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Walk into any college classroom and you’re likely to see a row of MacBooks. Apple’s laptop is a staple of college life because it’s particularly well suited for it. It is equally useful for productivity and entertainment, making it perfect for anyone who owns a single computer.

The only problem is price. I never owned a MacBook in college because I could never afford one. If you’re in the same bind, I have good news. There are alternatives that work well for student life and cost less than $600.

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Students demand a lot from their laptops. Every major has a laptop for it Best Laptops for School by Major in 2016 Best Laptops for School by Major in 2016 What are the best laptops for school? It depends on the student's academic focus. Engineering majors don't need the same laptop as liberal arts majors. Here's what you need. Read More , but there are some common points. They need it to be portable enough to take to class or to a study session, but they also need adequate performance. Students also use laptops as gaming machines, portable music players, and televisions. It’s a lot to ask for in one device.

The laptops listed here meet these needs. They all have powerful processors. They all last at least four hours on a charge. And they all handle basic games, HD video, and other entertainment needs. All for $600 or less.

Under $200: Asus Chromebook C201 ($198)

  • Incredible battery life
  • Comfortable keyboard and trackpad
  • Low price

best-laptops-student-tight-budget-asus-c201

If you haven’t heard of Rockchip processors, don’t worry. Rockchip is well-known, and the Asus C201 ranks among the better-performing budget laptops.

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It’s in our roundup of the best laptops under $300 Best Laptops Under $300: Everything You Need to Know Best Laptops Under $300: Everything You Need to Know Finding a good laptop for less than $300 is almost impossible these days, but can be done if you know what to look for. Here's everything you need to know to make a purchase you... Read More , mainly because of its 13-hour battery life. If you need a laptop that lasts the whole day, this is it.

The C201 also has a comfortable keyboard and large trackpad, but apart from that, you get what you pay for.

ASUS C201 11.6 Inch Chromebook (Rockchip, 4 GB, 16GB SSD, Pearl White/Light Blue) ASUS C201 11.6 Inch Chromebook (Rockchip, 4 GB, 16GB SSD, Pearl White/Light Blue) 11.6­inch 1366 by 768 glossy HD display for vivid high definition image quality Buy Now At Amazon $242.86

The better option at this price, in my opinion, is the refurbished Acer Chromebook 14 ($199). Refurbished computers 5 Money-Saving Tips You Must Know Before Buying a New Laptop 5 Money-Saving Tips You Must Know Before Buying a New Laptop Keep these five tips in mind next time you're shopping for a laptop and you could save hundreds of dollars. Read More are a great way to save money. The manufacturer itself inspects and repairs refurbished models — and you get a heavy discount to boot.

Acer Chromebook 14" Display, IPS Screen, 4GB Ram, 32GB Flash, ChromeOS, Laptop (Certified Refurbished) Acer Chromebook 14" Display, IPS Screen, 4GB Ram, 32GB Flash, ChromeOS, Laptop (Certified Refurbished) This Certified Refurbished product is certified factory refurbished, shows limited or no wear, and includes all original accessories plus a 90-day warranty. Buy Now At Amazon $199.99

Under $300: Acer Chromebook R11 ($299.99/£200)

  • Touchscreen with 360-degree flip
  • Runs Android apps
  • Above average performance
  • Long battery life

We’ve often said that Chromebooks are perfect for students. If you’ve got $300 to spare, the Acer Chromebook R11 is the absolute best you can buy.

The big reason: Some Chromebooks run Android apps. In case you didn’t know, Chrome OS and Android are joining Chrome Is Joining Android, and All You Need to Know About Why This Sucks Chrome Is Joining Android, and All You Need to Know About Why This Sucks There has been speculation about Chrome and Android combining in some way for some time, but recently it's all come to a head: Chrome will become part of Android. And that sucks. Read More , and you can already run Android apps on some Chromebooks. Google officially says the Acer R11 is one of three Chromebooks that support Android apps. Which means there are some amazing Android apps you can install on the R11 Chromebook 12 Android Apps You Need to Install on Chromebook 12 Android Apps You Need to Install on Chromebook With the Google Play store about to come to our fingertips, the power of an incredible number of apps is about to reach Chrome OS. So what will we install first? Let's see. Read More . Perfect to go with its flip-around 11-inch touchscreen.

