Best 256 SSD Student Laptop This Week Best 256 SSD Student Laptop This Week

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The Staples flyer this week has a deal on the Acer A315-23-R8QJ full HD solid state laptop. Through March 21, it's $449.99, or almost 33% off its list price.

This is an ideal entry-level budget laptop for students or for those looking for a fast light-load processor. Although the Acer A315-23, otherwise known as an Acer Aspire, can handle editing tasks don’t expect to be able to work with 4K footage. Standard HD between 720p and 1080p on the other hand should be manageable.

So what’s under the hood?

PC Specs

  • Resolution: 1366 x 768 HD LCD at a 15.6” diagonal
  • Graphics: AMD Radeon
  • Processor: 2.60 GHz AMD Ryzen 3 3250U Processor
  • Dimensions: 0.78”x14.31”x9.86”
  • Storage: 256 GB PCI Express Storage
  • Battery: 2-cell Lithium Ion (Li-Ion) Battery
  • Ports: x1 HDMI, x2 USB 2.0, x1 USB 3.1 Gen 1 Type-A Ports, and x1 Network (RJ-45)
  • Operating System: Windows 11S
  • Warranty: 1-year limited manufacturer’s warranty

Like many budget-friendly options the Acer A315-23 laptop comes with a 1366 x 768 LCD screen. This is a common in-between resolution used by everyone from Lenovo to Alienware. In terms of bang for you buck everything here checks out – from the perfectly respectable SSD at 256GB to the upgradable RAM. If you’re fixing for more sticks then you can expand the A315-23’s capacity from the default 8GB to 16GB, or a total of 20GB if you count the 4GB of onboard RAM.

The biggest issue with the Aspire is undoubtedly its screen.

Although the resolution isn’t bad by any means it’s certainly far off from the industry standard of 1980 x 1080. Consumers also report middling build quality, but this isn’t all that surprising given where the Aspire sits as a budget laptop.

So, what about the competition? Is 33% off the list price actually a good deal, or would you be better off shopping somewhere else?

First on the docket is the HP 14” Chromebook with 128GB of eMMC storage at Amazon for $399.99, or 20% off its regular list price.

For $100 less than the Acer you give up storage space and battery life, but pick up a brighter display and higher display resolution. Given that the biggest drawback of Acer’s A315-23 is its screen this seems a fair trade. Just keep in mind that you’ll have half of both storage space and RAM, as HP’s Chromebook only comes outfitted with 4 GB of LPDDR4 RAM.

Last but not least keep in mind that as a Chromebook you’ll be working directly with Chrome OS and Google’s 3rd party app marketplace unless you partition and install a parallel operating system.

One more note on Amazon: while this item was in stock at the listed price at the time this deal was posted, Amazon practices dynamic product replacement -- once their stock of an item is depleted, it may be replaced with the same item sold by a third-party retailer for a different price. Double-check that the listed price and shipping fees we posted are still available before you buy.

Finally, we wanted to take a look at Factory Direct Gateway’s i5-1135G7 14.1” laptop for $469.98, or $30 off the list price.

Although it's a recertified machine, Gateway’s 14.1” laptop packs a significant amount of hardware into its price point. It comes outfitted with 512GB of RAM, blowing the Acer out of the water for only $20 or so more. It also has a better resolution at 1920 x 1080, although the colours do come in a bit cool – this being more of a problem when outside.

One last note here: the Gateway i5-1135G7 is going fast, but given the slight discount from list price there very well may be deeper sales later in 2023. Factory Direct's recertified products come with a 90-day warranty, but savvy RFDers have noted that returns are typically given a Factory Direct gift card rather than a return of funds, so you may find yourself locked into another Factory Direct purchase if you purchase this computer and are unhappy with it.

All told, we believe the Acer Aspire 3 for $449.99 at Staples is worth considering if you need a laptop this week. It's got good specs for the price point. While the Gateway has better battery life and storage specs than the Acer, it's also the only refurbished model on the list, which some shoppers are rightfully cautious about. The Chromebook, even at $399.99, has the smallest amount of non-SSD storage among the computers we surveyed.

All listed prices were accurate as of March 16th 2023.


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