Budget laptops are easy to find, but you’ll have to make sacrifices.
Depending on your needs, you might want a larger screen, more RAM, a bigger hard drive, or faster processor. If you prioritize a couple of these and accept a reduction in (or loss of) other features, you’ll find a laptop that does what you want at a price that doesn’t break the bank.
We’ve listed five of our favorite budget laptops below. Note these are proper laptops, not Chromebooks. A Chromebook outsources most of its processing power to the cloud through Google’s browser, so you need to be online to get the most out of it. If you’re really tight for cash, they’re a reasonable alternative and cost much less (usually under $250).
For everyone else, here’s our rundown of the best laptops for under $400…
The Lenovo IdeaPad is a great all-rounder. From its 15.6” HD screen to its full-size keyboard, the hardware is perfect for business and study. The AMD quad-core A6 processor ramps up to 2.4 GHz – enough for most tasks – and the 500GB HDD will store hundreds of photos and movies.
The standout feature is the 8GB RAM, which ensures you don’t experience slow-down when using several applications at once, or during RAM-heavy tasks like photo and video editing.
Not the most inspiring name, but it certainly makes up for it in features. The HP 15 uses an Intel i3 processor clocking 2.4 GHz, has 6GB RAM, and a 15.6” HD LED touchscreen. The standout feature? Its massive 1TB HDD.
If you want to store all your photos and movies, as well as download the latest software without worrying about filling up the HDD, this laptop is for you. The Intel processor is also a bonus – while it clocks the same as the IdeaPad, Intel CPUs are generally considered of better quality, so should run faster.
3. Acer E15
The E15 also has a 7th generation Intel i3 processor clocking at 2.4 GHz, but only 4GB RAM. This will make it a bit slow during intensive tasks, but it does make up for it in storage with a 1TB HDD (and you can always add more RAM later).
While the screen also measures 15.6”, it enjoys a full HD display of 1920×1080 – perfect for movies and media editing – but no touchscreen. The E15’s standout feature is its 12-hour battery life, the longest of any laptop on this list.
If you’re looking for something to use on the move, the ProBook is worth a look. Its processor is relatively underpowered, but for emails, watching videos, and browsing it’s more than capable. The 11.6” HD touchscreen is small enough for large handbags and small backpacks, and the 360-degree hinges mean you can use it like a tablet. Bear in mind there’s no DVD/CD drive, though.
The 128GB SSD might not hold as much as the others, but SSDs are faster and less prone to failure. There’s no standout feature as such, instead, it’s the perfect blend of size and features , touchscreen, and SSD that make this a great portable machine.
The HP 17 might not use an Intel processor, but its AMD A9 chip clocks up to 3.6 GHz. That’s easily enough for the toughest computing tasks, but its 4GB RAM does let it down a bit. Thankfully, it’s expandable. There’s a CD/DVD drive, and a decent battery life of 6 hours for video playback. The standout feature here is the 17.3” LED screen.
At 1600×900 its not full HD, but unless you’re a pixel-peeper, you probably won’t notice. It’s higher than 720p, so still a great choice for HD movies, and that extra screen space is perfect for working on two documents at once.
You don’t have to spend thousands to get a decent laptop. There’s plenty of choice out there for almost any budget, but to avoid disappointment, ensure you know what’s most important to you before clicking that order button.