Today, laptops are a must-have for any teacher and educator, whether it’s to improve the classroom teaching dynamics or to make online classes possible.
A good laptop not only makes communicating with students, their parents, and other teaching staff so much easier and more effective, it also changes how teachers get to engage with their students. Plus, using a laptop makes doing other teaching related tasks easy and hassle-free. These include things like:
- Making presentations
- Creating study materials
- Printing written exam papers
- Administering online exams
- Teaching online classes
- Giving online assignments
- Tracking student performance
- Task tracking and scheduling
- Project-based learning
- Research work
You see, laptops help teachers effortlessly adapt to this ever-changing tech-savvy world, and more importantly, laptops help teachers help their students better. So, if you’re looking for the best laptop for teachers, read on further!
Laptop System Requirements
You might think that buying a laptop for teaching is easy- after all, you don’t need fancy graphics cards and 4K screens, right? While that may be true, there are still quite a few requirements for a laptop to be suitable for performing all those teaching related tasks and activities.
|Minimum requirements||Recommended requirements|
|Processor||8th Gen Intel Core i5||10th Gen Intel Core i7|
|Graphics card||Integrated Intel HD 615||Integrated Intel UHD 620|
|Storage||256GB SSD||512GB SSD|
|Display||13.3” full HD||15.6” full HD IPS|
|Battery life||~5 hours||~8 hours|
|WiFi card||WiFi AC||WiFi AX|
|Keyboard||Backlit||Backlit, with number pad|
Aside from these things, it’s also extremely helpful for a teaching laptop to have keys that have a low travel distance, webcams that are in full HD resolution, and in this day and age, aluminum bodies which are much easier to clean and sanitize.
Our Favorite Laptops For Teachers
Now that you know what to look for when it comes to laptops for teachers, let’s take a look at our top picks this 2021:
If you want the best laptop for teachers in 2021, look no further than the Acer Aspire 5 Slim Laptop. It’s a great choice for many reasons: one, it’s easily portable yet powerful, and two, it’s budget-friendly, which makes it affordable for teachers with less-than-ideal salaries.
One of the many things we like about this laptop is that it features a dual core AMD Ryzen 3 series CPU, which can take on even the most complex jobs. It also comes with all the right stuff you’d want from a laptop, such as a dedicated graphics card, ultra-fast SSD storage, and a decent battery life.
Moreover, the Aspire 5 also features a 15-inch full HD screen with thin bezels. This means that you can see more, do more, and enjoy crisp, sharp visuals while you work (or play). All in all, Acer really delivered with this model, giving us one of today’s best laptops for on-the-go productivity.
- 15.6” full HD IPS display
- AMD Ryzen 3 3000 CPU
- AMD Radeon Vega 3 Mobile GPU
- 4GB DDR4 RAM, 126GB SSD
- 7.5 hour battery life
One of the few laptops on the market that promises the best of both worlds in terms of work and play is the 2020 Asus Vivobook 17.3. This one’s a truly amazing option as it manages to be quite compact for its 17-inch profile. That likely has to do with the thin bezels on its display, which not only gives you amazing visuals, but also keeps things within a small-ish footprint.
The Vivobook also comes with lots of other exciting features, like the quad core processor, RX Vega 10 graphics card, and dual storage drives, all of which help you get just about anything done without much fuss.
Now, we can go on and on about this laptop’s pretty impressive hardware configurations, but what really impresses us is the way it manages to give you the most comfortable and productive user experience. This is all thanks to the immersive screen that, despite the thin bezels, still manages to feature an HD camera, as well as the ErgoLift hinge that makes typing comfier.
- 15 to 17” full HD LED display
- AMD Quad Core Ryzen 7 3700U CPU
- AMD Radeon RX Vega 10 GPU
- 12GB DDR4 RAM, 512GB SSD
- 9 hour battery life
Meanwhile, for MacOS users, Apple’s best laptop for online teaching is easily the Apple MacBook Air. It’s a popular choice, too, for many obvious reasons. For starters, with a 13.3-inch footprint, it’s the most portable laptop on this list, making it ideal for on-the-go productivity without sacrificing comfort or limiting your viewing experience.
If its full HD, LED backlit, retina display with True Tone technology doesn’t impress you, we don’t know what will. The triple T alone makes staring at the laptop screen comfortable even if you do so for an entire day, since the display panel’s white balance automatically adjusts to your ambient lighting.
In any case, this laptop packs quite a punch with its hardware specs. What really takes the cake, however, is its security and smart features, like the T2 chip that guarantees full disk data encryption and secure boot ups, and the ‘Hey Siri’ feature that lets you perform your tasks and more using voice commands.
