Senior Student Devices

Main Considerations

The main considerations when buying a student laptop are as follows:

  • Build Quality and Materials - The main issue students have at St Paul's with laptops are screen breakages. Because of this we recommend laptops with gorilla glass screens. Gorilla glass is a tough plastic often used for modern mobile phone screens, that makes the screen much more resistant to minor drops and bumps. Cheaper laptops or laptops aimed at business will not have this. Cheaper laptops also will often make compromises in other areas of build quality. So you may save money on the purchase price, but end up having to deal with costly repairs.
  • Battery Life - It's ideal if a device will last for a full day of class use without the need to be plugged in. All boarding houses have charging cupboards to ensure devices are charged and ready for use each day.
  • Technical Specification - See the full list at the bottom of this page. Essentially we need the device to be fast enough for school work. SSD hard drives in a device will mean that it logs on faster. An i5 CPU or greater will mean that it will be fast at dealing with tasks, and ideally 8GB of RAM will mean the device will manage multiple tasks at the same time. For windows laptops below $900, they will generally make compromises on some or all of the above. If your laptop budget is below $900 a Chromebook might be a better device in that price range. Senior students can still use a chromebook for most senior subjects. Art/Design/ Computer Applications/Computer Science/Media Studies and Tourism being subjects where a full windows laptop or Apple computer will be needed to run various software such as the Adobe Creative Suite. Alternatively a good second hand or refurbished laptop may be worth considering in that price bracket.

Reccomended Devices for Senior Students

HP Probook 430 G6 13.3" - Best Value Windows Education Laptop

An ideal student laptop. You can get cheaper configurations of the HP Probook G6 that will have an AMD CPU or a non SSD hard drive. If you are on a tight budget consider those. However the linked device has an intel i5, a 256gig SSD, and 8 gig of ram which is an ideal spec for a fast laptop in 2020.

This can be purchased from PB Tech

Price ~ $1200

Acer Spin 5 13" - Tough Well Balanced Windows Laptop

An ideal student laptop, built for student use, tough and fast. It has a Gorilla glass touch screen which make the screen very tough and resistant to breaking. It meets our recommended specifications in terms of CPU/RAM and storage. It can flip around and be used in tablet mode, and with a stylus for writing notes and annotating documents, but also has a full keyboard and works well as a normal laptop. An ideal student device that should last for 4+ years of use.

This can be purchased from Pb Tech

Price ~ $1300

Dell XPS 13 (9360) - Best Premium Windows Laptop

The Dell XP 13 is a fantastic student laptop. It has a Gorilla glass touch screen which makes the screen very tough and resistant to breaking. It meets our recommended specifications in terms of CPU/RAM and storage. An ideal student device that should last for 4+ years of use. The premium build quality means that it is a bit more expensive.

Can be purchased directly from Noel Leeming

Price $2200

Macbook Pro 13 - For Art and Design Students

This is a ideal laptop for students taking Art or Design. It's a popular device amongst the current student body. Apple laptops have a high build quality. Apple have excellent warranties on their products. You can buy them from most consumer electronics retailers such as Noel Leeming or PB Tech.

Price ~$2300

*A Macbook Air is a more affordable Apple laptop, it is also suitable for school use.

Technical Specification Recommendation

We don't want students to use iPads or tablets for school. We feel it's important that students learn to type, as some exams in certain subjects are being sat online now for NCEA. If your budget is limited, consider buying a Chromebook or second hand or refurbished device. Note all the devices above are quality laptops that should last for 4+ years of use.


  • For classroom use battery life is very important. A 4 or 6 cell battery will help ensure the laptop lasts through a full day of school
  • An SSD hard drive is preferable as they use less power than a traditional hard drive to ensure the battery lasts longer. They also load faster, however are smaller in capacity than a standard hard drive.
  • For a windows laptop an i5 CPU or greater is a preferable to ensure the laptop has a useful life of 3-4 years. (an i3 is adequate if you are looking to save money)
  • Screen size - We think 13" is ideal for students as it's small enough to fit in a school bag, but not too small that it effect readability. Most students are happy with that screen size. 15" screen laptops are ok for school use, but are less practical to have in a school bag so will often require an extra laptop carry case. Also balancing a 15" screen and books on a student desk in a classroom isn't ideal. Most Chromebooks are a smaller 11.5" size which is fine also. A slight compromise, but it works well for many students, and is ideal for Year 9 and 10's.
  • 4-8gig of RAM

Note: The school provides free access to Microsoft Office applications through Microsoft Student Advantage, so purchasing a device with Microsoft Office is unnecessary.