Best Laptop for a Teenager

The Best Laptops for Teens! These laptops are perfect for teenagers’ homework and studies, as well as their social lives! Teens use laptops to work, play, design, and develop their creativity. When picking a laptop for your teen, take a good look at the following factors:

  • Speed: Is it a good processor? If you expect your teen to multitask, and you have the budget, you may want to invest in a quadcore processor (Intell i7 for instance). I don’t mean multitask in that your teen does several things at once. They shouldn’t: our brains don’t work well that way. However, if they’re researching a paper, you do want that laptop to multitaks: a word processing application open, a browser (Chrome, Firefox or Edge) open as well as perhaps a note-taking application like evernote. That’s 3 applications open at once. 
    Do realize that this means you want at least a dualcore processor and preferably 8GB of internal memory. Personally I will definitely consider a quadcore processor for my next laptop. Even if that does mean going for 15 inch. 
  • Weight: Lightweight is best if your teen is going to travel with their laptop. Their growing back should not be given more to carry than necessary.
  • Disk Reader: Do you really need a disk reader (DVD, CD)? If not, you can go with a smaller laptop or netbook (13 inch or smaller). I can tell you: your teen probably does NOT need that disk reader. Who uses CD’s anymore?
  • Price: Do you trust your teen to take good care of an expensive laptop, or would you rather spend less just in case they break it and need a new one within a year?
  • Color: We’re talking about teens, after all; they’ll want a laptop that looks good. Color was a primary consideration in the selection of laptops on this page, from white and pink, to blue and silver.
  • Laptop or tablet? The Microsoft Surface Tablet, for example, has the new Windows RT interface and all the current MS Office programs installed. Yes, your teenager will be able to create real Office files and edit real Excel files on the tablet. It’s light and functional and there are games for it as well.
  • OS (Operating System) It used to be that most people would automatically buy a Windows PC or Laptop when getting one of those machines. However, this is no longer the case. Windows has lost ground to both Mac (for people who can afford it) and Chrome (by Google). There are two reasons for this: 
    1. Office 365 is a subscription service which costs around $100 per year. That means you’re buying more for access to 4 years of Office, than you pay for a cheap laptop (available from around $200). There is a stand alone version of Office for students, but it doesn’t include Outlook. Maybe your kid doesn’t need Outlook, as they have their mail online (gmail for instance) anyhow, but it is definitely something to take into account.
      The problem with Office 365, even if you do get the first year included in your laptop, is that the documents you make in it won’t be editable through Office if you don’t get the subscription. I have seen no reviews on whether you can edit such documents with other software (like open source office alternatives). More about Office 365.
    2. Security. Your teen is not likely to be on the NSA watch list. However, their laptop is going to be traveling with them to school and back, which means there is a significant risk of it being stolen. Most laptop thieves will just try and resell the pc, but some of them may first try and get any info off it that can be resold. Personal information like contacts, emails, login information etc. Android, Chrome and iOS (Apple) are all either encrypted by default, or allow for easy encryption.
      This means that – assuming your teen uses a passcode to sign in – it is difficult to lift information from a stolen device. Windows 10 is alone in being a modern OS, and yet NOT making it easy for all users to encrypt their device. 
      In other words: Windows is the least secure OS on the market. 
  • Screen: The hottest laptops have the highest resolutions. However, these cost processing power on the side of the chip and memory as well (see speed above). So if you’re on a budget, I would prefer getting a laptop with 8GB internal memory and a quadcore processor but not the best screen, to a laptop with top graphics, but without the processing power to really make use of that. 

Best Economy Laptops for Teens

Cheapest Laptop: The Chromebook

Glorified browser? Perhaps that’s all your teen needs! The Chromebook came along just as Windows laptop producers stopped producing low-end, affordable notebooks, such as the Netbook, for everyday users. Now, Chromebooks are affordable, safe, and functional.

Why? Safety from malware has to count with parents, as does the fact that the Chromebook comes with all the basic functionality you expect from your laptop PC:

  • Office software such as Google Drive
  • Internet access
  • The option to install a few games from the Google Play Store

I’ve mentioned safety a few times. What’s that? Well, a Chromebook runs on the Chrome operating system, which is basically a browser with add-ons. That means you’re trusting your PC to Google. That’s great, because Google is the top spam-specialist on the web. For their Chrome OS, they keep an eye on all apps in their app store and will uninstall any that can harm you.

