These days, many 3-year-olds have their own tablets. So by the time children start advancing in elementary school and doing serious homework, they may need to have laptops, too. We’ve rounded up the best affordable laptops for your child in every age range, whether you’re looking for a Chromebook for your elementary school child or a gaming laptop for your teen.
6 Quick Buying Tips
- What’s the right age for a laptop? Forgot about age numbers. A good sign that your child needs their own laptop is that they’re already using computers — not tablets or phones — a lot at home or school.
- What’s the school’s laptop policy? Some schools provide students with laptops to take home so you don’t need to buy one. Other districts give kids computers they can use in class only, which means you may want to get a similar software and OS for home.
- Chrome OS, Windows or macOS? Chrome OS is popular with schools, because it’s easy to use and nearly impossible to infect with a virus. However, if your kid is learning how to program, needs to edit media files, requires access to Microsoft Office or wants to play PC games, Windows or macOS is a much better choice.
- Size: For children under 12, get a laptop with an 11.6-inch screen that weighs under 3 pounds. For teens, a 13- or 14-inch laptop that weighs up to 4 pounds is acceptable. Buy larger laptops only if you plan to keep them at home.
- Keep it cheap: Don’t spend over $500 on a laptop for a child under 12, because they may break it and will outgrow it. Even when shopping for a teenager, try to keep the cost under $800.
- Make it durable: Kids are clumsy, so a laptop that can survive bumps, drops or spills is a big plus.
Best Laptops for Kids
Best Chromebook for Young Kids: Dell Chromebook 3189
This affordable Chromebook 2-in-1 is made to take a beating. Dell claims that the 3189 can survive drops from 2.5 feet as well as extreme shocks, vibrations and temperatures.
The keyboard provides plenty of travel for small hands while the bendback design allows kids to use this laptop in tablet, tent or stand modes. In the near future, Chrome OS will support Android apps, which will make the tablet mode essential. Even better, the Dell Chromebook 3189 lasts over 9 hours on a charge.
Age Group: 7 to 12
Pros: Long battery life; durable design;
Cons: Dim display
Key Specs: 11.6-inch / 1366 x 768 Screen; Intel Celeron N3060 CPU; 4GB RAM; 32GB eMMC Storage; 9:09 Battery Life
Best Windows Laptop for Young Kids: Dell Inspiron 11 3000
Available in vibrant colors such as glossy red and blue, the Inspiron 11 3000 looks great and sounds even better, with strong audio output. This 11.6-inch Windows clamshell lasts an epic 13 hours and 45 minutes on a charge, making it ideal for getting through a long school day or maybe even two.
With its Intel Celeron CPU and 2GB or 4GB of RAM, the Inspiron 11 3000 is particularly powerful, though and its 1366 x 768 screen isn’t particularly bright. However, this laptop will be adequate for younger users and, with its starting price of $179, you won’t feel terrible if your child breaks or outgrows it.
Age Group: 7 to 12
Pros: Colorful chassis; Long battery life; Low price
Cons: Dim display; Modest performance
Key Specs: 11.6-inches / 1366 x 768 Screen; Intel Celeron N3060 CPU; 2GB RAM; 32GB eMMC Storage; 2.4 Pounds; 13:39 Battery life
Best Budget Laptop for Any Age: Acer E 15 (E5-575-33BM)
The 15-inch Acer E 15 E5-575-33BM provides strong performance, a colorful 1080p display, a comfy keyboard and plenty of storage for under $350. However, this 5-pound Windows notebook is too heavy to bring to class and too large for all but the oldest kids to use on their laps, so it’s a good choice for kids who mainly need a computer at home.
If your child wants to kick the E 15’s performance up a notch after you buy, the bottom panel comes off so you can upgrade its 4GB of RAM and 1TB hard drive to 8GB and an SSD. The laptop also lasts over 8 hours on a charge so your kid can use it on the couch or the dining room table, without hunting for an outlet.