The R11 also has capable hardware. Among Chromebooks, it’s among the better laptops in terms of performance. And it will last for over 9 hours on a single charge of the battery. What’s not to like here?

Acer Chromebook R 11 Convertible, 11.6-Inch HD Touch, Intel Celeron N3150, 4GB DDR3L, 32GB, Chrome, CB5-132T-C1LK Acer Chromebook R 11 Convertible, 11.6-Inch HD Touch, Intel Celeron N3150, 4GB DDR3L, 32GB, Chrome, CB5-132T-C1LK Intel Celeron N3150 Quad-Core Processor 1.6GHz with Intel Burst Technology up to 2.08GHz Buy Now At Amazon $249.99

Under $300: Acer Aspire ES 15 ($299.99)

  • Long battery life
  • 1TB hard disk drive
  • 6th generation Intel processor

best-laptops-student-tight-budget-acer-aspire-es-15

What the Acer Aspire ES 15 offers for $300 astounds, to say the least. On the downside, the ES 15 feels big and bulky with its large 15-inch screen and 1TB hard disk drive.

The Aspire ES 15 also includes a high-capacity battery that promises 5-6 hours of battery life on a single charge. It has 4GB of RAM inside, which might be a little too low. But the good news is that you can upgrade the laptop’s RAM How To Upgrade A Laptop's RAM, Step By Step How To Upgrade A Laptop's RAM, Step By Step Is your laptop old, slow, and has the hardware never been upgraded? Working on a slow computer can be a real drag. Before you buy a completely new one, however, you should consider ways to... Read More whenever you want.

The 6th generation Intel Core i3 processor comes as a nice surprise. It’s more powerful than almost anything else below $300. Just remember, this is still a basic processor with entry-level HD 520 graphics. It’s up to you to decide if you need an i3, i5, or i7 processor Intel Core i3 vs. i5 vs. i7: Which One Do You Really Need? Intel Core i3 vs. i5 vs. i7: Which One Do You Really Need? Shopping for a new computer but confused by whether to get an Intel Core i3, i5, or i7 processor? Here's everything you need to know in layman's terms. Read More .

Acer Aspire ES 15, 15.6" HD, Intel Core i3-6100U, 4GB DDR3L, 1TB HDD, Windows 10 Home, ES1-572-31KW Acer Aspire ES 15, 15.6" HD, Intel Core i3-6100U, 4GB DDR3L, 1TB HDD, Windows 10 Home, ES1-572-31KW 6th Generation Intel Core i3-6100U Processor (2.3GHz, 3MB L3 cache) Buy Now At Amazon $299.00

Under $400: Asus VivoBook E403SA ($399.99/£285)

  • Amazing battery life
  • 14-inch Full HD screen
  • Lightweight, very portable
  • USB Type-C port

The Asus VivoBook E403SA was our pick for the best sub-$500 laptop in 2016 The 5 Best Laptops Under $500 in 2016 The 5 Best Laptops Under $500 in 2016 It's surprising how little you have to spend to get a good laptop these days. Whether you're getting ready to go back to school or just need a new notebook PC for work, you can... Read More . It offers great performance and .

The performance isn’t outstanding, what with the Intel Atom Braswell processor and 4GB of RAM. But it’s good enough for college students who don’t demand any coding or design needs.

Two parts about the E403SA stand out. The 14-inch Full HD screen is something you don’t usually get at this price. You’ll love watching movies on this. But what you’ll love even more is the battery life.

The VivoBook E403SA is one of the laptops with the best battery life in 2016 7 Laptops With the Best Battery Life in 2016 7 Laptops With the Best Battery Life in 2016 What laptops offer the best battery life? It depends on your budget and what kind of operating system you need. We've rounded up eight of the longest-lasting laptops around! Read More . And in case even that 10-12 hours of usage isn’t enough for you, you can recharge it with a USB Type-C power bank. Coupled with its light weight, you’ll never think twice about taking the E403SA out with you.

