Welcome to our weekly updated pro guide to the best cheap gaming laptops available for under $500 based on sales, pure hardware power, retailer discounts, professional reviews, and benchmarks. Cheap gaming laptops are as mythical as unicorns in the eyes of most gamers and finding them online can be a real chore. We spend hours of research […]
Best Cheap Laptops 2016 / 2017
Last Updated:February 21, 2017
Welcome to our weekly updated series on the best cheap laptops based on consumer feedback, hardware power, design and raw value for money.
Laptops are becoming faster and faster year in and year out -luckily fierce competition from manufacturers and retailers drives prices own and allow us as consumers to take advantage of major discounts and get more computing power for less. To help narrow your search down we’ve created weekly updated guides covering laptops in various price brackets from laptops under $400 all the way down to laptops under $100 and everything in-between. Our guides are updated regularly with new deals on cheap laptops on sale for the budget conscious and are focused strictly on laptops that stand out the crowd and deserve a spot in the limelight in the battle for the best budget laptop, either through hardware power, outstanding design, or a mixture of both. Unfortunately most major tech blogs and competitors rarely cover laptops within these price ranges which means for now our research is limited mainly to user reviews and direct consumer feedback. Needless to say in many cases this can be even more valuable. Mobile gamers will also want to checkout our popular guide to cheap gaming laptops which offer some additional deals aimed at budget gaming connoisseurs.
How We Decide
We pool reviews and data from hundreds of products to come up with our regularly updated budget laptop buying guides designed to fit any budget and ensure budget conscious users get the most bang for their buck without skimping on the features that are most important to them. Our team are dedicated to finding the best deals possible and our unique ranking score for each laptop takes into account user reviews across a host of leading retailers as well as leading publishers. Whether you are looking for an all-purpose home computer or an on-the-go portable netbook, we’ve got you covered.
Top Laptop Under $200
If you are after a compact laptop that won’t break the bank, then the Lenovo N22 80S6 is well worth looking at. The long battery life means that you will be able work or browse the web for up to 10 hours, making the Lenovo N22 80S6 great for college students and travellers alike. One of the Lenovo N22 80S6’s unique features is its rotational camera, which can rotate 180 degrees. The Lenovo N22 80S6 was designed for the K-12 education market and has been designed to be extremely sturdy and even features a water-resistant keyboard just in case you spill liquid on it. The hardware won’t win any awards, but the Dual-Core Intel Celeron N3050 processor and 4GB of DDR3 RAM will easily cope with basic tasks. However, the processor will struggle with heavier multitasking and this will leave the laptop feeling very sluggish. The superfast SSD allows Windows to boot up in seconds, but with only 64GB of storage space it severely limits the amount of apps that you can install and the amount of files that you can store. Both the 4GB of RAM and the installed SSD cannot be upgraded, but you can add a large microSD card to extend the laptop’s storage. A big plus for business users is that the Lenovo N22 80S6 comes preinstalled with Windows 10 Professional, which offers far more options than the Home edition.
- 11.6 inch, 1366 x 768 pixels (TN)
- Windows 10 Pro
- 10 hours battery life
- 2.8 lbs
- Excellent battery life
- Windows 10 Pro National Academic
- Price to performance ratio
- Compact design
- Durable build quality
- Slightly underpowered
- RAM and SSD can’t be upgraded
- No full size SD card slot
- No optical drive
- No Ethernet port
The Lenovo N22 80S6 is a budget friendly laptop that offers excellent battery life and a compact and durable design. But the hardware is underpowered for power users and the RAM and SSD cannot be upgraded.
