If you’re looking for the best laptops for college students under $500, you’re at the right place. Getting a budget-friendly laptop doesn’t mean you should compromise the performance or essential features that you require. Indeed, it is a little challenging task to find some good selection in this range. However, we are bringing you the top 10 selections from Chromebooks to Windows. Thus, you will have plenty of choices.
More importantly, each laptop on the list is excellent for a specific purpose. It will enable you to choose the one you find best. Furthermore, there is a buyer’s guide and some additional questions to help you make the best choice. With that, let’s begin the list!
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How We Made This List?
We bid several laptops against each other with a singular purpose of ‘college use’ in mind. Therefore, each laptop on this list offers a remarkable performance for a college-going student. Of course, you can’t expect high-end performance and quality. Still, you can get some of the best laptops for college students within budget.
Battery life, screen resolution, and ease of use to ensure a college student can access relevant resources were the primary benchmark. Specifications were considered enough to ensure that the laptop could last a couple of years (complete college duration) at the least. Longevity, durability, build quality, all of these aspects took a priority, as well.
It wasn’t easy. However, we managed to find these laptops through extensive research, each fitting a college student’s specific requirement. So, let’s begin!
Best Laptops For College Students (Comparison Table)
|Brand||Battery Life||Operating System||Screen Size (Display)||Processor||RAM (CPU Speed)||Hard Drive Size|
|Lenovo Chromebook Flex 5||10 Hours||Chrome OS||13.3 Inches (1920 x 1080 pixels)||Intel Core i3 1005g||4 GB DDR4 (2.10 GHz)||64 GB|
|Lenovo Chromebook Duet||13 Hours||Chrome OS||10.1 Inches (1920 x 1200 pixels)||MediaTek Helio P60T||4 GB DDR4 (2.10 GHz)||128 GB|
|HP Chromebook||8 Hours||Chrome OS||14 Inches (1366 x 768 pixels)||Intel Celeron Dual-Core||4 GB DDR4 (1.1 GHz)||32 GB|
|Acer Aspire 5||7 Hours||Windows 10 Home||15 6 Inches (1920 x 1080 pixels)||Intel Core i5||8 GB DDR4 (3.6 GHz)||256 GB|
|Samsung Chromebook 4||10 Hours||Chrome OS||15 6 Inches (1920 x 1080 pixels)||Intel Celeron N4000||6 GB DDR4 (2.1 GHz)||64 GB|
|Microsoft Surface Go 2||10 Hours||Windows 10 Home||10.5 Inches (1920 x 1280 pixels)||8th Gen Intel Core M3 Processor||8 GB DDR4 (3.4 GHz)||128 GB|
|Acer Swift 3||17 Hours||Windows 10 Home||14 Inches (1920 x 1080 pixels)||AMD Ryzen 7 4700U Octa-Core Mobile Processor||8 GB DDR4 (4.1 GHz)||512 GB|
|ASUS Vivobook 15||5 Hours||Windows 10 Home||15 6 Inches (1920 x 1080 Pixels)||Intel Core i3 Processor||8 GB DDR4 (3.9 GHz)||128 GB|
|Lenovo Ideapad 3||17 Hours||Windows 10 Home||14 Inches (1920 x 1080)||AMD Ryzen 5 3500U Mobile Processors||8 GB DDR4 (2.1 GHz)||256 GB|
|Acer Chromebook Spin 311||15 Hours||Chrome OS||11.6 Inches (1366 x 768 pixels)||Intel Celeron N4000||4 GB DDR4 (2.6 GHz)||64 GB|
So let’s dive in.
1. Lenovo Chromebook Flex 5 – Best Benchmark Laptop
Think of Lenovo Chromebook Flex 5 as the ‘benchmark’ for the students laptops under $500, or the starting line. It comes with a 13 inch full HD display and Intel Core i3 101101U processor. There is 4GB of DDR4 RAM and 64 GB eMMC. It comes with a MicroSD card reader, webcam, wi-fi, Bluetooth, backlit keyboard, and Chrome OS. You get a complete package and a 64 GB Micro SD to further add to the memory.
