Best Laptops for College Students Under $500 (2020): Reviews

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Best Laptops for College Students Under $500: Post schooling, college forms an integral part of students’ life. You will go through waves of excitement to find the college or university that you want to study in. You will have to groom in yourself to face multiple new beginnings. After deciding upon the course and college, the next natural thing is to buy things that are necessary for your academics, like books, stationeries, etc. One of the indispensable things in the current technological world for a student is a Laptop. You will arrive in a place where you must decide on which laptop to purchase for your academic purpose. 

There is n number of laptops in the market. With so much choice around you, you will have a tough time choosing the best one. This article will help you choose the best laptop for your college and academic purposes. The laptop you choose must possess good value and features to help you do your study works easily. For example, display size, good RAM, fair storage, WiFi features are some of the mandatory features that your chosen laptop should have. 

College life is made a lot easier and interesting with a good technological invention nearby you. You will be assigned multiple projects and theory papers, and only the best laptop can carry out your workload with both speed and quality. As it is for students, the other natural thing you need to look out for is the budget. 

For people like working professionals, gamer, a software designer, or a musician, the laptop hunt can be wider, as one can look out for the laptop with great features irrespective of the price. When it comes to students, the budget plays a crucial role. Do not worry, as there are the best laptops under your specified budget.

Best Laptops for College Students Under $500

The following are some of the best laptops in the market under $500. 

1. HP Chromebook 14

  • Model number: 7YB67UA
  • Weight: 1 pound 
  • RAM: 4 GB
  • Storage: 64 GB

HP Chromebook 14 is a laptop with14-inch display size and HD display features. The laptop’s sleek design is appealing. You can take it anywhere effortlessly as it weighs just a pound. It uses Intel Celeron N3350 Dual-Core Processor. 

The laptop is an ideal choice for students to use. It has everything that you need. The Chromebook comes with good battery life, fast processing speed, enough storage for your academic and personal files, and a decent security system with virus protection. The laptop has a comfortable lengthy keyboard and good WiFi features. However, there is no built-in drive to insert any CD/DVD. 

The laptop has two USB ports: USB 3.1 C-type Gen 1 and two USB 3.1 Gen 1 ports. HP’s HD camera with digital microphone will allow you to pursue online courses and classes with ease. The audio output is also quite good with decent speakers. The laptop also has a multi-format SD card reader. 

Pros

  • Good battery life
  • WiFi features
  • Light-weight
  • Affordable

Cons

  • No built-in DVD drive

2. ASUS VivoBook 15

  • Model number: F512JA-AS34
  • Weight: 3.75 pounds
  • RAM: 8 GB
  • Storage: 128 GB SSD

With a 15.6 inch HD display, Asus VivoBook 15 is a fair choice for college students. The laptop comes with 8 GB RAM and 128 GB Storage capacity. With an affordable cost and sleek design, ASUS VivoBook 15 is the best choice to carry it on the go. VivoBook’s full size backlit keyboard attracts youngsters. ASUS VivoBook 15 is special for its ErgoLift design feature. When you open the lid, the ErgoLift lightly lifts the laptop’s deck. VivoBook is so light for just 3.75 pounds, to carry it with utmost comfortability. 

For students to carry it around daily, this is the ideal laptop choice. There’s Type C, Type A, 2 Type-A 2.0 USB ports along with an HDMI port and a micro SD slot. A drawback is VivoBook does not have a Thunderbolt connector. But that is not necessarily an important feature for academic and personal use. Coming to the audio output, VivoBook’s speakers use Asus SonicMaster technology. The laptop, therefore, produces good sound output. 

Pros

  • Extremely portable
  • Light-weight
  • Trendy design
  • Decent performance

Cons

  • No Bass in sound
  • No Thunderbolt connector

3. Microsoft Surface Go

  • Model number: MCZ-00001
  • Weight: 1.15 pounds
  • RAM: 8 GB
  • Storage: 128 GB

Microsoft Surface Go is one of the lightest laptops available in the market for your budget. It is easily portable to carry in your backpack. The screen is a 10-inch pixel sense display. With a good processing speed, the laptop will be able to multitask and can switch between various software and applications. The laptop’s battery life is also quite good. It has up to 9 hours of battery life. The touch screen feature of Surface Go will work best when you browse or work online. You can also binge-watch your favorite movies. Surface Go comes with 8 GB RAM and 128 GB storage.

