Best Laptop Deals for 2021 to Get You Ready for Back-to-School!

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Check out our top picks for the best laptop deals around on Chromebooks, Windows, & MacBooks that can do it all!

man shopping for laptop

We’ve got the best laptop deals for your 2021 back-to-school budget! 

Laptops are always a popular back-to-school item. Whether you have a young adult heading to college or are continuing with virtual schooling and need to upgrade, we’re sharing the best laptop deals around!

Don’t forget to check for tax-free weekends in your area for even more savings on your new laptop!

woman with blonde hair working on a macbook with cup of coffee

Here are some other tips you may want to think about when shopping for the best laptop deals:

  • Find out what laptop will be compatible with your school so you can easily sync assignments.
  • Shop for refurbished, open-box, or lightly used laptops.
  • If you plan to use this laptop extensively for many years and daily, consider going for a solid option that will last for all your school years.
  • Check for discounts when you sign up for emails. Depending on where you’re purchasing it, you may be able to score discounts like an additional 10% off.

Top 3 Chromebooks to buy in 2021:

1. HP 11.6 Chromebook

close up of hp chromebook laptop with home screen

Buy it at Best Buy – $259.99

This 11.6-inch HP notebook PC comes highly rated specifically for children and school use. It has an Intel Celeron processor and 4GB of RAM support for everyday multitasking, while the 32GB eMMC storage accommodates all of your documents and media.

It features wireless AC connectivity for 3x the speed when paired with a compatible Wi-Fi router, a TrueVision HD webcam for videoconferencing, and is even perfect for distance learning. With its 12-hour battery life, it will keep your student connected all day long!

2. Lenovo C330 Chromebook

girl typing on purple laptop on bed with colorful keyboard

Buy it on Amazon – $239.99 (regularly $319.99)
*Select the 2021 model to get this price. 

This unique 2-in-1 laptop is compact and super versatile since you can use it in a tent, tablet, standing, or laptop mode! It has powerful processing for daily tasks, DDR3 memory for seamless multitasking, and fast eMMC storage. And with a battery life of up to 10 hours, you can ensure it’ll stay powered through all your daily tasks.

It also features powerful Wi-Fi with Bluetooth 4.1 which allows you to connect up to two Bluetooth devices at the same time – perfect for virtual work or school. Plus, the price is practically unbeatable so there’s still plenty of room to add a case and stylish keyboard and still stay under budget while showing off your style.

3. Samsung Galaxy Chromebook 2

close up of samsung galaxy chromebook laptop

Buy it at Best Buy – $699

If your budget is pretty roomy for your new Chromebook, you’ll definitely want to consider this Samsung Galaxy with a powerful Intel 10th Generation Core i3 processor, 8GB of memory, and 128GB of total storage capacity. It even comes in an eye-popping fiesta red color to suit bold personalities.

Better yet, this Chromebook is the world’s first QLED Chromebook ever so working is just as easy as playing on your downtime. While past Samsung models received complaints about the screen, this model boasts exceptional, vibrant displays sure to please any user.

chromebook laptops on display in store

Looking for the deepest discounts on Chromebooks?

Retailers like Walmart and Best Buy offer Chromebooks for as low as $150 if you’re willing to consider a refurbished machine or open-box deal. This could be a smart way to save a lot of money, especially if you’re trying not to spend a lot on a laptop that will mainly be used by your kiddos.

Here are some reasons why our Hip2Save readers didn’t consider Chromebooks for older students:

“My oldest has used her Chromebook all through middle school & high school with no problems, but she starts at a university this fall and we are having to buy a laptop.” – Heather, Hip2Save reader

“My husband is a chemistry professor and has his students do data analysis in Excel. Everyone with a Chromebook can’t do it.” – Kay, Hip2Save reader

“My students often need to use specific software they can’t access on a Chromebook.” – Amy

However, one of our Hip2Save readers loves her Chromebook and uses it daily:

“Nearly everything that can be done on Microsoft can be done on Chromebooks using the Google Suite. Excel = Sheets. I’m a freelance writer and exclusively use Chromebooks now and many clients use Microsoft-based docs. It’s a seamless conversion, though!” – Taryn

Top 3 Windows laptops to buy in 2021:

1. HP Stream 11.6″ Laptop

hp stream laptop with stickers sitting on table in living room

Buy it at Best Buy – $199.99 (regularly $249.99) 

Post, play, and stay productive for up to 13+ hours with this affordable, portable, and stylish laptop. It’s a great budget-friendly option if you’re looking to do basic internet tasks, web browsing, and streaming. Plus, it’s equipped with a 4GB system memory for running multiple applications and browser tabs at once, and a 64GB eMMC flash memory for enhanced storage capabilities, streamlined data management, quick boot-up times, and HD video playback.

