How To Shop For A Cheap Laptop
For laptops under $500, inconsistent pricing, disappearing inventory, and retailer-exclusive deals make shopping difficult. But even if you arent familiar with computer specifications, you can still find a decent Windows laptop by looking for these features:
- Processor: We recommend a 10th or 11th-generation Intel Core i5 or i3 processor or a 4000-series or 5000-series AMD Ryzen 3 or 5 processor . Avoid AMD processors such as the dual-core A9, as well as Intel Pentium or Celeron processors.
- Storage: Choose a 128 GB or larger solid-state drive and avoid hard drives .
- Memory: Get 8 GB of memory . In a pinch, 4 GB will do, but with that smaller amount you wont be able to run many programs at the same time.
- Screen: Look for a display with 1080p resolution, listed as 1920×1080 or FHD by many sellers. A computer that hits the other requirements but has a standard HD display will do for basic tasks.
When shopping for a cheap laptop, stick to major retailers with good return policies, such as Amazon, Best Buy, Walmart, or the manufacturer itself. Avoid sites with deals too good to be true, like BuyDig. Buying a refurbished model is another excellent way to save money. When youre shopping for a refurbished laptop, buy from the original manufacturer or an authorized dealer and avoid seller-refurbished models from places like Amazon.
Chromebooks: The Crme De La Cheap
Chromebooks used to be little more than glorified netbooks running Google’s Chrome OS. While these Chrome OS-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 10 or macOS laptop, and it may well deliver longer battery life, depending on the model.
It will also likely cost you a lot less than other types of notebooks, as many Chromebooks come in at less than $300. Just be sure you have easy access to stable Wi-Fi wherever you’ll use one, as Chromebooks have limited offline functionality and scant local storage.
Note that a Pentium or Celeron processor is adequate for a light-usage, budget-minded Chromebook. Intel Core processors tend to be found in the more premium class of Chromebooks.
What Is The Best Cheap Laptop
The best cheap laptop of 2021 is the HP Envy 13, making it the best ultrabook on the market today for its price. Starting at $799, the new HP Envy 13 is our favorite thanks to its sleek, portable design, bright 4K and 1080p display options, and fast performance. New to the latest model is a webcam kill switch and fingerprint sensor for those who value security and privacy. And unlike its predecessor, the latest Envy 13 has great speakers.
The HP Envy 13 is the best laptop for anyone who wants a premium machine but is trying to save a buck. Its sibling, the HP Envy x360 13, is also on this list for those after the best cheap 2-in-1 laptops. It’s an absolute steal for what it dishes out.
In the case of the Asus ZenBook 13 UX325EA , the secret sauce is Intels new Tiger Lake chips. Under Intels new Evo initiative, Intel Tiger Lake chips offer more powerful performance, longer battery life, and the introduction of Thunderbolt 4 and Wi-Fi 6. Plus, you get the added bonus of the ZenBooks beautiful yet durable chassis. Alternatively, you can opt in for the OLED version of this laptop specs won’t be as good, but the display will be far brighter and more vivid.
There’s plenty of great contenders on this list though, so check out the best cheap laptops of 2021 below.
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Q: Look For A Big Amount Of Storage Or Upgrade Later
A: When youre looking at some of the budget laptops, they all come with different storage sizes. Some of them come with a decent storage size, yet others come with a faster storage type with less size. The most ideal situation, and what we recommend is to get a laptop with faster storage, and then upgrade later with an external or even internal storage. In the meanwhile, you can always store everything in the cloud. Its about playing it wisely so you can get the best outcome in the long run.
Laptop Deals Over $600
Surface Pro 7 w/ Type Cover: The Surface Pro 7 is considered one of the best tablets on the market. With Windows 10 built-in, a great display and its high-quality type cover included, the Surface Pro 7 is a steal for anyone looking for a premium 2-in-1 laptop for an affordable price. It’s now $349 off. View Deal
HP Spectre x360 13T-AW200: As part of HP’s latest flash sale, you can pick up the HP Spectre x360 13T-AW200 for $150 off. This laptop features a 13.3-inch FHD touch display, Intel Irix Xe Graphics, 11th Gen Intel Core i5 CPU, and a 256GB SSD for storage. View Deal
MSI GF65 Thin 10SDR-675: The name might be a bit of a mouthful, but this gaming laptop from MSI is no joke. It offers a 15.6-inch FHD display, Intel Core i7 processor, Nvidia GeForce GTX 1660 Ti GPU, 16GB of RAM, and a 1TB SSD.
