The best budget laptops for 2021

We’ve looked at hundreds of laptops and know what to look for.

irrespective of the cost The best budget laptops can do everything that laptops costing hundreds of dollars can do — and in some cases, even better.

We have a number of options for the We’ve also included options for you if your laptop budget is a little tighter or if you want to be able to game on your laptop. best laptops under $500 and laptops under $300, which is the cheapest laptop available. If you’re looking for a bargain, take a look at some of the best laptop deals happening now.

The best budget laptops at a glance:

Acer Swift 3

Why you should buy this: It’s the best budget laptop.

Who it’s for: Anyone who is willing to forego style in exchange for power.

Why we picked the Acer Swift 3 (AMD):

One of the things you usually give up is processing power, which is relegated to low-end and/or last-generation Intel Core CPUs, as well as plasticky builds that don’t inspire confidence in their long-term viability. It’s difficult to find a fast, well-built laptop for $650.

For around $650 (price varies), you can get an Fortunately, Acer has responded with the Swift 3, which features AMD’s latest Ryzen 7 4700U processor. eight-core laptopwith AMD Radeon graphics integrated This allows the laptop to handle not only productivity tasks but also more demanding tasks such as video encoding. The display isn’t the best we’ve seen, but once you see how well this budget laptop performs, you’ll forgive it.

The $650 Acer Swift 3 It isn’t a sleek or modern-looking laptop, but it is extremely well built, and you’ll be hard pressed to find a faster or better-built laptop for this price. You’ll also get 8GB of RAM and a 512GB SSD.

Read our in-depth Acer Swift 3 (AMD) review

Microsoft Surface Laptop Go

Why you should buy this: It’s the best budget laptop for students.

Who it’s for: Students, buyers on a budget.

Why we picked the Microsoft Surface Laptop Go

Oh, and it has to be reasonably priced. Microsoft’s new Surface Laptop Go meets all of these requirements, making it one of the best laptops on the market. Students typically want a laptop that is easy to carry around, provides adequate performance for completing their homework, and won’t embarrass them when they pull it out to take notes. best laptops for college.

You can spend a little more, $700, to get twice the RAM and storage. These are astonishingly low prices for a Surface laptop, and they should appeal to students of all levels. To begin with, it’s the first Surface device with a budget price tag of $550, which includes a 10th-generation Ice Lake Core i5 processor, 4GB of RAM, and a 64GB PCIe solid-state drive (SSD).

The Surface Laptop go, on the other hand, is a highly portable device with a 12.4-inch IPS display that, while not quite FHD resolution, is still of excellent quality and a joy to use. It’s great for both productivity and binge-watching.

Finally, the Surface Laptop Gois a stylish device that comes in a variety of colors so students can pick the one that best suits them. It’s as well-made as the rest of the Surface line, and it has a similar aesthetic — it’ll look great on a desk.

Read our
in-depth Microsoft Surface Laptop Go Review

Lenovo Chromebook Duet

Why you should buy this: It’s the best budget Chromebook.

Who it’s for: Anyone on a tight budget who is willing to forego performance in exchange for exceptional value.

Why we picked the Lenovo Chromebook Duet:

Chromebooks have become popular budget options in recent years, and many of them have won us over as well (see our list of the best Chromebooks). best Chromebooks(Imaginative+ paraphrase). The detachable Chrome OS tablet is one style that hasn’t done as well as others. That has changed with the launch of the Lenovo Chromebook Duet, which is not only a highly functional tablet but also a fantastic value thanks to the included kickstand cover and detachable keyboard.

The display is good but not great, with a 16:10 1,920 x 1,200 resolution that isn’t as pixel-sharp as Apple’s entry-level iPad against which the Duet competes. The Lenovo Chromebook Duet’s low price comes with some drawbacks: performance isn’t great thanks to its MediaTek Helio 60T processor, 4GB of RAM, and 64GB of storage, for example, but it’s adequate for the tasks you’ll be doing on it.

