Just like last year, we present an extra thick back-to-school edition of the Laptop Best Buy Guide. In this LBBG we do not choose our recommendations in three, but six categories. Whether you’re looking for an affordable Chromebook for elementary or high school, a powerhouse for your game design education, or a light, thin notebook to work with on the go, this buying guide gives you our advice based on tests from many dozens of laptops.
The best laptop for school
Anyone looking for a laptop for school or study does not have to be a regular follower of the notebook market. In the segment where the largest volumes are run – Windows laptops between roughly 400 and 1000 euros – the laptop market is extremely dynamic. It is the rule rather than the exception that a specific model is only sold for a few months or even weeks. In order not to compete in price comparisons, among other things, it is also common for large chains to receive unique configurations that can only be purchased from them. That makes comparisons extra difficult, but we have done our best to come up with good advice for a budget laptop of 500 euros, a basic laptop of 700 euros and a thin light for about 1000 euros.
In other segments, the lead time is slightly longer. Gaming laptops are usually only refreshed when new CPUs or GPUs come on the market, while Chromebooks often remain for sale for six months or more. MacBooks form a category in themselves, not only because of the different OS but also because they last much longer and are often for sale for some time after the appearance of a successor. Macbooks rental is also a possible option for students with low budgets. You can combine a Macbook with an iPhone rental for a full Apple experience. If you like it? You can just buy the full Apple experience!
The latest hardware
The past months were mainly dominated by the actual availability of the hardware announced earlier this year. For example, the first laptops with the Radeon RX 6000M GPUs are now in the shops, and more and more Intel-based notebooks are equipped with a chip from the eleventh generation. In the lowest segment, there are also new Intel chips, namely the Celerons and Pentiums of the Jasper Lake generation, which we mainly encounter in the cheap Chromebooks in this LBBG.
The best student Chromebook: HP Chromebook x360 14b-cb0135nd
It is no coincidence that our recommendation is the successor to the model that we put forward in the previous laptop BBG. Since then, Intel has started shipping its Jasper Lake processors with model names in the Celeron and Pentium series. These economical CPUs contain up to four of the latest generation Tremont cores, which are produced by Intel at 10nm and therefore have to be considerably faster. In the HP, that processor is passively cooled, so you will never be bothered by fan noise.
Lenovo Yoga Slim 7
What can you expect from a laptop for 700 euros? As far as we are concerned, the device should be an upgrade from the outside and inside compared to laptops in the 500 euro category. The inside is fine, judging by the specifications, and the Slim 7 is also well put together on the outside. The housing is made of metal and feels sturdy. The speakers are positioned on either side of the keyboard and point upwards, directing the sound directly to your ears. With many laptops, the speakers are located at the bottom of the housing and the sound has to reflect off the surface on which the laptop is standing.
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The best student gaming laptop: Lenovo Legion 5 Pro
Our main recommendation is the Lenovo Legion 5 Pro. The variant we tested currently costs 1599 euros and is particularly widely available – which is sometimes nice to be able to write down. Like the other variants of the 16ACH6H, it features an AMD Ryzen 7 5800H processor and a 1TB SSD. The version we tested combines 16GB of RAM with an RTX 3060.