Whether it’s for online learning and homework or video streaming and games at the weekend, these are the best laptops for kids
Ensuring your child has one of the best laptops for kids has become increasingly important over the past couple of years.
What were once luxury items are now essential educational tools that can double up as multimedia devices capable of entertaining children of all ages.
Demand for kid-friendly laptops designed for home learning surged to an all-time high during the various national lockdowns and it remains prudent to invest in the best laptop for kids your budget allows for.
Letting your child use your device to do their homework isn’t practical for most people, so in the long run, the smart choice is to buy them their own machine. Selecting the best laptop for kids can be a tricky task, however, as you’ll want to weigh up the price against features, usability and durability.
Fortunately, we’re here to help. Below, you’ll find a buying guide detailing the key things to consider when buying a laptop for your child, followed by a list of bitesize reviews of what we deem the best laptops for kids, all of which have been tested extensively by our experts.
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Best laptop for kids: At a glance
|Best cheap laptop for kids||Lenovo IdeaPad Duet (~£310)||Check price at Amazon|
|Best laptop alternative||Apple iPad 10.2 (~£319)||Check price at Amazon|
|A portable Windows 10 companion||Microsoft Surface Go 2 (~£400)||Check price at Amazon|
|Best large-screen laptop for kids||Huawei MateBook D 15 (~£420)||Check price at Amazon|
How to choose the best laptop for your kids
Which laptop processor is best for children?
Given your child is unlikely to be performing too many demanding tasks on their laptop, having the fastest processor (CPU) isn’t strictly necessary.
Intel’s low-powered Atom and Celeron processors will do the job just fine, but if you have the budget for an Intel Core i3 or i5 device, you’ll get improved performance. AMD’s Ryzen processors are a great alternative and are generally cheaper than their Intel counterparts.
How much RAM and storage does a laptop for kids need?
In terms of RAM, 4GB will typically suffice for most kids, though 8GB is recommended if your child plans to do a spot of gaming once the school day is done.
As far as storage is concerned, it’s important to look at both the type of storage as well as the amount on offer. It’s also really worth stretching to a laptop with a proper solid-state drive (SSD). Mechanical hard disks are much slower and their performance deteriorates over time, while eMMC flash storage is also sluggish.
Although a child’s storage needs aren’t likely to be particularly high, you should ensure your new machine has at the very least a 64GB drive, with 128GB proving a nice sweet spot in terms of space and price. That’s assuming you’re looking at Windows 10-based machines. Windows 10’s minimum installation requirement is 32GB. Other operating systems – Chrome OS, for example – have lower storage requirements.
Which laptop operating system is best for kids?
A significant proportion of laptops run Windows 10. It’s the most popular operating system around and is simple to navigate and intuitive to use, making it a good choice for children.
Some cheaper laptops run a special version of Windows called Windows 10 in S mode. This offers the familiar Windows experience but only allows you to download applications from the Microsoft Store, while web browsing must be done via Microsoft Edge. The benefits are improved security – they’re less likely to become infected with malware – and performance, since you can’t run legacy software on them. You can disable S mode at any time if you need to run non-Windows Store software but, once it’s disabled, you won’t be able to reactivate it.
Apple’s macOS is a popular choice for professionals, and the company’s range of MacBooks are among some of the best laptops around. They don’t come cheap, though, and for that reason, we wouldn’t recommend them for children unless you’re really willing to splash out. The company’s range of iPads, which run iPadOS, are a far better choice for those with budgetary constraints, particularly if your kid has an iPhone and is familiar with iOS.
Perhaps the most prudent choice of operating system for a child-friendly laptop is Google’s Chrome OS, which comes pre-installed on all Chromebooks. Chrome OS stores data and applications in the cloud rather than on your machine itself, meaning devices running it don’t require the hard drive space a Windows laptop would. Chrome OS itself has lower hardware requirements too, so you can get away with as little as 16GB, although most come with more.
The OS plays well with online applications such as Google Sheets and Google Docs, so your child will have easy access to the tools they’ll need to complete work tasks effectively. If they plan on using their laptop for play as well as work, the Google Play Store allows the installation of Android apps. It’s also possible to install Linux on a Chromebook for those more adventurous children who are interested in getting into coding. Along with ease of use, the big advantage of Chrome OS laptops is their price – they’re typically a lot cheaper than their Windows or Mac rivals.
