Tech

Best student laptops in Australia

Image: Dreamstime: Psisaa

School’s back and university is set to soon follow. And while the inevitable list of things you’ll need to ace your next study year most likely includes a laptop you already own, there’s a good reason why you should consider an upgrade.

That’s because the New Year coincides with the announcement of a new generation of laptops. This year it’s Intel 12th-generation and AMD Ryzen 7000 processors that promise to bedazzle us with their power and efficiency improvements.

Admittedly, if you’re a student, these new laptops might be a little beyond your budget – if it’s any consolation, they’re most likely going to be beyond a lot of working people’s budgets too. But their very announcement does mean one good thing: Last year’s laptops with nearly as good specs may now be within your price range.

Landing one of these could go a long way to making your study easier, faster and more productive. Here are our top suggestions from that bunch.

Huawei Matebook X Pro

Huawei

Best prices today: AU$2,399 at MobileCiti, Centre Com and Huawei

The 13.9-inch Matebook X Pro is only 14.6 mm thin and weighs 1.33kg, so is ideal for carrying in your swag or satchel to and from school or university. Portable though it is, under the hood it sports an Intel 11th-generation i7 processor. For that reason, this laptop is perfect if you frequently use programs that require a little oomph, like Adobe InDesign. While you can find Intel i7s (like the Dynabook Satellite Pro below) for a lot less, the Matebook X Pro shines in the display department with its 3K resolution and ultra slim bezels that should make its video playback extra crisp. Just months ago this laptop was priced at AU$2999, so its current price is a savings of AU$600.

Dynabook Satellite Pro C40-J (C40-J-00Y00J)

Dynabook

Best prices today: AU$1,602 at Mwave | AU$1,699 at Scorptec

This 14-inch laptop comes in a hardware configuration ideal for your study day. While it’s a little heavier than some 14-inch laptops at 1.49kg, it’s also likely to be a little sturdier on your desk. It sports an Intel 11th-generation i7 processor, 8GB RAM and Full High-Definition IPS grade non-reflective display, the latter of which could come in very handy in glary classroom environments. The Satellite Pro C40-J has a range of useful connectivity options. It’s both Wi-Fi 6 and Bluetooth 5.0 compatible, and also comes with a multi-functional USB Type-C port, full-sized HDMI port, a Gigabit-Lan port and microSD card slot.

Acer Swift 3 Evo (SF314-511-56QF)

Acer

Best prices today: AU$898 at Harvey Norman

With an 11th-generation Intel i5 processor, 8GB RAM, 512GD internal storage and Full High-definition display, the Acer Swift 3 Evo has the functionality to tackle lightweight tasks in a study environment. These features alone don’t set it apart but one thing that does stand out is the Swift 3 Evo’s weight of just 1.2kg, that makes it one of the most portable 14-inch options you can buy. The Acer Swift 3 Evo also comes with a backlit keyboard, which will enhance visibility of your keyboard when studying at night, or in low light conditions.

Surface Go 3

Microsoft

Best prices today: Prices Start from AU$629 at Microsoft

The Surface Go 3’s small 10.9-inch tablet display means it’s not ideally suited to long study sessions or tasks where a bigger display would be useful, like cross referencing multiple browser windows. However, for school kids especially, it’s ideally-sized and versatile for school study and after school entertainment. In our review, we thought the Surface Go 3 would be especially useful for travelling on trains or buses where space is already tight. We also thought it had a decent keyboard, audio and webcam. It features the full Windows 11 OS, a rarity in desktop tablets. Read our review of the Surface Go 3.

Acer Swift X (‎SFX14-41G-R1S6)

Acer

Best prices today: AU$1,965.39 at Amazon

If buying one laptop for study and then another to game on seems overkill, this 14-inch laptop is one of the most affordable options that will allow you to do both – and do them well. The Acer Swift X is actually a gaming rig, sporting an 8-core, 16-thread AMD Ryzen 7 5800U processor and a dedicated Nvidia GeForce RTX 3050 Ti graphics card. These features and 16GB RAM means it will not only power through any work you’ll need it for, but it’ll also tackle AAA games with gusto. Read our review of the Acer Swift X.

LG Gram 17 2021 (17Z90P)

LG

Best prices today: AU$2,999 at Amazon

While the LG Gram 17 is a business laptop, it’s suitability for study is undeniable. It features a gorgeous 17-inch WQXGA display with 2560 x 1600 pixel resolution that offers plenty of visual real estate for watching videos or working in Microsoft Office apps. Yet it’s incredibly lightweight for a 17-inch laptop, weighing just 1.35kg. It also has a long battery life that will kick on for nearly 13 hours (even playing a 4K video continuously). But all this doesn’t come at the expense of the kind of power you need in a lightweight study companion; the Gram 17 we tested featured an Intel i7 processor. Read our review of the LG Gram 17 (2021).

What should I consider when buying a study laptop?

While there are many factors to consider when buying new laptops, three main factors jump out as being especially important for students. They are; portability, connectivity and battery life.

Portability

Having a small, lightweight laptop is preferable when running around a campus or school yard with a bag full of studying aids. For ultimate portability, laptops with display sizes measuring 11, 13 or 14-inches and weighing 1.5kg or under, are simply the best, allowing you to squeeze them effortlessly into your bag or satchel and carry them without breaking your back. The one exception to this rule is the LG Gram 17, which is a remarkably light and capable 17-inch laptop that weighs just 1.35g.

Dreamstime: Viktoriia Kotliarchuk

Connectivity

Good connectivity means being able to connect to the fastest Wi-Fi, or Wi-Fi enabled devices quickly and effectively. For this, a laptop that supports Wi-Fi 6 and Bluetooth 5, is ideal in today’s world. You should also ensure that your study laptop has an array of ports, preferably more than one USB Type-C port, and a HDMI port for compressing digital and visual data. This last port is especially useful if you plan on giving presentations.

Battery power

Finding a laptop that can last the length of a long day’s study session is harder than it looks. There can be a big difference between what the manufacturer claims and how long a laptop actually lasts, so as as a general rule go for one that states the longest battery life you can find in the product description.

Battery life can also vary depending on what you’re using your laptop for. For example, watching videos will usually drain the battery much faster than say, typing in a word processor, so it pays to be aware of that before you buy and try to find a laptop that fits your requirements.

Dreamstime: Pannarai Nak-im

It’s not uncommon for laptops made for work or study to last 13 hours or more, so we recommend a laptop that lasts no less than 10 hours between charges. Reading reviews is a good way to get an indication of how long a laptop is likely to last. Most reviewers will put laptop batteries through their paces with specialised testing that can give you a more realistic picture of what to expect.

What about things like processing power, storage and RAM, you say? If you feel up to it, and want to do a little more research, our in-depth guide to choosing a laptop will guide you through those nitty gritty details to  maximise your decision making. 

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