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5 Best Cheap Laptops for Students

written by: Arnold Zafra•edited by: Rebecca Scudder•updated: 9/14/2009

Just in time for the opening of the new school year, you may be on the look out for a new laptop for your kids who are going back to school. If you're on a tight budget, check out the five best cheap laptops for students available in the market today. Price ranges no higher than $600.

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    Acer Aspire Timeline AS3810TZ-4880

    acer-timeline-3810-hero-450 This 13.3" Acer Timeline laptop is loaded with all the goodies that your kids would love to have. It is among the first models in Acer's newest timeline series of ultraportable and cheap machines. This machine boasts of more than 8 hours of battery life, making an "all day computing" laptop. It's no Mac Book Air and yet almost as thin at less than an inch thickness. You kids won't easily tire out carrying this machine around as it only weighs 3.5 pounds. Another notable feature of the Acer Timeline AS3810TZ-4880 is its multi-gesture touchpad which allows pinch, flick and swirl controls using your fingers. It also allows you to scroll, zoom in and out and flip through web pages.

    Featuring an elegant and high-tech design, the machine's body is made of stylish brushed aluminum finish for solid protection. And lest we forget, this laptop is made of lead and mercury free materials, making it easier to be recycled. As for the technical goodies, the Acer Timeline AS 3810TZ-4880 features a Single Core 1.3GHz Intel Pentium SU2700 processor, 320GB HDD, 4GB of RAM, Intel Graphics Media Accelerator 4500MHD, Windows Vista Home Premium (Price: $549.99)

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    Toshiba Satellite L305-S5961

    toshiba-l305-duo-800 At its price point, the Toshiba Satellite L305-S5961 still boasts of powerful features such as a 2.0 GHz Intel Pentium T4200 processor. It lets you stay connected through 54G Wi-Fi networking which is what students often need today. This laptop also has a 15.4-inch XGA-resolution LCD with 1280x800 resolution which is perfect for viewing multiple application screens or even for watching widescreen movies on DVD. You can burn music and videos using its dual-layer DVD RW drive. Other goodies inside the Toshiba Satellite L305-S5961 laptop include a 250GB HDD, 2GB of RAM, Intel GMA 4500M video card with up to 830MB of shared video RAM, Windows Vista Home Premium, and some valuable networking, connectivity and expansion ports, including USB 2.0, Expresscard slot, VGA out, microphone/line and stereo headphones/speakers/line-out. (Price: $474.99)

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    Compaq Presario CQ60-420US

    Compaq Presario CQ60-420US Compaq Presario's entry on our list is the classic-looking CQ60-420US laptop. Characterized by simple thin lines, iconic touchpad design and sleek touch control panel, the CQ60-420US laptop is made with a glossy black imprint finish and has a silver panel that covers its palm rest and touchpad area.

    Technically, the Compaq Presario CQ60-420US is a loaded machine with Intel Pentium Procesor T4200, Intel Graphics Media Accelerator 4500M, 3GB of RAM, 250GB HDD, SuperMulti 8x DVD-R/RW with LightScribe and Double Layer Support, 15.6-inch diagonal 16:9 HD HP BrightView Display with 1366x768 native resolution. The OS is genuine Windows Vista Home Premium 32-bit edition with Service Pack 1. With all these features and a cheap price tag, this notebook is worth serious consideration. (Price: $479.99 with rebate)

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    Gateway NV5213u

    Gateway NV5213u The Gateway NV5213u laptop is another cheap laptop loaded with powerful features. It is packed with AMD Athlon 64 X2 QL-64 Dual-Core Processor, 15.6-inch HD WXGA Ultrabright LED-backlit display, AMD780G Chipset, 4096MB Dual-Channel RAM, ATI Radeon HD 3200 Graphics, and a 320GB HDD. Still not convinced that this laptop is good? How about if we throw in a multi-in-1 digital media card reader, Wi-Fi, integrated webcam, 2nd generation Dolby Sound Room Audio Enhacement, built-in stereo speakers, USB ports, HDMI port, Touchpad Lock, and a 6-cell Li-ion battery. With a machine as power-packed as this one, no wonder it can run Windows Vista Home Premium 64-bit SP1. (Price: $529.99)

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    MSI CR600-013US 16-Inch Notebook

    MSI CR600-013US In the traditional laptop market, MSI is somewhat under rated. This may be because most MSI laptops are not enticing enough in terms of design and form factor. Take the case of the MSI CR-600-013US 16-inch laptop. I mean, it's your straight-out black laptop case in a classic chassis that most kids will probably not love. But deep inside this machine sits some powerful specs that include an Intel T4200 2.0GHz CPU, NVIDIA video graphics GeForce 8200M-G, VRAM graphic memory share, LCS screen Type WXGA (16:9) with 1366x768 resolution and 3GB SO DIMM Slot 2 RAM. In addition, this machine also packs in a 320GB HDD, Supermulti DVD/RW, WLAN support, 1.3MP webcam, USB 2.0 ports, card reader and 6-cell battery pack. It comes with Genuine Windows Vista Home Premium 32-bit edition with Service Pack 1.It comes with Vista Home Premium. I use to own an MSI PR400X laptop before and I can honestly attest to the durability and high level of performance of the MSI laptops. (Price: $507.06)

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    Free Window 7 Upgrade from Vista

    It is also a great time to buy one of these laptops right now, because Microsoft is offering a free Upgrade to the equivalent Windows 7 OS when purchased from the beginning of July to January 31, 2010. All Vista editions are eligible except for Vista Home Basic.