Chromebooks are made by a few companies now: Acer, Toshiba, and HP among them, and can range anywhere between $200 and $400 in price. Their primary drawback is their dependence on Wi-Fi. With a Chromebook, all the programs you use come through Google Drive and require an internet connection, and all available storage is in the Cloud. This means, on the other hand, that the Chromebook itself can be very light and small because it doesn’t need to make room for storage, and it tends to have great battery life and, of course, is cheaper than any other type of laptop out there.

More about the Chromebook


ipad-mini-2013Lightweight Laptop Options

An iPad as a Laptop Replacement: The iPad Air

I love my iPad. And really, there aren’t many things a teen can do on a PC that he or she can’t also do on an iPad. Seriously. Unless of course your teen is heavily into photo editing, movie creation, or computer programming. But if they were, you would not be wondering what notebook to get them: they’d simply tell you (and you’d better listen, though of course you get the right to negotiate and set a budget).

An iPad is actually better than a PC in a number of ways:

  • Faster startup time means it’s faster for looking things up online and reading school material
  • Smaller and lightweight means it’s better for their backs
  • Very sturdy, teen proof design
  • Better battery life

If your teen is going to do homework on an iPad, you should get an external keyboard to make typing easier, but that’s really all that stops an iPad from being a full-on laptop replacement.

Thinner and lighter even than most tablets, yet more powerful than its competitors, the iPad Air has been described by TechRadar as “tablet perfection.” Its design is based on the iPad Mini, and it’s been described by the reviewers at Engadget as “the most comfortable 10-inch tablet we’ve ever used.”

  • Speed: Fast, but doesn’t run as many programs as a computer
  • Weight: Only 1 pound
  • Disk Reader: No
  • Price: starting at $225,-
  • Color: Silver
  • Laptop or Tablet: Tablet

The iPad Pro

The latest high end iPad is the iPad Pro. It is marketed as a laptop replacement. And yes, it’s definitely cool. It can do a bit of multitasking, but the screen is so small, it is hardly worth the effort. It has a great stylus for artists and it’s generally a great tablet. 

However, I would still not call it a laptop replacement. 

Dell Ultrabook: Lightweight and Cool Gaming-Quality Laptop

This is one of the best high performance laptops for teenagers because it’s light but powerful. It works great for schoolwork, gaming, and internet research and is one of the best laptops for teens because it’s one of the lightest laptops out there, but still powerful enough to support all of their computer activities. This computer can handle the work teenagers need to get done along with any extra-curricular projects.This laptop is designed for users who require maximum performance in a light and sleek notebook.

According to reviewers at CNET and PC World, the laptop’s most impressive feature is its screen. Because the designers at Dell have reduced the bezel (the aluminum frame around the screen itself) to less than a centimeter, the screen takes up the entire top panel of the computer, allowing a 13 inch screen on the body of an 11 inch computer. The screen itself is extremely high resolution with a 3,200 by 1,800p display that shows a wonderful amount of detail when watching Netflix, Amazon Prime, or other high quality videos. In addition, the Dell XPS 13 is the first computer to make use of Intel’s newest fifth generation CPU (central processing unit) which will become widespread over the next year. It’s a powerful, fast processor which, along with the excellent screen, makes this a great computer for visual activities: photo editing, video watching, gaming, etc.

Warning: because the screen takes up so much space, Dell has placed the webcam in the lower left corner of the screen, which makes for a less than flattering angle when video-chatting. This may be a drawback for a particularly vain teenager.

  • Speed: Fast
  • Weight: 2.6 lbs
  • Disk reader: No
  • Price: $970
  • Color: Black
  • Laptop or Tablet: Laptop

Online safety and teens

Do realize that teens run risks online whatever you do. The type of laptop makes no difference at all. Whether it’s cyberbullying, online abuse… it’s the human element that makes new technology so baffling. Since it’s the world kids grow up in, the only thing you can do is make sure you TALK about it. ‘What’s going on on facebook?’ is a good question to ask.

