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The best budget laptops are good enough for basic work and play. They don’t cost an arm and a leg, but they don’t feel cheap, offering good performance, a good screen and good enough battery life.
1 Million Cheap Laptop Recommendations For 2023
Not all laptops are gray. Many of the best laptops under $500 are Chromebooks or tablets with detachable keyboards, and if you’re willing to spend a little more, you can get an affordable premium laptop from the likes of Asus or Apple.
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We’ve tested and reviewed dozens and dozens of laptops from top manufacturers to find the best options for those on a budget. What follows is our latest list of the best budget laptops on the market right now, based on our own hands-on testing and reviews.
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The Samsung Galaxy Chromebook 2 is a budget laptop that doesn’t feel like it, with a sleek ultraportable design, a sharp-looking QLED touchscreen, and an 8-hour battery life. It’ll also sound great, with its Core i3 configuration providing great speed for Chrome OS.
We weren’t too happy with its keyboard’s vertical scrolling, which is a little off. This creates a modest learning curve that you will build over time. But getting a Chromebook that looks good (the Fiesta Red color option stands out in a sea of silver and black laptops) and feels premium for under $500 is a great deal.
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+ Bright and sharp display + 10+ hour battery life + Built-in keyboard cover is decent + Amazing for a Chrome tablet
Chrome devices dominate the budget laptop list, and the Lenovo Duet 3 (or Lenovo IdeaPad Duet 3, depending on where you buy it) is the best Chrome tablet you can get for just $359. It’s effectively a larger and more expensive follow-up to the Chromebook Duet that Lenovo released in 2020, a surprisingly capable and affordable Chromebook tablet that’s still on this list.
We liked the original Duet for its excellent battery life, solid performance, and decently packaged keyboard cover, which can be had for around $250. Lenovo’s new 11-inch Dive 3 costs a bit more, but it also offers a bigger, brighter screen, more ports, and the added power of a beefier Qualcomm Snapdragon 7c Gen 2 chip. It’s one of the best chrome tablets you can buy, and the fact that Lenovo includes a keyboard cover at no extra cost helps double it as a surprise. Effective 2-in-1 Chromebook.
While the original Duet is a better buy further down this list if you’re strapped for cash, those who can afford it will be well served by this excellent Chromebook.
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The Microsoft Surface Go 2 is a powerful Windows 10 tablet that does double duty as a budget laptop alternative. On its own, it’s a solid Windows tablet, with enough power for basic browsing and battery life that won’t leave you constantly scrambling for a charger.
But the tablet really comes into its own when the optional type-cover accessories are added. It undercuts the entry-level $299 Surface Go 2 by $359, but in the process turns it into a small laptop that’s surprisingly capable. But to keep things under $500, you’ll need to stick with an Intel Pentium Gold processor, just 4GB of RAM, and 64GB of eMMC storage. It’s not a powerful set of specs, but it should be enough for people who want a 2-in-1 device for reasonably productive tasks: think web browsing, word processing, and batch outputting a healthy batch of emails.
If you’re looking for a budget laptop and don’t mind a tablet/Chromebook hybrid, the Lenovo Chromebook Duet might be for you. Currently on sale for $189, you can get both a tablet and a detachable keyboard instead of paying separately like the Microsoft Surface Go, although this hybrid Windows 10 machine offers a more premium experience.
The Duet isn’t as powerful as its big brother, the Duet 3, but it’s more than enough for what you can do on a Chromebook these days. month. Low specs mean it won’t drain your battery. It also has an amazingly sharp and bright 1920 x 1080 screen that works just as well for watching YouTube as it does email and web browsing.
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Acer’s Spin 311 is exactly what most people expect from a Chromebook: small, affordable, and light enough to handle work and play every day. The keyboard is excellent for a Chromebook of this size and price. Battery life is also strong, and while performance isn’t stellar, it’s more than enough to handle light, everyday tasks.
For students, kids, or anyone looking for a highly portable machine that does the basics well, the Spin 311 is one of the best Chromebooks for kids that can also compete with some of the best Chromebooks at competitive prices.
OK, so the iPad isn’t really a laptop. But for about $449, it can be equipped with an optional Apple Smart Keyboard that turns the tablet into a hybrid laptop for less than $500. In that way, it’s a bit like the Microsoft Surface Go.
If you need to work on email, draft a word document, or do light photo and video editing, this iPad is quite capable. Sure it’s not a powerful machine, but there are some laptops on this list. And while iPadOS has its limitations, it’s still capable of a good set of everyday tasks. Then you have a rich ecosystem of apps to choose from in Apple’s App Store, making the basic iPad a solid device for light work and serious gaming, even if it looks a little dated compared to the more expensive iPad Air. 5.
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The Acer Aspire 5 is a complete laptop for under $500, and it’s a great little machine as long as you don’t plan on unplugging it often. It offers a good selection of ports, a nice 15.6-inch 1080p screen and a comfortable keyboard to type on. However, it’s not the budget star that its predecessor was thanks to its disappointing battery life: it lasted less than 7 hours in our lab tests, and in real-world conditions it regularly started draining after a few hours. did Video streaming.
While the Acer Aspire 5 is a good deal if you need a new laptop on the cheap, its many quirks can be hard to ignore, especially its poor battery life. That said, it hits all the marks for your basic computing needs, including consistent performance and an abundance of ports.
The AMD-equipped Asus Zenbook 13 OLED is a great value, with an attractive 1080p OLED display and exceptional battery life in a thin and light package for under a thousand dollars.
Sure, the speakers aren’t great, the webcam leaves something to be desired, and there’s no headphone jack, but these are limitations you can work around. If you need a Windows ultraportable with a big screen that will last you all day, you can’t do better than the OLED-equipped Asus Zenbook 13 at this price.
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How much weight can you expect from a cheap laptop? You won’t get high performance or a super premium design. And you may have to make some compromises on the screen, like how it handles colors and how bright it gets. But that doesn’t mean you have to settle for a laptop that looks cheap. Rather, you are looking for one that is affordable. So, here are some things to consider while buying a laptop.
Chrome or Windows? Unless you have a budget of $1,000 or more, even the cheapest MacBook Air 2020 will be out of your price range. As such, you may have to decide whether a Windows laptop or a Chromebook best suits your needs.
Chrome OS offers a lightweight operating system that will run on the best mainstream hardware, but still offers a full set of web-based applications and capabilities for many everyday computing tasks. Also, it now supports Android apps.
Windows, on the other hand, needs a bit more power to make sure it runs smoothly. But it supports a wider range of software, more than Chrome OS can currently dream of. And Windows is improved on a regular basis, meaning you’ll be able to get the best software Microsoft has to offer years after you buy your laptop.
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Clamshell or Convertible: Budget laptops generally come in two types: traditional laptops or dynamic 2-in-1 convertibles. Clamshells are usually very cheap and provide a traditional.