Finding the Best Cheap Laptops

Last Edited: August 14, 2017 by

Welcome to our weekly updated series on the best cheap laptops based on consumer feedback, hardware power, design and raw value for money.

cheap-laptopsLaptops are becoming faster and faster year in and year out -luckily fierce competition from manufacturers and retailers drives prices own and allow us as consumers to take advantage of major discounts and get more computing power for less. To help narrow your search down we’ve created weekly updated guides covering laptops in various price brackets from laptops under $400 all the way down to laptops under $100 and everything in-between. Our guides are updated regularly with new deals on cheap laptops on sale for the budget conscious and are focused strictly on laptops that stand out the crowd and deserve a spot in the limelight in the battle for the best budget laptop, either through hardware power, outstanding design, or a mixture of both. Unfortunately most major tech blogs and competitors rarely cover laptops within these price ranges which means for now our research is limited mainly to user reviews and direct consumer feedback. Needless to say in many cases this can be even more valuable. Mobile gamers will also want to checkout our popular guide to cheap gaming laptops which offer some additional deals aimed at budget gaming connoisseurs.

How We Decide

We pool reviews and data from hundreds of products to come up with our regularly updated budget laptop buying guides designed to fit any budget and ensure budget conscious users get the most bang for their buck without skimping on the features that are most important to them. Our team are dedicated to finding the best deals possible and our unique ranking score for each laptop takes into account user reviews across a host of leading retailers as well as leading publishers. Whether you are looking for an all-purpose home computer or an on-the-go portable netbook, we’ve got you covered.

Top Laptop Under $200

HP 14-an013nr 14-inchHP 14-an013nr 14-inch

If you are looking for a small laptop for basic tasks such as web browsing, Skype and word processing, then the HP 14-an013nr might be right for you. The HP 14-an013nr is an updated version of the HP 14-an010nr and you now get a Full-HD IPS display. While the HP 14-an010nr only offers a 1366 x 768 TN display, the new and improved display on the HP 14-an013nr offers richer colors and wider viewing angles. You now get a maximum resolution of 1920 x 1080, which is a vast improvement over its predecessor. The AMD Qaud Core E2-7110 and 4GB of DDR3L RAM will not win any awards, but it will easily cope with everyday basic tasks. While it does have an eMMC solid state drive, it is tiny and only offers 32GB of storage space. With Windows 10 installed, you will only have about 15GB of internal storage space to use. We recommend at looking at a Cloud based storage option or an external drive to store your multimedia files. The entry level Radeon R2 graphics is by no means a gaming GPU, but you will be able to play Sims 4, World of Warcraft and Counter Strike: Go on the lowest of settings. The battery life is not as good as we had hoped and users have reported an average battery life of around 5 hours, which will mean carrying your power cord around with you.

  • 14 inch, 1920 x 1080 pixels (IPS)
  • Windows 10 Home
  • 5 hours battery life
  • 3.86 lbs

Pros

  • Full-HD IPS display
  • Price
  • SSD
  • Compact size

Cons

  • Limited storage space
  • Slightly under powered
  • Weak graphics chip
  • No optical drive

Summary

The HP 14-an013nr is an affordable 14-inch laptop that offers a Full-HD IPS display. But the tiny solid state drive cannot be upgraded and users are not left with much space with Windows 10 installed.

HP 14-an013nr 14-inch
$219.99
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from Amazon.com
(as of 25-09-2017 15:54 UTC) Details