The screen resolution is crisp at 1080 p (1920 x 1090) with touch compatibility. Thus, you get dual speakers and an LCD screen that has an LED backlight to provide anti-glare. The sleek design has narrow bezels and minimum screen clutter to bring you the best display possible. If you combine the ram and processor, you get enough power to multitask. There are two USB C and USB 3 0 to ensure you have a future proof laptop.
Lenovo Chromebook Flex 5 is quick to boot with the Chrome operating system that works very well for apps and delivers quite a decent performance. Intel Core i3-10110U provides up to 4.1 GHz of CPU memory to very-well utilize the 4GB RAM. the 10-point multi-touch and 250nits of the display are ambitious. It weighs 3 pounds, and the camera is 720p in quality. Overall, you get quite a performer as the best laptop under $500.
- A future-proof laptop with the latest connectivity option, including USB C, BlueTooth, and Wifi
- Maximum performance that doesn’t slack in any manner
- Fantastic full HD display and high resolution
- The model is a little harder to find
- You are more likely to find an upgraded version with 10th Generation Intel Core i5, Intel UHD graphics, 8GB RAM, and 128 GB SSD.
- The higher-end model will most-likely put you above the price range of a laptop under $500
2. Lenovo Chromebook Duet – Best Entry-Level Laptop
Lenovo Chromebook Duet is undoubtedly an ambitious choice that will cost you way less for the best laptop under $500. It weighs one pound with 10.1 inches of screen size. You get a MediaTek processor with 4 GB of ram. It has 128 GB of memory with an 8MP rear camera. Overall, it is a compact laptop with Chrome OS that is identical to owning a more significant smart device.
The most potent aspect of Lenovo Chromebook Duet is the extensive battery life that lasts around 13 hours at least. You can detach the screen to activate the touch screen and carry it around. If you talk about the keyboard, it’s minimalist but gets the job done. Thus, you get a versatile choice as a Lenovo Chromebook Duet.
Think of it as one of the best budget laptops under $500 that saves you enough bucks so that you can invest in other accessories or protection to expand the system. You get a reasonably decent selection that will last you for years to come. Of course, the sleek design and minimalist approach might not be appealing to everyone. After all, it also means the device is a little less durable.
- A high value for money choice that saves bucks for accessorizing or upgrades
- 13 hours of battery life that will last your college duration plus more
- Detachable touchscreen to give you an appeal of the tablet
- High resolution for entertainment
- A little too lightweight that it is not a durable choice
- Lacks some connectivity or future-proofing options
3. HP Chromebook – Ideal For Future Customizations
HP Chromebook brings you at least three options for display with a little change in the price range. You have an FHD display, an HD display, and a touchscreen option. HP would be the best brand to invest in if you want something with workshops everywhere and cost-efficiency. You get the Chrome OS as the signature operating system.
If you talk about memory, you get Intel Celeron N4000 that delivers 2.6 GHz of memory with 4 GB of RAM and 32 GB of memory. It’s quite a decent memory space for your work and entertainment as the chrome operating system brings you access to Google Playstore to download and utilize apps. There is a micro SD reader to further add more storage space as per your requirements.
You can charge it to 50% within 45 minutes as it claims to deliver 13 hours of battery life, but we will settle for 8 hours with extensive use. The sleek design and ceramic appeal is undoubtedly admirable and adds to some touch and class for the best laptops under $500. There’s also another version available, and both of these are very-well under the price range, making them quite a compelling choice for any college student.
- A highly budget-friendly choice with freedom of investment and customization
- Long battery life and fast charging
- Fast and responsive ChromeOS
- Highly environmental friendly
- There is the latest version that can offer some tweaks to compete with the price range. But it isn’t as good.
- A standard 720P resolution screen display
4. Acer Aspire 5 – Runner Up Laptop
If you want to get the maximum features, performance, and value for a laptop under $500, here is Acer Aspire 5 with the best deals for you! Right off the bat, you get a 10th Gen Intel Core i5 – 1035G1 processor that delivers processing power of up to 3.7 GHz. You get 8 GB of RAM with 256 GB SSD. While you get the basic Intel UHD graphics, it has a 15 6 inches full HD display with 1920 x 1080 resolution.