from $194.99 (as of 23-02-2017 23:14 UTC) Details
Top Laptop Under $300
The HP 15-F222WM replaces the 2015 HP 15-F211WM in HP’s line-up of affordable laptops. Priced under $300, the HP 15-F222WM is best suited for home or office use. While its Intel Pentium N3540 processor and 4GB of RAM will easily cope with tasks such as Skype, Internet browsing and sending emails, it is slightly underpowered for more intensive tasks. You might want to consider either an Intel i3 or an Intel i5 based laptop if you intend on working with more intensive apps. Like its predecessor, you get the same 500GB mechanical hard drive which offers a decent amount storage space. However, the entry-level hard drive will mean slower Windows boot speeds and your apps will take a bit longer to load. You will be able to upgrade the hard drive to an SSD, however these are still expensive for the amount of storage space that they offer. One of the key features of the HP 15-F222WM is the touchscreen display. Despite the laptop’s low price, the touchscreen is fairly responsive and this will allow you to easily navigate around Windows or your favorite web browser. However, the HP 15-F222WM still features the same budget display panel which offers a maximum resolution of 1366 x 768 and average viewing angles. While the display does not offer Full-HD resolution, it will still allow you to stream your favorite series or movies in 720p quality. A minor drawback is that the HP 15-F222WM does not feature Bluetooth connectivity. While this is not a train smash, it would have been nice for HP to include it in there updated laptop.
- 15.6 inch, 1366 x 768 pixels (TN)
- Windows 10 Home
- 5.5 hours battery life
- 5.05 lbs
- Affordable price
- Touchscreen display
- Decent amount of storage
- Good build quality
- Slightly underpowered
- Average keyboard
- Poor webcam quality
- No 5GHz WiFi connectivity
- No Bluetooth
The HP 15-F222WM is a budget friendly laptop for home or office use. However, if you are looking for a more powerful machine that does more than basic tasks, then this laptop is not right for you.
from $278.80 (as of 23-02-2017 23:16 UTC) Details
Top Laptop Under $400
The ASUS F556UA-AB32 replaces the ASUS F555LA-AB31 in ASUS’s line up of affordable laptops. Sporting an updated Intel Core i3-6100U processor, the ASUS F556UA-AB32 now boasts more power than its predecessor. The Skylake-based processor allows the ASUS F556UA-AB32 to run the newer DDR4 RAM, which offers improved performance over its older DDR3L counterpart. While you still only get 4GB of RAM, this will easily cope with basic tasks such as Skype, Internet browsing and word processing. For more RAM hungry apps such as Google Chrome, we recommend adding a second 4GB RAM module, however this is not as easy as with other laptops on the market. If you intend on undertaking a RAM upgrade at home, then we recommend the Crucial 4GB DDR3L RAM module or even the larger Crucial 8GB DDR3L RAM module as great value for money options. ASUS have also doubled the storage space to 1TB, however you still get a slower 5400rpm mechanical drive that will mean slower boot and app loading times. Sporting a crystal clear 15.6-inch Full-HD display, the ASUS F556UA-AB32 will cater to media enthusiasts who enjoy streaming online content. The award winning ASUS SonicMaster audio is paired with stereo speakers to allow you to enjoy your favorite music or audiobooks while you work. ASUS have also used a polymer battery, which offers 2.5 times the lifespan of a standard Li-ion battery. This will allow you to work for longer between charges. Another new feature is the addition of a USB 3.1 Type-C port, which will allow you to use a host of next generation computer peripherals. ASUS have once again included their Ice Cool technology which keeps the touchpad and palmrest area of the laptop nice and cool at all times for ergonomic comfort while typing. All-in-all you get a great laptop for a bargain price.
- 15.6 inch, 1920 x 1080 pixels (TN)
- Windows 10 Home
- 6 hours battery life
- 5.1 lbs
- Intel Skylake-based processor
- USB 3.1 Type-C
- Ample storage space
- Polymer battery
- Only two full size USB ports
- Slower hard drive
- Not easy to upgrade
- VGA webcam
The ASUS F556UA-AB32 offers decent hardware for everyday users at a bargain price. However the slower storage drive and the limited RAM might annoy some users as it is not easy to replace.