Laptops Under $200 – Full Guide >>

Top Laptop Under $300

HP 15-BA009DX 15.6-inchHP 15-BA009DX 15.6-inch

While HP are generally known for their office and business laptops, they do offer a wide range of budget friendly laptops for home and personal use. Breaking the mold from the usual Intel Celeron or Pentium processors, the HP 15-BA009DX features an AMD Quad-Core A6-7310 processor which offers slightly better performance than the current entry-level Intel processors. This also means that instead of an Intel HD Graphics based graphics cards, you will get an AMD Radeon R4 graphics card. While this will not run any of the current titles such as GTA V or Battlefield 1, it will allow you to play classic titles such as Warcraft III, Age of Empires II and Command & Conquer Generals. The HP 15-BA009DX ships with 4GB of RAM, which will be sufficient for everyday tasks, however, it will struggle with more RAM hungry applications such as Google Chrome. We recommend purchasing a second 4GB RAM module to increase the HP 15-BA009DX’s overall performance. While some budget friendly laptops feature tiny 32GB solid state drives, the HP 15-BA009DX comes standard with a 500GB mechanical hard drive. While this hard drive is slower than the newer solid state drives, it does have the advantage off offer far more storage space. If you would like to undertake the task of upgrading the storage drive to a superfast SSD, then we recommend backing up all of your important documents and files before cloning your current hard drive. We recommend the WD Blue 250GB SSD as an affordable solution for the HP 15-BA009DX. You can expect to find an entry-level display for the price, however the colors and image quality are quite decent for the laptops low price tag. Sure, it might not be Full-HD, however it will still allow you to enjoy your favorite 720p YouTube videos online. Some users have mentioned that the trackpad may not always be super responsive and this might be a deal breaker for some users. However, you can use a basic USB mouse to get around this slightly frustrating issue.

  • 15.6 inch, 1366 x 768 pixels (TN)
  • Windows 10 Home
  • 5.5 hours battery life
  • 4.8 lbs

Pros

  • Quad-Core processor
  • Radeon GPU
  • Minimalist design
  • Good amount of storage space
  • Price

Cons

  • Trackpad
  • Integrated graphics
  • No gigabit Ethernet or Bluetooth

Summary

The HP 15-BA009DX is a budget friendly laptop for the casual gamer who enjoys playing classic titles, however the integrated graphics will limit which games this laptop will run without feeling sluggish.

HP 15-BA009DX 15.6-inch
$287.98$284.88
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from Amazon.com
(as of 16-09-2017 15:48 UTC) Details

Laptops Under $300 – Full Guide >>

Top Laptop Under $400

These are our top picks curated through hours of research each week to provide a one stop guide to the best budget  sub-$400 laptops on the market. This guide is updated regularly with new specials and laptops as they become available so you can be sure you’re not missing out on any great deals.

Acer Aspire E 15 E5-575-33BM 15.6-inchAcer Aspire E 15 E5-575-33BM 15.6-inch

If you are looking for a budget friendly laptop that ticks all the boxes, then the Acer Aspire E 15 E5-575-33BM is well worth a closer look. It not only features the latest Intel Kaby Lake processor, it also features next generation connectivity such as USB 3.1 Type-C and Bluetooth 4.1. Powered by a 7th generation Intel Core i3-7100U processor and 4GB of DDR4 RAM, the Acer Aspire E 15 E5-575-33BM will easily cope with basic tasks such as video streaming, web browsing and word processing. But the 4GB of RAM will struggle with more hardware intensive apps. Luckily, Acer has fitted the laptop with an access panel that makes upgrading the RAM a whole lot easier. If you are on a tight budget then we recommend installing a second 4GB RAM module, but if your budget is slightly larger, we recommend installing two 8GB RAM modules for a total of 16GB of RAM. While many sub $500 laptops are still being offered with entry-level 1366 x 768 display panels, the Acer Aspire E 15 E5-575-33BM comes with a Full-HD display. The 1920 x 1080 display offers great image quality and with Acer’s ColorBlast technology, you get more than twice the as many colors as with other budget laptops. If you spend long hours working on your laptop, then Acer’s Bluelight Shield feature will help to reduce eye strain by reducing the amount of blue light that is emitted from the display. The Acer Aspire E 15 E5-575-33BM features a standard 1TB hard drive, which offers ample storage space for all of your files, your music collection and years of photos. However, these budget storage drives are quite slow in comparison to modern solid state drives. You can replace it with an affordable solid state drive, however this will mean sacrificing storage space for speed as a similar size SSD will cost as much as the laptop. Overall the Acer Aspire E 15 E5-575-33BM is packed for of great features that you would expect from more expensive laptops, giving it a great price to performance ratio.

