Reliable laptops are essential for students in today’s mobile age, but we know as well as anybody that students are often working with a tight budget — and that the best laptops aren’t always cheap. We’re here to help: Below, we’ve rounded up a hand-picked half-dozen of the best cheap student laptop deals available right now. These picks run the gamut from Chromebooks to gaming machines, but if you’re after something more specific and want to see even more options, then also check out these Chromebook deals and MacBook deals.
Today’s best student laptop deals
- — $199, was $239
- — $299, was $499
- — $489 with code EXTRA50, was $635
- — $540, was $730
- — $800, was $1,050
- — $869, was $999
— $199, was $239
On the slimmest of budgets but need a new laptop? It doesn’t get much more economical than a Chromebook, and the Lenovo Chromebook S330 has you covered. It offers a quad-core processor along with 4GB RAM, so you’re good to go with writing documents or performing other basic tasks such as photo editing. A nice-sized 14-inch HD display means you won’t have to worry about missing any crucial details either, unlike many of today’s Chromebooks which sport smaller screens.
Lightweight and unassuming, it’s ideal for the average student who simply needs a work tool rather than anything more specialist. Its 32GB of flash storage is big enough to store your work files for those times you’re not near Wi-Fi and can’t access Google Drive, but since Chrome OS is cloud-based, it’s unlikely that you’ll run out of space any time soon.
— $299, was $499
If you need the extra screen space of a traditional 15-inch display, the Evoo Ultra Thin series is an excellent choice for a budget-friendly student laptop. It has a 15.6-inch Full HD screen which gives you a little more room to work with as you study. Despite that, it still offers up to six hours of battery life which is great for when you’re in the library or classroom all day. An Intel Core i7 processor (something you almost never see at this price point) and full 8GB RAM provides enough power for juggling more than a few tabs and windows, while a 256GB SSD gives you plenty of high-speed storage for your documents, projects, and work programs.
It’s reasonably lightweight too, weighing just under 5 pounds and measuring less than an inch thick, making it easy to carry around despite it being a full-sized laptop.
— $489 with code EXTRA50, was $635
Clearly a little inspired by Apple laptops, the silver-colored Dell Inspiron 15 5000 laptop combines stylish looks with no-nonsense workhorse hardware. It’s also practical thanks to its AMD Ryzen 5 4500U processor, 8GB RAM, and a fast 256GB solid-state drive, which combine to deliver speedy performance for the price. Software will open quickly, you’ll be able to juggle multiple tabs, and you can easily store plenty of files, apps, and even some less demanding games (thanks to the Ryzen 5’s built-in Vega graphics that allow for some light gaming).
Despite all those features, the Dell Inspiron 15 5000 remains portable due to its streamlined modern design. It weighs in at less than 4 pounds and measures only 0.70 inches thick, so it won’t be bulky to carry around between classes.
— $540, was $730
With a great combination of modern hardware and 2-in-1 versatility, this HP Pavilion x360 15 is a great workhorse of a laptop. It has a 15-inch fold-flat 1080p touchscreen, 8GB RAM, and a nice quick 256GB SSD for responsive file storage and app loading. With that snappy and up-to-date Ryzen 5 processor, it’s ideal for working and should last for years.
The new 11th-gen Core i5 processor is speedy enough that it’ll open apps and run software quickly, and while this might not be as sleek and stylish as a MacBook (see our final pick for that), it’s much more affordable. HP laptops are also pretty great when it comes to sturdiness and reliability so you won’t have to worry about it taking the odd bump or knock when you’re carrying it from class to class.
— $800, was $1,050
Let’s face it: Students love to game after class, and just because you’re on a budget doesn’t mean you can’t have a good gaming laptop. The 15-inch Dell G5 offers all the best elements of a modern gaming laptop including a 15.6-inch 1080p display, a reasonable weight so it’s not too bulky to lug around campus, and a discrete Radeon RX 5600M GPU for when it’s time to get your game on after your studies. And with 512GB of solid-state storage, you’ve got some high-speed space for your productivity software, assignments, music, and — of course — your game library.
For study and play, this laptop has just about everything you need while keeping costs down. With an AMD Ryzen 7 processor and 8GB of RAM, it’ll be good for everything from photo and video editing to word processing. A nice (but not garish) backlit keyboard is nice, too, for those late-night study and gaming sessions.
— $869, was $999
If your heart is set on MacOS, then the early 2020 13-inch Apple MacBook Air is the student laptop for you. It looks gorgeous and has all the conveniences that come with a MacOS-based system. It has recently been updated to include the latest 10th-generation Intel Core i3 processor along with 8GB RAM and a 256GB SSD drive, so it packs a punch when it comes to being suitably speedy for work and multi-tasking. It’s not aimed at gaming or anything like that, but as a productivity-based device, it’s good to go. You won’t have any issues loading up files quickly and running your favorite programs smoothly.
The laptop also has Touch ID support, which is a useful and highly convenient security measure. There’s also that lovely 12-hour battery life, meaning you won’t have to worry about recharging it as often as most other laptops.
How to choose a student laptop
Before you buy a student laptop, you need to know what you’re looking for. Perhaps the most important thing to know is your budget. Ideally, everyone wants the best and the fastest but if your budget is low then it’s smart to temper your expectations to avoid disappointment.
Laptops generally don’t make good devices for playing games, so most student laptops don’t bother with a dedicated graphics card. Instead, you want a system that is reasonably speedy with a reliable processor and sufficient storage space for the operating system. A lot of the time, you’ll be uploading files to the cloud anyway for your teachers to check so you don’t have to worry about a massive hard drive to store everything, although it can be helpful for the added flexibility.
Don’t worry so much about the screen size. Less is generally more, saving you money and sometimes providing you with superior screen quality. A 13-inch screen might sound small but you soon get used to it and all laptops tend to have a way of plugging them into a separate screen if you decide you want a monitor further down the line. A smaller screen means less to carry around too when you’re back in class and need to transport your laptop around campus.
When picking out a productivity orientated laptop, consider what operating system you want. Nowadays, you have the choice of Windows, MacOS, or ChromeOS. The majority of people are used to Windows but that doesn’t mean it’s the fastest or the best, but if you’re keen to not have to relearn anything, it might still be the most tempting idea.
Alternatively, MacOS is a very efficient operating system because it’s designed for the hardware it’s tied into. However, Macs cost considerably more than a Windows or ChromeOS-based laptop, although they do tend to last longer. They’re great as stylish systems to show off with but few students can easily afford the high asking price. In terms of value for money, they’re not great.
For a great student laptop deal, most students will be fine with a Chromebook. A lot of the time, you’ll be writing documents in Google Docs and Chromebooks lend themselves perfectly to this method. You won’t be able to play games on them but as a solely work device, they’re inexpensive and easy to use. Simply log into your Google account and you can easily save files to the cloud. There’s the added convenience of not having to worry if you need to switch to a different system either — your files will always be there via your account details. You won’t have to scrimp on style either with the devices often looking super stylish and lightweight. Expect better battery life with most Chromebooks than a Windows-based system, too.
Digital Trends may earn commission on products purchased through our links, which supports the work we do for our readers.
- The best laptop deals for January 2021: Dell, HP, Apple, and more
- The best budget laptops for 2021
- The best laptops under $1,000 you can buy right now
- These are the best cheap MacBook deals for January 2021
- The best laptops for 2021