Every college student needs a computer, and that’s a fact. However, when searching for the right machine, you’re not going to spend a whole month’s salary to buy a monster, because, let’s face it, you don’t need one (unless you’re a hard-core gamer). What you need is a well-rounded machine that can pull the weight of daily college grind – projects, presentations, seminars, maybe Photoshop, etc.
Also, as a student, you probably won’t have the money to buy yourself a 16 GB RAM, I7 Quad Core 5.0 processor, GTX 1080 configuration, and then have it die on you, which will cost you even more to fix it, or replace its parts, rendering your machine useless. No, you need a well-rounded computer that will not drain your pocket (or your parents’), but will still perform splendidly all the usual tasks a college life may incur.
Best Student Laptops under 500 Comparison
So, what are the things to consider?
The first thing would be portability. You will, most certainly, want to move around with it, as you will assuredly need it for class projects, to give presentations, or to take notes in the classroom (who uses pens and paper anyway?). That being said, a standard tabletop PC is out of the question. As a student, you need something light, fast and affordable.
The second thing to consider is battery life. Having a laptop with good battery life is quintessential, because a school day is long, and you’ll most likely have multiple projects on a given day. It would, then, certainly be inconvenient if your device were to die on you in the middle of the presentation.
Check out even lower priced laptops reviewed by us: Best Laptops under 400
Lastly, what do you need the laptop for?
Powerful gaming laptops are usually heavy and generate a lot of heat (and not to mention how expensive they are), so these will probably not suit your needs. What you will need is am office laptop that can pull the weight of daily college life. Having said all this, here’s our selection of the best laptops under 500.
Five Best Laptops for College Students Under 500
1. ASUS VivoBook E403SA
Leading the way is the ASUS VivoBook E403SA. This one is a Jack of all trades – it is light but fast and powerful. This laptop features a 14” screen, with 1920 x 1080 resolution, a resolution some 22” desktop monitors have, enabling super high-quality visuals. This may lead to fatigue, though, as a resolution this big will render letters very small, and thus the writing in Word or reading of such a document be troublesome.
One of the reason why we pick this machine as one of the best laptops for college students under $500 is because the laptop is extremely lightweight, weighing only 3.3 pounds (1.5 kilos), which makes it very portable, so you won’t dislocate your shoulder or develop a hump when carrying it around.
Now for the most impressive part! This laptop features a 4 GB DDR3 of working memory, which is outstanding considering its price. Its price is still twice that of some cheap Windows laptop, but such laptops boast only 2 GB of RAM. So, double the price, double the power.
That being said, ASUS VivoBook also boasts four CPU cores, whereas the Windows have two. Combined with the fact that the CPUs run at 2.4 GHz it means that this laptop extremely fast, so you will experience only smooth sailing with it – no hiccups and lag.
The laptop also boasts 128 GB hard drive, which might not seem like much, but with the help of Google Cloud Storage, you are sure to overcome this problem. Also, file management might help a lot.
- 14” screen, 1920 x 1080 resolution
- 4 GB DDR3 ram
- 4 GHz quad-core processor
- 14-hour battery life
- Resolution may be too hard on the eyes when reading
- Twice the price (but twice the performance) of similar Windows laptops
- Two USB ports (2.0 and 3.0)
Lastly, the laptop also comes with preinstalled version of Windows 10 (could be either a pro or a con, depending on the point of view).
2. Lenovo IdeaPad 100s Chromebook
Second up is this Lenovo Chrome book. It is a very cheap and a very reliable laptop which will suit your needs perfectly. It has a 11.6” screen (1366 x 768 resolution), which may not yield as big a resolution as ASUS, but it will be friendlier on the eyes, and it also means that it is lighter and more compact than the ASUS.
The heart of this laptop is its 2.16 GHz dual-core processor, which, again, is fairly inferior to the ASUS, but it will do the trick just as well. Using this laptop will be just as smooth, and you shouldn’t experience any problems with it, as long as you do not overload it with powerful programs or games.
It also boasts 2 GB RAM, which will work well, again if not too crowded with RAM consuming programs.
This laptop offers up to 8 hours of battery life, so you will definitely not be left stranded, and you can safely carry it to school – it will endure everything you can throw at it. The downside of this laptop is its small 16 GB hard drive, so you will be required to utilize Cloud Storage. However, this being a Chromebook, it is to be expected.