  • 15.6 inch, 1920 x 1080 pixels
  • Windows 10 Home
  • 12 hours battery life
  • 5.27 lbs

Pros

  • Full-HD display
  • 7th Gen Intel processor
  • USB 3.1 Type-C
  • Battery life
  • Price to performance ratio

Cons

  • Only 4GB of RAM
  • Slower 5400rpm HDD

Summary

The Acer Aspire E 15 E5-575-33BM offers a lot of great hardware for its sub $400 price tag. But you only get 4GB of RAM and we recommend upgrading to increase the laptop’s day-to-day performance.

Acer Aspire E 15 E5-575-33BM 15.6-inch
$349.99
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from Amazon.com
(as of 25-09-2017 15:51 UTC) Details

Laptops Under $400 – Full Guide >>

Top Gaming Laptop Under $300

Acer Aspire ES1-572-31KW 15.6-inchAcer Aspire ES1-572-31KW 15.6-inch

The cut throat budget laptop market has seen many great laptops being offered by most of the big name brands. Acer is no stranger to the budget market and has been releasing laptops for the budget conscious buyer for a number of years. What you won’t get with the Acer Aspire ES1-572-31KW is a high performance gaming laptop, but you will be able to play some of your favorite classics. The integrated Intel HD Graphics 520 graphics chip will even allow you to play Diablo III and CS: GO on medium graphics settings. With almost a quarter of all Overwatch players using integrated graphics, it comes as no surprise that you will be able to play this fun and fast paced shooter. However, don’t expect to play more demanding titles such as Battlefield 1 or Fallout 4 on this machine, as it’s more suited to the casual gamer. The Acer Aspire ES1-572-31KW is powered by a Skylake-based Intel Core i3-6100U processor and 4GB of RAM, which will cope with basic tasks with ease. But the 4GB of RAM is slightly underpowered with Windows 10 and it will struggle with certain games. Luckily Acer has made it quite easy to access the internal hardware to upgrade the RAM, we recommend at least 8GB of RAM for smoothest performance. The 1TB mechanical hard drive offers ample storage space for installing games, saving photos and even your favorite videos. To cut costs Acer has used a 5400rpm drive, which for day-to-day use is more than acceptable. However, users who are after faster Windows boot and application loading times can easily upgrade the hard drive to either a hybrid or a SATA based solid state drive.

  • 15.6 inch, 1366 x 768 pixels (TN)
  • Windows 10 Home
  • 6 hours battery life
  • 5.29 lbs

Pros

  • Skylake-based i3 processor
  • Easy to upgrade
  • Ample storage space
  • Price

Cons

  • Only 4GB of RAM
  • Integrated graphics
  • 1366 x 768 pixel display
  • Only one USB 3.0 port

Summary

The Acer Aspire ES1-572-31KW is a budget friendly laptop that can be used by the casual gamer thanks to its Intel i3 processor and its HD Graphics 520 GPU. However, the hardware will not run current AAA gaming titles smoothly and is not suited for hardcore gamers.

Acer Aspire ES1-572-31KW 15.6-inch
$319.99
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from Amazon.com
(as of 25-09-2017 15:49 UTC) Details

Gaming Laptops Under $300 – Full Guide >>

Top Chromebook

ASUS Chromebook C202SA-YS02 11.6-inchASUS Chromebook C202SA-YS02 11.6-inch

If you are looking for a strong and sturdy Chromebook that can handle the abuses of the classroom, then the ASUS Chromebook C202SA-YS02 is well worth considering. It has been specially designed with nano-molding technology to ensure that it is tough as nails and the rubber bumpers help to protect this Chromebook from impact in unforeseen accidents. It has even been tested by ASAS to endure a 3.9 foot drop. ASUS have also given the Chromebook C202SA-YS02 a spill-resistant keyboard to ensure that this Chromebook will still function in the event of an unforeseen spillage while it is being used. The 180-degree hinged display allows for easier viewing while in group discussions and gives the ASUS Chromebook C202SA-YS02 a bit more flexibility when relaxing with your feet up on the sofa. Powering the ASUS Chromebook C202SA-YS02 is an Intel Celeron N3060 processor and 4GB of RAM, which combined are more than powerful enough for most Chrome OS tasks. While the standard Microsoft Office cannot be installed on Chrome OS, you will be able to use Google Docs, QuickOffice and Microsoft Office Online for all of your word processing needs. The 16GB of storage will allow for a handful of applications and documents to be stored on the ASUS Chromebook C202SA-YS02, however, it has been designed to be used in conjunction with Google’s Drive cloud storage. You get 100GB of cloud storage space for 2 years from Google, thereafter it will cost $1.99 a month to keep the same amount of storage. If you would prefer an offline solution, then we recommend purchasing a 128GB MicroSD card and installing it into the MicroSD slot for a more permanent storage solution.

