Are you looking for a competent laptop and don’t want to spend a lot of money on it? This article should help you, as it brings together the ultra computers and laptops for daily use that we recommend based on our more than 10 years of experience in researching and testing these computers.
We’ve divided the post into two main sections, with a selection of affordable quality laptops you can get for 500 USD/EUR (and local equivalent) or less, and a list of the best laptops you can get for less than 1,000 USD these days.
We have traditional laptops, ultrabooks, 2-in-1 convertibles and a few high-performance models suitable for gaming and demanding tasks at work and school. Our options focus mainly on options available in the United States, but the article is relevant whether you live in Europe, the United Kingdom, Australia, Asia or elsewhere, although some options may be more expensive in your region.
All computers meet the requirements we have for a good 2020 device: high quality production, fast and accurate keyboards, decent displays, performance and battery life. Of course, the smaller the budget, the more compromises have to be made. We’ll explain what you’re getting into so you know what you’re getting into.
With this in mind, let’s take a look at the best low-priced laptops available today. You can view the entire article or go directly to the desired section:
Affordable laptops under $500
You’ll find some pretty good laptops for $500 or less, especially if you shop online and are looking for occasional discounts. Because of the large number of possibilities we have divided this part into two parts. We start with the 15 and 17 screen options and then talk about the lighter, smaller options in this class.
Cheap ultra-portable options (10 to 14 inches) under $500
This section is reserved for the most portable options you can get for less than $500 these days, but if you’re looking for an ultra-compact laptop, you should also check out our special articles on today’s best ultrabooks, as well as this one, which focuses exclusively on models 12 inches and below.
We’ll talk about that before we move on to the Windows options, simply because you probably won’t have the same experience with a Windows computer in this price range.
There are many quality Chromebooks in a price range of $150 to $400, just make sure, and I can’t stress this enough, that you understand what a Chromebook is and what it can and can’t do. In short, Chromebooks are perfect for web browsing, social networking, streaming, text editing, etc., but they are more useful when they are connected to the Internet and cannot work with the specific software available on Windows.
We recommend targeting devices with at least 4 GB of RAM and an FHD IPS screen. You can find them for as little as $200 in smaller variants and up to $250 if you also want a touch screen and a convertible form factor.
This manual explains the differences between Chromebook and Windows laptops. This list contains our most popular Chromebook laptops at the time of the update.
Chrome books offer excellent value for money in the price range below $400.
Compact Notebooks with Windows
There are a number of Windows minilaptops that sell for between $150 and $500 at the time of upgrade. They are perfect for basic tasks such as web surfing, streaming reading, music and text editing, and make great travel computers, small and light options for your kids, or inexpensive second computers. The fact that they run on Windows makes them more competent than the Chromebooks mentioned above, but they are not so fast, so beautiful and so cheap.
However, if you need a Windows computer and agree with the limitations (including too little hardware, limited storage space, cramped keyboards and a design that is not always beautiful), I would consider these options (follow the links for more information, user comments and buying options):
- The HP Stream 11 – available for $180 – is compact, lightweight (2.4 pounds) and made of plastic. It features an unlit keyboard, 11-inch HD TN display, Atom hardware, 4GB of RAM and 32GB of eMMC storage, and 38Wh (6+ hours) battery life. The HP Stream is also available in a larger 14-inch model, but there are better options at this size.
- The Lenovo 130S – available for $170, still compact, lightweight (2.6 pounds) and made of plastic, features a non-backlit keyboard, an 11-inch HD TN display and slightly faster Celeron hardware, 4GB of RAM and 64GB of eMMC storage, but a smaller 32Wh battery with more than 5 hours of battery life.
- Asus VivoBook L203MA – available for $200, slightly smaller and lighter than the others (2.2 lbs), still in plastic and with an 11 HD TN screen, the same Celeron hardware, 4GB RAM and 64GB eMMC, but a 38-Wh battery for more than 6 hours.
Some of the available mini-laptops
We have also included several affordable 13-inch models in different price segments.
- The Acer Swift 3 13 – shown here – sells for about $300, is larger than the others (2.9 lbs) and better built, using the same hardware, but with a larger keyboard, FHD IPS display, and 48-watt battery. A good price for what he is.
