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

    • Trump's Treasury pick just doubled down on a budget trick that would steal from an entire generation

      On Thursday, President-elect Donald Trump's pick for Treasury secretary took the hot seat in...

      Business Insider
    • The Clinton Foundation Is Dead — But The Case Against Hillary Isn't

      While everyone's been gearing up for President Trump's inauguration, the Clinton Foundation made a major announcement this week that went by with almost no notice: For all intents and purposes, it's closing its doors. In a tax filing, the Clinton Global Initiative said it's firing 22 staffers and closing its offices, a result of the gusher of foreign money that kept the foundation afloat suddenly drying up after Hillary Clinton failed to win the presidency. It proves what we've said all along: The Clinton Foundation was little more than an influence-peddling scheme to enrich the Clintons, and had little if anything to do with "charity," either overseas or in the U.S. That sound you heard starting in November was checkbooks being snapped shut in offices around the world by people who had hoped their donations would buy access to the next president of the United States. There was a strong precedent for it in Hillary Clinton's tenure as secretary of state.

      Investor's Business Daily q
    • 'NCIS: Los Angeles' star Miguel Ferrer dies at 61

      NEW YORK (AP) — Miguel Ferrer, who brought stern authority to his featured role on CBS' hit "NCIS: Los Angeles" and, before that, to NBC crime drama "Crossing Jordan," has died.

      Associated Press
    • 'Morbidly obese' woman drops 126 pounds and becomes fitness model

      A woman from Aarhus, Denmark, who was once classified as “morbidly obese” after tipping the scales at 268 pounds, now works as a physical trainer and sportswear model after dropping more than half of the weight in a period of four years. Mathilde Broberg, 22, lost the excess pounds partially by cutting out junk food, exercising avidly and following the “teaspoon diet,” where she measured out her food and ate with a teaspoon to ensure that the portion sizes weren’t larger than the size of a flat-out hand.

      Yahoo Canada Style
    • ESPN drop commentator over Venus Williams 'gorilla' remark

      US broadcaster ESPN has dropped commentator Doug Adler after he compared Venus Williams to a "gorilla" at the Australian Open -- although he insisted the word he used was "guerrilla". ESPN said Adler should have been more careful during his coverage of the seven-time Grand Slam-winner's win over Stefanie Voegele. "During an Australian Open stream on ESPN3, Doug Adler should have been more careful in his word selection," an ESPN statement said.

      AFP
    • I tried Whataburger, In-N-Out, and Shake Shack — and the winner is clear

      The INSIDER Summary: • There's always been competition between the east and west coasts when it comes to burgers.  • In-N-Out takes the title as the best burger, but Whataburger's honey chicken biscuits are a solid bet too. Ah, the great debate of burger joints. If you're on the Eastern side of the USA, you may be more of a Shake Shack fan. However, for those of you on the West Coast, you may be more partial to some In-N-Out or Whataburger. Unfortunately for me, I am smack dab in the middle with many other flyover states, and close to none of these amazing burger joints. However, I do travel a lot and have had the opportunity to try all three varieties, time and time again (I just love burgers,

      Business Insider q
    • 8 Signs Your Husband is Still Madly in Love With You (9 photos)

      Even after all these years.  From Redbook

      Redbook
    • Sofia Vergara Mentored Ariel Winter Through Body Changes

      "Modern Family" star Ariel Winter has been very open about the physical struggles with her body, which eventually led to breast reduction surgery in 2015. The 18-year-old said that after she went public with the procedure, the reaction from fans and co-stars was mostly supportive. Winter had battled neck and spine problems and said she wanted to reduce her breast size from an F cup to a D cup for her physical and mental health. In a new interview with Self magazine, Winter talks about being so young in the public eye. She was 10 years old when the show started in 2009. "I had a hard time finding confidence within myself. When I started, I had a completely different body than what happened overnight

      ABC News q
    • Entertainment Tonight
    • Mark Zuckerberg is suing hundreds of Hawaiians to protect his 700-acre Kauai estate

      Mark Zuckerberg paid close to $100 million for 700 acres of beachfront property on the island of...