- 13.3” full HD retina display
- 1.6GHz Intel Core i5 CPU
- Intel UHD 617 GPU
- 8GB RAM, 128GB SSD
- 12 hour battery life
Even more powerful than the MacBook Air is the Apple MacBook Pro, which is the brand’s most powerful laptop to date. It boasts of a superfast Intel Core i9 processor that features an advanced thermal design and offers plenty of processing power for prolonged performance. Equally impressive is its next generation graphics that delivers superior graphics horsepower.
But, as a teacher, those may not be the things you’re focused on, so let’s talk about this laptop’s other features. For instance, the keyboard. It’s comfortable, responsive, quiet, and is packed with features that make for a more fluid and efficient workflow.
There’s also the studio-quality mic and six-speaker sound system that makes classroom presentations and online classes more immersive, the retina display’s True Tone technology that makes working for hours on the computer more comfortable, the impressive, ultra-fast storage capacities and the T2 chip that protects your data, and so much more.
- 13 to 16” LED backlit retina display
- Intel Core i9 CPU
- AMD Radeon Pro 5000M GPU
- 16GB RAM, 512GB to 1TB SSD
- 11 hour battery life
Also hailed by many as the best laptop for online school is the Lenovo IdeaPad 3, which is actually a lightweight, entry-level laptop that may not be the most powerful device on the market, but is definitely practical, well-performing, highly functional when it comes to performing various day-to-day tasks like typing up documents, online research, video chats, and so on.
It promises long-lasting performance with a decent Ryzen 5 series processor and a 7-hour battery life. In fact, you can get so much stuff done in a short amount of time thanks to the CPU’s multi-core processing power. There’s even Q-Control to let you conveniently switch between battery saving mode and Max mode as needed.
We also like how immersive the visual experience is on this laptop’s display, which is a huge advantage when doing any online work. What you’re getting here is a narrow bezel 14-inch screen in full HD resolution that delivers beautifully clean image clarity.
- 14” full HD display
- AMD Ryzen 5 3500U CPU
- AMD Radeon Vega 8 GPU
- 8GB DDR4 RAM, 256GB SSD
- 7 hour battery life
Finally, there’s also the Asus VivoBook 15, a more compact version of the VivoBook 17.3 we reviewed earlier. This can be a huge benefit in that you’re getting a more mobile notebook that you can more easily take with you anywhere you go, such as when jumping from class to class or bringing your work home from the classroom.
Like the bigger VivoBook, this one features a frameless NanoEdge display while packing an HD camera. It also boasts of the comfortable ErgoLift hinge to offer more viewing and typing positions, an ergonomic backlit keyboard, and plenty of connectivity ports that are a must for teachers and students alike.
All that said, this 15-inch VivoBook does come with lower specs as compared to the bigger version, but the hardware is still good enough to perform most everyday tasks, so it’s nothing to be worried about, especially when you consider that this model is almost half the price of the 17-inch VivoBook. Besides, it also features a fingerprint reader for one-touch sign-ins.
- 15” full HD touchscreen display
- Intel Core i3-1005G1 CPU
- Intel UHD GPU
- 8GB DDR4 RAM, 128GB SSD
- 7 hour battery life
What To Look For In A Laptop For Teaching
In this day and age, especially now that everyone seems to be doing online classes, teachers need to be able to adapt and keep up, and for the most part, that means having constant access to appropriate devices like laptops and tablets.
That said, even for educators who are not teaching specialized classes like computer engineering, there are still certain requirements and specifications that teachers must look for when choosing a suitable laptop.
To find the best computer for teachers, consider these factors:
Type of Teaching
First of all, what type of teaching do you usually do? This is an important question as it affects a couple of necessary specs and system requirements for your laptop.
For instance, if you mostly do classroom teaching and stick to one classroom for the entire day, you don’t have to worry about the laptop’s weight and battery life since you’re not carrying the laptop around and there’s always an outlet behind you.
Instead, it would be best to go for a larger laptop so students can easily see what’s on screen without having to use a projector. Speaking of, you’ll also need lots of different ports to accommodate projectors, TV screens, speakers, and anything else you might have to connect to the laptop during class.
Of course, if you do teach in a classroom setting but jump from class to class, you’ll need to find a good balance between screen size and portability. Or if the nature of your class doesn’t have much need for laptops (such as fieldwork, practical skills classes, etc), you might not even need a laptop altogether, and can make do with a cheaper and more portable tablet.
