The thin, light design is easy to take to class and work. Micro-edge display takes advantage of the laptop's great size. It boasts impressive graphics for its price. There's 256GB of storage and 8GB of RAM. Over 7 hours of battery life per charge.
Runs warm when you're using it.
The 11.6" touchscreen boasts an HD picture. Comes equipped with Google Docs and several of the company's other services. Works in conjunction with Google Cloud. Corning's antimicrobial Gorilla Glass offers extra protection. Up to 10 hours of battery life.
Chromebooks offer limited power and function, so know what you are getting into.
Chrome OS works with Google's tools for a user-friendly experience based on the accounts and services you likely have. The 13" HD screen with stereo speakers offers a great entertainment option at a bargain price. Great for students who seek simplicity.
The hardware itself looks dated.
Runs Windows 11, and the 17-inch screen is big and beautiful. Offers up to 13 hours of battery life, meaning that owners can work for long periods of time without having to plug in. Compatible with WiFi 6. Can play smaller, less graphic-intensive games with ease.
Seven pounds is relatively heavy for a laptop.
GeForce RTX 3050 graphics card is awesome for playing newer games at medium levels. Included intel core processor allows users to multi-task apps with ease. Fans and heat distribution allow the computer not to get too hot when playing the latest games.
The laptop is on the heavy side thanks to the internal components.
We recommend these products based on an intensive research process that's designed to cut through the noise and find the top products in this space. Guided by experts, we spend hours looking into the factors that matter, to bring you these selections.
Choosing a low-cost laptop is tricky because there are a ton of available options, and it can be tough to find a good option in a sea of disposable tech. To complicate matters, everyone has a different idea of what “budget” means. To us, budget laptops cost around $600 or less (sometimes a lot less), and these are the laptops we will be focusing on in this buying guide.
Whether you are looking for a new laptop for work, school, or casual use, there are plenty of reliable options for a few hundred dollars. You will need to make some smart compromises to get the low price, though. For example, most laptops of this caliber include graphics hardware that is capable but not fast enough to keep up with video games that require a powerful video card.
Each of the major operating systems – Windows, macOS, and Chrome OS – is available in the lower price tiers. That said, there are a few nuances and pitfalls to be aware of.
If you are looking for a budget Apple laptop with MacOS, investigate the MacBook Air. The MacBook Air is consistently their most affordable portable machine, and it is usually the only one Apple sells for less than $1,000. If macOS is a must but the MacBook Air is not the right machine for you, consider other MacBooks as well. Usually, the next models up are only slightly more expensive.
If you live your life in the cloud, consider a Chrome-OS-based laptop. Chrome OS is a relatively new operating system from Google based on their popular web browser, Google Chrome. For laptops running Chrome OS, the browser is the entire interface, and instead of running local software, everything is in the cloud. (For example, while you can’t install Microsoft Office on Chrome OS, you can use Microsoft’s “Office Online” suite of web-based equivalents.) Surprisingly, there isn’t much of a learning curve for Chrome OS if you are migrating from a Mac or Windows laptop – especially for those who spend most of their computer time web browsing, anyway.
Naturally, a “budget” laptop is one that is more affordable than cutting-edge machines, and in the majority of cases, a lower price means less-powerful internal hardware. But that is not a bad thing. For example, if you spend most of your computer time browsing the web or watching movies, chances are you don’t need the latest-generation processor or an ultra-powerful video card. You can save a lot of money by finding a budget laptop that makes reasonable compromises.
As you shop, consider the most common hardware compromises you will encounter.
The best budget laptops are, in some cases, Chromebooks. What is a Chromebook? These “cheap laptops” arrived on the scene in 2011, and at first, people were skeptical because they are inexpensive computers that run on the Chrome OS and are dependent upon WiFi connectivity to operate. They are great for web browsing and other WiFi-reliant tasks.
Nowadays, these affordable laptops have earned a place at the table. The reason: consumers have realized that there are situations in which a Chromebook is the best buy. For example, they are great for students. If a cash-strapped student simply needs to access lessons, tests, or other educational content online, this is a very economical purchase indeed.
Chromebooks come from all sorts of manufacturers and not just the “low-end” ones. Long-respected brands are making these affordable laptops, and you needn’t spend a fortune to get one of the best Chromebooks.
Every laptop needs some extra gear. Here are the peripherals you will want to start with. We’ve picked the best budget-friendly options.
Backpack: KOPACK Slim Laptop Backpack
KOPACK’s laptop backpack is one of our go-to favorites because it doesn’t cut any corners but still manages to have a minimalist appearance while giving you convenience and portability. Plus, it comes in several different colors. It’s soft and cushy, so it’ll keep your laptop safe and scratch-free. It’s got a built-in organizer with enough room for a tablet, a notebook, pens, and your laptop’s plug. Best of all, it’s got a slot to slide a USB cable through so you can charge your phone while you’re out on the go (although you’ll have to buy a separate power bank to do that). At this price point, it’s hard to find a better value in laptop backpacks.
Webcam cover: Trobing Webcam Cover
Keep yourself safe from prying eyes and always use a webcam cover with any laptop you own. We like Trobing’s webcam covers because they’re thin, easy to apply, and can last the entire lifespan of a laptop. Thankfully, basic safety is affordable, making this an easy decision.
The best laptops with a “budget” price point cost between $250 and $600. On the low end of the range, you will find smaller machines with modest specs that are good for working in a browser or streaming video. Better netbooks often fall into this range.
On the high end of the $250 to $600 range are models that run faster, have more built-in memory and storage, and in some cases, have improved screen resolutions.
A. Laptops that feature touchscreens, sometimes referred to as two-in-ones, cost more to make, so it is rare to see a laptop with a touchscreen in the budget category. If you need a laptop that also functions as a tablet, a two-in-one laptop may be a better choice for you.
A. It will depend on the model you go with, but in most cases, you can expect it to last between three and five years. Tech advances quickly, and even web browsers require more resources each day, so like all machines, a budget laptop eventually won’t be able to keep up with your work.
A. It depends on your intended use of the laptop. A larger screen (measured on the diagonal from corner to corner) is obviously easier to see. For the sake of portability, however, you might want something smaller. Keep in mind, too, that while there are some larger screens (over 15 inches) in the “budget” category, many are closer to 11 inches.
In addition to size, take note of the screen resolution of any laptop you are considering. Does it have an anti-glare coating? LED backlights? Further, find out if the resolution is HD, Full HD, or something even greater. In the budget range, screen resolutions may not be as well-defined as they are in the high-end range.
A. Gaming laptops are great in their own right, but a quality laptop for gaming is going to cost more than our stated price range of $200 to $600 for low-cost laptops. A good budget laptop will still deliver when it comes to working with office apps, streaming video, and performing tasks that rely on a WiFi connection and web browser. If you’re interested in a device for hardcore gaming, though, expect the price minimums to be higher.
A. Tablets can be less costly than laptops, but will a new tablet give you the functionality you need? It depends, of course, on what your situation is. Tablets have touchscreens, which you may or may not appreciate, and they are great for using social media and web browsing. They tend to get very good battery life, and they score big points in the portability department. You can find a tablet that costs far less than a laptop, but there are also high-end tablets that cost far more than the budget laptops discussed here.
Laptops have more memory, more ports and connectivity points (HDMI, USB), and larger screens than tablets. You can easily type on your laptop keyboard and save or print documents as needed. Notably, many laptops in the budget range do not have touchscreens, and the battery life may be lackluster as compared to a tablet.