Yes, you can get a good laptop without spending thousands of dollars. Not everyone wants (or needs) to spend a boatload on their next notebook, and depending on how you plan to use it, you may be better off with a cheap laptop anyway. As with most affordable tech, the key to getting the right machine for you is understanding what you need your laptop to do and the sacrifices you can make to save a little money. Best of all, you may find that you don’t have to sacrifice as much as you think to get a good laptop at a good price. We’ve tested a number of budget laptops to find our top picks and gather buying tips that can guide you to the right machine.
What to look for in a budget laptop
First, we at Engadget consider anything under $1,000 in the laptop space to be “budget.” The reason for this is twofold: even the most affordable flagship laptops typically start at $1,000 or more, and if you drop down drastically (say, $500 or less), you’ll really start to see performance compromises. You can usually find the best balance between power and price in the $500-$1000 range. But in this guide, we’ll cover the best options across a wide price range – there are some great options at the low and high end of the budget spectrum.
Without a doubt, the biggest thing to look for in a cheap laptop is decent specs. You may find configuration options with the latest generation of CPU chipsets, or you may have to choose one with a slightly older processor. We recommend trying to find a laptop with the most up-to-date internals possible, but know that if you choose a machine with a CPU that’s a generation behind, it probably won’t significantly affect performance.
Along with processors, you also need to consider the amount of memory and storage you need in your daily drive. First, we recommend laptops with at least 8GB of RAM; anything less than that will make it difficult to multitask and manage all those browser tabs. The latter is a bit more personal: how much onboard storage you need really depends on how many apps, files, photos, documents and more you’ll be storing locally. As a general rule, try to choose a laptop with at least 256 GB of SSD (this is only for macOS and Windows machines because Chromebooks are a little different). This should give you enough space for apps and files, as well as room for future operating system updates.
Once you’ve determined the best performance you can achieve within your budget, it’s worth considering a few different design aspects as well. We recommend choosing a machine with a mostly metal body, a screen with at least 1080p resolution, and a relatively large keyboard and trackpad area. Any decent laptop worth buying will have a built-in webcam, but most are high at 720p. A few of the latest models have 1080p webcams, but you can use a independent peripheral If you spend a lot of time on Zoom meetings.
Don’t forget to check the port status as well. Many laptops under $1,000 will have fewer ports than their more affordable counterparts (as counterintuitive as that may seem). You’ll find at least one or two USB-C ports on most newer machines, which means you may need a separate dongle if you need to connect SD cards often.
A note about refurbished laptops
Refurbished laptops it’s another option to consider if you need a new car and don’t want to spend a ton of money. Buying refurbished technology can be difficult unless you’re familiar with a brand or merchant’s policies covering what it qualifies as “refurbished.” But this is not possible – we recommend going directly to the manufacturer for repaired devices for laptops. apple, Dell and Microsoft All of their devices have official maintenance processes before they are released to the market, which confirms that the machines are working properly and in good condition. Third-party retailers like it Amazon and Walmart also has its own repair programs for laptops and other gadgets.
The best cheap laptops of 2024
Photo Devindra Hardawar / Engadget
Screen size: 13-inch | Touch screen: No | Processor: Apple M1 | RAM: 8GB | Memory: 256GB | Weight: 2.8 pounds | Battery life: Up to 16.5 hours
Read our full review of the Apple MacBook Air M1
Apple has a reason for storage MacBook Air M1 Even after coming out with 13-inch and 15-inch Air M2 laptops in their lineup. Apple’s first machine with a custom system-on-a-chip Weather M1 It was released in late 2020 and proved that the company no longer needed Intel to power its laptops. The M1 processor gave the Air blazing fast performance, just like the iPad Pro. This hasn’t changed since the introduction of the M2 chipset and the latest Air model equipped with it. You’ll still get impressive performance from the entry-level MacBook Air M1, which will be fine for most people as a daily driver.
