If you’re a student, it’s about that time of year. Some of you may like it, some of you may not. Whether it’s your thing or not, school will begin once again. Computers have become essential for school, especially if you’re in college. There’s one problem: us students are dirt poor. Laptops don’t have to break the bank! Here are some great options that are under $500.

Mac or PC? Neither!

That’s the question most of you are asking yourselves. Do I get a Mac (which will certainly exceed $500), or do I go for PC? I have a solution. Neither. That’s right, neither!

So you’re saying I should use Linux??

Nope! Believe it or not, Chromebooks have become a very nice, affordable option for students. While the laptops are web based, meaning you need an internet connection to do almost anything, they should function perfectly for the average student. You can use Google Docs or Word Online to type your papers. You can also use Chrome to navigate to any sites you need to. The Chromebook also features many plugins, which will enhance your experience. If you’re just typing papers, doing research, and checking grades online, I would go for a Chromebook. If you require programs for your major or class, such as Photoshop, Premiere Pro, or maybe even Steam for you weekend gamers, definitely go for a PC.

Chromebook Options

The Bottom Basement ($131) | Hisense Chromebook91bzIj9yetL._SL1500_

If you’re on an extreme budget, the Hisense Chromebook is a great option for you. Don’t expect lightning fast speeds or a premium build quality, but the Hisense Chromebook can definitely get you through the year. Included with the laptop, you get 100GB
of Google Drive storage free for 2 years – a great added bonus for any student, not to mention that’s a $48 value!

The Middle ($2571mkc5znztL._SL1159_9) | Acer Chromebook R11

If you’re looking for an all-in-one solution, the Acer Chromebook R11 is for you. Just 0.78 inches thin, the laptop can fold over and convert in to a tablet. It features an 11.6″ HD touch screen display. Like the any Chromebook, it comes with 100GB of Google Drive storage for 2 years.


The Top ($499) | HP Chromebook 13 G1e8e329a20bc95711ab4f2795f747c33f

This is the top of the line for Chromebooks. Featuring a 13.3″ display, and a 0.5 inch thin form factor, this laptop is sure to not disappoint. It’s got some great horsepower, and it’s an ideal option for a school laptop. Like any Chromebook, you will enjoy 100GB of Google Drive storage for 2 years.


Windows Options

810VoVCpG4L._SL1500_Option 1 | HP Stream 13.3″

This laptop is not super pretty. Featuring exotic, bright colors as your only options, don’t be expecting a black or white laptop! It also has a super thick bezel around the screen, it’s NOT pretty at all. With 2GB of RAM and a Celeron processor, it’s not going to run Windows well either. It has a 32GB SSD hard drive – very small, but at least it’s SSD. Included with your purchase, you get 1TB of OneDrive storage and Office 365 Personal for one year – this is especially useful for students who do not own or rent a copy of Microsoft Office. This laptop doesn’t pack a punch though, so beware. It will get you by if necessary, but it’s certainly not ideal.

Option 2 (The Punch Packer) | ASUS VivoBook E403SA-US2151Ip+mFaQTL

This laptop is sexy. Seriously. The only thing that is not sexy about it is it’s name (seriously.. E403SA-US21.. Really ASUS?..). It features a 14-inch full 1080p display, and a quad core Intel Braswell processor. It features 128GB of eMMC flash storage, and 4GB of RAM. This should run Windows solid, and is a decent option for students. Unfortunately, it doesn’t include one year of Office 365 like the Stream did.

The Budget Pep Talk

Just so we’re on the same page, none of these laptops will offer lightning fast speeds. At under $500, that’s just not going to happen. There are some ways that you can get a better laptop for under $500, and that’s by buying refurbished. What’s a refurbished laptop? It’s a laptop that has gone through a special restoration process. This normally includes installing a new display, and makes sure the laptop is 100% function. It may have some minor cosmetic imperfections (small scratches), but that’s it. I’ve bought all of my computers refurbished, and I’m glad I did. I got a laptop with a 1080p LED display, 1GB graphics card, quad core i7, 16GB DDR3 RAM, and a 256GB SSD for $600. Yep, you read that right! $600. eBay is the magic spot for great refurbished deals. The key is to find a good brand, a quality model, and a trusted seller. I would recommend Dell and ASUS, those are both quality brands. After that, check and make sure that specific model you are looking at wasn’t a flop. Check reviews on sites such as Amazon, the manufacturer site, and Best Buy. Finally, ensure that the seller rating for the person you’re buying the laptop from is good. I would only buy from sellers who have a rating of 95% or higher.

“But I Want A Mac!”

Want a Mac? Great. Prepare your wallet. The only way to get a Mac for under $500 is to buy a used beater Mac from eBay. While this is an option, it may not be as fast or productive as the Windows route. If you up your budget to around $750, there are plenty of great refurbished options for Macbook Pros.


Hopefully I’ve given you a small idea on some great laptops you can buy for school! These are not gaming laptops by any means, but they will help you make it through the school year.

Kevin Nether