  • 11.6 inch, 1366 x 768 pixels (TN)
  • Chrome OS
  • 10 hours battery life
  • 2.2 lbs

Pros

  • Rugged design
  • MicroSD slot
  • Spill-resistant keyboard
  • Price
  • 4GB of RAM

Cons

  • Limited storage space
  • No optical drive
  • Non-upgradable
  • Limited amount of apps
  • Linux not supported

Summary

The ASUS Chromebook C202SA-YS02 is a rugged Chromebook that has been designed for the classroom and features double the RAM as many of its competitors.

ASUS Chromebook C202SA-YS02 11.6-inch
$229.00
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from Amazon.com
(as of 25-09-2017 15:49 UTC) Details

Chromebooks – Full Guide >>

Pro Tips For Making Your Decision

Depending on what you plan on using your new laptop for there are various specs to look out for that may influence your purchasing decision. Although budget laptop users won’t need to get too involved with the technical details as the market for low-end hardware is relatively small, a basic understanding of what everything means and what to look out for based on your unique needs will give you the edge when making your decision.

Students

Students generally only require a laptop that can comfortable browse the web, use word processing apps and watch the odd movie. Due to the mobile requirements of moving around on college or at school mobility is also a prime concern for many students so keeping your laptop lean and lightweight should also be high on your agenda. As a general rule look for laptops with 4GB or more of RAM, a portable design (11-inch or 13-inch laptops are a great idea for users who will be taking their laptop everywhere they go and don’t make sacrificing the screen real estate) and a battery life of 5 hours minimum. Chromebooks are a popular option for those looking for simplicity and who don’t require the use of any MS Office or Windows apps thanks to their mobility and quality designs.

Gamers

Budget gamers are already covering in our guide to gaming laptops under $500 where you’ll find the top picks on cheap gaming laptops with decent entry level GPUs that won’t completely fry your budget.  As a general rule, if looking in the sub-$400 market and gaming is not a primary concern, you can also get away with playing many older games with the integrated Intel HD graphics found on most budget laptops in our cheap laptop guides as well as the Radeon R series equivalent on AMD based laptops. In many cases it may not be worth sacrifices the portability and ease of use in favor if better graphics unless you know you will be doing a fair amount of gaming on your new laptop.

Business

Every business owner knows how important the bottom line is. Why spend $1000 plus on an office laptop when a $400 will get the job done just fine? Business users generally have similar needs as students with word processing and other office applications at the top if the priority list, although laptops designed for office use may not require quite as much portability unless you plan on taking your laptop to meetings often. As per our student recommendations look for a laptop with at least 4GB of RAM for standard office applications and web browsing. If your business requires photo or image processing or more advanced appliations 8GB is recommended. Build quality is also an important factor for many business owners – there’s no point investing in a budget laptop if it’s going to need to be replaced in three years. Lenovo and Dell are two manufacturers who are well know for there business oriented budget laptops which may not have the sleek designs found on many competitors but are built to withstand the test of time with sturdier build quality.

Media Junkies

If you’re planning on using your laptop mostly at home for handling all of your movies, music and other media then portability won’t be your biggest concern which means you are free to focus on areas such as screen quality and laptop audio. Unless you have an external monitor or TV lying around you may also want to explore some 17-inch options where possible. Look for a laptop with a 1 TB hard drive if possible, or at a minimum 500GB, and as above note 4GB of RAM or more as requirement for smooth performance with HD video playback and other tasks.

Hardware + Benchmarks

Your laptops hardware provides the engine for your daily computing and understanding the key components to look out for can help you make the right decision and get the best performance possible. No one likes a computer that freezes and lags under heavy load seriously hindering your ability to work and by checking benchmarks we can easily get  an idea of which hardware will perform the best and which laptops therefore offer the best value for money.

