Even though smartphones and tablets have come a long way in the last decade, there are many, many tasks for which a laptop is essential. Moreover, many 2-in-1 laptops are now available and can be used as tablets.
There are many high-end laptops available, but these cost well over $1,000. Fortunately, cheaper options that provide the required functionality at a much lower cost are also available.
Now it’s up to you to decide which one from among the best cheap laptops is the right one for you. That’s right, no one else can tell you which one is the best for you since only you know your requirements.
The following is a guideline about laptop specifications which should help you in making your decision. Make a requirements’ checklist, then go through the list of best cheap laptops below and select the one that meets your needs.
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How to Choose The Best Cheap Laptop
Laptops are made up of hundreds of components. Fortunately, we don’t need to know the specifications of each and every one of them to be able to make a decision about which laptop to buy. As long as we are clear about our own needs, we can study the specifications of a few major components to be able to make a good decision.
Performance mainly depends on the Central Processing Unit (CPU) and the Random Access Memory (RAM). The CPU is the brain of the laptop and executes the program instructions. At runtime, computer programs are copied from storage to RAM for fast access by the CPU.
Important CPUs specifications include clock speed (typically 1 – 3 GHz), cache (on-board CPU memory) and a number of cores (independent processing units). RAM is specified in size (typically 2 – 6 GB) and speed (supported data transfer rate).
Together the CPU and RAM determine the type of applications that the laptop can run. For example, modern AAA games require both a powerful CPU and sufficient RAM (and a powerful Graphics Card of course). If the CPU speed is low and/or the RAM is not sufficient, the game will not run smoothly.
The same is true for video editing and engineering simulations. Web browsing and word processing, on the other hand, do not require a fast CPU or a large amount of RAM.
Laptops have fixed storage for storing software and user data which can vary in size from a few Gigabytes (GBs) to multiple Terabytes (TBs).
Storage devices are based either on the older Hard Disk Drive (HDD) and or the newer Solid-State Drive (SSD) technologies. HDDs store data on a rotating platter and the data is read by a read/write head floating above the spinning platter. SSDs use microchips for storing date and there are no moving parts.
The major difference between the two is that SSDs support faster data transfer rates (the laptop boots 3-4 times faster, programs load times are also reduced by 3-4 times) and are more expensive than HDDs.
Another type of storage used on laptops with limited storage is flash memory (similar to the technology used for USB drives).
If the applications and data are stored in the cloud (like is the case for Chromebooks) then a lot of local storage is not necessary. However, if the laptop is running Windows and you need to edit videos which are stored locally, then you need a serious amount of storage (typically 500 GB – 1TB).
Our eyes never leave the display while we work on the laptop and since we are working for hours on end, we need displays that allow us to see clearly in different lighting conditions, and also not put a strain on our eyes (something which is especially important for young children who use laptops for educational purposes).
Important display specifications include screen size (typical range is from 11” – 15”), resolution (total number of pixels; full HD resolution is 1920 x 1080), brightness (typical values range from 200 – 300 nits) and color quality (IPS screens are good, OLED screens are the best).
Batteries are usually described in terms of cell technology (current batteries use Lithium-ion whereas older batteries were based on Ni-Cd), number of cells (typically 3-12 cells, more cells means more battery life but also increase battery weight) and power carrying capacity (specified in watt-hours/Wh or milli-ampere-hours/mAh; higher values mean greater battery life, typical values are 3000-4000 mAh or 40-60 Wh).
Since laptop users are typically on the move, battery life is of the utmost importance. Battery life varies with the type of applications used. Web browsing and business presentations will typically not load the CPU and therefore the battery will drain slowly. Gaming and other CPU-intensive applications will cause the battery to be used up quite a bit faster. Battery life is also affected by many other factors. For example, higher screen brightness reduces battery life and touchscreen displays use more power than non-touch displays.
By using this guideline about laptop specifications, you should be able to choose from among the following cheap laptops.
9 Best Cheap Laptops
Acer Aspire 5 Slim Laptop A515-54-30BQ
Slim Full HD Laptop with Backlit Keyboard
Acer Aspire 5 Slim is powered by Ryzen 3б5 or 7 processor. Along with that comes 4GB or 8GB of DDR4 RAM memory and 128GB-512GB SSD SSD system memory.
It has 15.6” FHD widescreen LED display and Vega graphics, which is more than enough for a regular user.
Apart from that, it comes with one USB 3.1 Type-C generation 1 port, two USB 3.1 generation 1 with power-off charging ports and one regular USB 2.0 port. Along with that, this laptop has HDMI port, along with full HDCP support.
As for the internet access, Acer Aspire 5 Slim has really good 802.11 AC Wi-Fi support. Its keyboard is backlit, which makes it easier for users to type whenever they want.
The battery is solid, and it can offer you full 9.5 hours of constant work. The laptop itself comes with already installed Windows 10 S, so you won’t have to bother of installing it by yourself.
