/>
X

The 20 best back-to-school laptops

Schools starts in just a few weeks so you can't put off buying that laptop much longer. Here are 20 of the best available right now.
|
zd-defaultauthor-andy7718.jpg
|
Topic: Hardware
6273936.png
1 of 20 Andy Smith/ZDNet

You can't put it off much longer. College or high school starts in weeks and you or your kid needs a great machine to kick off the year in the right direction. Here's a gallery of the top 20 laptops that are available right now, according to CNET's Dan Ackerman. No clunkers allowed. They're listed from most expensive to cheapest to help you find the price you'd like to spend.

Toshiba Qosmio X775-3DV78 3D

Rating 79. Price $1,899 Those in the market to spend more than $1,000 and get a 3D-enabled, Blu-ray-equipped laptop with plenty of horsepower for games should strongly consider Toshiba's latest high-end Qosmio. It's not cheap or portable by any means, but it's certainly powerful. Read reviews.

For more blogs and galleries about getting ready for school, check out ZDNet's Back to School Special Reportand CNET's Back to School Buying Guide.

Prices listed are for comparison only. Most laptops can be customized which may greatly alter their price. Shop around and you'll probably be able to find a better deal. Reviews include up-to-date prices and shopping links.

6273937.png
2 of 20 Andy Smith/ZDNet

Samsung Series 9 NP900X3A (13-inch)

Rating 8.2. Price $1,649 The $1,649 Samsung Series 9 NP900X3A certainly won't be for every wallet, but this light, well-featured, and striking 13-incher is the closest the Windows world will ever come to a MacBook Air. However, its higher-than-the-Air price might be hard to stomach.Read reviews.

 

6273938.jpg
3 of 20 Andy Smith/ZDNet

Acer Aspire Ethos AS8951G

Rating 7.6. Price $1,599 The 18-inch Acer Aspire Ethos AS8951G is a huge multimedia powerhouse laptop with a unique removable touch-pad remote control. It's a clever idea, but one that might be ahead of its time. Read reviews.

6273939.png
4 of 20 Andy Smith/ZDNet

Apple MacBook Air (13-inch, Summer 2011)

Rating 9.3. Price $1,299 The latest version of the 13-inch MacBook Air vastly outperforms its predecessor, and can finally be called suitable for mainstream use, instead of relegated as a niche product. Read reviews.

6273940.png
5 of 20 Andy Smith/ZDNet

Apple MacBook Pro Winter 2011 (2.3GHz Core i5, 13-inch)

Rating 8.4. Price $1,199 The new entry-level $1,199 13-inch MacBook Pro's significant CPU updates and fantastic battery life are nearly as good as what you get in the more expensive $1,499 version. Read reviews.

6273941.jpg
6 of 20 Andy Smith/ZDNet

Alienware M11x (spring 2011)

Rating 8.2. Price, 1,099 Don't be fooled by its unchanged looks: the 2011 Alienware M11x makes big leaps forward in performance, graphics, and battery life, while keeping a reasonable price. Anyone looking for a portable gaming-ready laptop will have a hard time resisting the urge to pick one of these up. Read reviews.

6273942.jpg
7 of 20 Andy Smith/ZDNet

Apple MacBook Air (11-inch, Summer 2011)

Rating 9.3. Price $999 This year's 11-inch MacBook Air improves on last year's model in several significant ways and is by far the fastest ultraportable you're likely to find, though some users will consider the limited flash storage space to be a hindrance. Read reviews.

6273943.jpg
8 of 20 Andy Smith/ZDNet

HP Envy 14 (Summer 2011)

Rating 7.9. Price $999 A much-needed update to its internal components makes HP's Envy 14 one of the best high-end laptops for those looking for a PC with the flair of a MacBook. Read reviews.

6273944.png
9 of 20 Andy Smith/ZDNet

Toshiba Satellite E305-S1990

Rating 8.2. Price $999 The Best Buy-exclusive Toshiba Satellite E305-S1990X is a heck of a 14-inch laptop, offering a rock-solid combination of specs and design for a reasonable price. Read reviews.

6273945.jpg
10 of 20 Andy Smith/ZDNet

HP Pavilion dv6t-6000

Rating 7.5 Price $849 The HP Pavilion dv6t is a solid improvement on HP's previous 15-inch mainstream consumer laptop with numerous tweaks, bells, and whistles, but the wide variety of options means you'll get wildly different systems based on what you can afford. Read reviews.

