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.
11 Best Budget Laptops of 2020
Acer Aspire 5 A515-54-30BQ
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 as per 2019, and for good reason: this slim laptop retails for significantly under $400, yet it comes equipped with an 8th gen Intel Core i3-8145U CPU, paired with 4 GB of DDR4 RAM plus a fast 128GB PCIe Nvme SSD. 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, plus 2 USB 3.0 Type-A ports, and even a USB 3.1 Gen 1 Type-C port. Finally, both the trackpad and the backlit keyboard are doing their job rather well, which is amazing on an under $400 laptop.
- amazing value for money
- smooth day-to-day performance
- solid build quality
- integrated UHD Graphics 620 allows for light gaming
- decent hardware inside for office and multimedia purposes
- lightweight and easy to carry around (weighs under 4 pounds)
- sharp/high contrast full HD IPS display is surprisingly good
- aluminum lid looks pretty cool
- sound quality above average
- RAM is not soldered to the MOBO (user upgradeable)
- full Linux support as well
- NVME storage
- great for college students
- 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 Chromebook 14
A Speedy Aluminum Chromebook
Acer has always been a great brand to turn to when you want something affordable, but reliable. The Acer Chromebook 14 is no exception considering it meets both those requirements with a lightweight OS and budget-friendly price tag.
The aluminum-clad Chromebook 14 lives up to its namesake with a 14-inch FHD IPS display. Beneath the glass, you’ll find a quad-core Celeron chip along with 4GB of RAM and 16GB of eMMC storage. It has an HDMI port, x2 USB 3.0 ports, Bluetooth and Wi-Fi but you won’t get Windows on this one. It runs Chrome, so we hope you like Android apps.
Chromebooks aren’t for everyone, but this one is snappy and certainly won’t break the bank. It’s a great choice for students as well or folks that just want to surf the web, and the battery life is hard to beat at 12 hours per charge during normal usage.
- Outstanding battery life
- 14-inch FHD display
- Only 3.4 pounds
- Aluminum chassis
- Not much power
- Limited programs
Asus Chromebook Flip C214 (C214MA-YS02T)
The Flip C214 is the successor of the hugely popular C213, making for an education-geared budget laptop running Chrome OS. To make a long story short, this ridiculously cheap machine is absolutely awesome provided you’re looking for all day battery performance, a bright and crisp 11.6’’ screen, solid performance for office tasks, and, last but not least, mil-spec resistance. Basically, the Chromebook Flip C214 is as tough as nails, being tested in classroom environments, and if you know how kids are these days, this should be enough for you.
The Flip C214 is built to be as durable and long-lasting as an old-school Nokia phone, or, why not, a Casio G-shock watch, and it would be the best solution for students, and awesome for the rest of the crowd. The new and improved C214 has a bigger and beefier battery, along with an excellent display which offers great sunlight legibility. Performance-wise, you’ll get Intel’s Celeron N4000, 4 GB of RAM and a fast 32 eMMC expandable via micro SD card. If you think that’s a little bit weak for 2019 standards, trust me, that’s more than enough for daily tasks. The keyboard is tough, spill-resistant and excellent for typing, and speaking of durability, the Chromebook Flip C214 complies with MIL-STD-810G.
- rough-and-tumble EDU Chromebook built to last
- lightweight and compact (weighs 1.1 lbs)
- comes with USB-C and USB 3.1 Type C
- amazing battery life (11 hours on average on a single charge)
- spill-resistant/tamper-resistant keyboard
- rubber edge bumpers
- Google support until 2025
- amazing value for money
- Good Lord, can they make those bezels any bigger?
Microsoft Surface Go
A Portable Media Machine
Budget-friendly laptops can come in all shapes and sizes… including PCs that double as tablets. That’s what you’ll get from the Surface Go, a device with the distinction of being the smallest machine on our list…
Looking for a light machine, you can take anywhere with ease? At only 1.15 pounds, the Surface Go is definitely light, and the vivid 10-inch PixelSense display won’t take up much space in your bag. The detachable keyboard is thin as well, and the battery life is solid with around 9 hours per charge depending on your usage.
Tech specs for this one include a 128GB SSD, 8GB of RAM, and the Pentium Gold 4415Y processor. It has a USB Type-C port and an 8MP camera on the rear to go along with a 5MP snapper up front. The Surface Go is geared more towards media and productivity than gaming, but a fine choice if you’re looking for a laptop that’s half tablet and can run Windows 10.
