To function effectively with lesson planning, organizing, and marking, teachers need a quality and reliable laptop with versatile functionality. Whether you are an experienced educator or just starting with your first class this semester, you do not need to break the bank to find the performance you need in a laptop to perform well in class. We’ve reviewed the best cheap laptop for teachers.
What do teachers need in a laptop?
Beyond the necessary specifications, one should look for in a quality laptop such as processor speed, RAM, and screen size, teachers, should look for other characteristics that are specific to their professional requirements.
These include qualities such as a solid keyboard for writing and word processing tasks of all kinds and various adapter ports for presentation equipment and other accessories. One should also consider the weight of a laptop if one is continuously commuting between the school or university and home.
Portability is important. Battery life is also a vital consideration, as one needs to be sure that one’s laptop will not cut out in the middle of class or when you need to finish marking on a deadline. Although it is not critical, teachers should also think about software compatibility with their laptops in case-specific educational programs require more familiar operating systems.
In other words, it might be wise to stick with Windows and Apple iOS as operating systems for a work computer. But most importantly for the present article is the overall cost of the laptop. Teachers should not have to spend too much money on a computer that is primary for work-related functions.
Best cheap laptops for teachers in 2020
The learning objective of the following list is to impart some guidance on quality laptops for teachers that fall under the $500 price point. Read on to discover some great deals that meet these criteria.
Rated as “Amazon Choice” for many solid reasons. It is at the top of this list as well because it represents outstanding value for the cost. At only 2.65 pounds, it is extremely lightweight and easy to carry around. It is fairly rugged and durable and advertised as being able to withstand a drop of 3.9 feet.
This will come in handy if one of your pupils knocks it off of your desk! It comes with a 1.6 GHz Intel Celeron processor and the Chrome OS, so it is sure to operate educational software with high speed. With an 11.6 inch screen, 4 GB of RAM, and 16 GB of eMMC storage space, its specifications are reasonable. With integrated Intel HD graphics, you should not have any problems running basic applications.
- Excellent price.
- Limited gaming capability.
- No backlighting on the keyboard.
The Acer Aspire E15 is a reasonable choice for teachers on a budget. Its specifications are all solid and mid-range for its price point. These include an Intel i3 Core with a top processing speed of 2.2 GHz, 6 GB of RAM, and 1 TB of HDD storage capacity. Its build is reasonably weighted at a durable 5.27 pounds. However, with up to 13.5 hours of battery life, you should be able to make it through recess and lunch without having to recharge.
The 15.6” HD screen and integrated graphics make for a sharp display. Overall, it represents a very solid option for educators who do not want to overextend their resources.
- Long battery life.
- Many USB ports for increased accessory options.
- HDD storage rather than SDD storage.
This setup also lands on Amazon’s Choice list for many reasons. For the price, it contains excellent specifications that can directly improve any teaching applications you might encounter. The Intel Celeron 3855U processor is capable of 1.60 GHz, and with 4 GB of RAM and 16 GB of eMMC storage space, you should not encounter any problems while creating and saving your lesson plans.
It also has the Chrome OS pre-installed, which is a speedy alternative to Windows. The 13.3-inch screen is compact but reasonable and displays up to 1366×768 pixels. Overall, it represents a good choice not only for Amazon but also for teaching professionals who ultimately prefer the simplicity of Chrome over Windows or iOS.
- Good layout of the keyboard.
- Excellent build quality.
- Slightly heavy.
- The screen is lacking compared to similarly priced laptops.
Chromebooks of all types seem to be solid computers at reasonable prices, and so it is not surprising that they populate this list. The HP Chromebook is no exception. With an entry-level Intel Celeron N3060 1.6 GHz dual-core processor, 4 GB of RAM, and 16 GB of eMMC storage space, with this setup, you find all of the essentials that you need for speed and efficiency in contemporary computing.
Again, this gem also finds itself on Amazon’s Choice list. Its screen comes in at only 11.6 inches, which may be a sticking point for some who need more viewing space. However, the display contains antiglare protection, which may improve viewing angles when mixing between sitting and standing while delivering a class.
As with all Chromebooks, it comes standard with the Chrome OS. It also includes many ports for optimizing accessory use.
- Long battery life.
- Great for speedy word processing and internet browsing tasks.
- Some compatibility issues with printers.
- The screen is comparatively small.
5. Acer Spin 1
The Acer Spin is actually a two-in-one laptop/tablet combination, and if you need to hold your setup in your hand while delivering a class, this might be the ideal choice for you.
While the processor is on the lower-end (Intel Celeron N3350 with 1.1 GHz), the 4 GB of RAM and 32 GB of storage space are both reasonable. The 11.6-inch screen is on the small side, but the trade-off here is that as a tablet, it is highly portable and durable.
It does come complete with a stylus pen in case you require more detailed work on your presentations or lesson plans. With up to 9 hours of battery life, you are also sure to get all of your work done on a single charge before the home bell rings.