from $428.53 (as of 23-02-2017 23:16 UTC) Details
Top Gaming Laptop Under $300
The cut throat budget laptop market has seen many great laptops being offered by most of the big name brands. Acer is no stranger to the budget market and has been releasing laptops for the budget conscious buyer for a number of years. What you won’t get with the Acer Aspire ES1-572-31XL is a high performance gaming laptop, but you will be able to play some of your favorite classics. The integrated Intel HD Graphics 520 graphics chip will even allow you to play Diablo III and CS: GO on medium graphics settings. But don’t expect to be playing the latest AAA titles on this machine, it’s more suited to the casual gamer. The Acer Aspire ES1-572-31XL is powered by a Skylake Intel Core i3-6100U processor and 4GB of RAM, which will cope with basic tasks with ease. But the 4GB of RAM is slightly underpowered with Windows 10 and it will struggle with certain games. Luckily Acer has made it quite easy to access the internal hardware to upgrade the RAM, we recommend at least 8GB of RAM for smoothest performance. The 1TB mechanical hard drive offers ample storage space for college papers, photos and even your videos. To cut costs Acer has used a 5400rpm drive, which for day-to-day use is more than acceptable, but users who are after faster Windows boot and app loading times can easily upgrade the hard drive to either a hybrid or a solid state drive.
- 15.6 inch, 1366 x 768 pixels (TN)
- Windows 10 Home
- 6 hours battery life
- 5.29 lbs
- 1TB of storage space
- Skylake i3 processor
- Bright and sharp display
- Easily upgradable
- Only one USB 3.0 port
The Acer Aspire ES1-572-31XL is a budget friendly laptop for basic home users and college students. Though the hardware is slightly underpowered for photo or video editing.
Pro Tips For Making Your Decision
Depending on what you plan on using your new laptop for there are various specs to look out for that may influence your purchasing decision. Although budget laptop users won’t need to get too involved with the technical details as the market for low-end hardware is relatively small, a basic understanding of what everything means and what to look out for based on your unique needs will give you the edge when making your decision.
Students generally only require a laptop that can comfortable browse the web, use word processing apps and watch the odd movie. Due to the mobile requirements of moving around on college or at school mobility is also a prime concern for many students so keeping your laptop lean and lightweight should also be high on your agenda. As a general rule look for laptops with 4GB or more of RAM, a portable design (11-inch or 13-inch laptops are a great idea for users who will be taking their laptop everywhere they go and don’t make sacrificing the screen real estate) and a battery life of 5 hours minimum. Chromebooks are a popular option for those looking for simplicity and who don’t require the use of any MS Office or Windows apps thanks to their mobility and quality designs.
Budget gamers are already covering in our guide to gaming laptops under $500 where you’ll find the top picks on cheap gaming laptops with decent entry level GPUs that won’t completely fry your budget. As a general rule, if looking in the sub-$400 market and gaming is not a primary concern, you can also get away with playing many older games with the integrated Intel HD graphics found on most budget laptops in our cheap laptop guides as well as the Radeon R series equivalent on AMD based laptops. In many cases it may not be worth sacrifices the portability and ease of use in favor if better graphics unless you know you will be doing a fair amount of gaming on your new laptop.
Every business owner knows how important the bottom line is. Why spend $1000 plus on an office laptop when a $400 will get the job done just fine? Business users generally have similar needs as students with word processing and other office applications at the top if the priority list, although laptops designed for office use may not require quite as much portability unless you plan on taking your laptop to meetings often. As per our student recommendations look for a laptop with at least 4GB of RAM for standard office applications and web browsing. If your business requires photo or image processing or more advanced appliations 8GB is recommended. Build quality is also an important factor for many business owners – there’s no point investing in a budget laptop if it’s going to need to be replaced in three years. Lenovo and Dell are two manufacturers who are well know for there business oriented budget laptops which may not have the sleek designs found on many competitors but are built to withstand the test of time with sturdier build quality.
If you’re planning on using your laptop mostly at home for handling all of your movies, music and other media then portability won’t be your biggest concern which means you are free to focus on areas such as screen quality and laptop audio. Unless you have an external monitor or TV lying around you may also want to explore some 17-inch options where possible. Look for a laptop with a 1 TB hard drive if possible, or at a minimum 500GB, and as above note 4GB of RAM or more as requirement for smooth performance with HD video playback and other tasks.
