The 5 Best Laptops Under $300 - Black Friday 2021 Reviews

Updated
Best Laptops Under $300
19 Laptops Tested
  • Store-bought laptops; no cherry-picked units
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A few years ago, finding the best laptop under $300 was almost impossible. These days, you can easily find inexpensive hardware that can play videos and browse the web smoothly and efficiently. Most of the laptops on this list are Chromebooks because Chrome OS is a much lighter operating system than Windows and macOS, meaning it can run smoother on lower-end hardware. Unfortunately, there isn't a category for the 'best gaming laptop under $300' since you'll want a laptop with a dedicated GPU and a high-end CPU to run most games well, both of which are generally much more expensive.

We've just started reviewing laptops, and have tested more than 15. Below you'll find our recommendations for the best laptops under $300, or you can check out all our laptop reviews.


  1. Best Student Laptop Under $300: HP Chromebook 14 (2021)

    7.1
    School
    3.9
    Gaming
    5.5
    Multimedia
    3.4
    Workstation
    6.0
    Business
    Size
    14"
    Operating System
    Chrome OS
    CPU
    Intel Celeron N4000
    GPU
    Intel UHD Graphics 600
    RAM
    4 GB
    Storage
    32 GB

    The best student laptop under $300 that we've tested is the HP Chromebook 14 (2021). This 14 inch Chrome OS laptop can easily fit into most backpacks, and it's light enough to bring around easily. The battery also easily lasts through an entire school day, meaning you likely won't have to bring the power adapter around with you. It's also completely silent thanks to its fanless design, and since it doesn't get too warm, it's comfortable to use for extended periods.

    Its keyboard has a lot of travel for a laptop, which could take some time to get used to, but it does feel good to type on. The touchpad tracks well, you can click anywhere on it, and gestures work as intended, so navigating the laptop feels smooth. The speakers are better than most other laptops in this price bracket, but they don't get very loud. They also lack quite a bit of bass, but that's common with most laptop speakers.

    Unfortunately, its 720p TN screen makes colors look washed out, and since it isn't very crisp, you'll likely notice individual pixels when sitting at a normal distance. It also doesn't get very bright, so you'll have a hard time seeing what you're working on if you tend to do a lot of schoolwork sitting outside between classes. Also, it has a poor webcam and microphone, meaning you won't look or sound your best in online classes. That said, it's a decent choice if you need something for school and are on a tight budget.

    See our review

  2. Alternative With Better Build Quality: Samsung Chromebook 4 (2019)

    Size
    11.6"
    Operating System
    Chrome OS
    CPU
    Intel Celeron N4000
    GPU
    Intel UHD Graphics 600
    RAM
    6 GB
    Storage
    64 GB

    If you're worried about having to constantly toss your laptop into your backpack and want something that feels better built, consider the Samsung Chromebook 4 (2019). Its battery doesn't last nearly as long as the HP Chromebook 14 (2021), and its keyboard feels more tiring to type on, but it feels significantly better built, and since it has smaller 11.6" screen, it's even easier to take around. It's made from a mix of plastic and metal, which feels much more sturdy than other similar devices, and it doesn't flex or give when pushed or twisted. The hinge also feels quite sturdy, which helps contribute to its overall good-feeling build quality. Unfortunately, it has one less USB-C port, and its speakers aren't as loud.

    If you want a laptop for school and prioritize a good keyboard and incredible battery life, go with the HP. However, if you need something that's better built and is even more compact, the Samsung is a better choice.

    See our review

  3. Best Business Laptop Under $300: Acer Chromebook 315 (2020)

    7.4
    School
    4.1
    Gaming
    7.1
    Multimedia
    3.8
    Workstation
    6.8
    Business
    Size
    15.6"
    Operating System
    Chrome OS
    CPU
    Intel Celeron N4020
    GPU
    Intel UHD Graphics 600
    RAM
    4 GB
    Storage
    32 GB

    The best business laptop under $300 we've tested is the Acer Chromebook 315 (2020). It's a Chrome OS laptop with a 15.6 inch screen that's large enough to comfortably tile multiple windows for multitasking, and its 1080p resolution makes text and images look crisp and sharp. It also has a numpad, which makes it easy to work in spreadsheets or perform calculations.

