The Best Laptop For Teachers
AMD Ryzen 5 5500U
8GB RAM DDR4
AMD Radeon RX Vega 10
128GB PCIe SSD + 1TB HDD
17.3” Full HD 4 way NanoEdge bezel display
WiFi 6 802.11AX
Reader Multi-format card reader (SD/SDHC/SDXC) Networking 1 x COMBO audio jack 1 x Type-C USB 3.0 (USB 3.1 Gen 1) 1 x USB 3.0 port(s) Type A 2 x USB 2.0 port(s) Type A 1 x HDMI 1 x micro SD card
It’s interesting to see that, ever since this laptop was put on this list ( which was one month after COVID-19 hit) it’s been more and more re-designed for online teaching.
Was it because the manufacturer came across this post? Or have most laptop taken into account online teaching/classes more and more over the past two years? I think it’s more towards the latter.
But that doesn’t mean most laptops will have all the perfect features we just went over.
Only very very few laptops satisfy all the requirements: from the 17” display with thin bezels to the latest Wireless Protocol.
And as far as I’m concerned (after doing an insane amount of laptop browsing), this is the only model that’s relatively cheap (~700$).
That may be a bit pricey to some of you but it’s so worth it and you are not overpaying for anything, you’re getting everything you need here. There’s only one small caveat with this laptop which I’m going to let you know.
What’s so good about this laptop?
To start: the display.
It’s very rare to find a 17inch laptop with FHD for 700 bucks and it’s even more rare to find one with thin bezels, the latter should make the screen bigger than it’s supposed to be. It’s basically going to feel as big as a desktop monitor.
Most laptops come with SSDs but not many make up for their lack of storage capacity, the lowest configuration of this model comes with at least a 1TB HDD where you can store everything you want without ever having to worry about running out of space.
Since they have all these perks like the extra 1TB of HDD space and the FHD display, you’d think they’d cheap out on RAM but no. The lowest configuration has the biggest amount a teacher really needs: 8GB RAM. RAM is cheap anyways, there’s no reason to expect less from a laptop above 500$ these days.
Q: What about the CPU? It sucks right? Isn’t everyone getting Intel Core i5 Core i7s anyways?
That’s retro 2017 thinking. But I can’t blame you for it, most of us aren’t really acquianted and up-to-date with technology.
Ryzen chips have been outperforming most Intel Chips for quite a few years now (ever since late 2019 I believe). In most cases, all things being equal, they run faster or they can perform better consuming less power and making computer a bit cheaper too. This is why I’d recommend you to get a Ryzen Chip whenever possible, it should cut down your electri bills and make building computers cheaper too.
Ok, Which AMD Ryzen chip should I get? 3 5 7?
You will do fine with a Ryzen 3 chip but if you really want to max it out a Ryzen 5 chip will do.
This model doesn’t have a configuration with a Ryzen 3 though, so you’re just going to have to settle with a CPU that’s twice as fast. Can’t hurt especially if it isn’t that expensive.
What’s the caveat of this laptop then?
Display isn’t very bright for outdoors usage. Since most of us are still staying at home, it should be fine.
If you are going to the classrom and you have the sun up in your face, it’s going to be a nussance.
Best Budget Laptop For Teachers
8GB RAM DDR4
15” full HD TN
WiFi 5 802.11 AC
Reader Multi-format card reader (SD/SDHC/SDXC) Networking 1 x COMBO audio jack 1 x Type-C USB 3.0 (USB 3.1 Gen 1) 1 x USB 3.0 port(s) Type A 2 x USB 2.0 port(s) Type A 1 x HDMI 1 x micro SD card
Despite having the same name, this laptop is very very different from the first one. For one thing it’s much cheaper. I figured it would best to get us started with much cheaper options because I have to admit although 700$ might be cheap for some, most teachers can’t afford that much these days.
Here are the trade-offs of this 450$ laptop:
It doesn’t have a 17” display, it’s got a 15” display. It’s still got the FHD resolution it shouldn’t be limiting to how well you can multitask with it. In case you forgot higher resolutions give you a lot more screen space.
The processor is much weaker than the 5th generation Ryzen 5 processor but believe me for teaching purposes, it’s plenty fast. For anything else like Photo or Video editing it may start to lag unless you solely try to do that and not run anything else in the background. However, Zoom, Office, Discord, grading software + 50 tabs open all simultanously will be plenty fast with this chip.
