I Tested And Ranked The Best Budget Laptops for Engineering Students In 2024

If you are an Engineering Student and need a laptop that you can rely on, I’m here to help you make the best choice on your next purchase.

Please be advised that the prices and ratings provided are accurate as of the time of writing.

1. Acer Aspire 3 A315-24P-R7VH Slim Laptop

Top-rated: 36,978 ratings

Acer Aspire 3 A315-24P-R7VH Slim Laptop

Credit: Amazon.com

Informative Review: “This has been an absolutely great laptop for me. It’s plenty fast enough for normal use, I find 14″ to be great for portability, the screen is nice and bright, the trackpad works great, they keyboard has a sensible layout and feels nice, there’s pretty good port selection, and the overall look-and-feel are great. The included sleeve is a nice bonus as well.

I already have a gaming desktop, so my main usage for this is when travelling, and sometimes if I’m not in my office it’s pretty convenient to have something to poke around and shop or whatever with. I’ve also had good success remote streaming games from my primary system with it.

I think the main thing here is to keep speed expectations in check – if you’re a heavy PC user and looking for a primary computer, you may find the specs limiting here.

It’s very responsive under normal load, but it won’t handle gaming or anything heavily performance-bound. The 8 GB of RAM might at some point be a limiting factor, but today it’s plenty for normal usage.

As a secondary PC or a primary for someone who’s not doing much beyond the basics, I think it’s plenty fast enough.

The laptop is affordable but to me doesn’t feel “cheap”. Sure it’s plastic construction, but it’s very well laid-out. I haven’t had any quibbles over the physical layout or construction, and if I’m being honest the performance is a bit more than I was expecting. For what it’s worth I had far more complaints about my work-issued Dell workstation that costs 10 times this much.

At the end of the day I think the laptop is easy to recommend so long as it’s the class of PC you’re in the market for; no compromises except heavy workstation/gaming performance you can’t do at this price anyway.” – Jeremy Edward Rann

Another Helpful Review: “This laptop should perform well for most uses except heavy gaming or video/photo editing. Overall for $292 this laptop cant be beat. If it lasts a year I will be extremely happy. Time will tell regarding longevity.

Important tips: 11/5/23

*You must update the system BIOS as soon as possible as there is a flaw which causes poor performance on battery power.

*This item includes Windows 11 with “S” mode enabled. At the very least you need to remove this mode and without a microsoft account it is not straightforward to do so.
*Install Windows 10 instead. Use the Windows ISO USB media creation tool. Save an image of the current SSD drive.. create a recovery thumb drive and then wipe the SSD.

Doing a clean Win10 install from a USB stick does not require a new license key! The Win11 key automatically applies to the newly installed Windows 10 Home version.

Go to the Acer website and download/install all the newest available drivers for your model.
*Ditch (save) the power adapter and charge it instead with a USB-C – USB-C cable.

Very acceptable screen quality for this price range.
Measured USB and NVME speeds are good
Decently built and should hold up to light abuse
With proper drivers the CPU/GPU seem more than sufficient for light tasks
Good battery life and seems to run cool with little fan noise

There is no keyboard backlight despite the listing description
You cannot upgrade this laptop. Internally there is no spot for a second drive and as far as I can tell no way to increase the RAM.
The touchpad and buttons require more force than usual.
No page up or page down buttons
No ethernet or SD card ports
Hobbled Win11 OS requiring more than the average skill to get right.” – B.L.

2. HP 14 Laptop, Thin & Portable

Top-rated: 629 ratings

HP 14 Laptop, Thin & Portable

Credit: Amazon.com

Informative Review: “I bought this little laptop as a back up for work. Because it came with Office 365, 2 people can work at the same time or we can watch Netflix while working when we are not busy. Perfect for slow days. Seems to work as directed and was easy to set up. The touch screen function is tricky. Had a little trouble with that but otherwise, it works fine.” – diann sims

Another great Review: “I am an Apple guy through and through, however I needed a windows laptop to use a tuning app for my vehicles that is only supported by Windows. For what I need it for, this laptop is perfect. Besides that, it’s good for browsing the web.

