The best back-to-school savings on tech gear doesn’t wait for official back-to-school sales. If you pay attention, you can grab great deals on laptops, Chomebooks, MacBooks, monitors, and more even before retailers run their ads. We’re already looking hard at back-to-school bargains, and curating the best deals we can find.
We’ve carefully examined the best back-to-school deals on tech gear from online retailers like Amazon, Best Buy, Walmart, and more, with an eye for what devices students will want to take with them to college, high school, and more. We’ve taken what we’ve learned from our extensive laptop reviews, dissected the ongoing back-to-school sales, and will tell you what we recommend, and why.
Our back-to-school laptop deals focus mainly on productivity, tending towards 1080p or 1200p displays and long battery life for all-day studying. Consult our list of the best laptops and best laptops for college students for more ideas.
- Acer Swift X, Ryzen 5 5600U / RTX 3050, 8GB RAM, 512GB SSD, 14-inch 1080p, $579.99 (38% off at Newegg)
- HP Envy 2-in-1, Ryzen 5 7530U, 8GB RAM, 256GB SSD, 15.6-inch 1080p display, $479.99 (40% off at Best Buy)
- Microsoft Surface Pro 8, (select the Graphite model!) Core i5-1135G7, 8GB RAM, 512GB SSD, 13-inch 2880×1920 display, $799.99 (43% off at Microsoft.com)
- Lenovo Yoga 7i, Core i7-1355U, 16GB RAM, 512GB SSD, 16-inch 1920×1200 display, $749.99 (25% off at Best Buy)
- Surface Laptop 4, Core i5-1135G7, 8GB RAM, 512GB SSD, 13-inch 2256×1504 display, $800.99 (38% off at Microsoft.com)
- Dell Inspiron 2-in-1, 16-inch Core i7-1260P, 16GB RAM, 512GB SSD, 16-inch 1920×1200 display, $899.99 (28% off at Best Buy)
- Acer Swift X, Ryzen 7 5800U / RTX 3050Ti, 16GB RAM, 512GB SSD, 14-inch 1080p, $894.16 (16% off at Amazon)
- HP 15, Core i5-1135G7, 8GB RAM, 256GB SSD, 15.6-inch 1080p, $468.97 (29% off at Amazon)
- Dell G16 Gaming Laptop, Core i7-12700H/ RTZ 3050 Ti, 16GB RAM, 512GB SSD, 16-inch 2560×1600 165Hz display, $899.99 (28% off at Dell)
The Swift X discount isn’t profound, but the laptop won an Editor’s Choice award. Note that we’ve included two different versions; the more expensive model includes a faster processor and GPU, but comes with a substantial price premium. A student should be able to make do with the cheaper model.
Remember that the Surface Pro 8 (review) is last year’s model, as is the Surface Laptop 4. While that doesn’t matter that much, remember that the Surface Pro 8 is a tablet (and includes Thunderbolt) while the Surface Laptop 4 is Microsoft’s traditional laptop, and lacks Thunderbolt.
The Lenovo Yoga 7i is just a solid laptop at a solid value, and the little brother of the Yoga 9i.
Both of the HP deals are slightly iffy. HP’s Envy 2-in-1 has a cutting-edge processor, but the memory and storage are a little skimpy. That’s perfectly fine for a writing degree, but not for the hard sciences. (You can add storage with an external SSD and can upgrade the laptop memory with our how-to guide.) The HP 15, oddly enough, was on sale last year for back-to-school, and it’s a perfectly fine (but 2-year-old) laptop. Oh, and we’ve included a gaming laptop (don’t tell Dad!) just for fun.
Not sure whether to buy a laptop or a Chromebook? We can help.
Best back-to-school Chromebook deals
We’ve picked the best back-to-school Chromebook deals for you. Don’t be afraid of buying an older Chromebook, but we’ve considered the trade-off between price and performance in our back-to-school recommendations. Want more ideas? Start with PCWorld’s list of the best Chromebooks.
