The best laptops for college students under 500 dials up the right specs to ensure you’ll end up with a system you’ll be happy with throughout your scholastic career.
From writing papers to signing up for classes, a laptop is as essential to your college success as your textbooks.
Sure, you can pop into your campus bookstore and buy the cheapest laptop there. But with so many options, how do you know which is the right fit for you?
Best Laptops for College Students Under 500
- Best Laptops for College Students Under 500
- The Run Down
- What Makes the Best Laptops for College Students Under 500
- Here’s Exactly What to Look for in the Best Laptops for College Students Under 500
- Warranties on the Best Laptops for College Students Under 500
- Form-Factors of the Best Laptops for College Students Under 500
- The Research Method
- Best Laptops for College Students Under 500-Reviews
- 1. Asus F555LA-AB31 15.6-inch
- 2. Apple MacBook Pro (MD101LL/A) 13.3-inch
- 3. Asus X555DA-WS11 15.6-inch
- 4. Asus Chromebook Flip C302CA-DHM4 12.5-inch
- 5. HP (15-ay191ms) Touchscreen Signature Edition 15.6-inch
- 6. Samsung Chromebook Plus 2-in-1 Convertible Touchscreen (XE513C24-K01US) 12.3-inch
- 7. Dell Inspiron 15 3000 (i3558-5501BLK) Touchscreen 15.6-inch
- 8. Asus Transformer Book T300 Chi (Detachable Touchscreen) 12.5-inch
If you already know what you’re looking for in the best laptops for college students under 500. Here are the top picks:
Best Laptops for College Students Under 500-Comparison
|Asus F555LA-AB31 15.6-inch||2.1GHz ‘Broadwell’ Dual-Core i3-5010U||Intel HD Graphics 5500||4GB DDR3 SDRAM||500GB HDD||5.1-pounds||Check|
|Apple MacBook Pro (MD101LL/A) 13.3-inch||2.5GHz Dual-Core i5-3201M||Intel HD Graphics 4000 Integrated||4GB DDR3-SDRAM||500GB Hard Drive||4.5-pounds||Check|
|Asus X555DA-WS11 15.6-inch||1.8GHz AMD Quad-Core A10-8700P||AMD Radeon R6||8GB DDR3||1TB HDD||6.8-pounds||Check|
|Asus Chromebook Flip C302CA-DHM4 12.5-inch||0.9GHz ‘Skylake’ Intel Dual-Core M3-6Y30||HD Graphics 515||4GB DDR3||64GB Solid-State Flash Memory||2.6-pounds||Check|
|HP (15-ay191ms) Touchscreen Signature Edition 15.6-inch||2.4GHz ‘Kaby Lake’ Dual-Core i3-7100U||Intel Graphics HD Graphics 620||8GB DDR4 SDRAM||1TB HDD||4.6-pounds||Check|
|Samsung Chromebook Plus 2-in-1 Convertible Touchscreen (XE513C24-K01US) 12.3-inch||2GHz Rockchip RK3399 Hexa-Core OP1 ARM||Internal Graphics||4GB DDR3||32GB Flash Memory Solid State||2.4-pounds||Check|
|Dell Inspiron 15 3000 (i3558-5501BLK) Touchscreen 15.6-inch||2.2GHz ‘Broswell’ Intel Dual-Core i5-5200U||Intel HD Graphics 5500||8GB DDR3L SDRAM||1TB HDD||4.8-pounds||Check|
|Asus Transformer Book T300 Chi (Detachable Touchscreen) 12.5-inch||0.8GHz Intel Dual-Core M-5Y10||Intel HD 5300||4GB DDR3 SDRAM||128GB iSSD||3.2-pounds||Check|
The Run Down
This guide was primarily created with students looking for the best laptops for college in mind. But high schoolers, and really anyone in search of the best laptops under $500 will benefit from the information presented here.
The best laptops for college under 500 dollars should last you through undergrad; and maybe even some post grad work. We’ve put together a list of 8 of the best laptops for college students under 500 currently available.
As well as an informative guide so you won’t end up the devastated owner of a stylish paperweight a few weeks after clicking checkout.
Throughout this guide. You’ll see a detailed rundown of the most important specs, benefits and perks.