I wouldn’t recommend using it for much more than that. It does not have much memory and the screen isn’t the clearest. But again, if you need a basic Windows laptop, you can’t go wrong with this at this price point. It was painfully slow when I booted it up for the first time, but it seems that once it updated and loaded everything it needed to, it’s reasonably quick as long as you don’t over burden it with tasks.” – Tyler J Martin

More Review: “I absolutely love this sleek, light weight, durable, AFFORDABLE laptop. I am on the go alot, so it is easy just to throw into any backpack or purse and it fit perfectly! It isn’t packed full of a bunch of different pre loaded apps and whatnots. Just the basics, and a few added pluses! Keyboard and mouse response is perfect, screen is clear and crisp and web searching is quick! This really is a great laptop for the price! I highly recommend it!” – Lisa Bell

Another Review: “This laptop is good enough for school projects/ research projects and online shopping, watching netflix. it is not very loud and the speaker is on top right by the keyboard which i dont like. It’s not heavy, small and easy to carry around. Battery does not last 10 hours as they say but its good enough for the price.” – Crystal

3. HP Stream 14-inch Laptop

Top-rated: 2,161 ratings

HP Stream 14-inch Laptop

Credit: Amazon.com

Informative Review: “OK, this is my second Stream. The original was a 32GB that is still operating and is obviously limited by the couple GB remaining after the operating system space. However, was useful for web browsing.

This one is 64GB and that leaves about 30GB space for programs plus one year of MS Office free. I got rid of the Windows 10 S mode and the speed for web browsing and program operation is fine.

And I’m used to an Intel 11th generation i5 on a desktop and have no complaints. That is an absolutely amazing unit for $200. Of course, in both cases, I’ve added extra room using a USB 128GB flash drive so really, it’s a fantastic deal. The only con that I’ve found so far is that the sound is rather puny but connecting a cheap bluetooth speaker solves that issue.

Update: I hooked this up to an external monitor and it gave me an option to go from the native internal screen resolution of 1366×768 to 1920 x 1080 and it shows up great on the external monitor. I’m shocked. I cannot believe this computer was $200. Well, we’ll see how long it lasts.” – Mikey51

Another Detailed Review: “I bought this HP Stream because my 2012 Mac is dead and I really don’t use a computer anymore. My iPhone 12 Pro works just fine for everyday use, and I just can’t afford to buy a new Mac right now.

So, I just needed an inexpensive little computer to connect to the internet to do personal business and take online classes. I do not intend to store anything on this computer, but rather continue to use my iCloud for storage and Google Apps if necessary.

You can download the necessary cloud apps such as iCloud, Google Drive, and shortcuts to Google Docs, Sheets, or whatever you like. Once I got the computer set up, I went in and uninstalled Microsoft Office. I don’t care that it’s free for a year. Google Suite works just fine.

I’ve used this computer quite a bit, and this is what I think about it…

Contrary to the negative reviews, this computer doesn’t suck. You just can’t have high expectations of a $350 laptop. You will be setting yourself up for a bitter disappointment. With that said….

The mouse and keyboard are horrible and uncomfortable to use for my taste. Granted I don’t intend to use it away from home very often, but I did a couple of times and it really doesn’t function like I’m used to. Also, I can’t really say for certain that the wi-fi connections were all that great.

It could’ve been the networks I was connected to. For some reason it wouldn’t let me connect to my iPhone hotspot. I don’t know if there is a setting that I have to adjust, but it shouldn’t have been that difficult to connect.

However, it works FANTASTIC when I switch out my work laptop and connect it to my desk set up where it’s hardwired to the internet and connected to a USB keyboard and mouse. I am able to do personal business that requires me to use a computer rather than my iPhone.

This computer IS NOT built to have sophisticated software installed such as Office, FilemakerPro, Quickbooks, Photoshop etc. It is also, not meant to store large files or photos. It is PERFECT to use cloud based software and storage.

