The Best Cheap Laptops for 2024 (2024)

These low-cost Windows laptops and Chromebooks make short work of everyday computing (and sometimes more), and some ring up for less than $500. See the best we've tested.

ByTom Brant

Tom Brant

Deputy Managing Editor

My Experience

I’m the deputy managing editor of the hardware team at PCMag.com. Reading this during the day? Then you've caught me testing gear and editing reviews of laptops, desktop PCs, and tons of other personal tech. (Reading this at night? Then I’m probably dreaming about all those cool products.) I’ve covered the consumer tech world as an editor, reporter, and analyst since 2015.

Read Full Bio

&Brian Westover

Brian Westover

Lead Analyst, Hardware

My Experience

If you’re after laptop buying advice, I’m your man. I’ve been reviewing PCs and technology products for more than a decade. I cut my teeth in PC Labs, spending several years with PCMag.com before writing for other outlets, among them LaptopMag.com and Tom’s Guide. While computers are my main focus, I am also the resident Starlink expert, and an AI enthusiast. I’ve also written at length about topics ranging from fitness gear and appliances to TV and home theater equipment. If I’ve used it, I have opinions about it, whether somebody’s paying me to write them up or not.

Read Full Bio

UpdatedApril 18, 2024

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Table of Contents

The days when you couldn't get a decent laptop for under $1,000 are long gone. Today, it's possible to pick up a full-size, ultraportable, or 2-in-1 convertible Windows 11 notebook—powerful enough for home, work, or school—for around $500. Some compacts and Chromebooks cost even less. There are even (surprisingly enough) discounted Apple laptops that are actually cheap enough to appeal to budget shoppers.

To be sure, you should be ready to compromise in one or two aspects. Economy models don't have the latest and fastest processors or the most memory and storage, and you shouldn't expect an ultra-colorful, super-high-resolution screen.

But that doesn't mean they're not capable productivity partners. Check out our top tested picks below—our favorite low-cost laptops for 2024 from our recent reviews, broken out by usage case. Then, check out our buying-advice guide to learn what trade-offs to expect and how to match a budget notebook's strengths and weaknesses with what you plan to do with it. Note: We've also broken out our current favorite picks in a detailed spec chart further down.

Our Experts Have Tested 123 Products in the Laptops Category in the Past Year

Since 1982, PCMag has tested and rated thousands of products to help you make better buying decisions.See how we test.

Our Top Tested Picks

The Best Cheap Laptops for 2024 (3)

Best Budget Laptop for Most Buyers

Acer Aspire 3 (A315-24P)

Jump ToDetails

$299.99 at Amazon $321.99Save $22.00See It

The Best Cheap Laptops for 2024 (4)

Best Budget Apple Laptop

Apple MacBook Air (M1, Late 2020)

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$649.00 at Walmart $1,024.00Save $375.00See It

The Best Cheap Laptops for 2024 (5)

Best Budget Convertible 2-in-1 Laptop

Lenovo IdeaPad Flex 5i 14 (2023)

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$739.99 at Lenovo See It

The Best Cheap Laptops for 2024 (6)

Best Budget Gaming Laptop

Acer Nitro V 15 (ANV15-51-59MT)

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$799.99 at Newegg See It

The Best Cheap Laptops for 2024 (7)

Best Budget Business Laptop

Lenovo ThinkPad E16 Gen 1

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$609.75 at Amazon See It

The Best Cheap Laptops for 2024 (8)

Best Budget Clamshell Chromebook

Asus Chromebook Plus CX34

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$369.00 at Amazon $399.00Save $30.00See It

The Best Cheap Laptops for 2024 (9)

Best Extreme-Budget Chromebook

Lenovo Flex 3 Chromebook

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$305.69 at Amazon See It

The Best Cheap Laptops for 2024 (10)

Best Budget Convertible 2-in-1 Chromebook

Acer Chromebook Spin 514 (2023)

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$360.00 at Amazon See It

The Best Cheap Laptops for 2024 (11)

Best Budget Detachable 2-in-1 Chromebook

Lenovo IdeaPad Duet 3 Chromebook

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$289.99 at Lenovo See It

The Best Cheap Laptops for 2024 (12)

Best Laptop for Long-Term Savings

Framework Laptop 13 (2023)

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$1,049.00 at Framework See It

Best Prime Day Budget Laptop Deals This Week*

  • Dell Inspiron 15 3520 Intel i7 1TB SSD 16GB RAM 15.6" Laptop$499.99(List Price $699.99)
  • Dell Inspiron 15 3520 Intel i5 512GB SSD 15.6" Touch Laptop$459.99(List Price $579.99)
  • HP Pavilion x360 Intel i5 256GB SSD 15.6" 2-in-1 Laptop$459.99(List Price $799.99)
  • Acer Aspire 3 A315 Ryzen 5 512GB SSD 15.6" Touch Laptop$349.99(List Price $599.99)
  • Asus Vivobook 16 Ryzen 7 1TB SSD 16GB RAM 16" Laptop$499.99(List Price $599.99)

