5 Best Laptops For Teachers 2020 (Post Covid-19)

Okay I won’t get into many details but let me just say this: COVID-19 has changed education forever. Even if we somehow manage to find a vaccine and get everyone to take it, we’ll all still need to take precautions especially with social distancing which has a huge impact on education and how teachers will teach from now on.

So today more than ever, computers are the most important tool for teachers. Not having a good laptop for teaching today is like going into a classroom without a chalkboard.

How can I find a laptop that can make my job much easier?

Before we answer that question we have to look all the things we are doing now post-COVID:

  • Tons of web browsing to prepare lessons and get up to date
  • Use MS Office & Zoom like they were facebook
  • Evaluating assignments and exams on a computer
  • Making multimedia presentations and upload tons of docs
  • Record Video lessons
  • Sometimes even prepare lesson 30 minutes beforehand !
  • Insane multiasking

So we are basically going to need a great display and a laptop that can handle serious multitasking.

What kind of laptop is that? It’s going to be a premium laptop. Those are comfortable, easy on the eyes, fast, have the best wifi reception, full HD IPS displays, etc…

The problem is…

The salary of teachers isn’t getting any higher, in fact, post COVID a lot of teachers are being paid a lot less.

So what do we do?

That doesn’t mean you can’t land a laptop that’s almost like a premium laptop at a lower price. Of course, it would be better if you could actually get a premium if you’ve got the cash.

So in this post…

What we are gonna do is list a few of laptops that are pretty decent for teaching and are a lot cheaper than premium laptops. But, we’ll also list some premium laptops for those who can afford them and don’t mind investing some extra cash to make their jobs much easier to deal with.

Top 5 Best Laptops For Teachers

There are a lot of things to watch out for if you want to land the perfect laptop for teaching.
We’ll list some of the things you have to look out for here and leave all the details to the last section in which we’ll also teach you what you need to know before you go shopping for laptops aroud your region.

CPU
You need a decent CPU. It isn’t complicated to look for one these days. Just make sure whatever CPU you end up with is recent: Ryzen or Intel Core from the 8th/10th generation.  More specifically, Core i3 and Ryzen 3 processors. I’d favor the Ryzen processors for budget and performance purposes but they can be scarce these days.

RAM
Minimum of 8GB of RAM, you’ll never run out of virtual memory! You don’t need to get 16GB at all. 4GB is  enough if you’re looking at ChromeBooks/MacBooks.

Display
Full HD + Huge display will make multitasking much much easier, you’ll have a huge amount of space to do so much stuff all at once.

KeyBoard
Keys should have a numberpad if possible but more importantly they need to be backlit. What about keyboard quality, I wanna type fast on this thing? Well that’s usually found on premium laptops ( +700$) but you can also find them on cheap laptops if you know what to look out for (check last section).

Ports
Ports are going to be important if you’ll get back to classes but if you’re going to teach classes online, they don’t matter at all.

Wifi Card
Probably the most important feature. The internet is going to be congested for a while and you want to squeeze out every bit of  speed you’ve paid for. So make sure you get the either the latest WiFi protocol , WiFi AX, or the one before that: WiFi AC. 

Storage
In the past, storage space wasn’t a big deal. But now with a lot of lectures being recorded and lots of videos to share, it might actually be a good idea to get 256GB if that becomes too expensive you’ll do ok with 128GB.

SSD is obviously a requirement too otherwise you’re going to lag a lot! No HDDs unless you want to bang your head on the screen when your laptop seriously slows down.

Design
Last but not least you’d want a laptop that is easy to sanitize. Though such customised laptops are just coming out, It’s something to keep in mindnow  when shopping for laptops until those are out and ready:

  • Aluminum built laptops are easier to sanitize.
  • Those that have a keyboard with low travel distance too.
  • Full HD webcams are super helpful but very few laptops have them(they all have HD webcams). It might be a better idea to buy a separate camera for now!

