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.
Last update on 2021-10-19 // The links above are affiliate // Images from Amazon
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.
Best Budget Laptops
Acer Aspire 5 A515-56-36UT
Solid Budget Laptop
The Acer Aspire 5 is a solid contender for the best budget laptop on the market in 2021, as it retails for way less than $500 yet it offers a lot of bang for the proverbial buck asked. Basically, this slick-looking machine ticks all the boxes you’d want in a “daily” work-horse, things like an 11th gen I3 CPU, 4 GB of RAM, an 128 GB SSD, Amazon Alexa, and Wi-Fi6.
As long as you’re not into gaming and heavy-duty tasks such as 4K video editing, the Acer Aspire 5 will not disappoint. To begin with, this entry-level Windows laptop is designed as a business machine, with plain lines and an aluminum lid. Needless to say, the Acer Aspire 5 looks at home on any desk, measures .7″ at its thickest point, and weighs less than 4 pounds, i.e. it’s compact and highly portable.
In terms of connectivity, you’ll get a single USB type C port and 3 USB A ports, an Ethernet port for your hard wire internet connection, an HDMI port to connect an external display, a standard headphone jack, and a Kensington lock connector.
The 15,6″ full HD display is pretty standard on 2021 laptops and features a matte coating, which means it will produce glare in daylight conditions, but it will do just fine for night work. The keyboard is very comfortable, and has monochrome backlighting, while the touchpad has the same aluminum finish as the chassis.
The I3 processor is powerful enough for daily jobs, like streaming media, web browsing, light photo/video editing, and so on, but the integrated GPU is not suited for playing modern games. Battery life is rated at 8 hours, and bottom line, if you’re shopping for an affordable no-nonsense laptop that is well built and powerful enough for business purposes, the Aspire 5 comes highly recommended.
- Decent performance
- Good build quality
- Modern hardware
- Lightweight and slim
- Amazing value for money
- Mediocre display
- Tinny speakers
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
Dell Inspiron 3000
Big Screen Budget Machine
If you want to buy a “brand” laptop, the Inspiron 3000 would make for an interesting choice, especially due to its very low price tag. So, for something like 400 bucks give or take, you’ll end up with Dell branded pedestrian specs and an unassuming design.
To be more precise, the Inspiron 3000 is powered by a Celeron Intel CPU, has 8 GB of RAM (soldered), and a 15.6″ 1366×768 display. As far as tech specs go, the Inspiron 3000 is very uninspiring (pun intended), but if you’re shopping for a basic laptop to do “menial” tasks, and you want it to be a Dell machine, this baby would fit the bill.
Measuring 0.78 by 14.3 by 9.8 inches (HWD) and weighing 3.91 pounds, the Inspiron 3000 is an average-sized 15.6″ laptop, and the chassis is made entirely of plastic, which is to be expected at this price point.
Build quality is pretty good, and there are no squeaks or creaks, while the display hinge is very sturdy, which is kind of rare for laptops in this price range. The display is nothing to write home about and delivers washed out colors and fuzzy text due to its low-quality panel and low resolution. The keyboard is simple and comfy, and port selection is excellent, with 3 USB Type-A ports, of which 2 are USB 3.1 gen 1, a dedicated HDMI video output, Bluetooth, and Ethernet.
Bottom line, if you’re looking for a cheap everyday laptop for office work and you have a small budget, the Inspiron 3000 is a solid option.
- Comfy keyboard
- Dedicated number keys
- Adequate speakers
- Good battery life
- Sub-par display
- No USB C
ASUS Laptop L410
Wallet Friendly Budget Laptop
The ASUS L410 is a budget friendly laptop, an ultra-thin machine with a 14’’ full HD screen powered by an Intel Celeron N4020 Processor, 4GB of RAM and 64 GB of storage. Tech specs are frugal, but so is the price, so if you’re looking for a dirt-cheap laptop with decent specs for daily office/school tasks, read no more, you’ve just found it.
Moreover, the laptop comes pre-loaded with Windows 10 in S mode with One Year Microsoft 365 Personal included, which means functionality is limited due to hardware constraints. However, for the price, the L410 is a steal, and it is quite fast in web browsing, office tasks and so on. Even Windows is snappy, and the cool thing is that you get an empty slot for adding our own SSD NVME M.2. I.
The keyboard is not backlit, and the screen is a TN (not IPS) variety, which means color reproduction and viewing angles are mediocre to say the least. However, for two hundred bucks give or take, it doesn’t get any better than the L410, as you’ll end up with a perfectly functional laptop which is way better than a Chromebook in terms of functionality/productivity.
Build quality is ok, as the laptop is made entirely of plastic, and the advantage of using all-plastic is that the L410 weighs just 2.8 pounds, i.e. it’s very portable. Both the keyboard deck and the lid are surprisingly sturdy, with almost no flex, and everything feels solid and well built.
The typing experience is ok-ish, but the touchpad definitely sucks, which is to be expected given the price asked. Battery life is 8 hours, and bottom line, if you’re on an ultra-low budget and you want a brand new laptop, this is the best you can get for a couple hundred bucks.
- Good value for money
- Solid build quality
- Small and lightweight
- Good design
- Full size keyboard
- Internal NVMe slot
- External SD slot
- Low quality display
- Too little RAM
HP Chromebook x360 14a
Chrome OS Budget Laptop
The HP Chromebook x360 14a retails for less than $500 yet it delivers quite a punch: first, this is a 2 in 1 laptop, also known as a convertible, and one of the nicest Chromebooks we’ve seen so far. Basically, this HP is a first-class Chromebook, a premium laptop of its kind if you will, boasting an aluminum chassis, 4 GB of RAM, 64 GB of eMMC storage, everything powered by an Intel Pentium Silver N5000 Processor.
Tech specs are not impressive, but remember that the machine runs on Chrome OS, which is very efficient in terms of hardware resource allocation, i.e. the laptop is quite fast and 4 GB of RAM is sufficient for Chrome OS.
Streaming, music, and even gaming are possible due to the Intel UHD Graphics 605, while battery life is impressive, as the laptop is rated at 12 hours. The 14’’ display is quite good, and you can run Android apps from the Google PlayStore, as well as side-load Android apps from the web with a little know-how.
You can also setup a Linux VM and install native Linux apps like Libre Office. Of course, most of the OS is intended for web-based stuff within the Chrome web browser, but if you’re looking for something elegant, lightweight, well-built and very handsome, this HP Chromebook would definitely fit the bill.
The keyboard is good on this laptop, with decent enough key travel that doesn’t feel mushy, and the trackpad is excellent. The speakers are also impressive for the price, and the 1366×768 touch screen is detailed enough for browsing the web or navigating Chrome OS.
Bottom line, if you can live with Chrome OS, this will be a great choice for you; just make sure you understand its limitations and everything will be fine.
- Snappy performance
- Good keyboard/trackpad
- Modern design
- 2 USB C ports
- Fast charging via USB C
- Above average speakers
- Mediocre display
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.