12 Best Laptops for College Students Under $500 in 2018

Entering college is one of the best times of your life, but it is not very wallet-friendly. Of course, you want to save money where you can, but this was not always possible when buying a laptop that is essential to a student’s success.

Finding an inexpensive laptop that doesn’t compromise quality is possible when you know where to look. We have compiled the following guide to bring you the best laptops for college students under 500 dollars.

Top 12 Laptops for College Students Under $500 Ultimate Chart

DesignNameWeight (pounds)Battery Life (hours)Rating (1-5)
  1. Lenovo ThinkPad E560 Laptop 7.2 9 4.2
  2. Samsung Chromebook Plus Convertible Touch Laptop 2.4 10 4.1
  3. Acer Aspire ES 15 5.3 6.5 4.1
  4. ASUS F556UA-AB32 15.6-inch Full-HD Laptop 5.1 5 4.0
  5. HP 15.6″ HD WLED Backlit Display Laptop 4.7 5.5 3.9
6. Dell Inspiron Flagship 15.6-Inch FHD Touchscreen Backlit Keyboard Laptop PC 5.4 7 3.9
7. HP Notebook 15-ay011nr 15.6-Inch Laptop 4.7 7.15 3.8
8. Microsoft Surface 3 Tablet 3.8 10 3.8
  9. Lenovo G50 15.6-Inch Laptop 4.6 5 3.7
  10. HP 15-F222WM 15.6″ Touch Screen Laptop 8 6 3.7
  11. Lenovo Ideapad 310 15.6″ Laptop 4.8 5 3.6
  12. ASUS VivoBook X540SA 15.6-Inch High Performance Premium HD Laptop 4.5 6 3.2

The Ins and Outs of What to Look For

Any laptop for students should have certain specs regardless of the price point to be effective for the amount and the kind of work that students do. Read the following tips to ensure you are only considering the best laptops for college students under 500 dollars.

  • Portability – The reason you buy a laptop for college in the first place is so you can take it to class and work on the go, which is why taking it with you shouldn’t be a workout. Consider smaller models when possible, though weight and screen size are often compromised so inexpensive devices can offer more operating speed and memory.
  • Durability – As you will be taking the laptop with you around campus, it needs to withstand the wear and tear of everyday travel. The laptop should also be able to handle any spills or drops without being completely unusable.
  • Workability – Having multiple tabs, applications, and programs running at the same time should be easy for the laptop of a college student; this will help ensure any research projects or papers will not be interrupted.

Non-Negotiable

Though it would be nice to not compromise on any feature, inexpensive laptops often have at least one thing that you will need to concede; this should never include one of the following:

  • Battery Life – No one wants to be dragging around his or her charger cables in addition to the laptop itself. The inconvenience continues when you need to find an outlet that is close enough to where you are working too. Avoiding this completely is possible when buying a laptop that has 5+ hours of battery life. Though 7+ hours is ideal, most students will find that 5+ hours is enough.
  • RAM – Referring to the amount that your computer can handle doing at one time, this is a very important feature for any multi-tasking student. The more RAM, the more your computer will be able to work on at once. Choose devices that have 4 GB or more of RAM for the best results.
  • Operating Systems – This is something that essentially comes down to which degree you are working towards. Windows is great for productivity; Chrome OS is good for social applications and general work while OS X is ideal for design and art students.

Think About It

  • 2-in1 – While many students think only a traditional laptop will suit their studies, a more versatile machine can have huge benefits. A 2-in-1 is great for drawing, taking notes with a stylus and working while standing or on the go.
  • Size Matters – While having a laptop that is smaller makes the machine more portable, it is not always pleasant to work on as a larger screen gives you more capabilities similar to a desktop.
  • Ports – Will you be using your laptop to connect to a projector and give presentations, to upload pictures or watch movies in your room? For all of these things, you need to consider the ports that the laptop has, which ones you will use and which ones are:
    • HMDI
    • USB
    • Card Reader
    • DVD
    • Microphone
    • Headphones
    • Display
    • Modem
    • Ethernet
    • PC Card
    • S-Video

Getting the right combination of these ports is key to having your perfect laptop.