Anyways I’ve assembled this short list of laptops that I’m sure all of you regardless of what you teach and how you teach will find it useful. All of them have the most important specifications from the ones I just went over and a few of them will actually have everything I’ve just mentioned .


1. 2020 ASUS VivoBook 17

Best Laptop For Teachers

  AMD Ryzen 7 3700U

  12GB RAM DDR4

   AMD Radeon RX Vega 10

  512GB PCIe NVMe

  17” full HD TN

  5.1

  5 hours

  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

  (802.11 ac) and Bluetooth 4.1Interface


Hands down the best laptop you’ll find on Amazon for teaching post COVID-19. It seems it’s been stewed to perfection for us teachers and quite affordable too. Not ChromeBook cheap but not MacBook Pro expensive either. 

What’s so good about this laptop?

Just look at the screen, it’s 17 inch plus it has full HD. That’s gonna feel as big as a chalkboard, this screen resolution is rarely found on 17 inch laptops at this price. I don’t think you’ll ever have to complain about screen space to work with if you get this display. 

You won’t have the need to plug in an external monitor either. Look all the stuff I can do with a 17 inch full HD laptop:

That’s not the end of it though. For 700$ you also get a PCIe NVMe SSD with crazy amount of space. Booting up, launching software and multitasking will be a breeze. One thing I don’t like about this laptop is the RAM, 12GB is wayyyyyyy too much for personal use and teaching. It might come in handy though if you ever need to launch heavy software to do a demonstration on how to use it, who knows? But that doesn’t have been the case me I’ve always done fine with 8GB.

One of the things that makes this laptop cheap is the Ryzen 7 Processor. Now I’m not saying that this processor is bad and cheap and doesn’t hold a candle against Intel Core processors, in fact, I would say it’s better but that’s a matter of opinion.

The reason is that AMD processors are aimed at the general consumers and has always made their prices more affordable.
However after years of research and development, AMD with the Ryzen series has finally caught up or even beat Intel Processors while still mantaining an affordable price.

Now I’m now going to sugercoat it, the battery life on this model is abysmal, that’s because that screen size and resolution consume far too much power. But this shouldn’t be a problem because you’ll have an outlet close to your desk most of the time especially during this Pandemia.

Another thing to keep in mind is that there’s no IPS panel so you’re not gonna get a nice and clear screen if you like to play around with the hinges.

If you can’t find this model I really suggest that you grab a laptop with a  Ryzen processor over an Intel one for those reasons. Plus it’s always good to support the underdogs in any type of market especially if they actually deserve it…that way we can cheaper options for our children and our students in the future.

The model we chose here is way too powerful for just teaching but there was no other 17” model with all the specs this one has. Still it is relatively cheap. If you can’t afford this one, check the next three!

Buy Now


2. 2020 ASUS VivoBook 15”

Best Budget Laptop For Teachers

  Intel i3-1005G1

  8GB RAM DDR4

   Intel UHD

   128GB SSD

  15” full HD TN

  3.75lb

  7 hours

  (802.11 ac) and Bluetooth 4.1Interface

  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

This is the 15” version of the 17” VivoBook we talked about before.

It has a lot more differences than just the screen size though but it’s about half the price of the 17” VivoBook. So if you don’t mind the reduced screen size you should definitely opt for it. You’ll get the same speedy performance from it and the FHD resolution too. 

Yes I know it’s kind of obvious that you’ll get less RAM, a much less powerful processor and much less storage space which isn’t really a big deal because  those specs are not going to have such a big of an impact on your workflow.

But….and it’s a big but.

You are not going to get the full version of Windows 10. That’s going to hurt your workflow quite a lot if you really need to install special software from your instution or any other software that’s very specific to you and the way you teach. 

If everything else is just web based or you simply rely on simple programs like Office, Paint, Zoom and any other basic software or tool, you’ll be able to find as an app on the Windows Store.

