When choosing a budget laptop, you no longer have to settle for underpowered, heavy, and ugly behemoths. The best cheap laptops are getting better and better, but the question remains: what’s most important, and what are you willing to sacrifice? Of course, when shopping in the budget category, even the best cheap laptop isn’t going to be perfect in every area – it might have the power to run all your tasks, but corners have to be cut somewhere to achieve the rock-bottom price tags.
In this category, you might get lucky and find a laptop with a touch-screen, a premium-looking design, a USB-C port, a backlit keyboard, or even stylus support. But you must first decide which of those features you want most and which you’re willing to go without.
My current pick for the best budget laptop in 2023 is the Acer Aspire 5. It’s a notebook you can find for well under $500, and it checks most boxes for a basic laptop, providing excellent battery life and portable design for those looking for something to carry on the go. It’s a decent pick for students and office users who want a functional, attractive laptop for as low a price as possible.
What we’re looking for:
Value: Obviously, we’re looking for the most affordable laptops that you can buy for the least amount of money. While we don’t expect computers at this price point to be perfect or performance dynamos – we expect them to offer a solid package for a low price.
Function: The ideal laptop should be powerful enough to match the needs of the target audience. For most laptops, that should be a standard school or office workload. Budget gaming doesn’t have to be really low price, but they should ideally be below $1000, and still be able to run today’s popular games at playable rates.
Battery Life: Because students are often shopping in the budget category, battery life needs to be a priority. Students are very likely to be working on the go and have fewer opportunities to plug their devices in more than other users.
Build: Not anymore do you have to settle for poor build quality when shopping in the budget category. We’re looking for laptops that are sturdy enough to survive a few years of push and pull in the classroom or daily commute.
- Acer Aspire 5Lenovo IdeaPad Flex 5i
- Lenovo IdeaPad Flex 5i
- Acer Chromebook Spin 514 (2023)
- Microsoft Surface Laptop Go 2
- Asus VivoBook 14
The best cheap laptop you can buy
1. Acer Aspire 5
- AMD Ryzen 5 5500U Hexa-Core Mobile Processor with AMD Radeon Graphics.Maximum Power Supply...
- 15.6" Full HD (1920 x 1080) Widescreen LED-backlit IPS Display
- 8GB DDR4 Onboard Memory and 256GB NVMe SSD
- Strong 11th-Gen quad-core CPU
- Decent 1080p IPS screen
- Excellent all-day battery life
- Superior expandability
- Chassis is too flexible
- Subpar webcam
The Acer Aspire 5 has been our favorite Windows laptop for around four years in a row, and the 2023 model is without a doubt, one of the best laptops for under $500. This budget laptop has nothing outstanding but is good enough to get you through a day browsing the web, running basic work tasks, college assignments, and watching videos.
Like its rivals in the sub-$500 price range, it isn’t the sleekest piece of kit on the market, nor will its entry-level Intel Core i3 processor blow anyone away with power. And the 8-hour battery life is barely enough to get you through an average workday. But you’d have a hard time finding a better deal on a Windows 11 laptop for this price.
Read our full Acer Aspire 5 review
2. Lenovo IdeaPad Flex 5i
- 【 RAM & Storage】This computer comes with 8GB RAM | 256GB SSD
- 【15.6" Full HD Touchscreen Display】15.6" Full-HD multitouch screen The 1920 x 1080...
- 【11th Generation Intel Core i5-1135G7 processor】The Intel Core i5-1135G7 is a...
- Sturdy as a tablet or laptop
- Includes both HDMI and USB-C ports
- Responsive, bright touch screen
- Display’s color coverage is lacking
- Battery life is shorter than average
For those looking for a capable 2-in-1 laptop, the Lenovo IdeaPad Flex 5i is easily the best machine that can be bought for little money. The IdeaPad Flex 5i is well-built and has capable performance, a bright display, and a comfortable keyboard – in addition to a rock-solid convertible design from Lenovo’s pioneered 360-degree-hinge on 2-in-1 laptops. If all you need is an affordable, versatile, and convenient 2-in-1 laptop, you’re not getting a better deal to beat the IdeaPad Flex 5i.