What is the best size of laptop for kids?
If your child is going to be transporting their laptop around with them, you don’t want the device to be too heavy. Generally, laptops with larger screens will be heavier, so avoid 15.6in and 17in devices unless having more screen real estate is something your kid is desperate for. A 13in or 14in device is ideal for most children, though younger kids may be better suited to a tablet or 2-in-1 with a 10.5in display.
How we test laptops for kids
Testing a laptop that’s great for kids isn’t much different from testing a regular laptop. The main consideration here is value for money, as you’re probably not going to want to pay top dollar for a machine that’s only going to be used for email and basic homework assignments.
That means there’s a mix of both Chromebooks and regular laptops on this page and we test those in slightly different ways. Still, the aims and core focuses of these tests are the same as for all laptops.
We use every machine to assess ergonomics and usability and we also benchmark each machine so we have data for objective comparison across different models.
For MacOS and Windows laptops we test performance using a selection of different software tools, both in-house and third party. For Chromebooks, we run a selection of browser based tests.
For both types of machines, we test storage speed, recording sequential transfer speeds, we measure a laptop’s display capabilities using an X-Rite colorimeter and we benchmark battery life, too, setting the screen brightness to a predetermined level and putting the laptop in flight mode.
The best laptop for kids you can buy in 2023
1. Lenovo IdeaPad Duet: A child and wallet-friendly 2-in-1 Chromebook
Price when reviewed: £310 | Check price at Amazon
Versatile, compact and affordable, this Chromebook from Lenovo is just about everything you could want from a kid-friendly laptop. It’s a hybrid 2-in-1; a 10.1in tablet that can be transformed into a laptop with the addition of the detachable keyboard included in the price. Said keyboard is rather small for adults but ideally sized for little fingers to type away on, while the Full HD display is superb by budget Chromebook standards. It’s perfect for basic tasks, browsing the interest, playing games and watching movies – basically all of the things your child is likely to use it for.
The MediaTek processor powering it is a little slow when handling some web-based apps, but that’s to be expected at this kind of price, and outstanding battery life more than makes up for the lack of supreme performance.
Read our full Lenovo IdeaPad Duet review for more details
Key specs – Processor: MediaTek P60T; RAM: 4GB; Storage: 64GB eMCP; Screen resolution: 1,920 x 1,080; Screen size: 10.1in; Weight: 0.92kg
2. Microsoft Surface Laptop Go 2: Best budget Microsoft laptop
Price when reviewed: £656 | Check price at Amazon
The original Microsoft Surface Laptop Go occupied this slot for two years, but now there’s a new option for kids who need a bit more processing power: the Go 2. It isn’t a gigantic update, but Microsoft has made just enough tweaks to make it the best budget Microsoft laptop.
First, it’s a beautiful piece of kit: the lid and keyboard are crafted from hardy, matte-finish aluminium and it weighs just 1.1kg. Open the smooth hinge and you’ll see a keyboard that’s supremely satisfying to use and a 12.4in, 1,536 x 1,024 touchscreen display that’s crisp and accurate.
Inside, you’re getting more than enough performance grunt for everyday school tasks and streaming. It won’t conk out halfway through the school day, either, with a battery life of 9hrs 36mins in our test. That’s over two hours longer than its predecessor.
In short, there’s very little not to like about the Microsoft Surface Laptop Go 2. Yes, it could have more ports (you’re only getting one USB-C and USB-A), but this is a beautifully made and affordable main machine for your kids that won’t let them down.
Read our Microsoft Surface Laptop Go 2 review for more details
Key specs – Processor: Intel Core i5-1135G7; RAM: 8GB; Storage: 256GB; Screen resolution: 1,536 x 1,024; Screen size: 12.5in; Weight: 1.1kg
3. Apple iPad 10.2 (2021): Best laptop alternative
Price when reviewed: £319 | Check price at Amazon
In our opinion, one of the best laptops for kids is actually a tablet. Apple continually expands the capabilities of its iPads and, at this point, they truly are a viable alternative to the traditional laptop. The 10.2in variant is the cheapest in the range and is slim and lightweight, which makes it easy to take out and about, and its 12-hour plus battery life means your kids won’t constantly need to recharge it.
The model received an update in late 2021 and, although not that much changed, it’s better than ever. The A12 Bionic processor has been upgraded to the A13, the front-facing FaceTime HD camera has been improved significantly and the device now supports Apple’s True Tone colour-matching technology. Better still, it’s cheaper than the 2020 model.