*Deals are selected by our commerce team

Deeper Dive: Our Top Tested Picks

  • RELATED:
  • Best Chromebooks
  • Best Laptops for Kids
  • Best Cheap Gaming Laptops
  • Best 2-in-1s

The Best Cheap Laptops for 2024 (13)

Best Budget Laptop for Most Buyers

Acer Aspire 3 (A315-24P)

3.5 Good

  • Smooth everyday operation
  • Extensive battery life
  • Current Wi-Fi connectivity
  • Competitive starting price
  • Limited performance headroom
  • Dated, somewhat flimsy design
  • Lackluster display
  • Top configuration is outclassed

ClassBudget

ProcessorAMD Ryzen 3 7320U

Processor Speed2.4 GHz

RAM (as Tested)8 GB

Boot Drive TypeSSD

Boot Drive Capacity (as Tested)128 GB

Screen Size15.6 inches

Native Display Resolution1920 by 1080

Touch Screen

Panel TechnologyIPS

Variable Refresh SupportNone

Screen Refresh Rate60 Hz

Graphics ProcessorAMD Radeon Graphics

Graphics Memory

Wireless Networking802.11ax, Bluetooth 5.2

Dimensions (HWD)0.75 by 14.3 by 9.4 inches

Weight3.77 lbs

Operating SystemWindows 11 Home

Tested Battery Life (Hours:Minutes)16:46

This Aspire from Acer is a simple and effective laptop that sells for a competitive price. Coming in at less than $500 will immediately please budget shoppers. However, even with its basic build, this laptop smoothly works through everyday tasks. Delivering decent performance—thanks to AMD processing, Wi-Fi 6 connectivity, and a battery that lasts nearly 17 hours—the Aspire 3 isn't just a laptop that works. This is a laptop that works within your budget, and so it's the best budget laptop for most buyers.

Priced for budget-conscious buyers, the Acer Aspire 3 is ideal for anyone who needs a basic laptop for web browsing and office work, but doesn't want to spend a lot. This laptop is also smart for anyone who wants MacBook-like battery life from something that costs half as much.

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$299.99 Amazon $349.99 Best Buy

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Acer Aspire 3 (A315-24P) Review

The Best Cheap Laptops for 2024 (14)

Best Budget Apple Laptop

Apple MacBook Air (M1, Late 2020)

4.5 Outstanding

  • Good value, especially for a MacBook
  • Much-improved performance, thanks to Apple’s new M1 processor
  • Exceptional battery life
  • Sleek, portable metal design
  • High-quality keyboard, touchpad, and display
  • Multiple color options
  • Port selection limited to two USB Type-C connections
  • Still no touch-screen option

ClassUltraportable

ProcessorApple M1

Processor Speed

RAM (as Tested)8 GB

Boot Drive TypeSSD

Boot Drive Capacity (as Tested)256 GB

Screen Size13.3 inches

Native Display Resolution2560 by 1600

Touch Screen

Panel TechnologyIPS

Variable Refresh SupportNone

Screen Refresh Rate60 Hz

Graphics ProcessorApple M1

Graphics Memory

Wireless Networking802.11ax, Bluetooth

Dimensions (HWD)0.63 by 11.97 by 8.36 inches

Weight2.8 lbs

Operating SystemApple macOS

Tested Battery Life (Hours:Minutes)29:01

The wedge-shaped MacBook Air may not be the face of Apple's newest laptops (it's two generations old now), but the M1-powered Air is still one of the best ultraportables we ever reviewed. Now with a deal between Apple and retailers like Walmart and Best Buy, the 2020 Air still sells well as a budget-friendly MacBook for under $700. Four years after its debut, its performance is still as powerful as its battery life is lengthy. At last, the high-quality design that Apple is known for can finally be had for something like a value price—and you can even get it in different colors.

If you want the most affordable MacBook around, this is the Apple laptop for you. Selling new-in-box, Walmart is undercutting used prices on the same MacBook Air model, with the laptop delivering every bit of performance and battery life we praised it for at launch. In short, it's a stellar deal. If you want a lightweight, portable, and undeniably capable MacBook for as little cash as possible, the 2020 MacBook Air is our hands-down favorite.

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$649.00 Walmart

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Apple MacBook Air (M1, Late 2020) Review

The Best Cheap Laptops for 2024 (15)

Best Budget Convertible 2-in-1 Laptop

Lenovo IdeaPad Flex 5i 14 (2023)

4.0 Excellent

  • Strong application performance
  • Right-size screen for 2-in-1 versatility
  • Crisp, accurate 1080p webcam
  • Varied and useful port selection
  • Long runtime
  • No CPU or screen upgrades
  • Display's color coverage is lacking
  • Gray keys clash with deep blue chassis