Hardware + Benchmarks
Your laptops hardware provides the engine for your daily computing and understanding the key components to look out for can help you make the right decision and get the best performance possible. No one likes a computer that freezes and lags under heavy load seriously hindering your ability to work and by checking benchmarks we can easily get an idea of which hardware will perform the best and which laptops therefore offer the best value for money.
Your CPU (central processing unit) is the brains of your PC and does most of the number crunching to bring your computer to life. AMD and Intel are the only two mainstream CPU manufactures and compete kneck kneck expecially in the budget market. AMD configurations are generally cheaper than Intel’s and provide excellent value for money although Intel is often still the crowd favorite.
Budget Intel Core-sereis CPU’s – Fastest to Slowest
- Intel Core i5-6200U [ VIEW BENCHMARKS ]
- Intel Core i3-6100H [ VIEW BENCHMARKS ]
- Intel Core i3-6100U [ VIEW BENCHMARKS ]
- Intel Core i5-5200U [ VIEW BENCHMARKS ]
- Intel Core i5-4210U [ VIEW BENCHMARKS ]
- Intel Core i3-5010U [ VIEW BENCHMARKS ]
- Intel Core i3-5010U [ VIEW BENCHMARKS ]
- Intel Core i3-4030U [ VIEW BENCHMARKS ]
Budget AMD A-series, FX-series and E-series CPU’s – Fastest to Slowest
- AMD A10-7400P [ VIEW BENCHMARKS ]
- AMD A8-8600P [ VIEW BENCHMARKS ]
- AMD FX-7500 [ VIEW BENCHMARKS ]
- AMD A10-7300 [ VIEW BENCHMARKS ]
- AMD A8-7100 [ VIEW BENCHMARKS ]
- AMD A6-7310 [ VIEW BENCHMARKS ]
- AMD A8-6410 [ VIEW BENCHMARKS ]
- AMD A6-6310 [ VIEW BENCHMARKS ]
- AMD E2-7110 [ VIEW BENCHMARKS ]
- AMD E1-2100 [ VIEW BENCHMARKS ]
Intel Pentium-series, Celeron-series and Atom-series CPU’s – Fastest to Slowest
- Intel Pentium N3540 [ VIEW BENCHMARKS ]
- Intel Celeron 3955U [ VIEW BENCHMARKS ]
- Intel Pentium N3700 [ VIEW BENCHMARKS ]
- Intel Celeron N2940 [ VIEW BENCHMARKS ]
- Intel Celeron 3855U [ VIEW BENCHMARKS ]
- Intel Atom x5-Z8500 [ VIEW BENCHMARKS ]
- Intel Celeron 2957U [ VIEW BENCHMARKS ]
- Intel Celeron N2840 [ VIEW BENCHMARKS ]
- Intel Atom Z3735F [ VIEW BENCHMARKS ]
- Intel Celeron N3050 [ VIEW BENCHMARKS ]
Your GPU (graphic processing unit) differs from your CPU in that in is created specifically for graphic processing in applications such as games and multimedia editing apps. Generally speaking unless you plan on playing any video games or doing any serious photo or video editing a decent graphics card is not paramount to your laptop experience. Most CPU’s these days come with integrated graphics which are built in as opposed to dedicated graphics cards which are generally found on more powerful machines. As with CPU’s, the main contenders are AMD and Intel who compete neck and neck for the market.
