Nursing students in the 21st century have a lot to learn, both academically and practically. If that’s you, or it’s going to be you, you need a laptop, and you need one that can deliver on several key features.
But the world of laptops is full of jargon, and component names that are written in code, and everyone promising their own machine is the best you can buy.
Relax. Nursing’s your vocation. Making your life easier is ours. We’ve picked out the best laptops for nursing students, so all you have to do is choose the one that’s best suited to you.
In a hurry? Here’s our top pick.
OUR TOP PICK
Right at the top of the heap is a controversial choice – a detachable. Detachables are a phenomenally useful option for nursing students.
They’re lightweight, they’re flexible, they’re multi-functional both during your learning time and your off-duty time, and they offer a combination of the crucial elements you need to get you through your nursing training.
The Surface 3 gives you an Intel Core i7-1065G7 processor, running at clock speeds of up to 3.9GHz. In nursing parlance – big brain, calm under crisis.
The i7 is especially well-served when it comes to graphic display, with a GTX 1650 Max-Q GPU (Graphics Processing Unit), and what’s called an octa-threaded architecture eliminates glitching and delay.
Bottom line, if you can’t see things clearly on the Surface 3, you might want to get your eyes checked.
Whether you’re watching a video of the alimentary canal or playing Call Of Duty Gazillion to de-stress, the Surface 3 can deliver the visual treats you need.
You have a joyful 16GB of standard RAM in the Surface 3, which will give you fantastic processing speeds. Connect to your patient database, check their records and interactions, Spotify your butt off between shifts, you name it, with 16GB of RAM, the Surface 3 can handle it.
It also gives you 256GB of SSD (Solid State Drive storage). That’s certainly fast, but in terms of storage, it’s a little on the weak side.
It’s probably worth investing in some cloud storage too, just to be absolutely sure a couple of years’ worth of nursing notes don’t suddenly go blip in the event of ill-advised student shenanigans.
Naturally, the Surface 3 comes pre-loaded with Windows 10 OS, and a sharp display (13.5-inches here – tablet-tastic, while saving you space and weight over a hardcore laptop).
A cumulative display resolution of 3000 x 2000 pixels means you can be grossed out by details of the human body in full color and gruesome detail before you even get to deal with it in the flesh.
The 13.5-inch Surface 3 is pretty lightweight and portable at 3.6 pounds and – just like you’ll have to be – it’s capable of staying active for 15-17.5 hours between charges, depending on what you do with it.
With easy-use microphones to help you take automatic notes, and effective speakers for dorm parties or audiobooking your textbooks, it’s a pretty powerful student aid.
And to support you in the age of social distancing, it supports Wi-Fi 6, so any video conferencing drop-out will probably be down to human error.
Naturally, as a feature-stacked Windows detachable, it’s not the cheapest piece of student tech you’ll buy. But it is robust enough to see you through the whole of your course.
- Lightweight, portable machine lets you be note-ready anywhere
- High-spec i7 processor means the Surface 3 can handle all the multitasking of nursing student life
- 16GB RAM delivers rapid data processing and connection
- Long-lasting battery means it will meet the needs of student nurses
- A clear, sharp display allows for a thorough understanding of materials
- Wi-Fi 6 keeps you connected through any video lectures
· No support for Thunderbolt 3 rapid data connection
The MacBook Pro has made a name for itself based on consistency, quality, and reliability. That makes it an ideal choice for nursing students.
In the MacBook Pro 13, you get an Intel Core i5-8275U processor, that can be turbo boosted to 3.9GHz. That’s more than you need to run all the necessary trainee nursing programs and apps.
Unlike the Surface 3’s 16GB of RAM, the MacBook Pro 13 gives you 8GB. Less to play with, certainly, but you probably won’t notice a significant RAM drop between the two machines.
What you will notice though is the doubling of SSD storage space to 512GB. Cloud backup is always a wise idea, but you’ll feel less like it’s a critical element of your laptop management with the MacBook Pro 13.
Display-wise, you get a 13.3-inch True Tone screen here, which will take on the Surface and give you all the sharpness you could possibly need.