This is not only the best budget Chromebook, but also one of the best budget laptops available. The Duet, on the other hand, is a great tablet for web browsing, light productivity work, and media consumption. It’s a great size for a tablet — albeit a little chunky with the kickstand cover and keyboard attached — and it’s a joy to hold.

It’s not as feature-rich as Windows, and it works best with an active internet connection, but it’s more developed now than it was previously. You’ll have to adjust to Chrome OS as well. If you use a lot of Google web services and watch Netflix or other streaming services, the Lenovo Chromebook Duet This could be a fantastic way to save a ton of money on your next upgrade.

Read our in-depth Lenovo Chromebook Duet review

Dell G5 SE Gaming Laptop

Why you should buy this: It’s the best budget gaming laptop.

Who it’s for: Gamers, and only gamers.

Why we picked the Dell G5 SE:

Although the best gaming laptops are typically expensive, the Dell G5 SE For $1,049, you’ll get a powerful machine with 16GB of RAM, a 512GB SSD, and the Ryzen 7 4800H processor. A 15.6-inch 1080p IPS display is standard on all models. For just under $900, you can get an AMD Ryzen 5 4500H CPU, AMD Radeon RX 5600M graphics chip, 8GB of RAM, and a 256GB SSD, with faster CPUs, more powerful graphics, extra and faster storage, and memory available if you don’t mind spending a little more. is a great illustration of why they don’t have to be.

It does have some flaws, the most notable of which is a less-than-stellar display — it’s dull, but it has a fast 144Hz refresh rate, which is ideal for gaming. The G5 SE offers an all-around solid gaming package at an impressively competitive price, with a decent build quality and surprisingly good gaming performance that rivals laptops with Nvidia’s GeForce RTX 2060 GPU.

The keyboard is surprisingly good and comes with RGB lighting for an extra $30, and there are fewer compromises than one might expect in order to keep the price of such a capable gaming machine low.

There are far better gaming laptops out there, but none that are as powerful as this one. Dell’s G5 SEin this price range It’s an excellent low-cost gaming machine.

Read our in-depth Dell G5 SE review

HP Envy x360 13 (Ryzen)

Why you should buy this: It’s the best laptop for video editing on a budget.

Who it’s for: Video and photo editors who require a high level of performance at a low cost.

Why we picked the HP Envy x360 13 (Ryzen):

Finding a laptop for video editingThe best laptops for video editing, such as the It’s not easy to stay under $1,000. The more cores, the better when it comes to video editing. Dell XPS 15 and MacBook Pro 16-inch will cost you well over $2,000.

HP has thankfully released the Envy x360 13 with AMD’s latest Ryzen 5 4500U processor. For $730, you get an eight-core machine with AMD Radeon graphics that, unlike many other laptops in its price range — or even higher — can handle demanding video and photo editing tasks. When it comes to tasks like rendering video, the Envy x360 actually outperforms many high-end laptops that cost well over $1,000.

It’s also a bright screen, with a brightness of 399 nits and a contrast ratio of 1110:1 (we consider anything over 1,000:1 to be excellent). The display on the Envy x360 is also quite good, with a wide color gamut (71% AdobeRGB and 96% sRGB) and a DeltaE of 2.26 (not the most accurate, but not bad either).

You’ll also get 8GB of RAM and a 128GB SSD for $730, which can be upgraded to 256GB for an additional $40. In addition, the Envy x360is also a stylish 360-convertible 2-in-1 with pen support, allowing you to be more creative. It’s a fantastic creative laptop at an almost unbeatable price.

Read our in-depth HP Envy x360 13 (Ryzen) review

Dell Inspiron 13 7000

Why you should buy this: It’s the best budget business laptop.

Who it’s for: Office workers who want to play video games in their spare time.

Why we picked the Dell Inspiron 13 7000:

The Dell Inspiron 13 7000 strikes a great balance as a laptop, whether you’re typing up another spreadsheet or winding down with a game at the end of a long workday. business laptopIt comes with a ninth-generation Intel CPU — Core i5, Core i7, and Core i9 chips are available — and up to 16GB of RAM, as well as a dedicated graphics chip. .. The standard model comes with an Nvidia GTX 1050 3GB for entry-level gaming, but a new-gen 1650 is also available, which can play a wide range of games if the settings are tweaked properly.

