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Save some cash for beer with the best back-to-school laptops under $500

Heading back to school can be stressful, whether you’re worried about your overwhelming course load or simply loading up the car. However, finding the right laptop to use during class or tote to the library for late-night cram sessions can be just as a big a concern, especially when you’re likely devoting the bulk of your cash to housing, books, foods, and other common expenditures associated with pursing a a higher education.

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Thankfully, there’s currently an abundance of solid, budget-based laptops on the market that won’t leave you scrounging around for the nearest pack of ramen. Each of the laptops featured below retails for less than $500,  and while they may not set any speed records, they offer a resounding amount of productivity for the price. Just try to keep Netflix and House of Cards to a minimum!

Dell Chromebook 11 ($350)

Dell Chromebook 11

When it comes to Chromebooks, it’s hard to argue that this 11-inch option from Dell isn’t one of the best options. Even the upgraded version — which includes 4GB of RAM, an Intel Core i3 processor, and 16GB of SATA SSD storage — is available from Dell for a mere $330. Chrome OS may not be an ideal option for some, but it’s the perfect blend of productivity and simplicity for students, with an affordable price to match. Read our full review here.

Available from:

Amazon Dell

Acer Aspire E5 ($360)

Acer Aspire E5

If Windows is more your speed, Acer’s Aspire E5 strikes an appealing balance between price and performance. The heavily customizable machine can be built around an Intel Core i3 and i5 processor, or AMD A-Series chips without breaking $500, and comes outfitted with 4GB of RAM standard. Unfortunately, the 15.6-inch display is only available with either 1366 x 768-pixel resolution or a glossy 1600 x 900, but makes up for it with a 500GB hard drive and solid connectivity options. Read our full review here.

Available from:

Amazon Best Buy

Acer Chromebook 15 ($346)

Acer Chromebook 15

If you want the simplicity of Chrome OS with the pleasures of a larger screen, the Acer Chromebook 15 offers a 15.6-inch 1080p IPS display for under $500. Like the Dell, the Chromebook 15 boasts an Intel Core i3-5005U and a dual-core chip with a 2GHz base clock, along with 4GB of RAM and SSD storage. It offers plenty of space for the keyboard, too, and minimalist construction that looks and feel great. Read our full review here.

Available from:

Amazon Best Buy

Lenovo G50 ($380)

Lenovo G50

Lenovo wins points by shooting straight down the middle with the G50. You won’t find a fancy 360-degree hinge or flashy colors, but instead a serious laptop with decent performance and above-average storage and RAM. It’s powered by a quad-core AMD A8-6410 CPU, backed by 6GB of RAM, and integrated Radeon R5 graphics for gaming performance without the power or financial weight.

Available from:

Amazon Best Buy

HP Stream 13 ($230)

HP Stream 13

Chrome OS may not be the right choice for some users, and for them, HP makes a Windows laptop that touts the same low price. The 13.3-inch display offers 1,366 x 768-pixel resolution, and moreover, ample power via the Intel Celeron processor and 2GB of RAM. It also includes 200MB of free 4G data each month for the life of the device, which helps make the $229 price tag that much more appealing. Read more here.

Available from:

Amazon Best Buy

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