Budget GPU’s – Fastest to Slowest
- Intel HD Graphics 530 [ VIEW FRAMERATES ]
- AMD R6 Graphics (Carrizo) [ VIEW FRAMERATES ]
- AMD R6 Graphics (Keveri) [ VIEW FRAMERATES ]
- NVIDIA GeForce GT 820M 2GB [ VIEW FRAMERATES ]
- AMD Radeon HD 8650G [ VIEW FRAMERATES ]
- Intel HD Graphics 520 [ VIEW FRAMERATES ]
- AMD R5 Graphics M240 [ VIEW FRAMERATES ]
- AMD R5 Graphics M320 [ VIEW FRAMERATES ]
- AMD R5 Graphics M230 [ VIEW FRAMERATES ]
- Intel HD Graphics 4600 [ VIEW FRAMERATES ]
- Intel HD Graphics 5500 [ VIEW FRAMERATES ]
- Intel HD Graphics 515 [ VIEW FRAMERATES ]
- Intel HD Graphics 4400 [ VIEW FRAMERATES ]
- Intel HD Graphics 510 [ VIEW FRAMERATES ]
- Intel HD Graphics 4000 [ VIEW FRAMERATES ]
- AMD R4 Graphics (Kaveri) [ VIEW FRAMERATES ]
- AMD R4 Graphics (Beema) [ VIEW FRAMERATES ]
Your laptops RAM (or random access memory) is also an important piece of the your PC’s arsenal. RAM is like short term memory for your PC, and the more RAM you have the less change there is of your PC bottlenecking due to limited memory which can seriously hinder performance. For most users, 4GB of RAM is more than sufficient for daily use, although if using advanced applications or running multiple applications at once performance can suffer. If you find yourself running out of RAM you can always just take your laptop in for an upgrade or do it yourself. Most RAM today is standardized DDR3 RAM and on budget laptops you generally won’t find anything faster.
Display & Screen Quality
Your laptops display is another core piece of your computing experience. If your laptop suffers from poor color production or poor viewing angles this can put on a dampener on using a PC for many users. In general on budget laptops you will find only TN (thin-film-transistor liquid-crystal) displays which can offer variable quality and are almost always inferior to the IPS ( in-plane switching) technology found on more pricey laptops. That said, many budget Chromebooks have started offering IPS displays which puts these budget Chromeboons on the level of more expensive laptops in terms of raw display quality.
Screen resolution is also an important part of your display. In general budget laptops use a 1366 x 786 resolution which is currently the most used screen resolution worldwide. This is compared to the 1920 x 1080 Full HD resolution found on more expensive laptops. The extra resolution provides extra screen real estate and makes entertainment and gaming more immersive. Here again Chromebooks stand out from the crowd with many budget Chromebooks offering Full HD IPS displays that are far superior to their budget laptop counterparts.
Most budget laptops come with screen sizes ranges from 11 to 15 inches, with the odd 17-inch also available for users looking for a larger display.
Design & Features
Last but not least, your laptops design, though sometimes a matter of personal preference, is also a huge influencing factor and brings up a number of practical considerations. Some users prefer more basic designs while others simply won’t be satisfied with a run of the mill design that’s too chunky or boring. The obvious consideration here is portability. If your laptop is too big and too heavy, it’s going to turn lugging your laptop around with you and having your PC on you more of a chore than its worth for some people. On the other side of the coin, many smaller laptops make sacrifices in terms of performance to achieve their incredibly lightweight form. Generally Chromebooks and Netbooks of the 11-13 inch variety are popular choices for mobile users, including hybrid tablet / laptops, with some 15-inch options also coming in under the 4.5 pound mark which is comparable to some 13-inch laptops, and again many 15-inch and 17-inch laptops coming in with much heavier weights which are clearly designed more for home or office use with minimal commuting.
In terms of features laptops come with a standard set of connectivity options including USB 3.0, USB 2.0 Ethernet, Bluetooth and Wifi but be sure to check each model to be sure it has all the options you need. Some budget laptops still offer DVD drives, although the general trend is more towards external portable DVD drives with many manufacturers opting to leave them out in favor of a more lightweight and slimmer design.
Our Gaming Laptop Guides
Now that you are well equipped, feel free to browse the guides below for our top picks. You can use this page as a reference when comparing specs and other features or drop us a line if you have any specific questions.
The LaptopNinja editorial team
Aspire E5-551-T1Z2 15.6-inch
Lenovo G50 80E301GUUS 15.6-inch
ASUS X555LA-SI30504 15.6-inch
Samsung Chromebook 2 XE500C12-K01US 11.6-Inch