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Looking forward to the new school year? Believe it or not, it’s approaching fast. Get a head start on your back to school preparations by picking out the perfect laptop today. Here are 10 top choices to help you out.

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The smallest 13-inch laptop on the planet.

The award-winning Dell XPS 13 virtually eliminates display bezels and by doing so, manages to make a 13.3-inch laptop the size of an 11-inch model. Students will love the compact size and light weight, but even better is that with a 6th generation Core i5 CPU, 8GB of RAM, 128GB SSD and a Full HD InfinityEdge display, going small doesn’t come with a performance hit.

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Thin is always in.

The world’s thinnest laptop is actually thinner than some tablets and with premium materials, copper trim and expert craftsmanship, it has looks that are guaranteed to turn heads. The HP Spectre 13.3-inch laptop is also loaded for high performance including a powerful Intel Core i7 CPU, 8GB of RAM, a 256GB M.2 SSD and a beautiful Full HD BrightView WLED-backlit display. They’ll love the look, appreciate the light weight and thank you for the power to handle even the most demanding number crunching.

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Flip to share your work and your videos.

In a Best Buy exclusive, the famous ASUS ZenBook has evolved into a 2-in-1. Thin, light and affordable, the new ASUS ZenBook UX360 is an ultra-portable Windows laptop. Flip the display and it becomes a Windows 10 tablet. Flip it again into stand mode and use the Full HD 13.3-inch display to collaborate with a group, or as a portable entertainments centre streaming movies over its speedy 802.11ac Wi-Fi.

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360 degrees of versatility.

The HP Spectre x360 looks stunning from any angle, and students will be able to take advantage of each of its four modes: Tent mode for sharing, Stand mode for watching, Notebook mode for working, and Tablet mode for surfing. The HP Spectre x360 is available in multiple colours and configurations, including a 13.3-inch version and a 15.6-inch model. All HP x360 convertible laptops are equipped with premium components like Intel Core CPUs, SSDs and Radiance Full HD touchscreen displays.

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Budget-friendly prosumer 2-in-1

The Acer Aspire Switch Alpha 12 is the perfect choice for creative and business-minded students who want the advantages of a tablet they can use as a slate, and the productivity of a laptop. All in one ultralight package. The Switch Alpha 12 features a big, sharp, 12-inch QHD IPS touch display. Power is provided by an Intel Core i3 CPU, 4GB of RAM and a 128 GB SSD. You won’t miss a word of a lecture, because this 2-in-1 uses a fanless, liquid cooling system. And when it comes time to sit down and type out an essay, the magnetically attached keyboard cover is included, not an extra. Want to learn more about the Acer Aspire Switch Alpha 12? You can .

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The first and best professional tablet.

The Microsoft Surface Pro is big, powerful, runs Windows 10 and all your Windows software, goes for nine hours on a charge and includes the innovative Surface Pen stylus that makes the tablet ideal for taking notes, drawing or diagramming. Add a Type Cover and the built-in kickstand turns this cleverly designed tablet into a full-featured Windows laptop, complete with USB 3.0 and Mini DisplayPort expansion and the muscle of an Intel Skylake CPU. Now in its fourth generation, the Surface Pro 4 is a popular choice among students who need the power of laptop along with the creative options offered by the slate and stylus combination. I recently reviewed the Surface Pro 4 and you can read my thoughts on Microsoft’s latest tablet here.


For the student who lives to game.

When class is over for the day, it’s time to play. And with the Alienware 17.3-inch gaming laptop, the next epic match can take place anywhere. It’s powered by a quad-core Intel Core i7 CPU with 16GB of RAM, while an Nvidia GeForce GTX 980M graphic card with 4GB of dedicated video RAM drives the mammoth 17-inch, Full HD display. Enjoy ultrafast connectivity for online gaming no matter how you connect, with Gigabit Ethernet and 802.11ac Wi-Fi. With high tech carbon fibre construction and the unmistakable Alienware glowing logo, this laptop looks like it means business and plays to win.

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All study and no play? Not with this laptop.

ASUS promises the next generation of laptop gaming is coming soon to Best Buy with the awesome Republic of Gamers G752. This is a monster of a gaming laptop with a 6th generation Intel Core i7 CPU, a massive 17.3-inch Full HD anti-glare display and an Nvidia GeForce GTX 900M series video card that takes visuals to the next level with G-Sync technology. The ROG G752 is built to last through school and beyond graduation, with 4 DDR4 RAM slots offering future expansion up to 64GB, an innovative dust collection system and separate rear-vented cooling for the CPU and GPU, ensuring extended system life.

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Big laptop experience without blowing the budget.

The Dell Inspiron 5000 is proof that you can have a solid workhorse of a laptop without having to cut corners. Despite the affordable price, a 6th generation Intel Core i5 CPU and 8GB of RAM provide all the power you’ll need to run Windows 10 and applications like Microsoft Word. A big, 15.6-inch HD LED-backlit display means no squinting and with 1TB of storage on tap, there’s plenty of room for years’ worth of homework, plus music, movies, photos and everything else. Even connectivity is fully covered, with a built-in DVD drive, SD card slot, HDMI output, a lightning fast USB 3.0 port, Bluetooth 4.0 and the latest 802.11ac Wi-Fi. Your homework stays safe too, with Dell’s automated data back-up and recovery.

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A productivity powerhouse and mobile entertainment centre in one.

The 2-in-1 form factor is perfect for students, offering the flexibility to share information or deliver a presentation, a solid platform for viewing videos without a keyboard in the way and the ability to adopt a full-featured laptop for factor for schoolwork. The Dell Inspiron 7000 is a 2-in-1 laptop on a massive scale, with a 17.3-inch Full HD display that ensures everyone has a good view. When it’s time to work, a 6th generation Core i7 CPU, 12GB of RAM and a 1 TB hard drive make this laptop a productivity powerhouse. Connect the latest peripherals with a full range of ports including the new USB-C. And if a student wanted to sneak a little gaming in? 802.11ac Wi-Fi and an Nvidia GeForce 940MX graphics card with 2GB of RAM ensure a solid online gaming experience.

Brad Moon
Editor Computing solutions
I’m a long-time electronics and gadget geek who’s been fortunate enough to enjoy a career that lets me indulge this interest. I have been writing about technology for several decades for a wide range of outlets including Wired, Gizmodo, Lifehacker, MSN,, Kiplinger, and GeekDad. I’m in my 10th year as a senior contributor for Forbes with a focus on reviewing music-related tech, Apple gear, battery power stations and other consumer electronics. My day job is with the Malware Research Center at AI-native cybersecurity pioneer CrowdStrike.