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Students can’t afford to spend hundreds of dollars on a new laptop, but you need one that can perform well and handle multiple tasks. To help you out when in search of a new laptop, we’ve put together a list of the best cheap laptops for students on a budget.
To make this list, the devices had to be $600 or under, last four hours on a single charge, and handle heavy internet browsing. They should also be capable of HD video playback, and meet all of your entertainment needs. The laptops on this list are the best devices that meet those criteria.
1. Best Chromebook for Students:
Asus Chromebook Flip C434
The Asus Chromebook Flip C434 is the best cheap Chromebook for students today. In fact, it’s good enough to be the best Chromebook for anyone who doesn’t want to spend a fortune on a Google Pixelbook. Loaded with Chrome OS, the Flip C434 supports Android and Linux apps out of the box.
The laptop is an upgrade to the popular Chromebook Flip C302, which was one of the best Chromebooks for a long time. The new model has even thinner bezels and a larger 14-inch IPS touchscreen with Full HD (1920×1080 pixels) resolution.
The screen can flip over a full 360-degrees to use it in tablet mode. The aluminum body makes it look and feel like a premium laptop. There’s also a full-size USB port along with two USB-C ports.
An Intel Core m3-8100y processor and 4GB of RAM powers the machine, with 64GB of onboard storage that can be expanded via microSD. And it has a backlit keyboard too. The Asus Chromebook Flip C434 is a shining example of a Chromebook; an affordable laptop with a premium experience.
2. Best Windows Laptop for Students:
Acer Aspire E 15 E5-576G-5762
The Acer Aspire E 15 E5-576-5762 model is the best cheap Windows laptop that students should buy—no other laptop offers the hardware that you get here. There’s a 15.6-inch Full HD screen, an 8th generation Intel Core i5-8250u quad-core processor, 8GB of RAM, and a 256GB SSD.
This is also among a handful of cheap laptops for students to feature a discrete graphics unit (the Nvidia GeForce MX150) and a DVD writer. Despite all that, the Aspire E 15 still achieves excellent battery life for a budget Windows laptop.
Yes, the plastic body doesn’t look great, but this is about functionality over form. Every reviewer out there has praised the Aspire E 15 for how much it packages in at such a great price.
In fact, you could safely look through other Aspire E 15 models to find a configuration that works for your budget, and you won’t be disappointed. For example, the cheaper Acer Aspire E 15 E5-576-392H is loaded with great hardware for such a bargain price.
3. Best Hybrid Laptop for Students:
Microsoft Surface Go
The Microsoft Surface Go isn’t exactly cheap, but it’s still the best hybrid 2-in-1 tablet and laptop for students. There are other 2-in-1s that have faster processors or more RAM for a similar price, but the overall experience is superior on the Surface Go.
The 10-inch PixelSense touchscreen display, with a resolution of 1800×1200 pixels, is the best feature here, as it accepts both stylus input and finger touch. The basic version of the Surface Go comes with an Intel Pentium Gold dual-core processor, 4GB of RAM, and a 128GB SSD that comes preloaded with Windows 10 S.
This edition of Windows 10 restricts you to only using apps from the Windows Store. This could seem limiting, but there is a wide range of productivity apps in the store that could help you through your studies. That said, you can upgrade to Windows 10 Home for free at any time.
Users and reviewers have two persistent complaints with the Surface Go. First, the battery life is not as good as most hybrid 2-in-1s; although it is still better than standard laptops. Second, Windows 10 simply isn’t a good tablet operating system. Unless you’re an artist or a designer, it doesn’t make much sense to buy a Windows tablet.
4. Best Touchscreen Windows Laptop for Students:
Asus Vivobook Flip 14
Although the Chromebook C434 is a great device, Google’s Chrome OS might not be to your tastes. If you want a similar hardware experience, but with Windows 10, then the Asus Vivobook Flip 14 might be exactly what you’re after.