Quick note: The Asus VivoBook E403SA is cheaper on Best Buy and other sites than on Amazon.

ASUS VivoBook E403SA-US21 14-inch Full HD Laptop (Intel Quad-Core N3700 Processor, 4 GB DDR3 RAM, 128GB eMMC Storage, Windows 10 Home OS) Metallic Gray ASUS VivoBook E403SA-US21 14-inch Full HD Laptop (Intel Quad-Core N3700 Processor, 4 GB DDR3 RAM, 128GB eMMC Storage, Windows 10 Home OS) Metallic Gray 14-Inch Full HD 1080P Display, Windows 10 Signature Edition Pre-Installed Buy Now At Amazon $417.99

Under $500: Asus X555 DA-AS11 ($448)

  • Matte display
  • DVD writer
  • Loud speakers

best-laptops-student-tight-budget-asus-x555-da-as11

Have you ever been working on your laptop, only for the sun’s glare to make the screen unviewable? You need a screen with a matte finish. It’s one of the major points in buying a $600 laptop How To Find The Best Laptop Under $600 How To Find The Best Laptop Under $600 If you know where to go, $600 can get you a lot of laptop. Here's what you should be looking for. Read More . So the Asus X555 DA-AS11 is just perfect.

Plus, the large 15.6-inch has Full HD resolution and comes with a 256GB SSD. Complementing that is 8GB of RAM and an AMD A10 quad-core processor, which performs pretty decently for gaming too.

The X555 DA-AS11 makes no compromises on connectivity either. It’s one of the few laptops that still features a DVD writer. There’s also an HDMI port, a VGA port, a card reader, and three USB ports.

Just make sure you buy the DA-AS11 version, and not the DA-WS11 version. The WS11 has a 1TB HDD, but it skips the matte finish and reduces the resolution to 1366×768 pixels.

ASUS X555DA-AS11 15 inch Full-HD AMD Quad Core Laptop with Windows 10, Black & Silver ASUS X555DA-AS11 15 inch Full-HD AMD Quad Core Laptop with Windows 10, Black & Silver 8GB RAM/ 256GB SSD with DL DVD±RW/CD-RW. Windows 10 operating system Buy Now At Amazon $415.50

Under $600: Acer Aspire E5-575G-53VG ($550/£430)

  • Large 15-inch screen
  • Long battery life
  • Nvidia graphics for good gaming
  • Loud speakers
  • USB Type-C Port

best-laptops-student-tight-budget-acer-aspire-e5-575g

At $550, you will love the Acer Aspire E5-575G. For laptops that double as televisions, the large 15.6-inch screen makes movie-watching pleasurable. Even the speakers are quite loud. It doesn’t have great viewing angles, though, so it can only be you watching, not a group of friends.

The Acer laptop also packs some powerful hardware for speedy performance. This includes a dedicated Nvidia GeForce 940MX graphics card, which is good enough for playing most PC games. There’s also a 256GB SSD; as we know, SSDs improve performance on Windows How to Move Windows from HDD to SSD to Improve Performance How to Move Windows from HDD to SSD to Improve Performance A Solid State Drive upgrade really improves performance. But how can you squeeze a large Windows installation onto a tiny SSD? Windows users can comfortably migrate from HDD to SSD in very little time. Read More .

But what really sells the Aspire E5-575G is its battery life. You can expect about 10 hours of usage on a single charge, according to LaptopMag’s battery test. Unlike other laptops, though, you can’t charge this one through the USB Type-C port.

Acer Aspire E 15 E5-575G-53VG Laptop, 15.6 Full HD (Intel Core i5, NVIDIA 940MX, 8GB DDR4, 256GB SSD, Windows 10) Acer Aspire E 15 E5-575G-53VG Laptop, 15.6 Full HD (Intel Core i5, NVIDIA 940MX, 8GB DDR4, 256GB SSD, Windows 10) 6th Generation Intel Core i5-6200U Processor (Up to 2.8GHz) Buy Now At Amazon $549.00

Which Laptop Did You Like?