Another thing you can do is just install the full blown version of Windows 10 if you don’t mind paying for it.

One last thing you should know is that this laptop has a full HD with

Buy Now


3. Acer Aspire E5

Best Cheap Laptop For Teachers

  AMD Ryzen 3 3200U

  4GB DDR4

   Radeon Vega 3

  128GB SSD

  15” full HD IPS

  3.97 lbs

  7 hours

    802.11 AC BlueTooh 4.0

  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 the cheapest option of the entire list but by no means the worst laptop.
 
In fact, if you take a good look at it you’ll notice it’s the best selling laptop on Amazon. That’s mainly because it has the best specs/money ration among all laptops for basic tasks.
 

What’s particularly interesting about this model is the display. It is both a FHD and IPS, that means you’ll get the best display quality and the best viewing angles out of the three laptops we’ve presented so far.

The lack of storage can be dealt with an external device and the processor though a lot less powerful than the Ryzen 7, has about the same performance as the Core i3…so those shouldn’t be a problem. As for the specs, the only thing that really bugs me is the 4GB of RAM.

Now 4GB of RAM is not going to slow you down to a crawl but it’s definitely going to hurt you if you run several apps and programs at once.  I use 4GB of RAM myself and have no problems with it but mileage may vary that’s why I recommended to go at least for 8GBs.

 

4GB is also not going to be a big problem if you keep Windows S mode but if you want to install Windows 10 that’s when you will lag from time to time. 

What you can do is either keep Windows S or just upgrade the RAM to 8GB before switching to Windows 10.

Buy Now


4. Lenovo IdeaPad 3 14”

Best Lenovo Laptop For Teachers

  AMD Ryzen 3 3200U

  8GB RAM DDR4

   Vega 3 Graphics,

  256GB SSD

  14” FHD

  3.3lb

  5 hours

  802.11ac

 

  3 USB-A ports, 1 USB 2.0 and 2 USB 3.0, there is no USB-C 

If you can afford this IdeaPad over the ASUS VivoBook or the Acer Aspire 5, I think you should go for it. Not only is this thing FHD with 8GB of RAM and with a more spacious SSD. It’s actually got the full blown version of Windows 10

All in all you won’t need to do any upgrades . However there are still a few cons you should keep in mind:

No ethernet port. That’s fine if you’re using Wifi but if when the internet is way too slow or you move to a location where internet reception is bad, the ethernet port helps tremendously. Note that none of the laptops here have one. So you’d just have to buy an adapter.

No numerical keypad.There’s also a way around this, you can buy an external numerical keypad. I bought one because I don’t have a 15-17” laptop and I crunch numbers a lot. Other than that, it’s got an unorthodox touch pad but that can also be solved if you use an external mouse.

Buy Now


5. New MacBook Air

Best MacBook For Teachers

  10th Gen Intel Core i3 processor

  8GB RAM DDR4

   Intel Iris Plus Graphics

  128GB-1TB Flash Storage

  13” Retina Display IPS

  3lb

  10 hours

  802.11ac Wi-Fi BlueTooh 5.0

  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)

Lastly, an apple laptop. No operating system and hardware is better than what any of the MacBooks offer.  If you get a MacBook Pro, you won’t have any single drawback with the display, trackpad, keyboard, battery life, Wifi Reception and of course performance.

However, as you can probably guess there are two issues with the MacBooks. One is their price and another one is the Operating system: OSX. While the price is something can be dealt with the Operating system might hurt your workflow if you realy a lot on software made for Windows only.

Anyways, if that’s not the case, there’s a workaround to deal with the price. You can do one of the followings:

  • Get a MacBook Air like the one shown here. They’re not as expensive but they don’t have a full HD 15” resolution. You have evaluate how important is screen space for you
  • Get a Refurbished MacBook Pro. These have insane resolution and plenty of screen space for multitasking especially the 15” versions, though the 13” versions stand equally well. Don’t be scared of buying refurbished MacBooks, they hardly present any problems, if ever, and if they do you still got the warranty from Amazon or Apple.

