PC Laptop for a kid in school


Jun 21, 2017
My son is in need of a Windows laptop for the coming school year (6th grade) and it will need to last through 8th grade (then he'll need a Chromebook - but that's another thing completely). Because of this, we don't want to spend a lot (can't right now anyway), say $400 max, but we do want to get him something versatile. He'd be using it for web surfing, school work, and watching videos (mostly online but some DVDs as well so an optical drive is a must). Probably not much gaming, at least nothing big, because right now he's only into Nintendo DS/3DS stuff and a few online things, perhaps Minecraft. He will be doing the Lego Robotics league (hence why he's got to have a windows laptop now - their program won't run on a chromebook) but I can't find where I wrote the minimum system requirements for that (but it wasn't very much as I recall).

I'm thinking he should have 4-6gb ram, at least a 500gb hard drive, and at least a Core i3 or equivalent type processor... does that sound about right? Am I being unrealistic in my expectations that I can find something like that for under $400? Is there anything else I should be considering?

Edited to add:
1. What is your budget? $400

2. What is the size of the notebook that you are considering? 15" or less

3. What screen resolution do you want? doesn't matter really

4. Do you need a portable or desktop replacement laptop? portable

5. How much battery life do you need? 4-6 hours (will have access to plugs during school day)

6. Do you want to play games with your laptop? If so then please list the games that you want to with the settings that you want for these games. (Low,Medium or High)? not really, maybe Minecraft on low-medium settings

7. What other tasks do you want to do with your laptop? (Photo/Video editing, Etc.) web surfing, school work (mostly google docs, etc), watching video/dvds

8. How much storage (Hard Drive capacity) do you need? not sure, probably 250gb+ (negotiable)

9. If you are considering specific sites to buy from, please post their links. none although I'm partial to physical stores

10. How long do you want to keep your laptop? 3 years for the kid (then it may go to mom)

11. What kind of Optical drive do you need? DVD ROM/Writer,Bluray ROM/Writer,Etc ? DVD, hopefully CD-R at least

12. Please tell us about the brands that you prefer to buy from them and the brands that you don't like and explain the reasons. no Apple products, must be windows based (school program requirement)

13. What country do you live in? USA (California)

14. Please tell us any additional information if needed. will be used by an 11 year old