That said, the Retina display translates into an overall resolution of 2560 x 1600 pixels (less vivid than the Surface), but with an enhanced sRGB color feature.
While the Surface might give you the clearer image, the vividness of the blood might be sharper on the MacBook.
The MacBook Pro 13 beats the Surface 3 by half a pound on portability, weighing in at just 3.1 pounds. But with a battery life of just 10 hours, that’s almost a whole intern shift less than the Surface at its longest.
Auto-note-taking? Oh, please, the MacBook probably listens to you sleep with its built-in studio-grade microphones. And part of Apple’s core offering in the last few years has been its webcam and video conferencing abilities, so video lectures post no problem to the MacBook Pro 13.
Looking at ports, the differences between the Surface 3 and the MacBook Pro are mostly about a difference of emphasis. The Surface gives you Wi-Fi 6 but no Thunderbolt 3.
The MacBook gives you 2 x Thunderbolt 3 slots, but only Wi-Fi 5 compatibility.
Like the Surface 3, the MacBook Pro 13 is on the higher end of the pricing scale for a nursing student laptop. There’s little doubt though that either of these two leading machines will give you everything you need to complete the full course of your studies.
At least on price, the MacBook gives you a lower-cost option, the MacBook Air 13. The Air includes a 10th generation i3 processor, rather than the 8th generation i5 in the Pro.
There’s no escaping the feeling of a downgrade, though that may be mostly a psychosomatic issue.
If you’re going to splash out once and for all on a laptop to take you through all your studies, it’s worth comparing the Surface 3 and the MacBook Pro 13, because either machine can put you ahead of the curve on your capabilities.
Between the two, the decision is usually based on which makes you feel more comfortable.
- Double the SSD storage of the Surface means you can keep all your training notes locally
- Studio-quality microphones give you perfect audio note-taking
- True Tone display gives you detailed images during learning
- Two Thunderbolt 3 ports mean rapid connectivity for easy data transfer – import notes and video lectures in quick time
- An expensive option, so be sure it’s right for you
- An 8th generation processor isn’t the newest available, so it’s not very future-proof
- Battery life is significantly lower than some
The Asus ZenBook 15 is a laptop it’s easy to initially overlook, but it’s one that’s worth coming back to.
At its heart, the ZenBook 15 gives you an Intel Core i7-10510U processor. The i7 can handle lots of hardcore programs and apps without batting an electronic eye, so immediately, we’re dealing with a machine that feels up to the challenge.
In-built Turbo Boost technology can give you a clock speed of up to 4.9GHz, for rapid processing.
Graphically, the ZenBook is surprisingly versatile too. An NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1650 GPU Max-Q, with 4GB of video RAM feels similar to the Surface in terms of graphical sharpness, whether you’re using it to walk-through 3D anatomical models or zoning out after lectures with some Red Dead Redemption.
As with the Surface, you have 16GB of RAM to play with here, but like the MacBook Pro, you also get 512GB of SSD storage. Best of both worlds? Possibly – and with a little more on top, because the ZenBook gives you a full 15.6-inch screen, and a higher pixel resolution than either of the higher-priced machines, at 3840 x 2160 pixels.
You get 4K Ultra HD here too, meaning you can visually pick the smallest bones out of any presentation. Sure, it comes into the fight as an underdog, but the Asus ZenBook is determined to show its fangs and fight for your nursing student laptop dollars.
At 3.6 pounds, it’s a match for the Surface 3. And like the Surface 3, it’s ready for Wi-Fi 6 but comes without any Thunderbolt 3 ports. That’s not a game-changer – being exactly like the laptop at the head of our list should surely be a plus?
Yes, and if it had combined Wi-Fi 6 with some Thunderbolt 3 ports, the list might look significantly different.
So, if it takes the best bits from the Surface 3, and the best bits from the MacBook Pro 13, and mashes them together in a way that works… how come the Asus is only third on our list?
Well, firstly, it also imports the occasional ripple of disappointment from the other machines too – like the lack of the Thunderbolt 3 ports. And then it goes on to fall short in its own very particular ways.