I recommend this laptop as an internet terminal and NOTHING MORE! I cannot express this enough….do not expect it to perform in any other way. It’s a perfect light use laptop to connect to social media (if that’s your thing) or even school, or access websites that you really can’t on your smartphone. It’s an affordable option as a transitional workstation.

Some people complained about not being able to update Windows due to lack of disk space. I suggest that you make sure you purge temporary files, internet cache, and downloads often. Also uninstall applications that you do not use or are unnecessary. This will free up a bunch of disk space. If you are using Office360, this will take up a ridiculous amount of disk space.

I know it’s free for the first year…but is that really worth your low disk space frustration? While you could get a Chromebook, I’m not keen to them. In a Windows OS you can set up Google Suite.

It’s cloud based, free, and doesn’t have a trial period. You won’t have to pay a subscription to keep and all your documents, photos, etc. They will be gone if you don’t move them out of OneDrive and to another cloud storage at the end of the trial period. Why bother?

Just set up Google account, which comes with free storage, use their version of Word, Excel, Powerpoint, etc and you don’t have to install it on your computer. WINNER WINNER CHICKEN DINNER!”


4. Acer Aspire 5 A515-56-32DK Slim Laptop – 15.6″ Full HD IPS Display

Top-rated: 2,261 ratings

Acer Aspire 5 A515-56-32DK Slim Laptop

Credit: Amazon.com

Informative Review: “This is an economy laptop that is marginally better than the average Chromebook. Do not expect it to run the latest games or any graphically intensive applications. With that stated, I am utilizing these at a non profit charity that which mostly utilizes cloud based applications. These computers work very well at this task while providing the future proofing of being Windows 11 compliant.

We are replacing ACER Aspire E15 series laptops with this model. The E15s were mostly generation 7 & 8 I3 and i5 models with SATA III SSDs and 8GB of RAM. The NVMe drives are much faster than the older SATA III drives.

I miss the extra RAM, but not enough to crack open these cases for upgrades. My volunteers appreciate the lighter weight and slimmer size. I don’t remember the last time we actually utilized an optical drive or card reader which were lost with the slimmer case.

These have smaller batteries than our older models. That coupled with the CPU and RAM workload increase, means that I anticipate 5 – 6 hours of battery life utilizing basic cloud based applications.

Streaming movies or playing basic games will decrease the life more. Non CPU intensive desktop productivity software should increase the battery life. The power port is proprietary so you will need to carry the brick and cords if you need more battery life during your day. From an IT prospective, this is a blessing due to the number of infected USB C chargers that have begun popping up in public spaces.

Most of the volunteers in the organization are older and greatly appreciate the larger display size. There is no touch display option. The maximum resolution is 1920×1080, but the overall quality does not keep up with mid level or elite laptops.

The viewing angle is about 120 degrees from the side and less from the top. Graphics performance is low. The colors are not as rich and the contrast is not as dynamic as better displays. This does include HDMI 2.0. I do not think it could drive a display with higher resolution very well though. It is fine for plugging presentations in to a projector or large display. I do not see much improvement on this display vs the 2017 – 2019 ACER E15 series laptops these are replacing.

The webcam is basic. The speakers are small and face down. There is a single microphone. If you speak on calls, a headset is a must. If you listen on calls, this is adequate provided your space is quiet enough for the small speakers. The overall sound quality is a compromise between value and quality leaning heavily on value.

The keyboard is textured. It is not backlit. There is not indication that Caps lock or Number Lock are engaged. So far, I prefer it to the usual flat chiclet keyboards that haunt modern laptops.

The key response is good. The number pad keys are smaller than the regular keys and some of the buttons are not in standard 10 key locations. The keyboard also does not use the standard inverted T for the arrow keys. This is either a learning curve or an annoyance depending on the user. Time will tell regarding dust and foreign debris issues and how difficult it is to change a key, switch or the entire keyboard.

The touchpad is large enough to cover the display area adequately. It is sensitive enough to cover tap clicking or actual clicking depending on user preference. I do miss the button that disables the touchpad to eliminate palm pressing, but that disappeared with optical drives on every computer.