ClassConvertible 2-in-1

ProcessorIntel Core i5-1335U

Processor Speed1.3 GHz

RAM (as Tested)16 GB

Boot Drive TypeHard Drive

Boot Drive Capacity (as Tested)512 GB

Screen Size14 inches

Native Display Resolution1920 by 1200

Touch Screen

Panel TechnologyIPS

Variable Refresh SupportNone

Screen Refresh Rate60 Hz

Graphics ProcessorIntel Iris Xe

Graphics Memory

Wireless Networking802.11ax, Bluetooth 5.2

Dimensions (HWD)0.78 by 12.3 by 8.9 inches

Weight3.5 lbs

Operating SystemWindows 11 Home

Tested Battery Life (Hours:Minutes)13:32

Holding onto the title from last year, the Lenovo IdeaPad Flex 5i 14 (2023) is an excellent choice for shoppers in search of an affordable 2-in-1 laptop. With a 14-inch display that strikes the right balance between portability and convertible functionality, this laptop has 13 hours of battery life, ensuring it can power through a full day of work or play. The Intel Core i5 processor provides ample power for web browsing and productivity as well as enjoying videos. With a thoughtful array of ports and a high-quality 1080p webcam, this IdeaPad emerges as a smart buy for shoppers looking for an affordable and versatile 2-in-1.

For less than $600, the Lenovo IdeaPad Flex 5i 14 (2023) delivers portability, performance, and a feature-rich design, complete with the versatility of a convertible 2-in-1 design. If you're on a relatively tight budget but aren't prepared to make bigger compromises, then you'll be pleased by the middle ground that this IdeaPad arrives at in build quality and features.

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$739.99 Lenovo $649.99 Walmart

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Lenovo IdeaPad Flex 5i 14 (2023) Review

The Best Cheap Laptops for 2024 (16)

Best Budget Gaming Laptop

Acer Nitro V 15 (ANV15-51-59MT)

4.0 Excellent

  • Attractive price
  • Suffices for 1080p gaming
  • Wide selection of ports
  • Lengthy battery life
  • Lagging processor performance
  • Limited 512GB SSD

ClassGaming

ProcessorIntel Core i5-13420H

Processor Speed

RAM (as Tested)8 GB

Boot Drive TypeSSD

Boot Drive Capacity (as Tested)512 GB

Screen Size15.6 inches

Native Display Resolution1920 by 1080

Touch Screen

Panel TechnologyIPS

Variable Refresh SupportNone

Screen Refresh Rate144 Hz

Graphics ProcessorNvidia GeForce RTX 4050 Laptop GPU

Graphics Memory6 GB

Wireless Networking802.11ax (Wi-Fi 6), Bluetooth

Dimensions (HWD)1.06 by 14.3 by 9.4 inches

Weight4.66 lbs

Operating SystemWindows 11

Tested Battery Life (Hours:Minutes)9:51

Budget gamers often feel stuck, having to put up with crummy performance in the name of saving a buck. But the Acer Nitro V 15 (ANV15-51-59MT) drives surprisingly steady 1080p gaming for an equally surprising sub-$1,000 price. It even manages to avoid some of the pits most budget gaming rigs fall into, with a wide selection of ports, a better-than-expected display, and high-quality construction. Even better, this Nitro has a long-lasting battery that will let you use it on the go, and even get some gaming in before you need to find an outlet.

If you're on a tight budget, then the Acer Nitro V 15 (ANV15-51-59MT) is the laptop to get. You'll draw enough performance out of its entry-level GPU to enjoy AAA titles and online multiplayer games at 1080p, all for under a grand. You won't see super-sharp detail and ultra-vibrant color in your games here, but the value can't be beaten for a playable experience with an emphasis on stable performance, lots of connectivity, and a long-lasting battery.

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$799.99 Newegg $799.99 Acer

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Acer Nitro V 15 (ANV15-51-59MT) Review

The Best Cheap Laptops for 2024 (17)

Best Budget Business Laptop

Lenovo ThinkPad E16 Gen 1

4.0 Excellent

  • Aggressive starting price for ThinkPad line
  • Delivers to traditional ThinkPad build quality and keyboard
  • Decent array of ports
  • Not the brightest, nor the most colorful, display
  • No SD card slot
  • Wi-Fi 6—not 6E

ClassBusiness, Budget, Desktop Replacement

ProcessorIntel Core i5-1335U

Processor Speed

RAM (as Tested)16 GB

Boot Drive TypeHard Drive

Boot Drive Capacity (as Tested)512 GB

Screen Size16 inches

Native Display Resolution1920 by 1200

Touch Screen

Panel TechnologyIPS

Variable Refresh SupportNone

Screen Refresh Rate60 Hz

Graphics ProcessorIntel Iris Xe Graphics

Graphics Memory

Wireless Networking802.11ax (Wi-Fi 6), Bluetooth

Dimensions (HWD)0.77 by 14 by 9.8 inches

Weight3.9 lbs

Operating SystemWindows 11 Pro

Tested Battery Life (Hours:Minutes)11:57

For a decently powerful business laptop at a super low price, the Lenovo ThinkPad E16 Gen 1 is the cheap professional system to buy. Starting at less than $600, that nets you a comfortable work machine equipped with a 16-inch screen, plenty of ports, Lenovo's class-leading keyboard, and either Intel or AMD processors. Of course, Lenovo's iconic black ThinkPad design makes up the whole product, with a high-end build and relatively few caveats for the budget price.

