The best cheap laptops are getting better and better. The question to ask is: what’s most important, and what are you willing to sacrifice? Even the best cheap laptops aren’t perfect in every area — they have some strengths but cut corners to achieve their price tags. You can almost certainly find a budget laptop with a touchscreen, a premium-looking chassis, an HDMI port, a backlit keyboard, or stylus support, but you may need to consider which of those features you want the most, and which you can go without.
Our pick for the best cheap laptop of 2022 is the Asus Chromebook Flip CX5, running Chrome OS. We feel that the CX5 has build quality, performance, and battery life to match those of many premium devices. Our pick for the best cheap Windows laptop is HP’s Pavilion Aero 13. Other best cheap laptops include the Lenovo Chromebook Duet 3and the Acer Chromebook Spin 714. Many of these laptops also appear on our best laptop, best Chromebook, and best student laptop lists.
Many of our picks for the best cheap laptops are currently Chromebooks. We believe that Chromebooks are, in many cases, the best-value option for shoppers seeking a laptop under $500 and tend to offer better specs, features, and build quality than most Windows laptops at that price point. We hope to add more Windows laptops under $500 to this page in the future and are keeping a close eye on those releases.
Best Cheap Laptops 2022
The best cheap laptop of 2022
The Chromebook Flip CX5 really is that good. It’s sturdy enough to withstand all kinds of jolts and jostles in a backpack or briefcase, and has a unique velvety texture that’s very pleasant to hold. Add a wide port selection, a smooth and comfortable keyboard, and a vivid display, and you’ve got a chassis that can hold its own against plenty of midrange Windows laptops.
Performance is equally impressive. We never once heard its fan in our testing, even when pushing a workload that slowed most devices down. Battery life is quite satisfactory, easily lasting us a day. And the speakers delivered some of the best audio we’ve ever heard from a Chromebook. While the CX5 isn’t a perfect device, it’s one of the best ones we’ve ever tested under $700. Overall, budget shoppers who don’t mind Chrome OS won’t be disappointed in this machine.
The best cheap detachable
If you like the Duet’s size and detachable form factor but are willing to spend on something a bit more upscale, you may find the Asus Chromebook Detachable CM3 to be a better choice. Like the Duet, the CM3 is a 10.5-inch 16:10 Chrome OS tablet with a fabric cover, kickstand, and detachable screen. But the CM3’s kickstand folds multiple ways: you can crease it lengthwise to stand the tablet up like a laptop or fold it the short way and stand the tablet up horizontally. Plus, it comes with a built-in USI stylus and roomy keys with a surprising amount of travel. Battery life was also quite impressive: we averaged close to 13 hours of continuous work.
Where the CM3 lags a bit behind the Duet (and other cheap laptops you may try) is the power. Its MediaTek processor can be a bit sluggish compared to more pricier offerings. But the CM3 still offers a surprising number of perks for its sub-$400 price and makes a great student driver or secondary device.
The Asus Chromebook Detachable CM3 is the best detachable laptop with a built-in pen and detachable screen. It offers a unique dual-folding kickstand, making it possible to fold the tablet so it stands up like a laptop or stands up horizontally.
The best budget Windows laptop
If you’re looking for a budget Windows laptop that’s thinner and lighter than the Envy x360 while delivering similar category-topping performance, the $669 HP Pavilion Aero 13 is a good choice for you. It has a powerful eight-core Ryzen processor, which is one of the fastest processors for thin and light laptops that you can get. Not only does it perform well, but it’s also unbelievably light at just 2.1 pounds, and it comes with a blindingly bright 16:10 screen. It’s a standout in battery life, too — I averaged almost 11 hours of continuous work.
HP did have to cut a few corners to achieve those benefits at this price point. The audio on our model wasn’t great, and the device shipped with some cheap bloatware installed. But the Pavilion Aero 13 is excellent in almost every other way, and it won’t disappoint if you’re looking for a functional, cheap Windows PC.
