The Microsoft Surface Laptop Go 2 offers a budget-friendly middle ground between Microsoft's premium tablets and larger laptops, with an affordable compact notebook design. From the color options and aluminum lid to the 11th Generation Intel Core i5 processor inside, the Surface Laptop Go 2 delivers a near-premium experience despite its low price.
The hardware inside delivers performance that's more than capable, and pairs it with an updated webcam, a taller 3:2 aspect ratio display, and even some room to grow with SSDs that can be replaced or upgraded. With more style and a better build quality than most affordable laptops, it's a budget laptop win.
The Acer Aspire 5 is an ideal choice if you're looking for a laptop that won't cost a fortune, but still puts up performance that edges out other economy laptops. It's a fine option if you need solid performance for daily use, a comfortable keyboard and touchpad, and more than 11 hours of battery life.
Lenovo's IdeaPad Windows Duet 5i is an affordable, well-rounded alternative to premium 2-in-1 laptops, featuring surprising performance for the price. With a sturdy build, an intuitive detachable design, a sharp 2.5K display, and a keyboard included, this detachable is perfect for grab-and-go use, whether it's for productivity or entertainment. This all amounts to an impressive value for its price, earning it our Editors' Choice award.
The Lenovo IdeaPad Windows Duet 5i is for Windows users who like the tablet-plus-keyboard concept, but don't need tons of power. It's a smart choice for grab-and-go productivity and entertainment, delivering a welcome balance between cheaper and more deluxe 2-in-1 laptops.
Plenty of low-cost laptops have screens measuring 12 to 14 inches diagonally, but 17-inch laptops (at any price) are growing rarer every year. HP's 2022 refresh of its Laptop 17 brings full-HD visuals to a large work and leisure environment for a reasonable sum. And it doesn't skimp out on the hardware that powers it. While you shouldn't expect to game on a laptop like this, expect reliable performance for working or watching video at an approachable price.
At $529.99, the Lenovo IdeaPad 3i 15 (2022) is even more affordable than the HP Laptop 17 detailed above, even if it's not quite as big. The Lenovo IdeaPad 3i is an affordable laptop that provides decent performance and features for its price range. It has a 15.6-inch full HD screen, an Intel Core i5 processor, and a 512GB solid-state drive. While it may not be the most impressive laptop, it doesn't have any obvious flaws, making for a true value.
This laptop is ideal for anyone looking for a powerful gaming laptop that won't break the bank. It's the best choice for gamers who want to play the latest games at high settings without sacrificing performance or visual quality. Despite its lack of biometrics, this laptop is also suitable for anyone who needs to balance both gaming and productivity, making it a versatile choice for students and professionals alike.
Convertible laptops are the show-offs of the notebook world, flipping and folding between laptop, tablet, and presentation easel modes with versatility that makes fixed-form-factor systems jealous. Finding a nifty convertible for $429 complete with stylus pen is enough to raise an eyebrow, but Asus' Chromebook Flip CM3 delivers with little compromise. This 12-inch Chrome OS laptop weighs just 2.5 pounds and packs impressive performance, as well as a 3:2 screen aspect ratio that makes tablet operations feel more like holding a pad of paper than wielding an ungainly 16:9 widescreen 2-in-1.
The Lenovo IdeaPad Duet 3 Chromebook is an ideal option to consider if you're looking for a smart little tablet that doubles as a laptop. It contains enough features and performance for everyday tasks such as web browsing, email, and streaming media, making it a great choice for students, casual users, or anyone looking for value in a portable Chromebook.
Ready to dive into the details around budget laptops? Today's good news is that you'll have to accept fewer compromises with budget laptops than you did in the past. Intel's Celeron and Pentium processors (which power most of the under-$400 laptop set) have evolved to the point that they can support most of your web browsing and basic productivity needs without feeling sluggish. (That's especially true with Chromebooks; more on them later.) That said, the $400-to-$700 Windows laptop market is mostly populated by systems based on the much peppier Intel Core i3 and Core i5 and AMD Ryzen 3 and Ryzen 5 families of processors. Opt for these CPU lines if you need more than just the basics. (See more about how to choose a laptop CPU.)
All of these CPUs also host the silicon that runs the laptop's graphics. The newest integrated graphics solutions can hold their own in browser-based games and even some online games like World of Warcraft. The higher demands of AAA titles, though, still require a discrete GPU, which you won't find in this price range. (If money is no object, check out our top-rated gaming laptops and ultraportables, as well as our favorite cheap gaming laptops.)