With access to Apple’s extensive ecosystem of applications for work and play, downloadable TV shows and movies, as well as ebooks, the 10.2in iPad pretty much does it all. However, if you want your child to be able to use it as a real laptop replacement, you’re going to have to fork out extra for a keyboard. Apple’s own Smart Keyboard cover costs £169; alternatively, Logitech’s Slim Folio will set you back an extra £110.
Read our full Apple iPad 10.2 (2021) review for more details
Key specs – Processor: Six-core A13 Bionic; RAM: 2GB; Storage: 32GB SSD; Screen resolution: 2,160 x 1,620; Screen size: 10.2in; Weight: 0.49kg
4. Microsoft Surface Go 2: A portable Windows 10 companion
Price when reviewed: £400 | Check price at Amazon
If you like the tablet form factor but and are after a Windows system, look no further. Microsoft’s own Surface Go 2 is a fully-fledged Windows 10 laptop, with access to desktop apps and Windows’ parental controls. It comes pre-supplied in S mode, which means you can only install apps from the Microsoft Store – adding an extra layer of security. But it’s easy to switch to Windows 10 Home should you want to.
For video playback it features a bright, 10.5in display, which is slightly bigger than its 10in predecessor, two side-mounted speakers, and a rear kickstand, which lets you view the display at any angle you wish. For working, the Microsoft Surface Go Typecover keyboard is a particular highlight, with decently sized back-lit keys and a large, responsive touchpad. Unfortunately, like the Apple iPad on our list, the keyboard doesn’t come as standard.
Read our full Microsoft Surface Go 2 review for more details.
Key specs – Processor: 1.6GHz Intel Pentium Gold 4425Y or Intel Core m3-8100Y; RAM: 4GB or 8GB; Storage: 64GB or 128GB eMMC; Screen resolution: 1,920 x 1,080; Screen size: 10.5in; Weight: 540g
5. Microsoft Surface Laptop SE: Best laptop for schools
Price when reviewed: From £229 | Find out more at Microsoft
The Microsoft Surface SE is a cracking budget laptop that’s well designed and a joy to use. Its 11.6in display is good enough to give far more expensive laptops a run for their money thanks to punchy contrast, matte-finish and anti-glare coating. Its dual-core, 1.1GHz Intel Celeron N4020 CPU isn’t the fastest but it’s perfect for basic classroom tasks, and its comfortable keyboard confirms that.
The great shame is that, although it would make a perfect match for anyone with modest computing needs, it’s only available for purchase to those in the education sector and, even if you were to get hold of one, it requires an IT admin to install programmes and apps on it. We can still absolutely recommend this laptop to schools, however.
Read our full Microsoft Surface Laptop SE review for more details
Key specs – Processor: Dual-core, 1.1GHz Intel Celeron N4020; RAM: 4GB; Storage: 64GB of eMMC; Screen Resolution: 10.1 Full HD (1,366 x 768); Screen Size: 11.6in; Weight: 1.1 kg
6. Huawei MateBook D 15 (2020): Best large-screen laptop for kids
Price when reviewed: £420 | Check price at Amazon
The 2020 iteration of the Huawei MateBook D 15 is a great choice for older kids that require a bit more screen real estate or the benefits that come from a more powerful processor. The AMD Ryzen 5 3500U CPU is very nippy, which makes performing the everyday tasks kids require a laptop for a breeze. It’s even capable of playing games at the laptop’s native 1080p resolution, though it will struggle if you try to play anything too strenuous on it. The matte 15.6in FHD display provides a large amount of screen for the money, and although colour accuracy is rather disappointing from a technical standpoint, kids are unlikely to worry too much.
At 1.53kg, the MateBook D 15 isn’t as lightweight as some of the options on this list, but the additional power it offers more than makes up for less impressive portability. Such power is very rare at such a reasonable price, making the Huawei MateBook D 15 an excellent Windows 10 laptop for tech-savvy youngsters ready for a slightly more robust device.
Read our full Huawei MateBook D 15 (2020) review for more details
Key specs – Processor: Intel Core i3-10110U; RAM: 8GB; Storage: 256GB SSD; Screen resolution: 1,920 x 1,080; Screen size: 15.6in; Weight: 1.53kg