The 7 Best Laptops for Nursing Students

Only the Top 4 Laptops are displayed here – check out our entire list for all the others!
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Nursing is a field that is in increasingly high demand. It is a great career that is needed now more than ever. In order to fulfill your dreams and make it through the rigors of nursing school, you are going to need a computer that can both help you succeed and do all of the things you require of it.

That is why we have compiled a list of the seven best laptops on the market that are perfect for the aspiring nursing student.

On this list, you will find everything from the best of the best to budget machines that can get you through the day without stressing your bank account.

We will go over the specifications you actually need on your computer and introduce you to some of the most common software you are going to be exposed to during your studies.

Here are the seven best laptops for nursing students.

Best Overall: Acer Aspire E15

15.6 INCHES

8GB

256GB SSD

WINDOWS 10

15 HOURS

5 LBS

The Acer Aspire E15 takes top billing on our list for the simple fact that it has everything you could ever need and want in a computer as a current or potential nursing student.

Not only does it have solid specifications in terms of storage, RAM, and processing but it also has the extra features you will absolutely need as a nursing student. 

First, it checks all of the boxes in terms of hardware. It has a fast i5 processor that is more than capable of running all of the programs you are going to be using.

It has 256GB of solid state lightning fast storage. 8GB of RAM keeps your computer humming along. Finally, it has an absolutely killer battery life of over 15 hours.

Very few, if any, laptops of this size and specs have such fabulous battery life. This ensures that no matter if you are stuck in class all day or are at home taking notes, your computer will not need to be plugged in.

Then you also get an optical DVD/CD drive included, which is something that is getting rarer but could be an invaluable addition to a computer aimed at students of any kind. It also features the latest 802.11ac WiFi.

This newest generation of connectivity provides a smooth internet experience at connection speeds that are up to three times faster than previous generations.

That is exactly what you will need to run and connect to the myriad of online resources, lectures, notes, patient information, and more that is going to be required on a daily basis.

Simply put, this laptop checks every box plus some. It ships with everything you could ever need right out of the box and will ensure you have a powerful and durable computer that will hold up to the rigors of nursing school for years to come.


KEY FEATURES
● Intel Core i5-8250U Processor
● NVIDIA GeForce MX150 Graphics
● 15.6” (1920 x 1080) HD LED-lit IPS Display


Pros
  • All inclusive
  • Super fast WiFi
  • Includes DVD/CD drive
  • Long battery life
Cons
  • On the expensive side
  • Large and heavy

Best Apple: MacBook Air

13.3 INCHES

8GB RAM

256GB SSD

MAC OS

12 HOURS

2.8 LBS

There are many Apple products on the market and many of them bill themselves as the perfect device for students of all kinds. If you wade through all of the iPads and MacBooks you can come to only one conclusion; the latest MacBook Air model is simply the best of the bunch.

It has all of the features you come to expect out of a MacBook including a fast processor, great screen, smooth operating, and a long battery life. It is light and easy to carry around and comes with all of Apple’s excellent onboard applications.

You probably do not need the more powerful and much more expensive MacBook Pro unless you are planning on doing more strenuous computer activities. 

In terms of word processing, note taking and internet streaming, the MacBook Air is one of the best deals available today. The price is extremely fair and the performance is exceptional

The only thing that might give people pause is the fact that not every program on the market can run on Mac OS natively and there is a, no matter how small, chance that you will run into a program that cannot run on Mac. Also, accessories, upgrades, and peripherals for MacBooks are notoriously more expensive than their PC counterparts.

However, if you can look past those slight worries, this is a fabulous computer with a ton of potential currently available for less than $1000 at most retailers. For an all around great Apple product that will look great sitting on your desk during class, you cannot go wrong with the latest MacBook Air. 


KEY FEATURES
● 1.1GHz dual-core Intel Core i3 Processor
● Intel Iris Plus Graphics
● 13.3” (2560 x 1600) Retina Display


Pros
  • Great value
  • Sleek and light
  • Excellent performance
Cons
  • Runs MacOS
  • Expensive peripherals

Best Touchscreen: Dell XPS 13

13.3 INCHES

8GB DDR3

256GB SSD

WINDOWS 10

10 HOURS

2.75 LBS

To a lot of people, screens are a big deal. They look for the next biggest size, they demand the brightest colors and the smoothest finishes. If you are one of those people who cannot abide by a poor screen, then the Dell XPS 13 is going to be the laptop on this list best suited for you.

