Starting a new school year at Dubai International Academy or the American University of Sharjah is stressful enough. The last thing you want is any additional pressure from your gadgets failing you. Your laptop will likely be your most trusted companion during these years, and you want to choose one that’s fast, reliable and doesn’t break your back or your bank account.
You might wonder why you need a separate guide for a laptop for students. Shouldn’t the best laptop guide be good enough? That’s a fair question, and some of the laptops listed below are indeed part of our best laptops guide. But certain features, such as battery life, are more important for a student than a business professional.
Below the recommendations, you’ll find the criteria used to select these laptops in this guide. This guide is structured by choosing the one laptop that is the best laptop for most students. However, not everyone has the same set of requirements or expectations, which is why the top pick is followed by a few more laptops as runner-ups that are also excellent and could appeal to you more than our top pick.
The Top Pick: Apple MacBook Air M2
The MacBook Air has consistently been the best-selling laptop for several years, and for a good reason. Its highly portable form factor offers good performance and battery life. With the shift to the Apple Silicon processors, Apple doubled down on both these aspects offering phenomenal performance and battery life.
Weight: 1.24 kg | Display: 13.6-inch IPS LED, 2560 x 1664 resolution, 60Hz | Processor: Apple M2 chip; 8-core CPU with 4 performance cores and 4 efficiency cores, 16-core Neural Engine | GPU: Apple 10-core GPU | RAM: up to 24GB | Storage: up to 2TB | Expansion: Two Thunderbolt, USB 4 ports for Charging, DisplayPort, Thunderbolt 3 (up to 40 Gbps), USB 4 | Wireless: 802.11ax Wi-Fi 6, Bluetooth 5.0 wireless technology | Battery: Up to 18 hrs, 30W USB-C Power Adapter
- Gorgeous new design
- Very light and powerful
- Great battery life
- Limited expansion ports
- More expensive starting price than M1 model
After a decade, Apple has completely redesigned the newer M2-based model of the MacBook Air and the new design looks as timeless as the one it replaces. The base model of the new MacBook Air features 8GB of RAM and 256GB of storage with an MSRP of AED 4,999. You can usually find that discounted by 10-20% at retailers such as Noon, Amazon and Carrefour.
While the base configuration should be enough for most students, the laptop can be upgraded to 24GB of RAM and 2 TB of storage. We don’t recommend upgrading the MacBook Air M2 to that as it would inflate the pricing significantly, and the MacBook Pro would be a better buy at that price. If you are deciding between the MacBook Air and the MacBook Pro, then check out this guide.
The Apple M2 processor delivers a noticeable performance boost, particularly when it comes to tasks that take advantage of AI capabilities. You also get two Thunderbolt ports and a new MagSafe connector to charge the laptop. Apple claims the battery life on the MacBook Air M2 at 18 hours which held true in our testing. This laptop will easily get through all your lessons any day and then some. The base model comes with a 30W charger which isn’t the fastest, but you can upgrade to a 67W adapter if you require faster charging.
One of the most notable changes to the new M2-based MacBook Air is the addition of a 13.6-inch Liquid Retina display. This is a significant upgrade from the previous display, delivering sharper visuals and more screen real estate. The bezels have also been reduced, giving the MacBook Air a more modern look. A new FaceTime HD camera with 1080p resolution hides in the notch for better online calls. The Mac also works great with other Apple devices, such as an iPhone, which allows you to Airdrop files or copy/paste between the devices wirelessly and easily.
All of this has helped us select the M2-based MacBook Air as the best laptop for most students. With Apple Care, you can easily extend your laptop’s warranty and get the best service against any accidental damage. Apple Stores are everywhere- from Yas Mall and Dubai Mall to many parts of the world.
Other laptops we recommend for students
Though the MacBook Air M2 is our current pick for the best laptop for students, we have highlighted some other laptops that are also excellent for student life.
Asus ZenBook S 13 OLED
If you’re envious of the MacBook Air but don’t want to use MacOS, look no further than the Asus ZenBook S13 OLED. It’s thinner and lighter than the MacBook Air and yet provides more expansion, such as two Thunderbolt 4 ports, a USB 3.2 Type-A port, and an HDMI 2.1 port.