If you need a pro laptop for a low price, the Lenovo ThinkPad E16 Gen 1 is the simplest and smartest option. While it was designed with small and mid-sized businesses in mind, any individual professional can appreciate this laptop for work. For the trust in the ThinkPad brand at a decent price, this is the best business laptop on a budget.

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$609.75 Amazon $574.20 Lenovo $647.62 Walmart

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Lenovo ThinkPad E16 Gen 1 Review

The Best Cheap Laptops for 2024 (18)

Best Budget Clamshell Chromebook

Asus Chromebook Plus CX34

4.0 Excellent

  • Affordable price even with improved specs
  • Leading performance in every test
  • High-quality FHD display
  • Decent port array, Wi-Fi 6, and Bluetooth 5.2
  • Durable MIL-SPEC-certified design and antimicrobial coating
  • Average battery life
  • No touch capability (at this price)
  • Limited UFS storage is just adequate

ClassChromebook, Budget

ProcessorIntel Core i3-1215U

Processor Speed

RAM (as Tested)8 GB

Boot Drive TypeUFS (Universal Flash Storage)

Boot Drive Capacity (as Tested)128 GB

Screen Size14 inches

Native Display Resolution1920 by 1080

Touch Screen

Panel TechnologyIPS

Variable Refresh SupportNone

Screen Refresh Rate60 Hz

Graphics ProcessorIntel UHD Graphics

Graphics Memory

Wireless Networking802.11ax (Wi-Fi 6), Bluetooth 5.2

Dimensions (HWD)0.73 by 12.9 by 8.4 inches

Weight3.17 lbs

Operating SystemChrome OS

Tested Battery Life (Hours:Minutes)12:46

Google's Chromebook Plus initiative, which mandates certain minimum specs and experiences for the latest wave of premium-but-affordable Chromebooks, shines with this standard-clamshell Asus model. Starting at $399 MSRP, the CX34 sports a slick design, surprisingly good performance thanks to a Core i3 processor, and a reasonably rugged design. It even has an antimicrobial coating, in the event you'll be passing this genial Chromebook around during flu season.

The CX34 is a fine pick for students, couch surfers, and home-office workers who need a basic, snappy laptop without touch or tablet-convert tech. You'll get a solid chassis, generous ports, and an overall better experience than you might expect for the money.

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$369.00 Amazon $399.99 Target

Learn More

Asus Chromebook Plus CX34 Review

The Best Cheap Laptops for 2024 (19)

Best Extreme-Budget Chromebook

Lenovo Flex 3 Chromebook

3.5 Good

  • Responsive 12.2-inch touchscreen
  • Low price
  • Compact and lightweight
  • Decent port selection
  • Flexible 2-in-1 design
  • Middling Intel N100 processor
  • Storage limited to 64GB eMMC
  • Lagging battery life
  • Plastic construction with unwanted chassis flex

ClassChromebook, Convertible 2-in-1, Budget, Ultraportable

ProcessorIntel N100

Processor Speed

RAM (as Tested)4 GB

Boot Drive TypeeMMC Flash Memory

Boot Drive Capacity (as Tested)64 GB

Screen Size12.2 inches

Native Display Resolution1920 by 1200

Touch Screen

Panel TechnologyIPS

Variable Refresh SupportNone

Screen Refresh Rate60 Hz

Graphics ProcessorIntel UHD Graphics

Graphics Memory

Wireless Networking802.11ax (Wi-Fi 6), Bluetooth 5.1

Dimensions (HWD)0.72 by 11.18 by 8.27 inches

Weight2.76 lbs

Operating SystemChrome OS

Tested Battery Life (Hours:Minutes)8:38

As a compact 2-in-1 Chromebook, the 12-inch Lenovo Flex 3 Chromebook is one of the best budget buys on the market. Its portable design is easier to carry, and it has more than 8 hours of battery life to get you through a day of work or school. Paired with a responsive touch screen, a flexible design, and a wide port selection, this is an ideal alternative to other Chromebooks and even 2-in-1 laptops that might cost more.

For casual buyers who want a convertible design for a budget-friendly price, the Lenovo Flex 3 Chromebook is a cost-effective option that easily flips between laptop and tablet. Whether it's for schoolwork, productivity, or just browsing on the couch, this little Chromebook is an appealing value.