Razer Blade 15: The Razer Blade 15 is a hugely popular gaming laptop, this configuration of the machine is currently $300 off at Amazon. It sports a 15.6-inch FHD display,10th Gen Intel Core i7 CPU, Nvidia GeForce GTZ 1660 Ti, 16GB of RAM, 256GB SSD and a backlit keyboard as well. View Deal
Gigabyte Aero 15 OLED: The beastly Aero 15 OLED is currently a massive $431 off. The config on sale houses a 15.6-inch 4K AMOLED display, Core i7-9750H CPU, 16GB RAM, 512GB SSD, and an Nvidia GTX 1660Ti GPU.View Deal
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The Best Cheap Laptop With A Stylus
If you like the Duets size and detachable form factor but are willing to spend on something a bit more upscale, you may find the Asus Chromebook Detachable CM3 to be a better choice. Like the Duet, the CM3 is a 10.5-inch 16:10 Chrome OS tablet with a fabric cover, kickstand, and detachable screen. But the CM3s kickstand folds multiple ways: you can crease it lengthwise to stand the tablet up like a laptop or fold it the short way and stand the tablet up horizontally. Plus, it comes with a built-in USI stylus and roomy keys with a surprising amount of travel. Battery life was also quite impressive: we averaged close to 13 hours of continuous work.
Where the CM3 lags a bit behind the Duet is the power. Its MediaTek processor can be a bit sluggish compared to more pricier offerings. But the CM3 still offers a surprising number of perks for its sub-$400 price and makes a great student driver or secondary device.
Best Pick For The Biggest Possible Screen
- HDMI port and microSD card reader
- Even older USB 2.0 ports
- Disappointing battery life
- Handy tablet gestures and Android phone integration
- Only one USB port and no headphone jack
- Cramped keyboard
- Thin, light design with excellent build quality
- Nifty built-in kickstand
- Face-recognition camera with 1080p quality
- Fanless, silent operation
- Pleasing light design, with aluminum construction
- Backlit keyboard
- Solid port and slot selection, including USB Type-C and microSD
- Eight-hour battery life
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Cheap Laptop Deals Under $600
HP 14 laptop: $579.99 $429.99 at HPSave $150 – There’s a $140 discount on this 14-inch HP laptop right now. That means you can pick up a machine with the latest 11th generation of Intel’s i3 processor as well as 8GB RAM, 256GB of SSD storage and 16GB of Intel Optane memory for just under $450. It’s the best budget laptop we’ve spotted this week.
$749.99$569.99 at HPSave $180 – The HP Pavilion x360 range not only features a gorgeous aesthetic, but also a really handy 2-in-1 design that allows you to use it as both a laptop or a tablet. This particular spec is no slouch either with an 11th gen Intel Core i5, 8GB of RAM, and 256GB SSD providing plenty of power. Equally capable with casual or work applications, this one’s a great choice if you think you’ll be able to make the most out of that touchscreen design.
$749.99 $599.99 at HPSave $150 – With $150 off the MSRP, you’ll find an excellent $599.99 price tag on this powerful 11th generation i7 HP laptop deal this week. While the 256GB SSD is a little mid-range for this price tag, you’re picking up a pricey CPU here and the sacrifice in storage is well worth it if you’re after a zippy experience. Plus, there’s 16GB RAM inside as well. We were previously excited to see this configuration at $649 , so an extra $50 off is even better value than normal.
The Best Budget Laptop With Chrome Os
If youd prefer a more traditional Chromebook with a clamshell form factor, the $699 Acer Chromebook Spin 713 is an affordable option thats all-around excellent. It has a gorgeous 3:2 display that delivers a sharp picture and bright, vibrant colors with plenty of vertical space. The screen alone would make the Chromebook Spin 713 a standout, but it has a number of other strengths as well, including a great keyboard, all-day battery life, and a comprehensive port selection, including an HDMI, in addition to USB-C, USB-A, and a microSD slot.
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Best Windows Laptops Under $500
|Tested battery life:||9.5 hours|
Why we like this one: If the other options are unavailable or cost more than $500, the Acer Aspire 5 A515-45-R9YK is another solid 15-inch Windows laptop. Its fast enough to handle most workloads, and its 15-inch 1920×1080 screen looks vivid and bright, which is an achievement compared with many Windows laptops in this price range. It has a decentbut not great, and not backlitkeyboard with a built-in number pad, a responsive trackpad, and one USB-C port. The Aspire 5 also has a few more hours of battery life than our other Windows picks it lasted 9 hours 41 minutes in our tests.
Where it falls short: The Aspire 5 is big and heavy, so despite its long battery life its not especially convenient to use on the go. And like most inexpensive Windows laptops, it comes with a ton of unnecessary bloatware that takes up space and slows down performance. We recommend running Microsofts Refresh Windows tool to remove those unnecessary programs and make your laptop feel faster, and to help it be more secure. It also lacks a fingerprint reader, and its keyboard isnt as satisfying as that of the Asus VivoBook models above.
Software To Drive Your Productivity
Once youve figured out the hardware you need , its time to talk about software. We offer a great selection of software to meet all of your computing needs. From productivity tools that allow you to keep your home organized or get your school work completed to tax preparation software, we have what you need. Many of these software programs can be downloaded instantly so you can get working right away.