The Vivobook Flip 14 is a 2-in-1 convertible laptop with a premium lightweight aluminum body. The 14-inch touchscreen can flip back a full 360-degrees to be used in tablet mode. It is powered by an Intel Pentium N5000 quad-core processor, 4GB of RAM, and comes with 128GB of flash storage.
Several reviewers have noted that the speakers aren’t loud, which means you might need to use headphones or external speakers. The laptop also lacks a regular USB port, opting for USB-C connectivity instead.
5. Best Budget Windows Laptop for Students:
Acer Aspire 5
The Acer Aspire 5 balances budget and performance like no other laptop, positioning itself as one of the best value laptops for students.
It’s a surprise to find a 15-inch IPS Full HD screen and an Intel Core i3-8145u processor at this price. At this cost, most other devices come with inferior screens, or downgrade the processor, but not the Aspire 5. There’s even a backlit keyboard—another rarity.
The Acer Aspire 5 has 4GB of RAM and a 128GB SSD, which might seem limiting. That said, the device comes in multiple configurations. So, if your budget permits, you could consider upgrading some components. It’s packed with ports and connectivity options too, and reviewer tests showed above-average battery life.
This revision of the Aspire 5 comes with an aluminum top finish, instead of the usual plastic. While it looks great, it doesn’t feel premium or sturdy. The speakers aren’t particularly loud either, but you have to expect some compromises.
However, at this price, the Acer Aspire 5 is one of the best cheap laptops for students, or just about anyone on a budget.
6. Cheapest Windows Laptop for Students:
First launched in 2014, the HP Stream earns the crown of the best cheap Windows laptop with each annual update. This device focuses on cost, so don’t expect too much performance-wise. The pre-installed Windows 10 S is sluggish on the Intel Celeron N4000 dual-core processor, with 4GB of RAM.
There’s also only 32GB of flash storage, so this may be a concern if you download a lot of files to your device. The 11-inch HD screen (1366×768 pixels) isn’t sharp, and colors may appear washed out, but it’s decent enough to watch a movie. The battery life impresses most reviewers; although that’s to be expected when there’s so little to do.
There are better Windows laptops out there, and I would recommend trying to raise your budget to buy the Acer Aspire 5. However, if you can’t afford to spend more, the HP Stream is a tried-and-tested cheap laptop for students.
7. Cheapest Chromebook for Students:
Samsung Chromebook 3
The Samsung Chromebook 3 is the cheapest Chromebook worth buying at the moment. It has excellent battery life and is good enough for basic school work, internet browsing, and media playback.
The Chromebook 3 has earned a lot of love from tech reviewers for being a super-cheap laptop that doesn’t feel like a super-cheap laptop. Flimsy build quality is often a complaint at this price, but the Chromebook 3 feels solid, and the screen’s hinge is built to last.
The 11.6-inch HD screen isn’t that sharp, but Laptopmag notes the brightness and colors are better than Chromebooks that cost twice as much. The Intel Celeron N3060 processor and 4GB of RAM aren’t a particularly fast combination. So, don’t expect the most rapid loading times. But hey, it gets the job done.
Pair all of this with a decent keyboard, plenty of connectivity ports, and the best battery life of all the cheap Chrome OS devices, and the Samsung Chromebook 3 is a winner. It’s worth opting for the 64GB edition, but if you want to save a little extra, there’s a cheaper 16GB model available too.
The Cheapest Laptops for Students
When you’re buying with a budget in mind, the price is going to dictate your choices. We’ve rounded up some of the best laptops for students on a tight budget, but you can get cheaper, by going for a second-hand device.
While some people might worry about the lack of warranty and potential risks of a pre-owned device, it’s one of the ways to get the best value device. If you’re after something a little cheaper than the laptops we featured here, consider the best $100 laptops.
For even more options, take a look at the best laptops for school by major. And for saving money on other items, check out discounts you can get with a free EDU email address.