Best laptops for teens 2019
Whether your teenager wants to be the next Fortnite pro gamer, trending Tiktok star or social media influencer—or, more likely, just wants to get good grades—the best laptops geared towards “kids” may not fit the bill.
Some attributes we’d recommended for a quality kid-tiered device—portability, affordability and versatility—still definitely apply as your adolescents move from middle to high school. But picking something for its durability, limited features or parental restrictions will sit with your teen about as well as forcing them to keep using training wheels on a bike.
Just as teenage years are a transitional period towards adulthood, our picks for best laptops for teens focus on striking a balanced middle ground: between portability and power, core performance and flashy features, and a price tag somewhere between cheap and extravagant.
At first glance, Chromebooks offer a great solution for young students. They’re lightweight, affordable and secure, with enough battery life to get through the school day. On the other hand, the restriction to Chrome OS or Android apps and a generally low processing power means they’ll sometimes have to rely on inferior software or streaming from another PC for more intensive activities like photo/video editing or 3D modeling.
On the opposite end of the spectrum, your teen may clamor for a gaming or premier laptop that provides enough power for homework and play. Yet even if you’re okay with a higher price tag, a thick, heavy brick with a battery that’ll barely last through a lunch break may not be practical.
For striking a middle ground, it’s difficult to go wrong with a 2-in-1 laptop. These tablet-laptop hybrids work perfectly as a portable option to whip out in class or on lunch tables, while ensuring your teen won’t beg for an iPad for Christmas. Plus, depending on your budget, these hybrids can punch well above their weight class in power.
With Black Friday coming up quickly, but the school season well underway, your teen may be an excellent source on what they’d like in a replacement laptop: what apps they use most and just how much power they need. With that information in hand, here are the best options for each category of laptop that we think best fits your teen’s needs and your budget.
Acer Chromebook 15
CPU: Intel Pentium N4200 | Graphics: Intel HD Graphics 505 | RAM: 4GB | Screen: 15.6-inch, FHD (1,920 x 1,080) | Storage: 32GB eMMC
+ Incredibly affordable
+ 17-hour battery life
– Not a 2-in-1 laptop
– Very low-powered
The best option for a teen that needs to buy their own laptop with allowance or minimum wage money, the Acer Chromebook 15 has so much going for it considering its sub-$200 asking price: a 15-inch touchscreen, 17 hours of battery life and a fanless design. Still, for that price you have to accept a FHD screen, no tablet mode, a 4+ pound chassis and slow processing speed for anything not handled by the cloud. It can’t support anything intensive, but it’s certainly a handy option for taking notes with no distractions.
Read the full review: Acer Chromebook 15 review
Asus Chromebook Flip
CPU: Intel Pentium – Core m7 | Graphics: Intel HD Graphics 510 – 515 | RAM: 4GB – 8GB | Screen: 12.5-inch FHD (1,920 x 1,080) LED backlit anti-glare display | Storage: 32GB – 128GB eMMC
+ Tablet mode
+ Tactile keyboard
– Lightweight performance
– Restricted to Chrome and Android apps
Weighing just 2.6 pounds, this laptop-tablet hybrid offers your young student double-digit battery life and (for a Chromebook) powerful performance, while weighing less than most textbooks. Your student will have access to all Chrome OS and Google Play apps, which makes this excellent for casual productivity but not necessarily built for more intensive programs (Photoshop Express, but not Photoshop). For an affordable price doubtless made even cheaper by holiday deals, though, you won’t find a better option.
Read the full review: ASUS Chromebook Flip review
CPU: 1.6GHz Intel Core i5-8210Y | Graphics: Intel UHD Graphics 617 | RAM: 8GB | Screen: 13.3-inch, 2,560 x 1,600 Retina True Tone display | Storage: 256GB PCIe SSD
+ High-resolution screen
+ Impressive battery
– Expensive to upgrade
The Macbook Air features the perks of most Apple products: a reliable, intuitive OS, a beautiful retina screen, and a beautiful design. Add to that the 2.75-pound weight, 10-hour battery and most affordable price tag for any Mac, you can almost forgive that the “optional” upgrades to storage and memory bloat the price well away from affordable for a machine with only a dual-core CPU. But find a good deal on the Air, and your teen can easily run more intensive multimedia apps with it than with other PCs on this list.
