When looking for the best budget laptop on the market, there are lots of things to consider. So much, in fact, that it can get very confusing.
There are many laptops out there that are well below the $600 price range but before you decide on the right one for you, you need to know what to look for and how to make your choice.
Knowing these things will enable you to find the best cheap laptop on the market that will suit your needs.
How to Choose the Best Budget Laptop
First, you need to decide what operating system you prefer: Windows, Mac or Chrome? Windows generally has the largest range of laptops on the market, selling from as low as $150. The size of the laptop will determine the functionality and price of the laptop. If you want something that is portable and fairly cheap, you’d be better off choosing a laptop between 11 and 14 inches.
What is your price range? You can get Chromebooks and low-end window systems between $150-250 but if you have more money to spare, a $350-600 budget will get you a laptop with recommended specs such as Intel Core i5, 4 to 8GB of RAM, and a 500GB hard drive.
It is important to look at the specs of a laptop. Try to go for at least an Intel Core i3 processor or it’s equivalent (i3 may suffice but we’ll still recommend going for at least i5). At least 4GB RAM is recommended for casual use and smooth multitasking. SSD is preferable as it is faster but it greatly influences the price.
A display of full HD/1080p is optimal. Also, don’t ignore the battery life. Look for a laptop that provides at least 8 hours of battery. These specs may change with the type of laptop you decide to get.
The types of laptops available all have slightly different functions and specs. The classic notebook can come in either very budget-friendly prices or high-performance for gaming. Ultrabooks are designed to be light and thin for portability.
Chromebooks run under Google’s operating software, but only run Chrome web-based apps that don’t work too well offline. 2-in-1 laptops can be detached or rotated to become a tablet as well as a laptop.
Current trends in technology include: USB C and Thunderbolt 3 are one of the latest emerging technologies that manufacturers are starting to integrate into their laptops. The design has become of major importance and there is a large focus on producing thin and attractive laptops. 2-in-1 laptops are currently very popular and most brands are coming out with their own versions. Wireless charging is also a rising trend that Dell has introduced.
So, what are the current, best value laptops on the market right now? Let’s find out.
9 Best Budget Laptops of 2020
Acer Aspire 5 A515-43-R19L
An Excellent Laptop From Acer
Since we’re in the “budget-friendly” category, here comes the Acer Aspire 5, one of the company’s bestselling machines, and for a reason. It comes equipped with a AMD Ryzen 3 3200U Dual Core CPU, paired with 4 GB of DDR4 RAM plus a fast 128GB SSD and AMD Radeon Vega 3 Mobile Graphics. The backlit keyboard is pretty good for typing, and what’s very important for people with low budgets on the go, the Aspire 5 boasts an impressive battery life, rated at almost 10 hours.
The Full HD 1080p 15.6’’ wide display with thin bezels is an IPS variety, which translates into wide viewing angles, and that’s a nice touch from Acer, considering the incredibly low price tag. Connectivity-wise, you’ll get a full HDMI port, 1 USB 3.1 Gen 1 port and 2 USB 2.0 ports. Finally, both the trackpad and the backlit keyboard are doing their job rather well, which is amazing on a budget laptop.
- amazing value for money
- solid build quality
- decent hardware
- sharp/high contrast full HD IPS display
- aluminum lid looks pretty cool
- sound quality above average
- none really at this price point
ASUS Chromebook C423NA-DH02
An Excellent Chromebook from ASUS
Looking for a sleek machine running Chrome that boots up instantly and gives you access to Android apps? Well, look no further than the Chromebook C423NA-DH02, a 14-inch laptop from ASUS with plenty of style.
This slim laptop weighs 3.1 pounds and sports a 14-inch matte panel with a resolution of 1,366 x 768. It utilizes ASUS’s NanoEdge tech so the bezels are thin and the 180-degree hinge opens the door to a few new angles as well. As for the specs, this one has a dual-core Celeron N3350, 4GB of RAM and 32GB of eMMC storage.
While this Chromebook may not seem all that different from others, the ports set it apart. It has dual USB 3.0 and USB Type-C ports along with an SDXC card reader. We love the size of this model, but there is a 15.6-inch variant available as well if you prefer a little more screen and a bit less battery life.
- 180-degree hinge
- Plenty of ports
- Great battery life
- 3.1 pounds
- Only runs Android apps
Acer Swift 3
Solid Bet for The Money
If you’re looking for a thin and light laptop that doesn’t cost an arm and a leg, the Acer Swift 3 can be the answer. The Swift 3 comes with a pretty good 14’’ full HD IPS display, but what’s really important is hidden from view: under the hood you’ll find the latest AMD Ryzen 7 4700U Octa-Core CPU, which is a true-beast, with the now famous Radeon Graphics, as well as 8 GB of RAM (LPDDR4, mind you) and a lightning fast 512 GB SSD.
