The best back-to-school savings on tech gear have begun as we move through August. We’ve selected the best back-to-school deals on laptops, Chromebooks, MacBooks, monitors, and more from top retailers.
We review the best back-to-school deals on tech gear from online retailers like Amazon, Best Buy, Walmart, and more almost daily, tailoring our recommendations for college, high school and K-8 students and explaining why we made those decisions based on our frequent reviews. We’ve also linked to other stories we’ve written about back-to-school gadgets and accessories that could come in useful at the end.
Best back-to-school laptop deals for college
Dell Inspiron 2-in-1, Core i7-1260P/16GB RAM/512GB SSD, 16-inch 1920×1200 display, $899.99 (28% off at Best Buy)
Dell Inspiron 2-in-1, Core i5-1335U/8GB RAM/512GB SSD, 16-inch 1920×1200 display, $699.99 (26% off at Best Buy)
We recommend either of the Dell Inspiron 2-in-1s as the best deal for a general-purpose laptop for now, based on their specs and prices. We’d recommend the Swift X as the best laptop deal for majors who are doing creative work, and either the HP Victus or the Nitro 5 is probably the best deal on a solid budget gaming laptop — though the price has nudged up a bit today. We really like the price of the HP Pavilion Aero, but it might be a little small for a college student…or maybe not!
We’ve also added the Lenovo Legion Pro, which might not be great for battery life but will provide some nice horsepower for gaming or content creation. Note that you can turn the RGB keyboard bling off, so it won’t be distracting in class. The HP Victus is a very nice gaming laptop, with an average keyboard. Note that the Asus TUF includes a modern RTX 4070 GPU, but just a 60Hz display.
Our back-to-school laptop deals focus mainly on productivity, tending towards 1080p or 1200p displays, or higher. Let’s face it; some college students like to game, so we’ll try to include a few laptops with discrete GPUs. But powerful gaming laptops might not have long battery life for all-day studying. Consult our list of the best laptops and best laptops for college students for more ideas, plus our everyday roundup of the best laptop deals for general use.
Best back-to-school laptop deals for high school, middle school and elementary school
We’ve grouped some less powerful notebooks in this category. Notebooks from a year or so ago work here, with slightly older and cheaper components.
HP Envy 2-in-1, AMD Ryzen 7530U, 8GB RAM, 256GB SSD, 15.6-inch 1080p display, $479.99 (40% off at Best Buy)
Lenovo IdeaPad Slim 3, Core i3-1315U/8GB RAM/256GB SSD, 15.6-inch 1080p display, $349.00 (30% off at B&H)
HP 15, Core i5-1135G7/8GB RAM/256GB SSD, 15.6-inch 1080p, $458.00 (31% off at Amazon)
Acer Aspire 5, Core i3-115G4/8GB RAM/128GB SSD, 15.6-inch 1080p display, Windows 11 S, $299.99 (21% off at Amazon)
The HP Envy is a steal, though with a smaller amount of storage that a college student might find unappealing. We also recommend the IdeaPad Slim 3 as a solid value offering for any K-8 student. (It’s an additional $20 off today.) The HP Pavilion Aero (listed above in our college recommendations, too) strikes us as a “tweener” device that might work as a laptop for high schoolers, too. If you favor a larger screen, the HP 15 fits the bill, though the processor is a bit slower.
Some of these deals come with caveats that help explain their lower price. The Surface Laptop 4 (review) is last year’s model, and lacks Thunderbolt. Pay attention to the processor on these deals: we don’t consider an 11th-gen Core processor (in the HP 15 and Lenovo IdeaPad 3i) to be too out of date right now, but it might be two or four years down the road. A Ryzen 7000-series processor is AMD’s latest.
Not sure whether to buy a laptop or a Chromebook? We can help. The Acer Aspire 5 also uses Windows 11 S, which is Microsoft’s answer to a Chromebook and may need to be switched out, for free, to Windows 11. This is what we would call a minimum-spec laptop, but it seems to work.
Best back-to-school Chromebook deals
We’ve picked the best back-to-school Chromebook deals for you. Don’t be afraid of buying an older Chromebook, but we’ve considered the trade-off between price and performance in our back-to-school recommendations. Want more ideas? Start with PCWorld’s list of the best Chromebooks and don’t be fooled by back-to-school trap deals!
College life generally runs on laptops and not Chromebooks. Chromebooks are still useful for elementary and even middle-school students, though, especially as secondary machines. If you can, prioritize a 1080p screen, 8GB of RAM, and (if possible) a 1080p display when you buy a Chromebook. Chromebooks like the Chromebook 314 and 315 may run a trifle slow with just 4GB of RAM.
