If you are a physician assistant student looking to buy the best laptop for PA school – specifically for note-taking, assignments, taking tests, exams, quizzes, web browsing, storing slides and PDFs, this guide will help you make the right choice.

In making our recommendations, we’ve paid close attention to performance, battery life, portability, as well as affordability.  As a matter of fact, there is something for everyone irrespective of your budgets and needs.

If your focus is on aesthetics without compromising performance, you’d find a laptop suitable for you. There is something for those who’d like a little bit of gaming after studying, too.

From Apple to Acer, we look at the best laptops for PA school and what makes each laptop outstanding.

Best Laptops for PA School at a Glance

No. Item  
1 Apple MacBook Pro (M1, 2020) (Editors’ Choice) Check Price on Amazon
2 Dell XPS 13 (2020) Check Price on Amazon
3 Apple MacBook Air (M1, 2020) Check Price on Amazon
4 Acer Aspire 5 Check Price on Amazon
5 Google Pixelbook Go Check Price on Amazon
6 HP Envy 13 Check Price on Amazon
7 Microsoft Surface Go Check Price on Amazon
8 HP Pavilion 15 Check Price on Amazon

 

 

1. Apple MacBook Pro (M1, 2020) (Editors’ Choice)

best laptop for pa school

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If you’re already invested in the Apple ecosystem, the MacBook Pro is your best bet.

The MacBook Pro is a perfect fit for PA students who need a high-end, ultra-powerful laptop capable of taking on both simple and processor-intensive computing tasks.

The laptop’s display is excellent and crisp.

Aside from handling your day-to-day computing tasks, the laptop is also suitable for gaming.

Audio on the MacBook Pro is unsurprisingly outstanding. The speakers offer the same amazing sound quality as the MacBook Air. This is good news for anyone who digs good sound.

The MacBook Pros’ RAM uses more power than the previous models.

Apple isn’t skimping on the battery with the MacBook Pro. Apple has added a battery strong enough to power the MacBook Pro.  You should get more than 10 hours out of the MacBook Pro without having to visit a wall plug.

The MacBook Pro has a super-responsive touchpad. Apple nailed the touchpad. It remains one of the best touchpads on the market.

Keyboard is decent. The butterfly-style keys have been tweaked and are quieter, thanks to a silicon element beneath each keycap – so no more clacky sounds.

If budget is no issue, the MacBook Pro is worth considering and it is the best laptops for PA school.

PROS

  • Enhanced processing speed
  • Ample storage
  • Better display
  • Very portable
  • Outstanding speakers
  • Impressive battery life
  • Excellent keyboard

CONS

  • Limited number of ports

Apple MacBook Pro (M1, 2020) Key Specifications

Display: 13-inch Retina display, 2560 x 1600 pixels
CPU: Apple M1 Chip (8-core)
GPU: Integrated 8-core GPU
RAM: 8GB – 16GB unified memory
Storage: 256GB – 2TB SSD
Size: 11.97 x 8.36 x 0.61 inches (304 x 212.3 x 15.5 mm)
Weight: 3.0 pounds (1.36kg)

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2. Dell XPS 13 (2020)

best laptop for pa school

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The Dell XPS 13 is one of the best laptops for PA school. It is sleek, professional, portable and has excellent keyboard and battery life.

With a Full HD InfinityEdge touchscreen display, the laptop’s screen flaunts incredible bright and stunning colours which make for an awesome viewing experience.

Memory options range between 8 to 32GB of RAM, and storage goes from 256GB to 2TB SSD. You won’t have problems combining more than one task with the Dell XPS 13.

The Dell XPS 13 weights 2.7 pounds (1.23 kg) and has a 11.9 x 7.8 x 0.3-inch (302.3 x 198.1 x 7.6 mm) footprint.

As for ports, you’ll find two Thunderbolt 3 USB-C ports, one USB-C 3.1 port, a 3.5mm headphone jack and a microSD card slot.

The Dell XPS 13’s predecessor which is shipped with Kaby Lake R Core i7-8550U is fast, but the new Dell XPS 13 which has a 10th Gen Intel Core i7-1065G7 processor  is faster and more efficient.

As far as battery performance goes, you get approximately 12 hours of use on the 4K model and 21 hours with a Full HD display, depending of course on usage.

The Dell XPS13 is highly recommended and remains one of the best laptops for PA school given its solid specs and excellent performance.

