1. Acer Aspire E 15
Does your high school student need their old laptop to be replaced with a better notebook? Then the reasonably priced Acer Aspire E 15 is your first choice because it gives you and your child the best bang for the buck. While it’s not as aesthetically pleasing as premium laptops, its sturdy black plastic, matte lid, and a faux brushed aluminum deck have a reliable build quality. This thing is also sure to impress buyers because of its HD display, balanced performance and ability to do a bit of gaming.
Inside this machine is a 1.6 GHz Intel Core i5-825OU processor matched with a Nvidia MX150 graphics card. This combination together with an 8 GB RAM makes it possible to multitask and even play some of the latest games at normal settings. Meanwhile, the 256 GB SSD also allows this system to boot faster than those with SATA and hard disks.
The best bit about this laptop is its large 15.6-inch screen that has a sharp 1920 x 1080 resolution with vibrant tones. It can produce a remarkable sRGB color gamut rating at 159 percent, which is way above the 94 percent average for many mainstream laptop models. However, the screen’s viewing angles are too narrow, and once you get to 45 degrees on any side of the screen the images begin to invert. On the other hand, the audio is loud and of decent quality.
Another great thing about this laptop is its long battery life of 9 hours. It also has great heat management as it stays cool even when you have been using it for a long period of time. In terms of port, it has everything you will ever need- three USB 3.0, HDMI-out, VGA-out, Ethernet, SD card reader, and a USB Type-C. Furthermore, it also has a DVD writer, which you don’t see often in this segment.
However, the Aspire laptop also has a few key weaknesses. The onboard webcam is grainy and produces images that have a lot of visual noise. The keyboard and touchpad also feel uncomfortable. The size of the laptop also makes it less portable than its competitors.
Overall, the Acer Aspire 15 offers superb performance and great screen quality without having to break the bank. It’s also the notebook that will give you the most value in the budget laptop category.
Display: 15.6-inch; 1920 x 1080 resolution
Processor: 1.6 GHz Intel Core i5-825OU
Graphics: Nvidia GeForce MX150 with 2GB Memory
RAM: 8 GB DDR3
Storage: 256 GB SSD
Battery Life: 9 hours
Weight: 3.18 pounds
- Full HD resolution
- Impressive battery life
- AC Wi-Fi
- Ready for light gaming
- A bit bulky
- Low-quality webcam
2. Apple MacBook 12
Love it, or hate it, there is no denying Apple’s MacBook is as relevant today as they were first released in 2006. Since then, not much has changed about the look and feel of this 12-inch laptop but some of its parts were upgraded with the latest components. While it has a small 12-inch screen, the 2304 x 1440 resolution display is simply gorgeous because of its high pixel density.
At its core, the MacBook 12 is a 1.2 GHz Intel M3-7Y32 which you can turbo boost up to 3.0 GHz. It also comes with an Intel HD Graphics 15 coupled with an 8GB of RAM, which makes every video and image look clear and smart. Furthermore, it has plenty of SSD storage space at 256 GB.
The best thing about this laptop is its unique owning experience and quality build. It’s hard not to enjoy the thinness and feather-like weight that a MacBooks have. This laptop also has a very comfortable keyboard that is now backlit and an accurate glass-coated trackpad, which are quite hard to find on other laptops of its size. More importantly, it has an average battery life of 8 hours, which is enough juice if your child wants to work on it unplugged.
Macbook also has four stereo speakers which pump loud tunes that can easily fill a small room. However, the sound quality is bland like most notebooks as it only has a few millimeters where you can put in the audio chambers. For connectivity purposes, you have the latest Wi-Fi and Bluetooth 4.2.
Despite these noble accomplishments, the MacBook also has a few disappointing traits. The ports are only limited to a USB 3.1 Type-C and a headphone/ microphone jack. It also has a 480-pixel camera, which produces low-quality images.
Overall, this laptop is a perfect study partner if your child prioritizes looks and performance above everything else. Be prepared to shed out a few hundred dollars more, though.
Display: 12-inch Retina IPS; 2304 x 1440
Processor: 1.2 GHz Dual-core Intel Core M3-7Y32
Graphics: Intel HD Graphics 615
RAM: 8 GB DDR3
Storage: 256 GB SSD
Battery Life: 4 hours
Weight: 2.03 pounds
- Still more expensive than its rivals
- Lacks important ports
3. Acer Swift 3
Gone are the days when the most attractive thing about a budget laptop is its price. Today, even the most affordable notebooks have upped their game by offering improved performance, portability, display and other essential traits buyers are looking for. In this regard, the Swift 3 seems to be ahead of its competition by offering a well-balanced laptop that even your high school student could not say no to.
