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best hp laptops for college students under 500

Best HP Laptops Under $500 to Gift College Students this Holiday

Dwight Pavlovic
Reading time: 10 minutes

When you’re shopping around for a well-priced laptop for college, one of the most critical parts of your search is the research done prior to your purchase. Because laptops play such a big role in the way students live, study, and work, there are some important things to think about beforehand.
From the classroom to home, from leisure to a big homework assignment, the pace and variety of student life usually demand more than just a one-note solution. Your major and the type of coursework you pursue can lead to any number of different needs, whether it’s longer battery life or a bigger display. That’s why we’ve put together a laptop buying guide that sets the bar for devices with attainable prices and robust key features to help you find the best laptop under $500.
You can also find all you'll need for the school year, whether you're a student or teacher, on our HP Back to School Guide, featuring bundles and curated PC and accessory options picked for your specific education needs. For special discounts every day of up to 40% on tech for school, join the HP Education Store Program - no student ID is required!
Be sure to check out our HP Holiday Gift Guide for deals on tech gifts and more this season. You’ll find everything from budget-friendly and family gifts to tech stocking stuffers and this year’s top holiday gifts. With our holiday gifts guide, you’re sure to find something for anyone – and at any price point, whether it’s desktops, laptops, printers, PC accessories, gaming gear, and more.

Things to keep in mind while shopping

Although your budget is ultimately paramount, there’s more to this search than simply looking at the price. That means there are a few things to keep in mind if you want to stay closer to your desired budget without losing out over time either through unexpected costs or shortfalls in functionality.
Your schedule
First and foremost, you should know what your coursework requires and have an idea of the most important features to prioritize while you shop. Which classes you will be taking will influence your needs. Will you be studying on-the-go, or heading back to your dorm room for most of your study sessions?
Whether it’s graphics and display performance, longer battery life, or higher capacity local storage, this bit of research will help you narrow down your selection.
Portability is another important laptop concern related to the weight, size, and battery life of your new device. If you’re already lugging around a lot of books, you may not want a laptop with a huge display that adds extra inches and pounds to your routine.
Similarly, Ultra High Definition (UHD) and 4K monitors tend to use up your battery faster than standard Full High Definition, so prioritize which features you really need before you buy. Workstation laptops with higher processing power and dedicated graphics cards also consume a lot of power and can reduce what you get from a single battery charge.
Having a good foundation for your visual experience is important, but if it’s not a major part of your routine, then skipping a graphics-focused setup may be the best option for your budget and future use.
Storage space
Most students require access to a certain amount of storage space. There’s a lot that can come up between audio and visual files, archives, PDFs, and so on, so having everything you need to maintain good storage habits is important.
With some laptops shifting more of their processes to the cloud, namely the HP Chromebook, many traditional features have seen changes, including storage space. And even if you choose a laptop that doesn’t utilize cloud-based apps, it’s becoming increasingly easy to shift a large part of your storage to online solutions like Google Drive.
Depending on how you shop, embracing this change can save you a lot of money and potentially streamline the configuration you end up purchasing. More minimal processors and trimmed-down hardware specs can also save on battery life. But if you don’t think you can always depend on a strong internet connection for cloud storage, you’ll find plenty of equally reliable options in our guide.
Convertible features
Convertible laptops are relatively new and combine the functionality of a laptop and a tablet. This is accomplished by the inclusion of a strong hinge and chassis that allows users to convert from one mode (traditional laptop) to another (tablet) simply by adjusting their display or even removing the keyboard. Plus, there is often a range of in-between modes to explore that optimize other experiences, like tent mode for watching videos.
Convertibles offer a new level of portability to just about anyone. However, their flexible work modes are particularly great for anyone devoted to streaming or starting out in a creative field and eager to get hands-on with their work. You can easily identify these models within HP by looking for “x360” in the name of the device.

The best laptops for college students under $500

Finding the most robust laptops at this price point may seem like a challenge, but you’ll soon learn there’s a strong variety of styles and features available from HP.
For example, until relatively recently convertible and touch screen features would have been scarce on a list of budget laptops, but the selection in this guide has several of them.
We’ll start out with streamlined models like the HP Chromebooks that offer a simplified experience while they shift some of the heavy lifting to the cloud. Then, we have 2-in-1 laptop models, touch screen laptop options, and several different display configurations in our roundup of HP’s best budget laptops under $500.

HP Chromebook 14” Laptop

HP Chromebook 14a-na1097nr
From its Chrome OS operating system to its touch screen display, the HP Chromebook 14a-na1097nr is a delight and easy to use. It seamlessly integrates with your Google account, providing quick access to the Google Workspace suite of apps and the Google Play Store for more.
Its Intel® Pentium® Silver processor delivers the power to multitask between any school work at your fingertips and communicate with teachers or classmates with ease. And with flash storage, you’ll see efficient speeds without breaking the bank.
This Chromebook’s High-Definition touch screen also gives you the ability to swipe and tap between apps and games, and interact with your display in new ways. You can enjoy 4K movies or video games at 720p resolution with the integrated Intel UHD graphics card.
You won’t worry about battery life in the middle of class, either. With up to 11 hours of battery life and support for fast charge of about 50% in 45 minutes, this Chromebook can hang out all day. At about 3.2 lbs, you’ll want to bring this laptop along anywhere campus life takes you.
Specs at a glance:
  • Processor: Intel Pentium Silver
  • RAM: 4GB memory
  • Storage: 64GB eMMC storage
  • Graphics: Intel UHD graphics

