The season for back-to-school shopping is upon us. Like many parents or students, you may have a laptop on your shopping list. While you can certainly spend upwards of $1,000 on one of the latest laptops, there are many good deals to be had this season. We evaluated dozens of professional reviews and hundreds of user evaluations to find the best cheap laptops for our just updated report. Here are just a few of the best choices for students.
You want: A lightweight laptop that is easy to carry to class
The top pick: Acer Aspire TimelineX AS3830TG-6431 (*Est. $750)
Ultraportable laptops can be very expensive, but the 4-pound Acer Aspire TimelineX AS3830TG-6431 is an outstanding value for less than $800. The 13.3-inch laptop is easily portable, and six hours of battery life will last through multiple classes. The Acer laptop also benefits from a second-generation Intel Core processor and discrete Nvidia graphics, but don't mistake this for a gaming rig.
You want: A cheap laptop suitable for light gaming
The top pick: Asus K53E-B1 (*Est. $720)
While serious gamers should look for a gaming laptop with discrete graphics, the 15.6-inch Asus K53E-B1 has enough power for playing most games, although at reduced settings. The Asus laptop has a second-generation Core processor and roomy 640 GB hard drive, and while its integrated graphics may be limiting for hardcore gamers, reviewers say casual users will come away impressed. "Sandy Bridge brings with it an integrated graphics chip that's many times more powerful (according to 3DMark06 and Crysis tests) than that of its predecessor, so it can handle many 3D games at base settings," says Cisco Cheng at PCMag.com.
You want: A super-cheap laptop that doesn't perform like one
The top pick: HP ProBook 4525s XT950UT (*Est. $450)
If your budget is really tight, there are a number of laptops available at stores like Walmart or Best Buy for less than $400. Unfortunately, most of these ultra-cheap laptops have significant downsides, including less powerful CPUs or so-so build quality. However, the HP ProBook 4525s XT950UT provides much better performance than its price would suggest. Owners say it's a great value that is suitable for most mainstream tasks, including surfing the web, sending emails and composing documents.
You can find more of the best back-to-school notebooks in our updated report on cheap laptops.