Weight: 1.0 kg | Display: 13.3 Inches, OLED, 2880 x 1800 resolution, 60Hz | Processor: Intel Core i7-1355U | GPU: Intel Iris Xe | RAM: 16GB DDR5 | Storage: 512GB SSD | Expansion: 2 x Thunderbolt 4 USB-C, 1 x USB-A, 1 x HDMI 2.1 | Wireless: 802.11ax Wi-Fi 6E, Bluetooth 5.3 | Battery: 63 Wh
- Incredibly thin and light
- Beautiful OLED display
- Mediocre battery life
As the name suggests, the ZenBook S 13 OLED screen is its highlight. Featuring a gorgeous 13.3-inch OLED display, the ZenBook is a joy to use- especially when watching movies or TV shows on streaming services like Netflix. We wish that ASUS offered higher refresh rates on the screen, but for that, you’ll need to upgrade to their more expensive Zenboox 14X laptop, which is also bigger and heavier.
The ZenBook S 13 OLED has Intel’s 13th gen Core i7 processors with 16GB RAM and up to 1TB storage. While it won’t match the MacBook Air’s performance, the laptop will still zip through everyday tasks. Asus claims a battery life of 16 hours; however, real-world usage will likely be under 10 hours which is still impressive. The battery can charge quickly from 0% to 70% in under 50 minutes.
HP Spectre x360 14-inch
The HP Spectre x360, as the name implies, is a 2-in-1 device that can be used as a laptop or a tablet. If your requirement is such a form factor, this is the laptop you must put on top of your list. Not only is it versatile, but it’s also one of the most stylish laptops on the market that will likely turn a few heads.
Weight: 1.36 | Display: 13.5 Inches, 1920 x 1280 resolution, 60Hz | Processor: Intel Core i7-1255U | GPU: Intel Iris Xe | RAM: 16GB DDR4 | Storage: 1TB SSD | Expansion: 2 x Thunderbolt 4 USB-C, 1 x USB-A, 1 x microSD Card | Wireless: 802.11ax Wi-Fi 6E, Bluetooth 5.2 | Battery: 66 Wh
- Beautiful design
- Good specs
- Flexible usage
- The battery could be better
While it’s not based on the latest 13th gen Intel processors, the slightly older 12th gen series is very capable and lets you take notes with the keyboard or a stylus in the box. You also get 16GB of RAM and 1TB of storage, and an excellent battery life of over 10 hours.
LG Gram 17
If you want a big-screen laptop but one that doesn’t break your back, the LG Gram 17 should be your laptop of choice. The large 17-inch screen with a 16:10 aspect ratio will provide plenty of real estate for writing code and editing videos for all your school projects or keeping up to date with the latest episodes of The Mandalorian on Disney Plus.
Weight: 1.35 kgs | Display: 17-inch, 2560 x 1600 resolution, 60Hz | Processor: Intel Evo 12th Gen i7 1260P | GPU: Intel Iris Xe | RAM: 32GB LPDDR5 | Storage: 2TB NVMe SSD | Expansion: 2 x Thunderbolt 4 USB-C, 2 x USB-A, 1 x HDMI, microSD | Wireless: WiFi 6E, Bluetooth 5.1 | Battery: 80WHr
- Super light for a 17-inch laptop
- Really good spe
- No dedicated GPU
What impresses the most is how the wizards at LG have managed to keep the weight of this large-screen laptop lower than many laptops with smaller screens. Also impressive is the battery life: LG claims 17 hours, which is optimistic but expect over 10 hours of usage.
LG isn’t out to break any speed records with this laptop. It has a Core i5 processor, 8GB RAM and 512GB of storage as the base model- not the top of the line, but the sell here is the large screen in a light form factor.
Acer Aspire 5
The Acer Aspire 5 does an excellent job of walking on that fine line of being very affordable yet giving you enough, so it doesn’t feel like a compromise. Priced at just AED 1,799, the Acer Aspire covers all the basics required from a laptop for school work.