PROS

  • Excellent performance 
  • Cutting-edge 4k display
  • Slim & lightweight
  • Excellent keyboard
  • Outstanding battery life

CONS

  • Port selection could be better

Dell XPS 13 (2020) Key Specifications

Display: 13.3-inch display, FHD+ (1920 x 1200)
CPU: 10th Gen Intel Core i7-1065G7 processor 
GPU: Intel Iris Plus Graphics (i7)
OS: Windows 10 Pro, Windows 10 Home (64-bit)
RAM: 16GB
Storage: 512GB SSD
Ports: Thunderbolt 3 (USB-C), USB-C 3.1, microSD card reader, headset jack
Size: 11.9 x 7.8 x 0.3 inches (302.3 x 198.1 x 7.6 mm)
Weight: 2.7 pounds (1.23 kg)

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3. Apple MacBook Air (M1, 2020)

best laptop for pa school

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Apple has made the new MacBook Air a lot better than previous models with improved internals, storage, and keyboard. The laptop touts a decent 2560 x 1600-pixel Retina display.

Made of aluminum and powered by macOS Catalina operating system and Apple’s M1 chipset, the 2020 MacBook Air can handle typical day-to-day computing tasks of a PA student effortlessly.

With the 2020 MacBook Air, you get up 16GB of RAM. The entry-level configuration ships with 8GB of RAM, 256GB storage, Apple’s M1 chip, and an 8-core GPU.

In terms of weight, the MacBook Air is pretty much lightweight. No problems hauling the MacBook Air (11.9 x 8.36 x 0.63 inches, 2.8 pounds) in the backpack going to and from school or work.

Gold, Silver, and Space Gray are the three beautiful colour versions of the MacBook Air. Your choice comes down to personal preference.

The laptop boasts two USB-C Thunderbolt 3 ports on the left and a headphone jack on the right. How about the microSD card reader? Well, there isn’t one really.

We’d be lying if we said you’d be falling off your chair with excitement at the MacBook Air’s battery life. However, its battery life is just OK. In fact its battery life is a notable improvement over previous models. You should get at least 9 hours of productive work out of the laptop when it is not plugged in.

There’s no getting around the fact that the new MacBook Air still remains an excellent laptop given its decent specs.

So, if you’re looking for an affordable MacBook, then buy the Apple MacBook Air. It is one of the best laptops for PA school.

PROS

  • Super fast processors
  • Improved keyboard
  • Lightweight
  • Excellent battery life

CONS

  • Limited number of ports
  • Webcam could be better

Apple MacBook Air (M1, 2020) Key Specifications

Display: 13.3-inch Retina Display, 2560 x 1600 pixels
CPU: Apple M1 chip with 8-core CPU
Graphics: Integrated 7-core – 8-core GPU
OS: macOS Catalina
RAM: 8GB – 16GB
Storage: 256GB – 2TB PCIe SSD
Size: 11.9 x 8.36 x 0.63 inches (304 x 212.4 x 16.1 mm)
Weight: 1.27kg (2.8 pounds)

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4. Acer Aspire 5 

best laptops for pa school

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The Acer Aspire 5 delivers excellent performance at a reasonable price. It has everything you’d expect from a good laptop.

Port selection is generous, and you shouldn’t have a problem. And the connections are typical of a contemporary laptop: one USB 3.1 (Type-C) Gen 1 port, two USB 3.1 Gen 1 ports (one with power-off charging), one USB 2.0 Port and one HDMI Port with HDCP Support.

The beefy Aspire 5, sporting dimensions of 14.31 x 9.86 x 0.71 inches and weighing 3.97 pounds, is portable. You won’t have problems hauling the Aspire 5 in your backpack, going to and from school.

Battery life is great, just like you’d expect from a good laptop and the cell lasts up to 8 hours without a problem.

Our biggest issue with the Aspire 5 is the lack of an SD card slot.

Overall, you’ll be hard-pressed to be disappointed with the Acer Aspire 5’s performance. It is a strong buy and one of the best laptops for PA school.

