The Best Back-to-School Laptops for Your Kids

With students back in school, there’s a lot to replace or buy – from new shoes, uniforms, bags, to books, tablets or laptops. If you are out, laptop-hunting for your kid, then read this. 

Laptops have become a portal to the outside world for most children, and a tool that they depend on to fulfill many of their basic needs. They are part of the curriculum for virtually every age group and familiarity with a laptop can be a real advantage.

Finding the best laptop for kids presents some unique challenges due to their less careful handling of the laptop and at least initially fairly basic needs. That’s why we weigh durability a little more heavily than for most and ideally, it won’t be too expensive in case anything happens to it. For slightly older children or those that are abundantly careful, those are less relevant, so we aren’t eliminating all laptops that don’t fit those criteria.

It’s easy to pick the cheapest kid-friendly laptop and call it a day, but you might end up with something that won’t do everything your kid needs it to, from online classes to gaming post studying. If you’re on a limited budget, maybe one under $500 will do the trick. You just have to make sure that it’s powerful enough to handle the software they need as well as their school projects and assignments. Additionally, it needs to have enough battery life to get through a school day without needing to be charged and be able to take a bump or two.

There are a variety of options out there; our team have rounded up and reviewed the top laptops for kids to help you make the most-informed decision when purchasing. But first, let’s see some of the things to consider before picking a laptop for your kid.

Determining the Best Operating System  

Before you begin to evaluate features, you’ll start with the essential question that has plagued PC shoppers for decades: Which operating system should I choose?

This is not to compare Mac and Windows. The MacBook Air, Apple’s least-expensive notebook, starts at $999 and is still overkill for an elementary- or middle-school student. If you’re an Apple fan and want to raise your son or daughter to be one too, you’re best off giving them a hand-me-down and buying a new MacBook or MacBook Pro for yourself.

Most parents will choose between Windows 10 and Chrome OS, the operating system from Google. In addition to running web apps within the Chrome browser, Chrome OS can also run apps from the Google Play store designed for Android smartphones and tablets, including Microsoft Office.  

Windows 10 has also become more useful as an operating system for kid-oriented laptops thanks to the Windows 10 S Mode, which is aimed at the education market and, among other security enhancements, prevents apps from being installed unless they’re available on the Microsoft Store. This means you’ve got the ability to block games and apps based on their content ratings (something you can also do with Google Play apps). When your child gets older and more responsible, you can easily upgrade to the full version of Windows 10 to remove these limitations. Windows 10 S isn’t the norm, by any means, but you may see it as an operating system option as you scope out laptops in this class.

If your child’s school has specific software that runs only on Windows, your operating system choice will be decided for you. If not, you’ll want to take a close look at Chrome OS, since a few Chromebooks include decidedly kid-friendly features (such as easy-grip coatings, or display lids that double as whiteboards). Again, check out the Chromebooks-for-kids story referenced earlier for more on the specifics around this OS.

Assessing Ruggedness and Portability

Unique features like these are what transforms an ordinary cheap laptop into a school-friendly machine that kids won’t outgrow or destroy in a few months. Arguably the most important is how rugged the case is.

A few Chromebooks and inexpensive Windows laptops have spill-resistant keyboards, which means that they should survive splashing with an ounce or so of water unscathed. It’s much rarer to find entire laptops that are waterproof; the rugged ones that are (models like Panasonic’s Toughbook line or Dell’s Latitude Rugged Extremes) typically cost several thousand dollars and aren’t geared toward kids at all, but rather workers in outdoors or shop-floor professions. Likewise, it’s relatively easy to find reinforced lids or cases made of rubber to help absorb drops from a few feet, but you just won’t find fully ruggedized machines anywhere close to this price range.

Portability is another key concern, especially for middle- and high-schoolers who walk to school with backpacks laden with heavy textbooks. Most laptops in this category with screen sizes from 11 inches to 13 inches weigh about 2.5 pounds (1.13kg). Go above 3 pounds (1.3kg), and you’re putting a real burden on your child’s shoulders.

Battery life is important, too, but it’s no longer the limiting factor that rendered the laptops of a decade ago useless if they spent more than a few hours away from a power outlet.  

Evaluating the Specs  

The final consideration is how your kids will use the laptop, which in turn determines the processor, storage, and memory configurations you should select. Tasks such as taking notes, writing papers, or making PowerPoint slides require little more than the bare minimum, which means that an Intel Celeron or Pentium processor will suffice; a few budget Chromebook models now also use AMD or MediaTek mobile processors. These collectively are the lowest performance tier in budget laptops. (The exception to that: AMD’s Ryzen C series chips, much peppier AMD processors that are purpose-built for Chromebooks.)