GET IT NOW

$305.69 Amazon $349.00 Best Buy

Learn More

Lenovo Flex 3 Chromebook Review

The Best Cheap Laptops for 2024 (20)

Best Budget Convertible 2-in-1 Chromebook

Acer Chromebook Spin 514 (2023)

4.5 Outstanding

  • Category-leading performance with AMD Ryzen 5 processor
  • Excellent full HD webcam
  • Rugged MIL-STD 810H construction with sturdy aluminum
  • Decent connectivity with Wi-Fi 6, USB-C, and HDMI out
  • Uses cheaper eMMC storage
  • 16:9 aspect ratio feels like a throwback
  • No Thunderbolt 4 port
  • No stylus included

ClassChromebook, Convertible 2-in-1

ProcessorAMD Ryzen 5 5625C

Processor Speed2.3 GHz

RAM (as Tested)8 GB

Boot Drive TypeeMMC Flash Memory

Boot Drive Capacity (as Tested)128 GB

Screen Size14 inches

Native Display Resolution1920 by 1080

Touch Screen

Panel TechnologyIPS

Variable Refresh SupportNone

Screen Refresh Rate60 Hz

Graphics ProcessorIntegrated AMD Radeon Graphics

Graphics Memory

Wireless Networking802.11ax (Wi-Fi 6), Bluetooth 5.1

Dimensions (HWD)0.68 by 12.7 by 8.8 inches

Weight3.3 lbs

Operating SystemChrome OS

Tested Battery Life (Hours:Minutes)13:21

Thanks to a rugged yet flexible 2-in-1 design and category-leading AMD processing—not to mention an affordable price—the Acer Chromebook Spin 514 (2023) is our favorite budget convertible 2-in-1 Chromebook. With a generous 13-hour battery life, this Chromebook won't need frequent charging, and its sturdy aluminum build has MIL-STD 810H certification to survive the rigors of daily use. Convenient features, like a full HD webcam, a Wi-Fi 6 radio, a USB-C port, and an HDMI connection round out the experience. The 2023 Chromebook Spin 514 is an adaptable and high-performing affordable Chromebook that impresses with its premium build quality and top-notch capabilities.

We might be emphasizing the budget-friendly price here, but we recommend this Chromebook for pretty much everybody. Its best features—like all-day battery life and class-leading AMD-powered performance—make it an ideal choice if you prioritize productivity. Plus, the sturdy aluminum build is tough enough to survive classrooms, and it's sleek enough for board rooms and living rooms. This would be an excellent value at any price, and sometimes the street price dips well below the MSRP.

GET IT NOW

$360.00 Amazon $699.99 Best Buy

Learn More

Acer Chromebook Spin 514 (2023) Review

The Best Cheap Laptops for 2024 (21)

Best Budget Detachable 2-in-1 Chromebook

Lenovo IdeaPad Duet 3 Chromebook

3.5 Good

  • Compact, totable design
  • Keyboard cover offers good typing feel
  • Handy kickstand
  • Great flexibility for Chrome and Android apps
  • Solid performance from Qualcomm CPU
  • No headphone jack
  • Pen sold separately
  • Short battery life

ClassChromebook, Detachable 2-in-1, Budget

ProcessorQualcomm Snapdragon 7c Gen 2

Processor Speed2.55 GHz

RAM (as Tested)4 GB

Boot Drive TypeeMMC Flash Memory

Boot Drive Capacity (as Tested)64 GB

Screen Size10.95 inches

Native Display Resolution2000 by 1200

Touch Screen

Panel TechnologyIPS

Variable Refresh SupportNone

Screen Refresh Rate60 Hz

Graphics ProcessorQualcomm Adreno GPU

Graphics Memory

Wireless Networking802.11ac, Bluetooth

Dimensions (HWD)0.31 by 10.2 by 6.5 inches

Weight2.09 lbs

Operating SystemChrome OS

Tested Battery Life (Hours:Minutes)6:01

The Lenovo IdeaPad Duet 3 Chromebook is a convenient 2-in-1 twist on the Chromebook, with a compact and totable 11-inch design complete with a handy keyboard cover and kickstand. With only a pair of USB-C ports and no headphone jack, you may want to invest in a dock to provide other connections, but the versatility means that the feature set can be easily expanded. Lenovo's tablet and keyboard cover design helps make it one of the more convenient 2-in-1 systems we've used, and the great flexibility of Chrome and Android apps is enhanced by decent performance from a Qualcomm CPU. It also has a very attractive low price.

The Lenovo IdeaPad Duet 3 Chromebook is an ideal option to consider if you're looking for a smart little tablet that doubles as a laptop. It contains enough features and performance for everyday tasks such as web browsing, email, and streaming media, making it a great choice for students, casual users, or anyone looking for value in a portable Chromebook.

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$289.99 Lenovo $379.00 Best Buy

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Lenovo IdeaPad Duet 3 Chromebook Review

The Best Cheap Laptops for 2024 (22)

Best Laptop for Long-Term Savings

Framework Laptop 13 (2023)

4.0 Excellent

  • Repairable, upgradable, and user-friendly design
  • Lightweight and portable, with 11-hour battery life
  • Swappable ports enable extreme customization
  • Expanded ecosystem of parts and accessories
  • Highly customizable before checkout
  • Expansion cards cost extra
  • Pre-built system comes at a premium
  • No touch-screen or OLED options (yet)