- Dell Latitude 13 – available for less than $200 in a redesigned form, significantly heavier and more discreet than other options (3.9 pounds), but with Core i3/i5 hardware, scalable RAM and storage, and a 43-watt battery. Good price, but not so portable.
- Chuwi AeroBook 13 – available for $450, thin and light for its category, aluminum construction, backlit keyboard, IPS display, better specifications than other options (Fanless Core m3, 8GB RAM, 256GB storage, 38W battery). Good option, but questionable support.
Some of the best 13-inch ultraportables in the price range from $150 to $450.
Compact 2-in-1 and Shelf
With a budget of $250 to $500 you get a compact 2-in-1 model with a touch screen and a convertible/tablet form factor. Most of these options are still based on energy-efficient hardware and are mainly intended for everyday basic activities, but in addition to the touch screen, you also get improved processing, IPS panels and additional functionality.
As far as tablets are concerned, you see a lot of cheap Windows tablets from unknown manufacturers, but I wouldn’t recommend them because of the questionable quality control and after-sales service. However, a solid offer from Amazon or Best-buy or another reputable retailer may be worth the risk. I would also consider Asus transformers and Acer Switch 10s if you can still find them, but make sure you get them with at least 4GB of RAM.
However, there is a skilled mini Windows tablet, the Microsoft Surface Go. Excellent build quality, good quality control and support, high resolution 3:2 screen with pen holder and good speakers are some of the sales arguments. It still runs on a low-power platform, but it can still perform everyday tasks and you can get it with 4-8GB of RAM and plenty of storage, which is almost impossible on other similar tablets.
However, the best configuration costs more than $400, and a keyboard foil and stylus are not included. You can choose the high-end and expensive versions of Microsoft, but there are also many other good and much cheaper alternatives from third parties.
The Surface Go is by far the best Windows tablet you can get for under $500.
The HP Elite 12 X2 (our review of a similar model) is another great Windows tablet, bigger than the Surface Go but also cheaper because it is an older product based on an older Intel Core m hardware platform. Currently you’ll find upgraded models under $300 with 8GB RAM and 256GB SSD storage, including keyboard, and you won’t find anything that comes close to that price. Follow this link for more information. I’m sure this offer won’t last long.
In addition to tablets, there is also a 2-in-1 convertible in this segment. Although they are not as portable as the Surface Go and do not have the same type of display, they are also considerably cheaper. These are our favorites:
- The Acer Spin 11 – Review is a compact 11-inch convertible based on Intel Apollo Lake hardware. Includes an HD/FHD IPS display with stylus support, eMMC storage and 36-watt battery, all housed in a rugged metal chassis;
- The Lenovo Flex 11 is an alternative to the Lenovo Spin 11, offering similar hardware and a lower price, but with an HD touch screen, scalable M.2 storage, plastic construction and a 36W battery.
- Dell Inspiron 11 3000 2-in-1 – Less expensive than others, plastic design and available in a variety of colors. Built on AMD A9 hardware with Radeon 5 graphics, with eMMC memory, TN HD display and only a 28W battery.
Standard size laptops at an affordable price under $500
Cheap large-format laptops have come a long way in recent years. Yes, you’re still sacrificing some features, and they’re not as well done as the premium options, but you can do competent computing all day for much less than $500 these days.
Just pay attention to a few things. The cheaper versions get duller, lower quality displays with TN, IPS or third-party IPS panels, and some get rather small batteries and no backlit keyboard. Probably you will only find low-end hardware like Intel Core or AMD APU in this segment, but that’s fine, make sure you have 8 GB of RAM and an SSD for storage. However, if you need extra power or a gaming laptop, you’ll probably have to increase your budget. We will discuss these characteristics in the next part of this article.
To get back to our budget options, I would recommend at least an Intel Core i3 configuration or one of the current AMD Ryzen APUs. You can also find Celeron/Pentium and older AMD models for less than $300, but the difference in performance is considerable and I wouldn’t consider such models for a full-fledged computer. I would also opt for Intel laptops to extend battery life and increase efficiency, or the latest AMD APUs to provide extra graphics power for playing certain games. Note that AMD implementations are less effective and are also available in smaller quantities.