Living up to its name, the Swift 3 has a very fast 2.5 GHz dual-core Intel Core i5-7200U processor which you can turbo boost up to 3.1 GHz. It’s also equipped with an Intel HD Graphics 620 mated with an 8GB DDR4 RAM. Moreover, it comes with a 256 GB SSD storage that allows it to boost up fast. These components easily allow this machine to cope up with your high schooler’s demanding schoolwork.
The Swift also has a vivid 14-inch HD screen with a resolution of 1920 x 1080 which has wide viewing angles. However, the display’s brightness seemed a bit lacking and the color gamut is below the average on its segment. In contrast, your kids will certainly love typing in this device thanks to its comfortable island-style keyboard and easily accessible touchpad. The backlit keys have excellent travel and great tactile feedback which are suited for typing over a long period of time.
The Swift 3 also has a slightly better 720 pixel HD webcam, which will be useful during group chat or Skype calls. It also has plenty of ports including legacy ports like USB 2.0 and 3.0s and an SD card slot. It also has HDMI, headset jack and a USB 3.1 Type-C. Beneath the directional keys is a fingerprint scanner that works together with Window’s Hello login.
While the Swift 3 is a lovable device, it also has a few turn-offs. The silver colored fascia is sleek but doesn’t distinguish itself from other laptops. In other words, it lacks the charm to compete with other laptops you will likely see in most coffee shops. It also isn’t future-proof as it only has a USB Type-C, while others have Thunderbolt. Finally, it has a below average battery life of only four hours.
Overall, this laptop will appeal for parents and high school student who prioritizes performance overlooks. If you want more tasks to get done, then the Swift 3 is your laptop of choice.
Display: 14-inch FHD ComfyView IPS; 1920 x 1080 resolution
Processor: 2.5 GHz dual-core Intel Core i5-7200U
Graphics: Intel HD Graphics 620 mated
RAM: 8GB DDR4
Storage: 256 GB SSD
Weight: 3.53 pounds
- Speedy 8th gen i5 CPU
- Lots of ports for connectivity
- Comfortable keyboard
- For its price has SSD storage
- Generic design
- Poor battery life
4. Dell XPS 13
If you want to invest in a laptop that can still be relevant in the next five or more years, then the Dell XPS 13 is one of the best option currently available. It’s definitely one of the best laptops on the market for its gorgeous design, impressive performance, elegant display, and futuristic components. Heck, your high school student can even bring this laptop with him when he goes to college.
Powering this one-of-a-kind laptop is a 1.8 GHz Quad-core Intel Core i7 -8550U processor which you can overclock up to a whopping 4.0 GHz. Its paired up with a 16 GB RAM and overloaded with a1 TB SSD storage. Moreover, it comes with a 13.3-inch ultra HD Infinity Edge touchscreen. The almost life-like display also has a 3840 x 2160 resolution, which easily beats many of its rivals in its price range.
The best part of the latest Dell XPS 13 is the addition of Thunderbolt 3 ports which can support four-lane PCI connections. With this feature, you can connect to a laptop with an external graphics card (eGPU) for some serious gaming experience. The Alpine White finish looks stunningly chic and may be worth the few extra dollars that it costs. In addition, this laptop also does well in keeping itself cool even when the user is multitasking or have opened way too many applications or browser tabs. The newest update now uses Gore thermal dissipation which has stronger heat dissipation.
The keyboard is also quite easy to use with just the right amount of travel and feedback. Meanwhile, the glass-coated touchpad is satisfyingly smooth and accurate. Additionally, Dell also moved the webcam to a more appropriate position for its new facial login feature. The 720 pixels widescreen camera and four-mic array also make it perfect for Skype calls. This laptop also has other ports aside from the Thunderbolt such as a USB-C 3.1, a micro SD reader and a headset jack.
Despite its many improvements, the laptop also has a few hiccups in its design. The webcam which is way below the screen still feels awkward and doesn’t provide the best angle during video calls. It can also use some USB Type-A ports for more external storage options. The device can also be loud at times especially when it’s hard at work.
Overall, the Dell XPS 13 brings about everything you and your high school student loves about a laptop- solid performance, great display and a lot of fresh components.
Display: 13.3-inch ultra HD Infinity Edge touchscreen; 3840 x 2160 resolution
Processor: 1.8 GHz Quad-core Intel Core i7 -8550U
Graphics: Intel UHD Graphics 620
RAM: 16 GB DDR3
Storage: 1 TB PCIe SSD
Battery Life: 5 hours
Weight: 2.67 pounds
- Bright 4K display
- Fast performing CPU
- Better keyboard than previous editions
- Small footprint
- Awkwardly-placed webcam
- No USB-A port
5. HP ProBook X360
Purchasing a laptop for your kid who is about to start high school doesn’t need to break the bank. If you are short on money, at the moment, there are still plenty of affordable notebooks out there. Among them is the educational laptop ProBook X360 from Hewitt Packard or HP. This 2-in-1 convertible laptop is easy to use and is competent enough to do common schoolwork tasks such as taking notes and creating other school projects. Parents will also be relieved that this laptop is quite robust and passes the MIL-STD-810G standard meaning it can handle bumps and shortfalls without any problem.