Weight: 2.48 kgs | Display: 15.6-inch, 1920 x 1080 resolution, 60Hz | Processor:Intel Core I5 11th Gen 1135G7 | GPU: Intel Iris Xe | RAM: 8GB LPDDR5 | Storage: 512GB SSD | Expansion: 1 x USB-C, 3 x USB-A, 1 x HDMI, RJ45D | Wireless: WiFi 6, Bluetooth | Battery: 48WHr
- Very affordable
- Decent specs for the price
- On the heavier side
- Battery life isn't the best
At its lowest-end configuration, it has s a decent 15.6-inch screen, an 11th gen Core i5 processor with 8GB of RAM and 512GB of storage. There are USB-C and USB-A ports and a 1080P webcam. You can up all of these specs if you have a special need, such as gaming, by buying an upgraded model with a dedicated Nvidia GPU.
The only downside is that battery life is rated at 8 hours, which isn’t the greatest, but you can’t have it all when trying to get the most affordable laptop.
Best Laptops for Students in UAE – Criteria to Consider
While any good laptop can be used for school, a few factors should weigh in more than others when picking one up, such as the battery life, the warranty and reputation of the manufacturer as well the costs.
Mac vs Windows
The classic debate of choosing between a Mac or a Windows laptop has enthusiasts on both sides. There are advantages to each platform- the current line lineup on Apple Silicon-based Macs offers incredible performance and battery life but if a touch screen or gaming on a laptop is important to you, then a Windows laptop is your best bet.
If you’re a full-time student and don’t want to spend any more than you have to, you want to keep the costs as low as possible while ensuring your laptop remains usable for a few years. Granted, there will be compromises when choosing a lower-priced laptop, and we’ve suggested products in all price ranges.
You want to make sure you pick an easily serviceable brand, so pick one from a manufacturer with a local presence and officially available products. Brands like Apple, Lenovo and HP have a strong market presence in the UAE and service centres that are accessible- even through other retailers like Sharaf DG. The additional advantage of picking a non-grey import product is that you’d also be able to get an Arabic keyboard- if that’s important to you.
You don’t want your laptop running out of charge while taking notes in the middle of a lecture. Thankfully, most non-gaming laptops nowadays are efficient and can last an entire school day. Some laptops also feature fast charging to juice them up during lunch.
If you come across a laptop equipped with an HDD over an SSD, run. There is no place for mechanical drives in good laptops for 2023. Not only are HDDs significantly slower than Solid State Drives, but they’re also more prone to failure inside a computer that gets thrown around.
Best Laptop Offers in Dubai
Used Laptops in Dubai
There is a big market for used laptops in Dubai and the rest of the UAE, and the two places you’d want to consider are Amazon Warehouse deals and Dubizzle. With Amazon, you get the peace of mind of being able to return the product in case something doesn’t work, but you have a better chance of scoring a better deal on Dubizzle.
Be warned, though, as you’re buying it from another user, make sure that the used laptop is in good condition with everything working before you finalize.
Which brand of laptop is best for students in UAE?
Tons of great brands make excellent laptops for students and are officially available in the UAE. Apple, HP, Acer and Lenovo are some examples of that.
Are laptops cheaper in the USA or Dubai?
Laptops are cheaper in the USA, but that’s because of the massive market size. We’d strongly recommend getting an officially released laptop in the UAE with a local warranty and service centre to avoid potential issues.
What is the best month to buy a laptop?
There are quite a few times in the year when you can score good deals on laptops, such as the “Back to School” season at the end of August, White Friday sale on Amazon in November or the end-of-the-year sale at Carrefour in December.
Which is the best laptop at a low price in Dubai?
Lenovo and Acer have some great laptops at very low prices.
What is the best laptop size for students?
A 13-inch or 14-inch laptop is ideal for students as it is extremely portable and usable.
Is it cheaper to buy a laptop locally in the UAE or online through Amazon?
While Amazon usually has excellent pricing for laptops, there are times when local retailers such as Carrefour and Sharaf DG run excellent promotions.