .edu email address.

6. Acer Aspire E5-575G-53VG

If you’re an incoming freshman looking for something to last you the next 4 years, and possibly into grad school, then you’ve found it. A 6th Generation Intel Core i5 processor combined with 8 GB of Ram and 256 GB of memory means that you’ll be able to run any demanding, specialized programs you may need for class. The cherry on top? A 12-hour battery life to last you from your 8 AM lecture to when you get back from your 7 PM lab, with an affordable $550 price tag.

7. Dell Inspiron i5577-7359BLK-PUS.

Whether you’re a game design student or just an avid collegiate gamer, this laptop offers the perfect balance between office and recreational capabilities. The Intel Quad Core 3.8 GHz i7 Processor is to die for, and with 8 GB of SDRAM and a whopping 1 TB HDD, you’ll be hard pressed to find a video game or design software that this bad boy can’t run. The 15.6-inch display means you won’t miss a single pixel of your favorite games, but all these cutting-edge features do mean that the Inspiron will cost about $900. Still, for game-creators and collegiate gamers, you’ll be hard-pressed to find a better alternative.

Schools That Offer Dell Laptops: