The right computer for any student

Consumer Reports

undefined

undefined

Whether you want to go high-end or keep to a budget, our recommendations can help you choose.

All students need computers these days. But what's right for a college student staying in a dorm may not be the best choice for a sixth-grader at home. Here we make some recommendations for younger students, those in high school, and college students, at a couple of price points for each.

Word to the wise: You can save some money by checking school Web sites for buying programs. And even some manufacturer's sites—Apple's and Dell's, for example—sell computers for students at a discount or provide bonus products.

 

MORE AT COnsumer Reports

Elementary/middle school

Many students in this age range are likely using the family desktop computer. So here are a couple of Consumer Reports-recommended desktop computers that are great for schoolwork but also have features that will appeal to everyone. 



undefined

undefined

High-end

The HP TouchSmart 520-1165xt ($1,150) is an all-in-one desktop with a 23-inch HD touch screen that can actually tilt back up to 30 degrees, so you can adjust it to your liking.

It has excellent performance and ergonomics, and it's powered by Intel's third-generation quad-core processor, the Core i5. Other nifty features include a built-in memory-card reader and a Blu-ray reader.

(See also: Best lightweight laptops)

 

undefined

undefined

Budget

The Dell XPS 8500 i5 ($700) full-size desktop comes in at a lower price ($750) but still delivers on many features, earning it a Best Buy designation from our testers. Its performance is excellent, and versatility and ergonomics are very good.

And like the high-end HP TouchSmart, it uses the Intel Core i5 processor. If your kids (or you) like to play games, this one’s plenty powerful. Just note that you'll need a separate monitor.



High School

As studies intensify, a student at high-school level may need his or her own PC. A 15-inch laptop is ideal, offering both portability and easy desk-side use.

undefined

undefined

High-end

Any high-school student would appreciate the very portable 15-inch MacBook Pro ($1,800), with its exemplary display, boosted graphics, fast Thunderbolt connectivity for peripherals, multi-touch trackpad, and speedy quad-core Core i7 processor.

It also has Apple iCloud built in, for sharing all your content across your Apple devices.

undefined

undefined

Budget

The Dell 15R-2nd Gen i5 ($600) has very good ergonomics, and it's quite portable and versatile. The full-size keyboard is comfortable to type on, and the spacious 640GB hard drive offers plenty of room for storing music, photos, and movies, along with school projects.




College

For a college student, a slim and powerful 13-inch Ultrabook laptop works well—and won't take up too much valuable space in the dorm room.

undefined

undefined

High-end

The Apple MacBook Air 13-inch MD231LL/A ($1,200) was an excellent performer in our tests, and has a very long battery life of 9 hours. It's also able to play demanding video games. This MacBook Air's display is very good, with accurate and natural-looking colors, and a wide viewing angle.

 

undefined

undefined

Budget

The Samsung NP900X3A-B01UB ($900) is thin, light, and has enough juice to last through a full workday. It's among the fastest laptops we've tested. It also comes with a 128GB solid-state drive and has a handy multi-touch touchpad.

 

 



Copyright © 2006-2012 Consumers Union of U.S., Inc. No reproduction, in whole or in part, without written permission.
Sorry you didn't like this comment. Please provide a reason below.

Are you sure?
Rating failed. Try again.
Request failed. Try again.
We will promote constructive and witty comments to the top, so everyone sees them!
Sorry, we can’t load comments right now. Try again.

    Recommended for You

    • Inside Edition
    • ‘Game of Thrones’ Script Reveals New Details About Stannis Baratheon’s Fate

      A copy of the script that's available on the official Emmys website contains an extra line cut from the episode that allows him a moment of regret for the loved ones he's wronged.

      Yahoo TV
    • A deleted text message from vengeful gangster may get Aaron Hernandez off hook for double murder

      The text message was sent way back on July 5, 2013. Perhaps because its sender, Alexander Bradley, realized it held unwanted power, like the capability of impacting his immunity deal in an Aaron Hernandez double murder trial, let alone rocking the entire case altogether. In a plea deal, Bradley, however, gave authorities full access to his phone, including deleted and otherwise privileged communication with his lawyer.

      Yahoo Sports
    • Officer Among Victims in Shootings in Northern Wisconsin

      Gunshots have been heard at an apartment complex in northern Wisconsin where a suspect was holed up after a shooting that wounded at least three people including a police officer.

      Tribune
    • We Let Our Baby Cry It Out, and 10 Years Later, This Is What Happened

      Three months into this parenting gig, I'd had enough. Our bedtime routine with our infant son had turned into a two-hour affair that left me and my husband eating dinner at 10 p.m., me up with indigestion for another few hours, and only a few hours of shut-eye before I had to wake up for the day. I was preparing to go back to work, and no amount of concealer, corrector, or eye masks could hide the dark purple circles that had become permanent fixtures under my eyes, never mind function like a thinking adult in an office job. I needed a solution, and I needed one quick. My own parents swore by "Ferberizing" me, and I was willing to give it a try. Ferberizing, or "crying it out," is a sleep training

      PopSugar q
    • Someone guessed a very wrong answer on last night’s “Wheel of Fortune,” and it’s going viral

      Ever watch a game show and question why the contestants aren’t figuring out the blatantly obvious answer right in front of them?…

      Hello Giggles
    • Aaron Rodgers' Green Bay house is for sale, and you might even be able to afford it!

      We don’t dabble in real estate too much here at the Shutdown Corner, but we just could not help ourselves with this listing that came on the market — and onto our radar.

      Shutdown Corner
    • The Beauty Product Launches We’re Living For in 2017 (27 photos)

      Your hair, makeup and skin are all in for a very good year ahead.