It features a 13.3” touchscreen that blows the rest of the computers on this list out of the water. The resolution is a super crisp 4k quality that outputs the best picture.

This computer even has an infinity edge which pushes the screen quality to the very limits and ensures that you get great touch quality even at the very edges of the screen.

Presentations, anatomical diagrams, and pictures will truly pop giving you the extra details you need to get a complete understanding of what’s on your screen. The touchscreen allows you to seamlessly tap, touch, and write to your heart’s content.

Quickly edit your notes with a swipe of a finger or write by hand your own notes, annotations, and reminders. 

This computer is not a 2-in-1 so it does not have a foldable screen or full tablet capabilities. If you want something along those lines we have the ASUS Chromebook Flip and the Microsoft Surface Pro 7 for you to check out as well.

In terms of a traditional, powerful, laptop there is none quite like the Dell XPS 13. Besides the excellent modern screen, you also get a powerful i7 processor, 10 hours of battery life, ample storage, and the lasting quality that Dell provides to all of their products.

All of these amazing features do come at a cost, this computer goes for well over a grand at most retailers. If these prices aren’t in your budget, you ought to check out computers with similar specs but pared down screen dimensions and resolutions.

Saving on screen size and screen resolution can save you big on your bottom line. 

For those of you who want a powerful computer with a 4k resolution screen, complete with touch capability, there are simply no better options than the Dell XPS 13.


KEY FEATURES
● i7-8550U Processor
● Intel UHD Graphics 620
● 13.3” (3840 x 2160) Touchscreen Display


Pros
  • Best display
  • Infinity edge touchscreen
  • Super high quality
  • Lightweight
Cons
  • Pricey
  • Fragile

Best Budget: Lenovo IdeaPad 3

14 INCHES

8GB DDR4

256GB SSD

WINDOWS 10

8 HOURS

3.3 LBS

Not all of us have a huge budget to blow on a laptop, and that is okay. Some of us just need a machine that can get the job done without any flash or style. If it’s functional, it’s good enough.

That is where the Lenovo IdeaPad 3 fits in. In fact, I have one of these computers myself for my writing. 

This computer is super budget friendly without sacrificing much in the way of basic utility. It does not have the fastest processor or the best graphics. The battery life is average and the screen isn’t going to turn any heads. And that is okay.

This is a perfectly serviceable computer for someone who just needs something to take to class, take notes on, and head on home. It will be able to run all of the most common nursing school programs, it has a fast internet connection and has a rugged and durable design that is perfect for toting around. 

The AMD parts and hardware are of good quality. It fits the bill in terms of RAM, hard drive storage, and screen resolution.

It is not super heavy or bulky either and simply checks all of the boxes one could need for a nursing program without any extras.

This is definitely one of the cheapest laptops available that can comfortably meet all of your needs as a modern nursing student. Sure, there are better and more powerful computers on this list but all of them will require you to pay more.

For the budget conscious utilitarians out there, you cannot go wrong with the Lenovo IdeaPad 3. But if even this laptop is too expensive for you, check out our best laptops under $400.


KEY FEATURES
● AMD Ryzen 5 3500U Mobile Processor
● AMD Radeon Vega 8 Graphics
● 14” (1920 x 1080) FHD Display


Pros
  • Inexpensive
  • Decent specs
  • Fast internet connectivity
Cons
  • Average battery life
  • No extras

Best Chromebook: ASUS Chromebook Flip

14 INCHES

4GB

64GB Flash

CHROME OS

10 HOURS

3.3 LBS

Chromebooks are quickly becoming one of the most popular options for students of all kinds. They are simple, secure, and super functional.

They are not a traditional Windows machine and that sometimes puts people off but Google has come along way with their Chromebooks over the past few years and now they are an extremely viable option for nursing students to consider.

The ASUS Chromebook Flip tries to combine the best of Android tablets with Google’s excellent laptop design philosophy. The result is a rotatable computer with a large touchscreen and fast performance

This laptop offers 64GB of flash storage which is seamlessly integrated with Google Drive and Google Docs so that all of your notes, presentations, and documents will be stored in the cloud for instant access.

That means that you never have to worry about losing an important group of papers or projects. They will always be stored for you, connected to your Chromebook via lightning quick upload and download from the cloud. 

This lightens up the laptop considerably. It weighs only three pounds and you won’t have to worry about a hard drive going out on you down the road and losing valuable school resources. 

The screen is large and responsive. The RAM is sufficient to run all of the programs you need and can handle many programs running simultaneously.