The only real issue with this machine is how much storage it has. 128GB will be fine if you use this laptop for teaching purposes only. I explain this in detail in the last section but basically you won’t run out of space unless you install those very popular games like FortNite, use Steam or if you want to store hundreds of FHD videos on it.
Either way, this issue can easily be fixed by getting an external USB drive OR upgrading (actually adding) another storage to this device. HDDs are cheaper than SSDs and since you want the extra space to store extra stuff it will do.
Other than that there are no other drawbacks …
Past models used to have Windows 10 in S mode on them which would’ve hurt your workflow since the OS didn’t let you install third party software however all Windows 10 S laptops can now be upgraded to Windows 10 or Windows 11 Home with just one click free of charge. Either way, Windows 10 S isn’t the of the world, all the programs you need are all avaibale in the Windows app store anyways but again this laptop lets you do the upgrade to Windows 10 Home so you have nothing to worry about.
You can always upgrade it to Windows 10 Home for 100$ with the click of one button though
Best Cheap Laptop For Teachers
Intel Core i3-1115G4
Intel UHD Graphics
15” full HD IPS
Wifi 6 802.11AX
10/100/1000 Gigabit Ethernet LAN (RJ-45 port), HD Webcam (1280 x 720), 1 – USB 3.1 Gen 1 Port, 2 – USB 2.0 Ports, 1 – HDMI Port with HDCP support
This is a much cheaper option, about 100$ cheaper (~370$ depending the time of the year). It’s still got the FHD display and it’s also 15” so again there’s enough space for multitasking.
The processor like I said doesn’t really matter as long as it’s modern. In fact, it’s the same CPU of the second more expensive 450$ laptop.
The two drawbacks are the RAM and the SSD.
128GB SSD: If you use this laptop only for teaching activities and related software, you’ll survive have plenty of extra space w/ 128GB.
4GB RAM: However, the 4GB RAM is going to come in really really short IF AND ONLY IF decide to Install Windows 10/Windows 11 Home on it. For Windows 10 S, it’s plenty and all the software most teachers use are available there: Zoom/Office/Discord/Movie Maker/Photo editing software, etc.
So it’s really a “try it out first upgrade later” kind of laptop . If you want to save money, only do the upgrades as you need it.
If things are slow after you install Windows 10 Home, add 4 GB RAM. If you run out space, add an HDD.
Best Lenovo Laptop For Teachers
Intel Core i3-1005G1
4GB DDR4 RAM
Intel UHD Graphics
WiFi 5 802.11ac
3 USB-A ports, 1 USB 2.0 and 2 USB 3.0, there is no USB-C
If everything is out of stock or if you can’t find cheap laptops for teaching. Your last resort should be the Lenovo Ideapads, they’re not neecessarily any weaker but they’re usually the most budget friendly laptops (after the Acer Aspire 5) you can find on the web.
The only real caveat here (that even an upgrade won’t solve) is the lack of numerical keypad. I’m not sure how much that is useful to you but if you want a numerical keypad then you have to either get an external keypad OR get a 15”-17” laptop. Those laptops are the only ones (with the exception of a few more expensive 14” laptops) that have it.
Best MacBook For Teachers
Apple M1 Chip Up to 8 Cores
8GB RAM DDR4
Up to Apple 8-core GPU
13” Retina Display IPS
WiFi 6 802.11 AX
Two Thunderbolt 3 (USB-C) ports with support for:, Charging, DisplayPort, Thunderbolt (up to 40 Gbps), USB 3.1 Gen 2 (up to 10 Gbps)
To wrap it up, the most expensive laptop on the list: a MacBook.
It may seem pointless to list a MacBook here since they are all expensive but who knows? If you are reading this to buy a laptop for someone else. I think this is one of the best laptops you could get for someone who is already going to work to school (at least partially).
For several reasons:
- It’s much thinner, lighter so it’s much easier to carry
- They have way more battery than most Windows Laptops
- They boot-up really really fast so they’re always ready to go.
Other reasons , if staying at home, are:
- Highest resolutions than most laptops (FHD is 1920x1080p, Retina resolutions are 2304 x 1440 )
- Best Trackpads and keyboards (trackpads may be useless if you’re staying at home using a mouse but the keyboards are really really clicky and fast to type on).
What I just said applies to every MacBook you come across.
If your worried about OSX not supporting the software you have in mind…worry not…surely most apps/programs today have at a OSX client: Office and Zoom have been there for ages. Now if your institution has given you specific software to run then you will probably run into trouble, however, there are work arounds this problem ( using Parallels/BootCamp to launch windows programs or .exe files).