      People
    • Trump's son criticizes London mayor after attack

      Washington (CNN)President Trump's son is criticizing the mayor of London in the immediate aftermath of an attack in the city that killed four and wounded about 40 on the grounds of the UK Parliament. Trump's son, Donald Trump Jr., manages the Trump Organization and has no role in the White House, but he remains an occasional surrogate for his father. The younger Trump also occasionally calls out the President's political opponents on Twitter, the venue he chose Wednesday to weigh in on the incident in Britain. "You have to be kidding me?!" Trump Jr. tweeted, as he shared an article from The Independent, and paraphrased its headline as: "Terror attacks are part of living in big city, says London

      CNN q
    • Texas Teacher, 27, Accused of Improper Relationship with 17-Year-Old Male Student

      Texas Teacher Allegedly Had Improper Relationship with Student

      People
    • Fan wearing Nolan Ryan jersey has no idea he’s two feet from Nolan Ryan

      You have to be a really dedicated Astros fan to show up to a minor league spring training game.

      Sports Illustrated
    • Inside Edition
    • How NBA is changing with sex more accessible

      NBA road teams are playing with historic levels of clear-headed competence, and one general manager knows who — make that what — to thank: Tinder. “No need to go to the clubs all night anymore,” the GM told ESPN for an in-depth feature about NBA players’ partying habits — to summarize: bottle service and dimly lit pick-ups mostly have been replaced by room service and app-arranged hook-ups. Messaging through Instagram actually is preferred to Tinder, according to ESPN. Players are known to have hotels leave keys for their road romances to get into their rooms before they even arrive. “It’s absolutely true that you get at least two hours more sleep getting laid on the road today versus 15 years

      New York Post q
    • Race in America: White Veteran Kills Black Man in NYC to 'Make A Statement'

      A white Army veteran traveled from Maryland to New York City to kill a black man to "make a statement" in the media capital of the world, New York Police Department officials said Wednesday. Jackson was carrying a handful of knives in his pocket when he arrived at the police station, Reuters reported. Shortly after coming across Timothy Caughman, who was searching through garbage on the street, he stabbed him in the chest and back, police said. Jackson told police he left Baltimore Friday and traveled to New York City by bus "because it is the media capital of the world and he wanted to make a statement," Bill Aubrey, a deputy chief at the New York Police Department, told reporters. "It was revealed that the attack on Timothy Caughman was clearly racially motivated.

      Newsweek
    • ‘Wheel of Fortune’ contestant had all but 1 letter and still got phrase wrong

      This is heartbreaking. OMG this just Happened.pic.twitter.com/Q0CYxM8jJB— ⛄Mike☃️ (@MBragiel) March 21, 2017No. No. No. No. This actually happened?On Tuesday, a contestant on Wheel of Fortune was literally one letter away from winning. The answer should have been staring them right in the face. A Streetcar NAMED Desire.Even if you’re not familiar with the play, the word name just fits perfectly. ...

      SB Nation q
    • Demi Lovato responds to Fappening 2.0 photo leak after being targeted by hackers for second time

      Pop singer Demi Lovato has responded to reports that she is the latest celebrity victim to be targeted in the hacking attack being dubbed Fappening 2:0. Actresses Amanda Seyfried and Emma Watson are also preparing to take legal action following the leak of their intimate images on Reddit and 4chan. Taking to Twitter, Lovato assured her 41.8m followers that a collection of images had not been leaked.

      International Business Times
    • Bonner Bolton Explains That Unintentional Grab of DWTS Partner Sharna Burgess

      Bonner Bolton Explains Groping Sharna Burgess on DWTS

      People
    • A teen made a website where kittens punch Trump. So, Trump unleashed his lawyers.

      President Trump is busy this week helping to make sure millions of Americans don't lose their health insuran — -sorry, I mean, shutting down a teenage girl. 17-year-old Lucy from San Francisco recently designed a site called Kittenfeed.com (initially called TrumpScratch), where users get to punch Trump's face with tiny little kitchen paws. It seemed like a pretty harmless, anti-Trump site (the kittens don't even scratch!) — until she got a letter from the lawyers of a certain "well known businessman," The Observer reports.  SEE ALSO: People can't stop sharing this cartoon about Trump's 'Muslim ban' That "internationally known" and "famous" businessman (his lawyers words, not mine) is, of course, Donald Trump. In the letter, Trump's general counsel encourages the teen to cease and desist and shut down the website.  Image: www.kittenfeed.com After receiving the letter, Lucy decided to change the name of the website to Kittenfeed.com. That wasn't enough for Trump's counsel, who reportedly continued to press the 17-year-old girl. The family is waiting to see their next move. "It’s so sad that his administration is focused more on being liked, burying real news and taking down sites like mine as they supposedly make him look bad," Lucy told The Observer. Predictably, Trump's lawyers letter had the opposite effect of their intention. After The Observer published the report yesterday, the site's visitors surged from 3,000 to 50,000. Lesson: you can mess with Trump's lawyers, but don't you ever touch an animated kitten. WATCH: Robotic glove lets people with limited hand mobility perform daily tasks

      Mashable
    • U.S. 'Bombs' North Korea in Military Exercises in Korean Peninsula Drill

      The U.S. deployed strategic bombers Tuesday to South Korea to participate in mock air raids in the Korean Peninsula as part of Washington and Seoul's ongoing massive joint military exercises simulating a war with North Korea. South Korean F-15K and KF-16 fighter jets flew alongside the U.S. Air Force's B-1B strategic bomber in South Korea's Air Defense Identification Zone, South Korea's KBS radio reported Wednesday. The aircraft conducted operations simulating a crisis situation in the Korean Peninsula, where neighboring rival nations technically remain at a state of war since fighting in the 1950s.

      Newsweek