- Very cheap and highly reliable
- Very light and compact.
- Excellent configuration for its price range
- Small hard drive, but can be compensated with Cloud Storage
- 2 USB slots (2.0 and 3.0)
3. Toshiba Chromebook 2
Small and reliable, this Toshiba Chromebook has everything you need. An excellent blend of price and fine configuration, this Japanese beauty is just the thing an average college student requires. It has a 13.3-inch screen, boasting a 1920 x 1080 resolution, which means you’ll be able to enjoy your Game of Thrones episodes in full HD in your leisure time.
Weighing at 3 pounds, it will certainly be very comfortable to carry through an entire day of school without causing unnecessary fatigue. It also boasts a very slim design, which means it can easily fit in your backpack with your books.
This laptop also features a whopping 4 GB DDR3 RAM, which means that you can ride it with the most challenging programs, and it will still run smoothly. Throw in the dual core 2.16 Intel Celeron processor, and this little thing will chug away like a well-oiled train engine. The only downside is its small HDD (16 GB), but, since this is a Chromebook, you’ll have to use Cloud Storage.
- Lightweight, small and easily portable
- Wonderful resolution
- 4 GB DDR3 RAM
- 16 GHz dual-core CPU
- 8 hrs battery life
- Small hard drive, but can be compensated through Cloud
- High resolution may cause fatigue when reading.
4. Lenovo Ideapad MIIX 310
Now, here’s an interesting piece of technology! Lenovo MIIX 310 is both a laptop and a tablet. How? Well, its 10-inch screen is totally detachable from the keyboard and is touch sensitive; its resolution is 1280 x 800 (not as high as the rest), but is still pretty solid, and will not render fine print unintelligible. The fact that this is a tablet as well as a computer is a clear indicator that this device is made for life on the go.
Other specs feature a 2GB DDR3 RAM, allowing you smooth sailing with it, and a 1.4 GHz quad-core processor, this machine is as fast as a rabbit in the field. But the best feature of this computer is its long battery life, allowing for a staggering 10 hours of sustained use, so you can rest assured that this laptop will never leave you hanging.
It also features a 64 GB hard drive, which is more than the previous two, so you don’t have to worry about running out of space, and if you do, you can always count on good ole Cloud Storage.
- It is highly portable, being both a tablet and a laptop.
- Great CPU (1.44 GHz quad core)
- Very lightweight (1.4 pounds)
- More hard drive space than Chromebooks (64 GB)
- 10 hrs of battery life
- Device occasionally experiences problems when the screen is detached
Note that this fella comes with a pre-installed Windows 10.
5. Dell Inspiron 15 3000 Series
Another jack-of-all-trades delight, the Ispirion 3000 series is a wonderfully slim, lightweight and portable laptop. It has the largest screen of the lot, standing at 15’’, boasting a 1366×768 resolution. Its screen is also 25 percent more colorful and as much brighter, offering an excellent HD view.
The screen is also foldable to create a tablet.
At its heart is an Intel Core i3-4030U 1.77 GHz dual core CPU, which, though it doesn’t seem powerful, will certainly match all other laptops on this list (except maybe the ASUS), but its RAM memory is the true gold mine. At 4 GB DDR3 RAM, this computer is as fast as lightning, and will be able to withstand the worse Windows OS can throw at it.
This best college laptop under $500 also outmatches other laptops in terms of HDD memory with a staggering 500 GB. It also has five USB ports whereas the others have only two.
- A great two in one laptop with excellent performances
- 4 GB of RAM
- 500 GB of HDD
- Five USB ports (two 2.0 and three 3.0)
- Lower resolution
- Significantly heavier than the rest (5.3 pounds)
Comes with Windows 8 OS.
And there you have it, the best laptops under 500$. If you are willing to spend a bit more, then we warmly recommend that you go for the ASUS VivoBook because of its splendid characteristics. Also, you ought to consider the Ispirion because of both great characteristics and a lot of space.
But if you are really looking for a bargain, and don’t mind using Cloud Storage, then the best one is definitely the Toshiba Chromebook 2 – it mixes all the great characteristics of more powerful laptops, but at an extremely good price.