This article was last updated by Mark Coppock, an employee of Digital Trends, on June 4, 2020.
We've reviewed hundreds of laptops so we know what to look for in a laptop regardless of price.. It does everything that can make laptops hundreds of dollars more expensive – and in some cases even better.
However, if your budget is a bit lower or you want to play on your laptop, we've also listed options below for you. You can also check out some of the best laptop deals if you are looking for savings.
The best budget laptops at a glance:
The best affordable laptop: Asus ZenBook 13 UX333
Why should you buy that?: It's fast, portable, affordable, and has fantastic battery life.
Who is it for?: All except players.
Why we chose the Asus ZenBook 13 UX333:
You might not expect quality from a laptop that costs less than a new flagship iPhone, but this ZenBook is a pleasant surprise. The latest ZenBook 13 has the same all-metal unibody chassis. Now it's barely more than half an inch thick and has lost half a pound to weigh two and a half pounds. The latest version offers the same surprising amount of performance in its small and affordable package. With an 8th generation Intel Core i5 processor, the ZenBook does not have the latest hardware available, but is a reasonable compromise given the price and quality of this laptop.
Better still, the laptop is a real treat. It has an excellent keyboard – one of the best on a 13-inch laptop at this price. It also offers a spacious touchpad and a non-contact 1080p display with extremely thin bezels. The display has been improved to offer exceptional contrast and an impressive increase in color gamut regardless of the price. This is not a 2-in-1 device, so you don't have to swivel the ZenBook 13 UX333 display to use it as a tablet. However, the focus on conventional use helps Asus to offer this system at an affordable price. The incredible battery life is the cherry on top.
The Asus ZenBook UX333 is good or great in all the important metrics, which is why we awarded it the Editors & # 39; Choice Award. Not only is it one of the best budget laptops, it's one of the best laptops at all costs.
Read our detailed review of the Asus ZenBook 13 UX333
The best affordable laptop for students: Lenovo Yoga C740 14
Why should you buy that?: It is cheaper than the ZenBook and has a larger screen.
Who is it for?: Students, buyers on a budget.
Why we chose the Lenovo Yoga C740 14:
If the ZenBook 13 is a bit too expensive (or a little too small), the Yoga C740 14 is a fantastic alternative. It has a larger 1080p 14-inch screen, which gives you a little more screen space to work on.
The Yoga C740 is also a 2-in-1 device, meaning it has a touchscreen and a 360-degree hinge. Now, at 3.1 pounds, it's a little too heavy to use as a tablet. However, flipping the keyboard for tent or presentation mode can be a useful way to watch movies or do a PowerPoint slideshow. It also works with pen input when you need it.
The Yoga C740 naturally has the latest internals such as 10th generation Intel processors, 8 GB RAM and a 256 GB SSD. This means fast performance and great quad-core multitasking. The C740 also has excellent battery life and lasts over nine hours in our own tests with light usage. It should last you most of a working day as long as you don't use intensive applications.
The cheapest Chromebook: Lenovo IdeaPad Duet
Why should you buy that?: It's extremely affordable, has a great screen, and has a battery life of more than all day.
Who is it for?: Anyone on a budget who doesn't mind sacrificing performance for extreme value.
Why we chose the Lenovo IdeaPad Duet:
Chromebooks have become popular budget options in recent years, and many have also won us over. One form factor that doesn't work as well as some others is the removable Chrome OS tablet. This has changed with the introduction of the Lenovo IdeaPad Duet, which is not only a very user-friendly tablet, but is also of enormous value thanks to the included stand cover and the removable keyboard.
The Lenovo IdeaPad Duet's low price has some limitations – for example, performance isn't the best, although it's good enough for the kind of tasks you want to do on it. The display is very good, but not great. The resolution of 16:10, 1,920 x 1,200 is not as pixel-sharp as the iPad from Apple, against which the duet competes.
However, if you need a tablet to surf the web, be productive, and use media, the Duet is for you. It's a very convenient size as a tablet – though it's a bit chunky with the stand cover and keyboard attached – and it feels good in your hand. Not only is this the cheapest Chromebook, it's also one of the best affordable laptops you can buy.
You also need to get used to Chrome OS. It is not as functional as Windows and works best if you have an active internet connection. However, today it is more detailed than before. If you use a lot of Google web services and watch streaming services like Netflix, a Chromebook like the Duet can be a great way to save a lot of money on your next upgrade.
Read our detailed review of the Lenovo IdeaPad Duet
The best affordable gaming laptop: Dell G3 gaming laptop
Why should you buy that?: It offers solid gaming performance for less than $ 1,000.
Who is it for?: Player and only player.
Why we chose the Dell G3 gaming laptop:
Although gaming laptops are usually quite expensive, the Dell G3 gaming laptop is a good example of why this isn't necessary. Starting at $ 730, you get an Intel Core i5-9300 CPU, a GTX 1050 graphics chip, 8 GB of RAM, and 1 TB of hybrid HDD storage with options for faster CPUs, more powerful graphics, additional and faster storage and storage, though you don't mind spending a little more. Each model has a 15.6-inch 1080p IPS display. For $ 949, you get a fantastic computer with a suitable SSD boot drive and an updated GTX 1650 graphics card.
With decent build quality and good performance in a relatively light case, the G3 offers a solid gaming package at an impressively affordable price. It has its weak points, especially a less than stunning display and a thick case – it's boring, but it still looks good enough if you increase the settings. Likewise, storage options aren't the fastest, but these are sacrifices worth knocking down to keep the price of such a powerful slot machine down.
