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The 5 Best Budget And Cheap Laptops - Winter 2023 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 some great devices that provide a satisfying user experience, from dirt cheap under $300 Chromebooks to budget gaming laptops with a dedicated GPU costing up to $1,200. The list is short for now, but it'll grow as we review more laptops.

We've tested more than 60 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 laptops under $400, and the best laptops under $500.


  1. Best Budget Laptop

    The best budget laptop we've tested is the Lenovo IdeaPad 3 15 (2021), a 15.6-inch ultraportable Windows laptop. It has a sturdy build, a thin and light design, and a battery that lasts around nine hours of light use. You can configure it with an AMD Ryzen 5 or 7 CPU and up to 16GB of memory and 1TB of storage. The AMD Ryzen CPUs can handle general productivity tasks like text processing, web browsing, video playback, and even some light photo editing.

    As it's a budget model, there are some compromises to know about. The first is that while the keyboard feels spacious and provides satisfying tactile feedback, it can cause fatigue over time because the keys require a fair amount of force to actuate. Second, you can't charge the laptop via USB-C, meaning you'll have to carry the proprietary power adapter. Some models have a fingerprint sensor, so it's best to check the specs before buying if it's a feature you want.

    If you can stretch your budget slightly, we recommend getting the Acer Swift 3 14 (2020). It's a smaller 14-inch laptop, so it's more portable, although that also means you don't get as much screen real estate. It has longer battery life than the Lenovo, and its port selection is also better as its USB-C supports Thunderbolt 4. The main tradeoff is the webcam; the image looks extremely underexposed, and the microphone sounds staticky.

    See our review

  2. Best Budget Multimedia Laptop

    Want something affordable for watching online videos, TV shows, or movies on the go? Get the Lenovo Chromebook Duet 5 (2021), a 2-in-1 Chrome OS tablet with a kickstand and detachable keyboard. It's compact and lightweight, and its battery lasts nearly eight hours of video playback. It sports a gorgeous 13.3-inch OLED display that produces saturated colors and deep, inky blacks with no uniformity issues like backlight bleed or clouding. Above its stunning display sits a surprisingly great webcam for video calls, and there's also a camera on the back if you need to take a photo.

    As for the quality of the speakers, they're only passable. They sound slightly unnatural and don't get very loud, so you're better off with a pair of headphones. If you want to get some work done, know that the keyboard feels cramped, and the touchpad isn't very responsive, so it's okay for a couple of short emails but not ideal for typing out a long paper. Nonetheless, this is a great option if you want good picture quality at an affordable price.

    See our review

  3. Best Budget Gaming Laptop

    Our best budget gaming laptop pick is the Lenovo Legion 5 Gen 6 15 (2021). This 15.6-inch laptop has a sturdy build, a spacious full-size keyboard, and a wide port selection that includes an HDMI 2.1 port. You can configure it with an AMD Ryzen 5 5600H or Ryzen 7 5800H CPU, both of which are powerful enough to provide smooth gameplay, and there are multiple GPU options, ranging from an entry-level NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1650 to a high-end RTX 3070. There are also multiple display options; we recommend getting either the 1080p 165Hz or the 1440p 165Hz display, as they'll provide the best visual experience. Unfortunately, this laptop is a little bulky and heavy, so it isn't the most portable, and you'll also have to carry the charger because the battery lasts only around an hour when gaming.

    See our review

  4. Best Cheap Laptop

    If you find our budget pick, the Lenovo IdeaPad 3 15 (2021), too expensive, get the Lenovo Chromebook C340 15 (2020) instead, the best cheap laptop we've tested for general productivity. It feels very well-built, and its battery lasts a little over 12 hours of light use. You can get it with an Intel Pentium Gold or a Core i3 CPU; both are powerful enough to provide a smooth experience on Chrome OS. It's only available with 4GB of memory, so you'll likely experience slowdowns if you have tons of applications or Chrome tabs open simultaneously.

    Its 1080p display looks reasonably sharp and provides plenty of space for multitasking. Since this is a 2-in-1 convertible, you can flip the screen around and use the device as a tablet. The downside is that the display doesn't get very bright, so it might not be ideal if you often work in very well-lit environments. The keyboard feels great to type on for extended periods, and while the touchpad is a bit small, it tracks all movements and gestures well. It isn't a fanless device, but it never gets hot or loud, which is great for quiet classrooms and offices.

    See our review

  5. Best Cheap Gaming Laptop

    If you're looking for a cheap gaming laptop, we recommend the Lenovo IdeaPad Gaming 3 (2021). It's a 15.6-inch laptop available with an AMD Ryzen 5 5600H or Ryzen 7 5800H CPU, and you have multiple GPU options, from an entry-level GTX 1650 to a mid-range RTX 3060 with ray-tracing and DLSS support. The memory and storage drive are user-upgradeable, meaning you can get less to start and upgrade it yourself later on. You can allocate more of your budget toward a better GPU and display.

    Speaking of the display, you can choose between a 60Hz, 120Hz, or 165Hz panel. We recommend the 120Hz or the 165Hz option, as they'll provide a smoother and more responsive gaming experience with less screen tearing. The keyboard feels great to type on, and there's a pretty good webcam if you want to stream. You'll need to carry the power adapter if you want to game on the go, as the battery lasts less than an hour when gaming. Also, it gets hot and loud under load. There's an Intel version of this laptop if you prefer to go with team blue, the Lenovo IdeaPad Gaming 3i (2021), but it doesn't have as many GPU options.

    See our review

Notable Mentions

  • Acer Chromebook Spin 713 (2020): The Acer Chromebook Spin 713 (2020) is a good Chrome OS alternative to the Lenovo IdeaPad 3 15 (2021), but it's hard to find because it's discontinued. If you can afford to spend a little more, you can get the newer 2021 model with an Intel 11th Gen. CPU, which we haven't tested but expect to perform similarly. See our review
  • Lenovo Chromebook Duet (2020): The Lenovo Chromebook Duet (2020) is a good alternative to the Lenovo Chromebook Duet 5 (2021) if you want a more compact or cheaper device. However, it has an IPS panel, which isn't as good for dark room viewing as the Duet 5's OLED. See our review
  • HP Victus 16 (2021): The HP Victus 16 (2021) is a great budget gaming laptop and a good alternative to the Lenovo Legion 5 Gen 6 15 (2021). However, it's hard to find due to low availability. See our review
  • Microsoft Surface Go 3 (2021): The Microsoft Surface Go 3 (2021) is a good Windows alternative to the Lenovo Chromebook Duet 5 (2021). However, it has shorter battery life, and its IPS panel makes blacks look gray in dark settings. Also, you need to buy the keyboard separately, making the overall cost of the device much higher. See our review
  • Acer Chromebook 315 (2020): The Acer Chromebook 315 (2020) is cheaper than the Lenovo Chromebook C340 15 (2020). However, it isn't a 2-in-1 convertible, meaning you can't use it as a tablet, and its Intel Celeron CPU is slower. See our review

Recent Updates

  1. Jan 19, 2023: Minor text changes to improve clarity. Added the Acer Chromebook Spin 713 (2020) and the Microsoft Surface Go 3 (2021) as Notable Mentions. No change in recommendations.

  2. Dec 21, 2022: Verified accuracy of picks; no change in recommendations.

  3. Dec 02, 2022: Minor structure change; no change in recommendations.

  4. Nov 02, 2022: Minor structure change. No change in recommendations.

  5. Oct 03, 2022: Verified accuracy of picks; no change in recommendations.

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.

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