The Air M1 has the classic wedge design that we’ve seen in this family of laptops for years, and some will appreciate that. It may not have the sleek profile of the M2 machine, but it’s still thin and light, and since it doesn’t have a fan, it’ll also be very quiet. The 13.3-inch Retina display is beautiful, and it’s accompanied by a comfortable keyboard (without TouchBar) and a spacious trackpad. In our test, the battery life reached about 16.5 hours, which is enough for a full day of work. Starting at $999, the budget might be at the top of our price range, but it will be money well spent. Also, we’ve often seen the MacBook Air M1 drop to $800 or $900 on Amazon and other retailers.
$869 at B&H Photo$899 on Amazon$949 at Adorama
Photo: Daniel Cooper / Engadget
Screen size: 13-inch | Touch screen: No | Processor: AMD Ryzen 5 | RAM: 16GB | Memory: 256GB | Weight: 2.2 pounds | Battery life: up to 12 hours
Read our full review of the HP Pavilion Aero 13
If you like the overall aesthetic of machines like Dell’s XPS 13 but don’t want to pay $1,000 or more, HP Pavilion Aero is your best bet. we gave a 87 points we reviewed and compared it to Dell’s flagship laptop. It’s certainly not as sleek as this machine, but with its angular profile, 2.2 pounds, and anti-glare 13.3-inch screen, it’s pretty close. Despite its slightly cramped keyboard, it’s a solid printer, and we appreciate all of its connectivity options: one USB-C port, two USB-A ports, an HDMI connector, and a headphone jack. You can pick up the Aero 13 for as low as $900 right now, but they’re on sale for even less. All of the pre-built mainstream models available from HP come with Ryzen 5 processors directly, and you can customize the laptop with up to a Ryzen 7 CPU, 16GB of RAM, and a 1TB SSD.
$880 with HP
Screen size: 13-inch | Touch screen: Yes | Processor: Intel Core i3 | RAM: 8GB | Memory: 128GB | Weight: £4.45 | Battery life: up to 8 hours
Read our full review of the Lenovo IdeaPad Flex 5i
It’s been a few years since we mentioned it Lenovo IdeaPad Flex 5i our lovely Chromebook and remains our top choice today. This is because it still has a mix of the best features and specifications that will suit most Chrome OS enthusiasts. It is powered by an 11th generation Intel Core i3 processor, has 8GB of RAM and 128GB of storage. Plus, its brilliant 13.3-inch 1080p touchscreen is great for working on Google Docs and streaming Netflix.
While it doesn’t stand out in the design department, this convertible is relatively lightweight, and we appreciate that it comes with a backlit keyboard—something you don’t often see on laptops at this price point. It should also last about eight hours on a single charge, or long enough to get you through a typical workday. You get a solid collection of ports here, too: two USB-C, one USB-A, a microSD card slot, and a headphone jack. All of this keeps the Flex 5i ahead of the Chromebook pack, and its affordable price tag makes it even better.
$463 on Amazon$437 at Newegg
Screen size: 15-inch | Touch screen: No | Processor: 11th generation Intel Core i3 | RAM: 8GB | Memory: 128GB | Weight: £3.64 | Battery life: up to 10 hours
Acer’s Aspire 5 the family is strong Windows option if you have less than $500 to spend on a new laptop. The latest models hit a good middle ground for most people, running on Intel 11th generation CPUs and supporting up to 16GB of RAM and up to 512GB of storage. Of course, the higher the specs you get, the more expensive the machine will be – not all Aspire 5 laptops sell for less than $500. But right now you can buy a model With a 15.6-inch 1080p display, a Core i3 processor, 8GB of RAM, and 128GB of storage for about $380 (or less if it’s on sale). The design is pretty basic here, but you get a handy number pad and a variety of ports, including one USB-C connector, three USB-A ports, and an Ethernet port. We also appreciate that the latest Aspire 5s supports WiFi 6, and Acer has increased the estimated battery life to 10 hours.
$388 on Amazon$440 at Newegg