ClassUltraportable

ProcessorIntel Core i7-1360P

Processor Speed

RAM (as Tested)16 GB

Boot Drive TypeSSD

Boot Drive Capacity (as Tested)512 GB

Screen Size13.5 inches

Native Display Resolution2256 by 1504

Touch Screen

Panel TechnologyIPS

Variable Refresh SupportNone

Screen Refresh Rate60 Hz

Graphics ProcessorIntel Iris Xe Graphics

Graphics Memory

Wireless NetworkingWi-Fi 6E, Bluetooth 5.3

Dimensions (HWD)0.62 by 11.7 by 9 inches

Weight2.9 lbs

Operating SystemWindows 11 Home

Tested Battery Life (Hours:Minutes)11:12

The Framework Laptop 13 is one of the smartest innovations in laptops in a long time: It uses a modular design that lets you swap out parts, ports, and even the mainboard with relative ease and at low cost. The most recent model is on par with the best premium ultraportables, but upgrading an old unit to the latest hardware calls for less cash than most midrange models. Thanks to its upgradable design, the Framework can be bumped up to new internal hardware on a regular basis, saving you hundreds of dollars each time. It may cost a bit more up front, but you'll start saving after the first upgrade, not to mention the second or third.

If you want a laptop you can upgrade again and again, gaining you a premium laptop without the premium price, the Framework Laptop 13 is worth the investment. You have to factor in the buy-in cost, but the upgrade process is relatively easy, and the long-term savings can be huge.

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$1,049.00 Framework

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Framework Laptop 13 (2023) Review

Buying Guide: The Best Cheap Laptops for 2024

Ready to dive into the details around cheap laptops? Today's good news is that you'll have to accept fewer compromises with budget laptops than you did in the past. Low-power CPUs are more robust than ever, even as some of the nomenclature around them changes. (For example, Intel's traditional offering for under-$400 laptops, the Celeron and Pentium lines, have given way to new family names: the Intel N100 and Intel Processor, respectively.) Low-end chips in today's extreme-budget laptops will suffice for light web browsing and most basic productivity work, if you don't keep too many programs or tabs open at a time.

The benefits of low-power CPUs are especially true with Chromebooks (more on them later), and nowadays, even Apple is on the budget bandwagon, offering its older M1-powered MacBook Air as an ultra-affordable entry-point for Mac shoppers. That said, the $400-to-$700 Windows laptop market is populated mainly by systems based on much peppier Intel Core and AMD Ryzen families of processors. Opt for these CPU lines if you need more than just the basics. (See more about how to choose a laptop CPU.)

The Best Cheap Laptops for 2024 (23)

(Credit: Kyle Cobian)

All of these CPUs also host the silicon that runs the laptop's graphics. The newest integrated graphics solutions can hold their own in browser-based games and even some online games like World of Warcraft. The higher demands of AAA titles, though, still require a discrete GPU, which you won't find in this price range. (If money is no object, check out our top-ratedgaming laptopsandultraportables, as well as our favorite cheap gaming laptops.)

In years past, many of the barest-budget Windows laptops would come with just 2GB or 4GB of main system memory, but nowadays, at least in the Windows and Apple sphere, most come with 8GB. (A 4GB RAM count remains more common in Chromebooks and under-$300 Windows laptops; we'd avoid that little RAM in a Windows machine.) In terms of batteries, an ideal budget laptop has one with six cells or more. The battery life for a cheap laptop should come in at a minimum of seven or eight hours; these days, many will last quite a bit longer. (A lower-resolution, lower-brightness screen, which is a feature of some of these machines, can consume less power, all else being equal, and end up being a benefit of sorts.)

The Best Cheap Laptops for 2024 (24)

(Credit: Molly Flores)

Regarding storage, almost no new systems still use spinning hard drives. Many inexpensive Windows machines opt for small-capacity solid-state drives (SSDs) of 128GB or 256GB capacity. Other budget systems, particularly Chromebooks and some under-$400 Windows laptops, will have only a small allotment (32GB or 64GB) of local storage but compensate for it with generous offers of additional free cloud storage. Of course, as with anything cloud-based, you'll need to be online to access it. Also, know that budget machines with this little local storage, among them many Chromebooks, are using what is called "eMMC memory" as their primary storage. This is not the same as the flash memory used in a true solid-state drive (SSD), and it will feel a tad sluggish if you're used to an SSD.

In terms of features, budget laptops will come with (almost always) at least a couple of USB 3.0 ports (one may be an oval, newer-style USB-C port, though that port may also be the port for the laptop's charger), and possibly a USB 2.0 port or two. You also may get an SD card slot, but these are fading from laptops cheap and expensive.

Wi-Fi comes standard, with some affordable options still opting for the 802.11ac (Wi-Fi 5) protocol that was standard a few years back. The current Wi-Fi 6 standard is much more common for budget systems than ever, but the more advanced Wi-Fi 6E is still rare in budget models.

The Best Cheap Laptops for 2024 (25)

(Credit: Molly Flores)

An HDMI output and a USB-C port are definite pluses; you can find these on even some of the cheapest models. You shouldn't always expect a touch-screen display, however. (See our picks forthe best touch-screen laptops.) Any 2-in-1 convertible machine, though, will by definition have a touch screen, as having one is necessary for using the machine as a tablet or in other orientations where the keyboard is covered up.

