Student working on MacBook laptop

Top 5 best laptops and discounts for college students

Published Feb 14, 2023 - A laptop is one of the most essential pieces of equipment whether you’re in college, or graduate school. Finding one that fits your needs can be difficult. We’re here to help answer common questions to finding the best and most affordable discounted laptops for college students.

Where can students get laptop discounts?

Short answer: Back Market (duh). Students enrolled in higher or continuing education receive an extra $20 off on any purchase-us/student-discount (of $250 or more) on Back Market. That means a like-new laptop on Back Market can be up to 75% off brand new.

Professionally refurbished laptops are some of the best and most affordable laptops on the market. When laptops are professionally refurbished, they’ve been repaired, tested, and restored to perfect working condition. Refurbished electronics also do something that brand new electronics can’t: help keep toxic e-waste out of our landfills and lower our collective environmental footprint.

While you may be tempted to wait for a “back to school” sale to buy brand new, you won’t be able to beat the up to 70% off brand new prices Back Market has all year round. Additionally, these sales periods are often inflated by companies looking to disguise minimal discounts behind flashy campaigns.

“Laptops on Back Market are, on average, 30% to 70% less than buying new, so the extra $20 discount will help students score even bigger deals.”

How college students should choose a laptop

The right laptop for you depends on what you’re using it for — whether that’s for writing papers, editing movies, or streaming on Twitch.

Main use




Multiple Users

Computer type

Desktop PC / laptop

Laptop / Hybrid 2 in 1

Ultraportable / Laptop / Hybrid 2 in 1

Laptop / desktop / all-in-one

Graphics card type

High-end dedicated card

Integrated or low-end card

Integrated or low-end card

Mid-range dedicated card

Memory (minimum)

8 GB

4 GB

4 GB

4 GB

Storage type






At least 4 USBs

At least 2 USBs

At least 4 USBs

At least 4 USBs

Screen size

15.6"+/ 24"+

10 to 14"

11 to 15.6"

15.6"+ / 24"+

If you’re looking for a student laptop that lets you take notes, do research, and write papers (all while listening to music 😉), then here are the specs to prioritize: 

  • Look for a screen between 11 and 16 inches — not too small to limit your work, but not so large that it compromises your ability to take it from home to school. 

  • Find a laptop with a strong battery capacity — preferably one that will last all day.

  • Choose a comfortable keyboard, as you will spend a lot of time with it. 

  • Laptop memory and processor is also important — an Intel Core i3 with 4 GB of RAM is enough for most students, for example. 

  • If you have enough in your budget, look for a faster SSD type hard drive — 128 GB or 256 GB. 

These criteria are suitable for students who will use their laptops for taking notes, creating PowerPoint or Keynote presentations, researching and writing dissertations.

For computer science, architects, engineers or graphic design students (who may need heavier software), opt for a more powerful laptop:

  • Apple MacBook Pro

  • Asus ZenBook

  • Lenovo IdeaPads

When it comes to the technical specs, at the minimum look for laptops that have:

Now that you have the basics, let's get into the details to help find you the best laptops.

What are the best laptop features for college students?

If you were to walk onto any campus today, you’ll notice that students favor laptops that are versatile and extremely light (even if it’s slightly less efficient). Some students also prefer an ultraportable 2-in-1 hybrid PC or tablet, which can switch between tablet and laptop.

Regardless of what you decide, these are the key laptop features to think about when buying a laptop:


Even the lightest laptop starts to weigh heavy after a long day between classes and work. Some laptop models weigh less than 2.5 lbs, while others weigh more than 5 lbs. Compactness is key here, so try to find a model that is minimal in width, length, and thickness.

Battery life

This is the second most important criteria, because you don't want to be left without battery in the middle of the day or in the middle of class. Worst case scenario is your laptop dies before you have a chance to save your work! Laptop battery capacity options can vary, but try to find devices with up to 14 hours of battery life. With general use, that should get you through your day.


