Best Cheap Laptops for College Students (Under $500) – 2018 Edition

Usually, when you’re a college student, you’re on a budget. You don’t need extra loans in your life and you definitely have a ton of other things you can spend your money on, but you also need a laptop… Fortunately, there are cheap options for laptops that are great for students and you can find them for less than $500.

In order to prove that, we did the tests and the research so you don’t have to and we’re sharing below the list of the best cheap laptops for college students in 2018, under $500 at the moment of writing this article. (Make sure to do your own due diligence to make sure that the prices are still accurate – they rarely increase, though!).

What will you get for the money? A high performing, high quality laptop that can handle writing projects and videos, edit photos and stream movies of videos online. However, these are NOT gaming laptops, so if you want to play current generation computer games, you’ll have to spend more than $500. However, these laptops can still handle some older games and even newer ones with lower requirements – so all in all, you really are for a treat on a budget and we did our best to select some amazing products for this price!

So let’s check out these amazing cheap laptops under $500 for students! We’re listing our findings in the table below in case you’re in a hurry, but we also have in-depth reviews for them afterwards.

Please note: We get commissions for purchases made through links in this article.

ProductProcessorRAMStorageStore Link
Acer Aspire 14"Intel Celeron N34504GB32GB SSDBuy it on Amazon
HP 15.6" HDAMD Quad-Core E2-71104GB500GB HDDBuy it on Amazon
HP Touchscreen 2018Intel Pentium N37104GB128GB SSDBuy it on Amazon
HP Business Laptop - Editor's ChoiceAMD Quad-Core A12-9720p8GB1TB HDDBuy it on Amazon
Lenovo Ideapad 310AMD A10-9600P12GB1TB HDDBuy it on Amazon

Now let’s find out even more about our recommended laptops:

Acer Aspire 14″

The cheapest and smallest product on our list, this Acer Aspire laptop packs a really solid punch despite its insanely low price. It has some really good specifications and I really doubt you can find anything better for this price.

Powered by an Intel processor (the Intel Celeron N3450 Quad-Core Processor going up to 2.2 GHz) and 4 GB of RAM, it is fast and handles internet browsing and movie watching without any problems. It has an integrated graphics card – the Intel HD Graphics 500, meaning that you won’t really be able to game a lot on it, but if you don’t really care about playing games, it’s a good choice.

The biggest problem of this laptop, though, is the storage space. It is true that we’re talking about an extremely fast SSD, but at just 32GB, it offers less storage than many phones out there. You can expand the storage a bit (or more) thanks to the microSD card it comes equipped with or with an external Hard Drive, and you will probably have to choose one of the other since you have so little in terms of storage. A microSD card is very cheap – you can get a 128GB one for about $40, so you still end up way under the $500 budget.

Also, have in mind that the laptop is a bit smaller than the rest: it has a display size of 14″. Despite this, it still offers full HD resolution (1920 x 1080 pixels) and the image quality is really high. Add to that a good battery (up to 8 hours of regular usage) and you have a really good laptop for an even better price. So if your budget is very tight, you’ll be able to go a long way with this one.

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HP 15.6″ HD Laptop

If you have a bit more to spend, you’re doing a much, much better job with this laptop from HP. From now on, we’re talking about decently sized laptops – with displays of 15.6″ and better stats all around. So things to get better the more money you have to spend and the closer you can get to the top of the budget.

But this HP laptop is actually a steal for the price!

It is powered by an AMD processor, the AMD Quad-Core E2-7110 at 1,8GHz, and also had 4GB of RAM. Even though the Intel processors are usually better and faster in my opinion, if you’re on a budget, you’ll have to go for AMD – and the performance will still be as high as possible since we do the research to make sure that’s the case.

It doesn’t have the best graphics card on the market – on the contrary – since it comes packed with the AMD Radeon R2 card which is actually the worst on our list. So you won’t be able to play games on it, unless they’re really really old. On a brighter side, you get some real storage here from the go thanks to its 500GB HDD. You can even increase the storage if you want to since it has a microSD card slot – and it also comes with an optical drive, which is a nice touch.

Now, even though it’s a larger laptop, it only offers HD resolution (maximum of 1366×768 pixels). This is probably the limit imposed by the integrated graphics card, but even at this resolution, the image quality is good and you won’t have any real reasons to complain.

