Best Budget Laptop 2020 Updates and What You Should Know.
Best Budget Laptop Deals: Shopping for a new computer can be frustrating, especially if you’re on a budget. It also can be quite confusing, with all those specifications to think about. Don’t worry, we are here to help you.
The smartphone may be the hub of our digital lives, but the computer still plays a key role. In fact, there’s still plenty that’s far easier to do on a laptop than on anything else. Tablets aren’t yet fully capable of replacing smartphones. That’s especially true if you’re getting a laptop for work, home, or school.
It used to be that if you want a laptop with power and features, you would need to spend more than $1,000. That’s still the case, but today’s best budget laptops are now plenty capable of doing what most people need.
The include word processing, web browsing, and emailing. Thanks to improvements in processors, graphics, and other chipsets, as well as standardization in features like USB and HDMI.
There are a few major computer operating systems out there. You’re probably most familiar with Windows, as it’s by far the most-used operating system.
There’s also Apple’s macOS, which is found on the company’s Mac computers (we didn’t include any Macs because they didn’t meet our price requirement for a budget laptop).
And, the newest, there’s Google’s Chrome OS, which is targeted to those with basic computer needs revolves around Google’s web-based apps (Chrome OS relies heavily on cloud computing, meaning that a lot of the processes happen online).
Specs and Features
Some computers are more powerful than others. Things like the processor and amount of memory (RAM) will dictate how quickly your computer runs. While the amount of storage indicates how many files you can keep on your computer at once.
There are also other factors, like the graphics chipset being employed. The type of software you run could also dictate how well a laptop’s components perform; for example, Google’s Chrome browser is notorious for being a memory hog.
The features have also improved. Premium components like a touchscreen and high-speed ports, like USB 3.0 and USB-C, have trickled down from high-end laptops to budget models. As you research, look for these or if the laptop is still utilizing older tech.
Laptops come in a range of different physical sizes, however, the smaller ones generally sit in the 10- to 11-inch range. While the larger ones can get as big as 17-inches. That’s handy for watching movies, but it comes at the cost of portability.
Then, of course, there’s cost. For this guide, we consider a “budget” laptop to be a laptop that costs about $600 or less — we aimed to recommend those that fall below $500.
However, if you can afford to spend more than that, you will be able to get something more powerful and arguably better than the computers on this list.
How to Get the Best Laptops for the Lowest Price
Gone are the days when a decent laptop would cost you north of $1,000. In this market, manufacturers are inventing new ways to outsell each other, including aggressive price cutting.
It’s now possible to pick up a full-size or ultraportable Windows 10 notebook with a processor powerful enough for use at home, school, or work, for around $500 to $600.
It’s also easy to find full-featured Chromebooks and hybrid systems that give you both laptop and tablet functionality in one device for as little as $300.
You should be prepared to compromise, however. While it’s certainly possible to find a powerful laptop with a 15-inch screen, you might have to make do with a flimsy keyboard and touchpad.
Likewise, you could buy an impeccably made ultraportable that uses an underpowered CPU and a tiny hard drive to achieve its low price.
The Best Budget Laptops
Acer Chromebook 15
The Acer Chromebook 15 delivers the best balance of parts for the price that we’ve ever seen, making it the best cheap laptop to date.
Pros: Large 1080p display, long battery life, top-firing speakers, plenty of ports
Cons: No biometric login, small local storage
Samsung Chromebook 4+
The 15-inch Samsung Chromebook 4+ crams an insane amount of value into its $299.99 list price, with hardware and features found in laptops twice its price and within a good-looking package.
Pros: Decent display, long battery life, lots of ports
Cons: Small local storage, low amount of RAM, no top-firing speakers
Dell G3 15
The Dell G3 15 is an affordable gaming laptop with the latest Nvidia GeForce discrete graphics.
Pros: Compact design, specs on par with more expensive models
Cons: Shallow keyboard and touchpad, dim screen
Asus VivoBook Flip
The ASUS VivoBook Flip is a thin and powerful 2-in-1 machine that won’t break the bank.
Pros: Converts to a laptop, compact build, comes with stylus, touchscreen
Cons: Underpowered processor
Chromebooks: The Crème 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.
Tablets and Hybrids: 2-in-1s on a Budget
Tablets rose in popularity throughout the 2010s, and though we have plenty of reviews of those—take a look at our overall roundup of the best tablets.
Our favorites running the Windows 10 and Android operating systems. They are sufficiently different from traditional clamshell-style laptops that they don’t make good substitutes.
Some come with detachable keyboards, but even these are far less comfortable for typing on your lap than a conventional laptop.
Convertible 2-in-1s, however, do make a good substiute 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.
In part because of their added complexity compared with traditional clamshell designs, you won’t find 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 (generally 360-degree-rotating-hinge) designs, and in detachable-keyboard designs. Make sure when looking at one of the detachables that you know what comes in the box.
In some cases, like with Microsoft’s spiffy Surface Go, you need to buy the keyboard base separately, and the total cost may not be as low as it first appears.
If you’re on a strict budget, don’t lose heart. You can definitely find PCs that will offer you enough performance to tackle your day-to-day tasks without a stutter.
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