With the sub-$500 starting price, this laptop harbors excellent performance and a better-than-average keyboard. It’s a perfect choice for budget shoppers looking for a great 2-in-1 laptop without major drawbacks.
3. Acer Chromebook Spin 514 (2023)
- Excellent full HD webcam
- Rugged MIL-STD 810H construction with sturdy aluminum
- Decent connectivity with Wi-Fi 6, USB-C, and HDMI out
- 16:9 aspect ratio feels like a throwback
- No Thunderbolt 4 port
For students who need something that can withstand the push and shove of college life, the Acer Chromebook Spin 514 offers a rugged yet flexible 2-in- design and packs some solid performance under the hood. It is, by far, our favorite budget convertible 2-in-1 Chromebook, with a generous 13-hour battery life, and a sturdy aluminum build with MIL-STD 810H certification to withstand the rigors of daily use.
In addition to the military-grade build, it offers convenient features like a full HD webcam, a Wi-Fi 6 radio, a USB-C port, and an HDMI connection for seamless connectivity. The 2023 Spin 514 is an easy choice to recommend for pretty much everyone -thanks to its best features like all-day battery life and class-leading performance. Plus, the sturdy aluminum build makes it great for the classroom and sleek enough for board rooms and living rooms.
4. Microsoft Surface Laptop Go 2
- Light, portable Surface touchscreen Laptop with Windows 11  and 12.4” PixelSense...
- Work, play, stream, and run day-to-day apps with 11th Gen Intel Core i5 processor.
- Look and sound your best on video calls with improved HD camera and built-in Studio Mics,...
- Competitive performance from updated CPU
- Stylish, colorful design
- Quality build and comfortable keyboard
- Less-than-1080p display with nonstandard resolution
- Updated (but still ho-hum) webcam
With the Microsoft Surface Laptop Go 2, you’re getting an affordable device that straddles the middle ground in Microsoft’s premium tablets and larger laptops offered in a compact notebook design. Everything on the Go 2, from the color options and aluminum lid to the 11th Generation Intel Core i5 processor inside, this affordable Surface Laptop delivers a near-premium experience despite its low price.
Inside, it packs solid hardware that delivers performance that’s more than capable and is paired with an updated webcam, a taller 3:2 aspect ratio display, and some room to grow with SSDs that are user-replaceable or upgradeable. Anyone who has ever envied a Microsoft laptop will be thrilled to see an affordable option here.
5. Asus VivoBook 14
- Fast and Efficient: With an 11th Generation Intel Core i3 processor and Intel UHD...
- Stylish and Portable: Weighing only 3.3lbs, the extremely portable ASUS Vivobook 14 F415...
- Immersive Viewing Experience: This 14 inch laptop features a NanoEdge display, giving it a...
- Compact, modern design
- Large, fast SSD
- Comfortable keyboard
- Very good value for money
- Battery life could be better
- No SD card slot, only microSD
The 2023 Asus VivoBook 14 is affordable, but is without a doubt, the world’s smallest, most colorful 14-inch Ultrabook for budget buyers. This is a rather odd and difficult title to claim, but it is what it is. This laptop focuses on compactness and basic-mid-range performance all at under the $500 price point.
However, rather than simply dropping good components into a basic chassis, which would have been the easy way to achieve this pricing goal, the F415EA-AS31 comes with a colorful exterior and boasts a modern design, with slim borders around the display. All the features point towards affordable, fun little laptops, and it looks like it can deliver on that promise.
It has enough power to run basic tasks, and enough battery life to complete a college essay or office report away from a power source. But as this Asus VivoBook 15 review showed, performance is impressive, provided you keep your expectations at reasonable levels.
Read our full Asus VivoBook 14 Review
So, what’s the best cheap laptop to buy?
The best cheap laptops usually go in and out of stock frequently. We’ve shared our current favorites above, and while we keep updating this guide consistently, there’s a good chance that at least one of our picks is back-ordered at any given time. But if you’re on a strict budget, there are some like the SGIN laptop that we often see in stock.
Again, you can always find PCs that will offer you enough performance to handle your day-to-day tasks without a pause. When buying laptops, you can even score some big deals on mainstream systems with our money-saving tips.
Last update on 2023-12-04 at 05:16 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API