- Full HD widescreen support
- A large number of USB ports
- Comes with Windows 10
- Solid battery life
- Good for basic needs, weak for more demanding tasks
ASUS Chromebook C423NA-DH02
Super Slim Design for Everyday Use on the Go
If you’re a college student who can’t catch a break in between classes all day long or you’re a professional that’s always on the road, the Chromebook C423NA-DH02 from ASUS may be the perfect laptop for you.
It features a super slim profile, is ultra-light (1.4Kg or about 3 pounds), and fits easily in a backpack, bag, or briefcase. Furthermore, it boasts a metallic case that feels great when touched but it’s also durable and dent-resistant.
In terms of performance, the laptop handles well everyday tasks such as working with documents and browsing. This is possible due to its configuration: Intel Dual Core Celeron N3350 processor with 4GB RAM, and 32GB eMMC storage unit.
The display looks great at 14 inches and features HD resolution (1366×768). To make it more attractive and easier to use, the display is fitted with an ultra-narrow bezel and has anti-glare properties (for use outdoors).
Finally, the laptop runs Chrome OS, which opens up the Android apps world for the user. It’s also easy to connect due to the available USB Type-C and Type-A ports.
- Lightweight and portable
- Durable & nice-looking
- Good configuration
- Runs Chrome OS
- Perfect for everyday use
- Speakers are not stellar
- Trackpad material is low quality
- Not designed for demanding projects or gaming
ASUS VivoBook 15 F512JA-AS34
The Lightweight Powerhouse
The moment you pick this sweet piece of hardware up you will most likely ask yourself “How can It be so light and yet so sturdy?” If you are running on a tight budget yet want to get your money’s worth to the fullest extent of your purchase, this magnificently sleek model is the way to go.
This option is definitely on the beefy side of the performance scale as it packs the 10th Gen Intel Core i5-1005G1, a strong chip market competitor that outshines many alternatives, as well as 128GB SSD storage which will immensely contribute towards holding a snappy functionality during most day-to-day tasks.
The boot-up process is lightning fast due to the innovative fingerprint sensor and using the keyboard is both comfortable and easy, with highly sensitive keys. Alongside a 15.6-inch 1080p display and weighing just 1.7 kg, you can hardly go wrong with such a sublime model that combines quality and aesthetics into one.
On the flip side, if you are planning for some heavy-duty gaming or editing you might want to limit such activities as the graphics card was built with the intent of light photo or video editing and perhaps for games that don’t strain the GPU too much.
- Comfort and durability
- Unmatched performance in all aspects that don’t strain the GPU
- 6-7 hour battery life with fast charging
- Spacious keyboard
- Lacks a dedicated Graphic card for gaming or similar high-end activities
- The model lacks Thunderbolt 3 support
HP 14-inch HD Touchscreen
The Best Valued
Ever wonder what is the best choice you can make when you need portability, power, and functionality in one package? If so, this is definitely one of the few ideal options on the market that will alleviate any issue you might come across.
Coming from one of the big named companies within the tech industry, it stands above the rest for its superb qualities that drastically exceed its price tag. It possesses the gold standard for middle-class laptop models, the AMD Ryzen 3 3200U processor, which provides exemplary performance for most activities that would otherwise lend to everyday static computers with the maximum of its clock speed being 3.5 GHz.
Its quality does not end there as it is outfitted with AMD Radeon Vega 3, a quality graphics card that enables its users to enjoy impressive levels of immersion and visual detail that is rarely seen on most portable machines even to this day.
Its plethora of options for connecting a multitude of commonly used computer devices, combined with the longevity of its battery life, is sure to provide for above-average user experience in all areas of use.
- Excellent construction
- Quality components
- Sleek design and portability
- Multi connectivity
- Satisfying battery life
- Lightweight and durable
- Not ideal for extremely high-performance activities
Acer Swift 3
Affordability and Swiftness in one Package
It is often said that looks can be deceiving and this laptop embodies the saying quite literally. With a minimalist design and modest aesthetic, this model is the equivalent of a discreet gentleman who does not need to say a word to get his value known across the room.
A bit of a jack of all trades, Acer Swift 3 weighs just 2.7 pounds and sports dimensions of 12.6 x 8.5 x 0.6 inches, this is an excellent portable companion both for indoor and outdoor use. It is constructed with a plethora of connection options in mind as it possesses a DC-in jack, a sleek HDMI port, a USB 3.1 Generation 1 Type-A port and its Type-C counterpart.
What really makes this option stand out, however, is the admirable battery capacity. Even if continuous use is required, this model will not disappoint as it can keep optimal performance running and even surpass the 8-hour mark that many of its competitors might fall short off. It keeps cool and will usually hit its threshold at 89 degrees Fahrenheit even if your usage extends beyond the intended usage of this laptop.