On the inside, it runs on a 1.1 GHz Intel Celeron N3450 which can be overclocked at 2.2 GHz and is coupled with a 4 GB worth of RAM. It also has a built-in Intel HD 500 Graphics and 64 GB worth of flash storage. Everything about this laptop is pretty basic and minimalist including its 11.6-inch HD touchscreen which has a decent 1366 x 768 resolution. Furthermore, this thing is quite portable and very lightweight at only 2.98 pounds. Hence, your student can carry it to school by just stuffing it in a large backpack.
By flipping the keyboard to the display’s back, you can turn this laptop into a tablet which makes it easier to draw or write using the stylus. Flip the keyboard back again and you can use it as a laptop for typing. It also runs on the newest Windows 10 OS. The keyboard is also pretty decent and doesn’t create any annoying noises. The ergonomic 3.7 x 2.2-inch clickpad is accurate and responsive enough. The icing on the cake is its inexpensive price tag. You also have the usual ports such as two USB 3.1s, a USB 3.1 Type-C, micro SD reader, HDMI, and an audio combo.
The Probook x360, however, is not for the picky laptop users. The laptop’s performance is OK in terms of doing the basic computing tasks such as browsing the Internet, writing, doing presentations and other Office apps. But, you will be hard pressed at using more complex programs. The storage is also just enough, but the transfer rates are too slow compared to SATA hard drives and SSDs. You also have to purchase the stylus pen separately.
Overall, this laptop is your number one choice if you want a durable laptop that won’t burn your cash. It’s also a better alternative to Chromebooks in terms of performance.
Display: 11.6-inch HD backlit touchscreen; 1366 x 768 resolution
Processor: 1.1 GHz Intel Celeron N3450
Graphics: Intel HD 500 Graphics
RAM: 4GB DDR3
Storage: 64 GB eMMC
Battery Life: 10 hours
Weight: 2.98 pounds
- Rugged and spill resistant
- Affordable price
- Has the ports that count
- Very portable
- Very basic design
- Low storage
6. Huawei MateBook X Pro
After conquering the mobile phone market, the Chinese tech giant Huawei seemed ready to conquer the laptop industry next. The MateBook X Pro is one of its few laptop systems, but it’s already making a name for itself. The first thing you will notice about this machine is its unassuming looks, especially when the lid is closed. The aluminum casing covers much of its slim body. However, once you turn on the laptop it becomes an entirely different story. There is a reason they call it a “sleeper laptop.”
Inside its typical exterior lies a 1.8 GHz Quad-core Intel Core i7-8550U processor which you can turbo boost up to 4.0 GHz. It also has a dedicated graphics card in the Nvidia GeForce MX150, which is commonly found in most entry-level gaming laptops. To make things better, this thing also has 16 GB worth of RAM and 512 GB SSD storage. The MateBook X Pro is also much cheaper than most laptops that have the same specs and components.
The best feature of the MateBook X Pro, aside from its stellar performance, is its rich 13.9-inch LED touchscreen which has a 3200 x 2000 resolution. The high pixel density provides plenty of detail especially since it can produce 124 percent of the sRGB gamut. Furthermore, the display also emits an astonishing 458 nits of brightness, making it one of the brightest laptops on the market.
Its butterfly keyboard also provides a relaxed tying experience that is easy on the fingertips. The same can be said to its 4.7 x 3.0-inch touchpad which respond quickly to every finger gestures. Moreover, the unit has the right ports including a USB 3.0, audio jack, a USB-C 3.1 and a Thunderbolt 3 USB-C. The nifty 720 pixels webcam, which is hidden beneath a key in one of the “function” buttons, is unique and good for security. However, same as with the Dell XPS 13, you don’t get a good leveled angle during video calls.
With that said the MateBook X Pro is not entirely perfect and even has its own design flaws. It doesn’t have an SD card slot, which will be quite hard for photographers and videographers to use the laptop to edit their works. Its 7th generation Intel CPU is also outdated compared to what its competitors are using.
Overall, this laptop is a good alternative to pricier premium laptops that cost more than a thousand dollars. It’s also a good study partner that your high school student can take to college.
Display: 13.9-inch LED with a touch panel; 3200 x 2000 resolution
Processor: 1.8 GHz Quad-core Intel Core i7-8550U
Graphics: Nvidia GeForce MX150
RAM: 16 GB DDR3
Storage: 512 GB SSD
Battery Life: 8 hours
Weight: 2.93 pounds
- Beautiful and bright display
- Crystal clear 3:2 touchscreen
- Manageable battery life
- Thin and sensible design
- Doesn’t have an SD card slot
- Inferior webcam
7. Lenovo Ideapad Miix 320
At first glance, it’s hard to guess that the Ideapad Miix 320 is a 2-in-1 convertible laptop because how seamless the tablet screen is integrated on its keyboard. Instead of using magnet docking, this laptop uses a physical hinge to attach the keyboard and tablet together. The glossy matte-silver frame is also quite sturdy, while the whole unit can easily sit on your lap without toppling.
