first_imgPicking the best laptop for college can make all the difference. Take a look at some of our favorites, and why you may consider picking one up for your next semester.Most individual computing tasks don’t require a specific operating system or brand anymore. With many tasks becoming browser-based and the line between Windows and OS X becoming less relevant every day, the lines in the sand about what computer you should take to school have been significantly diminished. Instead, the challenge in deciding what laptop would serve you best now depends more on hardware. Battery life, whether or not you need touch, and screen size and quality now have a much greater influence in the decision. With that in mind, we’ve put together a quick list of which laptops would be best for your day-to-day needs based on those categories. (Note: we didn’t factor in specific school requirements, these are the general, all-around best laptops for college students that we could think of.)The secret weapon: Chrome OSMaybe you’ve got a powerful desktop that you built yourself, and so don’t need a laptop to handle every single task in your world. Maybe your school is super cool and lets you write everything in Google Drive instead of requiring Microsoft Office, so you can use a browser-based OS that lets you move every aspect of your schoolwork to the cloud. Or maybe you’re just not attached to any one particular OS, and do everything in the browser already anyway. Chrome OS is a good all-around idea for school, as most of the hardware running this lightweight OS can be picked up for about $300.Chrome OS puts everything in the browser, so as long as you’re connected to the internet you’ve got access to the same web experience found on any other computer. The advantage here is the inexpensive parts used to drive most of these laptops. While you could go all out and drop $1500 on the Chromebook Pixel, the most common versions of Chrome OS hardware exist in the much cheaper Samsung and Acer Chromebooks. These cheaper experiences offer 6-8 hours of battery life and are quite light. You also never have to worry about anything happening to your data of your Chrome OS laptop gets in an accident, which could be the most important feature for the forgetful student.Today the best-selling Chromebook is Samsung’s 11.6-inchExynos 5000-powered system ($249) and the Acer C7, while the newest, best performing models should be the new Haswell systems. These Chromebooks, which were just announced last week, include the Acer Chromebook and the HP Chromebook14. More details on them should be available soon.The standard: Windows ultrabooks and convertiblesWindows has, and for a long time will likely remain, an OS with many different kinds of hardware. Right now in particular, with Microsoft shaking things up a bit through Windows 8, there’s a lot of different kinds of hardware to choose from when it comes to picking a Windows machine. Sorting through all of these odd looking machines in search for a winner can be a challenge unless you know exactly what you’re looking for. For most people, it comes down to battery life and the weight of the device itself.Intel’s massive push into what they call “ultrabooks” has created a surplus of thin and light laptops that are perfect for school. Unfortunately the thinner you make a computer the more you sacrifice, and a lot of the early Ultrabooks took a hit when it came to battery life or screen quality. Fortunately, we now live in the wonderful world of Haswell, and those problems are slowly going away. Ultrabooks with a Haswell-based Intel processor are going to offer much better battery life than their predecessors, and still be able to deliver a great computing experience. Currently the Asus Zenbook UX 301 and 302 ultrabooks are some of the best on the shelf, offering a high quality display and a great overall experience.The addition of touch is one of the most interesting changes to Windows 8. The ability to reach right out and touch your screen feels a lot more natural now in such a smartphone saturated world, and the latest version of Windows really gives you a reason to consider making it your default input mechanism. There are some laptops that now focus directly on touch, with the added flexibility of using them as a traditional laptop if you need to. These machines are commonly known as “ultrabook convertibles”, because they either are able to bend all the way back on themselves (to use as a tablet) or the screen can detach from the keyboard to use as a tablet. Many of these machines come with a Wacom stylus, which when combined with the handwriting recognition of Windows 8 turns them into fantastic note taking machines. Chief among these machines is the Lenovo Yoga 2, a Haswell-powered convertible ultrabook, that can fold back on itself as well as function as a regular laptop.The student’s choice: MacbooksOf course if you’d rather avoid confusing version names and really have no love of touch on your laptop yet, you could just get a Macbook. Apple’s laptop line is very straightforward, and there’s some clear benefits and drawbacks to each of their models for students.If you’re looking for battery life, you couldn’t ask for much better than the 2013 Macbook Air. This incredibly thin machine will get you through a whole day of classes without needing to bring out the power cable, and it’s light enough that you can sling it in your backpack when you’re rushing out the door with no problems. The display on this Air is the lowest quality of all the Macbooks as a trade-off, but it’s decent enough to get things done.The Retina Macbook Pro is a great all-around machine, striking a decent balance between display quality and battery performance. You won’t get a whole day out of either the 13-inch or 15-inch version of this laptop, but the display is one of the best in current generation laptops. It’s heavier than the Macbook Air, and nearly twice as thick, but in exchange you get the ability to add more RAM, more storage options, and an overall more powerful computer. If you’re looking for one machine to handle all of your needs, including maybe a little casual gaming, this could easily be the machine for you. The 13-inch MacBook Pro is a top pick for college students because of its excellent cross of price, performance, battery life, features, and support.The best laptop for your studentPicking the best computer for college is a as simple as knowing what all the best options are, and what kind of user you are buying for. Your portable computer needs could be minimal, or you could want to make your laptop the only computer you need. You may be interested in touch, or you may just want the longest battery life you can get without sacrificing too much else. Either way, there’s at least one great option out there for you.last_img read more