By Joe Osborne
Chances are that you landed upon this page in search of a cheap laptop. And, of course, you’re likely seeking one that won’t turn out to be a lemon in short order. Lucky for you, then, that it’s our job and our passion to test out all sorts of laptops and suss out which are best for you.
- These are the best laptops overall in every category
The best budget laptop makes the right priorities. Knowing that they can’t compete with the big leaguers in power, longevity and design, the best cheap laptops make smart compromises. What you’ll find below are, in no particular order, cheap laptops running both Windows 10 and Chrome OS, from straight-up notebooks to convertibles and even some Windows tablets in between – all near or under 500 bucks.
That the Asus Transformer Mini T102HA comes with a keyboard cover is definitely a pro, considering many make it an expensive option. The keyboard itself is serviceable, the build quality of the tablet is acceptable, and it’s thin and light enough to commute with easily. Couple that with full-size ports and impressive battery life, then you have a winner.
Read the full review: Asus Transformer Mini T102HA
The Samsung Chromebook Pro is the product of Google’s project in fusing more of Android into Chrome OS. With the Google Play Store now supported on every new Chromebook released, it only makes sense to craft a Chromebook with a 12.3-inch QHD touch display, with a 360-degree hinge and pen support to boot. It may have a keyboard that’s a bit too compact for comfort, but the laptop more than makes up for it standing in as a tablet that puts most Android devices to shame. It’s even mastered pen input on the first try, more than we can say for even some of the loftier Windows laptops.
Read the full review: Samsung Chromebook Pro
Lenovo has crafted an impressive, futuristic product that could very well create a subcategory in mobile computing all its own. Even with low-power parts that need a bit of work, the Yoga Book bridges the gap between tablet and laptop in ways that we, honestly, didn’t anticipate for a much longer time – if at all. The fact that we can type well on the Yoga Book’s Halo Keyboard, even without auto-correct software aiding us, is evidence to both Lenovo’s hardware and software engineering and our growing familiarity with such input styles over the past 10 years.
Read the full review: Lenovo Yoga Book
With its slick lines and a slim silhouette, the Acer Chromebook 14 makes for a subtle, snazzy laptop. Although its display isn’t the most attractive we’ve seen, it’s rich and fine. And, while not amazing, the keyboard and trackpad serve just as well as most. Battery life satisfies as well, even if it falls a bit south of Acer’s 12-hour claim in real-world use.
Read the full review: Acer Chromebook 14
- From Australia? Try a fine alternative in the Samsung Chromebook Pro.
Heavy and ready to heft hours of school work, HP’s Pavilion 15 makes for a fine deal that bears the known moniker well. Frankly, this is a broke college kid’s laptop. With power that the average pupil needs but at a cost the average student may afford, should be considered before the primo PC aisle, leaving you strapped with a few more clams for more books (or fun).
Read our hands-on review: HP Pavilion 15
Going for under 200 bucks on a regular basis, this 11.6-inch laptop with an HD screen should serve you well as a budget companion device. With 32GB of storage, it’s twice as capacious as most Chromebooks, though the 2GB of slower RAM is something to watch out for. Available in several colors, the Inspiron 11 3000 can even expand the storage with its microSD card slot. Finally, with the ability to connect to a 1080p screen via HDMI, this is one versatile device.
Lenovo has its very own 11.6-inch Windows 10 laptop with an HD screen, but does the Inspiron one better (for a bit more cash) with Pentium processors from Intel as well as a full SD card reader. Lenovo rounds out the package with up to 7 hours of battery life, matching or surpassing rivals in nearly every category. In the budget space, another few bucks can go a long way.
With a starting price of just above 200 large, the HP Stream 14 is a fine value for those seeking a strong if basic web browsing machine. It’s cheaper than even some Chromebooks while offering a bigger screen and the fullness of Windows 10. Sure, some 15-inchers could give this a run for its money both in price and performance, but they may well lack the ergonomics and aesthetics of HP’s cheapest Windows laptop yet.
Available in a variety of colors, this number from Acer brings things into practically a whole new class, with a 15.6-inch HD display powered by an Intel Core i3 processor. The metallic frame should make using this device feel more like a luxury without the sticker shock. Plus, with up to 12.5 hours of claimed battery life, this should last at least once forgetting to charge it.
The only 100% AMD laptop on our list, this lovely 15.6-inch machine offers up to 1,920 x 1,080 pixels of display and a massive amount of optional storage. Even picking this laptop up at its base specification would provide a laptop that could last your school career. That said, some standards, like AC Wi-Fi, don’t come standard, so look twice before checking out.