If you’re on a budget and have been laptop shopping, which notebook computer has caught your eye? And students, where do you stand on the Windows vs. Chrome OS issue?

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    June 28, 2012 at 3:03 am

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  3. James
    June 11, 2012 at 3:51 am

    If your lucky you can get a T420 for pretty cheap from lenovo i got mines for i know the price is ebil but it was worth it. 666.12 :p.
    i5 2.4 ghz HD 3000 intel (crappy video card), lasts a maximum of 15 hours and if u get the battery slice its suppose to last 30 hours. For me on average i do 10 hours or so just typing per charge.

  4. Mark Ending
    May 29, 2012 at 12:57 am

    There are various laptop brands that offer cheap price but the good quality is compromise. Other brands also are expensive but of good quality. Thus, selecting the best brand and features of laptop really matters. If you are finding for a right approach or strategy on how to select the best laptops for students, just check out http://www.elaptopsforcollege.com/laptops-college-students-approach.

  5. Lucas_23
    April 1, 2012 at 6:12 am

    Try to seek for ASUS a series that equipped with nVidia 540m..
    For example ASUS a53sv..
    I personally own ASUS n43sl and I love it..
    Great laptop for the tight budget gamer..
    :)

  6. Jack Cola
    March 29, 2012 at 3:37 am

    If you are looking for a student laptop, here are a few things you need to consider when purchasing http://www.jackcola.org/blog/217-what-type-of-laptop-should-you-get-for-uni

  7. Bogdan
    March 10, 2012 at 7:03 pm

     These are not what I would call "for students on a budget"...

    • M.S. Smith
      March 10, 2012 at 7:19 pm

      I don't get it. Are they too expensive? Too cheap?

      • Bogdan
        March 10, 2012 at 8:08 pm

         You can find cheaper, at least here.

      • ayebare denis
        August 14, 2012 at 4:53 pm

        are cheap i need one

  8. collinh
    March 10, 2012 at 5:03 pm

    I have an HP Pavilion dv6t, which is visually quite similar to the dv6z. I have been quite impressed with the size and weight, and really like the fact that it includes a full-sized number pad. I find that I can get about 3- 3.5 hours of battery life with a quad-core i7, depending how I set set the screen brightness, though this figure drops significantly when on dedicated graphics.

  9. Haseeb
    March 10, 2012 at 4:11 am

    I own an Inspiron 15R, THE ALLROUNDER.

  10. Mahesh
    March 9, 2012 at 9:09 pm

    The Acer 13.3inch Timeline range are pretty good. I know, a bunch of people will come on a say Acer's suck, but their build quality has improved a lot recently, and they're a pretty good bang for the buck at the 400-500 range!

    • M.S. Smith
      March 10, 2012 at 2:42 am

      As you said, Acer's suck ;) Not really of course, but yea, I have a hard time recommending them due to build quality concerns.

    • Ed
      July 11, 2012 at 10:45 am

      I bought an Acer laptop in 2008 at Walmart and that laptop is still going strong. Never had an issue with it. It was the higher end 15.4 inch screen laptop with a great stereo system.

  11. Brian
    March 9, 2012 at 6:16 pm

    Check around for deals. Staples had a $100 off laptops for students, plus $50 off coupon that I used. I bought a HP DM4-2070 when it was on sale for $600, so I picked it up for $450.

    2.3 ghz i5 w/ 6 gb ram and 640gb hd. Aluminum body is great because it doesn't wear as quickly on the palm rests as the painted plastic. its really great!

    • M.S. Smith
      March 10, 2012 at 2:43 am

      The HP dm4 is a good laptop as well. I was considering adding it to the list, but I like the Inspiron 14z/ ThinkPad Edge E420 a bit more.

      Checking around for deals is good advice with cheap laptops - they really do slash prices, particularly around back-to-school time.

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