Katinka's Gifts Guide > Gadgets and Gizmos > Laptops and tablets > Teens

Katinka's Gifts Guide > Teenagers > Laptops

Best laptop for teenagers 2016

Teens are growing fast. Their bodies changing and their spirit can often hardly keep up. It’s a time when they’re learning new social skills, hormones raging through their bodies and yes – they’re also expected to learn academically in school.

In the modern world that does require internet access. For Facebook, Instagram, Wikipedia and more. They have papers to write and research to do.

The question is: what type of device is best for them to develop all of these skills on? After all, though some teens are very careful with their stuff, many of them aren’t. Those new muscles simply aren’t trained to be careful yet. And do you want to give them a top of the line laptop, when they may be throwing it around as though it were a pillow?

That’s partly a matter of budget of course. Perhaps you can afford to give them a MacBook Pro and insure it against that type of ‘accident’. Then again, maybe you can’t.

Another issue is whether this laptop is their only access to the internet and computer power. If there is also a desktop around, the laptop does not necessarily have to be top of the line.

The main question to ask yourself however is whether your teen is going to use this laptop only for the ‘normal’ stuff:

Or perhaps they will also be using it for more creative uses. This requires more processing power. Most laptops can handle image editing, but when it comes to sound and video, it can slow down or even freeze if it doesn’t have a quad core chip at least.

‘Normal’ use

Let’s start with the minimal use scenario. In that case you can settle for a low end laptop. Either a Chromebook or a cheap Windows machine.


Depending on your budget, you may still want to splurge on a touchscreen. Simply because it has become intuitive to touch the screen, so that screen had better be ready to be touched. Old fashioned screens just can’t handle it.

Multimedia creation and games

If your teen is into music, video and/or gaming, they probably want a higher end laptop. They may also have a firm opinion on what that laptop requires. If it’s only about media consumption and playing games, it makes sense to have them use their own money to invest (at least partly). After all, it’s not your job as parent to indulge their every fancy.

However, if they are using their laptop to invest in skills like image, music or even video editing – that may well mean the cutting edge difference in being hired later on. So in that case it may well be a good idea to pay it all the way. Again, if you can afford to.

Multimedia creation and gaming have very similar hardware needs. There are a few differences though:

Multimedia creation requires not merely a fast pc and multitasking, but it also requires good play back: an excellent screen and a decent speaker. Artistic people often end up with a Mac – it comes with basic software in this area and it’s become engrained in the culture.

Macbook Air

Gaming on the other hand doesn’t require a great LOOKING screen, as long as it is fast. Which means the graphics chip is more important than the screen itself. Gaming PCs usually run Windows and will often have a backlit keyboard.


You may think that programming is very similar to media creation, however it really isn’t. Unless your teen is creative AND into programming, they probably don’t need a higher end laptop. Not that it can hurt to have one of course. What they do need is a flexible system. In other words: you don’t want to get them a Chromebook.

They may prefer a refurbished system running some variation of Linux, or a customized MacBook, or simply a Windows machine.

A teen into programming will know just what it is they need & they should definitely have a say in it. Again: depending on your budget you may want to have them pitch in. However, programming skills are quite useful in the job marketplace, so it makes a lot of sense to invest in hardware that makes experimenting possible. While a geeky teen will often collect laptops and pcs to experiment with, most of them do NOT need to be terribly expensive. It may make more sense to give them a budget than to worry your head with getting the perfect laptop.

More teen laptop recommendations

As many of you know, I make a living as an online publisher. This involves writing about stuff that interests me, like the spiritual path and karma, spiritual book reviews and so on. However, to make ends meet, I also do product recommendations.

That is: I recommend products, and you - the potential customer - get to have less of a chore finding them. It's a win-win, especially since I get a percentage for each sale. The deal is this: follow a link on any of these pages and buy something, and you - without any extra cost to you - are sponsoring me to keep on going. 

I've started out of course with spiritual gifts, but there are also calendars, laptops, iPads, Harry Potter gear etc. It's all stuff I have bought or would buy if my house room and pockets were infinite. They're not and that's OK. 

As you click through you'll notice that some of the gift pages are on this site, some are on other sites I've set up. See also my new gifts blog.