Is Buying a Chromebook Worth It?

Chromebooksused to be little more than glorified netbooks running Google's ChromeOS. While these ChromeOS-based laptops are still resolutely web-centric, they now have fuller feature sets. If you spend most of your working hours in the cloud, a Chromebook will offer you much of the functionality of a regular Windows or Mac laptop, and it may well deliver longer battery life, depending on the model.

The Best Cheap Laptops for 2024 (26)

(Credit: Molly Flores)

It will also likely cost you a lot less than other types of notebooks, as many Chromebooks come in at less than $400. Just be sure you have easy access to stable Wi-Fi wherever you use one, as Chromebooks have limited offline functionality and scant local storage. However, Chromebooks have recently been leveled up to more commonly include Intel Core and AMD Ryzen processors, as well as feature more storage and memory, as part of Google's Chromebook Plus program. Chromebook Plus models have to meet a specific minimum spec laid out by Google for what it deems a premium experience, and these Plus models start at $399.

The Best Cheap Tablets and Hybrids: 2-in-1s on a Budget

Tablets rose in popularity throughout the 2010s, and though we have plenty of reviews of those—take a look at our overall roundup of thebest tablets, as well as our favorite slates running theWindowsandAndroidoperating systems—they are sufficiently different from traditional clamshell-style laptops that they don't always make suitable substitutes. Some come with detachable keyboards, but most of these are far less comfortable for typing on your lap than a conventional laptop.

The Best Cheap Laptops for 2024 (27)

(Credit: Molly Flores)

Convertible 2-in-1s, however, do make a good substitute for traditional clamshells. These machines let you flip between a laptop and a tablet by folding the keyboard out of the way. You should consider one of these convertible systems if you primarily want the typing capability of a laptop but occasionally would appreciate the lie-back, passive-consumption convenience of a tablet.

See our guide to thebest 2-in-1 laptopsfor more information about this popular market segment. In part because of their added complexity compared with traditional clamshell designs, you won't find quite as many affordable ones, but a few Windows and ChromeOS-based models cost $500 or less. They come in permanently attached (generally 360-degree-rotating-hinge) designs and detachable-keyboard designs.

Make sure, though, when looking at one of the detachable tablets that you know what comes in the box. In some cases, you need to buy the keyboard base separately, and the total cost may not be as low as it first appears. (Here's looking at you, Microsoft Surfaces.)

So, What Is the Best Cheap Laptop to Buy?

The best inexpensive laptops tend to go in and out of stock frequently. We've broken out the specs of our current favorites here, and while we update this guide constantly, there's a good chance that at least one of our picks is back-ordered at any given time. But if you're on a strict budget, don't lose heart. You can find PCs that will offer enough performance to tackle your day-to-day tasks without a hitch. You can even score big deals on mainstream systems with our favorite money-saving tips for laptop buying.

For further in-depth breakdowns of our budget picks, look at our roundups of thebest laptops for college students, thebest laptops for kids, and thebest Chromebooks. And for more general factors to consider when choosing a laptop, take a look at our buying guide withour top laptop picks overall.

Compare SpecsThe Best Cheap Laptops for 2024

Our Picks

Acer Aspire 3 (A315-24P)See It$299.99 at Amazon Apple MacBook Air (M1, Late 2020)See It$649.00 at Walmart Lenovo IdeaPad Flex 5i 14 (2023)See It$739.99 at Lenovo Acer Nitro V 15 (ANV15-51-59MT)See It$799.99 at Newegg Lenovo ThinkPad E16 Gen 1See It$609.75 at Amazon Asus Chromebook Plus CX34See It$369.00 at Amazon Lenovo Flex 3 ChromebookSee It$305.69 at Amazon Acer Chromebook Spin 514 (2023)See It$360.00 at Amazon Lenovo IdeaPad Duet 3 ChromebookSee It$289.99 at Lenovo Framework Laptop 13 (2023)See It$1,049.00 at Framework

Editors'Rating

3.5Editor Review

Editors' Choice

4.5Editor Review

4.0Editor Review

4.0Editor Review

4.0Editor Review

Editors' Choice

4.0Editor Review

3.5Editor Review

Editors' Choice

4.5Editor Review

3.5Editor Review

Editors' Choice

4.0Editor Review

Class

BudgetUltraportableConvertible 2-in-1GamingBusiness, Budget, Desktop ReplacementChromebook, BudgetChromebook, Convertible 2-in-1, Budget, UltraportableChromebook, Convertible 2-in-1Chromebook, Detachable 2-in-1, BudgetUltraportable

Processor

AMD Ryzen 3 7320UApple M1Intel Core i5-1335UIntel Core i5-13420HIntel Core i5-1335UIntel Core i3-1215UIntel N100AMD Ryzen 5 5625CQualcomm Snapdragon 7c Gen 2Intel Core i7-1360P

Processor Speed

2.4 GHz 1.3 GHz 2.3 GHz2.55 GHz

RAM (as Tested)