In years past, many of the barest-budget Windows laptops would come with just 2GB or 4GB of main system memory, but nowadays, at least in the Windows sphere, most come with 8GB. (A 4GB RAM count remains more common in Chromebooks and under-$300 Windows laptops.) In terms of batteries, an ideal budget laptop has one with six cells or more. The battery life for a cheap laptop should come in at a minimum of seven or eight hours, and these days, many will last quite a bit longer. (A lower-resolution screen, which is a feature of some of these machines, can consume less power, all else being equal, and end up being a benefit of sorts.)
Other budget systems, particularly Chromebooks and some under-$400 Windows laptops, will have only a small allotment (32GB or 64GB) of local storage, but compensate for it with generous offers of additional free cloud storage. Of course, as with anything cloud-based, you'll need to be online to access it. Also, know that budget machines with this little local storage, among them many Chromebooks, are using what is called "eMMC memory" as their main storage. This is not the same as the flash memory used in a true solid-state drive (SSD), and it will feel a tad sluggish if you're used to an SSD.
An HDMI output and a USB-C port are definite pluses, and you can find these on even some of the very cheapest models. You shouldn't always expect a touch-screen display, however. (See our picks for the best touch-screen laptops.) Any 2-in-1 convertible machine, though, will by definition have a touch screen, as having one is necessary for using the machine as a tablet or in other orientations where the keyboard is covered up.
Chromebooks used to be little more than glorified netbooks running Google's ChromeOS. While these ChromeOS-based laptops are still resolutely web-centric, they now have fuller feature sets. If you spend most of your working hours in the cloud, a Chromebook will offer you much of the functionality of a regular Windows or Mac laptop, and it may well deliver longer battery life, depending on the model.
See our guide to the best 2-in-1 convertible and hybrid laptops for more information about this popular segment of the market. In part because of their added complexity compared with traditional clamshell designs, you won't find quite as many affordable ones, but there are a few Windows and ChromeOS-based models that cost $500 or below. They come in both permanently attached (generally 360-degree-rotating-hinge) designs, and in detachable-keyboard designs.
The best inexpensive laptops tend to go in and out of stock frequently. We've broken out the specs of our favorites here, and while we update this guide constantly, there's a good chance that at least one of our picks is back-ordered at any given time. But if you're on a strict budget, don't lose heart. You can definitely find PCs that will offer you enough performance to tackle your day-to-day tasks without a hitch.
For further in-depth breakdowns of our budget picks, take a look at our roundups of the best laptops for college students, the best laptops for kids, and the best Chromebooks. And for more general factors to consider when choosing a laptop, take a look at our buying guide with our top laptop picks overall.
Lenovo's AMD-based IdeaPad 5, which comes with a Ryzen 5 processor, is the best budget laptop for most people. You get plenty of power, a nice 14-inch IPS display, 16 gigabytes of RAM, and a 256-gigabyte SSD. The 360-degree hinge converts it to tablet mode or stand mode for watching movies. To take full advantage of the 2-in-1 design, be sure to grab the digital pen ($40), although there's no place to stow it. The screen could also be brighter. We've noticed that the 512-gigabyte model is often on sale for only a few dollars more, and it is definitely worth the extra money if you can get it for a similar price.
The Acer Aspire 3 offers the best value among all the 15-inch laptops I've tested. You should get the model with an Intel Core i5 (or AMD 5000 series chip), integrated graphics, 8 gigabytes of RAM, and a 15.6-inch IPS display (1,920 x 1,080 pixels). It's big, and the display is not the sharpest, but it won't strain your eyes. There are ports galore (Ethernet, USB, USB-C, HDMI, headphone jack), and it's powerful enough for most everyday tasks. The keyboard is decent and, at 4 pounds, this machine is one of the lighter budget 15-inch laptops around. It's a shame the speakers don't get very loud.
If your budget is tight and you want the most bang for your buck, or you just want to keep something out of the landfill, consider the used or refurbished laptop market. I've had great luck buying used laptops on eBay from all sorts of sellers (both pros and regular people).
If you're looking for the best laptops of 2023, then we can help. This year has seen some truly excellent laptops released, and we're only just over a quarter of the way through it. So far, massive laptop brands such as Apple, Dell, Lenovo and Asus have launched some truly spectacular products for all budgets. 781b155fdc