We know, it already sounds VERY impressive for a way-less than $1000 laptop, but it gets even better: the Acer Swift 3 also offers a backlit keyboard (ok, that’s pretty standard), plus a fingerprint reader for improved security, WiFi 6, and, the cherry on top, Alexa built-in.
Acer Swift 3 is really amazing for what it is: a thin (0. 63″), light, strong and affordable little machine, with a full HD display (82.73% screen-to-body ratio) that weighs a mere 2.65 lbs and boasts more than 11 hours of battery life. For that kind of money, it doesn’t get any better, at least that’s what we think.
- Light, thin and affordable
- Built-in Alexa
- Fantastic build quality
- Amazing specs
- Elegant chassis
- Good keyboard
- Mediocre screen quality
- Gets hot under load
ASUS VivoBook 15 F512JA-AS34
The Best Laptop Under $500
Here comes another great choice for a budget laptop, this time from Asus. The VivoBook 15 is powered by a 10th gen Intel i3 CPU, has a 15’’ FHD display, 8 GB of RAM and 128 GB of internal storage via SSD. So far, so good, so what? Okay, here’s the deal: the whole shebang can be yours for less than $500. Are you impressed just yet?
The thing about the Asus VivoBook 15 is that it delivers a lot of bang for the proverbial buck asked, and that’s especially true for the 4-way NanoEdge bezel display which boasts an impressive 88% screen-to-body ratio, as well as for the 10 Gen Intel Core i3-1005G1 CPU.
Basically, you’ll get a versatile machine that’s excellent for day to day tasks for something like peanuts money. Connectivity-wise, the VivoBook 15 features USB 3.2 Type-C, USB 3.2 Type-A, USB 2.0, HDMI and Gigabit Wi-Fi 5, not to mention the ergonomic backlit keyboard, which is great for avid typists due to its Exclusive Ergolift design, or the fingerprint sensor-activated via windows hello for improved security on the go.
This incredibly affordable laptop runs on Windows 10 in S mode, and can run apps from the Microsoft Store; bottom line, the VivoBook 15 is perfect for college students, both for school and personal use, as it’s dirt cheap, well designed and powerful enough for office/multimedia tasks.
- Well designed
- Compact and sturdy
- Decent keyboard
- Good specs for the price
- Great value for money
- Low-quality display
Microsoft Surface Go 2
A Portable Media Machine
The Surface Go 2 is the second generation of Microsoft’s tablet, which is actually a worthy competitor to the Apple iPad and conventional laptops alike. The new iteration of the Surface Go is excellent for people who travel a lot looking for a versatile 10,5’’ touchscreen device.
This particular model is powered by an 8th gen Intel Pentium Gold Processor 4425 m3 and has 4 GB of RAM and 64 GB of storage. To make it really easy for our readers, if you’re looking for a premium yet affordable laptop replacement, the Surface Go 2 is the answer, as it can do basically anything a laptop does in a light and compact form factor.
Build quality is excellent, you also get a touchscreen, the cameras are awesome (there’s 2 of them, 1080p), battery life is pretty good at 7-8 hours, the device is dead silent (fanless operation), but it’s worth mentioning something really important: the Surface Go 2 doesn’t come with the type cover, which means you’ll have to pay extra to use it as a proper laptop.
For writing, web browsing, email and streaming, it doesn’t get any better than this, so if you’re shopping for a cool machine for casual use, this baby really has it where it counts.
- Good value for money
- 8 hours autonomy
- Excellent kickstand
- Face recognition cameras
- Top-notch build quality
- Silent operation
- Fantastic keyboard
- Keyboard cover not included
HP 14-inch HD Touchscreen
The Best Budget Laptop with Touchscreen
Who said that budget laptops don’t have high-tech bells and whistles? Enter the HP 14-inch HD Touchscreen, a so-called premium $500-ish 14-inch laptop with a touchscreen, as per its name. We love the HP brand, but forget about premium gear in this price bracket, alright? As long as you’re ok with ditching the premium thing, this HP machine is absolutely awesome for what it is.
Here’s the deal: for a little bit more than $500 you’ll get the latest AMD Ryzen 3 3200U CPU, a strong and versatile entry-level from AMD’s golden generation of mobile processors, AMD Radeon Vega 3 Graphics, 8 GB of RAM and a beefy 256 GB SSD. The laptop comes with Windows 10 preinstalled, and as long as you’re not expecting miracles from this tiny machine, you won’t be disappointed.