The laptop’s processor, a 1.44 GHz Intel Atom X5-Z8350 which can be turbo boosted up to 1.92 GHz, is also nothing to scoff off. It also has its own integrated Intel HD Graphics card and a 4 GB DDR3 RAM. For storage, you have a 128 GB flash, which is larger than most budget notepads and Chromebooks could offer. The 10.1-inch IPS touchscreen is quite detailed thanks to its pixel-dense 1280 x 800 resolution. And as expected from a small device, it has a long battery life of more than 13 hours.
The ergonomic design of this laptop even allowed it to have the right ports such as two USB 2.0s, mini HDMI port, a headphone socket, a micro SD slot and most importantly a USB Type-C. The tablet also has two cameras a 2 MP front selfie camera and a 5MP rear. The keyboard is comfortable to type on and had decent travel, but the keys feel cramped. The trackpad is decent but not as smooth as those in more expensive models.
Aside from that, the Ideapad Miix 320 also has a bit of disadvantage. Much like other detachable budget laptops, it is only good for light-duty tasks and gaming is simply a no-no. The audio quality is lacking especially for bass sounds. Finally, the FHD screen has low brightness and very reflective.
Overall, this laptop is a great bargain if your high school student needs a laptop for basic schoolwork such as taking notes, grabbing a screenshot of the whiteboard and writing.
Display: 10.1-inch FHD touchscreen; 1920 x 1080 resolution
Processor: 1.44 GHz Intel Atom X5-Z8350
Graphics: integrated Intel HD Graphics
RAM: 4 GB DDR3
Storage: 128 GB eMMC
Battery Life: 13 hours
Weight: 2.2 pounds
- Compact and very portable
- Long battery life
- Has a USB-C port
- Affordable price
- Slow CPU performance
- Cramped keyboard
8. MSI GV62 8RE
Many high school kids are into gaming nowadays and they can be positive or negative depending on how much time they spend on it. Like it or not, your high school student may want a gaming laptop that doubles as his school workstation. While most gaming systems cost a small fortune, there are other budget alternatives out there such as the GV62 8RE. Sporting an elegantly hair-brushed black chassis, this laptop’s exterior is not as flashy as pricier gaming rigs. Inside though, is a capable machine that can do more than just run games.
At the thick of it all is a 2.3 GHz Intel Core i5 8300H 8th generation processor that can be turbo boosted up to 4.0 GHz mated with a dedicated Nvidia GTX 1060. This combination provides the backbone of this system that also allows it to handle multitasking and more complex tasks such as light video editing. Furthermore, it also has an 8GB of RAM and a bountiful 1 TB HDD plus 128 GB SSD storage. You get all these nifty components for a laptop that has the same price range as the Dell XPS and Huawei Matebook X Pro.
Don’t forget that it also has a 15.6-inch matte IPS full HD screen with 1920 x 1080 resolution. While it has a decent brightness at 240 nits, the color gamut is pretty disappointing at just 72 percent of the sRGB rating. According to independent testers, the system is pretty solid as you can play Rise of the Tomb Raider in very high settings at 36 frames per seconds (fps) which is above the playable threshold of 30 fps.
The keyboard is also comfortable to type on plus it has LED backlight. In contrast, the touchpad is quite troublesome to use. The audio quality is pretty good and captures the bass and treble sound perfectly. This gaming rig also has the essential ports such as RJ45, USB 3.1, Mini Display Port, separate mic and headphone inputs, SD memory reader, HDMI, and a USB 3.1 Type-C.
However, there are also quite a few negative traits on this laptop. While it remains cool even when gaming, the cooling fan inside tends to be loud at times. The bottom part of the lid is prone to flexing even with just a tiny bit of pressure. Finally, it only runs for an average of two hours when unplugged.
Overall, the GV62 8RE is a great entry-level gaming laptop that your high school student can also use primarily for school work. Just make sure they are disciplined and know how to manage their time before giving this to them.
Display: 15.6-inch matte IPS; 1920 x 1080 resolution
Processor: 2.3 GHz Intel Core i5 8300H
Graphics: Nvidia GeForce GTX 1060 with 3 GB memory
RAM: 8 GB DDR4
Storage: 1B HDD + 128 GB SSD
Battery Life: 2 hours
Weight: 5 pounds
- Simple yet sleek design
- Powerful CPU
- Backlit keyboard
- Bang for your buck
- Disappointing battery life
- Lid flexes