To keep up with modern technology, you get 802.11 ac Intel Wireless wi-fi and a backlit keyboard. There is a fingerprint reader and an HD webcam. You get around 8 hours battery life and Windows 10 Home version to meet your professional and personal requirements as a college student.
It’s hard to beat this laptop with the latest connectivity options like USB C, 3.1 USB, and HDMI port. The laptop feels quite premium with a sleek design, and it weighs 3.97 pounds at best. You have quite an all-rounder. You get an HD camera, excellent sound performance, and quite a fluid display.
However, on the drawback, it’s hard to always find this as the best laptop under $500. Sometimes the price hikes or the cost changes. Therefore, it requires dedication for you to grab the best deals for it.
- Best in class performer with everything you could ask for
- Latest connectivity options with WiFi, Bluetooth, and USB C ports
- HD camera, display, sound and voice, and over the 15-inch display
- Windows 10 fluidity
- High memory and storage space with a powerful processor
- It can be a little more costly than the budget as it is a high-end laptop.
5. Samsung Chromebook 4 – Best Chrome OS Laptop
If you thought that nothing could match Acer Aspire 5 with its brilliant array of power-packed performance and features, Samsung Chromebook is here to take the lead. Of course, this is for those who prefer chrome OS over Windows. Here you have a 15 6 inch display with a compact design. However, the premium-quality brings you military-grade durability that weighs 3 pounds or no. You don’t have to worry about bumps or drops too much.
You get the best in class Gigabit Wifi and advanced security with built-in virus protection. It offers around 12 to 10 hours of long battery life, depending on the use, and comes with a USB C charging port. To bring you higher ease of use and accessibility, it works with Google Assistant, putting it well above leagues and on par with Acer Aspire 5.
It has Intel Celeron N4000 with a 1080p HD display. However, the standard display capacity is around 1366 x 768 pixels. If you think you are a little careless regarding devices and require more durability with performance, this one is a great choice. It is a minimalist laptop that brings you access to a wide assortment of features and performance.
- Best durability and protective measure with a sleek design and lightweight build
- Remarkable processing power and memory support.
- For storage, 64 GB eMMc is available.
- Fast charging and long battery life
- A premium-quality selection
- Although the resolution is 1080P, it usually performs at 720P.
- Touch response isn’t the best these Laptops for college students under $500 have to offer.
6. Microsoft Surface Go 2 – Best Laptop For Versatility
Microsoft is here to tell you that it will stay in the game of the best laptops for college students. Here you have a highly versatile and multi-purpose choice with Microsoft Surface Go 2 that offers you the ability to turn into a tablet, laptop, or studio. Thus, you can create, work, learn, or entertain yourself in any way you like.
You can get it with a surface cover keyboard, mouse, and pen that would further accompany your tasks. If you want a truly versatile and potent laptop for college students under $500, this might very well be the best choice available in the market. It brings you a 128 GB SSD with 8 GB of ram. It has Intel HD Graphics 615. If you talk about the process, it is the 8th Generation Intel Core M3 Processor or Intel Pentium Gold Processor.
Accompanied by Windows 10 Home in S mode, you get around 10 hours of battery life by standards. It is relatively lightweight, approximately 1.2 pounds. As far as the connectivity goes, you get Wi-Fi, a headphone jack, USB C, and USB 3, among other integrations. It also houses a hi-res touch screen and much more.
- A multi-purpose and a highly versatile convertible laptop
- 128 GB SSD with 8 GB ram is best in class and high value for money
- Signature Microsoft quality
- You would have to invest additionally for the keyboard, mouse, and pen, among other accessories.
- Essentially, you’re buying a tablet or studio that requires a type cover.
7. Acer Swift 3 – Best Laptop Under $500
If a laptop can surpass Acer Aspire 5 among the above listed laptops, it would be another brilliant option from Acer. Here you have Acer Swift 3. It is a powerful Windows laptop with 8 GB of RAM and 512 GB solid-state drive accompanied by radio graphics. You get AMD Ryzen 7 4700U Octa-core mobile process that delivers up to 4.1 GHz of computing memory.