The ports are great. This laptop has 2 USB 3.2 and one USB C on the left side, and one USB 2.0 on the right side. It also has gigabit ethernet and HDMI 2.0 on the left side and a headphone port on the right side. The SD card reader has disappeared to no big loss.

Many of my volunteers prefer corded mice and happen to be right handed. A USB port on the right side is really nice. The power port is proprietary since this is USB C instead of Thunderbolt 3/4. That is a nice range of current and future connectivity. The average user will not need to utilize a dock or USB hub with this laptop.

The WI-FI supports both 2.4 and 5.0 Ghz protocols. It maxes out at WI-FI 5 speeds. The built in ethernet port is gigabit which maxes out at 125mbps. Both are adequate for streaming, web browsing, email, and basic Internet use. Most home networks are gigabit so this slots in very well. I was able to maintain transfers at 2.3GBe with a USB 3.2 to 2.5GBe adapter. There is no wireless upgrade option.

You can access the main board and components with nothing more than a 00 Phillips screwdriver. There is a single RAM slot and it utilizes NVMe 3.0. The base model is a little light on both RAM and storage, but for a workstation, it is adequate.

For a more power user, you can upgrade both, which is nice and becoming rare in most laptops. The NVMe drive is not heat shielded nor is it installed in a place with good airflow. I would not be surprised to encounter heat throttling during periods of heavy use. The overall drive life may be compromised as well. Time will tell. There are no additional unused SATA, PCI, or NVMe ports for expansion. You cannot upgrade the CPU and there is no expansion port to add discrete graphics. No surprise there.

I immediately exited Windows S mode during initial setup. Any program that won’t allow a user to even utilize a different browser, isn’t right for me. This may be nice if you are attempting to keep users away from applications and websites of questionable origin but our desktop software will never be listed in the MS store and our cloud based software is not stable in Edge.

The bottom line is that this laptop is designed for non power users and companies looking for a laptop that is more powerful and less controlled than the average Chromebook.

If your user experience is surfing the Internet, streaming videos, checking email, and running software that will never be listed in an App Store, this is a great option. If you want to play games, or edit video or graphics, this is not the right choice for you. Based on previous ACER experience, we anticipate 5 years of service out of these which is a great return of investment.” – Amazon Customer

5. ASUS VivoBook 15 Thin and Light Laptop, 15.6” FHD Display

Top-rated: 5,928 ratings

ASUS VivoBook 15 Thin and Light Laptop

Credit: Amazon.com

Informative Review: “Item #1 below is focused on Windows 10 S Mode. I didn’t intend to write so much about S Mode, but I did so and thus it is there for you to consider. The rest of the comments made are about the Asus laptop itself.

1.) I find Windows 10 S Mode to be excellent. The more I use it, the more I like it. {I’ve used S Mode on other devices for about 8-months.) You can exit S Mode easily, but I say it is really an awesome and an under rated OS.

It virtually blocks malware, period. You can’t tell the laptop is in S Mode unless you try to install something from outside of the Windows Store. Unless you are a gamer or need some special program, S Mode should be considered.

It can save you a lot of concern about being compromised by hacking, which is becoming more of a concern of late, especially with the increase in sophistication in attacks from nation states and organized crime.

Yep, I’m a techy with an opposing view to the techie press. Seems they mostly trash Windows 10 S Mode, but they rarely seem to articulate the benefits of S Mode. I think Microsoft should do a better job of marketing the OS. Why they don’t is beyond me.

I upgraded from Windows 10 Home to Windows 10 Pro via the Windows Store. I then as an admin joined this device to Office 365’s Intune.

I realize the tech world seems to talk down Windows 10 S Mode, but I am a contrarian and think it is outstanding.

Also, S Mode requires way less Windows updates than regular Windows so, again, I am a fan. As an admin, I don’t need to concern myself with updates as much. This OS is really hard to compromise.