Read the full review: Apple Macbook Air (2019) review
Huawei Matebook 13
CPU: 8th-generation Intel Core i5 – i7 | Graphics: Intel UHD Graphics 620, Nvidia GeForce MX150 (optional) | RAM: 8GB | Screen: 13.3-inch 2K (2,560 x 1,440) with touch panel | Storage: 256GB – 512GB SSD
+ Powerful CPU
+ Lightweight, refined design
– Expensive upgraded model
– Discrete graphics can’t support games
Huawei’s flagship laptop offers everything a student needs for a fair price. Thinner but slightly heavier than a Macbook Air, the Matebook 13 sports a lesser 8-hour battery life but excels with a 1440p touchscreen with 100% sRGB color and (for the pricier model) an i7 quad-core that runs laps around the Air’s i5. Unfortunately, as with the Air, your teen won’t get much use from the MateBook for playing PC games that require any GPU juice.
Read the full review: Huawei MateBook 13 Review
Microsoft Surface Book 2 (13-inch)
CPU: Intel Core i5 – i7 | Graphics: Intel HD Graphics 620 – Nvidia GeForce GTX 1060 (6GB GDDR5) | RAM: 8GB – 16GB | Screen: 13.5” PixelSense display | Storage: 256GB – 1TB SSD
+ Powerful but silent
+ Seamless tablet mode
– No surface pen included
With the Surface Book 3 supposedly due to be announced soon, now is an excellent time to snatch a deal on the superlative Surface Book 2. In laptop mode, the quad-core and dedicated graphics offer more than enough power for any student project, and the idiot-proof OS warns your teen to save their work before detaching to low-powered tablet mode. If your teen expects to use their laptop for gaming, the Book 2’s low memory will thwart this, which parents might see as a positive.
Read the full review: Microsoft Surface Book 2 (13-inch) review
HP Spectre x360 15T
CPU: Intel Core i7 | Graphics: Nvidia GeForce GTX 1050 Ti | RAM: 8GB – 16GB | Screen: 15.6-inch UHD (3,160 x 2,140) LCD touchscreen | Storage: 256GB SSD – 2TB SSD
+ 4K touch display
+ Impeccable performance
– Runs hot
Now we’ve reached the devices where you pay top dollar for quality. Your teen will get an exceptional 2-in-1 device that will have no trouble running productivity and media editing apps like the Adobe Creative Suite—with the added perk of tweaking projects with touchscreen controls on a 4K screen. It can even handle recent AAA games at modest graphical settings, though the improved tech brings this model to nearly five pounds. Plus, the Gorilla Glass screen ensures that it will survive whatever rough treatment your teen puts it through.
Read the full review: HP Spectre x360 15T review
Razer Blade Stealth 13
CPU: Quad-Core 8th Gen Intel Core i7 | Graphics: NVIDIA GeForce MX150 (25W) 4GB GDDR5 | RAM: 16GB dual-channel | Screen: 13.3-inch 1080p IPS | Storage: 256GB NVMe SSD
+ 3 lb., 0.6-inch chassis
+ 4K touch screen with 100% color gamut
– Less powerful than most gaming laptops
Your teen may clamor for a gaming laptop, but a heavy, expensive, fan-blasting brick with a flashy logo won’t fit their needs. The Razer Blade Stealth 13 falls behind most of its competitors on this list in price, but it impresses with its 4K touch display, respectable 7 hours of battery life and capacity to handle handle heavy-duty programs beyond AAA games. With a “stealthy” design and subtle logo, it’s less likely to tick off a teacher than any other gaming-oriented laptop.
Read the full review: Razer Blade Stealth 13 review