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Best Laptops for Students

written by: jhoge•edited by: Michele McDonough•updated: 10/31/2008

As you head off to college, picking a computer to last the next four (or five, or eight) years is a tricky proposition. You want mobility, style, speed and fun, without paying a bundle. Find out what the best laptops for the student lifestyle are.

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    Best Laptops for Students

    If you're a student, you're probably on a budget. The highest-end desktops are out of the question because of both cost and a lack of portability. Besides, do you really want to be tempted by a full-blown gaming rig when you have your studies to attend to? The answer for the budget-conscious student is a mid-sized laptop with a large enough screen to juggle music, assignments, and browsing tasks. The sweet spot for students is a light 13" laptop with a large hard drive. Luckily, there are affordable offerings on both sides of the PC/Mac fence.


    Apple's popular MacBook has been thoroughly redesigned to blend into the latest Apple lineup. Designed to look similar to the iPhone, the MacBook has a glossy black bezel, a nearly invisible integrated webcam, and an elegant aluminum body. The trackpad has been enlarged and enhanced with new Multi-Touch capabilities, including three-finger page flips and other new gestures. With the MacBook, you get exceptional portability, industry-leading design, and the ease of Mac OS X.

    If you want a more immersive movie experience with your friends, the MacBook looks great paired next to one of Apple's redesigned LED Cinema Displays. Made specifically for the MacBook, it has the same black bezel and aluminum finish, along with an iSight camera, microphone, and integrated speakers. At $1299, the MacBook may not be the best bargain out there, but it is arguably the coolest laptop for students.

    Dell Inspiron 13

    If you're more at home on a PC, you can't go wrong with Dell's Inspiron 13, offering the ideal screen size for portability and impressive internals for respectable speed and performance. The starting configuration offers Windows Vista Home Premium, an 8x DVD burner, and a 1.86 GHz Pentium Dual Core. It has 2 GB of RAM and a 160 GB hard drive. For additional money, you can upgrade to a 320 GB hard drive, the 64-bit version of Vista, or 4 GB of RAM. The starting configuration is priced at around $650, or half the price of the MacBook. For many students strapped for cash, this may be the smarter, more economical choice.