      Business Insider
    • VIDEO: Driver Licenses From Nine States Won’t Be Valid IDs for Domestic Flights in 2018

      Beginning Jan. 22, 2018, travelers from nine states will no longer be able to travel with only their driver’s licenses.

      Travel & Leisure Video
    • Report: Trump Actually Draining the Swamp, Preparing Huge Cuts

      It's almost too good to be true. According to a new report in The Hill, Trump "is ready to take an ax to government spending" -- and the changes proposed by his transition team are said to be "dramatic." How dramatic? How about getting rid of entire departments dramatic: The departments of Commerce and Energy would see major reductions in funding, with programs under their jurisdiction either being eliminated or transferred to other agencies. The departments of Transportation, Justice and State would see significant cuts and program eliminations. The Corporation for Public Broadcasting would be privatized, while the National Endowment for the Arts and National Endowment for the Humanities would

      Trending q
    • Executive actions ready to go as Trump prepares to take office

      By Ayesha Rascoe and Julia Edwards Ainsley WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Donald Trump is preparing to sign executive actions on his first day in the White House on Friday to take the opening steps to crack down on immigration, build a wall on the U.S.-Mexican border and roll back outgoing President Barack Obama's policies. Trump, a Republican elected on Nov. 8 to succeed Democrat Obama, arrived in Washington on a military plane with his family a day before he will be sworn in during a ceremony at the U.S. Capitol. Aides said Trump would not wait to wield one of the most powerful tools of his office, the presidential pen, to sign several executive actions that can be implemented without the input of Congress.

      Reuters
    • Correction: Pit Bull Attack story

      ATLANTA (AP) — In a story Jan. 17 about two dogs attacking children, The Associated Press erroneously reported the breed of dogs involved. The dogs were a pit bull mix and a border collie, not two pit bulls.

      Associated Press
    • The Rock Brings 15-Year-Old Daughter to the People’s Choice Awards – Then Jokingly Drops the F-Bomb During Acceptance Speech

      When Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson won the 2017 People’s Choice Award for favorite premium series actor on Wednesday, his mini-me was on hand to celebrate. Johnson, who was PEOPLE’s 2016 Sexiest Man Alive, shares Simone with ex Dany Garcia. Simone and Johnson also posed with girl group Fifth Harmony, who are performing for the first time as a foursome at the show.

      People
    • People are talking about the confusing Photoshop fail in Selena Gomez’s Instagram selfie

      We all know that Selena Gomez is beyond beautiful and is no need of Photoshop. But one picture floating around the internet…

      Hello Giggles
    • Daycare Workers Reveal the Things Parents Do That They Absolutely Hate

      "You spend weeks researching the best caregiver for your child and even longer on our waiting list, but once they're here, it's like you forget all about us."

      Redbook
    • While Drama Swirls, Olivia Munn Stuns in Yellow Gown

      Olivia Munn looked gorgeous in a yellow gown with a plunging neckline. Despite the fact that Olivia Munn‘s relationship with football player Aaron Rodgers is making headlines, the actress doesn’t appear to be fazed by it. The 36-year-old was recently spotted in a glamorous yellow gown with a plunging neckline while out in New York City.

      Yahoo Style
    • Mark Zuckerberg fires back at ‘misleading’ articles about his $100 million Hawaiian estate

      Mark Zuckerberg fired back at "misleading stories" about the 700 acres of Hawaiian property...

      Business Insider
    • Things You Should Never Buy at Aldi

      Haven't shopped at an Aldi supermarket yet? After steadily expanding its footprint in the eastern part of the country over the past 40 years - the first U.S. store opened in Iowa in 1976 - Aldi is now adding locations in Southern California. There are few shelves, few employees and none of the amenities you've come to expect from the likes of Wegmans or Whole Foods.

      Kiplinger