December 5, 2023

Figuring out the best laptops for kids is a tricky task with needs ranging from schoolwork to gaming. It’s not just how a laptop will be used either. Is a laptop or tablet a better form factor for a child? Despite the evolution that computing form factors have taken over the years, I think it’s hard to beat a hardware keyboard attached to a screen.

I talked to elementary school principal Ray DeVore in Chula Vista, California about how laptops have remained important for kids in school. “We have utilized laptops for all students in grades transitional Kindergarten through 6 for the past four years at my site for online research, document and presentation creation and sharing, accessing Microsoft 365 or Google Classroom accounts and technology accelerators, virtual meetings and collaborative student activities,” says DeVore. “Laptops have supported all these uses seamlessly.”

Despite the helpful nature of a hardware keyboard, DeVore did point out the benefit of a laptop including a touchscreen too, especially for younger kids. “This allows students to navigate through app selection and the sign-in process as if it were a tablet, especially as they are in the process of learning how to use the touchpad mouse.”

From selling computers in a retail store nearly 20 years ago to covering technology for top publications for the last decade, I’ve seen a radical boost in capabilities for laptops, but by in large the devices have remained very familiar over time. The same things that are important to adults are generally important to kids too. Quick operation of common tasks, responsive input methods and battery life that lasts as long as possible. I tried to keep all those things in mind for these picks below while choosing the best laptops for kids. If you’re prepping for back to school, you may also want to check out the best headphones for kids and the best backpacks for kids.

Lenovo IdeaPad Duet 3 Chromebook

Memory: 4GB | Storage: 128GB | Display: 11-inch touchscreen | Resolution: 2,000 x 1,200 | Battery: Up to 12 hours | Weight: 1.4 pounds | Ports: USB Type-C 3.0, DisplayPort 1.4

The best operating system for a kids’ laptop may be up for debate, but most kids will be familiar with Google’s Chrome OS in one form or another. The Lenovo IdeaPad Duet 3 Chromebook satisfies a lot of needs but also a lot of real-world uses that kids put their computers through.

This laptop has a detachable keyboard so it can be used in tablet mode while watching videos or doing a video call. Its kickstand also functions as protection on the backside of the unit. This laptop is also one of the lighter models available (just over a pound) and should get plenty of battery life to keep going.

I think that for the $379 price I’ve seen this laptop sell for, it’s a solid value and should work for a wide variety of needs. Even if it does outgrow its usefulness at school after a few years it may have an even longer life as a Netflix streaming tablet.

Memory: 8GB | Storage: 128GB | Display: 14-inch | Resolution: 1366 x 768 | Battery: Up to 8 hours | Weight: 3.53 pounds | Ports: USB Type-A 2.0 (x2), USB Type-A 3.2 Gen 1 (x1), USB Type-C, HDMI

The Asus Vivobook 14 laptop is made extra affordable when on sale, coming in under $300, which makes it a great value for a laptop for kids. It doesn’t have a touchscreen or a convertible form factor, but those trade-offs are balanced with a little bit better power than you tend to find at a low price. The 14-inch Vivobook has an Intel Core 11th Gen i3 processor that should be able to handle basic programming and creative programs, such as sound and image editing. Its 8GB of ram and 128GB of storage are also decent starting points.

This laptop stretches the screen to be a little bigger than 13 inches but remains more portable than a 15-inch model. It’s a great option for kids who are interested in trying out some more tasks that can require more power, like programming and photo or audio editing, but aren’t sure they want to commit to a more expensive device quite yet.

Acer Chromebook 314

Memory: 4GB | Storage: 64GB | Display: 14-inch touchscreen | Resolution: 1920 x 1080 | Battery: Up to 12.5 hours | Weight: 3.31 pounds | Ports: USB Type-A (x2), USB Type-C (x2)

There are plenty of Chromebook options on the market and frankly, a lot of them work great. Although no brand is without its faults or lemon, I have generally found Acer laptops with Chrome OS installed to have a good feel and function to them.

Google’s Chrome operating system doesn’t prioritize local apps or storage so nearly everything runs in a (Chrome) browser window. This is why a lot of Chromebooks have low amounts of hard drive storage space. The OS is also much lighter weight than Windows or macOS so it performs faster with less ram, including quick start-up times.

The Acer Chromebook 314 includes a touchscreen and plenty of ports that can either be used for charging or connecting storage drives for moving or backing up data. Best of all, it should have a long battery life for plenty of usage throughout the day.

MacBook Air With M1 Chip

Memory: 8GB | Storage: 256GB | Display: 13.3-inch | Resolution: 2,560 x 1,600 | Battery: Up to 18 hours | Weight: 2.8 pounds | Ports: Thunderbolt 4 USB-C (x2)

Since Apple’s MacBooks tend to come with a higher cost, most students avoid them until college. There are some benefits to kids using an Apple laptop sooner, however. Kids interested in developing iPhone and iPad apps need to do so with programs on a Mac.

Additionally, with all M-series processors, iPad and iPhone apps can run directly on Macs. That means the educational apps used on those devices can also potentially be used natively on a Mac laptop as well. Of course, there’s also the hardware durability factor as well. Apple’s computers tend to have longer lifespans because of the metal enclosures and well-regarded quality of the components used—the benefit side of their higher prices.

Apple does offer student discounts directly through its educational store which could help ease the cost of a laptop, even if just slightly.

Memory: 8GB | Storage: 256GB | Display: 13.3-inch touchscreen | Resolution: 1920 x 1200 | Battery: Up to 12.5 hours | Weight: 3 pounds | Ports: USB 3.2 Type-A (x2), USB 3.2 Type-C

Lenovo was one of the first laptop manufacturers to dive into the convertible space with its line of Yoga computers. The term convertible generally refers to a laptop screen being able to fold completely flat and act as a tablet when you don’t need its keyboard. The Lenovo Yoga 6 is able to fold in different directions to serve multiple purposes at various times of the day.