That’s not all! With an aspect ratio of 16:9, you get 14 inches full HD display with LED-backlit and 1080P quality. It has Intel-powered Wifi 6 and HD camp with 1280 x 720 resolution. You get an additional fingerprint reader for security. As far as future-proofing goes, you have Type C ports, USB 3, and other gen ports with HDMI integrated. It boasts a powerful 12 hours battery life.
Of course, it has received a lot of recognition and awards for such a powerful budget laptop. However, it won’t fall precisely under the category of College laptops. After all, the cost can significantly boost. However, there is a lower-powered version with AMD Ryzen 3 and 4 GB of ram that could work as a cost-effective alternative.
Either way, if you can muster the funds, this is a must-have laptop. It’s not just a college laptop or something casual. You get a full-fledged and powerful laptop with complete connectivity and much more.
- A powerful windows laptop with top of the class specifications
- Lightweight and durable with complete HD display and camera
- A complete array of connectivity options
- Award-winning laptop
- It is one of the most costly laptops on the list.
8. ASUS Vivobook 15 – Best Among Gaming Laptops in Budget
Here is another outstanding choice within 15 inches full HD display with an 88% screen to body ratio. It very-well stands its ground against Acer Swift 3 and other premium selections on the list, but with a more budget-friendly approach. You get Google Classroom compatibility, making it perfect for attending class. Of course, it comes with a 10th Gen Intel Core i3 that delivers 3.4 GHz memory power. The 8 GB of ram with 128 GB SSD storage is quite ambitious. You get a highly ergonomic design with fingerprint sensors and windows hello compatibility.
It comes with a complete addition to the connectivity options. You have Windows 10 S mode that you can switch to Home if you’d like. Of course, there is a version with 4 GB of ram, but it had a significantly less impact on the cost, so you should get 8GB with a wide assortment of features.
ASUS is known for gaming laptops, and here you do get specifications of one. It can charge up to 60% within 50 minutes, making it best in class for fast charging. However, it comes with Intel UHD Graphics, which could suffice as a gaming laptop, but not for high-performance based games. Keep in mind, you are looking for a budget laptop, and this one passes that mark with flying colors.
- Signature ASUS build quality and performance packed with best in class RAM, processor, and SSD.
- Intel UHD graphics and full HD display bring best in class visuals.
- Best sound and a high-quality microphone
- On par with Acer Swift 3, HP Chromebook, and other premium selections
- A little heavier than other laptops with a weight of 3.7 pounds.
9. Lenovo Ideapad 3 – Best For College Use
Lenovo stays in the competition of high-end laptops among the list with Ideapad 3. This one brings you AMD Ryzen 5 with Radeon Graphics. The Dopoundsy Audio brings you crystal-clear sound and a 14-inch FHD display with narrow bezels. You have Q-controls for easy and efficient navigation. It comes with Bluetooth 4.1, Wi fi 5, and standard USB ports with HDMI. Therefore, it is a little less future proof than others on the list.
If you’re someone who doesn’t trust the camera and often covers it with some sort of tape or other objects, then this one comes with a camera shutter. As a windows laptop, you get the standard Windows 10 and 1080 HD display. Overall, it is a bare basic laptop on the list that has high-end components and quality. With 8 GB ram, it remains top of the curve.
If you’re someone who wants a proper laptop with a performance that fulfills your learning and entertainment requirements, Ideapad 3 is quite a fitting selection. It is sleek and durable to last you throughout the college years.
- Best windows laptop that looks, feels and performs like a full-fledged laptop
- Robust processor, memory, and computing capacity
- 256 GB of SSD with Radeon Vega 8 graphics meet storage and entertainment needs
- 14-inch display with 1080P resolution
- It is a basic laptop with various components assembled.
- In other words, it doesn’t offer anything different or unique.
10. Acer Chromebook Spin 311 – Best For Basic Laptop Requirements
Let’s end this list with another mid-range but a fantastic convertible laptop. Here you have Acer Chromebook Spin that has 360-degrees of turning capacity. You can turn it into a laptop, display, tent, or tablet, all to meet your requirement from work to entertainment. You get ten hours of battery life as a big plus.
While most of the other laptops weigh 3 pounds, this one is around 2.7 pounds with 0.79-inch thickness. You get an Intel Celeron inside with 4 GB of RAM. Of course, the 11.6 inches full HD display boasts a highly smooth touch screen and corning gorilla glass. You also get compatibility with android apps, thanks to the Chrome operating system and all the google apps with Microsoft Office compatibility.