    Its webcam produces a detailed image, and the microphone picks up very clear speech, making it decent for conference calls. There are enough ports to connect an external monitor and a couple of wired accessories, and its battery can last a full workday without needing to plug it in. The keyboard feels good to type on overall, but its key travel is quite long for a laptop, which might take some time to get used to and can cause fatigue when typing over long periods. The keys also aren't backlit, which may bother some people, but is common at this price point.

    Unfortunately, while the touchpad has decent tracking, it's offset to the left of the keyboard deck because there's a numpad, which may take some getting used to. The touchpad is also a bit on the smaller side, and the gestures don't always work, which can be frustrating. Also, its screen isn't bright enough to overcome glare in very well-lit rooms, and colors don't look vibrant. That said, it's a fair option if you're on a tight budget but need a business laptop with a big enough screen for multitasking.

    See our review

  4. Best Multimedia Laptop Under $300: Lenovo Chromebook Duet (2020)

    6.9
    School
    3.4
    Gaming
    7.4
    Multimedia
    3.3
    Workstation
    5.4
    Business
    Size
    10.1"
    Operating System
    Chrome OS
    CPU
    MediaTek Helio P60T
    GPU
    ARM Mali-G72 MP3
    RAM
    4 GB
    Storage
    64 GB

    The best multimedia laptop under $300 that we've tested is the Lenovo Chromebook Duet (2020). This ultraportable 10 inch Chrome OS device has a detachable keyboard, which is great if you want to watch videos without having a cumbersome keyboard attached. It even has a kickstand, so you can easily prop it up when your arms get tired.

    It displays a crisp and vibrant image, with a good brightness range, so content is comfortable and enjoyable to watch whether you're in a bright or dim room. It has excellent battery life, lasting almost seven hours when playing back video, so you can easily get through your favorite movies or binge-watch a few TV show episodes without needing to plug in. Despite its bad CPU performance on paper, it still feels reasonably responsive thanks to the lightweight nature of Chrome OS, meaning you won't experience frequent, frustrating hitches.

    Unfortunately, there's no headphone jack, and it only has a single USB-C port, so you can't plug in wired headphones while it's charging. The keyboard and touchpad are small and cramped, so this isn't a great option to use in laptop mode if you need to do a lot of work. Also, the speakers sound treble heavy and slightly piercing. All in all, if you're primarily interested in an entertainment device with a good screen, the Duet is a decent choice, even if you're on a tight budget.

    See our review

  5. Alternative With Attached Keyboard: Acer Chromebook Spin 311 (2021)

    Size
    11.6"
    Operating System
    Chrome OS
    CPU
    MediaTek MT8183
    GPU
    ARM Mali-G72 MP3
    RAM
    4 GB
    Storage
    32 GB

    If you aren't a fan of the detachable keyboard and want a more typical 2-in-1 device with a 360-degree hinge, consider the Acer Chromebook Spin 311 (2021). Its screen isn't as bright and colorful as the Lenovo Chromebook Duet (2020), and its lower resolution means content won't look as sharp. However, it uses a 360-degree hinge rather than a detachable keyboard cover, and its speakers get louder and sound much better. They have a more neutral sound profile that isn't nearly as treble-heavy, so content sounds more full. There's also a USB-A port and a headphone jack in addition to the USB-C port for charging and display out, so you can plug in headphones while charging without the use of a dongle. Unfortunately, its thick bezels can be distracting.

    If you care about having a bright, sharp display with vibrant colors, go with the Lenovo. If you prefer a 2-in-1 form factor with a 360-degree hinge and want better-sounding speakers, the Acer is a better option.

    See our review

Notable Mentions

  • Microsoft Surface Go 2 (2020): The Microsoft Surface Go 2 (2020) is an ultraportable device with a detachable keyboard like the Lenovo Chromebook Duet (2020), but it runs Windows. It feels better built than any of the Chromebooks on this list, and its webcam and microphone are also far superior. Unfortunately, it has mediocre battery life, and only the lowest-tier variant goes below $300 when it's on sale. See our review
  • HP Stream 11 (2021): The HP Stream 11 (2021) is an inexpensive Windows laptop available in a range of colorful finishes, but unfortunately, its hardware isn't powerful enough to run the OS well. Unless you absolutely need to use Windows for your tasks, you're likely better off with a similarly priced Chromebook. See our review

All Reviews

Our recommendations above are what we think are currently the best laptops under $300 to buy for most people. 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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