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The 5 Best Budget And Cheap Laptops - Spring 2024 Reviews

Updated
Best Budget & Cheap Laptops

While premium laptops have gotten more expensive over time, cheap and budget options have improved significantly in quality. You can easily find great devices that perform just as well as more costly models, from dirt cheap under-$300 Chromebooks to budget gaming laptops with a dedicated GPU costing up to $1,200. Naturally, there are always compromises when it comes to budget and cheap laptops. Some have a lower-quality display and less processing power or lack features like biometrics, so knowing what matters to you most and what you can compromise on is essential.

We've tested over 110 laptops, and below, you'll find our recommendations for the best cheap and budget laptops you can get. You can also check out our recommendations for the best laptops under $300, the best student Chromebooks, and the best budget and cheap gaming laptops.


  1. Best Budget Laptop

    The best budget laptop we've tested is the ASUS Vivobook 16 M1605 (2023), a 16-inch Windows ultraportable. This model feels well-built, and it isn't overly bulky or heavy for a 16-inch device, so it's still easy to carry around. You can configure it with an AMD Ryzen 5 or Ryzen 7 CPU, which are more than adequate to handle general productivity tasks like text processing, web browsing, spreadsheets, and video playback. Most models come with 8GB of RAM, though you can find some with 16GB, as some third-party retailers add extra RAM, so you don't have to upgrade it yourself. Battery life is okay; it lasts a little over eight hours of light use, so depending on your workload, you may have to plug it in for a quick charge.

    The overall user experience is good. It has a comfortable keyboard, a large and responsive touchpad, and a decent 720p webcam. Its 1080p display looks reasonably sharp; however, it only gets up to 250 cd/m² of brightness, so visibility may be an issue in well-lit rooms. It also looks a tad washed out due to its narrow color gamut. You get Wi-Fi 6E wireless connectivity, a fingerprint sensor for quick logins, and a decent port selection with three USB-As, a USB-C, and an HDMI. Unfortunately, the USB-C doesn't support video output, so you'll have to use the HDMI port to connect an external display.

    See our review

  2. Best Budget 2-In-1 Tablet

    If you like the 2-in-1 tablet form factor, get the Microsoft Surface Go 3 (2021). At 10.5 inches, this tablet PC is incredibly compact, making it easy to carry. It has a sharp IPS display with stylus support, an excellent 1080p webcam that puts pricier laptops to shame, and a Windows Hello facial recognition camera for quick logins. You can use it without the keyboard attached to save space and can pop it back on when you need to type something out. The keyboard is surprisingly comfortable to type on; the downside is that you have to buy it separately, and the same goes for the stylus.

    You can get this tablet with an Intel Pentium Gold or Core i3 CPU. Both are fine for simple tasks like web browsing, emails, and video playback, but don't expect to do anything remotely intensive. We recommend getting a model with 8GB of memory, as you'll get a much smoother experience with fewer slowdowns when multitasking. The battery lasts about seven hours of light use, which isn't great but not bad for such a small device. Unfortunately, the port situation is grim; you only get one USB-C, a proprietary charging port, and a headphone jack.

    The Lenovo Chromebook Duet 5 (2021) is a better option if you only need a device for media consumption. It sports a gorgeous OLED display with full DCI P3 coverage, and its battery lasts nearly eight hours of video playback. It's a little bigger at 13 inches but still compact and lightweight. The keyboard isn't nearly as good, and Chrome OS is more limited in the type of applications you can install, so you need to ensure you can do everything through a Chrome browser or Android app.

    See our review

  3. Best Budget Gaming Laptop

    Current Deal: The ASUS TUF Gaming A16 Advantage Edition (2023) has dropped in price by $350 at BestBuy.com.

    We recommend the ASUS TUF Gaming A16 Advantage Edition (2023), a 16-inch all-AMD model for gaming within a budget price range. For around $1,000 USD, you can get this laptop with a Ryzen 7 7735HS CPU, Radeon RX 7600S GPU, 165Hz FHD display, 16GB of RAM, and 512GB of storage. This configuration delivers a smooth gaming experience at 1080p or 1440p, even in demanding AAA titles. Its display also boasts an impressive response time for clear image quality with minimal ghosting, and it supports variable refresh rate (VRR) to limit screen tearing. You don't have to worry about thermal throttling, but this laptop does get fairly hot and loud. Thankfully, there aren't hotspots centered on the WASD cluster.

    It has Wi-Fi 6 wireless connectivity and an Ethernet port. The rest of the port selection is great as well, with plenty of USB-A and USB-C ports and a true HDMI 2.1 port. The 512GB storage in this configuration will likely fill up quickly with the size of recent titles, but you can get a 1TB SSD if you're willing to pay more. It's also worth noting that the storage (along with the memory) is user-replaceable, and there are two M.2 storage slots. As for the battery life, you can expect a little over an hour when gaming, which is fairly typical.

