Upgrade Your Education: Must-Have Tech for Students 2020

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The school year is almost here. And whether you’re going back to campus or learning remotely, a big part of your education relies on having the technology you need to study, research, collaborate and even attend online classes.

All year long, we test out hardware to let you know what’s the best. And now, based on your needs, we can recommend what you should get as you start to crack the books.


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Perhaps the biggest tool most students use is a laptop. You’ll want something with a comfortable keyboard for writing papers, coding or whatever other workloads you need. A high0resolution screen is a must to show you as much of your work as possible. 

See the Best Ultrabooks and Premium Laptops of 2020.

Our picks include the HP Spectre x360 for those who want a variety of ports and 2-in-1 functionality, the Dell XPS 13 and XPS 17 for clamshells in different sizes as well as options for dual-screen notebooks and Macs. 


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Once an afterthought, the humble webcam has become more important than ever as more of us work and study from home. If you’re attending any virtual lectures or collaborating on projects with other students, most laptop webcams won’t do you justice.

See the Best Webcams You Can Still Buy

We’ve been testing some popular webcams and also keeping track of smaller brands that have popped up as larger companies have struggled with stock. Razer’s Kiyo and some of Logitech’s popular cameras top the list, but there are also some surprises if you need something that’s available now.


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Sure, lots of students will use the keyboard and trackpad on a laptop. But if you want a better, more ergonomic desk setup or are using a desktop PC, having a real keyboard and monitor will make you more productive.

See the Best Gaming Mouse for 2020 and the Best Gaming Keyboards for 2020

We primarily test graming-grade peripherals, but don’t let that stop you. Gaming keyboards and mice often are more customizable than peripherals which are marketed for productivity alone and have higher-end parts too. Most of us use gaming mice and keyboards in our everyday work.

If you want our favorite non-gaming mouse, though, you can always check out the Logitech MX Master 3

External Storage

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Always back up your work. While you can have extra copies of everything in the cloud, it’s still valuable to have physical access to your documents.

See the Best External Drives: Portable Hard Drives and SSDs of 2020

Sure, our top pick is an expensive, roomy, blazing fast Thunderbolt 3 option, but there are still good, more affordable backup solutions with spinning hard drives, USB Type-A and even rugged drives.


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Of course, PC enthusiast students may want to use their own rigs for both work and play during the school year, so you may be looking to make upgrades for optimal performance.

The components we recommend vary based on your goals and your budget, but be sure to check out our lists of the best gaming CPUs, best CPUs for work, best motherboards, best SSDs, best PC cases, best power supplies, best RAM and best CPU coolers

Andrew E. Freedman is a senior editor at Tom's Hardware focusing on laptops, desktops and gaming. He also keeps up with the latest news. A lover of all things gaming and tech, his previous work has shown up in Tom's Guide, Laptop Mag, Kotaku, PCMag and Complex, among others. Follow him on Threads @FreedmanAE and Mastodon @FreedmanAE.mastodon.social.

  • Mindstab Thrull
    Decent article but...

    Am I the only one that's noticed spelling and grammar errors in articles over the last few months? In this article, under Laptops, I saw "A high0resolution screen". I've noticed other similar mistakes in articles recently, though thankfully not a plethora per article. What's up, guys?