We’d expect this system to borrow several great design features from the more premium XPS range, but make them available in a more affordable form, thanks to the usual Inspiron build quality. With just over four pounds, it’s not the lightest laptop, but it has a great, spill-resistant keyboard, full Wi-Fi 5 and Bluetooth connectivity, and a top-mounted 720p webcam for video conferencing.

The Dell Inspiron 13 7000 It’s also available in an attractive white paint job, which helps it stand out among its silver peers.

Microsoft Surface Go 2

Luke Larsen / Digital Trends

Why you should buy this: It’s the best budget 2-in-1.

Who it’s for: Anyone who requires the portability of a small 2-in-1 on the go.

Why we picked the Microsoft Surface Go 2:

The Surface Go 2 is limited by its small size and, at the entry level, a low-powered Intel Pentium processor, 4GB of RAM, and 64GB of storage — the processor can be upgraded to an Intel Core m3 for an additional $130 — but it offers something never seen before in the Windows world: A budget-conscious individual 2-in-1 laptopIts construction is just as solid as that of its bigger brother, the .. Surface Pro 7It’s actually thin and light enough to be held like a tablet in one hand. , and it also has a stunning, bright display. What’s the best part?

We also wish the excellent Type Cover keyboard and Surface Pen were included in the package. While performance isn’t as smooth as an iPad or even a Chromebook, those devices can’t do nearly as much as the Surface Go 2, which runs the full version of Windows 10. However, it falls short on the battery front. Since this is a device designed for portability, this is the most unfortunate compromise.

Nonetheless, even with its flaws, the Microsoft Surface Go 2 In this price range, competitors lack the high build quality and frequently have a less impressive display or keyboard. is without a doubt the best budget 2-in-1 available.

Read our in-depth Microsoft Surface Go 2 review

Research and buying tips

Are budget laptops any good?

Budget laptops can be just as good as high-end counterparts, depending on what you need it to do. A budget Chromebook can save you hundreds of dollars while performing no worse than a $2,000 or more laptop if you only need it to watch Netflix and answer emails. Yes, absolutely!

However, you must exercise caution when selecting a system. Budget laptops often make compromises that more expensive models do not, so make sure the system you’re considering can perform the tasks you require before purchasing.

Do any budget laptops have Thunderbolt 3?

Although many budget laptops support USB-C, only a few, such as the Dell Inspiron 13 7000, support Intel’s Thunderbolt 3 specification. Thunderbolt 3 is one of the features that are less common in budget laptops.

Do budget laptops have good battery life?

Some do, while others do not. The models that prioritize portability tend to offer a little more, and if you want the longest battery life, you’ll want to skip the dedicated graphics chip.

However, there are many budget systems that allow you to get through a full workday and beyond on a single charge. In some cases, a laptop like the Asus ZenBook 13 UX333 can outlast many laptops that cost several hundred dollars more. Because of how light the software is, many Chromebooks have impressive battery life.

Is it possible to get a good display on a budget laptop?

Color accuracy and contrast are some areas where certain systems can save money, so a good display will need to be a key component of the laptop. Yes, but just like with battery life or specific ports, you’ll need to pick the right laptop.

The HP Envy x360 13 has the best-looking screen of our budget recommendations, which is yet another reason why it’s our top pick for the best video editing laptop.

Is AMD better for budget laptops?

AMD’s release of the Ryzen 4000The AMD Athlon 64 X2 line of processors has caused a stir in the low-cost laptop market. In short, AMD has been used in the fastest machines we’ve tested that aren’t based on Intel’s 45-watt powerhouse CPUs, which is a significant improvement. Intel is still a far more dominant force Although there are more options in the laptop space, Ryzen 4000 still reigns supreme when it comes to CPUs that go into budget — and even premium thin and light — laptops.

We strongly suggest that you consider AMD when picking your next budget laptop.. If you can find one that meets your requirements, you’ll get a lot more bang for your buck.

Editors’ Recommendations