- It comes with a stylus pen.
- A two-in-one setup allows for flexibility.
- Lightweight at only 3.31 pounds.
- Lower-end processor.
This quality offering from Acer features an upgraded version that breaks past the $500 price point, but the basic version falls within the budget of this article and is a great value. It comes complete with an Intel i3 processor with maximum speeds of up to 2.4 GHz, 8 GB of RAM, and 1 TB of storage space.
These are all excellent specifications for the price point, and no educator will be disappointed with the speed and efficiency it generates in running any applications you would need.
With a 15.6” display that is capable of Full HD and a sharp 16:9 aspect ratio, any presenting you need to do with this setup will be sure to be clear. It also comes with a wide variety of ports and plugin possibilities for any accessories you might be required to use as didactic aids.
- Incredible specifications for the price point.
- Backlit keyboard for night owl teachers.
- HDD storage space rather than SDD.
- Slightly on the heavy side at 7 pounds.
This brand-new masterpiece of a laptop is sure to please teachers who have great ideas that require an Ideapad to jot them down on. There are several different variants available for purchase, with the best one falling just over the $500 price point. The version reviewed here has an entry-level Intel Celeron N3350 processor capable of 1.10 GHz, 4 GB of RAM, and a choice between 256 GB SSD or up to 1 TB of SSD storage capacity depending on your budget.
The 15.6” HD screen is sharp, and the integrated graphics can display a variety of basic programs with ease. It also comes complete with a USB port and HDMI port (excellent for presenting), and combination headphone/microphone jack for any online teaching you might do.
- Excellent performance and speedy boot-up for those who need to start their class right away.
- High storage capacity for the price (with the possibility of upgrading even higher).
- Bulky size.
- Lower quality speakers.
8. HP Stream
The HP Stream is a good choice for those teachers who want quality performance without spending too much on a laptop primarily for work tasks. All of the essential specifications are here. It contains an Intel Celeron processor capable of 1.6 GHz, 4 GB RAM, and a decent 32 GB of storage space.
It has a clear 14-inch screen with a backlit display that makes it ideal for HD streaming. Its bright and colorful design makes it appropriate for a teaching environment, and its textured groove patterning in the build makes it comfortable for typing out your next multiple-choice pop-quiz. It is highly portable at a mere 3.8 pounds. In sum, consider this option if you want quality basics for a reasonable price.
- Comfortable keyboard for typing.
- Highly lightweight and portable.
- Battery life is in the low range at up to 7 hours.
If you can find a respectable seller of this incredibly efficient machine, make the educated choice to check out this offer from ASUS. It has mostly excellent specifications for the price. It comes with 4 GB of RAM and 500 GB of hard drive storage space, which makes it a reasonable value for the price.
The battery life is on the lower-end at approximately six hours per charge. However, it does have a variety of accessory ports, including a USB 2.0 port and two USB 3.0 ports.
The integrated Intel graphics are solid and reliable for teaching purposes. At 5.1 pounds, it is also light enough to be portable from classroom to classroom. One of the big pluses here is the 15.6-inch Full HD display. The Intel i3 Core processor is also capable of 2.1 GHz, which is lightning fast for this price point.
- The keyboard is comfortable for typing and ergonomically designed.
- Beyond hard drive, specifications are excellent for the price.
- Lacks a Steady State Drive (SSD).
- Battery life is only estimated at 6 hours.
10. Dell Inspiron
This Dell machine comes in a variety of specification options, and only the basic version is presented here in the interest of saving money. But even this entry-level choice stands out from the crowd.
It is powered by an Intel i3 processor capable of up to 2.3 GHz. This makes for very efficient working functionality. The 8 GB of RAM and 1 TB of storage space are also highly respectable. The weight of the build is reasonable at only 4.85 pounds, so you can carry it between home and the school with ease. The screen is also large at an HD capable of 15.6 inches.
- Backlit keyboard for those working after class hours.
- Many USB ports.
- HDD instead of SDD storage space.
- Consider upgrading to the slightly better versions for more advanced specifications.
This compact relative of the Dell Inspiron listed above is a high-performance laptop that is priced extremely well. The display is only 11.6 inches, but depending on your requirements, this might be just the small and durable setup you need. It has a speedy 2.5 GHz AMD A-Series processor, 4 GB of RAM, and 32 GB of SSD storage space.
It even has a dedicated AMD graphics card in case you need to make any high-performance applications for your lessons. At only 2.65 pounds, it is also highly lightweight. All in all, it is an incredible deal for a brand new product.
- Amazing specifications for the price.
- Many ports (USB, HDMI, etc.).
- Small screen (though not necessarily a con depending on your requirements).
- Comparatively small storage capacity (consider investing in an external hard drive).
Teaching should be a labor of love, and hopefully, this list of quality computers at a budget price point can help it be that way. The above list represents the very best of those laptops falling in under $500 and should be a good start for educators who like to research these things on their own. See you in class!
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