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Best Laptop for High School Students in 2022

Whether you need Windows, Chrome or MacOS, there are budget-friendly laptops here to help you through the upcoming school year.

This story is part of Gift Guide, our year-round collection of the best gift ideas.

With school back in session, a reliable laptop is a crucial piece of equipment necessary for setting your student up for success. That's why we've gathered our picks for the best laptop for high school students covering options across all the major operating systems including MacOs, Windows 11 and ChromeOS. Sure, many laptops will work just fine for your student, but these recommendations were chosen for dependability, user ease and performance. Every laptop we've suggested also has a long battery life, and each easily fits into a standard backpack. And the majority of them are under $1,000, which is increasingly rare due to chip shortages, supply chain issues and inflation.

The Apple MacBook Air M1 is our pick for the best laptop for high school students. The HP Pavilion Aero 13 is our best value pick with a starting price of $800 but is regularly on sale for far less. Both laptops offer strong everyday performance and long battery life with compact, lightweight designs that are easy to drop in a backpack. 

Regardless of which student laptop you choose, I recommend buying directly from the manufacturer or a familiar, trusted retailer for the best prices and exchange or return policies. If you're shopping on sites like Amazon or Walmart with third-party sellers, check to see if the laptop is being sold and shipped by the site. For more specific shopping help, check out our buying advice on getting the best cheap laptops.

It's worth noting, too, that if your school uses Google Classroom, it doesn't mean you need a Chromebook. (Here are the differences between a laptop and a Chromebook.) And to make long homework sessions more comfortable, you may want to add on some peripherals such as a keyboard or wireless mouse (most people get annoyed using only the trackpad pretty quickly) as well as an inexpensive external monitor so your student is more comfortable and has a bigger display to see their work. Check out our picks below to find the best laptop for high school students in 2022.  

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Despite the availability of the new bigger and better M2 MacBook Air, the M1 MacBook Air (one of the first to switch from Intel to Apple silicon) is sticking around and that's a good thing. Apple's entry-level laptop is still our go-to recommendation for a MacOS laptop for basic everyday use. It has great performance and long battery life -- up to 18 hours -- and is a solid choice for school and entertainment anywhere. Read our MacBook Air M1 review.

Read our Apple MacBook Air M1 (Late 2020) review.

 

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HP packed a lot of value into the Aero 13: Eye-pleasing magnesium-aluminum chassis, strong processing performance, long battery life, a bright, colorful display and a weight of just 2 pounds (0.94 kilograms). Amazingly, considering all that it offers, it has a regular starting price of less than $800 but it's regularly on sale for less than $700. Read our HP Pavilion Aero 13 review.

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Acer's Spin 513 is an update of sorts to one of the best Chromebooks from 2021, the Spin 713. It's a two-in-one convertible Chromebook with a 13.5-inch display that has a 3:2 aspect ratio. The extra vertical space means less scrolling when you're working. The screen size is also close to that of letter-size paper, making it comfortable for notetaking in tablet mode with a USI pen. Compared to the 713, it drops a couple of noncritical features like an HDMI output in favor of a more affordable price. It has amazing battery life, though, and a sturdy fanless design, making it silent -- perfect for quiet classrooms, lectures or video calls. Also, be sure to get the latest version of the Spin 513, model CP513-2H, powered by a MediaTek Kompanio 1380 processor.

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If you're tired of using your school-issued Chromebook with its small 11.6-inch display, this HP Chromebook is the way to go. It's roughly 0.75 inches wider than a premium 13.3-inch model, but that extra width makes it easier to work in two side-by-side windows. The two-in-one design means you can use it as a tablet (though it's a bit heavy to use handheld). You can also tent it, connect an external keyboard and mouse and use it as a small all-in-one computer. 

It's available in two configurations. I tested a $699 version with a Core i3 processor and 8GB RAM which kept this HP Chromebook running smoothly even with a couple dozen tabs open and streaming video in the background. And it has a long battery life to boot, lasting 10 hours and 40 minutes The good news is it regularly goes on sale for hundreds less. However, if you can't wait, there is a $329 version that'll give your student plenty of performance to get through their schoolwork. 

$329 at Best Buy
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Available with either AMD Ryzen or Intel Core processors, this 14-inch laptop gives you more screen to work on than 13-inch laptops, but is still incredibly lightweight -- less than 3 pounds. The bigger display is nice, too, covering 100% sRGB color gamut (better than you typically find at its starting price under $700). It also has a backlit keyboard, a fingerprint reader and USB Type-C and HDMI ports, too. The 2022 version of the Swift 3 falls just under $1,000 with 12th-gen Intel Core i-series CPUs. But the 2021 models are still widely available for less than $600. 

More back-to-school recommendations 

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