Cheap laptops: the 10 best budget laptops that (very little) money can buy

Everyone needs a laptop. Whether for school or work, a foldable clamshell of a computer is necessary to carry out tasks both on the go and sitting stationary at a desk. But not everyone needs the most powerful laptop – sometimes the cheap laptops will suffice. And of course, it’s our job and our passion to recommend the best cheap laptops for you.

  • These are the best laptops overall in every category

The best budget laptop has its priorities straight. It makes concessions only in the areas that casual PC users won’t notice. While it won’t run the newest games at the highest settings, you shouldn’t expect it to; the top cheap laptops only promise the bare essentials to get you by. They’re all under 500 bucks, too, so don’t expect any MacBooks.

Instead, the best cheap laptops are comprised of those running the now-Android compatible Windows 10 and the soon-to-be text messenger Chrome OS. Here they are. 

Dell

That the Asus Transformer Mini T102HA comes with a keyboard cover is definitely a pro, considering many make it an expensive option. The keyboard itself is serviceable, the build quality of the tablet is acceptable, and it’s thin and light enough to commute with easily. Couple that with full-size ports and impressive battery life, then you have a winner.

Read the full review: Asus Transformer Mini T102HA

Lenovo

With the Google Play Store now supported on every new Chromebook released, it only makes sense to craft a Chromebook with a 12.3-inch QHD touch display, with a 360-degree hinge and pen support to boot. The Samsung Chromebook Pro may have a keyboard that’s a bit too compact for comfort, but it more than makes up for it, even mastering pen input on the first try.

Read the full review: Samsung Chromebook Pro

Acer

Lenovo has crafted an impressive, futuristic product that could very well create a subcategory in mobile computing all its own. Even with low-power parts that need a bit of work, the Yoga Book bridges the gap between tablet and laptop in ways that we, honestly, didn’t anticipate for a much longer time – if at all. 

Read the full review: Lenovo Yoga Book

Asus X102BA

With its slick lines and a slim silhouette, the Acer Chromebook 14 makes for a subtle, snazzy laptop. Although its display isn't the most attractive we've seen, it's rich and fine. And, while not amazing, the keyboard and trackpad serve just as well as most. Battery life satisfies as well, even if it falls a bit south of Acer's 12-hour claim in real-world use.

Read the full review: Acer Chromebook 14

  • From Australia? Try a fine alternative in the Samsung Chromebook Pro.

Satellite Click Mini

Heavy and ready to heft hours of school work, HP's Pavilion 15 makes for a fine deal that bears the known moniker well. Frankly, this is a broke college kid’s laptop. With power that the average pupil needs but at a cost the average student may afford, should be considered before the primo PC aisle, leaving you strapped with a few more clams for more books (or fun).

Read our hands-on review: HP Pavilion 15

X551MAV

Going for under 200 bucks on a regular basis, this 11.6-inch laptop with an HD screen should serve you well as a budget companion device. With 32GB of storage, it’s twice as capacious as most Chromebooks, though the 2GB of slower RAM is something to watch out for. Available in several colors and complete with a microSD card slot, this is one versatile device. 

Lenovo B40

Lenovo has its very own 11.6-inch Windows 10 laptop with an HD screen, but does the Inspiron one better (for a bit more cash) with Pentium processors from Intel as well as a full SD card reader. Lenovo rounds out the package with up to 7 hours of battery life, matching or surpassing rivals in nearly every category. In the budget space, another few bucks can go a long way.

Flex 10

With a starting price of just above 200 large, the HP Stream 14 is a fine value for those seeking  a strong if basic web browsing machine. It's cheaper than even some Chromebooks while offering a bigger screen and the fullness of Windows 10. Other 15-inchers lack the ergonomics and aesthetics of HP’s cheapest Windows laptop yet.

X205TA

Available in a variety of colors, this number from Acer brings things into practically a whole new class, with a 15.6-inch HD display powered by an Intel Core i3 processor. The metallic frame should make using this device feel more like a luxury without the sticker shock. Plus, with up to 12.5 hours of claimed battery life, this should last at least once forgetting to charge it.

The only 100% AMD laptop on our list, this lovely 15.6-inch machine offers up to 1,920 x 1,080 pixels of display and a massive amount of optional storage. Even picking this laptop up at its base specification would provide a laptop that could last your school career. That said, some standards, like AC Wi-Fi, don’t come standard, so look twice before checking out.