The laptop offers good protection and security tools for its users. Surface Go is specially designed to work for Windows laptop OS and Office 365. Therefore it is an ideal choice for the students. You can switch to Laptop mode in Surface Go by a slight adjustment of the kickstand. Add a surface signature cover to switch to Laptop mode. 

You can exit the laptop mode and go to tablet mode by just closing the kickstand. It is therefore regarded as an ultra-portable laptop in the market. To do creative work, you can switch the laptop to Studio mode. It is done by lowering the kickstand down. You can use Surface Pen to draw or operate on the screen. The laptop comes with a full-size keyboard. Microsoft Surface Go has multiple ports for your convenience. It has USB C to multitask. It also has an HD Web camera. 

Pros

  • Portability
  • Light-weight
  • Budget-friendly
  • Well suited for Office 365
  • Multiple modes (Laptop/Studio/Tablet) 
  • Good battery life

Cons

  • Some default settings cannot be changed
  • Performance may vary for Windows 10 Pro configuration

4. Acer Chromebook R 13 Convertible

  • Model number: CB5-312T-K5X4
  • Weight: 3.28 pounds
  • RAM: 4 GB
  • Storage: 32 GB 

Acer Chromebook R 13 Convertible comes with four different modes. You can convert it into your favorite mode with just a few adjustments. The 360 rotation makes with mode switch easier. The display is full HD with 13.3 inches. The screen has touch screen features. The battery life of the Acer Chromebook is also good. Once charged, the battery will last up to 10-12 hours. The laptop comes with Office 365 pre-installed, making your life easier. Acer Chromebook has about 4 GB RAM and 32 GB storage.

You can use the laptop in notebook mode, display mode, tent mode, and tablet mode. Media Tek quad-core processor will allow you to perform activities such as browsing, gaming, and binge-watching with great speed. The laptop’s USB 3.1 C-type port will allow data transfer smoothly with amazing speed. With the laptop’s HD camera, Video calling and online classes can be done with ease. The laptop also has built-in security tools to protect your system from malicious sites. 

The Chromebook has a Google Play store inbuilt. This will give you access to unlimited apps, games, music, movies, and books. It also comes with 100 GB of Google Drive storage, this will allow you a great space to store your academic and personal files. 

Pros

  • Flexibility
  • Portability
  • Battery life
  • Built-in storage features
  • Processing speed

Cons

  • No DVD drive 

5. Lenovo IdeaPad

  • Model number: S340
  • Weight: 4 pounds
  • RAM: 8GB DDR4
  • Storage: 128GB NVMe SSD 

Lenovo IdeaPad S340 is a slim laptop with good battery life. With Intel Core i3-8145U processor and 8 GB DDR4 RAM, the laptop’s performance is not so great, but ideal for basic use. The laptop has up to 128 GB of the storage facility. The laptop comes with a physical web camera cover. The laptop’s battery can last up to over 4-5 hours, which is decent battery life. 

The biggest plus of this laptop model is the amazing audio quality. The laptop’s sound production is similar to that of theatres’ Dolby Audio. This is a great advantage for you when you binge your favorite TV shows and movies with your friends. IdeaPad’s thin and light structure makes portability easier. You can carry it daily in your backpack with the utmost ease. The IdeaPad weighs just about 4 pounds. 

The laptop has an HDMI port, a slot for SD Card reader, 2 USB-A 3.1 ports, a 3.1 USB C port, and an audio jack for headsets. When it comes to security, the laptop offers a built-in security system that will protect your data and academic files.

Pros

  • Great sound quality
  • Good battery life
  • Built-in security system

Cons

  • Mediocre performance output
  • Absence of LAN port

6. Dell Inspiron 3000

  • Model number: Dell Inspiron 3000
  • Weight: 4.45 pounds
  • RAM: 8 GB 
  • Storage: 128 GB SSD and 1 TB HDD  

With a 15.6 inch HD touch screen display, Dell Inspiron 3000 comes with Intel 10th Generation Dual Core i3-1005G1 fast working processor. It has two USB 3.0 A-type ports and one USB 2.0 A-type port. It also has a port for HDMI. The laptop comes with a web camera. Once charged full, the battery life of Dell Inspiron is over 7 hours. 

