Even though smartphones and tablets have come a long way in the last decade, there are many, many tasks for which a laptop is essential. Moreover, many 2-in-1 laptops are now available and can be used as tablets.
There are many high-end laptops available, but these cost well over $1,000. Fortunately, cheaper options that provide the required functionality at a much lower cost are also available.
Now it’s up to you to decide which one from among the best cheap laptops is the right one for you. That’s right, no one else can tell you which one is the best for you since only you know your requirements.
The following is a guideline about laptop specifications which should help you in making your decision. Make a requirements’ checklist, then go through the list of best cheap laptops below and select the one that meets your needs.
How to Choose The Best Cheap Laptop
Laptops are made up of hundreds of components. Fortunately, we don’t need to know the specifications of each and every one of them to be able to make a decision about which laptop to buy. As long as we are clear about our own needs, we can study the specifications of a few major components to be able to make a good decision.
Performance mainly depends on the Central Processing Unit (CPU) and the Random Access Memory (RAM). The CPU is the brain of the laptop and executes the program instructions. At runtime, computer programs are copied from storage to RAM for fast access by the CPU.
Important CPUs specifications include clock speed (typically 1 – 3 GHz), cache (on-board CPU memory) and a number of cores (independent processing units). RAM is specified in size (typically 2 – 6 GB) and speed (supported data transfer rate).
Together the CPU and RAM determine the type of applications that the laptop can run. For example, modern AAA games require both a powerful CPU and sufficient RAM (and a powerful Graphics Card of course). If the CPU speed is low and/or the RAM is not sufficient, the game will not run smoothly.
The same is true for video editing and engineering simulations. Web browsing and word processing, on the other hand, do not require a fast CPU or a large amount of RAM.
Laptops have fixed storage for storing software and user data which can vary in size from a few Gigabytes (GBs) to multiple Terabytes (TBs).
Storage devices are based either on the older Hard Disk Drive (HDD) and or the newer Solid-State Drive (SSD) technologies. HDDs store data on a rotating platter and the data is read by a read/write head floating above the spinning platter. SSDs use microchips for storing date and there are no moving parts.
The major difference between the two is that SSDs support faster data transfer rates (the laptop boots 3-4 times faster, programs load times are also reduced by 3-4 times) and are more expensive than HDDs.
Another type of storage used on laptops with limited storage is flash memory (similar to the technology used for USB drives).
If the applications and data are stored in the cloud (like is the case for Chromebooks) then a lot of local storage is not necessary. However, if the laptop is running Windows and you need to edit videos which are stored locally, then you need a serious amount of storage (typically 500 GB – 1TB).
Our eyes never leave the display while we work on the laptop and since we are working for hours on end, we need displays that allow us to see clearly in different lighting conditions, and also not put a strain on our eyes (something which is especially important for young children who use laptops for educational purposes).
Important display specifications include screen size (typical range is from 11” – 15”), resolution (total number of pixels; full HD resolution is 1920 x 1080), brightness (typical values range from 200 – 300 nits) and color quality (IPS screens are good, OLED screens are the best).
Batteries are usually described in terms of cell technology (current batteries use Lithium-ion whereas older batteries were based on Ni-Cd), number of cells (typically 3-12 cells, more cells means more battery life but also increase battery weight) and power carrying capacity (specified in watt-hours/Wh or milli-ampere-hours/mAh; higher values mean greater battery life, typical values are 3000-4000 mAh or 40-60 Wh).
Since laptop users are typically on the move, battery life is of the utmost importance. Battery life varies with the type of applications used. Web browsing and business presentations will typically not load the CPU and therefore the battery will drain slowly. Gaming and other CPU-intensive applications will cause the battery to be used up quite a bit faster. Battery life is also affected by many other factors. For example, higher screen brightness reduces battery life and touchscreen displays use more power than non-touch displays.
By using this guideline about laptop specifications, you should be able to choose from among the following cheap laptops.
