So, you’re college-bound and in need of a laptop. Let’s consider what students use laptops for – Skyping with parents, typing, writing essays, making presentations, social networking, a bit of gaming, watching movies, playing music, going off the deep end of the Internet… have we left anything out? Those going for STEM fields will need laptops for more CPU heavy programs (compiling, 3D rendering, the works). Any-RAM, the basic assumption here is that being a student, you are working on a mean budget, so you need to find the very best laptop for college for the least amount of money. If that’s the case, take a look at this short list of best laptops for college under 500. And dont forget to check our general article about best college laptops.
Best Laptop for College under 500 Comparison
Before anything else, let’s see what you need to look out for when buying a laptop. First and foremost, ask yourself how often you intend to carry your laptop, as this impinges upon the weight you’ll be carrying. Secondly, and thirdly, think of the screen and keyboard sizes, as this will affect your ability to multitask. Last, but not least, ask yourself how many hours you can go without recharging the battery between uses, i.e. how long you need it to last.
5 Best College Laptop under $500 Reviews
1. HP Notebook 15-ay011nr
If you were looking for a good and versatile laptop that will enable you to while away (spend your leisure time gaming), you’re in luck. The HP 15-ay011nr will enable you to play anything but the most demanding behemoths of modern-day gaming.
The heart and soul of this 15.6-inch bad boy is the Intel Core i5 6200U, which clocks at 2.3GHz. Moreover, the laptop makes use of 8GB DDR3L SDRAM to help rendering some CPU heavy programs, making it suitable for graphic design, video-tinkering and other like activities.
For you viewing delight (and homework), the laptop carries 1TB Hard Drive at 5400rpm, as well as a Super-Multi DVD Burner if you wish to back up your files.
As for the exterior, the HP 15-ay011nr features a smooth ergonomic keyboard, 3.5 stars touchpad, and, as already noted, a 15.6-inch screen with Full HD SVA antiglare WLED-backlit (1920 x 1080) resolution.
- Not a dedicated gaming computer.
- Great screen resolution.
- 7-hour battery-life.
- Very lightweight (4.73 lbs.)
- Not a dedicated gaming computer.
- The touchpad is a bit stiff.
You might’ve noticed that being “not a dedicated computer” appears as both a positive and negative feature; the reason is simple – on the one side, it keeps you from studying; on the other, it gives you a smooth gaming.
Look on the bright side, though – any computer able to tackle games will be ideal for other taxing programs.
Best College Laptop under $500 for Multitasking
2. Lenovo Flagship 17.3-inch HD
As the name might suggest, the Lenovo Flagship Premium High Performance 17.3-inch HD+ Laptop is the company’s bestseller in this range of laptops, and for a good reason.
This is a beauty of a laptop, and probably the best bang for the buck you’ll see on this list. It sports the 5th Gen Intel Core i5-5200U mobile processor with 3M cache and 2.2GHz base frequency able to boost to 2.7GHz, as well as an integrated Intel Graphics 5500 card.
TheHD+ BrightView WLED-backlit (1600 x 900) screen measures 17.3 inches diagonally, allowing you lots of working space for multitasking.
The laptop carries 8GB DDRL RAM and a standard, yet beastly 1TB HDD, as well as Supr-Multi DVD burner for backing up your files. For your convenience and optimal connectivity.
This pupster offers:
Bluetooth 4.0 combo;
Integrated 10/100 BASE-T Ethernet LAN;
1 multi-format SD media card reader;
Integrated 10/100Base-T Ethernet LAN;
Built-in stereo speakers;
1x USB 3.0;
2x USB 2.0;
1X VGA, 1x RJ-45;
1x headphone/microphone combo.
- Great screen, thin and compact, graphics on par with more expensive models.
- Comes with pre-installed Windows 10 OS.
- 5-hour battery-life.
- 5 lbs. of weight.
- MS Office Suite isn’t included.
- The mouse is not very comfortable.
In a nutshell, this is a terrific, versatile and hardy laptop for college at a fair price.
Best College Laptop under $500 2-in-1
3. Dell Inspiron 13 7000 Series i7347
If versatility is what you crave, then you should look no further than the Dell Inspiron 13 7000 Series i7347 13-Inch Convertible Touchscreen Laptop. This is, hands down, the best 2-in-1 laptop/tablet for college students.