This is quite a good battery life for daily use. The laptop’s storage is one of its advantages. It has storage facilities up to 128 GB SSD and 1 TB HDD. It’s RAM is of 8 GB. You can store as many as academic files you want, along with personal files and movies. The laptop weighs about 4.45 pounds, which is not too heavy compared to other laptops in the market. 

The laptop is said to have good performance output, as it has a fast processor in-built. Dell Inspiron 3000 comes with multiple ports, but lacks a DVD drive. It is one of the drawbacks of this model.   

Pros

  • Processing speed
  • HD touch screen
  • Display size 
  • Storage

Cons

  • No DVD drive
  • Quite heavy

7. Asus Vivobook Flip 14

  • Model number: TP401MA-AB21T
  • Weight: 3.3 pounds
  • RAM: 4 GB
  • Storage: 128 GB

Asus Vivobook Flip 14 is a two in one laptop with 14-inch touch screen features. It is one of the lightest and slimmest laptops in the market. Apart from comfortability, Asus Vivobook Flip 14 is also trendy and visually appealing to your college purpose. 

The laptop offers unbelievable display clarity for its price range. It uses Intel Quad-Core Pentium N5000 fast processor. The laptop’s touch screen is very sensitive that it can detect even the slightest touches. The laptop provides great audio quality. The battery life is also great. 

Asus Vivobook Flip 14 offers health charging technology which will allow you to preset your charging percentage to prevent overcharging. This is a super cool feature. The laptop has USB 3.1 port along with a reversible C-type USB port. This allows you to transfer data at a very fast speed. 

Pros

  • Battery life
  • Flexibility
  • Portability
  • HD touch screen
  • Audio quality

Cons

  • Battery life may reduce over time and use

8. HP 1W830UA

  • Model number: 1W830UA
  • Weight: 3.7 pounds
  • RAM: 4 GB
  • Storage: 128 GB

With a 15.6-inch micro-edge HD display screen, the HP laptop comes with 4 GB RAM and 128 GB storage. It uses the 10th Gen Intel Core i3-1005G1 processor. The laptop has a built-in HD web camera. It has dual speakers. It comes with multiple ports such as one USB C type 3.1 port, two USB 3.1 port, and one HDMI port. 

The laptop weighs around 3.7 pounds, making it easier for you to carry around every day in your backpack. The design is also visually appealing. Apart from regular academic and personal use, you can have a smooth gaming experience in this model. 

The laptop has Intel UHD graphics, which will make your video streaming and gaming faster. The laptop is also an ideal choice for taking online classes. HP’s TrueVision HD cam and microphones will make your video-audio experience richer. However, the laptop model does not have a built-in DVD/CD drive. The laptop’s touchpad is not too sensitive.

Pros

  • Audio-video quality
  • HD display
  • Fast processor
  • Portability

Cons

  • No built-in DVD drive
  • No touchscreen
  • The touchpad is not too sensitive

9. Lenovo IdeaPad

  • Model number: 81H5002FUS
  • Weight: 4.6 pounds
  • RAM: 4 GB
  • Storage: 128 GB

Lenovo IdeaPad 81H5002FUS comes with a 15.6 inch HD screen. With good storage and an AMD A9 processor, the laptop is a good choice for students to use. It can multitask and work at a fast speed. 

For the price it offers, the laptop has excellent features for your daily use. You can watch videos, use Office applications, and browse the internet at a good speed. The battery life is not so good, but decent for the price. 

The drawback of this laptop is its web camera. It is not of great quality. The laptop’s charger is so small that it can fit inside your pocket. You can carry it every day with ease. The laptop has a built-in DVD drive. The laptop’s fast performance makes it a good gaming device too, apart from regular use. 

Pros

  • Good performance
  • Fast processing speed
  • Portability
  • Built-in DVD drive

Cons

  • Poor web camera
  • Mediocre battery life

10. Acer Aspire 1

  • Model number: A114-32-C1YA
  • Weight: 3.64 pounds
  • RAM: 4 GB
  • Storage: 64 GB

With a 14 inch HD screen, Acer Aspire 1 runs with Intel Celeron N4000 Dual-Core Processor. The laptop is light-weight and visually appealing. It just weighs about 3.64 pounds. The laptop comes with 4 GB RAM and 64 GB storage. The model offers up to 6-7 hours of battery life, which is pretty decent. Specially built for students and office goers, the laptop comes with in-built Microsoft Office 365 software. This can be a great advantage for students. 