So those are the.5 laptops we could come up with during this state of emergency. If you like to find other models, don’t forget to make sure to follow our guideline hopefully whatever laptop you end up with at least doesn’t slow you down but makes everything easier for you. 

Buy Now


How To Buy The Best Laptop For Teachers

I wrote this guide back when COVID19 wasn’t an issue. So some of the things said here apply to a regular classroom setting and not the online thing we are dealing with now. But everything here should still be useful assuming we get back to teaching the following year.

CPU

The release of current processors from both Intel and AMD has made choosing a processor confusing and troublesome. It’s not that the labels are confusing but it’s hard to figure out which processor is slow and fast based on the numbers alone because you also have things like TurboBoost and Cores, etc.

So what we’ll do here is just tell you what labels to avoid and what labels we recommend so that we don’t bore you with detals:

  • Avoid Core i7/Ryzen 7 Processors unless they’re cheap. Choose Ryzen 7 over Intel Core i7: as you’ve seen in the list we had above, we included a Ryzen 7 processor only because it wasn’t too expensive to begin with and that laptop had way too much of the good stuff that we couldn’t simply ignore.
  • Avoid Intel Celeron/Pentium and anything that from AMD that doesn’t have the word Ryzen next to it. AMD A5, A7 and models like that are way too slow and so are Intel Celeron/Pentium Procesosrs. They’re basically made for much more portable devices or found in older models.
  • Avoid Anything from Intel that doesn’t have a 7,8,9,10 number in the front. If you follow this rule and decide to get a laptop with an Intel Chip you can’t go wrong! You’ll avoid the celeron, pentiums and the older generation processors.\

Exceptions: Obviously if you are a teacher of an engineering/STEM class running a heavy computational 3D software then the rules above don’t apply. There’s no nee to tell you what processor to buy either you probably know a lot more about computer hardware than me.

Don’t worry about Cores and Clock Frequency. All modern processors are at least dual core and they all got enough frequency to make running teaching tasks a breeze with the exceptions we just mentioned 

RAM

Actually what’s even more important than what processor you find is actually how much RAM you have.

Having enough RAM will have a bigger impact on performance and therefore your workflow. So if you ended up here because your laptop can’t keep up with all the thigns you have open nowadays  then you can avoid buying a new laptop by just getting more RAM (assuming you don’t have at 8GB already).

4GB: If you have 4GB, you’ll be more than likely to be slowed down when browsing with tons of tabs open and running more than 3-4 non web-based applications. Otherwise you may be okay with it. If you use Windows S or OSX (Apple) or a ChromeBook you’ll be fine with 4GB.

8GB: this will never slow you down no matter what you do with your computer. Of course, this is an exageration but you get my point. You shouldn’t really get Windows 10 on a 4GB laptop, it’s going to slow down to a crawl sometimes.

16GB: totally unnecessary and should be avoided but sometimes this is difficult becuase a lot of good laptops either come with 12 or 16GB.

WiFi

Getting a good Wifi Card is extremely important now. Everyone’s staying at home and the internet will sometimes get saturated by the number of people using Zoom.

Obviously all laptops come with a Wifi Card that allows you to connect to your router wirelessly. However, there are several types of WiFi cards on laptops.

But the main thing to keep in mind is that as long as you get a modern laptop, you should be able to get a capable WiFi card.

There are two types of Wifi Cards on modern laptops though:

802.11AC: Most modern laptops use this protocol. The only major flaw is that it is inefficient in congested places and the bandwidth is not used efficiently. I’m talking about stadiums, concerts, auditoriums,etc. 

802.11AX: This one is the latest and found on very few rare laptops. Not many have them because the benefits over the 802.11AC are not that significant. It basically fixes the problem with bandwidth sharing inefficiency. 