It offers 10 hours of battery life and the tactile experience of a tablet style touchscreen.

Many of Chrome OS’s applications and programs are designed with touchscreens in mind so you get instant and reliable integration with all of the touch features of this computer right off the bat. 

If you are a little wary about diving into a whole new operating system and computer experience with a Chromebook but you still want that sleek feel and tablet style interaction then check out our pick for the best 2-in-1 laptop Microsoft Surface Pro 7.

Chromebooks are an excellent, lightweight, and fast option to help keep you focused on your schooling and the ASUS Chromebook Flip is definitely the best on the market today. 


KEY FEATURES
● Intel Core M3-8100Y Processor
● Intel HD Graphics 615
● 14” (1920 x 1080) Full HD NanoEdge Display


Pros
  • Super fast
  • Touchscreen integrated
  • Lightweight
  • Long battery life
Cons
  • New operating system
  • Limited onboard storage

Best 2-in-1: Microsoft Surface Pro 7

12.3 INCHES

8GB DDR

128GB SSD

WINDOWS 10

10.5 HOURS

1.1 LBS

The absolute best 2-in-1 machine available right now is the Microsoft Surface Pro 7. Every year, Microsoft continues to hone and improve their lineup of Surface machines and the Surface Pro 7 is an absolute masterpiece when it comes to tablet-laptop hybrids. 

You absolutely cannot survive nursing school with only a tablet, but tablets do have their benefits. In order to get the processing power you need to run all of your programs and software and the benefits of a light touchscreen enabled device, you want to go with a 2-in-1.

This machine offers all of the power and storage you need to be successful while also giving you a tablet interface and functionality to help make your life easier. 

With 8GB of RAM and 128GB of onboard storage, you will not struggle to run the necessary learning materials. The whole thing is small, smooth and light allowing you to easily take this computer with you anywhere.

It has a full keyboard but also can support touch-only modes and the use of a stylus. 

The only downsides is the relatively small screen which is less than thirteen inches in size and the lack of a full hard drive. At 128GB you are a little low on storage but integrating Microsoft OneDrive into your computer helps to make up for that with adding a ton of cloud based storage to the mix. 

In terms of overall quality, durability and functionality, Microsoft has nailed the 2-in-1 laptop with the Microsoft Surface Pro 7. If you are someone who wants or needs to have the use of tablet functionality to feel comfortable and effective, this is the best option on the market by far.


KEY FEATURES
● 10th Gen Intel Core i5 Processor
● Intel Iris Plus Graphics
● 12.3” (2736 x 1824) Touchscreen Display


Pros
  • Featherweight
  • Full tablet and laptop functionality
  • Excellent design
Cons
  • On the expensive side
  • Smaller screen

Best Portability: ASUS ZenBook 13

14 INCHES

8GB LPDDR3

256GB SSD

WINDOWS 10

12 HOURS

2.6 LBS

In terms of raw portability, few computers come close to doing what the ASUS Zenbook 13 is doing. Not only is the Zenbook an all around great computer in general, but it is also extremely sleek and portable.

This machine regularly tops the lists for best laptops on the market for students, and for good reason. It has everything you need to be successful all wrapped up into a small convenient package ready to be carried around campus.

It weighs in at a very light 2.6 pounds due to the durable aluminum body that ASUS has chosen for this model. That means this laptop will not slow you down when you are on the go.

Whether you are rushing to make a live lecture or heading to a coffee shop to take notes and study, it’s going to tag along just fine.

With the screen closed, this machine measures less than half an inch in height meaning it can easily be slipped into your favorite purse or school bag without any issues. If you are someone who wants to be able to tote around your computer, this one is a home run.

In terms of computing power, it is no slouch either. It has a modern Intel i5 processor, 8GB of fast RAM, and twelve hours of battery life. That means you do not have to immediately start searching for an elusive power outlet when you reach your destination.

Better yet, you get all of this for a very reasonable price. Most retailers have the ZenBook listed for less than a thousand dollars, which in this case is a super great value.

Studying at home can be a drag or downright unproductive. People who need to get out of the office and out into the real world to get things done need to consider this computer as a great portable option.


KEY FEATURES
● 8th Gen Intel i5-8250U Processor
● NVIDIA GeForce MX150 Intel Integrated Graphics
● 13.3” (1920 x 1080) IPS Display


Pros
  • Surprisingly light
  • Great battery life
  • Affordable
Cons
  • Sensitive trackpad
  • Fragile

Software and Requirements for Nursing Students

There are some basic programs that pretty much all educational programs today require. All of the laptops on this list will be able to run these programs without any issues. When researching a good laptop to buy for your nursing program, keep this software in mind. 