If you want actionable tips on:
- what makes the Best laptop for under $500
- just what to look for in the Best laptops for college under 500
- the form-factors of the Good laptops for college students under 500
- types of warranties on the best laptops for college students under 500
- or you just want to see the reviews of the Best laptops for college students under 500
We’d love to use this guide to help you answer these questions. (Feel free to click the bullet point that interests you most to skip ahead.)
Maybe this isn’t what you had in mind. No worries. You’ll find links along the way to articles that feature different laptops within the same price range. And the best options for your budget: like this one below.
(Keep an eye out for exclusive PRO TIPS along the way.)
What Makes the Best Laptops for College Students Under 500
Every college student needs a laptop that’s durable and lightweight enough to go everywhere. Ideally, you need a system that’s able to boot quickly, with a sharp screen and great keyboard.
The best laptops for college students under 500 will be able to keep up with your program, even if you decide to change majors.
PRO TIP #1: To maximize your laptop’s capabilities, decide what you need versus what would be a nice bonus. This will help you zero-in on the best laptop under 500 dollars for your need.
Here’s Exactly What to Look for in the Best Laptops for College Students Under 500
How often will you be carrying your laptop?
Think about hauling your laptop, along with books and whatever else you’ll need between classes (which can be in different building on campus). You’ll need a laptop that’ll be convenient to carry.
The best laptops for college students under 500 should have a small footprint, which will make it easier to take notes with all the other items you’ll have on your desk.
A screen size of 13 to 14-inches will give you the perfect combination of visibility and portability.
Don’t go all out in the graphics department. You’ll mostly be using this system to write papers. So, 1366 x 768-pixels will be plenty of resolution to help you get your class-work done without things on the screen looking blurry and difficult to read.
PRO TIP #2: The display should have a refresh rate of at least 60Hz to avoid screen tearing or altered graphics for activities like watching a lecture series. Or taking in some light gaming on your downtime. And, anything with an IPS or LED screen will be a bonus.
How many programs do you usually have open as you work?
At this price-level you can expect lower-midrange processors from both AMD and Intel. Check out Intel’s “U” line of processors for battery efficiency. And their HQ line if you think you’ll need more power.
A Dual-Core processor below 2GHz is just fine for writing papers, browsing the web, and watching some YouTube. A college laptop with a Dual-Core processor will also be cheaper.
But majors that requires more demanding programs, like medical software and Autodesk 3DS Max will benefit from the speed and power of a Quad-Core CPU.
This chart will help you compare some of Intel’s different CPU lines.
PRO TIP #3: The best laptops for college students under 500 will have a clock speed of 2GHz or higher. But don’t go overboard. There’s no way to justify the higher price you’ll pay for a 2.4GHz processor over one with 2.1GHz. The processing power and efficiency are negligible at best.
Most of the best laptops for college students under 500 dollars have a discrete graphics card, which means watching Blu-ray movies or playing the hottest AAA titles won’t look good or play smoothly.
But unless you’re taking a major that relies on visual heavy software, most integrated GPUs should be up to the task of meeting your daily computing needs.
RAM for the Best Laptops for College Students Under 500
If you’ll just be using a web browser, 2GB of RAM will be fine. Your laptop won’t even need that much to ensure speed and responsiveness no matter what operating system you’re running.
But if you need to do anything more challenging. Opt for a system with at least 4GB of RAM. (A laptop with 8GB of RAM is perfect, especially if you plan on using programs like Adobe Photoshop.)
Will your degree program require any special software?
Make sure you have plenty of storage space for all the programs you want to install, and files you want to hang onto.
A hard disk drive (HDD) with 256GB of space will make the laptop cheap. And you’ll get just enough room for the operating system, and storing a handful of files. (Power users should consider 500GB or more.)
A system with a solid-state-drive (SSD) will be faster. But will have a lower capacity; especially on a laptop under 500-dollars.
Don’t ever feel forced to choose one storage solution over another. There are many ways to solve storage issues. For instance, you can always plug an external hard drive into your laptop’s USB port for more space whenever needed.
PRO TIP #4: Additionally, the increasing prevalence of cloud storage and Web applications makes having robust local storage somewhat less of concern than it used to be.
More manufacturers are slowly moving toward providing just a single port (look at the most recent Apple laptops, for instance).
The best laptops for college students under 500 dollars may not have all the ports you want. So, keep in mind the peripherals and accessories that are the most essential to you as you shop for laptops.
