Even before reading our list, talk to the teachers. They may have a standard for laptops. At the very least, they can say what programs and operating systems (OS) the school uses, and what the kids do with them. Our criteria for the best budget laptops for school work is simple but strict. 

It must be priced under $500. The lower the price, the better for most folks.Small enough to fit in a backpack with books, but big enough to use comfortably.The laptop should be capable of 6 hours of use on a full charge. Bluetooth is a must. Watching videos is now necessary for homework, and if your kid can wear Bluetooth headphones it makes for a quieter night for you. Face it, they’re going to be listening to music and watching Disney + too.

Most laptops already have all the necessary ports, like USB and HDMI, DisplayPort, or VGA. WiFi is in everything, too. Any other special feature is a bonus at this point.

Acer Aspire 5 Slim Laptop – A515-43-R19L

Super thin, with a bright 15.6 inch HD display, the Acer Aspire 5 hits a sweet spot between bare basics and full-featured. It’s powerful enough for most student tasks in high school through to college. Only animators and computer science students might need more.  It’s got enough memory and graphics supports to even run some decent games. Add up to 7.5 hours of battery life and you’ve got one of the best budget laptops. Price: $350Processor: AMD Ryzen 3 3200URAM: 4GB DDR4Storage: 128GB SSDDisplay Type: Full HD IPS 1920 x 1080Graphics Processing: Vega 3 Co-processorPorts: 1 USB 3.1 Gen 1 Port, 2 USB 2.0 Ports & 1 HDMI Port with HDCP supportOS: Windows 10 Home in S ModeBattery Life: ~7 hours

Lenovo Flex 14 – 81SQ000EUS

This one is at the top end of the budget at $449.99. For that, the Lenovo Flex gives a 14-inch touch display and, as the name suggests, can be flipped right over to allow the use of it as a tablet.  It’s capable of running most apps a student would use. With the flexing capability, it’s probably best in the hands of high school or college students. Being able to fold over backward does create more opportunities for accidental damage. Price: $449.99Processor: Intel Pentium Gold 5405U RAM: 4GB DDR4 2400MHzStorage: 128GB SSDDisplay Type: 14.0” HD Multi-touchGraphics Processing: Integrated Intel UHD 610 GraphicPorts: 2 x USB 3.1** (1 x always on), USB-C, Card reader, HDMI, Audio jackOS: Windows 10 Home in S modeBattery Life: ~8 hours, can fast-charge up to 80% in an hour

Asus Chromebook C523NA

Some people shy away from Chromebooks because they believe their kids need to have Windows to use Microsoft Office. For most students, the Microsoft Office apps for the ChromeOS will do more than they’ll need.  This Chromebook has a huge 15.6-inch touchscreen, unusual in the Chromebook world. Chromebooks are a bit different, but they’re more than capable of serving most college students as well as elementary school students. Perhaps more importantly, it has an aluminum chassis making it a durable option. Price: $293.88Processor: Intel Quad-Core Pentium N4200RAM: 4GB DDR4 RAMStorage: 64 GB eMMC (embedded MultiMediaCard)Display Type: 15.6″ Full HD TouchscreenGraphics Processing: Intel Integrated GraphicsPorts: 2 x USB 3.0, 1 x USB 3.1, combo headphone and speaker jackOS: Chrome OSBattery Life: ~6.5 hours

Lenovo 130S

The most portable and most affordable budget laptops on this list is the Lenovo 130S. It does have a smaller screen, at 11.6 inches and it does lack a bit in horsepower compared to others on this list. However, it does have Windows 10 with a 1-year Office 365 subscription included.  This is a great option for taking notes in class. At this price, it’s also suitable for younger elementary students. Price: $175Processor: Intel Celeron N4000RAM: 4 GB DDR3Storage: 64 GB eMMCDisplay Type: 11.6” HD 1366 x 768Graphics Processing: Intel UHD Graphics 600Ports: 2 x USB 3.0, 1x USB 3.1, 1 x HDMI OutputOS: Windows 10Battery Life: ~8 hours

HP 15z

The laptops so far don’t have a lot of storage. They depend on the abundance of cloud storage available these days. But sometimes, there is a need to be able to store large amounts of files locally.  If your student needs that, this may be the best budget laptop for them. It’s a capable computer with a 2 TB hard drive. Price: $370Processor: AMD A9-9425 Dual-CoreRAM: 8 GB DDR4-1866 SDRAMStorage: 2 TB 5400 rpm HDDDisplay Type: 15.6″ diagonal HD SVA BrightView WLED-backlitGraphics Processing: AMD Radeon R5 GraphicsPorts: 1 HDMI 1.4, 1 headphone/microphone combo; 1 RJ-45; 1 USB 2.0; 2 USB 3.1 Gen 1 (data only)OS: Windows 10 HomeBattery Life: ~9 hours

Are These Really the Best Budget Laptops?

‘Best’ is a subjective term because your needs could be completely different from the criteria. Also, these exact models may not be available in your region or country.  We believe this is a solid, well-researched, good start to finding the best budget laptop for you or your kids.

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