The next step up is an Intel Core i3, which you should consider if your kid’s teachers regularly have them stream online educational videos. An Intel Core i5 or i7 is all but impossible to find on a laptop or Chromebook that costs about $300.

If you opt for a more powerful processor so your kids can stream videos, you might also want to consider a 2-in-1 convertible or detachable laptop, which can double as a tablet thanks to a hinge that rotates 360 degrees, or a screen that detaches completely from the keyboard base. These are best for middle-school-age children or older, since these machines are by nature less durable than a conventional laptop.

As for memory and storage, a common minimal configuration is 4GB of RAM and 64GB of flash memory. The former (memory) amount is adequate in a budget Chromebook but skimpy in a Windows 10 machine; 8GB is really the best baseline for anything running Windows. You’ll definitely want to consider bumping up the storage capacity to 128GB, since the operating system files on a Windows 10 PC can take up more than 20GB, leaving your kid with a paltry 40GB or so of built-in storage.

Fun Times – Graphics and Games Capacity

Just because you’re selecting from among relatively slow processors and limited memory capacities doesn’t mean that gaming is out of the question when your kid is done with his or her schoolwork. Some games are, of course, even educational. For instance, Microsoft has an education version of its immensely popular open-world construction game Minecraft. Students can use it to explore real-world history like the Oregon Trail, solving math problems as they begin to understand how long and challenging the trail was, researching fur-trading companies to learn about the economic concepts of monopolies and supply and demand, and more.

Minecraft and other similar games will run on Core i3 systems with as little as 4GB of RAM, but if your kid is looking forward to playing them, you’ll make the experience much more enjoyable by selecting a laptop with 8GB. If your child is planning on doing more intense gaming, you’ll need to step up the power and the price to a full-fledged gaming laptop or gaming desktop. These are laptops with a dedicated graphics chip, which will be dubbed GeForce GTX, GeForce RTX, or Radeon RX.

Budget

There are many laptops for kids that are reasonably priced these days, but the fancier you get with more special features, the more it will cost. A laptop is an investment that will typically last around three years, but that doesn’t mean you need to break the bank – especially if you are purchasing multiple laptops to accommodate the needs of more than one child.

Choosing the Best Laptop for Your Child

We have rounded up our top picks for laptops designed for school-age kids below.  Check them out in order to select the best that suits your child or budget.

Lenovo Chromebook Duet – Best Rated Laptop for Classroom Augmented Reality and Digital Sketching

The Good
Long lasting battery
Tablet and laptop form factors
Colourful display
Ultraportable
Affordable
Handy tablet gestures and Android phone integration
Decent cameras

The Bad
Crampedkeyboard
Tepid performance
Only one USB port and no headphone jack
No memory card slot

Price: From $269.99

Rating: 9/10

Key Specs

ClassConvertible 2-in-1, Chromebook
PrecessorMediaTek Helio P60T
Speed2 GHz
RAM4 GB
Boot Drive TypeeMMC Flash Memory
Boot Drive Capacity128 GB
Screen Size10.1 inches
Native Display Resolution1920 by 1200
TouchscreenYes
Panel TechnologyIPS
Variable Refresh SupportNone
Screen Refresh Rate60 Hz
Graphics ProcessorARM G72 MP3
Wireless NetworkingBluetooth, 802.11ac
Dimensions (HWD)0.29 by 9.4 by 6.3 inches
Weight 0.92kg
Operating SystemGoogle Chrome OS
Battery Life (Hours: Minutes)13:48

The Lenovo Chromebook Duet is an excellent middle ground choice with its detachable 10.1-inch touchscreen that will be easy for small hands to use. While the other Chromebooks can fold flat, they are obviously still bulky in that position due to the keyboard. With Android app support on the Lenovo Chromebook Duet, you are really getting two devices in one with a solid Android tablet and Chromebook experience. And while adults or teenagers may find the keyboard a bit cramped, elementary school kids in particular are going to find the keyboard to be exactly the right size for them.