A full-size keyboard with a number pad is always good. Even better if the keys are backlit for when you need to pull an all-nighter and you have a roommate that can’t sleep with the light on.
The best laptops for college students under 500 will have keyboards that make the typing experience comfortable for taking notes in class, banging out papers, and chatting with classmates.
But, if you’re stuck with getting a laptop that’s smaller than you’d like. Consider buying an external keyboard that can plug into your laptop when you get back to your dorm room.
How often will you be able to charge your laptop throughout the day?
You don’t want your laptop to cop-out on you in the middle of taking notes during an important lecture. (The Asus C201 has a battery that lasts up to 13-hours.)
The best laptops for college students under 500 will have power saving features that can stretch battery life for ten or more hours.
PRO TIP #5: It’s a good idea to carry a portable laptop charger with you. You’ll never now just when you need it. But when you do, you’ll be glad you have it.
Warranties on the Best Laptops for College Students Under 500
The faultiest components on your laptop will break down within the first year.
The most expensive pieces of the laptop that can fail at the most in-opportune time (though rarely) are the logic board and the display. And they can cost you half what the laptop is worth.
If you find this unsettling, you can rest assured almost every laptop is backed by at least a one-year warranty on parts and labor.
The Standard Warranty, however, does not cover accidents from spilled drinks, or dropping your machine. But, Extended Warranties are available.
Most manufacturers sell accident coverage as a separate plan that’s a part of extended Warranties, which come from the Standard Warranty (figure $300 for a 3-year coverage).
PRO TIP #6: If the warranty costs more than 15% of the total price of the laptop. You’re better off spending the money on backup drives and services that minimize downtime. Some college campuses offer to fix your laptop with less of a turn-around time than the manufacturer.
Form-Factors of the Best Laptops for College Students Under 500
These are famous power sippers. They’re perfect if all your activities are Web based. And, they offer a fantastic price-to-performance ratio. You won’t get the full Windows experience. And they feature unimpressive hard drives. But they rely on cloud storage to make up for it.
These will be pricier than Chromebooks. But you get the full Windows experience in a thin, lightweight form-factor. The brainchild of Intel, they make use of the company’s ultra-low-voltage “U” line of processors, and they have a long battery life. But to achieve a slimmer profile, there’s no optical drive.
Or 2-in-1s and convertibles are popular computing devices. It’s a Windows tablet that’s also a laptop computer via a tablet that can be attached to a keyboard. (On a convertible laptop, the screen and keyboard rotate on a 360-degree hinge.)
The Research Method
Some colleges and universities want their students equipped with Windows-based laptops to cut down on software incompatibility issues. So, check with your school for specified system requirements (this information may also be provided on your syllabus).
These picks are based on a price between $400 and $500. Best all-round performance. User experience. At least 100 Amazon reviews. And at least 3.7 out of 5 stars when this guide was published.
The laptops are organized in order of top of the class, to pretty good for the money and specs.
Now, from among the most progressive brands we bring you: Apple, Asus, Dell, HP, and Samsung.
Best Laptops for College Students Under 500-Reviews
What makes it one of the best laptops for college students under 500 dollars. Is that for not that much money. You get a decent, midrange, desktop replacement with intel’s ultra-low-voltage, Dual-Core i3-5010U processor. 4GB of RAM. And a 500GB hard drive. Packed in the 10.1 x 15 x 1-inch chassis is a DVD player that’s able to read and write. You also get an ergonomically designed keyboard with IceCool technology for extra comfort during those long typing sessions. Some trade-offs are the lack of solid-state-drive. And a keyboard that isn’t backlit. But you do get vibrant colors on the 1920 x 1080 display. You should expect to get around 4-hours of work away from an outlet, which is decent for a budget laptop.
Yes, it’s old. But what makes it one of the best laptops for college students under 500 dollars is that it’s still an Amazon Best-Seller. And here’s why. Though, it came to the market in mid-2012. And therefore, lacks the Force Touch trackpad. And Retina display of its newer brothers. Upgradable components make it a DIY dream. For instance, the 8.9 x 12.8 x 1-inch, aluminum, unibody chassis has two standard RAM slots that use SATA drives for storage instead of being attached to the motherboard like new models. As for ports. It’s the last of its kind to feature a full-sized gigabit Ethernet port. And optical drive.