It has a shorter battery life than either of the two other machines, at just around the 9-hour mark.
Likewise, while both the Windows and the Apple machine give precedence to elements like their microphones for note-taking, the Asus has microphones which are… OK.
Not great, not outstanding, not “Holy cow, I’m in a sonic wonderland of crisp reproduction.” Just… OK. Similarly, the webcam is… fine.
Good enough to do the job, certainly. It’s just that microphones and webcams are areas where this much laptop for this little price begins to make sense compared to the other two top machines. It’s where you start to see what corners have been cut.
Does that make the Zenbook 15 a no-go for nursing students? Oh, heck no. It comes close to beating each of our two leading machines on specification.
A 9-hour battery life might be a concern to busy nursing students on the go, and the just-okness of the microphones, while it’s not a deal-killer, is a disappointment.
But the ZenBook 15 is still waaaay up there compared to lots of other laptops on the market when you’re trying to find one to suit your nursing student needs.
It’s also, let’s not forget, priced to attract ordinary students, rather than trust-funders or people with overdrafts or second jobs.
You can outright own the ZenBook 15 without giving your bank account a heart attack. Add that factor to its pretty darned impressive overall spec and you get a real contender of a laptop for nursing students.
- 10th generation i7 chipset means the ZenBook 15 can handle all your nursing programs
- 15.5-inch display with 3840 x 2160 pixels gives you market-beating clarity of images
- 16GB of RAM and 512GB of SSD storage mean you don’t need to worry about capacity or speed of data access
- Supports Wi-Fi 6 for rapid access to the net, for rapid connection and effective video conferencing
- The microphone and webcam are less clear than some other leading options
- No Thunderbolt 3 ports for rapid data transfer
There are ways in which the Lenovo Yoga 730 13 feels less cohesive than some of the other laptops on our list. And yet, in a certain light, it makes sense for nursing students.
The Intel Core i7-8550U chipset can be boosted to 4GHz, which is more than enough to deal with all your nursing programs.
The display is an acceptable13.3-inches, but it gives you 4K clarity, in case you’re checking out fine nerves on a 3D model.
That’s a little odd, given the Lenovo has only an entry-level NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1050 graphics card with just 2GB of VRAM.
As a fun machine, that disqualifies you from higher-end games, and while it’s not without some sense, pairing an underpowered graphics card with a 4K display is a little like fitting a rocket booster to a go-kart.
Likewise, it pairs the i7 chipset with just 8GB of RAM. Again, by no means shabby, but after a couple of machines swinging 16GB, it feels more restrictive than it otherwise would.
In terms of connectivity for audio-notes and webcam video calls, the Yoga 730 is more than decent.
Will it give you the crisp images and audio of the Windows machine or the MacBook? Probably only on a very good day – but you’re also not selling your organs to get hold of the Yoga either.
Weighing in at 4.2 pounds, the Yoga 730 isn’t exactly heavy – but yet it manages to be the heaviest of our available options so far. On the other hand, you can at least appreciate where some of the heaviness goes.
The Yoga 730 has a forest of useful ports, including USB 3.0, HDMI, and that upgrade-point, a Thunderbolt 3 port for rapid data transfer.
On battery life though, it can only compete with the Asus, giving you 9 hours before it needs to recharge.
It’s not going to knock any of the first three laptops off their spots, but the Lenovo Yoga 730 is probably good enough for most nursing students, giving a 4K display bonus to those for whom that’s an upgrade worth paying for.
- 4K display will give you exceptional clarity of image
- An impressive variety of ports give you lots of connection options
- Thunderbolt 3 port delivers rapid file transfer – not by any means standard in laptops at this price point
- No Wi-Fi 6 capacity
- The processor isn’t future-proof
- The graphics card is underpowered for the 4K display
We’ve hemmed and hawed about the importance of battery life in a laptop for a nursing student. We’re going to stop now. The headline on the LG Gram laptop is its battery life.
Take any two 9-hour batteries. Run them completely dry. And keep on going for another three hours. Then, and only then, will the LG Gram admit to feeling a bit sleepy.