2.) This laptop is an outstanding value for the price. It has and i3 Intel processor, 8GB of RAM, and a 128GB SSD hard drive. Really, this is perfect configuration for the average business or college user. The performance is excellent for what it is equipped with. The i3 Intel chip works a lot better than most people realize. Even running when streaming video, it does well.

3.) The display is adequate for business use. If you are a gamer or watching lots of video, it will likely be somewhat disappointing, good displays cost. You don’t usually get something for nothing.

Again, the display is adequate for what it is. Although the viewing angles are tight, I’ve seen other reviewers comments about the display and find their comments exaggerated and I wonder what they expect for a laptop that costs less than $500.

Let me add that I have worked on a lot of PCs over the years, and I can tell you this display is good, but not great. However, if you want a premium display, like I said earlier, you need to pay for it. Again, this display is good enough for general use.

4.) The ports provided are the latest version of each type provided. Again, this laptop is a great value for the cost.

5.) The backlit keyboard is really good. I like the feel of the keys, and I like the numeric pad. The keyboard is quiet and comfortable to type on.

6.) The laptop’s body/frame. Is plastic. Looks pretty darn good given the price of the unit. However, I am unsure as to how strong the body is should the laptop take a fall. I’m not doing a drop-test on this one because I have pay for it if I break it, but again, the price point of this laptop gives you a pretty darn good device for the price.


A surprisingly great laptop for the under $500 price charged and will be appreciated by a general or average user. (Suggestion: Keep the device in S Mode and save yourself malware and update headaches.)” – tmiq

6. Lenovo IdeaPad 3 14″ Laptop, 14.0″ FHD 1920 x 1080 Display

Top-rated: 4,582 ratings

Lenovo IdeaPad 3 14 Laptop

Credit: Amazon.com

Informative Review: “I am loving this laptop so far, and I only had it for a few days. Key takeaway is how lightweight it is, which is a must-have for me when acquiring a decent laptop.

Not too small when it comes to productivity and entertainment purposes, but not too big to where it will feel like I am carrying a cinderblock on the go, so great job on that, Lenovo.

The material seems to be durable enough to withstand some minor damages, so no complaints about that yet. I found out that SSDs run faster than HDDs so that explains why the performance rate is so phenomenal! I love it! Boots up in seconds and I have not dealt with any stuttering after installing a good number of apps on to it.

I also love how it turns itself on the moment I open the lid. Fascinating indeed, Lenovo! Lastly, the battery life is outstanding! It instantly charges up to 100% percent in a matter of minutes, and with the charger unplugged, the battery can last for up to 3 in a half hours give or take so high-five to you, Lenovo!

I did a couple of benchmark tests on a gaming scale, and from a rating of 1 to 10, I will give that a 5.5 because some games can run good on the lowest settings (I am not picky when it comes to graphics, so I do not care for the extreme graphics quality when playing video games like most people do), but because this laptop was not built for gaming, I can’t make the rating any higher than that.

Actually, this is my first time ever owning a laptop running off an AMD processor and graphics card, and I am quite impressed in terms of processor performance. I am now convinced that AMD processors run way better than Intel processors (comparing between the AMD Ryzen 5 vs. Intel Core i5 to be fair). As for graphics card performance, NVIDIA still takes the W, but like I said. This laptop was not built for gaming so no big issue on that.

I really feel like a professional typer when using this laptop, and I do like the webcam shutter feature. All laptops should come with that!!! I typed this review up on this laptop so I can vouch for the keyboard layout lol.

This laptop actually gives meaning to the name itself so thumbs up to Lenovo for that. Quick and easy setup. Sound quality is decent, but is not terrible. Resolution is quite basic on laptop screen, but I mean, this laptop runs smooth enough on 1920 x 1080, so solution for that is to connect to a 2nd screen for better experience when streaming videos and movies or watching them offline.

Screen flexibility is nice. I like that I can level the lid far back enough to turn the laptop into a reader-mode like position if I want to hold it in my hand while reading an article on the screen or something. Wi-Fi connectivity is great. I have not used the Bluetooth feature yet but I assume its great also.