1. Lenovo Chromebook S330
Lenovo Chromebook S330 is powered by a pretty good MediaTek MT8173C processor, which offers very high performance. Along with that comes total of 4GB LPDDR3 RAM memory, as well as 32GB eMMC 5.1 storage. That should be enough for regular and business users. To enhance the experience even further, S330 has solid battery life of 10 hours of intensive working.
As for its design, S330 has a very stylish and neat design. It is less than 1” thick and weighs only 3.3 lbs. It has HD display that is 14” in size, which is perfect for working with photos and multimedia content. To enhance your processing, there is enough LPDDR3 RAM memory. Along with that, you get free 100GB cloud storage on Google Drive, which is available to you for two whole years.
Apart from that, it features three USB ports, AC Wi-Fi, Bluetooth 4.1 and very nice 720p webcam, as well as internal virus protection.
- Solid battery
- Very light and portable
- Comes with Chrome OS
- HD display
- Good MediaTek processor
- Could be a bit faster
2. HP Stream 11.6″
With an Intel N4000 dual-core processor that runs at 1.1 GHz base frequency and can go up to 2.6 GHz burst frequency, and has 4MB cache, this 11.6” laptop from HP is the perfect work companion outside of the office!
It also has 4GB DDR4 SDRAM, and 32GB eMMC, and runs Windows 10, which is the perfect OS for a productive person. Moreover, the black case is durable and has a finish that doesn’t retain smudges, while the keyboard feels nice and easy to type.
The display is pretty good for a compact laptop (1366 x 768 resolution), with anti-glare features for use outside and WLED-backlit design so it doesn’t strain the eyes after long-term use. Finally, the HP Stream is well-equipped when it comes to connectivity: WiFi, Bluetooth, 1xUSB 3.1, 1xUSB 2.0, 1xHDMI, and one microSD media card reader.
- Compact and durable design
- Case finish doesn’t retain smudges
- Lightweight & portable
- Good display
- Easy to use the keyboard
- Runs Windows 10
- Little storage space
- The touchpad is not as sensitive as expected
- The finish attracts crumbs
3. Lenovo Chromebook C330
Convertible laptops are a great idea for people who want to catch up with work outside the office. However, high-end configurations don’t come cheap. But, if you’re only working with documents and use the device for research, the Lenovo Chromebook C330 is perfect!
Equipped with a MediaTek MT8173C processor, 4GB LPDDR3 and 64 GB eMMC, the laptop is powerful enough to run Chrome OS and a wide variety of apps from Google Play. It also features an 11.6” IPS HD (1366 x 768) 10-point touchscreen that can be rotated to 360-degrees due to the flexible hinge.
In terms of connectivity, the C330 is equipped with 1xUSB-C, 1xSD reader, and 1xUSB 3.0 ports. Also, the device has Wi-Fi and Bluetooth 4.1, which allows two simultaneous connections.
- Highly portable
- Solid build & versatile design
- Beautiful display with touchscreen
- Easy to use & fast
- Runs Chrome OS
- Mediocre CPU performance
- Low screen resolution
- Not the best touch response
4. Samsung Chromebook Plus V2
Samsung Chromebook Plus V2 has very nice 2 in 1 design. With the weight of only 3 pounds, we can say that it is very light. Its body is completely foldable, so you can use it as a tablet when there is a need for that. To further enhance that experience, there is a built-in pen, which is very precise and it doesn’t have to be charged at all. You can use it to write, draw, control the screen size and take screenshots.
Chromebook Plus V2 also has an excellent 13MP camera with full autofocus, which allows you to take some excellent photos. To take complete advantage of that, it is best to use it in tablet mode.
As for the performance, battery life is quite long (10 hours or more with light use) and the device is powered by an excellent Intel Celeron processor. Memory-wise, Chromebook Plus V2 comes with 64GB of storage space and ability to increase that number up to 400GB with MicroSD card. Apart from that, this laptop features Bluetooth version 4.0, for faster file transfers.
