A few years ago, finding a good laptop under $300 was near impossible. These days, you can easily find inexpensive hardware that can play videos and browse the web smoothly and efficiently. Most laptops on this list are Chromebooks because Chrome OS is a much lighter operating system than Windows and macOS, meaning it can run on lower-end hardware. Unfortunately, you won't find any Apple laptops in this article as MacBooks are much more expensive. We've also omitted the 'best gaming laptop under $300' category since gaming requires powerful hardware that typically cost more.
We've tested more than 70 laptops. Below you'll find our recommendations for the best laptops under $300, or you can check out our recommendations for the best laptops under $400 and the best laptops under $500.
The best laptop under $300 we've tested is the Lenovo Chromebook C340 15 (2020), a 15.6-inch Chrome OS laptop. Although it's slightly over $300, it's worth spending a little extra for this model, as it offers a lot for the price. It feels well-built and is easy to carry around, and its battery lasts comfortably through a full workday. Its 1080p display looks decently sharp and provides plenty of room for multitasking; it just doesn't get very bright, so it's best suited for a dark to moderately-lit room. The keyboard feels comfortable to type on, and the touchpad is small but responsive. Plus, since it's a 2-in-1 convertible, you can flip the screen around and use it as a tablet.
You can get this laptop with an Intel Pentium Gold or Core i3 (8th Gen.) CPU. Both are powerful enough to provide a smooth experience on Chrome OS, although you'll have to be mindful of the number of apps you run simultaneously, as you can only get a maximum of 4GB of memory. The port selection is okay; you get two USB-Cs that support charging and video output, a USB-A, an SD card reader, and a headphone jack. There's no biometrics for quick logins, which is typical for laptops in this price range.
If you want to stick with Chrome OS but prefer a 2-in-1 tablet form factor, get the Lenovo Chromebook Duet (2020), a Chrome OS tablet with a detachable keyboard. You can detach the keyboard to make it easier to hold when viewing content or attach it when you need to type something. It has a sharp, bright, and colorful display, which is hard to find on inexpensive Chromebooks. The keyboard comes with the device, so there's no need to buy it separately. However, it isn't the most comfortable keyboard; it's fine for a couple of emails but not for typing a long paper. Battery life is excellent at nearly 12 hours of light productivity or seven hours of video playback.
If you can stretch your budget slightly, we recommend getting the Lenovo Chromebook Duet 5 instead. It has a much better OLED display that produces more vibrant colors and inky blacks, as well as a faster processor. Like the Duet, the keyboard comes with the device, although it's just as uncomfortable to type on. The display supports pen input, and there's even a dock on the back cover to store the pen for transport, but you need to buy the stylus separately.
Our pick for the best Windows laptop under $300 is the Acer Aspire 5 15 (2020). It's an older model from 2020, so the price is much lower than when it was first released, so it's a good time to grab one. It's a little over $300, but it's worth spending a bit more as it's a well-built laptop with decent performance. This configuration has a 1080p display, an Intel Core i3-1005G1 CPU, 4GB of memory, and 128GB of storage. The Intel Core i3 CPU has no problems handling everyday tasks like web browsing, text processing, and video playback. However, 4GB of memory isn't much for a Windows machine, meaning you'll experience stutters and slowdowns if you have too many things running simultaneously.
As for the user experience, it has a 15.6-inch display that gives you plenty of room for multitasking, a comfortable and tactile keyboard, and a small but responsive touchpad. Battery life is the weakest point, as it only lasts about seven hours of light use, so you'll have to plug it in at some point to get through a typical 8-hour day. Its port selection includes three USB-As, a USB-C, an HDMI, and an Ethernet port. Unfortunately, the USB-C doesn't support video output or charging. On the upside, there's a fingerprint sensor to log in quickly.
For fans of the 2-in-1 tablet form factor, we recommend the Microsoft Surface Go 2 (2020). Like the Lenovo Chromebook Duet (2020) above, it's a tablet with a kickstand and detachable keyboard. Its 3:2 display looks incredibly sharp and gets bright enough to combat glare in well-lit settings. Above the display sits an outstanding 1080p webcam, which is surprising to see on such an affordable device. There's also a facial recognition IR camera for quick logins via Windows Hello. The display supports pen input, but you have to buy the stylus separately, and the same goes for the keyboard.
The keyboard feels good to type on and is even backlit. Unfortunately, you have to spend extra to get the keyboard, but it's worth it because Windows isn't very touch-friendly, and it helps protect the screen from scratches during transport. Just remember that it'll bring the total cost to slightly over $300. As for the configuration, you can get this laptop with an Intel Pentium Gold or Core i3 and up to 8GB of RAM and 128GB of storage. There's also an LTE version if you need mobile connectivity. The downside is that the two available CPUs are low-power processors that can only handle simple tasks, so don't expect to do anything intensive.
Apr 21, 2023: Minor text and structure change. Removed the Acer Chromebook Spin 311 (2021) and added the Microsoft Surface Go 2 (2020) as the 'Best 2-In-1 Windows Laptop'.
Feb 21, 2023: Verified accuracy of picks. Small text changes to improve clarity and readability. No change in recommendations.
Dec 23, 2022: Minor changes to the text to improve clarity. No change in recommendations.
Oct 27, 2022: Minor structure change. Replaced the HP Pavilion x360 11 (2021) with the Acer Aspire 5 15 (2020) because the HP increased in price.
Aug 25, 2022: Verified accuracy of picks; no change in recommendations.
Our recommendations above are what we think are currently the best laptops you can get for under $300. 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.