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Once upon a time, back-to-school shopping was as simple as picking up a few notebooks and pens. But now that laptops are an essential part of many students' lives, finding the right model is a top priority for shoppers.
Buying a laptop that checks off all your boxes can get expensive fast, but it doesn't necessarily have to. There are plenty of quality, affordable laptops for students, and TODAY sought the help of technology experts to source the best ones for fall 2019.
What to look for
With so many options available, finding the best affordable laptop can seem daunting at first. After all, you want to find one that fits your budget without sacrificing any details on your wish list.
The key to finding an affordable laptop for the back to school season is really quite simple, though. It's best to start by asking yourself what qualities are most important to you.
Consider these three laptop features to start:
- Portability: If you're a student on the run from class to class, portability is key. "Most people should get a 13- to 14-inch laptop that weighs under 3.5 pounds, preferably under 3 pounds, and gets at least eight hours of battery life," said Avram Piltch, editor in chief of Tom's Hardware.
- Comfort: When you're constantly typing, a comfortable keyboard becomes essential. "Since writing essays and taking notes in class will probably make up a large part of your day in college or high school, you should look for a lightweight laptop with a comfortable keyboard," said Tom Brant, senior analyst and laptop expert for PCMag.
- Power/performance: Treat your laptop like a workhorse? You might want something with a bit more power. "If you’re going to graphic design school or like playing PC games, a more powerful laptop might be a better decision," Brant said. "You can find gaming laptops these days starting at around $700 with decent graphics processors, but they almost always sacrifice portability and battery life."
The best affordable laptops for students
"Over 11 hours of battery life and a screen with a blinding brightness of over 400 nits are highlights of this gorgeous and affordable laptop," Piltch said.
"Chromebooks can offer excellent value and are surprisingly versatile," Brant said. "One of our favorites is the HP Chromebook x2, whose keyboard can detach to let you use it as a tablet."
"This 15-inch laptop is a bit on the heavy side, but it has a large, high-res screen and long battery life for a very reasonable price," Piltch said.
"This lightweight ultrabook has a strong Core i5 processor, a spacious 512GB SSD and a sharp 1080p screen," Piltch said.
"This compact, classy computer is a great option for those who prefer conventional laptops," Brant said.
"Apple fans should consider the 13-inch MacBook Pro instead of the MacBook Air for the best blend of price and features," Brant said.