For example, after schoolwork is done, a child may want to use the laptop to stream a show. The Yoga 6 laptop can be angled so only the screen is shown and everything else is out of the way.

While the Yoga 6 laptop is on the pricier side, it does have specs that gravitate toward the midrange more than the entry-level. Plus, I have seen it dip pretty low when on sale, including down to $500 earlier this year.

Microsoft Surface Laptop Go 2

Memory: 8GB | Storage: 128GB | Display: 12.4-inch touchscreen | Resolution: 1536 x 1024 | Battery: Up to 13.5 hours | Weight: 2.48 pounds | Ports: USB Type-A, USB Type-C, Surface Connect

It shouldn’t come as any surprise that the company that created the Windows operating system also makes a great laptop for it to run on. The Surface Laptop Go 2 is largely aimed at the education market and to appease people shopping at a more entry-level price point.

The Surface Laptop Go 2 still has a host of competitive features and things that make it worth considering like a powerful Intel i5 processor with a portable 12.4-inch touchscreen.

Laptops regularly overstate their battery life so the Surface Laptop Go 2’s advertised span of up to 13.5 hours is under extremely ideal conditions. It should still get hours and hours of usage time before you need to find an electrical outlet. Plus, when you do need to charge the computer it can go from 0 to 80% by plugging it in for just over an hour. There’s a fingerprint sensor for logging in and a full-sized keyboard for easier typing.


Asus ROG Zephyrus (15.6-Inch)

Memory: 16GB | Storage: 512GB | Display: 15.6-inch | Resolution: 2560 x 1440 | Battery: Up to 7 hours | Weight: 4.19 pounds | Ports: USB 3.2 Gen 2 Type-A (x2), USB 3.2 Gen 2 Type-C (x2), HDMI 2.0, Gigabit ethernet

Gaming laptops don’t come cheap, but the Asus ROG Zephyrus (specific model: GA503RM-G15.R93060) is a good compromise between price and performance. Most notably, the NVIDIA GeForce RTX 3060 graphics processor is capable of running games at peak settings. The AMD Ryzen 9 6000 Series (6900HS) system processor isn’t a slouch either.

It’s not just the raw specs of this computer that make it great for gaming, it’s the nuances of those specs. For example, the 16GB of ram is split into two 8GB dual-channel 4800MHz DDR5 modules. This keeps tasks moving quickly between destinations. Wireless connectivity is Wi-Fi 6E, the USB-C ports are 3.2 Gen 2 and a gigabit ethernet port, among other things.

The laptop comes with a 90WHrs, 4-cell Li-ion battery, but Asus doesn’t quote a specific battery life estimate. That’s likely because gaming at full power could drain the battery incredibly quick. ASUS does provide software that can temper the laptop’s power for more balanced battery efficiency. The quoted battery life spec above is based on customer reviews answering how long their battery life could be. As with all gaming laptops, expect to be near an outlet when playing.

Why Trust Forbes Vetted

I’ve written about technology and consumer products professionally for over a decade. Not only have I spent a number of years personally reviewing and evaluating products, but I’ve also worked at tech companies and in the retail space, and understand the intricacies that go into decisions behind the scenes. Being a parent for as long as I’ve been a professional writer has deeply informed my work curating the best and safest products for kids.

Forbes Vetted also has deep experience testing and reviewing both tech and baby and kids gear, from TVs to crib mattresses. We drew on the expertise of our editors in these categories as well as our overall experience with the brands and organizations in these arenas to produce this story.

How We Chose The Best Laptops For Kids

For this guide, I leaned on my excessive knowledge of the personal computing market to reach these product recommendations as well as talked to local parents and teachers to hear real-world anecdotal information. I also reached out to several elementary school employees to hear about their experiences with laptops for kids.

Since most name-brand laptops are sold with decent features and specifications, the most important consideration for younger kids is probably price. After cost, I considered a screen’s size and speed that will come into play while actually creating presentations or writing documents. While a 15.6-inch screen provides a little more space it also makes the laptop bigger and heavier and that might not be the best for smaller hands.

What’s The Best Laptop For A Kid?

The best laptop for a child will be one they can use do to the activities they need to do. If the laptop is for schoolwork, you’ll want to make sure the applications required are compatible with the laptop’s operating system. All of the laptops listed above will be able to handle video calls and create text documents, but if they are programming or editing content, you’ll want to focus on computers that are suited to those tasks.

Of course, Carlo Gucilatar, a computer support tech at an elementary school district in San Diego confirmed that, “students aren’t very careful with devices and so spending a ton of money for a student laptop isn’t ideal.”

What Should A Kid’s Laptop Have?

I’ve heard from plenty of people within elementary-aged education that touchscreens are a worthy feature to consider, even if touching the screen isn’t planned. Sometimes kids born into the touchscreen era just need to reach out and tap a button, rather than using the trackpad.

Should I Get My 7-Year-Old A Laptop?

A lot of schools issue students laptops or tablets to do their digital work. If a child doesn’t need to do work on a computer beyond school-related tasks, then there’s no reason to purchase a personal laptop for them. Modern laptops with Windows, macOS or Chrome OS do offer at least basic built-in parental controls, but you’ll still likely want to monitor their personal usage for digital safety.

What Is A Good Starter Laptop For A 10-Year-Old?

By 10 years old, a lot of kids have had years of access to laptops at school. Beyond price, you’ll really want to ask them what they want to use a laptop for. Gaming and editing videos will require more powerful devices to keep up with those tasks. If they will be using a laptop for more casual things, then nearly any name-brand laptop will serve as a good starter option.

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