The definition of a “budget” laptop is constantly changing, and yet it’s often something the average laptop consumer is always going to be interested in. So where does it fall? Under $1000? Under $500? Under $200? Chromebooks? Cheap PCs?
One caveat before starting out: we haven’t yet gotten a chance to test out the Samsung Chromebook Plus, which looks like a great addition to the Chromebook lineup. Outside of that, we’re covering it all in the following five laptops, which range from high-powered Ultrabooks to light laptops made for work on the go.
On one end of the budget Chromebook spectrum is the Asus Chromebook C201, which comes in at only $169. It’s chunky and made out of plastic, but the C201 also has battery life that lasts over 10 hours and has plenty of power for your daily Chrome life. For many people, that’s exactly what they’ll want and need in a Chromebook.
It’s not the most beautiful laptop out there, but if you’re looking to save some bucks while still having a solid computer, your best bet is the Asus Chromebook C201.—Luke Larsen
Not only does the HP Chromebook 13 look stunning, its performance shows that at $499, the laptop can go toe-to-toe with $1,000 Ultrabooks and still hold its own. HP defied expectations by delivering a premium notebook with solid performance at a price point that no one else is able to match.
With a build quality that rivals the $1299 MacBook, the Chromebook 13 manages to beat Apple’s laptop in many ways while coming in at a $499 starting price. Compared to the MacBook, you’ll find more ports, a higher resolution display and a more usable keyboard on the Chromebook 13 in a package with a similar all-metal build quality. For Chromebooks on the higher end of the price scale, the HP Chromebook 13 just might be the new standard.—Chuong Nguyen
The Surface Pro 4 has been the king of the tablet/laptop hybrid since its release in early 2016. But no one would say that it’d be qualified as a “budget” 2-in-1. The device that competes best with the Surface in this category is the Lenovo Miix 510, which matches pretty much every feature Microsoft’s product has.
The good news is that the Miix 510 comes in at only $599, which includes both the detachable keyboard and stylus. Lenovo has put together quite a deal here that not enough people are talking about.—LL
We don’t necessarily recommend purchasing Windows laptops under $300. If you’re on a tight budget, you’ll find plenty of Chromebooks that give you higher quality materials in a lighter operating system that performs well. However, if you are partial to Windows, the HP Stream isn’t a bad choice.
HP’s “Stream” line has always meant to be a direct competitor with Chromebooks, and the all-blue 2016 Stream does that quite well. It’s chunky and plastic (and doesn’t have the best display or trackpad), but you’ll get a fully functional Windows laptop at a shockingly cool $200 (or $220 for the 14-inch version).—LL
Here’s what you’ve been waiting for: the powerful Ultrabook that won’t break the bank without any compromises whatsoever. Well—that fantasy product might not really exist, but the Asus ZenBook UX205 gets pretty close.
This extremely thin, beautiful laptop competes closely with other smaller Ultrabooks, but does it at $699 price point, which is just about as cheap a flagship ultrabook as you’ll find anywhere. It’s got some great features, such as the Skylake Core M processor, an all-aluminum body, and a touchscreen 1080p display. With the absence of an updated MacBook Air on the market and the dominance of a lot of +$1000 Ultrabooks out there, the ZenBook UX305 just might be your best bet for a midrange Ultrabook at an affordable price.—LL