PROS

  • Excellent performance
  • Good port selection
  • Lightweight
  • Good battery life
  • Good keyboard

CONS

  • No SD card slot

Acer Aspire 5 Key Specifications

Display: 15.6-inch, IPS Full HD (1920 x 1080)
CPU: 10th Gen Intel Core i5
GPU: NVIDIA GeForce MX350
RAM: 8GB
Storage: 512GB PCIe NVMe SSD
Size: 14.31 x 9.86 x 0.71 inches (363.5 x 250.4 x 18 mm)
Weight: 3.97 pounds (1.8 kg)
OS: Windows 10 Home

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5. Google Pixelbook Go

best laptops for pa school

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The Google Pixelbook Go is one of the best Chromebooks to have ever hit the shelves to date. This is a solid laptop for physician assistant students who are accustomed to using Chromebooks.

Google ships the Pixelbook Go in three configurations, including a Core i7 variant at the top, a Core i5 version in the middle, and a Core m3 for budget buyers.

The entry level model with Core m3 ships with 8GB of RAM and 64GB of storage. You’ll find 8GB of RAM and 128GB of storage on the Core i5 variant. There is also a Core i5 version with 16GB of RAM and 128GB of storage if you pay enough.

If you want more storage and speed, then we recommend shelling out for the Core i7 (4K display) model which packs 16GB of RAM and 256GB of storage.

It’s slim and lightweight. The body measures 12.2 by 8.1 by 0.5 inches (WDH) and weighs 2.3 pounds. You won’t have problems hauling the Pixelbook Go in your backpack to and from school.

Is the Pixelbook Go a treasure trove of world firsts? No. That said, its overall performance is commendable and delivers excellent value.

A noteworthy area Google has done exceptionally well with the Pixelbook Go in terms of performance is battery life – it’s simply exceptional. The Pixelbook Go’s battery will last up to 10 hours on a single charge.

Elsewhere, Google was smart to equip the Pixelbook Go with one of the best keyboards you would find on a laptop. This is as good a keyboard as you’ll find on expensive laptops like the 2019 Dell XPS 13, the Asus Chromebook Flip C434, and the HP Spectre x360.

But the cherry on top of this package is the Pixelbook Go’s superb 1080p front-facing camera and the top-firing speakers which stand toe-to-toe with what the big brands boast.

The Google Pixelbook Go is equipped with two USB-C ports and a 3.5 mm headphone jack. The USB-C ports are for charging and display out.

Just know: The Google Pixel Go does not support the Pixelbook stylus. Again, there is no biometric log-in feature.

By and large, if you’re looking for the best laptops for PA school out there, the Google Pixelbook Go can’t be beat, with its incredibly impressive battery life, cool design, and strong overall performance.

PROS

  • Excellent battery life
  • Brilliant design
  • Impressive keyboard
  • Striking webcam

CONS

  • Trackpad could be improved

Google Pixelbook Go Key Specifications

Display: 13.3-inch FHD, LCD touchscreen, 1920 x 1080 pixels
CPU: Core m3-8100Y / 1.3GHz Intel Core i5-8220Y / Intel Core i7-8500Y
GPU: Intel UHD Graphics 615 (300MHz)
RAM: 8GB LPDDR3/16GB
Storage: 64GB/128GB/256GB
Size: 12.2 x 8.1 x 0.5 inches (311 x 206.3 13.4mm)
Weight: 2.3 pounds (1.04 kg)

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6. HP Envy 13

best laptops for pa school

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The HP Envy 13 is one of the best laptops you can get for the money.

Entry level model ships with 8GB of RAM and 256GB NVMe solid-state drive, and a full HD (1920 x 1080) non-touch display.

A more expensive variant of the HP Envy 13 pairs an Intel Core i7-8565U processor with 16GB of RAM, 512GB SSD, and 4K (3840 x 2160) touchscreen. It is built on an NVIDIA GeForce MX250 graphics card.

The Envy 13 is portable at 1.27 kg and has a 12.01 x 8.30 x 0.57-inch footprint. So you won’t have problems lugging in your backpack to and from work or school.

With regard to performance, the Envy 13 can stand toe-to-toe with laptops such as the Dell XPS 13 and the Razer Blade Stealth which cost even more. You can perform tasks like web browsing, word processing, using spreadsheets, and more on the Envy 13 with ease.

That said, the Envy 13 isn’t made for heavy gaming and 3D rendering or video editing.

Next is the backlit keyboard which is responsive and quiet. The touchpad works smoothly, too. You may not fancy the arrangement of the cursor arrow keys.

Finally, battery life is good. You’ll get at least 11 hours of battery life. So it should get you through a workday.