That said, this Lenovo Chromebook delivers two form factors in one, while utilizing the versatility of the Chrome OS and setting you back much less than many of the top Windows tablets out there. Of course, true to its Chromebook nature, its battery packs an incredibly long life of almost 22 hours – you could pull an all-nighter, use it through the day and mid-afternoon, and you’ll still pass out before it runs out of juice. For this price, sacrifices have to be made, naturally – the keyboard is tiny, the trackpad isn’t as reliable, and the charger and headphones share one port. However, if budget is your top priority, this is definitely among the best laptops for kids, especially for online classes.

Another bonus with the Lenovo Chromebook Duet is that, due to its tablet form factor, it features an 8MP rear camera, not something you are going to find on any other laptop. Kids love being able to snap photos and take little videos and this laptop will be miles better for those tasks than the webcam found on most notebooks.  

Note: This product has been discontinued by Lenovo, however, there should still be some of them in the market or you go for other great options like the ones listed on the website or here.

Microsoft Surface Go 2 – Best Laptop for Older Kids

The Good
Inexpensive
Light weight
Comfortable keyboard and touch pad
Multiple colour options
Attractive styling and excellent build quality
USB Type-A port


The Bad
Less-than-1080p display
No face recognition camera or keyboard backlighting
Internal storage tops out at 256GB
Middling audio quality


Price: $475 – $739  

Rating: 8.6/10

Key Specs

ClassDetachable 2-in-1
PrecessorIntel Core m3-8100Y
Speed1.1 GHz
RAM8 GB
Boot Drive TypeSSD
Boot Drive Capacity128 GB
Screen Size10.5 inches
Native Display Resolution1920 by 1080
TouchscreenYes
Panel TechnologyIPS
Variable Refresh SupportNone
Screen Refresh Rate60 Hz
Graphics ProcessorIntel UHD Graphics 615
Wireless NetworkingBluetooth, 802.11ax
Dimensions (HWD)0.33 by 9.65 by 6.9 inches
Weight 0.54kg
Operating SystemWindows 10 Home
Battery Life (Hours: Minutes)13:37

With a powerful Intel Pentium Gold processor, 8 GB of RAM and a 128 GB hard drive, the Microsoft Surface Go 2 is small, light, and fast — and one of the most grown-up computers on this list. It comes with a reasonable price and premium design. It also runs the full Windows 10 operating system, so it’s even more capable than other tablets out there as far as what applications you can use on it. It’s a great option for kids, reviewers say, thanks to that size (ten inches), weight (one and a half pounds), and battery life (ten hours).

Finally, it offers a slight bump in performance over its predecessor, giving users a sensible reason to upgrade if they’ve got the money. All those features combined with its portability make the Microsoft Surface Go 2 one of the best laptops for kids for school and gaming.

HP Chromebook 14-Inch HD Laptop – Best Large-Screen Laptop for Big Kids

The Good
Excellent keyboard, trackpad
Crisp, vivid screen


The Bad
Slower than some rivals
Average battery life


Price: From $200

Rating: 8.5/10  

Key Specs

ClassChromebook
PrecessorIntel Celeron N2840
Speed2.16 GHz
RAM4 GB
Boot Drive TypeSSD
Boot Drive Capacity32 GB
Screen Size14 inches
Native Display Resolution1,920 x 1,080 
TouchscreenNo
Panel TechnologyIPS
Variable Refresh SupportNone
Screen Refresh Rate60 Hz
Graphics ProcessorIntel HD Graphics
Wireless Networking802.11a/b/g/n/ac, Bluetooth 4.0
Dimensions (HWD)0.7 by 13.5 by 9.4 inches
Weight 1.71kg
Operating SystemGoogle Chrome OS
Battery Life (Hours: Minutes)10:00

The HP Chromebook 14 balances a bargain price and efficient use of Chrome OS. Complemented by a bright blue finish and a screen made to astound, the HP Chromebook 14 offers the best value of any Chromebook out there. Even if the battery life and performance are average, it’s easily one of the best Chromebooks for kids to date. You’ll be particularly impressed with how slim and light this Chromebook is. And, unlike some other Chromebooks, the HP Chromebook 14 comes with plenty of ports, including HDMI-out, USB 3.0 and a microSD card slot, making this a brilliantly versatile Chromebook for the price.

Of the 602 reviews, over 450 gave this laptop five stars, lauding its 13.5 hours battery life, 14-inch display, and strong Wi-Fi connectivity.  