This bad boy gives you plenty of power for loading apps or editing images thanks to its 4th Generation Intel Core i3-4010U processor and 4GB DDR3 RAM. The 500G storage capacity is not overwhelming, but it’s still more than adequate.
The exterior of this convertible college laptop features a precision touchpad and a full-sized keyboard, though you have the option to switch between laptop, tablet, tent or stand modes (whatever floats your boat).
The 13-inch 1366 x 768 res touchscreen makes it not only versatile but also incredibly portable. Moreover, this baby provides outstanding connectivity with 3 full-size USB 3.0 ports, 1 full-size HDMI port and 1 full-size SD reader (fantastic for photographers).
- Very portable.
- Versatile as 5e D&D Cleric, Druid and Bard combined
- Backlit keyboard, very responsive touchpad
- Up to 6 hours of battery life
- Suffers from ghost-clicking
- Low-res screen
Although the resolution could be better (and indeed, there are models in the same series with full HD 1920×1080 resolution in this series), the versatility and price more than make up for it.
Best College Laptop under $500 Chromebook
4. ASUS Chromebook Flip 10.1-Inch
And now for something completely different (get the reference? good) – the best Chromebook for college-bound students. If you’re not familiar with the term, a Chromebook is a computer that runs on Google’s web-based Chrome OS, designed to be used with an internet connection, with most of its documents and apps existing in the cloud.
As for the item at hand, it holds a Rockchip 1.8GHz processor and 4GB DDR3 RAM. This is by no means a beastly uber-hound among computers, but a very smart puppy.
This… puppy is able to open and edit MS Office files using free embedded QuickOffice editor or Google Docs. Alternatively, you have the option of downloading Microsoft Office Online for free.
One of the most important features is its versatility and mobility, thanks to its 10.1-inch HD (1200 x 800) IPS multi-touch screen.
For storage purposes, you have 16GB SSD, supplemented with online storage options. Speaking of online options, this puppy offers exceptional connectivity thanks to a built-in micro HDMI, USB ports, and a micro-SD card reader.
- Fast as Flash
- Safe and secure, no viruses, no adware, no malvertising.
- Up to 9 hours of battery life
- Incredibly lightweight (2 lbs.)
- Doesn’t allow installing standard MS Office software.
- Requires constant connection
The ASUS Chromebook Flip 10.1-Inch Convertible 2 in 1 Touchscreen is probably the best laptop for college for those who expect to carry it around a lot – it’s lightweight, relatively small, and has an incredible battery lifespan.
Best College Laptop under $500 Value for Money
5. Acer Aspire E-15 15.6″ E5-521-24PQ
The Acer Aspire E-15 15.6″ E5-521-24PQ Laptop is the most affordable item on this list, bar the ASUS Chromebook, which is no true laptop (talk about true Scotsmen, eh?).
The backbone of this fella is the AMD E2-6110 Quad-Core processor, clocked at 1.50GHz and with 2MB L2 Cache. The system’s 4GB DDR3 SDRAM memory can be expanded to 16GB. As far as storage goes, the E-15 has a 1TB-capacity SATA drive.
The laptop also features an 8x SuperMulti DVD Double-Layer drive, as well as an SD memory card reader. For connectivity, you get 10/100/1000Mbps Gigabit Ethernet, 802.11b/g/n Wireless LAN, and Bluetooth v4.0 technology.
The laptop’s 15.6-inch monitor features HD CineCrystal widescreen LED-backlit display.
- Great value for money
- Solid and well-built
- Built-in camera and microphone
- Up to six hours of battery life
- Plenty of bloatware
- A bit sluggish for a quad-core
Buying a computer is more of an investment than a pastime, and there are plenty of good laptops for college under 500 bucks. Obviously, you might not find the exact thing you were looking for, but reading through this will give you an idea where to start.
For the sake of consistency, we’ll start with the first item on the list – the HP Notebook 15-ay011nr, which is, ostensibly, the best when it comes to graphics and smooth rendering. The Lenovo Flagship Premium, on the other hand, is the best quality and a multitasking beast, bar none in this range. The Dell Inspiron 13 7000 Series i7347 comes a close second, but its most striking feature is the 2-in-1 screen with a 360° hinge. For best mobility, go for the Asus Chromebook, also a 2-in-1 laptop/tablet. However, for the best bang for the buck, the Acer Aspire E-15 is your only option.