- Completely foldable
- Excellent 13MP camera
- Pre-installed Chrome OS
- Built-in pen
- Solid battery life
- The processor could be better for this price
5. Acer Chromebook 14
This 14-inch Chromebook from Acer with a compact design and metallic case is perfect for people who want to get things done while traveling. Since it runs Chrome OS, you have unhindered access to Google Play, so all the tools you need for work and fun are at your disposal.
In terms of performance, this Chromebook is equipped with one Intel Celeron N3160 Quad-Core Processor, 4GB LPDDR3 memory, and 16GB eMMC. Also, it supports 802. 11ac Wi-Fi featuring MIMO technology (Dual-Band 2. 4GHz and 5GHz) and Bluetooth 4. 2 (the device needs to be online for most apps to work).
The 14″ FHD (1920 x 1080) IPS Display is supported by Intel HD Graphics and looks amazing. It’s also important to know that it comes with built-in storage (for offline work) and an additional 100GB of Google Drive space for automatic backups.
Finally, the entire system is backed up by a 3-cell Li-polymer Battery Pack (3950 mAh) that holds for up to 12 hours.
- Solid build with a metallic case
- Highly portable
- Good port representation
- Protective sleeve
- Runs Chrome OS
- Fast booting time
- The sound is low-quality
- Some apps aren’t available for the Chrome platform
- Doesn’t run MS Office
6. HP Pavilion X360 15
If you’re looking for a device that can gather versatility and performance in one elegant-looking package without a steep price, the Pavilion X360 15 from HP is a fantastic choice.
The device looks like a regular laptop (at first sight), but the 360-degrees hinge and the touchscreen provide a much-needed sense of versatility. As such, the 15.6-inches touchscreen can be used as part of a laptop or as a tablet (with the keyboard side completely folded backward). You can even use a pen (included) for quick drawings, sketches, and notes.
The IPS BrightView WLED-backlit touchscreen supports FHD resolution (1920 x 1080 pixels) and can be used for viewing videos, images, or working with documents. On the inside, you’ll find an 8th Generation Intel Dual-Core i3-8130U base clock 2.2GHz (can go up to 3.4GHz in turbo mode), paired with 4 GB DDR4-2400 SDRAM and 1 TB HDD.
Finally, the device supports WiFi and Bluetooth 4.2 and runs Windows 10.
- Good configuration
- Impressive 2-in-1 design
- Bright & vivid display
- Can be used with a pen
- Numeric keypad on the full-size keyboard
- Highly portable
- Battery life is not according to specifications
- There may be some pen-related issues
7. Acer Aspire E 15
The Acer Aspire E 15 is your beast on a budget! With 8th generation Core i3 CPU and 1 TB of storage, you can use it for any applications you need.
A 13.5-hours battery life will easily get you through the day without having to recharge. The 6 of RAM may not be enough for running modern games but it’s still more than many other laptops in this range have to offer.
- Great Value for money
- Battery life
- Screen could be better
8. HP 14-CF0014DX
HP 14-CF0014DX model has a 14” display with 1366 x 768 HD resolution, which allows you to watch your photos and videos in their full capacity. Along with that, this model offers Wled backlight. It is powered by Intel’s 7th generation i3-7100U mobile processor with smart dual-core, as well as with four-way processing technology, which is useful for high definition quality computing.
As for its memory, this laptop has 8GB of RAM memory, which is more than enough to lead you through most of the tasks you might have. When it comes to the storage, it has 128GB SSD storage, which significantly improves loading times and system boot, which is very important for both business and personal users, whether you are gamer or just use your laptop for work.
HP 14-CF00114DX comes with already installed Windows 10 OS, which is pretty useful if you don’t have too much time to install operating system alone.