Google Pixelbook Go i5 Chromebook – Best Mainstream Chromebook for Kids

The Good
Amazing ‘Hush’ keyboard
Rare 1080p webcam
Great battery life
Solid performance
Bright, colourful display
Sturdy design


The Bad
Lackluster speakers
Limited ports
Keyboard is a bit shallow


Price: from $749

Rating: 8/10

Key Specs

ClassChromebook
PrecessorIntel Core i5-8200Y
Speed1.1 GHz
RAM8 GB
Boot Drive Type
Boot Drive Capacity128 GB
Screen Size13.3 inches
Native Display Resolution3840 x 2160
TouchscreenNo
Panel Technology
Variable Refresh SupportNone
Screen Refresh Rate60 Hz
Graphics ProcessorIntel UHD 615 GPU
Wireless NetworkingBluetooth, 802.11ac
Dimensions (HWD)12.2 x 8.1 x 0.5 inches
Weight 1.04kg
Operating SystemGoogle Chrome
Battery Life (Hours: Minutes)11:29

This laptop has everything an elementary student needs for school while keeping things simple for the working parent nearby. It is also a great option for older children who don’t need Windows or macOS. Google Pixelbook Go ticks off all those requirements and then some, with its astounding battery life and Chrome OS environment. Google rounds those out with an incredible keyboard and a 1080p webcam. This is the Google Pixelbook of your dreams, minus that steep price tag.

It is thin and light enough to take anywhere and delivers fast performance that makes it an excellent laptop for years to come. The Hush Keys feature helps to silence your child’s typing if he bangs on the keys. The brilliant touchscreen display and speakers will keep your child entertained with a movie when you need to focus. The response time is quick and getting the laptop started is easy. It’s also easy for your child to carry around at barely 2 pounds (1.1kg).

The battery life is similarly solid at 11 hours and 29 minutes, which should be enough to get most kids through at least a couple of days of use. The magnesium-alloy build and textured bottom of the laptop make it durable and easy to carry around.

The 13.3-inch 1080p touchscreen display on the Pixelbook Go is bright and colourful, particularly when compared to most other Chromebooks on the market. However the speakers are disappointing, but the headphone jack allows user to plug in when they need a better audio experience.

Lenovo Flex 14 2-in-1 Convertible Laptop – Best Laptop for Artistic Kids

The Good
Robust computing performance
Excellent value
Soft-touch, durable chassis
Screen supports touch input
Webcam privacy shutter
Two USB Type-A ports


The Bad
Relatively heavy for a 14-inch ultraportable
Dim 250-nit display


Price: $676

Rating: 8/10  

Key Specs

ClassConvertible 2-in-1
PrecessorAMD Ryzen 5 4500U
Speed2.3 GHz
RAM16 GB
Boot Drive TypeSSD
Boot Drive Capacity256 GB
Screen Size14 inches
Native Display Resolution1920 by 1080
TouchscreenYes
Panel TechnologyIPS
Variable Refresh SupportNone
Screen Refresh Rate60 Hz
Graphics ProcessorAMD Radeon Graphics
Wireless NetworkingBluetooth, 802.11ac
Dimensions (HWD)0.82 by 12.7 by 8.6 inches
Weight 1.49kg
Operating SystemWindows 10 Home
Battery Life (Hours: Minutes)16:04

With its excellent performance and insane battery life, thanks to the Ryzen 4000 processor, the convertible form factor means you can quickly switch from work mode to entertainment mode. Additionally, you also get a privacy shutter, fingerprint scanner, front firing speakers, and fast charging.

It’s more expensive than the other options, but the Lenovo Flex 14 Convertible laptop has a touchscreen, a webcam shutter for extra privacy, a battery that lasts all day, and a digital pen that allows for writing or drawing directly on the 14-inch full HD display. Kids can fold it into different modes (notebook, tablet, tent) for computing, drawing, or to watch their favorite shows and movies. The built-in security features protect against viruses, and the parental controls will help you monitor your kids’ activity and set screen time limits.  