The WiFi feature is well developed and works fast. You can browse online and binge-watch online movies now faster in Acer Aspire 1. The sleek design of the laptop naturally attracts students and makes portability easier. The color features are vibrant. You can download your favorite apps or visit your favorite online websites easily as this laptop uses Windows 10 in S mode. 

While many laptops offer touch screen facility at this price, this one lacks this feature. This is one of the drawbacks. But, if you are not looking for a touch screen laptop, go with this. 

Pros

  • Light-weight
  • Portability
  • Battery life
  • In-built Office 365
  • WiFi features

Cons

  • No touch screen
  • Not ideal for too many games

11. Dell Inspiron

  • Model number: I3567-3970BLK-PUS
  • Weight: 4 pounds
  • RAM: 8 GB
  • Storage: 128 GB 

Dell Inspiron I3567-3970BLK-PUS model is a laptop with a 15.6-inch screen size. The screen is a touch screen. The touch screen is completely HD. You can navigate easily with Dell Inspiron’s sensitive touch screen features. The laptop comes with 8 GB DDR4 SD RAM and 128 GB of Solid State Drive storage. 

The laptop has a lengthy comfortable keyboard. You can browse all your documents and websites easily with the keyboard and trackpad. The laptop’s sleek design will attract students for sure. It is of mediocre weight. It weighs about 4 pounds. The laptop uses the Intel Core i3-7130U processor. This will make your multitasking simpler. The laptop has good processing speed and performance output. The laptop comes with an in-built Windows 10 OS, which has Cortana. It serves as the personal assistant, that can help you open files, applications and answer your queries on command. 

The laptop has multiple ports to keep your device active all day long. The laptop has a LAN port to connect to the internet, apart from WiFi features. For your daily productivity, this laptop is an ideal choice as it has all the features you want, under your budget. The audio quality is pretty decent in this model. Battery life is also good, as it lasts up to 6-8 hours. The drawback is, the laptop does not have an in-built DVD drive.

Pros

  • Processing speed
  • HD touch screen
  • Battery life
  • Multiple ports

Cons

  • No built-in DVD drive

12. ASUS X441BA

  • Model number: X441BA
  • Weight: 4 pounds
  • RAM: 4 GB
  • Storage: 500 GB HDD

Asus X441BA comes with a 14-inch display screen with good clarity. It uses the AMD A6-9225 7th Gen processor to carry out your activities. The laptop comes with an in-built Windows 10 OS, which has Cortana. It serves as the personal assistant, which can help you open files, applications and answer your queries on command. 

You can customize configurations on this laptop as you need. The laptop looks visually appealing and is of medium weight. It weighs about 4 pounds. It has many ports to keep your day moving. You can connect to the internet for browsing with 802.11.b/g/n WiFi connection. 

The laptop has a LAN port for browsing purposes, apart from the WiFi. You can transfer high-speed data through USB Type-C port. The laptop has an HDMI port to connect to an external display. The battery life of this model is also pretty good. For the processor, it offers, the laptop does not work very fast like other models. Speed is one drawback of this laptop. It is an ideal choice to carry out your daily academic works, but not for extended gaming or creative purposes.

Pros

  • Battery life
  • Multiple ports
  • Display size 

Cons

  • No touch screen features
  • Processing speed

Buyer’s guide: 

A student laptop should satisfy certain criteria. As the laptop will be used for academic purposes most of the time, it should have certain features that will make the student’s life simpler. It is strongly recommended for all college students to own a personal laptop. A laptop that is efficient enough to function effortlessly with good video and audio requirements that will be necessary for academic work and personal leisure usage. It must have enough storage to store new software updates. 

Look out for these things while you buy your laptop:

1. Battery

Battery life is one of the important things to look out for when you buy a laptop for college use. As you should carry your laptop almost every day to college, you cannot expect to have a plug point as per your convenience. The laptop you buy should have a good battery life to stand for a minimum of at least 6-7 hours. It should be able to last your college hours. Imagine your laptop running out of power in just 3 hours after you enter your college. So, note down the battery life of the laptop before you buy it.

