Whether you’re a college student or a professional, it’s hard to get by without a laptop computer. Laptops are as indispensable as bank accounts and budget apps. Luckily, today’s laptops are more affordable than ever before, and you no longer have to sacrifice quality for a cheap price tag. Check out our top picks for cheap laptops — including top-of-the-line models.
Quick Look: The Best Cheap Laptops to Fit Your Budget
- HP 2-in-1 Touch-Screen Chromebook X2 – Get this laptop
- Asus Vivobook E203MA – Get this laptop
- Acer Swift 3 – Get this laptop
- HP 2019 Premium Pavilion Touchscreen Laptop – Get this laptop
- Microsoft Surface Go – Get this laptop
- Acer Chromebook 15 – Get this laptop
Matebook13 – Get this laptop
- Lenovo Yoga – Get this laptop
- Lenovo Flex 11 2-in-1 Convertible Laptop – Get this laptop
- HP Pavilion 17.3 Inch HD+ Flagship Pro – Get this laptop
What to Look for in a Laptop
Cheap doesn’t have to mean low-quality, but that doesn’t mean you should buy the first affordable laptop you see. Look for these features when you shop.
A screen that fits your needs
It’s important to consider the size of laptop you need before you buy. Unlike RAM or ROM, you can’t upgrade your screen later on, so try out a few options before you commit. Laptop screens begin at about 11 inches and extend to over 17 inches.
Most brands offer three standard sizes: 13.3-inch, 15.6-inch and 17.3 inches. Not sure about the difference between them? Head to a local electronics store and test out the feel of each one of the standard sizes to see which one feels right for you.
Consider choosing a smaller screen if you need a laptop for portability. These models usually weigh less than models with larger screens. If you value clarity over portability, you might want to consider choosing a model with a larger screen.
At least 4GB of RAM
Random access memory (RAM) is like your computer’s short-term memory. RAM holds recently accessed data that you might need to load again in the near future and keeps it on “standby” until you decide to open the file or page.
When your computer runs out of RAM, it can’t store pages and files in its short-term memory any longer. Instead, it needs to completely reload every page each time you open it. If you hear someone complain that his computer is slow or has gotten slower over time, it’s usually because the computer is low on RAM.
You can save yourself the headache of low speeds by making sure that you buy a model preinstalled with plenty of RAM. Some lower-end models come with as little as 2GB of RAM, which won’t be enough for even casual users.
As a general rule, you can find laptops on the more affordable end of the spectrum with at least 4GBs of RAM. This is enough for most basic activities like browsing the web, streaming movies and TV shows and doing schoolwork. If you want to do more intensive tasks with your laptop (like programming or running graphics-intensive games) you’ll want to choose a model with as much RAM as you can afford.
One of the best ways to save money is to choose a model with lower RAM and manually install more memory yourself. However, if you’re a tech-newbie who just wants your laptop to work after you open the box, look for higher RAM.
At least 8 hours of battery life
If you’re buying a large laptop that you only want to use for gaming and in-home surfing, you don’t need to spend too much time worrying about battery life. However, if you plan to use your laptop for school or work, you may not always have immediate access to an outlet.
When searching for a laptop with transportation and travel in mind, look for at least 8 hours of battery life. This will be enough to get you through the workday.
The Best Cheap Laptops You Can Buy Online
Know what you’re searching for? Check out these affordable and powerful laptops that you can buy online.
Best Overall: HP 2-in-1 Touch-Screen Chromebook X2
- Who’s it for? Casual and professional users
- Price: On sale for $458
When it comes to laptops, Chromebooks are unsung heroes, tossed aside in favor of more expensive Apple and Microsoft models.
While previous Chromebooks may have had clunky designs, the HP 2-in-1 is a powerful, sleek and lightweight model perfect for almost everyone. Weighing in at just over 3 pounds, the laptop is perfect for both trips to school and long-haul flights.
Buyers consistently praise the 2-in-1’s battery life, which extends well beyond the industry standard of 8 hours.
Finally, the 2-in-1’s landmark detachable touchscreen can be used independently from the keyboard — meaning that you essentially get both a laptop and a tablet in a single package. Powerful enough for all standard computing tasks and light enough to go anywhere, the HP 2-in-1 shows exactly what Chromebooks are capable of.
Best Overall 2: Asus Vivobook E203MAW
- Who’s it for? Students and work professionals
- Price: On sale for $158
The Asus Vivobook is far from the most powerful laptop on the market — it only includes 2
GHz processor and a gorgeous LED backlit screen. The Vivobook also features a long-lasting battery with up to 10 hours of life and a lightweight, 2.18-pound frame.
While you may run out of memory with the Vivobook, if you need a laptop quickly without waiting to save up money for a more expensive version, it can be worth it to buy the Vivobook and install more RAM later down the road.
Best Overall 3: Acer Swift 3W
- Who’s it for? Tech professionals
- Price: On sale for $599
If you know anything about processors, you’ll be immediately impressed with the Swift 3. Featuring an Intel Core i5 configuration, the Acer Swift has almost all of the processing power of a top-of-the-line Macbook at roughly half of the price.
The Swift 3 hides its amazingly powerful processor under a sleek 4.63-pound package that also features 9 hours of independent battery life and 4
One of the most powerful and affordable laptops available, the Swift 3 is perfect for almost any user who values speed and clarity.