What about the current recommendations? Well, here’s what we’re gonna look at in the under $500 price range:
- AMD Ryzen 3 models (dual core) – available between 300 and 450 euros – Acer Aspire 3, Acer Aspire 5, Asus VivoBook 15 Thin, Dell Inspiron 15 5000, HP Laptop 15, Lenovo IdeaPad L340.
- AMD Ryzen 5 models (quad-core, enhanced graphics) – available for $450-500+ – Acer Aspire 3, HP Laptop 15, Dell Inspiron 15 5000.
- Intel Core i3 models (preferably Core i3-8145U or newer, dual-core with HyperThreading) – starting at $350 – Acer Aspire 5, Asus VivoBook 15, Dell Inspiron 14 and 15, Lenovo IdeaPad S340.
- Intel Core i5 models (preferably Core i5-8265U or higher, quad-core with HyperThreading) – from 400 Euros – Acer Aspire 5, Dell Inspiron 15, HP Laptop 15, Lenovo IdeaPad S340.
These are essentially the same laptops with different hardware specifications, and you should follow these links to get more information about each device: Acer Aspire 3, Acer Aspire 5, Asus VivoBook 15 Thin, Dell Inspiron 15 5000, HP Laptop 15, Lenovo IdeaPad S340.
Some of the cheapest 15-inch laptops are worth buying.
In the meantime, if you are buying a basic computer that you will use all day for web browsing, streaming video, YouTube, email, etc., you should also consider one of the existing 14 and 15 inch Chromebooks, which are available for $300 to $400. In this article you will find more information and instructions.
It’s harder to find something good with special graphics in this price range, or a hybrid with a touch screen and a 2-in-1 form factor. However, some GeForce MX150 notebooks are priced below $500, as are some large convertibles such as the Lenovo Flex, Acer Spin 3 and Asus VivoBook Flip. Follow this link for more information on existing affordable hybrids.
Most expensive ultrabooks under $1000
Nowadays there are a lot of Ultrabooks for sale for $500-1000, and in this section we will mention the best. With this budget you can choose a powerful laptop with solid specifications or an ultra-portable laptop with mid-range specifications but a thinner, higher-end chassis. In what follows, we will investigate both cases.
Multifunctional multimedia under $1,000
In this range, you’ll find either sophisticated mid-range laptops with Core U hardware or more advanced versions of the above lines in the under $500 category, with additional RAM, more storage space and faster processors.
Our recommendations apply especially to devices in the first subcategory, such as compact and well-designed multimedia laptops with IPS display, backlit keyboard and good hardware specifications without major weaknesses. In terms of performance, they can handle everyday tasks smoothly, but they can also support more demanding applications when needed, as well as a number of lightweight games. However, they are not primarily slot machines, but a balanced combination of performance, portability and functionality.
Here are some of the models on my radar, in alphabetical order:
- Acer Swift 3 14 and 15 inch – 14/15 inch all-in-one with metal chassis, Core U hardware, optional Nvidia graphics, matte IPS screens with small frames, fast keyboard, 48W battery, weighing 1.45 kg / 3.4 lbs, competitively priced ;
- The Asus VivoBook S15 is a compact and sleek 15-inch all-in-one robot with a striking design, metal chassis, Core U hardware, optional Nvidia MX250 graphics, matte IPS display, 42-watt battery only for a weight of 1.75 kg, at a competitive price;
- Dell Inspiron 15 7000 – Compact and slim, metal chassis but heavier than other options, Core U hardware, optional Nvidia MX250 graphics, matte IPS display, 42 watts battery only, from 2 kg, quite expensive in most regions ;
- The HP Envy 17 is one of the few good mid-range 17-inch notebooks, Core U hardware and Nvidia MX250 graphics, brilliant IPS display, 56W battery, 3kg, reasonable price;
- Lenovo IdeaPad 530s and S540 – a compact and slim 14/15-inch all-in-one, metal chassis, Core U hardware, choice of Nvidia or Ryzen APU graphics, matte IPS display, 45-watt battery, from 1.7 kg / 3.75 lbs, at affordable prices;
For a few more suggestions, take a look at this list of recommended 14 and 15 laptops, as well as this list of laptops with Nvidia MX250 images.
