With the back-to-school upon us, many students from Highschool to University are looking for the ideal laptop that meets their needs.
With so many options currently on the market, it’s hard to separate the exceptional from the ordinary. Whether you are looking for a low-cost Chromebook, to a top of the line laptop designed for gaming, CGMagazine is here to help you make the best selection.
Best Overall: MacBook Pro with Touch Bar
You would be hard pressed to walk into a classroom or lecture hall and not see the iconic Apple logo somewhere in the room. There’s a reason for that; the MacBook Pro lineup offers a complete package that not only gives the power and performance most students crave but also allows for a wide range of flexibility.
The 2018 MacBook has improved on almost all major issues we had with the 2017 lineup, making it a force to be recorded within the laptop space. With production software and many graphics suites, choosing the OSX platform as their OS of choice, it’s hard to argue Apple hasn’t built a machine that checks all the boxes this school year. Combine that with a real graphics card and more games being built for the OSX platform, you can jump into a quick game of Civilization VI or Diablo III when you’re not busy studying.
While we here at CGMagazine are not convinced the USB-C future is the best way to deal with a pro-level machine, Apple has done an amazing job pleading the case. If you are okay with a dongle or hub, the MacBook Pro 2018 can expand to offer any selection of ports you can think of. The speed of the machine is uncompromised, and with the rock-solid OS under the hood, you should have no problems for the late night study sessions or finishing up that new graphics project that will blow the minds of your classmates.
Starting at around $1,729.00 with options up to $3,699.00, the MacBook Pro range has plenty of options to fit most budgets and needs.
Best Overall PC Based Laptop: Huawei MateBook x Pro
Huawei has outdone themselves with this offering. I’ts hard to argue with the stunning nature of the MateBook x Pro. The near edge to edge screen in a light, compact form makes this laptop a joy to carry around and use. The beautiful 3000 x 2000 resolution screen is a pleasure to use, be it for work, media consumption, or even some gaming. With full multi-touch support in the screen, it allows for a closer interaction with your creative process. The 1.33-Kg body manages to be only 14.6mm thick at its largest point, making it a great choice for the student on the go.
Under the hood, the Huawei MateBook x Pro boasts up to an Intel i7 8550U and a Nvidia MX150 with 2GB GDDR RAM, meaning you should have no issues completing any school-related tasks. From CAD work to 3D rendering, the MateBook x Pro should be more than capable of even the most daunting tasks. Should you want to push the 57.4Wh battery, the laptop is more than capable of playing the latest and greatest games at moderate settings, and the fingerprint sensor ensures your documents are safe even when you are not around.
Starting at around $1679.99 for the i5 model, and $1,995.00 for the i7 configuration, Huawei MateBook x Pro is a great choice for those who want to avoid the Mac OS.
Best Chromebook: Google Pixelbook
The Pixelbook is a wonder of design and technology, but it also feels like a step into a Chrome OS future that I’m not sure everyone is ready for. Overall the device feels very well put together. The OS is evolving in the ways it needs to, and with new features added every few months, it is a platform that packs loads of potential. For a student that just plans to do writing, use some minor apps, and watch YouTube, the Pixelbook is a fantastic, albeit pricey, option.
The Android ecosystem on Chrome OS has evolved to a much more mature state, and the Pixelbook leads the pack. Google has made the two OS’s feel truly integrated, with Android game running almost natively on the OS, for the most part. While you are limited by the selection, it is great to load a session of Hearthstone between note-taking sessions. We do not recommend doing this in class.
The hardware is truly stunning, and the pen input works wonderfully on this laptop-tablet hybrid device. It is also one of the most powerful Chromebooks currently on the market, meaning you will never have issues doing what Chromebooks are built to do. The problem simply is that at present, Chromebooks can only do so much, lagging behind larger and more standard laptops. But if a Chromebook is what you’re demanding this fall, and you’re okay with the premium price tag, the Pixelbook is the OS flagship for a reason.
Starting at $1,299.99 for the i5 128GB model, and pushing all the way up to $2,099.99 for the i7 512GB option, the Pixelbook is the most expensive Chromebook currently on the market. But if you have the budget and a need for Chrome OS, you can’t go wrong with the Google Pixelbook.
Best For Gaming: MSI GS65 Stealth Thin
The new Max-Q range of GPU’s has ushered in new concepts as to what gaming laptops can be. If you wanted to purchase a gaming notebook even five years ago, it was typically a big, bulky piece of plastic. The Max-Q GPU changed that, and there is no laptop that more exemplifies the potential of PC gaming on the go then the MSI GS65 Stealth Thin.
This lightweight, sub-5-lb laptop is a stunning machine to look at. The subtle brown colouring with slight gold highlights makes it a machine that will turn heads no matter where you are. The 144Hz 1080p screen ensures you are never missing any of the action, and the 16GB DDR 4 Ram and Intel Core i7-8750H coupled with the Nvidia GTX 1060 with 6GB GDDR5 will push as many polygons as you can throw at it.
The MSI GS65 Stealth Thin is a laptop I would recommend to anyone looking to game on the go, or even if they just need raw graphics power for a course. It is a beautiful piece of technology and remains one of CGMagazine’s best laptops of 2018. While it may be expensive at the $1,800 USD ($2,399 CAD) price, if you need the power and are fine with carrying around a bit of extra weight, you won’t be disappointed when you pick up this up.