For the CPU and GPU compartment, it possesses the Core i5 processor and integrated GPU which are ideal for office, school, college, and business use. It will get you through the day and most likely still have enough power left for your personal tasks.
- Stabile and comfortable
- Great performance
- Somewhat slow SSD
- The display can sometimes appear middling
Samsung Chromebook Plus V2
Slick Chromebook 13MP Camera
Samsung Chromebook Plus V2 has very nice 2 in 1 design. With the weight of only 3 pounds, we can say that it is very light. Its body is completely foldable, so you can use it as a tablet when there is a need for that. To further enhance that experience, there is a built-in pen, which is very precise and it doesn’t have to be charged at all. You can use it to write, draw, control the screen size and take screenshots.
Chromebook Plus V2 also has an excellent 13MP camera with full autofocus, which allows you to take some excellent photos. To take complete advantage of that, it is best to use it in tablet mode.
As for the performance, battery life is quite long (10 hours or more with light use) and the device is powered by an excellent Intel Celeron processor. Memory-wise, Chromebook Plus V2 comes with 64GB of storage space and ability to increase that number up to 400GB with MicroSD card. Apart from that, this laptop features Bluetooth version 4.0, for faster file transfers.
- Completely foldable
- Excellent 13MP camera
- Pre-installed Chrome OS
- Built-in pen
- Solid battery life
- The processor could be better for this price
Lenovo Chromebook C330
The Perfect Cheap Convertible Laptop
Convertible laptops are a great idea for people who want to catch up with work outside the office. However, high-end configurations don’t come cheap. But, if you’re only working with documents and use the device for research, the Lenovo Chromebook C330 is perfect!
Equipped with a MediaTek MT8173C processor, 4GB LPDDR3 and 64 GB eMMC, the laptop is powerful enough to run Chrome OS and a wide variety of apps from Google Play. It also features an 11.6” IPS HD (1366 x 768) 10-point touchscreen that can be rotated to 360-degrees due to the flexible hinge.
In terms of connectivity, the C330 is equipped with 1xUSB-C, 1xSD reader, and 1xUSB 3.0 ports. Also, the device has Wi-Fi and Bluetooth 4.1, which allows two simultaneous connections.
- Highly portable
- Solid build & versatile design
- Beautiful display with touchscreen
- Easy to use & fast
- Runs Chrome OS
- Mediocre CPU performance
- Low screen resolution
- Not the best touch response
HP Stream 14-inch Laptop
The Perfect Budget Choice
This might as well be the poster child of economic and practical laptops on the market. If your needs can be summed up within a reasonably basic spectrum of use, you will not go wrong with this choice by a long shot. The downside, of course, is the functionality that cannot go beyond its configurational limits.
The plastic construction, coupled with a 14-inch 1,366×768 display, provides a lightweight frame and pleasing display quality for its price. The 32GB of storage space the model comes equipped with can be expanded upon with an SD card so it’s not that much of an issue.
You probably already know that, for a price that can go as low as this low, your expectations should not stray much farther than the bare-bones functionality this laptop is intended for. It is provided with 1.6GHz Intel Celeron and Intel HD Graphics 400 (128MB) which should cover usage from sending emails to using web applications.
- It won’t put a dent in your budget
- 1TB OneDrive cloud storage
- Office 365 for one whole year
- A wide array of expansion ports
- Great battery life
- Windows 10 S
- Restrictive application mode (you can only download official Microsoft products and applications)
- Paltry storage space
Lenovo Chromebook S330
Good Processor and Battery Life
Lenovo Chromebook S330 is powered by a pretty good MediaTek MT8173C processor, which offers very high performance. Along with that comes total of 4GB LPDDR3 RAM memory, as well as 32GB eMMC 5.1 storage. That should be enough for regular and business users. To enhance the experience even further, S330 has solid battery life of 10 hours of intensive working.
As for its design, S330 has a very stylish and neat design. It is less than 1” thick and weighs only 3.3 lbs. It has HD display that is 14” in size, which is perfect for working with photos and multimedia content. To enhance your processing, there is enough LPDDR3 RAM memory. Along with that, you get free 100GB cloud storage on Google Drive, which is available to you for two whole years.
Apart from that, it features three USB ports, AC Wi-Fi, Bluetooth 4.1 and very nice 720p webcam, as well as internal virus protection.
- Solid battery
- Very light and portable
- Comes with Chrome OS
- HD display
- Good MediaTek processor
- Could be a bit faster
It is possible to spend over a $1,000 to get a laptop that can do everything and anything. But you don’t need a laptop that does everything. You have specific requirements and cheaper options are very much available which will fulfill your requirements while enabling you to also balance the budget.
So why spend the extra money on something you don’t need. Take some time to think about your exact requirements. And then select a laptop from the best cheap laptops which have been shared with you in this article.