Finding a laptop with the highest processing power should not be your priority. Most processors can handle the simple daily routine of a student without any issue. Instead, opt for a low-power model for better battery life, such as an Intel Core i3 processor (or i5 if you still want a little more power). 


Random access memory, or RAM, is an important spec that will help your laptop run smoother and faster. The more you have, the faster your machine will be: opt for 4 GB minimum or 8 GB for even better performance. The last thing you want is to be lagging between apps in the middle of a lecture. 


If you can afford it, go for a computer with an SSD drive. It will be significantly faster and they are more energy efficient, meaning you’ll have even better battery life. 256 GB is plenty, especially if you have an external hard drive to store your files.


The screen is one of the elements on a laptop that consumes the most energy, so the smaller it is, the more battery efficient your laptop will be. Stay between 11 and 16 inches. A 14-inch or 15-inch screen is fine as well, but keep in mind that it will be slightly bigger and sometimes heavier to carry around in your bag.

The touch screen may also tempt you, but you should be sure that you’ll actually be using this feature. More times than not, you pay more for it, but find out that you naturally work without touching your screen at all.

Graphics card

No need to invest in a dedicated graphics card. The integrated cards (Intel) are completely sufficient for your display needs, unless you plan on gaming on campus.


Opt for a minimum of 4 USB or USB-C ports to connect your mouse and your external hard drive without worries. It never hurts to have a few extra options for any other devices that you need to connect as well.

Here's a popular video to help you decide on the best student laptop for your needs, but keep in mind that you'll likely find the laptop models listed in this video even cheaper on Back Market.

Top 5 laptop discounts for students

Now let’s get into our top picks on laptop deals that can save students some much-needed money.

1. Asus Chromebooks - ($50-$700 on Back Market + $20 student discount on purchases $250+)

Asus Chomebooks for students have all the goodies of a premium computer, at an affordable price. They have an aluminum chassis, an optional touchscreen and excellent performance. They are lightweight and make for easy transport. You can find great options on Back Market starting in the $100 range (and don’t forget to use that student promo code!).

2. Dell Latitude and Dell Inspiron - (Starting under $100 on Back Market + $20 student discount on purchases $250+) 

Dell student computers are versatile and include everything a student needs, offering great value. The Dell Latitude is a standard in many US classrooms, but if you want high-end, the Dell Inspiron is for you. With its neat design, excellent mobility and touch screen, it will not disappoint.


3. Acer Chomebooks - ($50-$800 on Back Market + $20 student discount on purchases $250+)

The Acer Chomebooks are cheap laptops that represent a return to basics. Word processors? Emails? Browsing J-Stor late at night in the library? The Acer Chromebook is perfect for less demanding uses. The only real downside is the screen. Compared to the others on this list, it’s mid-grade quality. 

If you like the brand, but want a mid-range alternative, take a look at the Acer Aspire instead; capable, light and of course, still affordable.

4. MacBooks - (Starting from mid $100’s on Back Market + $20 student discount on purchases $250+)

If you prefer Apple products, you should choose the MacBook Air over the MacBook Pro without skipping a beat. Sleek design, strong battery life, light and compact; it fulfills all the criteria (and more) for an ideal student computer. It also guarantees the security of your data thanks to Touch ID. MacBooks run on the Apple brand's operating system, MacOS.

>>Learn more about the Apple Student Discount

5. Microsoft Surface - (Starting from low $100’s on Back Market + $20 student discount on purchases $250+)

The Microsoft Surface Pro is the top choice for students. It is a 2-in-1 hybrid PC, which provides all the advantages of a laptop PC and a tablet. Lightweight, and compact, with a keyboard, it's perfect for commuting to campus or the coffee shop. If you don't have the budget for a Surface Pro, go for a Microsoft Surface Laptop.

Other honorable mentions:

If you can't find what you're looking for in this list, here are a few other models worth considering: 

Whatever your choice, the models listed in this article will not disappoint you — or your wallet, and the budget will not be an issue: the devices you’ll find on Back Market are 30% to 70% less expensive than buying new.