This affordable laptop also features Intel UHD Graphics, tuned stereo speakers, a webcam, a micro SD card reader, and a Wi-Fi 5 (2×2) WLAN adapter, and Bluetooth 4.2 for reliable connections. A one-year trial of Microsoft 365 Personal is also included.

2. Acer Aspire 1 Laptop open acer laptop on black desk in front of window

Buy it on Amazon – $229.99

Lightweight and stylish, the Aspire 1 features a 15.6” Full HD screen and 802.11ac WiFi 5 for fast connectivity and reliability wherever you go. With Windows 10 in S mode, you’ll experience fast start-ups, a familiar yet expanded Start menu, and great new ways to get stuff done.

The Intel Celeron processor offers the processing power needed for peak productivity, and the 10+ hour battery life will keep you connected all day long. This device also features 4GB system memory, 64GB eMMC storage, and a webcam.

Need a fast processor? The Acer Aspire 5 delivers desktop-class performance with the AMD Ryzen 5 3500U Mobile Processor with Radeon Vega 8 Graphics-enabling powerful performance.

3. ASUS ROG Zephyrus G14 Laptop

asus laptop on display at store

Buy it at Best Buy – $934.99 (regularly $1,099.99) 

After doing a ton of research my Hip sidekick, Brandi, has determined this laptop to be her first choice considering it seems to have the best features for the price. Although this laptop is considered a gaming laptop, the CPU is powerful enough to handle all your school tasks and is ideal for multitasking too.

It’s lightweight, boasts 512 GB to store all your files and data fast, the battery lasts for up to 10 hours, and excels at multimedia production. The only downside we found with this beast is there’s no included webcam so make sure to grab one if you’re Zooming in for class or work.

Top 3 Apple MacBooks to buy in 2021:

1. Apple MacBook Air with M1 Chip

hand on keyboard of macbook air in apple store

One of the most affordable ways to score that MacBook you’ve been wanting is to go for the MacBook Air – starting under $1,000! With a choice between 256GB or 512GB, each model also has other impressive features like 8GB of unified memory, Touch ID, Magic Keyboard, Retina display with True Tone, and the Force Touch trackpad.

“We bought my daughter a MacBook air her freshman year in high school. I really resisted because it was $800 instead of the $200 ones I could find on Black Friday. Well, she is about to be a sophomore in college & that thing still works like a champ. We’ve only needed to take it in once to get serviced.” – Jen, Hip2Save reader

2. Apple MacBook Pro

macbook pro laptop deals on screen sitting on wood store table

Whether you’re planning to grab a 13″ or 16″ screen, you simply cannot go wrong with a new MacBook Pro, although it’s not going to be your best laptop deal ever since the Pro will run you well over a grand. However, according to numerous readers, it’s sure to last for many years to come giving you plenty of return on your investment!

Every one of the latest models boasts top-of-the-line features like a Touch Bar, Touch ID, Magic Keyboard, Retina display with True Tone, 720p FaceTime HD camera, high storage capacity, Force Touch trackpad, and up to 20 hours of battery life.

“I have the 2021 Mac Book Pro 16” and LOVE it. The Touch Bar is really cool and I am loving the 16” screen over my older 13-inch.” – Michelle, Hip sidekick

“My father bought me a MacBook Pro in 2009 when I went to college and it’s still running strong to this day! I’ve had to replace the battery, but that was to be expected. Luckily for me, I’m tech-savvy and just did it myself with a battery I ordered online.” – Ava

3. Apple iPad Air

apple ipad with keyboard sitting on wood table in store

You may not have thought about an iPad when it comes to searching for the best deals on your new laptop, but Apple makes theirs another perfect choice especially for those who are on a tight budget but want to stick with their favorite software.

The new iPad Air and iPad Pro models are compatible with Smart Keyboard Folios or a Magic Keyboard so you can still work on assignments or pair it with the Apple 2nd Generation Pencil so you can show off your artistic abilities.

