Best Budget Notebooks for Grads

by Reads (11,854)

There’s a lot to consider when buying a notebook for college. To make it easier, NotebookReview compiled a list of features to consider when buying a notebook for college. However, sometimes the most important facet is cost. College is expensive and, with all the added expenses, sometimes there isn’t enough money to spend on a high-end device.

But don’t fret; just because its budget doesn’t mean it’s not quality. It’s still possible to find a great machine at an affordable price. You simply have to know what you want, and be willing to concede on the things you don’t need.

Here’s a list of five great notebooks that can help you achieve higher education without the higher price point. 

Dell Inspiron 13zDell Inspiron 13z-9318sLV: $500

The Dell Inspiron 13z is perfect for the all-around student. This 13-inch device is the “jack of all trades” of budget notebooks. Not excelling in any one area, the Inspiron 13z delivers on all fronts offering suitable performance design and comfort.

The 13-inch notebook isn’t sleek, but its form factor is small enough to make the notebook comfortable to carry to and from class. It also offers a strong level of performance thanks to the device 1.7GHz i5-core processor, and its 8GB of RAM allows the device to multi-task with relative ease. Using the notebook itself is also a pleasure thanks to the high-quality touchpad and keyboard.

The most notable deterrent for the Inspiron 13z is its limited battery life lasting roughly 3 hours with continuous use. Users looking to have this notebook out on the go will also likely need to bring the charger with them, which can make the portable device a bit more a burden to lug around.

Besides that there’s not too much to complain about. The machine may not wow in any one area, but it delivers on all fronts, and that’s pretty impressive given its affordable price.

For more information see the Dell Inspiron 13z full review.


Lenovo G580Lenovo G580: $480

The Lenovo G580 isn’t the most beautiful notebook, but don’t let its brutish exterior fool you. Behind its bulky form, the Lenovo G580 offers a solid set of specs that are very appealing for its entry-level price point.

Likely the most powerful notebook on this list, the Lenovo G580 offers an impressive amount of performance thanks to its 2.5GHz Intel i5 processor. The machine is also capable of juggling multiple applications with its 4GB of RAM. Similar to many other budget devices, the notebooks limiting factor is its intergrade Intel HD 4000 graphics, meaning the notebook will struggle with graphic intensive functions such as video editing.

The most notable downside to the Lenovo G580 is its bulky design. Despite the notebook’s large size, its less than durable with a flimsy build that easily gives to pressure. The notebook will hold up under normal conditions, but users looking to travel consistently will have to be careful.

While the Lenovo G580 certainly has its faults, the machine offers impressive performance along with a comfortable keyboard and touchpad making it a pleasure to use. The Lenovo G580 is great for users who don’t travel often.

For more information see the Lenovo G580 full review.

HP Pavilion dm1zHP Pavilion dm1z:

Two years typically makes any technical device a fossil, but don’t let this notebooks age fool you; it’s still a great budget device. Released in 2011, the HP Pavilion dm1z is the epitome of netbooks. Offering the perfect combination of performance and portability, the dm1z is ideal for students on-the-go. The small form factor makes it easy to tout to class; while the machine’s AMD Dual-Core E1-200 processor ensures that it aids students in their academic endeavors.  The HP Pavilion dm1z will prove more than adequate for normal functions and word processing, and thanks to the Radeon HD 7300, the device can even play older games like Left for Dead 2 with minimal performance drop. However, more performance intensive functions such as new gamers will prove to be too much for this budget device.

Unfortunately, as with most budget devices there are a few downsides to the HP dm1z. Being a slightly older machine, the notebook is also a bit bulkier compared to newer products on the market; and it’s a bit heavier as well, as the 11-inch device weighs as much as many of today’s 13-inch notebooks.

That being said, the HP Pavilion dm1z still offers an impressive amount of performance for a very affordable price. Great for users who want portability, affordability, and just a little extra kick in their device.

For more information on the device see the HP Pavilion dm1z review.


HP Sleekbook 15zHP Pavilion Sleekbook 15z:  $480

With its vibrant 15.6-inch screen and solid audio the HP Pavilion Sleekbook is ideal for users who want great visuals and only need minimal performance.

The highlight of the HP Pavilion is its LED-Backlit 15.6-inch touch enabled display. The display offers a crisp image with great color contrast and its touch-enabled controls work great with Windows 8. The HP Pavilion 15z also offers solid audio, making the notebook great for watching media and with 750GB hard drive, there is plenty of room to store movies and music.

The HP Pavilion Sleekbook 15z isn’t without its flaws though, as this notebook is likely the weakest on the list. Equipped with a 1.7GHz AMD Quad-Core A8 processor, the HP is capable of handling most basic computing functions, but anything more than that heavily taxes the machine. To be fair, the 6GB of RAM do help with multi-tasking, but the machine still struggles to juggle more than a few processes at the same time.

Users who need serious performance will find the HP Pavilion Sleekbook 15z lacking, but those that simply want to do the basics will love its sharp visuals and sound.

For more information on the device see the HP Pavilion Sleekbook 15z review

Sony VAIO E Series (SVE11113FXW): $520

The 11-inch Sony VAIO E Series is similar to the HP Pavilion dm1z. This bargain notebook is a netbook alternative that offers affordable performance, while not as robust as the dm1z; it does come in a slightly smaller form factor.

The VAIO is equipped with an AMD E2-1800 1.2GHz processor, with 4GB of RAM, and AMD Radeon HD 7340 graphics card. The 4GB of RAM make the VAIO a bit better at multi-tasking than the Pavilion, but the slower processing power lowers overall performance. However, despite its lower processing capabilities, the VAIO is still more than capable of taking on basic computing functions such as word processing and web browsing.

Similar to the dm1z, the downside of the Sony VAIO E Series is its slightly bulky frame. However, given the device’s low price and reasonable performance, the VAIO E Series is still a viable budget device with something to offer.

Looking for more technology gift ideas for moms, dads or grads?  Go to our MDG Special Report Buyer’s Guide for top picks and articles from across our sites!



All content posted on TechnologyGuide is granted to TechnologyGuide with electronic publishing rights in perpetuity, as all content posted on this site becomes a part of the community.