So even though this one’s not one of the fastest laptops you can buy, even for a budget – it offers decent storage options and is still usable. If you want better performance and you have less than $300 to spend – and you don’t mind the limited storage options – then go with the Acer above. If storage matters, go for this one. If you want better overall laptops and you can get closer to the $500 budget limit, keep on reading as we have great offers to come!

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HP Touchscreen 2018 Laptop

A 2018 model with a lot of bells and whistles, this touchscreen laptop offers great value for the money, especially if you don’t want to get to the top of the budget with your purchase.

Powered by an Intel Pentium N3710 processor (with Turbo Boost up to 2.56 GHz) and 4GB of RAM, this laptop is fast and offers high performance on a budget. Things get even better thanks to its SSD. Unlike the Acer model, this one offers much better storage at 128GB. Still not extremely well, but you can make it work and enjoy the super fast disk.

Even though it doesn’t have the best integrated card on the list – it’s still the Intel HD Graphics 405 GPU that can handle playing older games. Games like CS:GO can easily get 30FPS, while running GTA5 on it gave us 15-16 FPS on average. You will have to go for the lowest settings and older games, but it can definitely handle them, which is good news.

It’s also not a full HD laptop – it only goes up to a 1366×768 pixels resolution (HD), but that’s still really good. Plus, you have the bonus of it having touchscreen capabilities, which is a nice bonus.

It also has all the slots you can wish for, including microSD and even an optical drive. The battery is decent too – about 5 hours of regular usage on a single charge, which is good for the budget. As I said, a very good product that offers a lot for the money!

Click here to buy it on Amazon

2017 HP Business Laptop

Another HP model on our list – and one you will probably be very happy with. This model – and the next one – are basically the heavy artillery on our list and have some really impressive features, offering the best performance on our budget. And this one definitely gets the prize for the best looking one on our list! It’s also our Editor’s pick since it offers the best value for the money in our opinion.

But it doesn’t just look good – it offers a lot in terms of performance too. It’s powered by a very solid AMD CPU: the 7th Generation AMD Quad-Core A12-9720p processor that can be Turbo Boosted all the way up to 3.6 GHz. And things are getting even better: it’s also powered by 8GB of RAM and it offers heaps of storage space thanks to its 1TB HDD.

Even though it still offers an integrated graphics card, it has the best one on our list: the AMD Radeon R7 GPU, one that can also handle more recent games, offering better performance than all the other laptops on our list. So it’s definitely a great buy!

The resolution of its 15.6″ display is only HD as well (1366 x 768 pixels), but I don’t really consider it a problem since it offers so much in all the other areas. It also comes with various slots (USB 3.0, USB 2.0, HDMI, card reader etc) as well as an optical drive.

As a bonus – and one that we really appreciate, it comes bundled with a really nice looking laptop backpack and a wireless mouse. Now that’s even more value for the money!

Click here to buy it on Amazon

Lenovo Ideapad 310

Last but not least we have a laptop from Lenovo that goes very close to the top of our $500 budget, but still stays under. And it has some nice surprises of its own, too.

First of all, it offers high performance for its price since it is powered by an AMD A10-9600P processor @ 2.30GHz (Turbo Boost-able to 3.20GHz). It also comes with the Radeon R5 Graphics card which, although not R7-good, is still decent and can handle older games.

But the cherry on top comes from the RAM it has packed under its hood: a whooping 12GB for maximum speed! That’s indeed sweet!

You get a lot of storage thanks to the 1TB HDD, you have various slots: USB, card reader and an optical drive. It offers HD resolution as well and decent battery.

So all in all, this is a good product but I still wouldn’t consider it as good of deal as the HP Business Laptop above. However, it’s good to have more options when it comes to making our purchase and this model is definitely one to consider.

Click here to buy it on Amazon

These would be our recommendations of cheap laptops for college students in 2018 – all are under $500 at the moment of writing (but we doubt that the price will go up ) and we are sure you’ll find your favorite on this list. So pick your favorite and buy it now – whichever laptop you choose, it’s a steal!

If you know you’ll always be online, want to spend as little as possible and you have nothing against Chromebooks, we’ve also written a list of the best ones for students. Make sure you check it out if you want more options – but I personally believe that it’s best to choose one on this list as the Windows OS gives you more freedom.

Update notice: This article was originally written in 2015, but it has been constantly updated to offer the best laptops on a budget. We’ve last edited this article in 2018, to include the latest releases on the list – this way, you know you’re only getting the best deals possible!

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