What are the best laptops for graduate students to buy this year?
While most students don’t have loads of cash to buy a high-end laptop, there are plenty of less expensive options on the market that deliver powerful performance and will help you cope with any task. If your budget is limited to $500, you still can find a pretty decent laptop for Photoshop, watching videos, or playing games. However, sometimes, it’s worth paying extra to purchase a device with advanced functionality.
When you are choosing a laptop for studies, make sure to purchase a device with a good keyboard as it will help you type your essays more quickly. If you need a laptop for photo editing on a budget, pick a device with a decent CPU and GPU.
Besides, it’s crucial to pay attention to battery capacity as you might need to use a laptop for a whole day without plugging it in. I have hand-picked the best laptops for graduate students in 2021 and reviewed them in detail to help you make an informed choice.
CPU: Intel Core i5-1035G1 | GPU: Intel HD Graphics | RAM: 8GB | Storage: 256GB | Display: 15.6-inch | Weight: 3.7 pound
⊕ High-end design and solid build quality
⊕ Top-notch performance
⊕ A great keyboard with a tactile feel
⊕ A variety of inputs and outputs
⊖ No Ethernet port
⊖ Can’t be upgraded
⊖ Low brightness
Featuring a thin profile and a lightweight design, this laptop comes with narrow 6.5 mm bezels, which accounts for an 82% screen-to-body ratio. You can carry it around wherever you go. It’s fitted with a powerful 10th Gen Intel CPU and a high-speed SSD. Another selling point is its remarkable battery capacity.
Unlike some other laptops for Masters students, it can be charged up pretty quickly, which will help you optimize your workflow. It comes with a touchpad with multi-touch support. When you think that it is about to run out of battery power, you can plug it in, and it will charge up to 50% in about 45 minutes.
CPU: Ryzen 3 | GPU: Radeon Vega 3 | RAM: 4GB | Storage: 128GB | Display: 15.6-inch | Weight: 4.41 pound
⊕ Stunning battery life
⊕ The newest components
⊕ Well put together
⊕ Amazing performance
⊕ Affordable price
⊖ Screen is too dim
The Acer Aspire 5 is a high-end laptop that comes at an affordable price, which makes it perfect even for budget-conscious users. It has a slim design and features a set of powerful specs, which allows you to use it for gaming.
Thanks to its advanced functionality, it’s believed to be one of the best laptops for graduate students available on the market today.
CPU: Intel Core | GPU: Intel Iris Graphics | RAM: 8GB | Storage: 256GB | Display: 13-inch | Weight: 2.96 pound
⊕ Thin profile, lightweight design
⊕ Comes in different colors
⊕ Great battery life
⊕ Affordable price, for a Mac
⊖ Doesn’t have a touch screen
⊖ A poor choice of ports
⊖ No Wi-Fi 6
The Apple MacBook Air is considered to be one of the most powerful and portable laptops for graduate students. The newest model comes with a 10th Generation processor, which allows it to solve several tasks at once.
Besides, this laptop comes with 8 GB of DDR4 RAM and features a 13-inch Full HD display that delivers a resolution of 2560×1600 pixels. With it, you can see any detail clearly. As this model weighs only 2.8 lb, you can take it with you wherever you decide to go. The MacBook Air 2021 can last up to 12 hours without being plugged in.
CPU: Intel i3 | GPU: Intel HD Graphics | RAM: 8GB | Storage: 128GB | Display: 15.6-inch | Weight: 3.5 pound
⊕ High-speed performance
⊕ Lightweight chassis
⊕ Weighs only 1.7 kg
⊖ Inconvenient touchpad
⊖ Insufficient brightness
This laptop is fitted with a high-speed 10th Gen Intel Core i5-10210U CPU and a large 15.6-inch display that supports Full HD. Due to its NanoEdge bezel design, it has a better screen-to-body ratio than other similar devices. Besides, it doesn’t weigh much and comes at an affordable price, which makes it a smart option to consider.
The 15.6-inch display allows you to see all the details clearly. Despite its large size, the device is pretty portable. Its powerful processor can cope with any task, such as casual Internet browsing, typing, streaming media content or playing games.
CPU: AMD Ryzen 5 4500U | GPU: AMD Radeon Graphics | RAM: 16GB | Storage: 256GB | Display: 14-inch | Weight: 3.63 pound
⊕ A great option for its price
⊕ Reliable chassis
⊕ Touch input support
⊕ Webcam privacy shutter
⊖ Weighs too much for a 14-inch laptop
⊖ A max brightness of up to 250 nit
The Lenovo IdeaPad Flex 5 14 is better than you might have expected, as it is sold at just $600, which is twice less than you can pay for similar laptops for graduate school. You can use this convertible model either as a laptop or as a tablet.
It has plenty of connectivity options, a reliable chassis and an ergonomic keyboard. The only shortcoming of this 14-inch laptop is poor display brightness. However, this option is perfect for regular tasks and studies, which makes it worth every penny.
CPU: Intel Core i7 | GPU: Intel Iris Plus Graphics | RAM: 16GB | Storage: 512GB | Display: 15-inch | Weight: 4.08 pound
⊕ A great value for the money
⊕ Stylish design
⊕ Remarkable performance
⊕ A comfortable tactile keyboard
⊖ Poor brightness
⊖ Only one USB-C port
Being equipped with a 10th Gen Intel CPU, this laptop is perfectly suitable for those who prefer solving several tasks at once. What makes it different from other laptops for high school students is that it has a stylish design with a metal finish and features an elevated keyboard for a more comfortable typing experience.
As it’s fitted with a nearly bezel-less screen, you won’t feel any signs of eye strain. Besides, it comes with dual HP speakers and offers the HP Audio Boost option for better sound quality.
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Before choosing a size, think carefully about whether you need a laptop with a large screen or a more portable model that you can take with you wherever you go. Compact 11.6-inch laptops for young professionals are perfect if you prefer carrying your device around. For other tasks, it’s better to choose a laptop with a 13.3-inch or larger screen as it’s more suitable for extended use.
If you are a graduate student or work on your Master’s degree, you will need a laptop with a high-quality screen to reduce eye strain. Displays with a high number of pixels allow you to see more information, while low-resolution screens can show less content. The same is relevant if you are shopping for the best tablet for taking notes.
RAM stands for random-access memory and affects the overall performance of your operating system and various programs. Most modern laptops for college students come with at least 8 GB of RAM, which allows them to run several programs simultaneously. If you study video and photo editing, you will need a laptop with a lot of RAM.
Make sure to buy the best laptop with long battery life you can afford. The best model can easily work up to 17 hours without being plugged in. While the battery life is known to decrease after extended use, you can avoid it by regularly charging your device.
If you are a student, you occasionally might need to connect an external hard drive or an HDMI tablet to your laptop. This is why it’s important to buy a model with a variety of input and output ports, as it will allow you to quickly create backups, save your information on SD cards and other devices.