The touchpad works well enough to where an optimal mouse is actually optional, not essential unlike most laptops nowadays. USB ports work fine but I do not like how they are positioned, and I tend to struggle to put USB devices into them every now and then, especially in the 2.0 port.

Not sure if it’s because I am just weak or an actual design flaw. I even mistaken the HDMI port to be an USB port due to how they are positioned, but that does not affect the rating because I cannot control how Lenovo designs their computers so it is something I have to be okay with especially since I bought it.

HDMI port works great, but I wish this laptop came with a display port. Headphone jack works perfectly with both speakers and headphones/earphones.

In conclusion, I would recommend this to someone who just needs a basic laptop to do their work on, listen to music, and watch their favorite videos on YouTube or offline on a screen bigger than their smartphone. It is affordable, especially when you catch it at the right price before it goes up. Most importantly, manufactured by Lenovo, so you cannot go wrong with that.

I will make sure I cherish this laptop for a very long time. Let’s hope I can manage up to 6 years with it lol unless I make enough money to afford a high-end gaming computer.” – Kenneth Cox

7. HP Chromebook 11-inch Laptop

Top-rated: 2,569 ratings

HP Chromebook 11-inch Laptop

Credit: Amazon.com

Informative Review: “This is my first Chromebook, and overall I’m quite pleased with the purchase. I’m mainly going to be using it for basic internet browsing and writing, so when I was shopping for the right model I was favoring cost, weight and battery life over other features like screen size and processing power.

I ultimately felt this was the best balance of weight and battery life for the price. I definitely wasn’t wrong about the battery life. I’m amazed. This thing lasts and lasts. It’s not the fastest computer but it suffices for my use case.

Two things that bother me.

This first is the lack of an illuminated keyboard. I knew it lacked one going into it, so I can’t complain that much. I just didn’t realize how much I’ve come to rely on it on my other laptops. I’m often using the computer in dark environments, where it’s difficult to see the keys.

Again, I knew this wasn’t an included feature, so this isn’t really a complaint as much as something to give extra consideration to before purchasing. With that being said, even with the lack of the illuminated keyboard, I don’t regret the purchase, and would buy again.

Which takes me to the second point. There is an issue with some of the video playback. In extra bright scenes in videos on YouTube and elsewhere, there is some discoloration in the highlights.

Meaning, that in certain areas of the video, particularly that are white, there is some blue artifacts/pixelation happening. I have confirmed that this is an issue with this model and have seen it replicated in floor models at Best Buy and heard other people complain about this.

I’m frustrated that HP has allowed this to continue to be a problem without offering a fix. As I said, most of my use cases involve writing; so video watching isn’t high up on my list of priorities. If it was, this would be a much bigger problem for me.

Overall, I’m pleased with the purchase given the price, and recommend it for anybody who is looking for an inexpensive, long battery life Chromebook option.” – Jeremy

Another Review: “So years later I write this review because this Chromebook is made of steel or something (not literally) it has fallen of my bed onto my hardwood floors about 300 times in a few years because of my cats and each time I flinch and expect it to have a broken screen each time and it never does!

So had to come on here and rave about it because it doesn’t seem possible but yet it is possible because it’s a daily or at least a weekly occurrence. So definitely a great buy especially for its durability!” – Lindsey

More Review: “I got a Chromebook to replace my Macbook because I wanted a decent laptop without having to spend hundreds of dollars. So far, this fits the bill pretty well, with a few minor differences from the Macbook.

It was really easy to set up and import my passwords, bookmarks, etc. which was really convenient. Charges quickly and pretty much does what I need it to. I miss not having AirPlay to mirror stuff to my Roku tv and have sound included. I also miss having iTunes (now Apple Music), but I switched to Spotify.

There are a few little things that are different that I’ve had to get used to, but nothing too major. I prefer laptops to tablets or having to do everything on my phone, because I like having an actual keyboard and a decent sized screen, not a touchscreen (tablet) or a little tiny screen (phone) All in all, it’s a great little laptop for the price.” – Montana Guy

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