Best Laptop for Children – The Lenovo Chromebook Duet is a great option for most kids because it combines affordability and easy-to-manage security features with a versatile 2-in-1 design. If you’re shopping for a younger child, we’d recommend the Asus Chromebook Flip for its ultra-durable build and kid-friendly keyboard.
Kids being kids, the list of factors to consider doesn’t end there. Don’t forget about parental controls, durable plastic, and water-resistant keyboards. At least you won’t have to worry about the cost. Buying a kid-friendly laptop need not break the bank—all of our recommended models cost less than $700, and most are well under $500—and the even better news is that just because they’re inexpensive doesn’t mean that they are necessarily slow or poorly made.
Our focus here is on younger kids. If your child is at the university level, check out our roundup of the best laptops for college students. And you’ll find even more choices in our overall roundup of the best budget laptops. Also check our top picks for the best Chromebooks for kids for more on Chrome OS concerns and education aspects, especially for the lower grades.
The Asus L210MA-DB01 is a budget Chromebook alternative that offers a full Windows 10 (S Mode) experience at the same price you’d pay for a basic Chrome OS device. For learners and students, this impressive entry level notebook reinforces why Asus is one of the fastest growing laptop brands across all categories.
It’s a creative combination of features, starting with a lightweight body shell to the decent 10+ hour battery, and the decent 11-inch screen. To that, add a slim profile and a cleverly designed 180° lay-flat hinge, something rarely seen in entry level laptops, and you’ve got a fantastic basic PC for a learner to use at home and at school, or a college student researching and writing assignments
A powerful, reasonably priced big-screen laptop, the Dell Inspiron 16 Plus is equally capable of rendering graphics-intensive games at 1080p as it is playing a 4K movie on an airplane tray table. The laptop occupies a small slice of the market between Dell’s premium large notebooks (like the XPS 17) and bargain models (like the Inspiron 5000 series).
So far, the Inspiron 16 Plus has the market mostly to itself, but we expect new entrants over the next year. But with this laptop as good as it is—our new Editors’ Choice award winner for midrange desktop replacements—there’s little reason to wait.
If you are looking for a gaming notebook for around $1000 and would prefer an AMD chip, you will want to take a closer look at the MSI Bravo 15. The 15-inch device offers a good price-to-performance ratio and is clearly aiming for our Budget-Top-10 list. The processor is a Ryzen chip from AMD’s 4000 series and the graphics chip is either a Radeon RX 5300M with 3 GB of VRAM (A4DCR) or a Radeon RX 5500M with 4 GB of VRAM (A4DDR). Images are displayed on the Full-HD display, which also supports FreeSync, with 120 or 144 Hz.
Our test unit, which is equipped with a Ryzen 7 4800H, a Radeon RX 5300M, a 144-Hz panel, 16 GB of DDR4 RAM (2x 8 GB of dual channel mode) and two 1-TB SSDs, is a presample. This means that there might still be some changes to the inside or outside of the final product. For example, the keyboard backlight didn’t work on our test unit, which we didn’t include in our overall rating.
And now Google has released this – the touchscreen, convertible Pixelbook, which is a Chromebook that’s significantly more expensive than other rivals. Google previously tried to make a premium Chrome OS laptop – remember the Google Pixel of 2013? – but with limited success.
Today’s best Chromebooks are much more capable now, especially in terms of offline use, a new launcher and Android app support, while the Pixelbook also features stylus support, though you will need to pay £99 extra to buy the Pixelbook Pen which few will do; a real shame.
It’s hard to find a PC maker today that doesn’t ape the Surface’s kickstand-packing, detachable-keyboard-rocking design. It’s also hard to find a nicer Windows experience than what the Surface offers. The problem is one of choice; with such a diverse family of premium computers, which is best for your needs? We’ve sorted through the options and found the best Surface for everyone.
Be sure to read our other buying guides for more, including the Best Laptops, Best Cheap Laptops, Best MacBooks, and our tips on how to choose a laptop.
Best Laptop for Children – BUYER’S GUIDE
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 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. Most hybrids and convertibles are more expensive than the price range we’ve discussed to this point, but you can find a few high-quality models for less than $500, like Microsoft’s Surface Laptop Go and Asus’ VivoBook. These are best for middle-school-age children or older, since these machines are by nature less durable than a conventional laptop.
Frequently Asked Questions
Time for Fun: What About Graphics and Games?
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.
So, Which Laptop Should I Buy for My Child?
Giving your son or daughter a laptop endows them with a portal into the immensely powerful internet, even if the laptop itself may not be all that potent. It’s up to you (and your kids’ teachers) to make sure that tool isn’t harmful. Fortunately, both Chromebooks and Windows laptops have parental control features, and a laptop’s size relative to a smartphone makes it easier to both monitor activity and set ground rules like disallowing computer use after homework is finished.
You don’t need to spend a lot of money on a laptop for a kid (in fact, you shouldn’t, since kids don’t need that much computing power — and since they tend to be a little clumsy and irreverent when it comes to delicate machinery). But there are a few basic things to keep in mind: Besides durability, you’ll want to focus on getting something light enough to tote around, something with built-in parental controls, something powerful enough for both entertainment and schoolwork, and something with a long battery life.