Best for Gaming: HP 2019 Premium Pavilion Touchscreen Laptop
- Who’s it for? Gamers who want to avoid lag without breaking the bank
- Price: On sale for $349
Hardcore gamers know that affordable and gaming laptop don’t usually belong in the same sentence.
Premium gaming rigs regularly cost upwards of $1,500 — and that’s before upgrades and accessories. Enter the HP Premium Pavilion, a powerful force with a smaller price tag than other models.
The HP Pavilion has customizable specs and gamers can set themselves up with a massive 16GBs of RAM and 2TB HDD.
A fraction of the price of other gaming models with all the power needed to run large, graphics-intensive games, the HP Pavilion is a top choice for gamers who don’t want to sacrifice quality to stay inside their budget.
Best for Students: Microsoft Surface Go
- Who’s it for? All students
- Price: On sale for $399
If you’re searching for a laptop you can toss into your bag and bring to class, look no further than the Microsoft Surface Go.
True to its name, the laptop is an impressively lightweight 2.5 pounds, meaning that anyone can bring it along for a full day on campus without sore shoulders. Though the detachable keyboard adds an extra pound, the full device is still easy to move and tote.
Prefer to take notes by hand? The Surface Go also features a detachable touchscreen tablet that allows you to write and save old-fashioned notes. This is particularly useful for graphic design students, math students who need to hand-solve problems, and anyone who enjoys drawing diagrams.
Though the Surface Go has less processing power than other models, its sleek and slim design makes it the perfect learning tool for students.
Best for Surfing the Web: Acer Chromebook 15
- Who’s it for?Casual users
- Price: On sale for $344
The Acer Chromebook 15 is leagues cheaper than most other comparable models on the market.
This cheap laptop offers a few pleasing specs as well, with 4GBs of RAM as well as Microsoft Office built into the device.
The Acer Chromebook 15 boots up in seconds and offers everything that the most casual internet user will need for in-home web surfing.
While the device might be bulky and heavier than other models, there’s simply no way to beat the basic Chromebook 15 in the affordability game.
Best for Programming: Huawei Matebook 13
- Who’s it for? Programmers
- Price: On sale for $899.99
Casual programmers don’t need specialized laptops for day-to-day website coding. However, if you want to write or improve upon software, upgrading to a more powerful laptop is necessary, especially if you program professionally.
Like gaming laptops, more powerful programming laptops can run up to $2,000. The Huawei Matebook 13 comes it at a little under $900, which means it’s not what most casual programmers will consider “cheap.”
The Matebook’s impeccable, near borderless design can make viewing large swaths of code more manageable — and its lightweight, less than 3-pound design means that it can be effortlessly moved from your desk to your meeting to your working lunch.
The Matebook 13 comes along with 8GBs of RAM (double what most affordable laptops include) and a strong 1.6 GHz Core processor. With 4 processors contained in a small package, the Huawei Matebook 13 is a deceivingly powerful package perfect for programmers.
Best for Designers or Artists: Lenovo Yoga
- Who’s it for? Graphic designers and artists
- Price: On sale for $677
Gone are the days when being a graphic designer or artist meant shelling out over $2,000 for the latest MacBook.
Today’s designers have a number of affordable options that include the processing power and smooth screen clarity they need to work.
The Lenovo Yoga effortlessly combines power and performance with a whopping 8GB of RAM and 256GB of space.
The Yoga’s touchscreen features a unique 360-degree flip-and-fold design that’s perfect for collaborative projects and multitasking. The device’s LED backlight makes colors appear clearer and more refined, perfect for the artist who needs to see and correct color errors.
With power and performance at a reasonable price point, the Lenovo Yoga gives the MacBook Pro a run for its money at less than half the price.
Best Mini Laptop: Lenovo Flex 11 2-in-1 Convertible Laptop
- Who’s it for? Portable, lightweight
- Price: On sale for $265.48
Weighing in at just under 3 pounds, it’s hard to find a laptop that’s more portable than the Lenovo Flex.
The Flex offers an impressive nine hours of battery life (more than some full-sized laptops) and can quickly be converted into a notebook for conference calls, easier productivity, or even just watching a movie.
Equally as useful for professionals on-the-go as it is for college students who need to bring their laptop with them to multiple classes across campus, the Lenovo Flex offers convenience and speed at a price anyone can afford.
Best 17” Screen Laptop: HP Pavilion 17.3 Inch HD+ Flagship Pro
- Who it’s for? Users big on graphics
- Price: On sale for $549.99
At just under $550, The HP Pavilion is almost half of the price as most 17-inch laptops on the market. But don’t assume that you’re sacrificing quality for pricing.
The HP Pavilion features a WLED-backlit display screen, which showcases colors brightly even with a larger screen.
The Pavilion is great for almost any user looking for a low-cost laptop because its specs can be customized with more RAM and processing power for a higher price if you need it.
For users who are just looking for a responsive and good-looking 17-inch screen, you can’t beat the price tag of the standard HP Pavilion.
Affordable Laptops That Fit Your Needs
To the casual internet user who only wants to check his email and write papers on Google Docs, the idea of spending $400 on a laptop may seem ludicrous. However, for a professional artist or programmer who relies on a computer to earn money, spending $800 is an affordable investment for career advancement.
It’s a good idea to avoid setting a “hard budget” for your laptop purchase until you know exactly how you need to use your computer and which programs you want to run.
Don’t be afraid to visit local electronic stores near you to get a feel for different operating systems and keyboard sizes as well. Buying a laptop is a big investment, so get the most out of your money by doing ample research.