So the only real issue with the MacBooks is price: The newest MacBook, like the one featured here, will cost you at least 900$.
However, you can get MacBooks at a much much cheaper price if you go for older models. For example:
If you really want a MacBook and you don’t have the money, you can go for refurbished MacBooks without having to worry about any breakdowns. You get a 90-day warranty and it’s plenty of time to find out if there’s anything wrong with it and since they’re Apple products, they’re very unlikely to do so even after several years. Their build quaility is that good.
The first version of this post was released when COVID wasn’t the issue it is today so some of the stuff that you might find here apply to a regular class settings but most of it will be related to what we need from a computer during this health crisis.
RAM will make the biggest difference for a speedy workflow and all the multitasking you have in mind. Most of the time, even more so than what CPU you have.
So if you are here because your laptop can’t keep up with the things you do. Then you may just need to up your RAM and that’ll be it (assuming you have less than 8GB RAM).
4GB: will slow you down to a crawl if you have tons of web browsing tabs open AND/OR running more than 3 programs at the same time. If that’s not your workflow, then you will barely just make it with 4GB RAM especially if you are using Windows 10 S mode, Chrome OS or an Apple laptop.
8GB: I don’ care what you do with your laptop. 8GB will never EVER slow you down. Of course as long as you avoid very hardware demanding appplications like video/photo editing software that professionals use and even then 8GB will still be enough for mosf of those guys.
+16GB: totally unnecessary and should be avoided unless you’ve got no choice (you’ve found a good deal and that laptop has a 16GB RAM then it wouldn’t hurt to have more).
The two big companies making processors are Intel and AMD. Unfortunately, they’ve both made it difficult and confusing to get the processor one needs for a very specific task in mind.
I don’t think there is a problem with their “H” and “U” labels as you may have seen in the section above. The H stands for high graphics (gaming) and the U for “ultra low voltage” which is basically us (not very power hungry tasks), that’s very easy to tell.
It’s more about telling which of these “U” processors is faster than the other and why is one “U” processors much more expensive to buy for a desktop or why does it make a laptop more expensive.
Then, there’s also the issue of “turbo boost” and “number of cores” and how that makes a laptop more powerful than the other.
I don’t want you to become a world expert on CPUs , there are other posts on this site for that. You can check them on the sidebar. So what we’ll do here is set a few pointers so you don’t end up with a processors which is very expensive and which you don’t need and instead you end up with a processor you will find useful and affordable at the same time
- Ryzen 7 / Core i7 “H” processors are the fastest of the fastest for very hardware demanding tasks. Rule out of those or ANY processor with an “H” on it.
- Intel Celeron/Pentium/Atom CPUs (on laptops) are to be avoided. They’re very cheap but they’re also very slow and the truth is they’re designed for much weaker devices like tablets.
- Any AMD processor that doesn’t say “Ryzen” must also be avoided. Most, although not all of them, are pretty much like those we just described, they’re slow and made for tablets.
- Also avoid anything from Intel that doesn’t have the 7,8,9,10,11 or 12 on the first digits of the label: Ex: Core i3 6120U / Core i5 6100 are outdated and slow.
- You can get any CPU from AMD that has the label Ryzen on it (discarding only the Ryzen 7 chips which are too powerful).
Don’t worry about clock speeds #cores , as long as you follow these rules you’ll get the cores/clock speeds you need. Thats the point after all
If this is still all confusing to you just remember to go for recent “ultra low voltage” CPUs or Ryzen CPUs. Ex: Core i3 10110U / Ryzen 3 3200U. Come back to this post to double check the processor you have meet all these requirements. Obviously this is all assuming you want a budget laptop.
STEM Teachers: The only exception to everything we just said would be for STEM teachers who might need to run MatLab/Engineering 3D software. You should probably refer to the official site of the software you are using or check out other posts on this site.
Obviously all laptops come with a Wifi Card otherwise they wouldn’t be able to connect to the internet unless you plug in an ethernet cable directly from your modem.
However, if you are reading this in 2022, it’s all about getting a good WiFi Card now.
Since you probably have a lot of people staying at your place saturating the internet and sometimes rendering it useless, the latest WiFi Card might help you out.
The latest WiFi Cards, especially WiFi 6 , can get you the best internet speeds out of your internet service by giving you the best of the best reception at your house and even boosting speeds in those places where internet reception is very poor.