While it has 64 GB of Storage, you can use over 100 GB of Google Drive space. Wifi 5 brings you the best in class connectivity. You get standard ports like 3.1 and 3.0 USB and even a MicroSD slot to meet the expansion of storage. It delivers an LED display with 1366 x 768 resolution. Once again, you have an option to get it with Intel Celeron N3350, N4020, or N4000, and all of these will still fall under your budget.
- Easy to customize with various processors, RAMs, and other accessories available in the market.
- A multi-purpose laptop with Chrome OS to access millions of android apps
- Decent battery life and remarkable performance
- A proper value for money
- It might require some investment in accessories and upgrades to be future-proof.
Laptop Buying guide for College Students [Mostly Under $500]
The first thing you would need to determine is the purpose of the budget laptop. Do you want it for a standard learning experience, or do you have a more extensive requirement? Of course, you would always have to compromise on some aspects as you can’t necessarily get the best of all worlds. Once you determine the actual purpose, you can move to the guide. Here is a quick rundown:
1. Operating System
There’s a difference between Windows Laptops and Chrome OS. Chrome brings you more android-type compatibility. You can use a wide assortment of android apps. It is almost like owning a bigger smartphone or tablet. You have a faster response, and even low-spec laptops would do a commendable job. However, compatibility takes a hit.
Meanwhile, Windows laptops bring you complete compatibility and the ability to customize them in any way you like. Many people prefer Windows for its versatility and compatibility. However, if speed and performance at low spec requirements is your goal, then Chrome OS would be a viable choice, as well.
2. Convertible Or Traditional
A convertible laptop will bring you more ease of use as you don’t necessarily have to take a laptop everywhere. However, traditional laptops will be more power-packed and durable. It would break down to your requirement. If you choose a convertible, it will cost more, and the screen size will shift. Meanwhile, if you prefer traditional laptops under the price range, you will come across a bigger screen and more durability.
3. Screen Resolution
As a college student, you might have to watch videos. More importantly, you would also need a resolution for entertainment. You might want something a little on the gaming laptops spectrum. Therefore, you shouldn’t settle for anything less than a 720P resolution, at the least.
Many people wonder if screen resolution matters. If you truly want a future proof laptop that can work with various educational tools and professional software, it becomes an indispensable requirement.
4. Performance And Specifications
RAM is not everything that people believe it to be. You can get 8 GB of RAM with low-quality hard drives and processors, and it won’t matter. Simultaneously, even 4 GB of RAM with proper processor and components could surpass high-end laptops. A lot of consideration goes under these.
Therefore, you shouldn’t focus on a single specification or performance component. Try to find a balance with the proper processor, high-speed SSD, and RAM.
Frequently Asked Question:
Almost every laptop in the above-given list is among the best selections you can get. There aren’t too many options available in the market for the ‘best under $500’ category. We’ve worked to bring you the top selections available after extensive research.
It would depend on the purpose and the type of course. You might need at least 8 GB of ram with a powerful 2.1 to 3.7Ghz processor for graphics or art students. Apt storage space also becomes a necessity. However, if you’re a student who needs to use Microsoft Office, maybe other essential laptops would better suit your needs.
Acer Swift 3 and Acer Aspire 5 can go very well into the 600 range if you want a full up to date version with high-end specs. These would meet your every possible requirement. To make them gaming laptops, you can invest additionally into GPUs.
That concludes the list. We aimed to bring you the best in class. However, if you choose to purchase through links or the site, we may earn an affiliate commission. You won’t get charged extra for any of these laptops. However, by doing so, you would contribute significantly to our upkeep of the top reviews.
Hopefully, you found something worth the investment among the above listed laptops. If you have any queries, the buyer’s guide and additional questions should suffice your requirements. As for our suggestion, we believe Acer laptops take this by a margin as they are known for bringing you highly affordable choices.
If you want Chrome OS, then Samsung Chromebook might be the right choice. Otherwise, Acer Swift 3 and Acer Aspire 5 with a little higher budget would be the best choices available in the list for anyone!
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