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What To Look For In Laptops Under $500
While Chromebooks can run Chrome OS-specific and Android apps, some people need the full Windows OS to run heftier applications, such as video-editing suites. With that comes a need for a faster processor with more cores, more memory — 8GB is the bare minimum — and more storage for applications and the operating system itself. A lot of these have 4GB or 6GB, which in conjunction with a spinning hard disk can make for a frustratingly slow Windows laptop experience. But demands on Chromebooks are growing, so if your Chrome needs to run beyond the basics you should think about paying more for more memory and a faster processor.
Considering all specs and options — battery life, storage space, screen resolution, screen size, core processor performance, general machine and battery performance — these are a few of our top picks for 2021’s best Windows laptops and Chromebooks under the $500 budget, along with their pros and cons.
The Best Cheap Tablets And Hybrids: 2
Tablets rose in popularity throughout the 2010s, and though we have plenty of reviews of thoseâtake a look at our overall roundup of the best tablets, as well as our favorites running the Windows 10 and Android operating systemsâthey are sufficiently different from traditional clamshell-style laptops that they don’t always make good substitutes. Some come with detachable keyboards, but most of these are far less comfortable for typing on your lap than a conventional laptop.
Convertible 2-in-1s, however, do make a good substitute for traditional clamshells. These machines let you flip between a laptop and a tablet, by folding the keyboard out of the way. You should consider one of these convertible systems if you primarily want the typing capability of a laptop, but occasionally would appreciate the lie-back, passive-consumption convenience of a tablet.
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 10 and Chrome OS-based models that cost $500 or below. They come in both permanently attached designs, and in detachable-keyboard designs.
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How To Shop Budget Laptops
If you’re in the market for a low-priced laptop it’s important to think about the features that are important to you. Whether you buy new, used, or Certified Refurbished, you want a laptop well-suited for your needs. A Chromebook could be a great choice for web browsing or basic schoolwork. Smaller laptops are easy to take with you, while those with large screens can be more attractive for creative work like photography or video editing. Finally, gamers will want to look for a laptop with fast processors, ample RAM, and at least 1 terabyte of hard drive storage. While these high-performance laptops tend to be more expensive, you may be able to save quite a bit of money by purchasing an older model that’s still capable of running many popular games.
A Cheap Laptop With Standout Build
The Yoga C740 is as straightforward as a laptop can get. It has a sturdy aluminum build and perfectly fine 10th Gen Intel processors. We were pleasantly surprised by the devices audio the upward-firing speakers on the sides of the keyboard deliver a nice surround-sound experience. The keyboard and touchpad are both quite comfortable to use. Theres not much to complain about and not much to enthusiastically praise if youre looking for a sub-$800 Windows laptop with a well-made aluminum chassis and a sturdy frame, youre looking for the Yoga.
The C740 is a year old now, but that means you can get it at very affordable prices. Were looking forward to reviewing its successor, the Yoga 7i, shortly in the future.
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The Best Laptop Under $500
If youre looking for an absurdly cheap Chromebook that absolutely gets the job done, you should definitely be looking at the $219 Lenovo Chromebook Duet. The Duet is a 10-inch aluminum alloy Chrome OS tablet that comes with a kickstand and keyboard cover. It looks sturdy and classy, and it can easily function as either a tablet or a PC. But youre not compromising too much on performance for this devices tiny size as long as youre not running dozens of tabs and apps, you should be fine. And we got over 11 hours of battery life in our testing, making it one of the longest-lasting Chromebooks weve seen in the past year.
The main thing to know about the Chromebook Duet is that the screen is quite small just 10.1 inches. Thats a fine size for a young student and for an adults secondary device for note-taking, Netflixing, and the like, but its not an ideal size for a primary work device unless youre fine with quite a bit of squinting.
How To Find The Best Cheap Laptop
When shopping for the best affordable laptops there’s a lot to consider. Here’s a good breakdown on how to find the best laptop for you.
What’s your budget?
Sure you can find some diamond-in-the-rough, decent Windows laptops and high-quality Chromebooks for under $500, but you may have to deal with a low-performing CPU or a poor multitasker. If you’re a light laptop user, those will be OK, but if you need something more powerful, you may aint to aim higher — the best mainstream laptops typically cost more than $700. If you can, we suggest aiming for the $700 to $900 range.
Do you want a 2-in-1 or a clamshell?
If you enjoy the awesomeness of converting your laptop into a tablet, then the 2-in-1 laptops are a good choice. But keep in mind that most times, you’ll be able to get a lower price and stronger-performing features with a traditional laptop.
How much battery life do you need?
If you’re on the go, you’re going to need to make sure you snag a laptop that lasts more than 10 hours. But if you’re a homebody or you’re tied to your desk all day, perhaps you can sacrifice some battery life and save some money in the process. Check out our longest-lasting laptops list.
What specs do you need?
Aim for a Core i5 CPU if you want decent performance. Memory and storage, you should aim for 8GB of RAM and a 256GB SSD. As far as display, don’t get anything less than 1080p screen — your eyes will thank you later.
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