There are far better gaming laptops out there, but we're struggling to find one that is as powerful at this price as Dell's G3. It is a fantastic, affordable slot machine.
Read our in-depth Dell G3 gaming laptop review
The best affordable laptop for video editing: Dell G5 (2018)
Why should you buy that?: Those who need additional performance for video editing on a tight budget.
Who is it for?: Video editors and anyone who doesn't mind sacrificing style for power.
Why we chose the Dell G5 Gaming Laptop (2018):
It's not easy to find a video editing laptop under $ 1,000. When it comes to video editing, the more cores there are, the better. A discrete graphics card is also a good idea. The best video editing laptops like the Dell XPS 15 and MacBook Pro 16-inch cost well over $ 2,000.
We usually do not recommend buying older hardware. However, if you're on a tight budget, a previous generation Dell G5 gaming laptop is your best bet. For just $ 730, you can get a 6-core laptop with a discrete GTX 1050 Ti graphics card. These are a generation back from the latest, but you won't notice a big drop in performance – especially not for over $ 300 you save over the new models.
This $ 730 laptop also gives you 8 GB of RAM, a 128 GB SSD boot drive, and a 1 TB hard drive. It's by no means a sleek or modern looking laptop, but if you're looking for video editing performance per dollar, look no further.
The best business budget laptop: Dell Inspiron 13 7000
Why should you buy that?: With powerful and efficient hardware, this affordable laptop has a solid battery life for a full-time work schedule.
Who is it for?: Office workers who want to play in their free time.
Why we chose the Dell Inspiron 13 7000:
Regardless of whether you enter a different table or cope with a game at the end of a long working day, the Dell Inspiron 13 7000 offers an excellent balance. It has powerful and efficient general computing power like a 9th generation Intel CPU – options include Core i5, Core i7 and Core i9 chips – and up to 16 GB of RAM. This laptop has a dedicated graphics chip. The standard model has an Nvidia GTX 1050 3 GB for entry-level gaming beginners. However, there is also an option for a new generation 1650 that can play all types of games if you adjust the settings enough.
With the typical Inspiron build quality, we expect this system to inherit a number of great design features from the Premium XPS range, but provide them in a more affordable form. It's not the lightest notebook weighing just over 4 pounds, but it does have a great, leak-proof keyboard, full Wi-Fi 5 and Bluetooth connectivity, and a top-mounted 720p webcam for conferencing.
It also comes in an attractive white paint that helps it stand out from all its silver contemporaries.
The best budget 2-in-1: Microsoft Surface Go 2
Rich Shibley / Digital Trends
Why should you buy that?: It is fast, light and versatile.
Who is it for?: Anyone who needs the mobility of a small 2-in-1 device on the go.
Why we chose Microsoft Surface Go 2:
The Surface Go 2 may be limited by its small size and entry-level Intel low-power Pentium processor that can be upgraded to an Intel Core m3 for $ 130 more. However, it offers something that Windows has never seen before: A truly budget-conscious 2-in-1. Its construction is just as solid as its bigger brother, the Surface Pro 7, and it has a beautiful, bright display. The best part? It is actually thin and light enough to be held in one hand like a real tablet.
Performance may not feel as smooth as on an iPad or even a Chromebook, but these devices cannot do as many tasks as Surface Go 2, which runs a full version of Windows 10, is a bit lacking. This is the most unfortunate compromise as it is a device designed for portability. We hope that the excellent Type Cover keyboard and the Surface Pen will also be included.
But despite its fair share of errors, it's the absolute best 2-in-1 budget you can buy. Competitors in this price range lack high build quality and often have a less impressive display or keyboard.
Our full Microsoft Surface Go 2 test
Research and buying tips
Are Budget Laptops Good?
Absolutely! Depending on what your laptop needs to do, the budget options can be as good as the high-end options. If you only need a laptop to watch Netflix and reply to emails, you can save hundreds of dollars on an affordable Chromebook and do no worse than something that costs $ 2,000 or more.
That means you have to be careful which system you choose. Budget laptops tend to make some sacrifices if the expensive options aren't available. So make sure that the system you are interested in does what you need before buying.
Do budget laptops have Thunderbolt 3?
There are certain features that are less common in budget laptops, and Thunderbolt 3 is one of them. Many affordable laptops offer USB-C support, but only a few offer Intel's Thunderbolt 3 specification, such as the Dell Inspiron 13 7000.
Do budget laptops have good battery life?
Some do, some don't. The models that focus on portability usually offer a little more. If you want the most battery life, you should avoid a dedicated graphics chip.
However, there are numerous budget systems that offer a full working day and more with a single fee. In some cases, an option like the Asus ZenBook 13 UX333 offers better battery life than many laptops that cost a few hundred dollars more. Many Chromebooks also offer impressive battery life thanks to the low weight of the software.
Can I find a good display on a budget laptop?
Definitely, but like battery life or certain ports, you need to choose the right laptop. A good display must be a key component of the laptop because color accuracy and contrast can be some areas where savings can be made with certain systems.
The best looking screen of our budget recommendations comes with theThis is another reason why it is our first choice.
Is AMD Better For Inexpensive Laptops?
It may be, but Intel is still a far more dominant force in the laptop space with a wider range of options available. Very few of the best laptops offer AMD as an option, even for laptops under $ 1,000. For this reason, it is far better to buy a laptop that meets your specifications than to simply choose AMD over Intel.
That could change in 2020 with the release of Ryzen 4, but very few AMD laptops are currently available.