In this case, the Samsung Galaxy Tab S3 9.7-Inch, 32GB Tablet would work great for you.
On the other hand, when it comes to a laptop for online classes, the bigger ones are better, with weight and battery life not really a priority. What’s important here is that you have a good quality HD webcam and microphone so you can do Zoom classes properly.
Now, keep in mind that many newer models have completely done away with cameras to make for bigger displays and thin bezels, so you might have to buy a separate webcam, in which case the Full HD Webcam 1080P Streaming Camera would be an excellent option.
One of the first things you’ll want to decide on is the display. This includes not only the size of the screen, but also other factors like resolution and brightness, or if you are more into the visually technical fields, there’s also the matter of pixels, frame rates, and the like.
We’ll talk about screen size in a bit. For now, let’s tackle resolution and brightness.
In terms of resolution, higher is better up to a certain degree- meaning, don’t settle for anything less than a full HD screen unless you want your eyes to bleed after staring at the screen for an hour, but also don’t splurge on a 4K display unless you’re actually going to take advantage of it.
As for brightness, this is particularly important if you often use your devices in outdoor settings, since your screen needs to compete with the bright sunlight, not to mention compete with shadows and harsh glares. In this scenario, a bright, sharp, and matte anti-glare display is best.
When it comes to screen size, here’s what you need to consider:
13 inch screens are small and compact, which is great for those who are constantly moving around since the laptop won’t weigh too much and can easily fit in a backpack. These might also be suitable for online teaching if you’re not particular about the display, or if you won’t be doing hardware-demanding tasks, since a small laptop can only fit so much.
15 inch screens are the best for just about any purpose. These are big enough that they won’t strain your eyes after hours of working on the computer, and small enough that you can still carry them around. 15” laptops also pack better hardware than their smaller counterparts, making them more suitable for things like video editing, programming, and MMORPG games.
17 inch screens are big, bulky, and heavy, but you get so much workable space, which is great if you’re always doing presentations in front of an audience and can’t be bothered to use/ don’t have access to a projector, or if you have a dedicated workstation at home and won’t be going anywhere with your laptop.
Touchscreen: Yes or No?
Unless you’re averse to it, by all means go for a touchscreen display. It’s incredibly helpful for a lot of teaching related activities, and especially for online teaching. With a touchscreen function, both online and in-person classes can be so much more fun, engaging, and interactive.
You’re not limited to the mousepad for demonstrations and activities: you can point to certain things on screen with your hand, zoom in and move things around like Iron Man using JARVIS, write words, draw circles, and just generally have better control and flexibility.
In fact, certain learning platforms such as VIPKID feature interactive classrooms where touchscreen displays can come in handy.
The battery life of your laptop may or may not be an important factor depending on the setting where you’ll use your laptop. Like we mentioned earlier, if you’ll mostly be teaching inside one classroom or will be teaching online classes in the comfort of your home, you can just keep your laptop plugged in for the entire day.
Although, of course, doing that can harm your battery over time. Besides, having a decent battery life is never a bad thing- especially if you’re using power-hungry programs, or you’ll be hunched over the computer for hours on end, or if, for example, you’re using a laptop for nursing school, in which case you’re always on the go.
No matter what type of teaching you do or what your classroom setup is, it’s always a good idea to have a laptop that comes with several ports so you won’t have a hard time connecting things like projectors and external screens.
That said, most of the top laptops in 2021, or just about any modern thin and light laptop, for that matter, suffer from a collective lack of connectivity options. This means that you’ll likely have to buy adaptors, and while they can be a hassle to carry around, the silver lining is that they’re quite cheap and easily replaceable.
We’ve mentioned a couple times how weight doesn’t play as much of a factor if the laptop will mostly be stationary. What we mean is, you don’t have to bend over backwards trying to find the lightest laptop available- even 4 or 5 pounds is enough.
Besides, who wants a heavy laptop? Sure, if you’re looking for the best laptops for web design or some similar field, you might not have a choice since all those high-end configurations add significant weight to a laptop, but at the end of the day, a laptop is made for the purpose of being mobile, and such, it should be reasonably lightweight.
Processor and RAM
Moving on to the hardware stuff, when it comes to laptops for teachers, the processor and RAM are the most important since these two are what guarantees smooth and flawless performance. With a decent CPU and RAM, you’re getting quick, snappy operations that allow you to work effortlessly and without lag.
The best computer for online classes, in this case, is one with a mid-range processor and at least 8 to 16gb RAM, so you always have enough power and memory to run various applications, often at the same time.
