Laptops are essential for many of us, but we know as well as anybody that they don’t come cheap — and being a student means that money is often tight at the best of times. Tuition, books, food, clothes, entertainment, and nights out all add up, leaving little left over when it’s time for a new PC. On top of that, buying a new laptop requires more thought than buying a new pair of earbuds, and it sometimes necessitates a bit of careful budget-stretching as well. To help lighten the load, we’ve rounded up the best student laptop deals available this month from the best laptop brands out there, with each one ringing in at less than a grand (and most for much less than that).
- HP Chromebook 11 –
- Dell Inspiron 15 3000 –
- HP Pavilion x360 14 2-in-1 –
- Acer Spin 5 13 2-in-1 —
- Apple MacBook Air M1 –
HP Chromebook 11 – $98, was $225
- Portable size
- Long battery life
- Relatively durable for its size
While some would say that the HP Chromebook 11 is a bargain bin computer, the truth is that it’s a surprisingly good all-arounder for the price point, even if it may not wow anybody.
In terms of specs, they’re about what you’d expect for a computer that you can pick up for just a couple hundred bucks. The CPU is an AMD A4, a basic mobile processor but more than enough to run ChromeOS. While you aren’t going to be a productivity powerhouse on the Chromebook 11a, you will be able to handle most productivity software you can get on ChromeOS, which is really what this computer is designed for. More importantly, the 11.6-inch screen with a 1366 x 768 is big enough to feel bigger than your average tablet while not so big that it becomes weight and a distraction.
As for the other specs, you get 4GB of RAM, so don’t open a dozen browser tabs, and 32GB of internal storage, which should be enough for most use cases, but you can always supplement it with one of our external hard drive deals. Interestingly enough, the Chromebook 11 does have an AMD Radeon R4 integrated GPU, which, while not the most powerful graphics out there, should be able to handle a few games from the Play store here and there.
Ultimately, the Chromebook 11 was created as a budget-friendly all-around device for those who really need a device to study (or even work) but can’t afford to drop several hundred dollars. On the bright side, it’s also pretty good for other general tasks, such as streaming, browsing, and even some light mobile gaming, so it’s a great deal overall.
Dell Inspiron 15 3000 – $323, was $430
- Large Display
- Good size for productivity
- Nice touchpad
- Comes with Windows 11
While we need to make certain concessions and compromises when it comes to budget computers, one thing we generally don’t like compromising on is usability, and that’s where the 15.6 inch screen of the Inspiron 15 3000 comes in. With a Full HD resolution and reasonably good size, it provides for a large amount of screen real estate for your apps and productivity, and not only that, but the larger size also means you get a relatively big keyboard to type on, which is always appreciate with a budget computer. Even better, the trackpad is surprisingly nice to use as it tracks well and is pretty big, so you won’t have to do some weird hand gymnastics to control your mouse. We’ll also mention the 720p webcam at the front, which is excellent if you need to do Zoom meetings with classmates for projects and whatnot.
In terms of pure specs, you get an 11th-gen Intel Core i3 CPU which is powerful enough to run most productivity software comfortably. Similarly, you get yourself 8GB of RAM and 128GB of internal storage, which is much more than a cheap Chromebook. For graphics, you get an integrated Intel UHD Graphics, which might let you play some simple indie games or games that don’t require a ton of resources. Or, you could just grab one of our desktop monitor deals to help with some extra productivity and screen real estate. Either way, the Inspiron 15 3000 works well across a variety of needs, whether it’s study, entertainment, or general use.
Overall, the Inspiron 15 3000 is a great alternative to tablets and Chromebooks, especially if you want something with a bigger screen and keyboard but don’t want to go over a $400 budget.
HP Pavilion x360 14 2-in-1 — $450, was $630
- Great performance
- Excellent keyboard
- Solid build quality
- Very portable for its size
2-in-1 laptops can be very handy, especially for studying and presenting work; unfortunately, they can be pretty expensive due to that convertibility, which is why it’s nice to see an affordable one that has some great specs.
Where the Pavilion x360 shines is in its screen with its 14-inch FHD resolution and IPS panel, providing some crisp and rich colors for when you’re drawing or writing. The hinges are also pretty sturdy, so there’s minimal wobble if you’re worried about that, although there is one downside: the peak brightness is 250nits, which isn’t necessarily bad, although 300 or 400 would have been nicer. Nonetheless, it’s not a deal-breaker, especially given the pen experience is pretty nice, with good palm rejection and could handle relatively fast movement, with the one caveat that the pressure pointing could be a bit better.
As for the specs, you get an 11th gen Intel i3-1125G4 which is a pretty powerful little CPU and should handle most productivity and general tasks that anybody but extreme power-users can throw at it. You also get 8GB of RAM, which is just at that sweet spot for general computer use, and should give you ample space to have a few tabs and apps open simultaneously without a slow down of the computer. You get Intel’s UHD Graphics, so while it could theoretically handle a little light gaming, don’t expect to be playing any AAA games at the highest settings.