- Comes with pre-installed Windows 10
- Excellent 7th Generation i3 processor
- A good amount of RAM memory
- SSD for faster loading times
- Solid 14” HD display
- HDD cable is not available, so you are stuck with only 128GB SSD
9. ASUS VivoBook L203MA
ASUS L203MA comes with very nice Intel Celeron N4000 processor with 4M Cache and up to 2.6GHz, which is pretty useful for doing basic tasks. The display is very small, only 11.6”, but it offers HD (1366 x768), which gives a pretty good picture.
As for the HDD space, it has 64GB emulated flash storage. When it comes to system memory, L203MA has 4GB LPDDR4 RAM memory.
L203MA comes with pre-installed Windows 10 S operating system, as well as with Microsoft Office 365 package, with a one-year license. This means you won’t have to bother with installing the operating system on your own.
L203MA is very light, weighing only 2.2 lbs and it is very slim, only 0.7” thin, which makes it perfect for people who are traveling a lot and need to have as light and as portable laptop as possible.
- Cheap, but reliable
- Very light and slim, easy to transport
- Nice amount of RAM, considering the size
- Windows 10 S OS and MS Office package included
- HD display
- It has a processor with only two cores
10. ASUS Chromebook C423NA-DH02
If you’re a college student who can’t catch a break in between classes all day long or you’re a professional that’s always on the road, the Chromebook C423NA-DH02 from ASUS may be the perfect laptop for you.
It features a super slim profile, is ultra-light (1.4Kg or about 3 pounds), and fits easily in a backpack, bag, or briefcase. Furthermore, it boasts a metallic case that feels great when touched but it’s also durable and dent-resistant.
In terms of performance, the laptop handles well everyday tasks such as working with documents and browsing. This is possible due to its configuration: Intel Dual Core Celeron N3350 processor with 4GB RAM, and 32GB eMMC storage unit.
The display looks great at 14 inches and features HD resolution (1366×768). To make it more attractive and easier to use, the display is fitted with an ultra-narrow bezel and has anti-glare properties (for use outdoors).
Finally, the laptop runs Chrome OS, which opens up the Android apps world for the user. It’s also easy to connect due to the available USB Type-C and Type-A ports.
- Lightweight and portable
- Durable & nice-looking
- Good configuration
- Runs Chrome OS
- Perfect for everyday use
- Speakers are not stellar
- Trackpad material is low quality
- Not designed for demanding projects or gaming
11. Acer Aspire 5 Slim Laptop A515-54-30BQ
Acer Aspire 5 Slim is powered by Intel’s 8th generation i3-8145u processor, which can go up to 3.9GHz. Along with that comes 4GB of DDR4 RAM memory and 128GB SSD system memory.
It has 15.6” FHD widescreen LED display and integrated Intel UHD Graphics 620, which is more than enough for a regular user.
Apart from that, it comes with one USB 3.1 Type-C generation 1 port, two USB 3.1 generation 1 with power-off charging ports and one regular USB 2.0 port. Along with that, this laptop has HDMI port, along with full HDCP support.
As for the internet access, Acer Aspire 5 Slim has really good 802.11 AC Wi-Fi support. Its keyboard is backlit, which makes it easier for users to type whenever they want.
The battery is solid, and it can offer you full 9.5 hours of constant work. The laptop itself comes with already installed Windows 10 S, so you won’t have to bother of installing it by yourself.
- Very good i3 processor
- Full HD widescreen support
- A large number of USB ports
- Comes with Windows 10 S OS
- Solid battery life
- Good only for basic needs, weak for more demanding tasks
It is possible to spend over a $1,000 to get a laptop that can do everything and anything. But you don’t need a laptop that does everything. You have specific requirements and cheaper options are very much available which will fulfill your requirements while enabling you to also balance the budget.
So why spend the extra money on something you don’t need. Take some time to think about your exact requirements. And then select a laptop from the best cheap laptops which have been shared with you in this article.