    See our review

  4. Best Cheap Laptop

    The best cheap laptop we've tested is the Lenovo IdeaPad Slim 3i Chromebook 14 (2023). It's a great option for younger students or anyone needing a simple device for web browsing and video playback. Although there are many configuration options, we recommend the Core i3 model paired with an FHD touch-sensitive display, 8GB of RAM, and 128GB of storage, which you can regularly find on sale for $400 to $500 USD on Lenovo's website. The cheaper configurations are fine if you have an extremely light workload; just know they'll stutter or slow down more quickly when multitasking and have a lower-quality screen.

    The display of the Core i3 model mentioned above is bright enough for use in well-lit settings and is reasonably color-accurate. The keyboard feels spacious but a tad mushy, and unfortunately, the touchpad is small and not always responsive. Its 1080p webcam is surprisingly good, and its battery life is outstanding at around 13 hours of light use. If you're unfamiliar with Chrome OS, know that this operating system is limited in the type of applications you can install, so you must ensure you can do everything through a Chrome browser or Android app.

    See our review

  5. Best Cheap Gaming Laptop

    If you want to spend as little as possible, we recommend the Lenovo LOQ 15 (2023). This laptop is available from third-party sellers but is most consistently available directly from Lenovo. You can configure it with an AMD Ryzen 5 7640HS or Ryzen 7 7840HS CPU and an NVIDIA GeForce RTX 3050, RTX 4050, or RTX 4060 GPU. Both RTX 3050 and 4050 options deliver high and consistent frame rates for 1080p gaming. For the best 1440p experience, we suggest the higher-end RTX 4060, as it has 8GB of VRAM, which helps to minimize pop-in and stuttering in demanding titles. We also recommend a configuration with 16GB of memory—and if you're comfortable doing so, you can upgrade it on your own. For storage, you can opt for either 512MB or 1TB options. There's also an extra M.2 slot if you'd like to add more space yourself.

    Connectivity-wise, if you play online games, there's Wi-Fi 6 connectivity and an Ethernet port to ensure the best connection possible for competitive play. Lastly, for displays, your choices range from a 60Hz or 144Hz FHD panel to a 165Hz QHD option. The latter two are your best bet for gaming. The response times for these displays aren't great, so you can expect to see some ghosting. However, both the 144Hz and 165Hz displays support VRR, which can help reduce screen tearing.

    See our review

Notable Mentions

  • Apple MacBook Air 13 (M1, 2020): If you're willing to spend more, the Apple MacBook Air 13 (M1, 2020) is a great alternative to the ASUS Vivobook 16 M1605 (2023). This model has been discontinued since the release of the M3 MacBook Airs, so some retailers like Walmart are selling their remaining stock of the base model (8GB RAM and 256GB storage) for $700 USD, making it an incredible value. It has a much sturdier build than the ASUS and provides a better user experience overall; however, its port selection is more limited, and it can only support a single external display. See our review
  • Lenovo IdeaPad Slim 3i 15 (2023): The Lenovo IdeaPad Slim 3i 15 (2023) is cheaper than the ASUS Vivobook 16 M1605 (2023). It has a better webcam and supports video output via USB-C, but its battery lasts only six to seven hours of light use. See our review
  • Acer Chromebook Plus 515 (2023): The Acer Chromebook Plus 515 (2023) is a decent Chromebook with more processing power than the Lenovo IdeaPad Slim 3i Chromebook 14 (2023). It also has a better keyboard and touchpad. However, its display is much dimmer, so it's only suitable for use in dark to moderately lit rooms. Its battery life is also shorter at around eight to nine hours of light use. See our review

Recent Updates

  1. May 01, 2024: Replaced the Acer Swift 3 14 (2020) with the ASUS Vivobook 16 M1605 (2023) because it has more processing power and provides a better user experience overall. Added theย Acer Chromebook Plus 515 (2023) as a Notable Mention.

  2. Apr 04, 2024: Added the Apple MacBook Air 13 (M1, 2020) as a Notable Mention. No change in recommendations.

  3. Mar 05, 2024: We've replaced the ASUS TUF Dash F15 with the ASUS TUF Gaming A16 Advantage Edition as our new budget pick since the F15 is now discontinued and harder to find in stock. We've also replaced the Lenovo IdeaPad Gaming 3 (2021) with the Lenovo LOQ 15 (2023) as our cheap pick since it's available with faster Ryzen CPUs and NVIDIA 40-series GPUs, providing significantly better gaming performance. Removed the HP Victus 15 (2022) from the Notable Mentions because it's discontinued and hard to find. Added the Lenovo IdeaPad Slim 3i 15 (2023) as a Notable Mention.

  4. Feb 08, 2024: Minor text edits for clarity. No changes in product picks.

  5. Jan 10, 2024: Replaced the ASUS ROG Zephyrus G14 (2022) with the ASUS TUF Dash F15 (2022) because the G14 is discontinued and hard to find.

All Reviews

Our recommendations above are what we think are currently the best cheap and budget laptops you can get. We factor in the price (a cheaper laptop wins over a pricier one if the difference isn't worth it), feedback from our visitors, and availability (no laptops that are difficult to find or almost out of stock everywhere).

If you prefer to make your own decision, here’s the list of all of our laptop reviews, sorted by price from low to high. Keep in mind that most laptops are available in various configurations, and the table only shows the results of the model we tested, so it’s best to see the full review for information about other variants.