6273946.png
11 of 20 Andy Smith/ZDNet

Lenovo ThinkPad Edge E220s

Rating 8.4. Price $819 Balancing between ultraportable and full-size laptop, the 12-inch ThinkPad Edge E220s offers an exceedingly compact computing experience matched by an upscale design, marred only by subpar battery life. Read reviews.

6273947.jpg
12 of 20 Andy Smith/ZDNet

Toshiba Portege R835-P56X

Rating 8.7 Price $799 With three more hours of battery life over last year's model, Toshiba's new R800 series of Portege laptops are hard to beat, even in the highly competitive 13-inch laptop category. Read reviews.

6273948.jpg
13 of 20 Andy Smith/ZDNet

Sony Vaio EB Series VPC-EB44FX/WI

Rating 7.0. Price $799 Sony's Vaio line of laptops, including the midpriced EB series, look great and include some high-end features--we just wish the CPU had been updated for the sake of better battery life. Read reviews.

6273949.jpg
14 of 20 Andy Smith/ZDNet

Acer Aspire TimelineX AS3830TG-6431

Rating 8.0 Price $779 The aggressively priced Acer Aspire TimelineX 3830TG-6431's combination of gaming-ready graphics and a fast processor in a 13-inch body offers a great punch for a good price, provided you can live without a DVD drive. Read reviews.

6273951.png
15 of 20 Andy Smith/ZDNet

Dell Inspiron 15R

Rating 7.6. Price $679 Dell's Inspiron 15R is an attractively priced budget consumer laptop with a welcome set of up-to-date features and design options, but beware of the cost of customizations. Read reviews.

6273950.jpg
16 of 20 Andy Smith/ZDNet

Toshiba Satellite L655-S5161

Rating 6.4 Price $619 Though not particularly inspiring, the basic 15-inch Toshiba Satellite L655 has a current-gen CPU and can be found for around $600, making it a worthwhile budget choice. Read reviews.

6273952.png
17 of 20 Andy Smith/ZDNet

Gateway NV51B05u

Rating 6.0. Price $469 Taking a CPU intended for an 11-inch ultraportable and sticking it in a midsize system can potentially be a recipe for disaster. Gateway's 15-inch AMD Fusion-based NV51B05u avoids any major problems, but it could be better. Read reviews.

6273953.jpg
18 of 20 Andy Smith/ZDNet

HP Pavilion dm1z

Rating 7.7. Price $450 The first laptop to offer AMD's power-efficient Fusion platform delivers on much of its promise, combining great battery life, decent performance, and basic graphics for less than $500. Read reviews.

6273954.jpg
19 of 20 Andy Smith/ZDNet

Asus Eee PC 1215B

Rating 7.7. Price $449 Asus updates the Eee PC line with AMD's excellent ultraportable CPU, making for a powerful, portable package, but the field is getting crowded in this category. Read reviews.

6273955.png
20 of 20 Andy Smith/ZDNet

Acer Aspire One 722-BZ608

Rating 8.1. Price $397 The Acer Aspire One 722-BZ608 is a budget-priced 11-inch laptop that's more powerful than a Netbook, but not as fast as some higher-priced 11-inch alternatives. Better options are out there for a little more money. Read reviews.

Related Galleries

Apple 16-inch MacBook Pro, Microsoft Surface Go 3, Huawei MateBook 14s, and more: ZDNet's reviews roundup
linksys-velop-wifi-6-ax4200-card.jpg

Related Galleries

Apple 16-inch MacBook Pro, Microsoft Surface Go 3, Huawei MateBook 14s, and more: ZDNet's reviews roundup

DJI Mavic 3 in flight
Superb aerial camera platform

Related Galleries

DJI Mavic 3 in flight

Satechi Dock5 Multi-Device Charging Station
Satechi Dock5

Related Galleries

Satechi Dock5 Multi-Device Charging Station

Satechi USB-C Hybrid Multiport adaptor
Satechi USB-C Hybrid Multiport adaptor

Related Galleries

Satechi USB-C Hybrid Multiport adaptor

DJI Mavic 3: Unboxing and first look
DJI Mavic 3 with controller

Related Galleries

DJI Mavic 3: Unboxing and first look

Yubikey Security Key C NFC
Security Key C NFC

Related Galleries

Yubikey Security Key C NFC

First look: 16-inch M1 Pro MacBook Pro
It's here!

Related Galleries

First look: 16-inch M1 Pro MacBook Pro