Top 5 Best Laptops for College Students Under $500 Reviews

1. Lenovo Thinkpad E560

The Lenovo Thinkpad E560 is one of the most solid laptops that you can buy in terms of build and power. While this is on the heavier side for a laptop that might need to be carted around campus, the size and weight mean that this machine can stand up to the wear and tear of your daily commute.

The price is incredible for an Intel i5 laptop, and there is more than enough RAM to keep up with all the different programs a college student needs to use. The laptop has a large screen, 15.6”. It is perfect for using the laptop as you would a larger desktop screen.

One of the most appealing aspects of this laptop is the fact that it comes with much of the software that you will need already installed, or at least the capability to accept new installations. It comes with a Windows 7 Pro and Windows 10 license, so you do not have to spend hundreds more buying these essential programs.

2. Samsung Chromebook Plus Convertible Touch Laptop

The Samsung Chromebook Plus Convertible Touch Laptop is everything a college student would ever need and more. First, the flexibility that it provides is unbeatable. You can use the device as a laptop for typing papers, flip the screen 360 degrees to use the screen like a tablet for making quick notes or following presentations.

The flexibility extends to how this machine operates as well. This Chromebook/laptop hybrid means that you have the apps and convenience of the Chromebook and the power and operating speeds of a laptop.

The lightweight nature of this laptop makes it incredibly easy to tote with you all around campus without any added weight. When compared with the competition, this laptop is lighter and more convenient.

The screen size is 12.3”, which is something that helps to keep the size and weight of the laptop as low as possible. This smaller screen is why Samsung focused on making the graphics and pixels even better quality so you can work for hours without needing to give your eyes a break.

3. Acer Aspire ES 15

For writing papers, watching Netflix and keeping up with friends and family at home, the Acer Aspire ES 15 is perfect. The low price does not mean that this is a lesser-quality machine, only that it has been made for the budgets and needs of college students. It is a machine with straightforward operations and use. Essentially, you will not have to read the manual to get to work.

The large screen lets you work on multiple pages in view so you never have to waste time flipping from writing to research and the RAM and processor helps with multi-tasking, too. The laptop comes with Windows 10 Home, which is very user-friendly.

In terms of investment, this is a very good option for college students looking for a laptop that they can rely on for the next four years. Acer is known for making powerful and durable machines that experience few issues, so the initial cost and the maintenance are extremely affordable.

4. ASUS F556UA-AB32

ASUS is one of the most well-respected brands for solidly built laptops. That is just one of the reasons the ASUS F556UA-AB32 is one of the best laptops for college students under 500 dollars. The combination of specs alone is enough to make this appealing laptop for students even before seeing the incredibly affordable price.

With 15.6” screen, Core i3 processor and 4 GB of RAM, the most unique feature of this laptop is the fact that it uses a 38 Whr polymer battery rather than the normal Li-ion battery; this means that the battery has a lifespan 2.5 times longer than normal.

The laptop and the battery will last for the entirety of your college career and then some. The laptop has a sleek design that makes it easy to pack and carry around campus. This design has been made visually appealing as well as durable, so it can be dropped and knocked without issue.

5. HP WLED Backlit Display Laptop

Within a few minutes of getting your HP WLED Backlit Display Laptop, you can have the machine personalized and ready to go. It is a durable laptop without feeling like you are dragging a brick around with you. The durability is perfect for college students that will be bringing the laptop to and from classes often.

The design is as sleek as possible considering the large screen size. The high quality of all of the screen and the touchpad make it easy to get work done quickly; this, along with the ability of the machine to accept a huge range of new programs and downloads means you can have everything you need to be a successful student at your fingertips.

It should be noted that this laptop comes with Windows 10 Home. It is an easy system to use and understand and is compatible with other free Windows downloads.

How It All Boils Down

As finding a less expensive laptop can mean compromising on a few features, it is important to ensure the laptop you choose has the amount of power that is required for you to be a successful student.

If it comes down to opting for a heavier laptop, but it has more RAM and a better processor, then you should choose the latter.