For now, we think you should buy the Chromebook Flip C433, whose price dropped by $10 today. We also like HP’s 14-inch Core i3-based Chromebook — that’s a great deal, and the hardware is absolutely solid, performance-wise. Its price, too, dropped by a few dollars. We still shy away from Chromebooks with 4GB of RAM, as they can run slow. But man, Acer is discounting these heavily. (Incidentally, support for the Chromebook 314 expires in June 2027.)
MacBook back-to-school sales just aren’t as pronounced as in Windows laptops, though Apple’s stock of older M1 hardware means you can buy an older MacBook at a surprisingly good price — for Apple, that is. There’s a 2023 MacBook deal on at Amazon, too! That B&H deal, for example, is crazy– but the company has continually been tweaking it to adjust the price and discount. Our partners at Macworld recommend the MacBook deal.
MacBooks rarely carry heavy discounts, unfortunately, so snap these up if you can.
If students need a tablet for when they go back to school, we think that these suggestions offer the best deals for now. We may see better deals as the season goes on.
Amazon has some small discounts available for back-to-school tablets. We’ve shied away from Amazon’s own Fire tablets only because students will need flexibility to add apps that they may use in school. The Galaxy Tab, though, has dropped even lower in price.
Amazon’s Woot is offering a range of iPads on sale through today, August 16. We’ve highlighted one above, but the main offer page has more options to choose from.
We recommend the Sceptre 24-inch for a run-of-the-mill 1080p display and either the Philips or the Dell display for an upgraded 4K monitor with higher resolution and detail for more screen space as well as precision work for video, Photoshop or CAD work. Both 4K displays put out sufficient light, but lack high refresh rates or upgraded HDR to save money. The Acer Nitro or the Samsung display provide different options.
We’ve (mostly) emphasized 60Hz displays, with a mix of 1080p and 4K. We’ve included two gaming monitors, though, for those willing to spend a little more. Note that the Acer Nitto is a refurbished model, which offers a solid bang for your buck if you don’t mind a previously-owned display.
College dorm rooms and lecture halls don’t offer an enormous amount of space for additional monitors, so consider a monitor mount to maximize productivity. Just double-check the weight of each display you’re attaching, as the mounts have weight limits for what they can support.
Retailers often won’t tell you when these sales end, though it’s likely they’ll be available into the first week of September. Students may go back to school and find they have the wrong equipment. Prices may change as retailer stock fluctuates.
We’d expect that retailers will try to hold on to their sales until possibly September, though expect the quality and quantity of back-to-school deals to diminish as retailers sell through their available inventory. Carpe diem… or maybe carpe deal. (Sorry.)
When are tax-free weekends scheduled?
Tax-free weekends are run by some U.S. states to encourage shopping, especially for items like back-to-school purchases that usually include computers. (Note: There are some price limits on certain purchases — in New Mexico, for example, PCs must be under $1,000 to qualify for the tax holiday.)
Five states—Alaska, Delaware, Montana, New Hampshire, and Oregon—never charge sales tax. We’ve listed the states that are scheduling tax-free weekends, as well as a link to the fine print. Virginia has cancelled their tax-free weekend for 2023.
For example, if you live in Arkansas and buy a laptop from Amazon on August 5, you won’t pay sales tax. There are some exceptions that vary by state: In New Mexico, retailers aren’t required to participate. Each state has different exemptions that apply to different products at different price ranges, and these discounts (generally) apply to national retailers. Check the details!
We have a lengthy overview of the advantages of Chromebooks versus laptops, but the simple answer to this question is: whatever your school district tells you.
A Chromebook is better for school if your child will be working “online,” meaning in the classroom but on a website that’s authorized by the teacher. A PC is more useful if your child will be using apps, such as Minecraft for Education, or transitioning from elementary school to middle school, or from middle school to high school. The extra flexibility to run apps (and, yes, games) will be appreciated by your child. Colleges and universities almost always ask their students to bring PCs or Macs with them, so a laptop is most appropriate.
What should I look for in a monitor for dorm rooms?
Dorm rooms typically prioritize the efficient use of space, so laptops will be the most typical. Any way that you can use the extra space, though, is useful. A high-resolution display may mean that you can more effectively “fit” more information into the space with smaller fonts. But a monitor mount, like we’ve included in our list of monitors, can clamp on to a desk and allow for a second display, which vastly increases productivity and can also be used to stream video for friends, too. Our back-to-school list of monitors includes both cheap 1080p options as well as 4K displays and even gaming displays for after hours.
Additional reporting by Ashley Biancuzzo. Updated at 12:33 PM on August 17 with updated deals. We’ve also removed expired deals and reconsidered some of our recommendations.