- Acer Chromebook 315, Celeron N4020, 4GB RAM, 64GB SSD, 15.6-inch 1080p, $205.80 (66% off at Amazon)
- Acer Chromebook 315, Celeron N5100, 8GB RAM, 64GB SSD, 15.6-inch 1080p, $279.99 (26% off at Amazon)
- Asus Chromebook Flip C433, Core m3-8100Y, 8GB RAM, 14-inch 1080p, $304.99 (24% off at Amazon)
- HP 14-inch Chromebook, Celeron N4120, 4GB RAM, 64GB SSD, 14-inch 768p display, $149.99 (50% off at Best Buy)
- Asus CX1500 Chromebook, Celeron N3350, 4GB RAM, 64GB SSD, 15.6-inch 1080p, $169.00 (22% off at Walmart)
- Lenovo Chromebook Duet, Qualcomm Snapdragon SC170, 8GB RAM, 128GB SSD, 13.3-inch 1080p OLED, $369.00 (24% off at Best Buy)
- Asus 16-inch Chromebook, Core i3-1215U, 8GB RAM, 128GB SSD, 16-inch 1920×1200 (1200p), $449.00 (31% off at Best Buy)
College life generally runs on laptops and not Chromebooks. Chromebooks are still useful for elementary and even middle-school students, though, especially as secondary machines. If you can, prioritize a 1080p screen, 8GB of RAM, and (if possible) a 1080p display when you buy a Chromebook. The Acer Chromebook 315 for $205 is a fantastic bargain, and some people don’t mind 4GB of RAM at all. Otherwise, we’d recommend that you buy either the second Acer Chromebook 315 for $279.99 or the Asus Flip C433, as they meet our spec requirements.
Right now, we’re seeing sharp cuts on a bargain-basement HP Chromebook at the top of our list, though the Acer 315 should provide good performance at an aggressive price. We’re not a huge fan of the Asus CX1500 deal, but the price is solid and the display is large and easy on the eyes. The N3350 is a 5-year-old processor and was discontinued last year, probably incenting the discount.
The Asus 16-inch Chromebook pushes into laptop-quality components at a price that enters cheap-laptop territory, too. You won’t have to worry about performance with this model, though.
Best back-to-school MacBook deals
- 2020 MacBook Air M1 13-inch, 8GB RAM, 256GB SSD, $749 (25% off at Amazon)
- 2021 MacBook Pro with M1 Max, 64GB RAM, 4TB SSD, $3,299.99 (48% off at B&H)
- 2021 MacBook Pro 14-inch, M1 Pro, 16GB RAM, 1TB SSD, $2,100 (16% off at Amazon)
MacBook back-to-school sales just aren’t as pronounced as in Windows laptops, though Apple’s stock of older M1 hardware means you can buy an older MacBook at a surprisingly good price — for Apple, that is. That B&H deal, for example, is crazy but the company has continually been tweaking it to adjust the price and discount.
MacBooks rarely carry heavy discounts, unfortunately, so snap these up if you can.
Best back-to-school iPad and tablet deals
- Apple iPad (9th Gen), 10.2-inch (2021) 256GB, WiFi, $399 (17% off at Amazon)
- Apple iPad (9th Gen), 10.2-inch, 64GB, $279 (15% off at Amazon)
- Apple iPad Air (5th gen), 10.9-inch, WiFi 6, $559 (7% off at Amazon)
- Samsung Galaxy Tab S6 (2020), 64GB, $249.99 (29% off at Amazon)
If students need a tablet for when they go back to school, we think that these suggestions offer the best deals for now. We may see better deals as the season goes on.
Amazon has some small discounts available for back-to-school tablets. We’ve shied away from Amazon’s own Fire tablets only because students will need flexibility to add apps that they may use in school.
Best back-to-school monitor deals
College dorm rooms and lecture halls don’t offer an enormous amount of space for additional monitors, so there aren’t as many back-to-school monitor deals as you otherwise might expect. Samsung, though, appears to be having a sale.