 

MICROSOFT 365

This one is a no-brainer but you would be surprised at how many people still try to get around the fact that you are going to need to purchase a key to unlock the full features of Microsoft 365.

What was once a handy suite of office programs and word processors such as Word, PowerPoint, and Excel is now a fully integrated planner, email system, cloud storage service, and more. 

You can guarantee that during the course of your education, you are going to need access to at least one, but probably most, of the Microsoft 365 features.

Lectures will most likely use PowerPoint. Files might be shared on OneDrive. Notes can be taken via OneNote or Word.

This is a software package that you will be using.

TYPHOON NPST

Typhoon is a growing software system that is increasingly being used by directors and educators to track progress, monitor information, and keep up with their students.

You will most likely have to access some or all parts of this software, depending on your program, and getting familiar with it will be beneficial. 

Your program will supply you with the login and information you need to access this program but you will need a computer compatible with it.

LEXICOMP

This database is an invaluable resource for nursing students.

Lexicomp gives you up to date drug information that will ensure that all of your patients are properly cared for.

Especially when starting out, knowing the interactions, side effects, and recommendations for hundreds or even thousands of drugs is unrealistic.

You will definitely want to be using Lexicomp to fill out the gaps in your knowledge on the fly.

EPOCRATES

Epocrates is another excellent online tool that not only provides important drug and treatment information to nurses but also provides dosage tables, calculators, and important interaction information.

Like Lexicomp, it will be used as a frequent tool for those in any nursing program in order to look up, double-check, and calculate drug dosages. 

ADOBE READER

Adobe Reader is used to read, scan, and alter PDF files. This can be as simple as being able to access a PDF with lecture notes or exam questions or as in depth as needing to fill out and sign important documents. 

PDF is one of the most professional and secure forms of data storage for forms and pages so you can bet you will come across your fair share of these files during your education.

JAVA

In the background, almost everything you interact with on a daily basis runs Java.

Everything from printers to websites to closed university networks all utilizes some portion of Java scripting to operate.

You will need a computer with Java installed in order to access the various websites and educational tools that are required for your program.

What Laptop Features Do I Actually Need As A Nursing Student?

Taking all of those important programs into account there are three important things you are going to want to keep in mind in terms of computer specs. Those are hard storage, internet connection, and RAM. 

Some places will try and up-sell you on unnecessary features and upgrades that will only serve to waste your money. 

In most cases, you will not need a fancy GPU or upgraded screen resolution in order to do your job effectively. You do not need the latest and greatest in terms of processing power.

What you are going to need is a system that can quickly and easily access the internet, one with enough storage to keep your important notes and files safe, and one that can last for hours during long study sessions.

I would caution against getting any laptop that has less than 256GB of storage if you are getting a computer with a traditional hard drive. If you are getting a Chromebook or 2-in-1 with integrated cloud storage, that can also suffice.

Make sure you have at least 4GB of RAM in order to handle running a lecture, a note taking program, and a web browser all at the same time. Less than 4GB of RAM will leave you struggling to keep up.

Lastly, make sure the laptop comes with a good WiFi connection and probably BlueTooth as well. Getting a laptop with poor marks in terms of connectivity simply won’t work with all of the online resources you are going to need to access.

FAQ

Should I get a tablet or a laptop?

When it comes to lessons and schooling, a laptop is definitely preferable to a tablet. There might be some areas in which a tablet could be seen as preferable.

Sometimes rounds or labs might seem like they would be easier to tackle with a tablet but overall, you are definitely going to want to go with a laptop.

Tablets are just too constricted in terms of power, battery life, and usability when it comes to the full scope of nursing school.

If you like the tactile feel of a tablet or enjoy the portability of them, you should definitely think about going with a solid 2-in-1 computer but you are going to need a full computer to get through the program. A tablet, even a good one, just won’t cut it.

Should I get a Mac or stick to a PC?

Nowadays, most programs are compatible with both MACs and PCs. Every once in a while you will run into a suite of software that is designed for PC only and that can be a hindrance. Be sure to double check with your specific program or class requirements and see if they demand the use of one over the other.

Generally speaking, this should be a matter of personal choice. If you are worried about it, then PC is usually the safer option.

There are little to no programs that will only work on MAC over PC other than Apple specific versions of certain programs. You are more likely to run into programs that will work on PC and not MAC.