While you’ll be spending a whole lot less on this laptop idea you still won’t be compromising on performance since these iPads are equipped with amazingly fast CPU and graphics performance, liquid retina displays for stunning color, and plenty of storage space.

Apple doesn’t typically have sales on MacBooks, but here are the tops ways to score the best deal on their laptops:

close up of row of apple laptops

  • If you already have a MacBook and you’re looking to upgrade, you can participate in Apple’s trade-in program. This program allows you to trade in your eligible device for credit toward a new MacBook or an Apple gift card that you can use at any time!
  • If you’re a student or teacher, watch for Apple’s back-to-school promotions typically from July through September. For example, right now you can score a free pair of AirPods with the purchase of select Mac and iPad models with education pricing. Plus, get 20% off AppleCare+. (Apple’s education pricing also gives discounts to students and teachers year-round.)
  • Current & Veteran members of the US Military, National Guard, & Reserve can verify their ID to claim a Military Discount of 10% off. Plus, immediate family members who reside in the same household are also eligible for the discount.
  • Authorized Apple resellers like AmazonBest Buy have the best competitive prices. The only drawback is that you’ll either have to go through the original retailer or Apple’s online warranty system if problems arise down the road. If your product’s warranty and easy returns are top concerns for you, then buying directly from Apple will give you more peace of mind.
  • MacBooks are built to last, so buying a refurbished MacBook from Apple’s Certified Refurbished store is a great way to save 10-20% off the retail price. These refurbished units are tested extensively, guaranteed to work as efficiently as a new model, and backed by a one-year warranty.

Bookmark our Apple Deals Page and be the first to know about hot deals on MacBooks!

Shop these popular back-to-school deals now!

Sara is a self-taught blogger and photographer with 5 years of experience having work featured in various building, travel, and fashion publications, most notably Bassett Furniture and Fossil.

Join The Discussion

Comments 48

  1. JMonte509

    We are very fortunate that our school district provides iPads for the elementary level and Chromebooks for the secondary level. I have three”students” that’s including one special needs child. So it will be challenging but I’d rather have them home than going to school. Stay safe everyone 🙏

  2. Zita

    Would any of these be good for couponing and printing to a wireless printer. My sister-in-law wants to upgrade from an old desktop. Nothing fancy.

    I’m not tech savvy. 🙂

    • pxl091000

      Zita, you can download air printer app or printer specific app for wireless printing. I use my iPhone to print wirelessly

  3. Zita

    Thanks so much, but she’s dead set on a laptop. : )

    • karwowm

      Her point is you can print from anywhere, even a phone, so it will be easy from a laptop.

  4. kayjayc

    Just as a heads up, the version of Microsoft products on Chromebooks are lacking features that are available in PCs and Macs. My husband is a chemistry professor and had his students do data analysis in Excel, and everyone with a Chromebook can’t do it. He does not recommend them.

    • Heather

      Yes, this! My oldest has used her chromebook all through middle school and high school with no problems, but she starts university this fall and we are having to buy a laptop.

    • Myrah

      This is good to know. Thank you kayjayc!

    • Amy

      Agree on this. I think the fact that they look like a laptop confuses people. They’re closer to a tablet than a PC really. A nice cheap option for a typical user or younger kids but students often need to use specific software they can’t access on a Chromebook. I believe the Stream is similar as well but I’m not entirely sure which software can be used with it. Definitely should research before buying 😊

    • Monique

      Thank you for the info my sister is looking for a laptop for my niece for distance learning forwarded her this deal and your comments 🙂

    • Stephanie S.

      My kids made it very clear… no chrome books because of limitations as well.

    • Taryn S.

      Nearly everything that can be done on Microsoft can be done on Chromebooks using the Google Suite. Excel = Sheets. I’m a freelance writer and exclusively use Chromebooks now, and many clients use Microsoft-based docs. It’s a seamless conversion, though!

      • Heather

        Absulutely Correct!

    • Heather

      I know it’s late, but wanted to post in case someone happened to see it and it helped: this is true to an extent. My daughter has used her Chromebook for the the first 2 years of college with no problems. The only issue she is having is sound issues while using Zoom. I asked her about doing data analysis in Excel, and she said people probably just don’t fully know how to use their Chromebooks. 🙂 Google essentially has their own office suite-completely free by the way, and she does all of her assignments in there. We as a family have wandered away from Microsoft for just this reason (it’s free). She has shown us how to use Google and it’s AWESOME. Her major is Biochemistry, so she has done quite a bit on her Chromebook, that she has actually had all through high school, and used the same one through two years of college. No problems. Except for the sound specifically in Zoom meetings which came up with the switch to distance learning. It’s debatable whether it’s the computer’s fault or just a setting 🙂

  5. TJay has refurbished Samsung chromebook $150. ours we ordered looked new. We are rough on computers🤣

    • Amber (Hip Sidekick)

      Thanks for the suggestion! Good to know!