An affordable laptop with a bold look
If you’re looking for an affordable Chromebook that stands out from the crowd, the $549 Galaxy Chromebook 2 should be on your list. It comes in a bold “fiesta red” color (as well as a regular gray, if you prefer to blend in). It’s a touchscreen convertible with stylus support (though the stylus isn’t included).
On top of the design, the Galaxy Chromebook 2 includes an excellent QLED panel, which is one of the best displays we’ve ever seen on a Chromebook. You also get a solid keyboard, decent battery life (we averaged 7 hours and 21 minutes of continuous work), and a port selection that includes two USB-C ports, a microSD slot, and a headphone jack. It’s easily one of the best Chromebooks you can buy and one of the best cheap laptops as well.
The best laptop under $500
If you’re looking for an absurdly cheap Chromebook that absolutely gets the job done, you should definitely be looking at the Duet 3. This is a great, tiny laptop for budget shoppers with a magnetic detachable keyboard and kickstand. The screen even supports USI styluses, though a stylus is not included in this price. The keyboard is included, however, as are the keyboard and kickstand, which makes for a pretty solid package for a sub-$400 price.
While we don’t recommend the Duet 3 for work use, we found it quite usable for social media use, leisure, and multimedia viewing. It has a sharp, bright, 11-inch screen, and the keyboard and touchpad are surprisingly comfortable. As a bonus, it’s just 2.09 pounds, which makes it great for carrying around in a backpack or a purse.
The best budget laptop for business
The Lenovo ThinkBook 13S looks a lot like Lenovo’s high-end ThinkPad laptops. But it’s much more affordable than those ThinkPads, with models currently starting under $900. We were pleasantly surprised by its sharp 16:10 display and its generous port selection, which includes Thunderbolt 4. The audio is loud and clear. The device lacks some of the artistry of the ThinkPad line, but brings the same functionality and high-quality build. If you’re looking for a sub-$900 Windows laptop for business, the ThinkBook should be on your list.
7. HP Victus 15
An affordable gaming laptop
Gaming laptops are known to be fairly expensive, but the HP Victus 15 offers surprisingly good frame rates for a sub-$700 price. The base model is available with a GTX 1650, while those who want to run the most demanding titles and don’t mind spending a bit more can go for an RTX 3050, which adds $90 to the price. (There are even RTX 3050 Ti models, if you’re really a frame-rate perfectionist.)
We tested the GTX 1650 model, and it had no problem with lighter esports titles. The 144Hz screen, which is a huge bonus at this price point, was a joy to watch. You should expect to bump some settings down if you want modern AAA titles to fully take advantage of the display. On the outside, the Victus has a nice, unobtrusive look, and a decently portable five-pound chassis.
A (relatively) cheap OLED laptop
The HP Pavilion Plus 14, currently available for $799, is a 14-inch laptop with a luxurious OLED, 2.8K, 90Hz display that far outclasses its price. It’s also the thinnest Pavilion HP has ever built, and at just 3.09 pounds, it’s quite easy to carry around in a backpack or briefcase.
The webcam also offers a few unique (and at times hilarious features). Auto-framing keeps you centered as you move around your conference area, backlight and low-light adjustments keep you looking sharp, and “BRB Mode” can freeze your feed and stick a “BRB” sign on the bottom to let your coworkers know you’ll be right back. The main downside to consider is that battery life isn’t great – we got just under five hours to a charge out of our test unit.
The best cheap 14-inch Chromebook
If you’d prefer a more traditional Chromebook with a clamshell form factor, the $479 Acer Chromebook Spin 714 is an affordable option that’s all-around excellent. It has a gorgeous 16:10 display, compatible with a garaged stylus, that delivers a sharp picture and bright, vibrant colors with plenty of vertical space. The screen alone would make the Chromebook Spin 714 a standout, but it has a number of other strengths as well, including a great keyboard, all-day battery life, and a comprehensive port selection, including an HDMI, in addition to Thunderbolt 4. It’s an especially good buy at a discount (which you can often find).