In today’s day and age, this choice means less than it ever has before because of the general compatibility of programs across operating systems. It is always good to do your research on the software requirements for your classes and school before making a decision. 

Do I even need to buy a laptop as a nursing student?

Yes. Trying to go through a modern schooling program, whether that be nursing or any other kind of technical or higher education, without a laptop is going to be extremely difficult if not impossible.

A computer is going to be absolutely mandatory in order to not only survive but actually succeed. 

What will my classes look like as a nursing student?

This is going to heavily depend on whether or not your classes are going to be in a traditional setting or if they are going to be virtual. There are a large number of programs that are moving to a heavy online presence and then there are others that are sticking to a classic in person setting.

If your classes are virtual, you will usually have recorded lectures that are either live or posted for you to watch on your own time. You will often be required to watch a specific set of lecture materials and then be directed to online modules, assignments, or discussion boards to complete from your computer.

Virtual classes are going to require laptops with an excellent internet connection, good battery life, and an operating system that can support the platform being used by your program.

If your classes are traditional, you are going to be required to attend in person lectures. You will not need to access as much material online but you are going to want to have a laptop on which you are comfortable taking notes and keeping track of the information.

Traditional programs will often have in person, hands on labs, or rounds as well which you might want to consider when choosing a laptop that is best for you.

In either case, a well rounded machine that checks all the boxes is going to do just fine.

How can I safely sanitize my laptop?

The first thing to remember is to avoid using aerosols, bleaches, or other heavy-duty cleaners on your laptop.  You DO NOT want to spray your laptop with anything that comes out of a can or a bottle.

Computers are sensitive electronic equipment and they can be easily damaged by the corrosive properties of highly concentrated cleaners. 

You are going to want to use a lint-free microfiber cloth to gently wipe down all surfaces on your laptop. You may use a Clorox disinfecting wipe or any disinfecting wipes with an alcohol level greater than 70%.

Make sure you are not allowing excess liquid or moisture to permeate into the openings of your device.

Make sure your laptop is unplugged and powered down during the cleaning process. Unplug all external devices and peripherals during cleaning. 

A lot of good advice was compiled by Yale University and their full recommendations can be reviewed here

For complete recommendations and guidelines, be sure to refer to the official CDC information. You can access the CDC guidelines here.

Do I need a CD drive as a nursing student?

This is going to heavily depend on your specific program and instructors. Many schools are moving to entirely online platforms that will not require any sort of CD drive but there are some out there that might still have material that is only available via disc.

If you are worried about this, try to pick up a laptop with a disc drive included. Although, that might be harder to do today than it was in the past.

Many laptops and even some desktops, do not come with CD drives as standard features anymore. In fact, traditional hard CDs and optical drives are probably eventually going to become obsolete.

If you choose a laptop that does not have a disc drive but you find out down the line that you actually need one, do not worry. You can pick up one of many external CD drives online for cheap.

In fact, you can find plenty on Amazon that you can use to upgrade your laptop to be able to run traditional CDs. 

This is not something I would dwell on too much. Check with your specific school or program and make an educated decision.

If you end up needing one down the line, you can always get an external drive so the stakes here are fairly low. 

TOP 10 Must Haves for Nursing School

If you’ve decided what laptop you will get for your nursing adventure, now is the time to find out what else you may need apart from a laptop for your new journey!

Instead of us geeks giving you any weird ideas, we figured a nursing student has the best advice when it comes to extras you may need. So check out Abby Lanai’s video below to get the scoop!

OUR VERDICT

First and foremost, check and double-check your program’s recommendations and requirements for computers.

Many schools will have a site that specifically lays out what you will need in order to succeed in the program. Some of them may have odd or unique requirements that I cannot account for here. 

In general terms, all of the machines on this list will be above and beyond your requirements for most standard programs. Get familiar with the specifications and programs you will be using so you have a good grasp of what is expected of both you and your laptop.

Lastly, make a choice that is best for you. If you like taking notes by hand, get a computer with a stylus so you can write on your screen.

If you are someone who likes to hoard information and resources on your computer for future reference, make sure to get a computer with ample storage.

There are plenty of options out there and hopefully, you are armed with enough information to make a good choice that is best for you. 

If you happen to be a teacher for a nursing program, these laptops may be a better choice for you.

Are you a nursing student using a laptop other than the ones mentioned here on our list? If so, we’d love to hear from you!

Happy Laptop Shopping!