  6. Amy

    I got a great deal on Dell’s site a few weeks ago. Signed up for their emails or their rewards program and got a code for 10% off, took a few hours. I’d been shopping for a PC laptop for weeks before I found that deal.

    • Bee

      Which one did you get? I was browsing their site recently, too.

      • Amy

        I got the Inspiron 3000 3580. It was 269 after the discount. I’m not sure it’s on there anymore, I was looking for a link but can’t find it. It was 4GB ram and 1T memory. 15.6 inches intel processor. Very solid for the price!

  7. Olivinelily

    Don’t do windows S at all. Chromebook is fine if you plan to do just basic stuff and will always have internet access. Otherwise get a laptop with standard windows

    • Chits

      Most windows computers now come with Windows S preinstalled and you need to go to settings and reset the version to Windows Home/Pro from S. This will need a Microsoft Account (or a hotmail account) Microsoft Windows S is installed in the interest of security so that apps outside the MSappstore cannot be installed.

  8. Cathy

    Hey all! I wanted to jump in and add my “2 cents.” I am a online high school English teacher (I have been doing this for 3 years, so WAY before covid-19) and can tell you that our school offers a free copy of Microsoft Office to all students. This is due to the fact that almost all of our assignments need to be submitted using Word or PowerPoint. Personally, I recommend a MacBook to everyone, I know it is expensive but it is so worth it. Chromebooks and HP Streams are not able to load Microsoft Office (I had one student who crashed her stream trying to download Microsoft Office). Otherwise, students do often have the ability to upload documents as pdf’s (though this is harder to grade, especially when checking MLA formatting). I just can’t stress enough, if your child is moving to an online learning environment and you think they might stick with that, spend the extra money and get a solid computer.

    • Pia

      Thank you so much for this information.

    • Big Heart

      I agree but elementary and middle school students the chromebooks are a great choice.

    • Taryn S.

      Just throwing in for anyonr wondering, Microsoft Word is identical to Google Docs. I work exclusively from a Chromebook and am able to do so because of the Google versions of all Microsoft software. Do your own research, but don’t shy away from Chromebooks because you’re afraid of that.

      • Amber

        They may resemble each other but from a programming perspective, they do not always collaborate well. Some applications will not sync well with Google. If you aren’t specific, you are correct but each has features that the other does not.

    • JD827

      I’m a retired high school librarian and my high school used a mix of Chrome books, Macs and PCs. I have spent many, many hours helping students move their work from home to school and back again. File formats and versions are a nightmare. My advice is to find out what your school is using and match up with that for a day-to-day computer. Because of cost my school chose not to continue with Microsoft Word and everything was submitted with Google Docs for assignments. Google Docs can be used on a PC, Mac or a Chromebook. Most definitely our school did not provide Microsoft Word for students because of the high cost; ask your school if they do. If your student is a serious graphic arts, newspaper, photography student think Mac because of software requirements. Otherwise pretty much anything you can do on a PC you can do on a Mac and vice versa. For the majority of our students doing ordinary coursework the Chromebooks were fine because the school made the decision to move away from Microsoft software. It will be very important to ask your school. Your child’s school probably has a technology specialist get in touch and find out what they recommend before you buy. If your child is a freshman don’t spend the big bucks because the computer will be outdated by senior year.

  9. Suzanne

    Don’t forget to shop tax free weekends in your area for more savings – if available!

    • Elizabeth M.

      Oh wow I hadn’t even thought about that. I haven’t seen any announcement about this in our area. Will definitely look. Thank you for the reminder!

    • Amber (Hip Sidekick)

      Thanks for the tip!

  10. Kelly

    I just started back to school as a PhD student last year and found out about the great deals you can get on “open box” items at Best Buy. I got a $900 Samsung 2-in-1 laptop for $450. My sister got an HP for closer to $300. It is definitely worth a look! And you can browse online and pick up in store too.

    • Amber (Hip Sidekick)

      Awesome! Thanks for letting us know about the deals you and your sister were able to grab!