Those of you interested in a flyer for less than $1,000 with a convertible touchscreen should also consider devices such as the Acer Spin 5, the Dell Inspiron 14/15 2-in-1, the HP Envy x360, the Lenovo Yoga 730, or some of the other options mentioned in this specific article.
Someone in the upper middle…
Laptop gaming computers under $1,000
If you are interested in a low-budget gaming laptop, you have a choice: Either choose one of the full-fledged, high-specification devices you can get for $1,000 these days, or put performance on hold and choose one of the few ultra-portable laptops under $1,000.
In the first case you have 14 and 15 inch laptops with Core-H hardware and Nvidia GTX-1650, 1060 or even 1660Ti graphics, while in the second case you have to settle for Core-U laptops with MX250 and possibly GTX-1650 graphics, but in smaller and nicer integrated packages. It’s up to you, and both subsections are covered in detail in this article.
Medium Format Ultrabooks under $1,000
If you want a high-end, thin and lightweight ultra-portable, $1,000 will buy the basic versions of the Dell XPS 13 ultra-compact and Microsoft Surface notebook, the HP Spectre X360 Convertible, or the LG Gram 14 and Asus Zenbook UX391 ultra-light series, to name but a few of the best options. They should be sufficient for most users, provided you have a Core i5 configuration with 8GB of RAM and preferably at least 256GB of storage.
On the other hand, if you prefer better specifications for your money, or if you prefer to spend less, there are many other interesting options you might consider.
- Asus Zenbook UX333 (13-inch) and 433 (14-inch) – from $899 – lightweight and compact options with slim frames, matte or touch screens, optional Core U hardware and MX150 graphics, 50-watt batteries, from 1.1 kg ;
- Asus Zenbook UX331 – starting under $800 – 13-inch model, ultra-light and slim, matte IPS display, Core U and MX150 Max-Q hardware, 50 watts battery, 1.15 kg ;
- Acer Swift 3 SF314-55 – starting at $799 for the 14-inch model, slightly heavier than the other, but robust, ISP mat display, Core U and MX150 Max-Q hardware, 48-watt battery, 1.35 kg (3 lbs) ;
- Dell Inspiron 13 7000 2 in 1 – starting at $949 – 13-inch convertible with 360-degree IPS touch screen, compact metal chassis, Core U hardware, 38-watt battery, 1.4 kg ;
- HP Envy 13 – from $799 – Lightweight and compact 13-inch model, IPS display with matte or touch screen, Core U hardware and optional MX150 Max-Q battery, 53 W, 1.25 kg ;
- Lenovo IdeaPad 720s – from $899 for the high-end version – 14-inch model, well built and compact, but slightly heavier than other options, Core U and MX150 hardware, 55-watt battery, 1.45 kg ;
- Lenovo ThinkPad T480 – starting at $849, but the basic versions are poorly removable – 14 inches, highly configurable, ruggedly built quality business notebook with an excellent keyboard, optional Core U and MX150 hardware, from a 48W, 1.6kg (3.6lb) battery;
- Microsoft Surface Pro – from $899 for basic model without keyboard – 12.3 tablet with 3:2 high-resolution touch screen, Core U hardware, 38W battery, from 1.75 lbs (.8kg) without keyboard ;
- MSI Modern 14 – Under $900 for the base model with Core i5/MX250 hardware, compact and ultra-light, 52-watt battery, from 1.2 kg (2.6 lbs).
And some of the mid-range ultraportables are under $1,000….
Overall, there are many good laptops for less than $1,000 these days, and some good computers that sell for $200 to $500. You’ll still have to make sacrifices when you go down the ladder, it’s true, but you can find something good in any budget, as long as you have the right expectations.
We have mentioned some of our favorite recommendations above, but there are others you should consider in some regions. If you need help choosing the best option for your needs and budget, feel free to comment in the Comments section below or read other articles on the site:
Please note that I am constantly updating this list of laptops under $1000, adding new models when they become available, and deleting old versions when they become obsolete. We’re a small team and there may be delays. So if you notice any devices that should or shouldn’t be there, please let us know in the comment section.
Disclaimer : Our content is supported by our readers. If you make a purchase through certain links on our site, we may earn affiliate commissions. Read more.
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