HP’s main selling point is arguably its touchscreen display, which is pretty good to tell you the truth considering the price asked. Also, Ryzen 3 is pretty fast in office/multimedia tasks, and the keyboard is surprisingly good. After all’s said and done, this is a no-nonsense, easy to type, lightweight, compact and affordable machine, with lots of storage, very fast and even if you don’t have the best quality display in the world, it’s still a touchscreen, which is rare in this price bracket.
- Perfect for students
- Fast and quiet
- Good hardware
- Affordable price
- Boots in 5 seconds
- Windows 10S preinstalled
Samsung Chromebook Plus V2
An Affordable Option From Samsung
Here we have yet another affordable laptop running on Chrome OS, this time from Samsung, and we’re talking about the Chromebook Plus V2. So, here’s what you’ll get for a tad under $400: a 2-in-1 laptop with 4 GB of RAM and a 64GB eMMC. We already know what you’re thinking: Samsung skimped a little bit on the hardware. And yes, that would be correct, especially considering the 1.5 GHz Celeron 3965Y CPU running the show.
However, since everything runs on Chrome OS, which is incredibly light on resources, the Chromebook Plus V2 (which is mostly a glorified tablet posing as a foldable laptop) does a pretty good job at menial daily tasks. Obviously, the best feature of the Plus V2 is the 360-degree wraparound touchscreen, which allows you to use the Chromebook in laptop mode or as a regular tablet. There’s also a passive stylus available, as well as 2 cameras, one on the front and one on the rear.
- nice foldable design
- pretty good specs for the price
- premium build quality
- good for video chats/conferences and the like
- snappy performance in browsing and web apps
- full HD 1080p display
- USB Type C, stylus included
- lightweight and compact
- no HDMI output
- relatively poor battery life for a Chromebook (5 hours and 45 minutes)
Lenovo Chromebook C330
The Best Budget Chromebook
Our first Chromebook comes from Lenovo, and it’s also one of the smaller laptops to make our list. The Chromebook C330 may be small, light and bright white but we think you’ll be impressed by the specifications given the price.
Lenovo decided to keep things compact with the C330 so you’ll get an 11.6-inch IPS panel with a resolution of 1,366 x 768. The processor is the MediaTek MT8174C, and while it still has the standard 4GB of RAM, there is 64GB of storage on this one. That’s a bonus, and so is the touchscreen at this price point.
Another thing we love about this laptop is its flexibility. It has a 360-degree design which means you can flip the screen around and use it as a tablet, laptop or in tent mode. Viewing angles are limitless, and you’ll get a USB-C and USB 3.0 ports as well. This is another great option for students or parents looking to buy their child an Android-based laptop.
- 360-degree design
- Touchscreen display
- 64GB of storage
- 2.6 pounds
- Chrome app access
HP Stream 14-inch Laptop
Very Affordable Corporate Style Laptop
If you’re looking for a dirt-cheap laptop for work, school and/or play, have no fear: the HP Stream 14 is here. This little machine costs less than $300, and is powered by a Celeron N4000 CPU. We know, that’s nothing to write home about, but if you’re in productivity mode and low on cash, this HP Stream is the answer to your prayers.
The Stream runs Windows 10 Home in S mode, and has 4 GB of RAM plus a 64 GB eMMC. Again, this doesn’t sound like much, but it’s enough for office, web browsing, what have you. Don’t expect games or heavy multitasking from this nimble laptop; however, as long as you don’t get your expectations sky-high, you won’t be disappointed.
For workaholics, the HP Stream 14 offers 1 TB of One Drive storage for 1 year, as well as full access to Microsoft Excel, Word, PowerPoint, OneNote etc. via Office 365 personal for 1 year. The display is not the best in the world, being a HD SVA bright view WLED-backlit variety, but it’s enough to get the job done.
Keep in mind that Windows 10 S is a very restricted version of Windows, and you’re only allowed to install official apps from the Microsoft Store, things like Office or the Edge browser. As long as you’re ok with that, just go and give the HP Stream a try.
- Good value for money
- Solid build quality
- Small and light
- Capable and long-lasting
- Up to 14 hours of battery life
- Outdated display
- Slow CPU
There is an array of choices when it comes to budget laptops. These can range from classic notebooks for about $500-$600 price range that provide great performance and displays or Chromebooks at prices below $300 for personal and office use. Which one you choose from this list will depend on your preferences and your needs, but you can rest assured that no matter what you choose, it won’t hurt your wallet or your budget.