  11. Debi

    The HP stream is not a good choice. We bought two. They were very slow, they had background software running that we couldn’t overcome and they would not print consistently. Not worth the money at all. My daughters are able to watch NEtflix now and can access zoom calls…but cannot do research at all, cannot search the web, and cannot do any “shopping’.

    • Amber (Hip Sidekick)

      Oh darn! Sorry to hear they didn’t work well. Thanks so much for sharing your experience!

  12. Ashley C

    I’m going back to college this year so I sprung for a MacBook air and I’m hoping it’ll last me through the three years I’m looking at lol. (I’m good with electronics and have good luck with apple products). But the best “deal” I found was surprisingly on the apple website. It was $50 cheaper than Amazon and they’re throwing in a free pair of AirPods with the purchase! If you don’t want the AirPods you could resell them to recoup some money I’m sure. Good luck everyone!

  13. jen

    We bought my daughter a macbook air her freshman year in high school. I really resisted because it was $800 instead of the $200 ones I could find on black Friday. Well, she is about to be a sophomore in college & that thing still works like a champ. We’ve only needed to take it in once to get serviced.

    • ava21

      My father bought me a MacBook Pro in 2009 as i entered college, it is still running strong to this day. I’ve had to replace the battery, but that was to be expected. Luckily for me I’m tech savvy and just did it myself with a battery ordered online.

  14. Andrea

    Our district is starting Virtual this year, so computers are a must have! Thanks for the deal! 😀

    • Cassandra (Hip Sidekick)

      You’re so welcome, Andrea!

  15. Kelly

    Looking for feedback and deals on iPad stylus (ie: apple pencil, Logitech crayon, etc.). It needs to work with the newest iPads (school issued).

  16. NolaSteph

    I bought my two daughters (currently ages 9 and 10) the HP stream laptops listed here and they were fine. Purchased Christmas 2018 Worked well enough for online school last spring, and roblox. However they BOTH mysteriously died this summer (so about 1.5 years old). Within a month of each other. One suddenly had a black screen of death. The other just stopped powering on. I’m not totally mad about it – they were each under $200 and had regular windows. But it was weird. I purchased the Aspires listed above, both in preparation for this school year and because I was tired of sharing my computer between three kids all wanting to play roblox. 😆 So far so good! We’ve had a few online meetings for school and they’re great so far. I’m much happier with the larger screen sizes. And they can play roblox just fine as well.

  17. riss

    Thanks for the tip on trading macbook towards a new one. We haven’t bought a college graduation
    present for my son, and he wants a macbook pro. Maybe we can trade his old macbook and still get the military discount.

  18. Casey

    Looking for a new laptop since mine is so old. Don’t need much just getting on the internet, typing up a document, doing taxes and printing since I don’t have a wireless printer. Any suggestions?

  19. Lel

    I would stay away from chromebooks for any STEM majors for college.

  20. Katherine

    Does anyone have a recommendation for a printer? I need one!

    • Linda Sisk

      Katherine if you do not need color printing I would recommend a laser printer. The toner lasts a long time and the price of toner is much more reasonable. I switched to a laser printer several years ago (from suggestions on Hip2Save) and I’m so glad I did.

  21. Zia Mama

    Last school year, our school provided Chromebooks to all students. Although we loved the devices, it was such a hassle looking after our early elementary aged children reminding them to be gentle with the devices, as they were only provided with a full financial responsibility in the event of damage almost $400 each. We recently found Acer touchscreen Chromebooks on Walmart for less than $170 so now we can feel more at ease when our children use their own device for their virtual classes.

  22. Anna Rose

    My daughter is going to college for computer science and the school has so many requirements for the laptop. They also advised against getting a Mac because some of the software they use don’t have Mac versions. The cheapest one I could find was on Amazon: Dell Inspiron 13 5310 13.3 inch QHD Laptop – Intel Core i7-11370H, 16GB DDR4 RAM, 512GB SSD, NVIDIA GeForce MX450 $985 Her budget was $1000 from a high school scholarship.

    Only problem is that it only has 1 USB and 2 USB-C ports! And no ethernet port. So we had to buy a whole bunch of different paraphernalia to meet all the requirements- they’re cheap on Amazon though. But it met almost all requirements.

    Has anyone had luck finding a laptop for STEM majors? Next year, I told her she could upgrade if needed to Dell Lattitude. She can look for extra scholarships to help pay for it.

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