Back To School Buying Guide 2022: Laptops

This discussion has a more recent version.
edited September 2022 in Reviews & Buying Guides

Written by Ben Hill

School is right around the corner, which means it’s time for our 2022 Back to School Laptop Buying Guide!

When it comes to student laptops, there are more options than ever to fit every student’s goals and budget. Different types of student laptops are great for gaming, creative work, general school use, and portability since access to power is not always available around school or campus.

Photo by @phil_lost_zephyr_

In this guide, we recommend laptops for many types of uses and budgets. Read on to discover which student laptop is the best fit for you in 2022!

The Best Student Laptops in 2022

All Around Laptop - Apple MacBook Air M1 (and the Brand-New Apple MacBook Air M2!)

The Apple MacBook Air M1 is one of the best all-around laptops for students in 2022. The MacBook Air’s M1 processor provides excellent performance and long battery life. When it comes to ultrathin laptops, you’ll be hard pressed to find a better one than the MacBook Air M1. 

When we say long battery life, we meant it as the MacBook Air is capable of an astonishing 14.5 hours of continuous, cordless performance. Additionally, its worth noting that the MacBook Air is super quiet since it doesn’t have a fan. The MacBook Air M1 is also great for portability as it’s only 0.6 inches thick and 2.8 pounds.

if you're looking to get the latest tech for this back-to-school season, Apple also just released the new MacBook Air with an M2 SOC, and you can read all about what that means for Macs right over here.

Premium Laptop - Dell XPS 13

For college and graduate students seeking a top-of-the-line model, the Dell XPS 13 is the best premium laptop available for 2022. This laptop is extremely powerful and has a meticulously well-crafted exterior. The Dell XPS 13 boasts the latest 11th generation Intel processors and up to 16GB of RAM, which means students are more than prepared to enjoy those movies with friends and putting together those group presentations. Moreover, the 13.4-inch display has very thin bezels and has the ability to ramp up to 4K resolution or even 3.5K OLED, which is sure to impress even the most serious film aficionados in your crowd.

Windows Laptop - HP Envy 13

If your students grew up using Windows PCs and want to stick with the Windows they are familiar with, the HP Envy 13 is a stellar option. This laptop offers a sleek aluminum exterior and a smaller design, which makes it super convenient for sliding it into a bag or backpack to take to class or a favorite study spot.

Plus, the keyboard is extremely comfortable to type with and is also quiet so you don’t disturb other students nearby in the lecture hall or library. Students also enjoy the 1080p touchscreen that is bright and clear. Despite its slim design, full-size USB ports abound, but there is no HDMI port.

2-in-1 Laptop - HP Envy x360

The HP Envy x360 is a killer 2-in-1 laptop for students. Even though the Envy x360 doesn’t include a stylus, students still enjoy the option of flipping this laptop into tablet or tent mode. The HP Envy x360 offers great value for students thanks to its strong AMD Ryzen processor and its aluminum design. Additionally, the Envy x360 has an extremely clear and vivid 13.3-inch display and a user-friendly keyboard for students needing to crank out those papers and presentations.

High-End Laptop for Creatives - Apple MacBook Pro M1

For college students pursuing serious creative work such as graphic design or art production, the Apple MacBook Pro M1 is the best high-end laptop on the market for creatives. Its M1 processor is head and shoulders above most other creative laptop CPUs and its battery life can sustain an incredible 16-plus hours during normal student use going from class to studio and back across campus.

Don’t let the looks of its super slim and sleek exterior fool you. The MacBook Pro is dually powerful thanks to its integrated M1 GPU for image processing. Moreover, thanks to Apple’s ARM-based architecture, iPad and iPhone apps are available on your student’s MacBook Pro M1. This means your creative student will enjoy running all of their creative iOS games and apps on their laptop!

Overall Value Laptop - Acer Swift 3

With rising tuition costs, college students are on increasingly tight budgets heading into this fall. As a result, many students are looking for maximum value from their laptops. Enter the Acer Swift 3 as a great overall value laptop in our roundup.

The Acer Swift 3 offers an incredibly high level of performance for the cost. Thanks to its powerful AMD Ryzen 7 4700U CPU and amazingly long battery life of 11 hours, the Acer Swift 3 is capable of handling some of the most demanding college computing needs at an incredibly affordable price. Plus, don’t let its lightweight design fool you. The Acer Swift 3 boasts many ports including USB-A, USB Type-C, and even HDMI for those graduate-level presentations. Moreover, this laptop’s quiet yet responsive keyboard is excellent for typing those long papers.

Chromebook - Acer Chromebook 315

The Acer Chromebook 315 provides students with an expansive 15.6-inch screen that offers rich, clear displays, as well as long battery life. For these reasons, coupled with its extremely economical price tag, the Acer Chromebook 315 is a great Chromebook for students heading back to school this fall.

