Need a new laptop for going back to school? Check out these suggestions. Photo courtesy of Ed Yourdon. Licensed under CC BY-2.0.Laptops are probably without question one of the single most important tools that college student needs. However, they are obviously and unfortunately expensive. It takes a lot of research and patience to determine which machine will be the best choice for you. has put together a list of 12 laptops that will fit a college student’s budget but still perform as valiantly as students need them to. These are the three that I thought seemed like the best choices.

HP Pavilion dm1z ($479)

I have been using HP computers and laptops since I was in high school, and I am still a loyal customer. I believe I am the only PC-user on the HackCollege staff, but PCs are what I like. My current laptop is a HP Pavilion model, and so this less-expensive version of the laptop would be a good basic machine for students. This particular model is 11.6″, only weighs 3.4 pounds, and lasts six and a half hours on a single charge. Additionally, HP has addressed its machines’ tendency to overheat by introducing CoolSense Technology which is software that can sense if the laptop is resting on a table or lap and then adjust the speed of the internal fan accordingly.

For a larger Pavilion model, check out LaptopMag’s review of the HP Pavilion dv6t.

Toshiba Satellite E305-S1995 ($899)

Though more expensive, this laptop comes with a few more features which would certainly be desirable for a college-student. It comes with Blu-ray, Intel Wireless Display, backlit keyboard, and USB 3.0. It’s 14″, 4.9 pounds, and has a six hour battery life. This laptop also features an Intel Core i5-S2410M CPU and a 500GB, 7,200-rpm hybrid hard drive.

Dell XPS 15z ($999)

Jumping up in price again, this 15″ laptop comes with more size and options. If you are perhaps looking to use your computer as both a TV and a work machine, a larger screen might be your best bet. However, you don’t need to sacrifice screen size for thickness. This Dell laptop is the thinnest 15″ computer you can find at 0.97 inches thick. With an aluminum covering, it features a second-generation Intel Core i5 processor, Nvidia graphics, two USB 3.0 ports, 4GB of RAM, backlit keyboard, and powerful speakers. These features seem to make this laptop a top choice for both a TV and computer. Though it’s more expensive, if it takes the place of a TV, it might be worth the extra money.

Apple MacBook Air ($999)

I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention the MacBook Air and yet it still feels like an obvious choice that many students will elect. It weights only 2.3 pounds is only 0.68 inches, and has an 11″ screen. These physical features make it incredibly portable, which is a definite plus as we college students are forever trekking across campus with our beloved computers. It uses an Intel processor and Nvidia GeForce graphics, and also has a five hour battery life. As we’ve mentioned previously on HackCollege, the new OS X Lion has great new features that students can definitely use to their advantage. For those Mac users, this option will be a good, solid laptop choice.


What laptop will you be using as you go back to school this fall? Let us know in the comments!