Acer Chromebook Spin 311 – Best Convertible Laptop for Grade-Schoolers

The Good
More capable AMD APU
Fabulous flip design
Inexpensive
Responsive keyboard and touchpad


The Bad
Dim screen, low-resolution
Average battery
Meager 32GB of internal storage


Price: $249.99 – $280

Rating: 7.5/10

Key Specs

ClassConvertible 2-in-1, Chromebook
PrecessorIntel Celeron N4000
Speed1.1 GHz
Ram4 GB
Boot Drive TypeeMMC Flash Memory
Boot Drive Capacity32 GB
Screen Size11.6 inches
Native Display Resolution1366 by 768
TouchscreenNo
Panel TechnologyIPS
Variable Refresh SupportNone
Screen Refresh Rate60 Hz
Graphics ProcessorIntel UHD Graphics 600
Wireless NetworkingBluetooth, 802.11ac
Dimensions (HWD)0.82 by 11.7 by 8.1 inches
Weight 1.17kg
Operating SystemWindows 10 Home
Battery Life (Hours: Minutes)8:37

When it comes to laptops for kids for school, the Acer Chromebook Spin 311 is great for remote learning and communication. This laptop ranks high when it comes to durability because it can withstand the rough handling of younger kids.

It has two cameras so your little one can easily use a webcam for Zoom and video chats. A stylus is included so your child can handwrite on the screen to draw, show their work for math problems, or simply get creative with art and design. It has a snappy keyboard that can bend and display as needed. The Google Chrome operating system and selection of Google apps will feel familiar to most elementary students.

The Laptop opts for an AMD APU, which utilises the well-known Radeon graphics technology for better 3D capabilities – if you have time out of your studies to game! The dual-core AMD processor does offer Celeron beating abilities, by a little at least and so Chrome is going to remain more responsive. More importantly, the Acer Spin 311 feels well made. It’s highly portable and, though the screen disappoints a little by being a touch dull, perfectly usable. At just over eight hours the battery isn’t that strong for a Chromebook, but balancing that against the great price this is a strong choice.

MacBook Air (M1, 2020) – The Best Apple Laptop for Kids

The Good
macOS Big Sur is fast and responsive
Battery life is great
Silent in use

The Bad
Fanless design could impact performance

Price: from $949.99
Buy Here
See more prices

Rating: 7.5/10

Key Specs

ClassMacBook
PrecessorApple M1 chip with 8‑core CPU
Speed1.1 GHz
Ram8GB – 16GB
Boot Drive TypeSSD
Boot Drive Capacity256GB – 2TB
Screen Size13.3 inches
Native Display Resolution2560 x 1600 Retina display
TouchscreenNo
Panel Technology
Variable Refresh SupportNone
Screen Refresh Rate60 Hz
Graphics ProcessorIntegrated 7-core – 8-core GPU
Wireless NetworkingBluetooth 5, 802.11ac
Dimensions (HWD) 6.10 x 304.70 x 212.40
Weight 1.27kg
Operating SystemmacOS
Battery Life (Hours: Minutes)49:9

Apple topped last year off with a bang, rolling out their much-talked-about M1 silicon chip that’s so far been a real game-changer. And, the first laptop to receive it is the company’s thinnest and lightest, putting it on the list of the most exciting Apple laptops of recent years. With this new chip, the MacBook Air is better than ever, touting excellent performance alongside its brilliant battery life – without raising the price to keep it (fairly) affordable still. This is the best MacBook for pretty much everyone, but especially kids and students.

Samsung Chromebook 4 – Best Very Small Chromebook

The Good
Cheap and compact
Comfortable keyboard
Respectable battery life


The Bad
Dull, fuzzy display
Poky performance
Only one USB-C and one USB-A port


Price: From $229.99

Rating: 6/10 

Key Specs

ClassBudget, Chromebook, Ultraportable
PrecessorIntel Celeron N4000
Speed1.1 GHz
Ram4 GB
Boot Drive TypeeMMC Flash Memory
Boot Drive Capacity64 GB
Screen Size11.6 inches
Native Display Resolution1366 by 768
TouchscreenNo
Panel TechnologyTN
Variable Refresh SupportNone
Screen Refresh Rate60 Hz
Graphics ProcessorIntel UHD Graphics 600
Wireless NetworkingBluetooth, 802.11ac
Dimensions (HWD)0.66 by 11.3 by 8 inches
Weight 1.17kg
Operating SystemGoogle Chrome OS
Battery Life (Hours: Minutes)11:04

The 11.6-inch Samsung Chromebook 4 is a tolerable, minimal laptop that’s easy for kids’ hands to grasp. It’s a compact Chromebook with an 11.6-inch screen versus a big 15.6-inch panel in the style of a desktop replacement. It is a bare-bone economy system and is a bit more successful than its bigger sibling. Besides being easier to carry, it has better battery life, and its low screen quality is less noticeable at the smaller size. It’s not a delight, but it’s a decent grab-and-go laptop if you’re a student or simply have a strict budget.

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