Age Groups: 7 – 12; 13+
Pros: Great value; Sharp colorful display; Solid performance; Long battery life
Cons: Too heavy to bring to school
Key Specs: 15.6-inch 1920 x 1080 Screen; Core i3-7100U; 4GB of RAM; 1TB Hard drive; 8:16 Battery life
Most Durable Kids Laptop: Asus Chromebook C202
It’s not the fastest, the lightest or the newest student Chromebook on the market, but the C202 is the most durable notebook we’ve ever tested at any size or price. We were able to drop Asus’s laptop from nearly 4 feet onto concrete, multiple times, without causing any permanent damage.
With its 11.6-inch screen and 2.6-pound body, the Asus Chromebook C202 is an ideal size for kids 12 and under. However, even teenagers with larger hands will appreciate the laptop’s awesomely snappy keyboard, which is as good as we’ve seen on any Chromebook.
Age Groups: 7 to 12; 13+
Pros: Nearly indestructible; Fantastic keyboard; All-day battery life
Cons: Mixed performance
Key Specs: 11.6-inch / 1366 x 768 display; 2.6 pounds; 2GB RAM; 16GB eMMC Storage; 8:23 Battery Life
Best Chromebook for Teens: Asus ChromeBook Flip C302CA
With its classy aluminum chassis, colorful 1080p screen and ability to bend back into tablet, tent or stand modes, the C302CA is the cream of the Chromebook crop. Its 12.5-inch screen is extremely bright and its 2.6-pound chassis is light enough not to weigh down a student’s backpack. The Asus Chromebook Flip C302CA also lasts nearly 9 hours on a charge.
However, because the C302CA costs around $500 and isn’t made to be particularly durable, we recommend it for older children.
Age Group: 13+
Pros: Bright, 1080p screen; Attractive design; Long battery life
Cons: Not built to be durable; Expensive for a Chromebook
Key Specs: 12.5-inch / 1920 x 1080 Screen; Core m3 CPU; 2.6 Pounds; 8:53 Battery Life
Best Windows Laptop for Teens: Asus ZenBook UX330UA
The $699 Asus ZenBook UX330UA isn’t dirt cheap, but it’s an incredible value for a laptop that’s powerful and portable enough for your teen to keep well into their college years. The 13-inch features a vibrant 1080p screen, speedy 7th-Gen Core i5 processor and blazing-fast 256GB SSD.
At just 2.7 pounds, the UX330UA is lighter than many notebooks with 11-inch displays, and it can fit easily into a backpack full of books. Asus’ laptop comes with a wide selection of ports, including both USB 3.0 and USB Type-C connectors, HDMI for outputting to a monitor and an SD card slot for grabbing pictures off a camera. Best of all, this aluminum-clad clamshell lasts over 10 hours on a charge.
Age Group: 13+
Pros: Colorful full HD screen; Long battery life; Wide port selection
Cons: Stiff touchpad; Plenty of bloatware
Key Specs: 13.3-inch / 1920 x 1080 screen; Core i5-7200U processor; 8GB of RAM; 256GB SSD; 10:17 Battery life
Best Gaming Laptop for Teens: Dell Inspiron 15 7000
Powerful enough to edit video projects for school and play the latest PC games (at decent settings), Dell’s Inspiron 15 7000 is a good choice for parents with $800-plus budgets and teens who don’t need to carry their laptops to school every day. This attractive 15-inch laptop features a powerful quad-core Intel processor, speedy Nvidia GTX 1050 graphics and plenty of storage space. The laptop also lasts over 11 hours on a charge, but because it’s a bulky 5.8 pounds and an inch thick, your kid will probably use it around the house, rather than lugging it to class.
Though it’s marketed as a gaming machine, the Inspiron 15 7000 has a number of homework-friendly features, including a comfortable keyboard with a numeric keypad for typing term papers or programming, a high-res display that helps you see a lot of text on screen at once and plenty of ports for connecting to peripherals.
Age Group: 13+
Pros: Powerful performance; Comfortable keyboard; Long battery life
Cons: Heavy; Dim display
Key Specs: 15.6-inch / 1920 x 1080 or 3840 x 2160 Screen; Intel Core-i5-7300HQ or Core i7-7700HQ; Nvidia GTX 1050 or 1050Ti GPU; 11:23 Battery life