2. Processing speed

As multi-tasking is a significant aspect of students’ life, the laptop you buy should have good processing speed. It will be a hindrance for you if your laptop gets hanging in the middle of your work. So check the laptop’s processing speed and working performance. 

3. Web camera

In the current scenario, a Web Camera is something that your laptop should have. It will be helpful for your online lectures. As the world is getting more and more connected technologically, an online class is no more a utopian idea. It has become a common thing. So look for a laptop with a decent web camera. Protecting your web camera securely from hackers is another important topic to discuss. 

4. Gaming / Online streaming

Apart from regular academic usage, a students’ laptop must also possess great power to handle gaming and online streaming activities quite effortlessly. Students will use their laptop for leisure activities other than personal needs. Therefore look for a laptop model that supports fast WiFi speed for online streaming and binge-watching. The laptop should also have good graphics features and audio-video quality for gaming purposes.

5. 4G connection

Internet browsing is very important in a student’s life. Check for laptops that come with advanced internet features. Be it academic research or online streaming, a 4G connection feature is a must-have in any laptop you choose. As most of the laptops support 4G connections these days, it’s not a big deal. 

6. RAM

Try to choose a laptop with maximum RAM, as some laptops do not allow you to upgrade the memory in the future. 4GB is a decent RAM for college students’ use. Your laptop’s performance is directly proportional to the memory of your RAM. Therefore, remember to choose a laptop with a minimum of 4 GB RAM. The more the RAM, the faster your laptop works. As a student, ‘multi-tasking’ will be something that you indulge in most of the time. You will open multiple tabs and do so many works all at once. Only capable RAM can help you do all these activities with ease. If the RAM is less, it might slow down the performance speed of your laptop. 

7. Storage

Just like RAM, storage is also very important for your laptop performance. The solid-state drive (SSD) or hard drive should have the memory to store ample files. So prefer a laptop with decent storage. The more storage, the more files, and documents you can store. Laptops generally come with storage specifications such as 64 GB, 128 GB, 256 GB, etc. Choose the right laptop according to your needs. SSD hard drive is preferred. 

8. Warranty

As we are talking about buying a laptop for students’ use, warranty is something that you should not miss looking for. Look for laptop brands or models that provide at least 2 to 3 years of warranty. Let me tell you why. Some laptop models wear out after just a few months of usage. You might arrive at a place where you see the laptop performance going down or stopped working. Multiple technical problems are also recent complaints from commoners. Therefore, look for the warranty before you purchase. This will help you save money, as the laptop can be either exchanged or replaced for a new one. 

FAQs

1. How to choose the right laptop for students’ academic and personal needs?

Look for the processor speed of the laptop, as a student is required to handle multiple works at a time. Processors with 2.0 GHz will work well with students’ needs. Also, look for other vital features such as display size, RAM, and storage size. 

2. How to search and buy a laptop if the ASIN number is changed or updated?

Shopping websites sometimes change or update the ASIN number of specific products. Though not frequently, this occurs rarely. In this case, you should check if the ASIN number in the URL and the product details are the same. If the ASIN number in the product details is a new one or an updated one, you should take note and search for the product accordingly with the new ASIN number. You should also update your URL in this case. 

3. How much RAM and storage is sufficient in a laptop for students’ use?

For students, 8 GB of RAM and 128 GB of storage is enough to use daily. If you need more, you can expand your RAM later. 

4. Is the built-in DVD drive mandatory

This is a question of your choice. Colleges these days mostly update info and lessons online, unlike a few years ago when students used DVDs for lessons and projects. However, if you feel you need a DVD drive, look for a laptop that has one. You might also try an external optical drive. 

5. How to know if a laptop has good WiFi features?

Browsing and downloading are some of the essential needs of students. Therefore, search for laptops with fast WiFi features. The Standard of 802.11ac will work fine for students’ use. This will allow speed up to 1000Mbps. 

Conclusion

Choosing a laptop can be quite tricky if it’s your first one. Do not worry. Check for all the features in the Buyer’s Guide and have the patience to overlook its functions before selecting. Remember to choose the one that will cater to all your academic and personal needs. As there are plenty of laptop models in the market, go for the one that has all your expected features within your specified budget.