HP Chromebook x360 14” laptop

HP Chromebook x360 14b-cb0097nr
Use your laptop how you need to, whether that’s in traditional, tent, or tablet mode. The HP Chromebook x360 14b-cb0097nr’s HD, micro-edge touch screen gives you the freedom to compute in which mode is most comfortable for you.
How ever you use this Chromebook, you can expect all-day use, with up to 13 hours and 30 minutes of battery life. This laptop also supports fast charge of 50% in about 45 minutes, so even if you start to run low on juice, you can get back up to speed in no time.
Even though you can use this laptop in various modes, it still includes a full-size keyboard – so you won’t have to adjust to a new way of typing. And with an Intel Pentium Silver processor under the hood, it can handle whatever work comes your way. At about 3.5 lbs, this convertible packs power while remaining portable.
You can also connect a monitor, mouse, docking hub, and more via its two USB-C or one USB-A ports, expanding your work area even further.
Specs at a glance:
  • Processor: Intel Pentium Silver
  • RAM: 8GB memory
  • Storage: 128GB eMMC storage
  • Graphics: Intel UHD graphics

HP Chromebook 15” laptop

HP Chromebook 15a-na0047nr
With a Full High-Definition 1920 x 1080 resolution display, the HP Chromebook 15a-na0047nr brings what you love about Chromebook into a larger package. You can enjoy your favorite movies or shows in 4K, or boot up a game with beautiful 720p visuals thanks to its Intel UHD graphics.
And if you find yourself trying to finish up any school work after some binge-watching, you can depend on this Chromebook’s 10 hours and 30 minutes of battery life and support for fast charging.
With more time away from a charging port, you can traverse campus with this 3.7 lb laptop without a problem. Feel free to jump into a group project or meeting with its 720p HD camera, outfitted with noise reduction technology and dual microphones. And if you need to offload any vital materials from a mobile device to share, you can utilize HP Quick Drop to transfer files over in a flash.
Like others in its class, this 15-inch Chromebook has two USB-C ports that can connect to a docking station, monitor, and more to expand your working area.
Specs at a glance:
  • Processor: Intel Pentium Silver
  • RAM: 8GB memory
  • Storage: 64GB eMMC storage
  • Graphics: Intel UHD graphics

HP 14” laptop

HP Laptop 14z-em000
Reliable and efficient is one way to describe the HP 14z-em000 laptop. With a dependable AMD processor and graphics, and several ports – from USB-A to USB-C to HDMI – you’ll have no problem connecting with accessories and mowing through work. You can also customize this model up to an AMD Ryzen™ 5 7520U processor and 16GB of onboard memory.
You can also enjoy a little extra peace of mind when collaborating via its 720p HD camera, with a dedicated mute mic button on the keyboard. (You can also customize that camera to 1080p if you’re so inclined.)
Speaking of customization, this 14-inch laptop comes in five different color configurations, including jet black, natural silver, diamond white, moonlight blue, and warm gold finishes. It also contains ocean-bound plastics and is EPEAT® Gold registered and ENERGY STAR®-certified, so you know you’re supporting environmentally-friendly technology.
If your school work is piling up, you’ll love this laptop’s standard 128GB PCIe® NVMe™ M.2 solid-state drive (SSD) storage, which is customizable up to 1TB of storage. And for those staying up late to crank through another essay, this laptop supports fast charge of 50% in 45 minutes, so you’re never without power for too long.
Specs at a glance:
  • Processor: AMD Athlon™ Silver 7120U
  • RAM: 8GB onboard memory
  • Storage: 128GB PCIe NVMe M.2 SSD
  • Graphics: AMD Radeon™ Graphics

HP 15” laptop

HP Laptop 15z-fc000
More screen real estate is welcomed when it comes to school work. With this HP 15z-fc000 laptop, you’ll take tasks to town with 85% screen-to-body ratio, wide viewing angles, micro-edge display bezels, and up to 1920 x 1080 resolution and option IPS screen technology. All of that translates to crisper, more vibrant detail on whatever you’re working on or enjoying.
And you’ll look and sound your best in the virtual classroom with a 720p HD camera with noise reduction and dual microphones, customizable to a 1080p FHD camera. This 15-inch laptop also includes dedicated mute mic and emoji buttons for ease.
If you’re looking to expand your desk space for your favorite mouse or keyboard, you’ll have no problem with one USB-C and two USB-A ports – perfect for a docking hub for even more connections. And an HDMI port could allow for dual screens with another monitor.
If you really want to expand your capabilities, this laptop also gives you to options to bump your RAM up to 16GB (as dual 8GB) and SSD storage up to 1TB, to handle your unique workload.
Specs at a glance:
  • Processor: AMD Ryzen™ 5 7530U
  • RAM: 8GB DDR4-3200 SDRAM
  • Storage: 128GB PCIe NVMe M.2 SSD
  • Graphics: AMD Radeon Graphics


Everyone’s focus and experience at college is different, so it’s up to you to know a little about what your routine demands most. Fortunately, HP® has plenty of good laptops under $500 - and even some great ones well below that amount.
Whether your needs center on internet applications, visual software and graphics, or local storage capacity, there are options to help you save money and keep on top of schoolwork.
And if you’re looking for even more laptops to choose from, check out our list of the best HP laptops for students to help you find the right device for you.

About the Author

Dwight Pavlovic is a contributing writer for HP® Tech Takes. Dwight is a music and technology writer based out of West Virginia.

Disclosure: Our site may get a share of revenue from the sale of the products featured on this page.