Processors

Your CPU (central processing unit) is the brains of your PC and does most of the number crunching to bring your computer to life. AMD and Intel are the only two mainstream CPU manufactures and compete kneck kneck expecially in the budget market. AMD configurations are generally cheaper than Intel’s and provide excellent value for money although Intel is often still the crowd favorite.

Budget Intel Core-sereis CPU’s  – Fastest to Slowest

Budget AMD A-series, FX-series and E-series CPU’s  – Fastest to Slowest

Intel Pentium-series, Celeron-series and Atom-series CPU’s  – Fastest to Slowest

Graphics

Your GPU (graphic processing unit) differs from your CPU in that in is created specifically for graphic processing in applications such as games and multimedia editing apps.  Generally speaking unless you plan on playing any video games or doing any serious photo or video editing a decent graphics card is not paramount to your laptop experience. Most CPU’s these days come with integrated graphics which are built in as opposed to dedicated graphics cards which are generally found on more powerful machines. As with CPU’s, the main contenders are AMD and Intel who compete neck and neck for the market.

Budget GPU’s – Fastest to Slowest

RAM

Your laptops RAM (or random access memory) is also an important piece of the your PC’s arsenal. RAM is like short term memory for your PC, and the more RAM you have the less change there is of your PC bottlenecking due to limited memory which can seriously hinder performance. For most users, 4GB of RAM is more than sufficient for daily use, although if using advanced applications or running multiple applications at once performance can suffer. If you find yourself running out of RAM you can always just take your laptop in for an upgrade or do it yourself.  Most RAM today is standardized DDR3 RAM and on budget laptops you generally won’t find anything faster.

Display & Screen Quality

Your laptops display is another core piece of your computing experience. If your laptop suffers from poor color production or poor viewing angles  this can put on a dampener on using a PC for many users.  In general on budget  laptops you will find only TN (thin-film-transistor liquid-crystal) displays which can offer variable quality and are almost always inferior to the IPS ( in-plane switching) technology found on more pricey laptops. That said, many budget Chromebooks have started offering IPS displays which puts these budget Chromeboons on the level of more expensive laptops in terms of raw display quality.

Screen resolution is also an important part of your display. In general budget laptops use a 1366 x 786 resolution which is currently the most used screen resolution worldwide. This is compared to the 1920 x 1080 Full HD resolution found on more expensive laptops. The extra resolution provides extra screen real estate and makes entertainment and gaming more immersive. Here again Chromebooks stand out from the crowd with many budget Chromebooks offering Full HD IPS displays that are far superior to their budget laptop counterparts.

Most budget laptops come with screen sizes ranges from 11 to 15 inches, with the odd 17-inch also available for users looking for a larger display.

Design & Features

Last but not least, your laptops design, though sometimes a matter of personal preference, is also a huge influencing factor and brings up a number of practical considerations. Some users prefer more basic designs while others simply won’t be satisfied with a run of the mill design that’s too chunky or boring. The obvious consideration here is portability. If your laptop is too big and too heavy, it’s going to turn lugging your laptop around with you and having your PC on you more of a chore than its worth for some people. On the other side of the coin, many smaller laptops make sacrifices in terms of performance to achieve their incredibly lightweight form. Generally Chromebooks and Netbooks of the 11-13 inch variety are popular choices for mobile users, including hybrid tablet / laptops, with some 15-inch options also coming in under the 4.5 pound mark which is comparable to some 13-inch laptops, and again many 15-inch and 17-inch laptops coming in with much heavier weights which are clearly designed more for home or office use with minimal commuting.

In terms of features laptops come with a standard set of connectivity options including USB 3.0, USB 2.0 Ethernet, Bluetooth and Wifi but be sure to check each model to be sure it has all the options you need. Some budget laptops still offer DVD drives, although the general trend is more towards external portable DVD drives with many manufacturers opting to leave them out in favor of a more lightweight and slimmer design.

Our Gaming Laptop Guides

Now that you are well equipped, feel free to browse the guides below for our top picks. You can use this page as a reference when comparing specs and other features or drop us a line if you have any specific questions.

Happy hunting!
The LaptopNinja editorial team

About the author

LaptopNinja Editorial Team

Our dedicated editorial team spend countless hours every week scouring the best deals across the web to help save you time and money.


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