21 hours of laptop battery between charges – that immediately recommends it to nursing students who genuinely don’t know how long it will be before they see their apartment again once they set off on a day of learning and interning.
Hello, LG, where have you been all our laptop-lives?
But let’s not be too hasty. There’s more to life than a laptop battery, after all.
An Intel Core i5-10210U CPU is by no means shabby and can be clocked up to 4.2GHz, which is more than fast enough for anything you’ll need in your day-to-day student life.
Intel UHD graphics support ensures your graphics are vivid too, so there’s little chance of patches of fuzzy pixels being mistaken for something more serious.
As some of the other laptops on our list have accustomed us to 16GB of system RAM, the 8GB in the LG feels more cramped than it ever probably will be. And, like most of our top options, the Gram comes with a 512GB SSD module for ennnnndless data storage.
Operating system? LG comes with the user-friendly Windows 10 Home Edition in the box.
The display is a good size at 15.6-inch, but is a little more technologically standard, with an LCD screen giving you a cumulative display resolution of 1920 x 1080 pixels.
Good, but nowhere near as good as some on our list. The webcam is integrated and average, as are the microphones. We’re on a par with the Asus here, rather than at any kind of level to rival the Windows or the MacBook.
That said, the battery-packing Gram is the lightest of the laptops to make our list, at just a featherlight 2.4 pounds. Useful ports include USB Type-C, HDMI, and USB 3.0, but the Gram goes for Wi-Fi 6 readiness over Thunderbolt 3 connectivity.
There’s plenty to like about the Gram, and it will get you through your training without issues. You might occasionally feel the pressure of just 8GB of RAM, and the microphone and webcam are adequate, rather than outstanding.
But a laptop weighing under 2.5 pounds and working for 21 hours straight has got to earn itself a place on your list.
- Powerful 10th generation chipset means you can run all the programs you need
- 21-hour battery life is probably as long or longer than you’ll ever need in any one day. Hopefully.
- 512GB of SSD storage means lots of room and lots of speedy data access
- Wi-Fi 6 support gives your connectivity some future-proofing
- This extremely lightweight laptop is the most portable on our list
- 8GB RAM may be restrictive for student nurses
- Pixel depth is less impressive than it should be
- No Thunderbolt 3 port
Best Laptops For Nursing Students Buying Guide
Nursing students in the 21st century have a lot to learn, both academically and practically.
Buying a laptop that supports that learning depends on balancing some competing factors.
Laptops that are going to stand the rigor of a nursing student’s life – from academic classes to potential use in the field while learning practical subjects – need to be lightweight.
The heaviest laptop we’ve considered on our list is 4.2 pounds. Much more than that and you’re lugging a house brick from place to place. Which ironically enough, isn’t that great for your health.
The length of your laptop’s battery life is crucial as a nursing student. Bottom line, you’re going to work long hours.
Your laptop needs to be able to keep up with both your workday and your chill-out, possibly all between charges. Anything under 9 hours is probably not worth considering.
Can You Hear Me Now?
In the age of Covid, and even post-Covid, the importance of webcams, microphones, and connectivity can’t be over-stressed.
Make sure you get a laptop that can help you be present, and get the most out of any video presentations, as well as helping you take reliable audio notes.
Also, be sure your connections can cope with rapid data transfer if at all possible – Thunderbolt 3 ports are always a plus for direct connection from machine to machine, and Wi-Fi 6 will let you connect and download fast from remote servers.
Frequently Asked Questions
What’s the most important thing to look for in a laptop for nursing students?
There are lots of things to take into consideration, and each nursing student will decide for themselves where they draw the line between them.
Probably connectivity is the most vital in the Covid and post-Covid era, where many lessons and presentations will be given remotely.
How important is battery life in laptops for student nurses?
Potentially, enormously important. Especially as the training goes on, having a laptop you can rely on not to lose power till you finish for the day becomes more and more important.
Which is better for nursing students, a Windows laptop or a Mac?
Whichever the individual nursing student is more comfortable with.
Both have some great options that can deliver everything that’s needed – but personal ‘fit’ will be a big factor in getting the ‘better’ machine.