This latest effort from Asus comes with a Quad-Core processor from AMD. And 8GB of RAM. A whopping 1TB hard disk drive and DVD reader/writer in a sleek 15 x 1 x 10.1-inch body. You get an ergonomically designed keyboard featuring IceCool technology, with an LED-backlit display. Unfortunately, it’s not Full HD. And we wish the keyboard was backlit. But the power of the A10-8700P CPU is close to that of Intel’s Core i5-6200U processor. That along with the RAM will help you get your basic multitasking done. The AMD Radeon R6 GPU will play some games, so long as they are not graphically intensive. You should expect around 3-hours of battery life.
It may be one of the more expensive Chromebooks out there. But it makes the list of best laptops for college students under 500 dollars for its rich premium features, which include a 12 x 8.3 x 0.5-inch aluminum body construction. A Full HD touchscreen with wide angle views. A comfortable backlit keyboard reminiscent of the MacBook Pro. And 4GB of RAM and 64GB of eMMC flash storage, which is more than you’ll find on your average Chromebook. (You can expand the local storage up to 512GB with the microSD card slot.) The two hinges allow the lid to rotate a full 360 degrees so you can use it in Laptop, Tent, Stand, and Tablet mode. You can expect around 10-hours of battery life.
Users in the hunt for value in the budget, desktop-replacement category need look no further than this insanely cheap, 15 x 10 x 1-inch laptop. For this price of most Chromebooks, you get a 7th gen, Intel Dual-Core i3 processor. 8GB of RAM, with a 1TB hard drive. And a multi-touch display supporting 10-finger gestures (a feature once exclusive to premium laptops). Though common in the budget category. One not so great feature we’re willing to overlook in this otherwise good laptop is the low resolution 1366 x 768-pixels display; (the glossy coating makes a bad situation worse). And the HD 620 graphics card won’t get you the best frames per second no matter what the settings are. You should only expect around a 3-hour battery life.
If you don’t need Windows. And you’ve been looking for a Chromebook that can run both Android apps. And Chrome OS. This 11 x 8.7 x 0.6-inch example makes our list of best laptops for college students under 500 dollars because it still delivers a laptop experience. With a thin, premium, aluminum chassis. A keyboard. And 2400 x 1600-pixel resolution. With IPS technology that a brighter display than most. And you get the versatility of a 2-in-1 convertible. With a flexible 360-degree hinge that lets you turn the system into a slate. With a Samsung Pen that feels intuitive to use. But the typing experience will leave you longing for a traditional laptop. You can expect 7-hours of battery life.
The i3558-5501BLK makes the list of best laptops for college students under 500 dollars because it’s a capable budget, desktop replacement with solid specs and plenty of storage. The 2.1GHz Intel Core i5-5200U processor. With 8GB of RAM. HD Graphics 5500 integrated graphics card. And 1TB of storage deliver good performance for a budget machine without any major hang ups or freezes. You also get a responsive keyboard. The 15 x 10.2 x 0.9-inch chassis offers a focused design with no frills. But you’ll notice a lot flex on the bottom of the lid when using the touchscreen. The 1366 x 768-pixel display is sharp enough for what it is. And you even get a DVD drive. You can expect a good 8-hours of battery life.
Right away. What makes this one of the best laptops for college students under 500 dollars is that the 12.1 x 7 x 0.5-inch aluminum body is as beautiful as it is thin. One of the ways Asus achieves this is with a fan-less design. The other is with the small Intel Core M-5Y10 processor. Which is not only powerful enough to get your daily work activity done (with several browsers open). But afterward. It’s competent enough to even play some games, like Hearthstone. The Full HD display delivers excellent color reproduction. With a bright touchscreen. And you also get a responsive keyboard. With an, albeit, small, yet usable touchpad. You can easily expect up to 7-hours of run time.
Congratulations for making it to the end of this article! That was a lot of information. But we hope it’s valuable to you as you shop the Best laptops for students under 500 dollars.
When it comes to budget-computing, the best laptops for college students under 500 aren’t going to blow you away with their specifications. Fortunately, the average college student doesn’t require a super computer to get work done. they will get you the best computing for your needs and budget.
We’d love to continue this conversation with you about what makes the best laptops for college students under 500 in the comments section below. See you there.