- HP V223ve, 1080p 75Hz, $109.95, (24% off at Amazon)
- Samsung 27-inch LC27F396FHNXZA (curved), 1080p 60Hz, $129.00 (16% off at Walmart)
- Acer Nitro XZ270 27-inch Gaming Monitor, 1080p 240Hz, $240.95 (27% off at Amazon)
- HP Omen 27q, 27-inch 1440p 165Hz gaming monitor, $209.99 (28% off at Amazon)
- Samsung LS32A700NWNXZA, 32-inch 2160p display/60Hz refresh rate/16:9 aspect ratio, $299.99 (21% off at Walmart)
- Hemudu Dual Monitor Mount: $28.89, (42% off at Amazon)
- Huanuo Dual Monitor Stand: $49.99 ($26% off at Amazon)
We’ve (mostly) emphasized 60Hz displays, with a mix of 1080p and 4K. We’ve included two gaming monitors, though, for those willing to spend a little more. Also consider a monitor mount for a dorm room: assuming a lack of desk space, mounting a display or two may maximize productivity. Just double-check the weight of each display you’re attaching, as the mounts have weight limits for what they can support.
For even more options, check out our daily monitor deals.
When do back-to-school sales begin?
When will back-to-school sales end?
Retailers often won’t tell you when these sales end, though it’s likely they’ll be available into the first week of September. Students may go back to school and find they have the wrong equipment. Prices may change as retailer stock fluctuates.
We’d expect that retailers will try to hold on to their sales until possibly September, though expect the quality and quantity of back-to-school deals to diminish as retailers sell through their available inventory. Carpe diem… or maybe carpe deal. (Sorry.)
When are tax-free weekends scheduled?
Tax-free weekends are run by some U.S. states to encourage shopping, especially for items like back-to-school purchases that usually include computers. (Note: There are some price limits on certain purchases — in New Mexico, for example, PCs must be under $1,000 to qualify for the tax holiday.)
Five states—Alaska, Delaware, Montana, New Hampshire, and Oregon—never charge sales tax. We’ve listed the states that are scheduling tax-free weekends, as well as a link to the fine print. Virginia has cancelled their tax-free weekend for 2023.
For example, if you live in Arkansas and buy a laptop from Amazon on August 5, you won’t pay sales tax. There are some exceptions that vary by state: In New Mexico, retailers aren’t required to participate. Each state has different exemptions that apply to different products at different price ranges, and these discounts (generally) apply to national retailers. Check the details!
Alabama: July 21-July 23, at midnight. Details.
Arkansas: Aug. 5-Aug. 6, at midnight. Details.
Connecticut: Aug. 20-Aug. 26. Details.
Florida: July 24-Aug. 6. Details.
Iowa: Aug. 4- Aug. 5, at midnight. Details.
Maryland: Aug. 13-Aug. 19, at midnight. Details. (No electronics)
Massachusetts: Aug. 12-Aug. 13. Details.
Mississippi: July 28-July 39, at midnight. Details.
Missouri: Aug. 4-Aug. 6 at midnight. Details.
New Jersey: Aug. 26-Sept. 4. Details.
New Mexico: Aug. 5-Aug. 7, at midnight. Details.
Ohio: Aug. 4-Aug. 6, at midnight. Details. (No electronics)
Oklahoma: Aug. 5-Aug. 7 at midnight. Details. (Very limited.)
South Carolina: Aug. 4-Aug. 6, at midnight. Details.
Tennessee: Back-to-school tax-free weekend runs July 28-30 at midnight. Details.
Texas: Aug. 11-Aug. 13. Details. (No electronics)
PCs vs. Chromebooks: Which is better for school?
We have a lengthy overview of the advantages of Chromebooks versus laptops, but the simple answer to this question is: whatever your school district tells you.
A Chromebook is better for school if your child will be working “online,” meaning in the classroom but on a website that’s authorized by the teacher. A PC is more useful if your child will be using apps, such as Minecraft for Education, or transitioning from elementary school to middle school, or from middle school to high school. The extra flexibility to run apps (and, yes, games) will be appreciated by your child. Colleges and universities almost always ask their students to bring PCs or Macs with them, so a laptop is most appropriate.
What should I look for in a monitor for dorm rooms?
Dorm rooms typically prioritize the efficient use of space, so laptops will be the most typical. Any way that you can use the extra space, though, is useful. A high-resolution display may mean that you can more effectively “fit” more information into the space with smaller fonts. But a monitor mount, like we’ve included in our list of monitors, can clamp on to a desk and allow for a second display, which vastly increases productivity and can also be used to stream video for friends, too. Our back-to-school list of monitors includes both cheap 1080p options as well as 4K displays and even gaming displays for after hours.
Additional reporting by Ashley Biancuzzo. Updated at 2:20 PM on July 21 with new deals.