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Back-to-school computers and hardware for every student

These laptops, desktops and tablets are great for schoolwork, and a bit of fun on the side.

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Dan Ackerman
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1 of 7 Sarah Tew/CNET

HP Spectre

Don't get weighed down on the way to class. This laptop, the world's thinnest, manages to fit a Core i7 CPU into a 10.4mm frame for a look that's svelte and streamlined. And it looks sharp, mixing smokey gray and jeweled gold accents with a keyboard that's among the best of the current generation of ultrathin laptops.

See more of our back-to-school picks here.

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2 of 7 Sarah Tew/CNET

Apple MacBook (2016)

We're seeing this amazingly slim 12-inch laptop more and more frequently on college campuses. That's at least in part because the recent second-gen upgrade adds both power and battery life. It's also exceptionally portable, with a higher-res screen that looks amazing.

See more of our back-to-school picks here.

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3 of 7 Sarah Tew/CNET

Samsung Galaxy TabPro S

Forget the iPad Pro. This super-thin tablet uses Windows 10 instead of iOS, so it can run any software your full-time computer can. And unlike the very similar Surface Pro, it comes with an excellent keyboard cover included in the purchase price, whereas Microsoft forces you to buy the Surface keyboard separately. But the best feature is probably the AMOLED screen, the same kind of super-bright display in the most high-end big-screen TVs.

See more of our back-to-school picks here.

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4 of 7 Sarah Tew/CNET

Alienware Alpha R2

A mini desktop with real gaming chops, the new version of this midprice cult favorite can be your schoolwork PC, gaming machine and media center, all rolled into one. Add the sold-separately external graphics box and a desktop GPU, and it's ready for virtual-reality headsets as well.

See more of our back-to-school picks here.

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5 of 7 Sarah Tew/CNET

Origin PC Chronos

If you've got a decent budget (or are willing to dip into those student loans) this very flexible built-to-order desktop can fit into the smallest dorm room, but also run the most demanding 3D, gaming and VR applications. The unit we tested was built with Oculus Rift and HTC Vive in mind, but configurations can run from $1,300 to more than $2,500.

See more of our back-to-school picks here.

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6 of 7 Sarah Tew/CNET

Lenovo ThinkPad 13

It's not going to be the flashiest laptop on the quad, but Lenovo's all-business ThinkPad line now has a new lower-cost version that includes the company's legendary build quality and ergonomic keyboard, plus a 13-inch HD screen -- all for about half what you'd pay for a premium 13-inch laptop.

See more of our back-to-school picks here.

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7 of 7 James Martin/CNET

HP Elite x2

HP takes the best parts of the Surface Pro -- the keyboard cover, stylus and flexible design -- and adds a fingerprint reader and easy access to components. It also costs a lot less than the Surface Pro, especially considering the keyboard cover is included here, not sold separately. Go for the Core m5 CPU version for the best mix of price and performance.

See more of our back-to-school picks here.

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