Best High-End Laptops

917QxAHAwAL._SL1500_Apple MacBook Pro and MacCook Air – the best mac book for your teen

The best laptops for teenagers should function and perform to the highest standards. For teenagers going off to college, you will want to buy something they can count on for four years. Apple still makes some of the best laptops out there.

All mac book laptops are suitable for teens into the arts. They are on the cutting edge of processing power, screen definition, and design. Any MacBook you choose to buy will feature Apple’s latest operating system (El Capitan), and come with a warranty if any problems do arise. Macs have fewer trouble with viruses than PCs and tend to have a more streamlined, user friendly interface. Of course, as with any computer, you should probably ask your teen first if they want a Mac or a PC. But if you want to get your teen the best possible laptop, you can’t really go wrong with a MacBook Pro or MacBook Air.

But should you get the most recent model? According to Mac World, the most recent MacBook Pro 2015 is the thinnest MacBook ever, with a fan-free, single piece design that eliminates the disc drive, any unnecessary ports, and features an incredible 2304 x 1400 retina display screen. It’s definitely a wonder of human engineering and design, but it isn’t necessary to buy for a teen, whether or not they are going off to college. I recommend getting one of the slightly older MacBook models.

Though the newest model looks amazing, functionally it isn’t that different from the previous models and may not be worth the $1300 price tag. Especially for teens: they’re very likely to treat them with contempt. Wired calls it “a little underpowered for such an expensive machine” and perhaps more desirable for its value as a status symbol. On the other hand, brand new MacBooks from only one or two generations back sell for half the price and offer all of the function.

The 12 inch Macbook Air ships with a new USB port. Only ONE! Jokes have been made about that. How could that be enough? Good question. Especially in a world where that new USB version isn’t generally accepted yet. You’ll have to get an adapter. 

  • Speed: Fast
  • Weight: 2-3.5 lbs
  • Disk reader: No (except for the older MacBook Pro models)
  • Price: $950 and up
  • Color: Silver
  • Laptop or Tablet: Laptop

ASUS Gaming Laptop

If your teen is a gamer or works with graphics, this is a great choice. The large screen display is great for doing multiple things at once. Handling school work was never easier, and it’s great for watching movies or playing games. It is definitely on the heavier side, so it’s not travel friendly, but it’s an excellent laptop that will last a long time.

When it comes to competitive gaming, your teen will want the fastest dedicated graphics card on the market. A cheaper gaming laptop can skimp on everything else (almost), but not that. The 9-series  NVIDIA GeForce GTX was good, but the  NVIDIA GeForce GTX 10 is 40% faster. That’s a significant difference, if your teen is doing competitive gaming. 

Of course, if your teen is a gamer or programmer, don’t buy them this or any other computer without asking first! If your teen knows about computers they’ll probably know what they want. 

Keep in mind that gaming laptops are optimized for speed, not weight (their backs have to last them a lifetime) or battery life. For homework purposes those are significant factors. 

Best laptop for teens into programming

Teens into programming is a different topic. See my post on that topic: 

What is the best laptop for a teen into programming?


Colorful Laptops

Every teenager wants their laptop to shine and look cool! A bright-colored laptop in a pink, green, yellowred or blue aluminum casing screams coolness. When you’re a teenager, having a cool looking laptop will go a long way towards social status. Plus, you get your homework done super quickly, which saves time for activities that are a lot more fun, like hanging out with that cute girl who lives down the block. Yeah, you know the one!

Most laptops come in a basic white, silver, or black, but there are quite a few that come in other colors. Don’t forget to check color options in the store or online. Lots of laptop companies also sell colorful protective cases, like the red MacBook case above.

Refurbished Laptops

Many PC companies like HP and Dell offer refurbished laptops on Amazon and on their websites. A refurbished laptop will run the latest operating system and function like new, despite being technically pre-used. These are laptops that have been returned to the company and revamped. They’re cheaper than brand new laptops because they aren’t the latest model and have been pre-owned, but they are great because they’ve been refurbished by the company, so there’s no way to tell they aren’t new.

Think of a refurbished laptop like an older car that’s been beefed up. They often come with an extremely fast processor. A refurbished laptop is more likely to be a bit heavier than newer models and still have a DVD drive, and so could be a great choice if your teen wants a disc drive for music or games.

Posted on Categories Gadgets for teens, Laptops