If you’ve been shopping for a cheap laptop, then you already know: It’s rough out there. Sure, there are plenty of genuinely cheap laptops available, but they’re often saddled with unimpressive specs and are machines that you wouldn’t give to your worst enemy.
The landscape isn’t totally barren, however. There are a handful of genuinely good cheap laptops out there that we feel are actually pretty great computers. If you know which models to look for, you can find great laptops under $500 from Dell, Lenovo, HP and other manufacturers we trust.
When we considered which laptops were worthy of consideration, we felt that the best cheap laptops should meet these bare minimum criteria:
- An Intel Core i3 or AMD Ryzen 3 CPU
- 4 GB of RAM
That said, we also believe that for the best experience, a solid laptop tends to have:
- An Intel Core i5 or AMD Ryzen 5 CPU
- 8 GB of RAM
- 1080p display
While not all of the laptops on our list could quite meet all of these expectations on the high end, some did. But they were also some of the more expensive options.
In general, we found that worthy laptops with accpetable specs fell in the $400-$600 price range, with plenty of perfectly fine laptops under $500.
Dirt cheap? No.
But it also means you won’t want to chuck your new laptop out a window after a month.
So let’s get into our best cheap laptops.
1. Asus VivoBook 15 Laptop
It’s hard to go against the Asus VivoBook 15 as our pick for the best cheap laptop. Powered by an AMD Ryzen 5 CPU and 8 GB of RAM, it features a 15-inch, 1080p display which is everything you could ask for in a laptop at this price point. While you won’t be doing any serious gaming or video editing on this machine, it’s a seriously solid performer that should meet the needs of the average user. Other laptops with comparable specs don’t have anywhere near the same value as the Asus VivoBook 15, and for that reason alone, this is the first laptop people should be taking a serious look at.
Unfortunately, the secret is out, and finding the Asus Vivobook 15 in stock isn’t easy. There are still some models available on Amazon, and you’ll want to snatch up these cheap laptops while they’re available.
2. Lenovo IdeaPad 5 Laptop
As one of the more expensive laptops on this list, the Lenovo IdeaPad 5 barely qualifies as one of the best cheap laptops. But if you’re OK with paying a little extra, you’ll be rewarded with the best performance of any of the laptops on this list. Like the HP 15t, the Lenovo IdeaPad 5 gives you a 10th-generation Intel Core i5 CPU paired with 8 GB of RAM, but it sweetens the deal with a 14-inch 1080p display, Dolby Audio and a 256 GB SSD. With the right combination of size and performance that can compete with more expensive mid-range models while remaining affordable, this would have been our pick if it were just a slightly better value.
3. Dell Inspiron 15 3000 Laptop
The Dell Inspiron 15 3000 doesn’t necessarily have specs that will make your eyes pop, but the fact that it’s one of the cheapest laptops on this list and still ships with a 10th-generation Intel Core i3 processor definitely makes it the best value. The business-minded crowd will also love the integrated ethernet port, which saves you from wasting one of the USB ports on a network adapter. While we recommend spending a little extra to double the RAM to 8 GB, those in search of the lowest price they can get should do just fine with this configuration.
4. Acer Aspire 5 Laptop
BEST FOR STREAMING MEDIA JUNKIES
The Acer Aspire 5 Laptopis another laptop that is more than up to the task of handling more intensive tasks such as HD video and multitasking. As with the more powerful laptops featured on this list, the Aspire 5 comes with 8 GB of RAM and an AMD Ryzen 5 CPU, which is comparable to an Intel Core i5 processor. It’s also a 15-inch laptop with a 1080p display, which isn’t common among the best cheap laptops. The only thing we don’t love is that it’s the heaviest laptop on this list, weighing in at almost 6 pounds.
5. Lenovo IdeaPad 3 Laptop
For those who are looking for a laptop to binge YouTube, blast Spotify or scroll through the endless feeds of Twitter or Pinterest, the Lenovo IdeaPad 3 is the best cheap laptop for the task. Thanks to an AMD Ryzen 5 CPU and 8 GB of RAM, it has plenty of horsepower to handle all HD video without stuttering, and the 14-inch 1080p display ensures that everything is sharp. Throw in a pair of speakers powered by Dolby audio and you have a solid laptop for consuming media on the cheap.
6. HP 15t Laptop
The HP 15t Laptop is an attractive pick, thanks to its 10th-generation Intel Core i5 processor and 8 GB of RAM, meaning performance should be snappy out of the box and it isn’t likely to go obsolete as quickly as other options in this range. While the HP 15t doesn’t offer a 1080p display with its base configuration, it does cost a little less than the other 15-inch laptops do while offering a terabyte of storage. If you plan on using up a lot of disk space, this is a great option for a brand that makes some of the best laptops for college students.
7. Lenovo L13 Laptop
We think the Lenovo L13 is impressive for a few reasons: At 3.06 pounds and 0.69 inches, it’s the lightest and thinnest among the best cheap Windows laptops. It’s also received mil-spec ratings to withstand extreme temperature, dust, spills and drops, making it one of the toughest laptops on this list. And finally, it comes with two USB-C ports, which offers a ton of versatility in how you want to charge the laptop, connect accessories or connect an external monitor. While the ThinkPad line has always been made with the business crowd in mind, the Lenovo L13 has features that anyone can appreciate.
8. HP 14t Laptop
In the realm of the best cheap laptops, the HP 14t is a solid choice that you can’t go wrong with. Blowing through your average tasks shouldn’t be much of an issue with this 14-inch laptop, given that it’s powered by the latest Intel Core i3 processor and 8 GB of RAM. We also love that it only weighs 3.2 pounds, which is one of the lighter laptops on this list. If you’re in the hunt for an affordable laptop under $500 that doesn’t quite have the heft of a 15-inch laptop, this is a great pick for an affordable mini laptop.
9. Samsung Chromebook 4 Laptop
Chromebooks are often seen as a great, cheap option for kids and educational environments. And while that’s not wrong, the truth is that they can be great for anyone if you only need a personal-use laptop and aren’t doing much outside of a web browser (which, for non-work use, most of us aren’t). While the Intel Celeron CPU and 4 GB of RAM fall outside of our stated criteria, Chrome OS generally requires less computing power than Windows or Mac OS, so we’re comfortable recommending this one. And when it comes to the best cheap laptops, you’re not going to find a more affordable option on this list.