The best budget laptops
In today’s world, laptops are practically indispensable, whether you’re working from home, watching movies in bed, or chatting with your friends and family. Luckily, you don’t need to spend a huge amount of money on one — there are plenty of excellent budget laptops to choose from.
The trouble is choosing a budget laptop that’s reliable and has all the features you need — you can’t expect it to rival a high-end model, but it should perform decently.
To help get you started, we’ve done our research to bring you the latest information as well as our shortlist of the best budget laptops of 2021.
Top budget laptops
1. Samsung Chromebook Plus: Our top choice for the year, this lightweight laptop works quickly and efficiently on a budget. Thanks to cloud storage, your files are safe, even if your laptop gets broken, lost, or stolen.
2. Lenovo Ideapad S340: With this new entry on our list, you get some great specs considering the low price, such as a 128GB SSD and 8GB of RAM. A solid choice for anyone on a budget who doesn’t want a Chromebook.
3. HP Pavilion Laptop 15z-eh100: On the higher end of the budget spectrum, this is an ideal option for those who don’t have the money for a top-range computer but still need one that packs a punch.
For full reviews of these products, scroll to the bottom.
What you need to know before buying a budget laptop
There are lots to consider before buying a budget laptop because even an affordable model costs a fair chunk of change and you don’t want to make the wrong decision.
Random access memory (RAM) is an important factor in how quickly a laptop will run. Budget laptops on the lower end of the price spectrum usually have either 4GB or 8GB of RAM. Unless you only use your laptop for extremely basic tasks, we recommend the 8GB option, otherwise, it will feel sluggish. If you’re willing to go up to the higher end of the price spectrum, some models have 16GB of RAM, which makes them significantly speedier.
Consider the screen size of your chosen laptop, as well as the impact this will have on the size of the keyboard. Most budget laptops have screens between 13-16 inches. Anything smaller than that and the keyboard can be so small that it’s tricky to use.
You normally need to make some sacrifices when choosing a budget laptop, as you’re unlikely to get all the features you’d like to have within your price range. Therefore, it makes sense to consider what you can do without. For instance, if you don’t play games on your laptop, you don’t need a high-end graphics card, or if you don’t listen to much audio on your laptop or have external speakers you can use, then speaker quality isn’t paramount.
Everyone has a different idea of budget, but we count budget laptops as any that cost between roughly $200 and $650.
Budget laptop FAQ
Q. What is an SSD?
A. An SSD is a solid-state drive, which is an alternative to a standard hard disk drive (HDD). Without moving parts, SSDs have the capacity to be significantly faster than HDDs. You can find some budget laptops with SSDs, which we recommend over those with HDDs if their other specs are similar.
Q. How long will my budget laptop last?
A. There’s no guarantee how long a laptop will last. When well taken care of, your budget laptop could physically last for 5 to 10 years, but it won’t take as long as that for it to be noticeably slower compared to newer models, since computing technology improves so quickly and budget laptops are already using lower-end technology compared to more expensive models. Realistically, you’ll probably want to upgrade your budget laptop for a newer model within 3 to 5 years.
In-depth reviews for best budget laptops
Best of the best
What we like: This nifty Chromebook has a touchscreen so you can also use it as a tablet. Impressive battery life of up to 11 hours. Verizon option available for use without WiFi.
What we dislike: Very little internal storage and only 4GB of RAM.
Where to buy: Sold by Amazon
Best bang for your buck
What we like: The 15.6-inch screen is large enough for most and allows for a fair-size keyboard with separate number pad. Decent specs considering its affordable price.
What we dislike: The screen resolution could be better.
Where to buy: Sold by Amazon
Worth checking out
What we like: This laptop features an impressive RAM up to 16 GB and SSD with up to 1TB of storage space. Decent enough graphics card to play some video games.
What we dislike: On the pricier side for a budget laptop, but worth it if you can afford it.
Where to buy: Sold by HP
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Lauren Corona writes for BestReviews. BestReviews has helped millions of consumers simplify their purchasing decisions, saving them time and money.
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