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Best Laptop for High School Students in 2023

Whether you're looking for Windows, Chrome or MacOS, here are some great budget-friendly options for your high schooler.

Updated on March 4, 2023

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Written by  Joshua Goldman
Our expert, award-winning staff selects the products we cover and rigorously researches and tests our top picks. If you buy through our links, we may get a commission. Reviews ethics statement
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Joshua Goldman Managing Editor / Advice
Managing Editor Josh Goldman is a laptop expert and has been writing about and reviewing them since built-in Wi-Fi was an optional feature. He also covers almost anything connected to a PC, including keyboards, mice, USB-C docks and PC gaming accessories. In addition, he writes about cameras, including action cams and drones. And while he doesn't consider himself a gamer, he spends entirely too much time playing them.
Expertise Laptops, desktops and computer and PC gaming accessories including keyboards, mice and controllers, cameras, action cameras and drones Credentials
  • More than two decades experience writing about PCs and accessories, and 15 years writing about cameras of all kinds.
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$750 at Best Buy
M1 MacBook Air on a table
Best for most people
Apple MacBook Air M1
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$800 at HP
HP Pavilion Aero 13
Best value
HP Pavilion Aero 13
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$788 at Amazon
Acer Chromebook Spin 513 on a green background
Best Chromebook for students
Acer Chromebook Spin 513 (CP513-2H)
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$419 at Best Buy
A front view of an open HP Chromebook on a black table.
Better Chromebook experience
HP Chromebook x360 14c
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$950 at Amazon
Acer Swift 3
Still small but with a bigger screen
Acer Swift 3
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Laptops are essential for students -- a lot of schools even require them nowadays. From help with in-class lectures and projects, to studying and homework, a laptop is an essential tool for your high schooler. But the best ones come with a price tag. That's why we've collected our picks for the best laptop for high school students. 

We've covered options across all the major operating systems and brands, including MacOS, Windows 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 continued chip shortages, supply chain issues and inflation.

Best laptop for high school students  

The Apple MacBook Air M1 is our pick for the best laptop for getting schoolwork done in high school. It has excellent everyday performance, long battery life and it's lightweight. The HP Pavilion Aero 13 is our best value pick with a starting price of $800, but is regularly on sale for far less. Like the M1 Air, the Aero has strong everyday performance and long battery life with a compact, backpack-friendly design. 

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 2023.  

$8 at Best Buy

Best for most people

Apple MacBook Air M1

M1 MacBook Air on a table
Pros
  • Big boost to battery life
  • Performance in benchmark tests shows the M1 Air easily outperforming Intel versions
  • Fanless design runs cool and quiet
Cons
  • No external design or feature changes
  • App compatibility is an issue for early adopters
  • No mobile broadband options, 5G or otherwise
Battery Life/Runtime 1,026 minutes
Weight 2.8 pounds
Display size/type 13-inch, 2560 x 1600 IPS LCD
Processor tested Apple M1 8‑core
Graphics tested Apple M1 7-core

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.

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HP Pavilion Aero 13
$800 at HP

Best value

HP Pavilion Aero 13

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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$8 at Amazon

Best Chromebook for students

Acer Chromebook Spin 513 (CP513-2H)

Acer Chromebook Spin 513 on a green background
Pros
  • Amazing battery life
  • Excellent 3:2 display
  • Sturdy, fanless body
  • Backlit keyboard and USI pen support
Cons
  • Slower eMMC storage
  • Thin audio quality

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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A front view of an open HP Chromebook on a black table.
$4 at Best Buy

Better Chromebook experience

HP Chromebook x360 14c

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 $419 version that'll give your student plenty of performance to get through their schoolwork. 

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Acer Swift 3
$950 at Amazon

Still small but with a bigger screen

Acer Swift 3

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

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