As long as you get a laptop made during the past 3 years you will get at least one of the three latest WiFi Cards released: Wifi AC or Wifi AX (Wifi 6)
WiFi AC or 802.11 AC: is the most common type of wireless card found on laptops. They can even be found on 2022 laptops. If you end up with one don’t sweat they only have very poor receptions in stadiums concerts and huge auditoriums.
WiFi 6 or 802.11 AX: This is the latest and best and only found on very very few laptops. Not many have them because the benefits over the 802.11 AC aren’t significant . They are most useful if you’re in a place congested with people. Well that kind of rings a bell doesn’t it? Schools are full of people using the internet in one form of another and now with this Covid-19 that also becomes useful in our very homes, where we have our family members using the internet all the time.
Either type is fine though but I would still favor the latest because of how important internet connections are to teachers.
Please note that to get the advantages of WiFi 6 wireless cards found on laptops, YOU MUST HAVE A MODEM OR A ROUTER THAT SUPPORTS WIFI 6
If you don’t you can just buy one and set it up right away.
Assuming things are back to normal, you are likely to have a repository of books and presentations on a laptop. I’m talking about thousands of pdf files and hundreds of presentation files. But even if that sounds like it’s going to take a lot of space, the reality is that it doesn’t. It will probably take 1% of the storage you have available on most commodity machines.
The lowest capacity you’ll get from a laptop is 128GB. So let’s use that and run some calculations:
Windows 10 Home (not S mode) : 20GB
Any MS Office (latest or not they all take up the same space) : 5GB
Zoom/Discord/Video players and all other software: 10GB
100 Books: 2 GB
So you’ll be using about 30% of the lowest storage capacity in laptops (usually they 2x that ).
What if you store a lot videos? or Play STEAM games?:
Assuming you’ve got 100 videos of 1h each weighing 504MB. Then we need an extra 50GB. You still have about 30GB left (37+50GB = 87GB) and about 3/4 of the capacity filled (assuming you have a 128GB drive).
But if you still play games and keep a library of music to keep your sanity :
- Size of AAA Game like FortNite/WoW/MC ~30GB
- x1000 mp3 songs (3.5MB each) ~ 3.5Gigs
Now you will likely need more space but most laptops don’t have 128GB, they have at least 256GB. So it’s not a matter of concern if you’re not playing very hardware demanding games and if you’re not saving tons of Zoom Meetings/storing a lot videos on your laptop.
256G: Free Space is Important!
I still recommend you get 256GBbecause computers will slow down good once they start running out of space. A good rule of thumb is to make sure your computer has only used 70% of its total storage capacity.
SSD vs HDD
All along I’ve been referring to Solid State Drives because these are the ones that come with 128GB or 256GB in budget laptops. On the other hand, those 1TB (~1000GB) storage drives you’ve seen on some budget laptops will always be made out of HDD (Hard Disk Drives). Although the extra space is nice, they’re several times slower than SSDs.
If you want a fast computer you must avoid HDDs unless they come with another Solid State Drive (like the first laptop on the list). Anything you store on your HDD will run slow so you should not keep any software or anything that you need to load fast (including Windows or the OS system you use). They’re useful to save big files you don’t frequently use and which don’t need to be opened so quickly like Books and Videos (these should open in less than one second whether they are stored on SSDs or HDDs).
Just make sure ZOOM, Windows 10, Office are all placed in the SSD storage to get your machines up and ready in less than 10 seconds from the moment you turn it on
With this health crisis going on, having extra screen space is no longer an option. We have to multitask all day and we also have to stare at this thing for several hours non-end.So here are the ONLY two things you need to know when picking a laptop.
Laptops come in all sizes. From 10inch to 17inch. Those laptops with 15 inches or 17 inches in size will obviously be able to fit in bigger displays and that’s exactly what you want.
11”:These are way too small and they must be avoided even more now than ever because there’s some serious multitasking going on these days. Another reason to avoid these is because they have little keyboards and they tend to be really bad to type on (mostly due to poor design not because they’re small). They also do not have FHD resolutions. If you are something like a PE teacher and classes are back to normal in your school, then they might be a good addition to a desktop you have at home because they’re very very portable.
13”: This size is kind of okay if you want something portable but they will lack a numerical keyboard. As long as you get a FHD resolution you will probably never be limited by the screen size.
15-17”: These are the sweet spot. The FHD + this much size will give you an insane amount of space to have Zoom and another window open next to each other.