While the Pavilion x360 starts getting up in price, it sits at a nice spot between budget computers and mid-tier computers, giving you just enough specs for an overall enjoyable experience without increasing the cost exorbitantly. So if you want something that works just as well for studying as it does for general use, this is likely the best bang for your buck.
Acer Spin 5 13 2-in-1 — $639, was $999
- Excellent performance
- Very compact and easy to carry
- Great battery life
- Gorgeous display
The Acer Spin lineup of laptops includes some of the best in the industry and often rank highly among our own favorites, so it’s not surprising that the Spin 5 is an excellent overall 2-in-1, and if you’re able to splurge a little, this is the laptop to get.
Portability is one of the biggest highlights of the Acer Spin, being incredibly thin and light for what you’re getting, making this a great day-to-day companion at school and uni without worrying about carrying around a heavy computer or something that takes up valuable space. Even though it’s a smaller laptop sporting a 13-inch screen with barely any bezel, it’s great to type on, with good action on the keys and a good layout that doesn’t make you feel constantly cramped as something smaller would. Equally important is the FHD screen, which has a smooth refresh rate and has touch capabilities, which isn’t super-important in this case, but is nice to have.
Internal specs include an Intel i5 CPU which should be able to handle most applications, and Intel Xe Graphics, which isn’t super powerful, but you might get a little bit of gaming out of it if you’re looking for that. Internal storage comes courtesy of a 512GB SSD, and the 16GB of RAM should be more than enough for most use cases unless you’re an extreme power user. Also, battery life is pretty impressive, and it comes with Wi-Fi and Bluetooth, so you have future-proof connectivity, at least until Wi-Fi 7 arrives and becomes widely available.
While the Acer Spin is a little bit on the pricier side, it’s a premium option for students who want a compact ultrabook with great performance and you get a lot of hardware for your money here. Plus, it looks really gorgeous, and that’s always a nice thing to have.
Apple MacBook Air M1 – $899, was $999
- Powerful M1 chip provides perfect performance
- Great battery life
- Lovely keyboard to use
- Runs completely silent
The M1 Apple Macbook Air hardly requires any introduction, although this year’s entry into the interval releases and updates is a rather large one, and that’s due to the inclusion of the M1. In fact, this is the first version of the Macbook Air that drops Intel CPUs altogether in favor of Apple’s M1 chip, adding the sort of detail and integration that only a company with complete control over the design could.
One of the first things you’ll notice with the new Macbook Air is that it makes hardly any noise at all, which is impressive given the performance of the M1, which can sometimes equal or even beat Intel’s Tiger Lake architecture. Pair that with the 8GB of RAM, and you get a laptop that is enjoyable to use and that can handle most productivity software handily, and the 256GB internal storage is also nice to have although slightly on the smaller side, so grabbing one of our external hard drive deals is probably warranted.
Another big change is the new Big Sur OS, which brings some interesting UI changes and overall flow to using the computer, which works well with the updated internals to provide overall excellent performance. As for the screen, it’s a 13.3-inch Retina Display and should be no surprise that it’s gorgeous, as is expected for displays that come from Apple, and even better, it can connect up to one external monitor for that extra screen space when you’re at a desk.
Overall, the Apple Macbook Air is an excellent little laptop for students already using Apple and want a great Apple computer without spending well over $1,000 for one of the premium options. Also, much like the XPS 13 touch, it’s gorgeous and thin, which is always a plus.
This can be a complex question to answer, depending on what sort of laptop you want to get and what brand you’re going for. The obvious answer is to wait for one of the big three sales periods, with the one that’s happening the soonest being Prime Day, predicted to be on July 18 and July 19. You’ll likely see a lot of great deals during then, although maybe not for Apple laptops since those sorts of deals tend to be few and far between, and they tend to happen around Apple’s release events. The next one of those will be in June, so you might see a few good Apple discounts then.
Beyond that, there’s Black Friday and Cyber Monday, which happen on the 25th and 28th of November respectively. You’ll also likely see some great laptop sales during those periods, especially Cyber Monday, although the caveat is that a lot of these are limited stock deals. That means that you really have to be on top of the sales for both days, and you can still miss out on a good discount if you wait too long to decide. It’s a big risk, but it might be worth checking what sort of stuff went for sale last year in your favorite shops and plan accordingly.
Of course, there are also a ton of sales throughout the year, which we like to keep on top of through our best laptop deals and best gaming laptop deals articles. Since we know that a lot of students are probably on tight budgets, we also like regularly update our best refurbished laptops deals for those who need to save money, and we even maintain some great Chromebook deals and tablet deals, both of which can sometimes be cheaper than a full-on laptop. Also, keep in mind that many retailers tend to have great sales around when school semesters start, so you might find some good back-to-school deals if you keep an eye out.
Ultimately, if the savings are minimal, it’s better to bite the bullet and get the product you want now. You never know when the discount might happen again or if it’s as steep as you expect it to be, so if it’s even $50 or $100 worth of savings, it might be a good idea to consider buying it outright. Even if the product you want does have a better deal down the road, you shouldn’t feel bad for something you couldn’t possibly know. So the guidance here is to buy what you like if you need it and can afford it and not worry too much about waiting for the potentially best deal possible.