- Detachable Type Cover keyboard
- Great battery life
- Dual cameras
- The kickstand
- Gets expensive with accessories
- Limited performance
Jack of all Trades
Chromebooks rule the “dirt-cheap awesome laptops” niche, but the HP 14 is proof that Windows 10 is coming back with a vengeance. Allow me to elaborate: with a retail price basically identical to the Asus reviewed above, the HP 14 is a completely different beast both software and hardware-wise, which means that if you’re looking for more power/productivity and Microsoft’s best, the HP 14 has your name on it.
Here’s what you get for under $400: 7th Gen Intel Core i3-7100U, 8 GB of RAM and a 128 GB SSD, everything running smoothly on Windows 10. Sounds pretty good, right?
The 14’’ glossy screen of HD resolution is decent for the price asked, and so is the keyboard; basically, if you’re looking for normal office tasks or a beast of burden for schoolwork, you can’t go wrong with the HP 14.
- excellent for everyday tasks
- smooth multimedia performance (YT, Netflix, Hulu, internet browsing)
- comes with SD card slot
- boots up quickly
- 2 USB ports, 2.0 and 3.0 respectively
- HDMI and Ethernet
- lightweight and compact
- good battery life
- super clear display
- HP should learn what bloatware means
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)
HP Pavilion x360
The Best Budget-Friendly 2-in-1
Generally, convertible laptops in the 15-inch range are not often found in the budget class. This version of the HP Pavilion X360 breaks that rule as affordably priced but still has the style and features consumers expect from the popular lineup.
This PC is a 2-in-1 so you can use it as a tablet, laptop or prop it up in tent mode to enjoy some videos or play games. While it’s a looker and quite flexible, the power is lacking as you’ll only get a Core i3 processor with this one. It’s still a step up from chips found in other budget models however and it has a large 1TB hard drive as well.
Memory is a bit sparse at 4GB, but there is 16GB of Intel Optane memory backing that up. On the flipside, it has a large 15.6-inch FHD panel, and the digital pen makes it an ideal option for creative consumers looking for a full-size convertible laptop.
- 2-in-1 design
- Digital stylus
- B&O Play speakers
- 1TB HDD
- Underwhelming power
- Battery life
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 11.6”
The Cheapest Windows Laptop
If you liked the size of our 11-inch Chromebook but not the OS, HP might have a better solution for you. The HP Stream is a mini PC that runs Windows, and while it’s not easy on the eyes, it is the cheapest laptop on our list.
This PC may be small, but it still has some pop with 4GB of DDR4 and an Intel Celeron N4000 processor with 4MB of cache. Storage is limited to 32GB of eMMC, but expandable and the display is an 11.6-inch anti-glare panel. The resolution is listed at 1,266 x 768, and it’s backlit but about as bright and colorful as you’d expect from a laptop at this price.
Ports are a little limited on the HP Stream, so you’ll get one USB 3.1 and USB 2.0 port along with an HDMI port and a microSD card reader. Bluetooth and Wi-Fi are standard as well, and you’ll get Windows 10 out of the box.
- It’s extremely cheap
- Windows 10
- 4GB of RAM
- Build quality
- Storage capacity
- The speed
ASUS VivoBook F510 UA
The Best All-Around Budget Laptop
Our top choice for the best budget laptop comes from ASUS with the VivoBook F510 UA. Dubbed a “thin and light” laptop by the company, this PC is classy and has enough power to keep most consumers happy.
The highlight of this machine for us is the large 15.6-inch WideView display with its thin bezels and FHD resolution. It has a screen-to-body ratio of 80% and tips the scales at only 3.7 pounds. Connectivity options include HDMI, USB 3.0, x2 USB 2.0 and a Type-C port along with Bluetooth and Wi-Fi. The F510 UA has a fingerprint scanner as well located on the top corner of the trackpad.
As for the power, you’ll get a 7th gen Core i5-7200U which is backed by 4GB of RAM. A 1TB hard drive will take care of all your storage needs, but there are other configurations available if you want a faster processor are a solid-state drive. We chose this configuration for the price as the combination of style and power took this one to the top of our list.
- Great display
- Fingerprint scanner
- Expandable memory
- Nice design
- Slow hard drive
There is an array of choices when it comes to budget laptops. These can range from classic notebooks under the $500 price range that provides great performance and display or Chromebooks at value prices well below the $300 price range for personal and office use or durability for on the go with impressive battery life. 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.