Either type of WiFi is fine.  If you go for any other type you’ll start to lose internet speed. Because other protocols are not as good as catching faint signals when you are from a really far distance to your router.

Storage

Storage Capacity

Teachers like myself usually carry tons of books, files, presentations and docs in our laptops. I’m talking about in the thousands. But even with that amount of files, storage is never really an issue for teachers because  those files don’t take more than one Gigabyte and the .lowest capacity you’ll get from a laptop is 128GB.

Let’s run some calculations:

Win10: 20GB
Office: 5GB
Other Software: 10GB
50 Books+Files: 1GB

So you’ll be using only about 30% of the lowest capacity you’ll find on a laptop.

However…if videos are a regular thing for you and you’re not just recording but downloading a lot of videos. Then:

Assuming you’ve got 100x 1h videos of 300MB each: ~30GB.

Now that will start filling up just over 50% the capacity of a 128GB storage drive. But if you install games and keep a library of music to keep your sanity then:

  • AAA Game ~30GB
  • x1000 mp3 songs (3.5MB each) ~ 3.5Gigs

Now you start going over 70% and that’s not good!

Free Space is Important!

A good rule of thumb to make sure you computer doesn’t start slowing down for whatever reason is to have your storage fill up to 70%. Anything more will start taking a toll on how fast your processor can find a particular piece of data and start to slow down.

So although you might be okay with 128GB but if you’re gamer or any other heavy software that weights more than 30GB than you’ll need at least a 256GB storage drive.

SSD vs HDD

Storage capacity may not be a big issue if you see the three letters “HDD” next to the storage description. Although they have 1TB  (1000GB of space), those three letters stand for Hard Disk Drive and they’re painfully slow compared to SSDs.

SSDs stand for Solid State Drives, they have no moving parts and they read/write data in a complete different manner than HDDs and they do that up to x17 faster.  It’s not an option at this point to not get one. Most modern laptops will have one anyways, the problem is that their storage capacities are low compared to HDDs

You should still opt for an SSD even though the storage capacity (the lowest is 128GB) might present a problem because they have several advantages:

  • No moving parts. Less chances of hard drive failure.
  • Less energy consumption. Because there’s no moving parts, they’ll consume less energy making your battery last longer
  • They read data fast: “SATA III” SSDs the slowest type of “SSD” will still read data several times faster than an HDD and boot up Windows 10 in less than 10 seconds.

Keyboard

We are not writers but we are not gamers either. We tend to write quite a lot to send emails especially now post COVID19. So a good keyboard is something we all have to strive for.  You’d be amazed how much difference a good keyboard will make on your workflow, it makes typing not just easier but a pleasure and depending on how good your are typing, a lot faster.

Now  the problem is that manufacturers never talk about their keyboards even when they don’t have a backlit feature, they don’t state it. So you cant expect them to tell you how good their keyboard feels, how much travel distance (how far you can push down) they have.

These are a few rules you can follow to avoid having a lousy keyboard:

  • This is a no brainer but aparently all MacBooks have great keyboard especially the older models.
  • Windows laptops above 700$ also have great keyboards.
  • If you are opting for a windows laptop below 700$, you need to make sure its keyboard has a deep traveling distance. So thicker laptops usually have nice keyboards to type on. Slim laptops not so much, you’re going to have to do a lot of research to make sure yours isn’t too bad.
  • Lastly, 15-17” Windows laptops on average have better keyboards than 13” laptops. That’s because they’re thicker and have more space to fill a complete old fashioned like keyboard.
  • LaptopMag is a good place to read about keyboard reviews. That and amazon reviews. 

Display

Size

You should aim for the biggest display you can find. The only problem with bigger displays is their weight. But because you are a teacher you’re not going to be commuting back and forth, your laptop will always stand on a desk next to an outlet and even more so during this pandemia.

