Whether moving from high school to college or college to the real world (or its much more pleasant sibling, grad school), a new computer or tablet is a graduation gift that always hits. This list includes low-cost tools for note-taking and productivity, everyday laptops that will look sharp in class, at the office or in a coffee shop, and, of course, a big gaming monster for fun
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Asus Chromebook C523, $250Asus
Chromebooks are a good go-to for high-school or college students, or grads starting out on the road to a career, but the smaller versions we most often see aren't great for heavy-duty work. That's why we like this 15-inch model from Asus, one of the only bigger-screen Chromebooks you can buy.
North St. Weekender, $290Sarah Tew/CNET
Made to order in Portland, Oregon, from tear- and abrasion-resistant Cordura with weatherproof zippers, the bag can be everything from a slim laptop backpack to a 28-liter carry-on. North St. also makes packing cubes to fit the bag, and compression straps inside and out keep everything as slim and secure as possible.
Apple iPad Mini, $399
A great tool for note-taking in class or catching up on reading, the smaller iPad Mini surprised everyone with a big refresh for 2019. Besides a new A12 processor, it also adds Apple Pencil support, so it'll work with Apple's excellent stylus. There's also a new bigger-screen iPad Air, but the current 9.7-inch plain old iPad is a great deal you can usually find on sale for $250.
Dell XPS 13, $899 and upSarah Tew/CNET
The Dell XPS has long-been a go-to for anyone looking for a 13-inch, non-Apple laptop. The latest version fixes the irritating webcam placement, offers both 1080p and 4K touch screens, and comes in a couple of cool colors. Even with new CPU updates, it still starts at $899, which is impressive, considering the design. But, if you're giving one as a gift, at least jump up $100 to the Core i5 CPU option.
Apple MacBook Air, $1,099 and upSarah Tew/CNET
There's a reason this is one of the most popular computers ever made. And now it's gotten a much-needed reboot, keeping the name, but changing just about everything else, both outside and in. With a slimmer body, better screen and new CPUs, this should be the default choice for many students and grads. One caveat, not everyone loves the new keyboard design.
LG Gram 2-in-1, $1,499Sarah Tew/CNET
The surprising winning brand in our recent tests of laptop battery life was LG's Gram line. These laptops are notable for two things: They are amazingly light, and they run a long, long time. This new 14-inch version adds another trick as well, it's a 2-in-1 hybrid, with a touchscreen that folds back 360 degrees, so you can use it as a laptop or tablet, making it doubly useful.
Alienware Area-51m, $1949 and upSarah Tew/CNET
Treat yourself or your grad with the most powerful gaming laptop you can buy right now. With a sharp-looking new design, it gets away from the dorm-room-chic of most other gaming PCs, and you can also claim the desktop-class chip inside is really for high-res photo editing and 4K video production.