Storage is important- that’s a no brainer. The question is, just how much storage capacity do you need, and do you need it all inside your laptop?
External hard drives and cloud-based storage are so common nowadays, and these are preferred by many laptop users for many reasons like freeing up space in the laptop, the added security of external back ups, and the accessibility of having your files with you on demand.
Of course, even with these, you still need a decent storage capacity in your laptop so you can store applications, multimedia files, games, and so on. When looking at storage, go for a combination of SSD and HDD (ex. 128gb SSD + 1TB HDD), or if you can afford it, a high capacity SSD.
OS and Software
In terms of OS, unless you need to use certain programs that only work on either Windows or MacOS, it’s really up to you as to which operating system you prefer. Again, just make sure that everything you need to run is compatible with the OS you choose.
Having said that, try to avoid Chromebooks as much as possible, since you’ll likely have to use a handful of software that aren’t available on Chrome’s app store, and you’ll have a hard time installing these and getting them to run without a proper OS.
There are, of course, exceptions to this, like OneNoteforTeachers.com, which is a great platform for planning and creating lessons, delivering curriculum, organizing your tasks and activities, and promoting collaboration between students and fellow teachers. This software is available on all major operating systems including ChromeOS.
In most cases, an entry-level integrated GPU is more than sufficient for a teacher’s laptop. You’ll be able to do so much, including streaming videos and participating in virtual classes. Of course, it’s still important to consider what softwares and applications you often use (whether or not it’s work-related) and see whether these programs come with graphics requirements.
One thing that’s extremely important for laptops amidst the Covid-19 pandemic is a reliable WiFi card that lets you wirelessly connect to your internet router, and more importantly, maintains a stable connection even with a saturated internet usage in your household or vicinity (which is commonplace with everyone working/ studying from home).
Obviously, all modern laptops readily come with WiFi cards, so the question is more of what kind of WiFi card you have and whether it’s the most capable and cost-effective option.
You may not be an avid gamer or a crazed novelist, but even if your fingers aren’t flying over the keyboard, as a teacher, you’re still typing aplenty, what with all those emails, reports, presentations, exams, and a gazillion other things that you have to do.
As such, the best computer for teachers is one that features a good keyboard, which means it should be comfortable, responsive, ergonomic, have a good travel distance, and are backlit. You might not know it, but a good keyboard can spell the difference between cramped fingers and a lightning fast typing speed.
Naturally, you also have to account for your budget. For a teacher’s laptop, you don’t really need high-end specs and techy features, so you can get away with spending considerably less on a laptop than those in certain other professions. The perfect price range would be $500 to $1000- in fact, the best laptop for teachers in 2021- the Acer Aspire 5- costs even less!
Service and Warranty
Finally, before you click that checkout button, make sure to take a look at the laptop’s service and warranty options. A reasonable coverage and timeframe for the warranty is important, not only so you can protect your investment no matter how cheap or expensive your laptop is, but also so any issues that might arise while you’re using the laptop can be resolved quickly.
What do I need to do to use my laptop for online teaching?
The first and most important thing is to make sure that it meets all of the requirements we talked about earlier, such as the display, battery life, connectivity, hardware specs, and so on. You should also test the webcam and microphone, or if you’re using external devices, see if they’re compatible/ working properly with your laptop.
Once that’s out of the way, here’s what you need to do:
- Get a stable and reasonably fast internet connection.
- Download all the necessary apps like Zoom, OneNote, Skype, etc.
- Log in to these programs, set up your account, familiarize yourself with how things work.
- Once you’re good to go, set your schedule and prepare whatever you will need for your online classes.
- Send a meeting link to your students, and seize the day!
Are laptops better than desktops for teaching?
It really boils down to personal preference and how you plan on using your computer. Ask yourself, will you only use it in a fixed office setting, or do you need to move around with it? Even just wanting to lay in bed or slouch on your sofa while working matters, since you can’t do these things on a desktop.
Ultimately, the best computer for teachers, whether that’s a desktop PC or a laptop, is one that perfectly caters to your needs.
At the end of the day, the kind of laptop that’s right for you should be based on what you want to do with it, aka what type of classes do you teach, what field of study you’re in, what sorts of tasks you usually do on a computer, and whether you do other activities like video editing or playing games.
That said, we still highly recommend the Acer Aspire 5 as the best laptop for teachers, since it packs quite a punch with powerful hardware configurations that let you take on just about anything, while still being lightweight and compact that you’re not sacrificing portability and on-the-go productivity.
How about you? What’s the best laptop for you?