Thanks to the efficient Chrome OS, the Acer Chromebook 315 gives students a highly responsive and fast user experience. Moreover, the Acer Chromebook 315 offers students access to Google’s comprehensive set of applications including Gmail, Google Docs, Drive, Sheets, and much more. On the whole, this Chromebook meets the most important computing needs of students returning to the classroom.

Value 2-in-1 Laptop - Microsoft Surface Go 2  

Back-to-school students who prefer the flexibility of 2-in-1 designs should seriously consider the Microsoft Surface Go 2 for its long battery life and portability as they go from one class to the next. The Surface Go 2 has much thinner bezels giving students more screen space and a more modern exterior aesthetic.

When it comes to bang for your buck and portability, the Surface Go 2 is a top choice and for good reason. Battery life is estimated at well over 11 hours, which represents an amazing value considering its budget-friendly price tag. Moreover, students enjoy a 5-megapixel 1080p webcam for video conferencing in this age of online learning. Additionally, students get the convenience of the Windows Hello biometric login for unlocking their 2-in-1 and the speed of the Surface Go 2 only gets better once logged in as students benefit from the 8th Gen Intel Core i3 CPU. This level of power means students can indeed enjoy their music as they work through digital materials for the classroom.

Value Gaming Laptop - Lenovo's Legion 5 Pro 

In the Lenovo Legion 5 Pro we see a most unlikely duo as AMD and NVIDIA team up to provide student gamers with an awesome gaming laptop that offer tremendous value. When you combine the crisp, clear graphics of the NVIDIA GeForce RTX 3070 GPU with the robust processing power of the AMD Ryzen 7 5800 CPU, back to school gamers get the experience they crave as they enjoy Ultra graphics settings on the latest AAA titles.

It's true, the Lenovo Legion 5 Pro may not have the sleekest design, but it more than compensates for this with its beautiful 16-inch QHD display, premium keyboard, and powerful performance. Moreover, for students who forgot their power cords, not to worry as the Legion 5 Pro offers better-than-average battery life for gamers on the run!

2-in-1 Laptop for Creatives - Microsoft Surface Laptop Studio 

Once of the best kept secrets in the 2-in-1 category of laptops is the unique hinge that allows the Microsoft Surface Laptop Studio’s display to be pulled forward and adjusted to different modes. This versatile design is a vast improvement over the detachable lid of the Microsoft Surface Book and the detachable keyboard of the Surface Pro 8.

One of the most positive implications of this unique 2-in-1 design is that it can easily transform into a digital drawing board without sacrificing the standard laptop mode. This remarkable versatility coupled with outstanding performance makes the Microsoft Surface Laptop Studio a fantastic 2-in-1 laptop for creative students heading back to school. As an added bonus, creative students will enjoy a 1080p webcam and surprisingly powerful speakers as they work on their next creative masterpiece at school.

More from the Micro Center Community:

Looking for more information about Building a PC? We’ve got PC Build Guides as well as articles on How to Choose Parts for your Custom PC Build, Product Reviews, Part Comparisons, and even The Ultimate Guide to Buying a Gaming Laptop! And if you can’t find what you’re looking for, don’t hesitate to post a new discussion and the Community will be happy to help!


  • ChaosDTV
    ChaosDTV ✭✭✭
    First Anniversary 5 Awesomes 5 Likes First Comment

    i like this list cause it gives me options for when i want to grab a laptop for editing/work later down the line

  • ronwoodson
    ronwoodson Store Associate
    5 Awesomes First Answer 5 Likes First Anniversary

    One thing to consider for students who will carry and use their laptops throughout the school day is weight, speed and power. That's why I recommend laptops with Intel Evo inside. Intel Evo is specifically made for ultra books that prioritize on the go productivity. The instant wake from a hibernation or sleep state in very beneficial to a student who doesn't want to wait for there computer to be ready to use.

  • microfixit


    Will a Windows 11 computer support an XP hard drive?

    Both are SATA and will physically fit.

    I anticipate having to shut down Windows 11 and restart with the XP hard drive selected to use it.

    Years ago, I used to have to do that when I had a Windows 98 hard drive in an XP computer.

    Shutting down to use the other hard drive is not a problem.

    Thank you.

Leave a Comment

Rich Text Editor. To edit a paragraph's style, hit tab to get to the paragraph menu. From there you will be able to pick one style. Nothing defaults to paragraph. An inline formatting menu will show up when you select text. Hit tab to get into that menu. Some elements, such as rich link embeds, images, loading indicators, and error messages may get inserted into the editor. You may navigate to these using the arrow keys inside of the editor and delete them with the delete or backspace key.

We love seeing what our customers build

Submit photos and a description of your PC to our build showcase

Submit Now
Looking for a little inspiration?

See other custom PC builds and get some ideas for what can be done

View Build Showcase


If You Can Dream it, We Can Build it.

Services starting at $149.99