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Best computers for new graduates

Give a grad a big online upgrade with these laptops, tablets and desktops.

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Dan Ackerman
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1 of 8 Sarah Tew/CNET

Microsoft Surface Pro 4

For the graduate who isn't exactly sure of what comes next, consider a hybrid like the Surface Pro 4. It works as a handheld Windows slate, a tablet for drawing or handwriting with an excellent includes stylus, and pop on the magnetic keyboard cover (sadly sold separately) and it's a decent laptop alternative.

For many more gift ideas, check out all the different categories in the Tech Gifts for Grads guide.

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2 of 8 Sarah Tew/CNET

Razer Blade Stealth

Somewhere in the nexus between sleek ultraportables, gaming laptops, and MacBook alternatives, you'll find the Razer Blade Stealth. For as little as $999, you get a slim, high-design laptop with a multi-colored backlit keyboard. Add the coming-soon Razer Core box, and you can plug a full desktop graphics card in for a great gaming experience.

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3 of 8 Sarah Tew/CNET

Falcon Northwest Tiki

Did you graduate top of your class and have the academic currency built up for a really big ask? Then consider dropping up to $5,000 on the most tricked-out VR-ready PC we've tested to date, the insanely powerful Tiki from Falcon Northwest. It's also a killer small form factor gaming PC that won't clutter up your dorm room or tiny off-campus crash pad.

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4 of 8 Sarah Tew/CNET

Dell XPS 8900

It's not the flashiest PC out there, but this basic-looking Dell box supports VR-ready gaming, plays everyday games as well, and has a ton of space inside the bulky case for upgrades. Bonus, if you buy it with an Oculus Rift, there's a $200 discount, getting the price down to just $999.

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5 of 8 Dan Ackerman/CNET

HP Spectre

The new HP Spectre lays claim to being the world's thinnest laptop at only 10.4mm thick, despite using mainstream Core i-series processors, so it's good for all-day, every day use, and looks sharp in class or at the coffee shop or office.

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6 of 8 Sarah Tew/CNET

Apple MacBook (12-inch)

This 12-inch laptop is so amazingly slim and powerful that it's the first one I reach for much of the time. The battery life and processing power isn't on par with the larger MacBook Air and Pro models, but it's more than enough for everyday use, plus the higher-res screen looks amazing.

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7 of 8 Sarah Tew/CNET

Apple iMac (21.5-inch 4K display)

This all-in-one desktop is perfect for the home office, den or dorm room. The perfectly-sized 21-inch iMac also has a recent upgrade to a fantastic-looking 4K screen, that makes it great for HD photos and video or graphics and design work (or even really big spreadsheets). Plus, this new version comes with a much-improved keyboard and mouse (but we like swapping the mouse out for the updated standalone touchpad).

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8 of 8 Sarah Tew/CNET

Samsung Galaxy TabPro S

This super-thin tablet uses Windows 10 instead of iOS, so it can run any software your full-time computer can, while still being super-easy to tote around. Unlike the very similar Surface Pro, it comes with an excellent keyboard cover included in the $899 purchase price, whereas Microsoft forces you to buy the Surface keyboard separately (for a whopping $129). But the best feature is probably the AMOLED screen, the same kind of super-bright display in the highest-end big-screen TVs -- it makes a huge difference.

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