Thin Bezels: One way to add even MORE space to an already big laptop is to buy a model that has VERY THIN Bezels, these will be able to fit in a slightly bigger screen. So let’s say a 17 inch laptop will actually have a screen that’s more
Resolution: FHD or nothing
I know I mentioned resolution several times but what is exactly resolution? Obviously it makes things looks crispier and clearer and nicer but that’s not all of it. Resolution can increase the amount of workspace area you have avaiable as well. It does so by resizing icons/tools/interfaces, basically reducing anything you see on the screen to smaller yet easy to distinguish objects which in turn gives you a lot lot more space.
So the more resolution your laptop has, the more free space you’ll have at your disposal. If you add that to a 17” display with a thin bezel, then you’ve got yourself a gigantic screen space very close to the size of a desktop monitor. (at least it should feel like it).
HD, HD+: v These are low resolutions. The HD+ might be okay but the HD is not acceptable. If you running the latest version of Windows (11 now I think?) if you have this much resolution it’s going to feel like you’re running Win 98. Microsoft Word alone will probably take all of your screen space.
Brightness is very important especially if you are stepping out of the house with your laptop. If your desk is sitting next to a Window and you bring your laptop to school, then you need to make sure you have at least 300 nits. Unfortunately, manufacturers do not list brightness levels in their products description so you’re going to have to rely on third-party reviews or customer reviews .
Most laptops will have 250 nits though and since are still stuck with this COVID crisis, it will be okay for now.
Matte vs Glossy Screens (TN vs IPS displays)
Laptops with TN displays will get darker and darker the moment you rotate the screen up or down. IPS displays do not have this issue, they are clear regardless of the angle.
On the other hand, glossy screens are very reflective which might cause glares and that can be unhealthy if you have poor vision already. Matte displays are on the other hand less reflective and will prevent glares and consequently are much easier on the eyes (they filter blue light as well).
So what you want is an IPS display but these usually do not have a Matte display on top of it. If you want to work with an eye-healthy screen, then you just need to add a screen protector to your IPS display
Don’t worry about it.
All laptops come with at least TWO USB ports, you can use these for external CD Drivers/Back ups/external keyboards/mouse etc.
All laptops ALSO come with at least ONE display port so you can connect your laptop to a projector or an external display. Even if they don’t have this port (as in the case of ChromeBooks/MacBooks), you can get an adapter and you’re good to go.
Since we tend to write more than ever now especially with the health crisis, a good keyboard is something you may want to prioritize.
All laptops have good keyboards really and I really doubt anyone here will render them useless.
However, it’s amazing how much a difference a good keyboard will make on your workflow. Some keyboards just make typing less tiring and more natural to do speeding up workflow tremendously.
Unfortunately, manufacturers never talk about their keyboards. Most won’t even mention if they have the backlit feature. And what’s more, the best keyboards are usually found very premium laptops (like MacBooks/Dell XPS etc).
However, if you can’t afford those laptops, here’s a way to get the best keyboard when choosing a laptop:
- All MacBooks have great keyboard. Can’t afford the new ones? Maybe an older model will be cheaper .
- Most Windows laptops above 700$ will have great keyboards especially if they’re +15”.
- Thin and lightweight 13” Windows laptops above 700$ are “premium laptops” you bet they have good keyboards.
- For Windows laptops under 700$ usually thicker laptops will have better keyboards (more travel).
- 15-17” Windows laptops have better keyboards, on average, than 13” laptops since there’s more space to separate them well and enough thickness to allow more travel distance.
If you are not sure, check out LaptopMag for thorough reviews on Keyboard. That and Amazon should be enough to make a good call.
OSX(Mac) and Windows
Software for teaching purposes in avaiable in both systems. You can always do the switch to a new OS provided you have the time of course. Remote desktop apps, Office and the usual stuff are all available on both Windows and Macs.
OSX isn’t really an issue unless you’re using third party software made by your institution.
Chrome/Windows 10 S mode: These may or may not be great for teaching. You will be limited to what you can install on your computer to whatever it’s avialable on the Chrome or Windows App store. The usual stuff is there but you can’t install third party software which you download from the internet, so it’s really up to you.
What kind of third party software do I mean?
OneNote:super useful to plan lesson, also as a class-book for every student to collaborate. The full versions are ony available on Windows and Mac. Though Chrome OS has an app for it too.
If you have any questions, questions or any suggestions. Please leave a comment below. Your input is taken seriously in our posts and will also be used for future updates.