PROS

  • Affordable
  • Excellent 4K touchscreen
  • Sleek design

CONS

  • No HDMI port
  • No Thunderbolt 3 port

HP Envy 13 Key Specifications

Display: 13.3-inch, Full HD (1920 x 1080)
CPU: Intel Core i7
GPU: NVIDIA GeForce MX250
RAM: 8GB, 16GB
Storage: 256GB, 512GB
Size: 12.01 x 8.30 x 0.57 inches (307 x 212 x 14.5 mm)
Weight: 2.82 pounds (1.27 kg)
OS: Windows 10 Home
Battery: 53.6 Wh

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7. Microsoft Surface Go

best laptops for pa school

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With the Microsoft Surface Go, you get most of the features present in the Surface Pro. The Surface Go is cheaper than the Surface Pro. The Surface Go is a portable and sturdy 2-in-1 laptop which can also double as a PC with a keyboard attached.

You can take notes, watch Netflix, surf the web and more importantly carry out all MS Office-related tasks on the surface Go. It can handle any light task than can be done on a typical Windows 10 PC. Because it utilizes Windows OS, apps can be installed from the Windows store facilitated by the preinstalled Windows S which can be updated to Windows 10 or Windows 10 Pro.

You can write and draw on its surface. Be ready to download a few updates when you first use the device.

The display is excellent for the price – don’t expect an Apple iPad Pro-like screen!

With regard to speed and performance, this 2-in-1 laptop is just OK.

You can play games (light games, of course) on the device, but it is best suited for small tasks like surfing the web, reading ebooks, checking mails, editing tasks on the go as the name suggests.

It has a USB-C port and a port for speakers and headphones. It is shipped with 8 GB of RAM and 128 GB or 64 GB of internal storage.

The bezels are just perfect for holding the tab when the keyboard isn’t there. You don’t want to worry about accidentally tapping something on the screen.

The Microsoft Surface Go battery will not last the whole day if you are constantly streaming videos and playing music. To get the most from the battery each day, we recommend using its battery saving mode and setting the screen brightness to its darkest.

If you’ve always wanted a productive, flexible, handy desktop alternative, without compromising efficiency, then the Microsoft Surface Go is easily the way to go. It is one of the best laptops for PA school.

PROS

  • Excellent display
  • Good design
  • Affordable price
  • Decent performance and speed

CONS

  • Not as good as Apple tablets
  • Average battery life

Microsoft Surface Go Key Specifications    

Display: 10-inch display, 1800 x 1200 pixels
Chipset: Intel Pentium 4415Y
OS: Windows 10
RAM: 8GB
Storage: 128GB
Connectivity: Wi-Fi a/b/g/n/ac, dual-band
Size: 9.65 x 6.89 x 0.33 inches (245 x 175 x 8.3 mm)
Weight: 1.15 pounds (522 g)

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Notable Mention

The HP Pavilion 15 is a good laptop for PA school worth considering, too.


8. HP Pavilion 15

best laptops for pa school

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PROS

  • Good performance
  • Good keyboard
  • Impressive graphics
  • Good audio

CONS

  • Display won’t win awards

HP Pavilion 15 Key Specifications

Display: 15.6-inch, IPS, Full HD (1920 x 1080)
CPU: Intel Core i7-1165G7
GPU: Nvidia GeForce GTX 1050 Ti
RAM: 16 GB
Storage: 512 GB
Size: 14.18 x 9.21 x 0.7 inches (360.2 x 233.9 x 17.8 mm)
Weight: 3.86 pounds (1.75 kg)
OS: Windows 10 Pro

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No. Item  
1 Apple MacBook Pro (M1, 2020) (Editors’ Choice) Check Price on Amazon
2 Dell XPS 13 (2020) Check Price on Amazon
3 Apple MacBook Air (M1, 2020) Check Price on Amazon
4 Acer Aspire 5 Check Price on Amazon
5 Google Pixelbook Go Check Price on Amazon
6 HP Envy 13 Check Price on Amazon
7 Microsoft Surface Go Check Price on Amazon
8 HP Pavilion 15 Check Price on Amazon
 

 

Bottom Line

We’ve reviewed the best laptops for PA school. These laptops are a great pick for physician assistant students who need sleek, robust, fast, and responsive laptops. All of the laptops recommended for PA school provide the best bang for your buck and are worth considering.

Do you prefer tablets for learning and note-taking? Then you might want to consider the best tablets for PA school.