8 GB8 GB16 GB8 GB16 GB8 GB4 GB8 GB4 GB16 GB

Boot Drive Type

SSDSSDHard DriveSSDHard DriveUFS (Universal Flash Storage)eMMC Flash MemoryeMMC Flash MemoryeMMC Flash MemorySSD

Boot Drive Capacity (as Tested)

128 GB256 GB512 GB512 GB512 GB128 GB64 GB128 GB64 GB512 GB

Screen Size

15.6 inches13.3 inches14 inches15.6 inches16 inches14 inches12.2 inches14 inches10.95 inches13.5 inches

Native Display Resolution

1920 by 10802560 by 16001920 by 12001920 by 10801920 by 12001920 by 10801920 by 12001920 by 10802000 by 12002256 by 1504

Touch Screen

Panel Technology

IPSIPSIPSIPSIPSIPSIPSIPSIPSIPS

Variable Refresh Support

NoneNoneNoneNoneNoneNoneNoneNoneNoneNone

Screen Refresh Rate

60 Hz60 Hz60 Hz144 Hz60 Hz60 Hz60 Hz60 Hz60 Hz60 Hz

Graphics Processor

AMD Radeon GraphicsApple M1Intel Iris XeNvidia GeForce RTX 4050 Laptop GPUIntel Iris Xe GraphicsIntel UHD GraphicsIntel UHD GraphicsIntegrated AMD Radeon GraphicsQualcomm Adreno GPUIntel Iris Xe Graphics

Graphics Memory

6 GB

Wireless Networking

802.11ax, Bluetooth 5.2802.11ax, Bluetooth802.11ax, Bluetooth 5.2802.11ax (Wi-Fi 6), Bluetooth802.11ax (Wi-Fi 6), Bluetooth802.11ax (Wi-Fi 6), Bluetooth 5.2802.11ax (Wi-Fi 6), Bluetooth 5.1802.11ax (Wi-Fi 6), Bluetooth 5.1802.11ac, BluetoothWi-Fi 6E, Bluetooth 5.3

Dimensions (HWD)

0.75 by 14.3 by 9.4 inches0.63 by 11.97 by 8.36 inches0.78 by 12.3 by 8.9 inches1.06 by 14.3 by 9.4 inches0.77 by 14 by 9.8 inches0.73 by 12.9 by 8.4 inches0.72 by 11.18 by 8.27 inches0.68 by 12.7 by 8.8 inches0.31 by 10.2 by 6.5 inches0.62 by 11.7 by 9 inches

Weight

3.77 lbs2.8 lbs3.5 lbs4.66 lbs3.9 lbs3.17 lbs2.76 lbs3.3 lbs2.09 lbs2.9 lbs

Operating System

Windows 11 HomeApple macOSWindows 11 HomeWindows 11Windows 11 ProChrome OSChrome OSChrome OSChrome OSWindows 11 Home

Tested Battery Life (Hours:Minutes)

16:4629:0113:329:5111:5712:468:3813:216:0111:12

Where to Buy

$299.99 at Amazon $349.99 at Best Buy $649.00 at Walmart $739.99 at Lenovo $649.99 at Walmart $799.99 at Newegg $799.99 at Acer $609.75 at Amazon $574.20 at Lenovo $369.00 at Amazon $399.99 at Target $305.69 at Amazon $349.00 at Best Buy $360.00 at Amazon $699.99 at Best Buy $289.99 at Lenovo $379.00 at Best Buy $1,049.00 at Framework

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About Tom Brant

Deputy Managing Editor

I’m the deputy managing editor of the hardware team at PCMag.com. Reading this during the day? Then you've caught me testing gear and editing reviews of laptops, desktop PCs, and tons of other personal tech. (Reading this at night? Then I’m probably dreaming about all those cool products.) I’ve covered the consumer tech world as an editor, reporter, and analyst since 2015.

I’ve evaluated the performance, value, and features of hundreds of personal tech devices and services, from laptops to Wi-Fi hotspots and everything in between. I’ve also covered the launches of dozens of groundbreaking technologies, from hyperloop test tracks in the desert to the latest silicon from Apple and Intel.

I've appeared on CBS News, in USA Today, and at many other outlets to offer analysis on breaking technology news.

Before I joined the tech-journalism ranks, I wrote on topics as diverse as Borneo's rain forests, Middle Eastern airlines, and Big Data's role in presidential elections. A graduate of Middlebury College, I also have a master's degree in journalism and French Studies from New York University.

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About Brian Westover

Lead Analyst, Hardware

If you’re after laptop buying advice, I’m your man. I’ve been reviewing PCs and technology products for more than a decade. I cut my teeth in PC Labs, spending several years with PCMag.com before writing for other outlets, among them LaptopMag.com and Tom’s Guide. While computers are my main focus, I am also the resident Starlink expert, and an AI enthusiast. I’ve also written at length about topics ranging from fitness gear and appliances to TV and home theater equipment. If I’ve used it, I have opinions about it, whether somebody’s paying me to write them up or not.

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