11”: These are too small and you’ll have trouble multitasking with it. Plus their keyboards tend to be really bad on average and they don’t have a FHD resolution nor an IPS panel most of the time. But if you’re something like a PE teacher, then this is really your only option. 

13”: These are okay but they still lack a full numerical keypad. As long as you get a FHD resolution with it , you won’t be limited by screen space because the resolution will actually scale down all of your windows and still make them visible for you to read.

15-17”: These are the sweet spot. The FHD + the screen size will give you an insane amount of space and you’ll be looking at the desktop background most of the time but that’s good because who knows when you’ll have to use the extra space. During this coronavirus pandemia, they actually become a lot more useful, Zoom will work a lot better with this much of space!

Resolution

Resolution is just as important as screen space. In fact, it has a bigger impact on how much you can multitask. Just avoid HD resolutions and perhaps HD+ because running windows 10 on them will feel like your running windows 98. Just microsoft word will take a lot of space no matter how much you try to scale it down.

Brightness Levels

Brighitness isn’t very important during this COVID19 era because most of us are staying at home. However, it does become an issue the minute you step out of your house.

If you work next to a Window or there’s a lot of sunlight getting inside your classroom/office, then you’re going to need to either close the curtains or get a display with high brighness levels.

What’s high? 300 nits. Avg is 250 nits.

Manufacturers won’t list this so you’ll just have to head over to websites like notebookcheck or laptopmag that actually do some serious testing on them,

This isn’t really an issue though and not something you must look out for unless you spend a lot of time outdoors just like a PE teacher.

Matte vs Glossy Screens

There are two types of display “finish”: matte and glossy. Matte is a nice bonus to have, it’ll deal far better with reflections than glossy screens if you have low brightness levels.

Ports

All laptops will come with at least a USB port so there will be away for you to back up your files. They will also come with a display port in case you want to connect yours to a projector. Even in the rare scenario, they don’t have an HDMI or display port you can always buy an adapter but this isn’t an issue these days.

Operating System

OSX and Windows

 There are software available for teaching purposes in both Operating systems. These include remote desktop settings, office and any other grading software you may need. I don’t think it’s really an issue unless you’re using third party software by your institution that only runs on Windows Machines.

One thing I would avoid are chromebooks though. You’re really going to need a full blown software just in case you need to install something unusual and it isn’t avaible on the Chrome App Store. 

Software

I’m talking software like this:

iTacl: will allow you to remote control the laptops within your classroom (if you are on a 1-one-1 classroom that some schools offer or if you are heading to one). Here’s a more complete list of all current monitoring software

OneNote: take notes, plan your lessons, create your lessons, use a class-book within it for the entire class to collaborate, contribute and more.  These are available on Win and Macs. On ChromeOS too.

DisplayNotes  you don’t need software like this anymore because Zoom will also display what’s on your screen to your students.

Type of Teachers

Before we finish this section I just want to go over a few things that may seem obvious to a lot of you but I still want you to keep in mind:

Classroom Teaching: here weight and battery don’t really matter because there are outlets available all the time and you’ll just be walking to lectures and your office.

Physical Education: it’s very rare for a PE teacher to worry about computers since everything can be done on the phone now but if you’re intereted in laptops, check out the surface Pro. See if it helps.

Projectors: There are teachers still using acetate papers and projectors to go over the steps of a problem and rewriting notes. So let me just say that a lot of my colleagues who are like that have been using tablets or small convertible laptops instead of this as suggested on this post by quora

If you’re not writing anything that needs precision like math equations hwoever, you may be fine with something like this. I

Online Teaching: Since now we are in the world of online teaching what you should really look for in a laptop is that it has a webcam. Now that may be too stupid to even suggest but you have be extra careful because a lot of the new models are forfeiting the cameras altogether and just opting for having a bigger display inside a thinner bezel. It also helps if the camera has a nice resolution go with it.