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.
My current pick for the best budget laptop of 2023 is the Gateway 14. It’s a device you can easily find for well under $500, and it nails the basics while providing excellent battery life and a number of different fun colors — as well as user-accessible storage. It’s a great pick for those who want to buy a functional, attractive laptop for as low a price as possible.
But if cow spots don’t float your boat, not to worry. I’ve got a diverse list of suggestions here for you at a variety of sub-$1,000 price points, including gaming laptops, business laptops, convertibles, Chromebooks, and more. Some of my favorites in this category include the Asus Chromebook CX5, the Lenovo Chromebook Duet 3, the HP Pavilion Aero 13, and the HP Victus 15. Many of these laptops also appear on our best laptop, best Chromebook, and best student laptop lists.
1. Gateway 14
The best cheap laptop of 2023
CPU: Intel Core i5-1135G7 / GPU: Intel Iris Xe / RAM: 16GB / Storage: 512GB / Display: 14.1-inch IPS display, 1920 x 1080, 60Hz, no touch option / Dimensions: 13.1 x 8.75 x 0.75 inches / Weight: 4 pounds
If you’re looking for the best specs you can get for as low a price as possible, your best bet is the $279 (as of this writing) Gateway 14. This cow-spotted (in spirit) device comes in a few funky colors that will stand out from the crowd. (The model I reviewed is a bold bright blue.) It offers some of the best specs you can get for under $400 as well as an excellent port selection and speedy performance. There’s even an empty drive slot so you can stick in as much storage as you need.
There are a few compromises to be aware of. The microphones are weak, for one, and the touchpad is clunky and loud. However, these are reasonable compromises to make for the Gateway’s low price, especially since they are both easily remedied with external peripherals. In the grand scheme of the laptop market, the Gateway 14 offers unparalleled specs, performance, and battery life for its price. Plus, it looks super cute.
Read my Gateway 14 review.
2. Asus Chromebook Flip CX5
The best cheap Chromebook of 2023
CPU: Intel Core i5-1135G7 / GPU: Intel Iris Xe / RAM: 16GB / Storage: 128GB / Display: 15.6-inch IPS, 1920 x 1080, 60Hz, touch option / Dimensions: 14.08 x 9.48 x 0.73 inches / Weight: 4.3 pounds
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. I never once heard its fan in testing, even when pushing a workload that slowed most devices down. Battery life is quite satisfactory, easily lasting a day. And the speakers delivered some of the best audio I’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.
Read my Asus Chromebook Flip CX5 review.
3. Asus Chromebook Detachable CM3
The best cheap detachable
CPU: MediaTek 8183 / GPU: Arm Mali-G72 MP3 / RAM: 4GB / Storage: 128GB / Display: 10.5-inch IPS, 1920 x 1200, 60Hz, touch option / Dimensions: 10.06 x 6.58 x 0.31 inches / Weight: 1.12 pounds
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: I 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.
Read my Asus Chromebook Detachable CM3 review.
4. HP Pavilion Aero 13
An affordable laptop with killer battery life
CPU: AMD Ryzen 5 5625U, Ryzen 5 7535U, Ryzen 7 5825U, Ryzen 7 7735U / GPU: AMD Radeon / RAM: 8GB, 16GB / Storage: 256GB, 512GB, 1TB / Display: 13.3-inch IPS, 1920 x 1200/2560 x 1600, 60Hz, no touch option / Dimensions: 11.69 x 8.23 x 0.67 inches / Weight: 2.2 pounds
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 my review 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.
Read our HP Pavilion Aero 13 review.
5. Lenovo Chromebook Duet 3
The best Chrome OS tablet
CPU: Snapdragon 7c Gen 2 / GPU: Qualcomm Adreno graphics / RAM: 4Gb, 8GB / Storage: 128GB / Display: 10.95-inch IPS, 2000 x 1200, 60Hz, touch option / Dimensions: 10.16 x 6.48 x 0.31 inches / Weight: 1.14 pounds
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 I don’t recommend the Duet 3 for work use, it’s 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.
Read our Lenovo Chromebook Duet 3 review.
6. Lenovo ThinkBook 13S
The best budget laptop for business
CPU: AMD Ryzen 5 6600U / GPU: AMD Radeon 660M / RAM: 8GB / Storage: 256GB / Display: 13.3-inch IPS, 1920 x 1200, 60Hz, no touch option / Dimensions: 11.69 x 8.31 x 0.59 / Weight: 2.71 pounds
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.
I was pleasantly surprised by its sharp 16:10 display and its generous port selection. 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.
Read our Lenovo ThinkBook 13S review.
An affordable gaming laptop
CPU: AMD Ryzen 5 5600H, Ryzen 7 5800H, Intel Core i5-13500H, Core i7-13700H, Core i7-12700H / GPU: AMD Ryzen 5 5600H, Ryzen 7 5800H, Nvidia GeForce RTX 3050, RTX 3050 Ti, RTX 4050 / RAM: 8GB, 16GB / Storage: 512GB, 1TB / Display: 15.6-inch IPS, 1920 x 1080, 60Hz/144Hz, no touch option / Dimensions: 14.09 x 10.04 x 0.93 / Weight: 5.05 pounds
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.)
I 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 portable-enough five-pound chassis.
Read our HP Victus 15 review.
8. HP Pavilion Plus 14
A (relatively) cheap OLED laptop
CPU: Intel Core i5-1240P, Core i5-12500H, Core i5-1235U, Core i7-12700H, Core i7-1255U/ GPU: Intel Iris Xe, Nvidia GeForce RTX 2050 / RAM: 8GB, 16GB / Storage: 256GB, 512Gb, 1TB / Display: 14-inch IPS/OLED, 2240 x 1400/2880 x 1800, 60Hz, no touch option / Dimensions: 12.34 x 8.83 x 0.72 inches / Weight: 3.09 pounds
The HP Pavilion Plus 14, currently available for $799, stretches what most would consider a budget price. But this 14-inch laptop has 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 – I got just under five hours to a charge out of my test unit, a typical result for a laptop with an OLED screen.
Read our HP Pavilion Plus 14 review.
9. Acer Chromebook Spin 714
The best cheap 14-inch Chromebook
CPU: Intel Core i5-1235U, Core i7-1260P / GPU: Intel Iris Xe / RAM: 8GB / Storage: 256GB / Display: 114-inch IPS, 2560 x 1600, 60Hz, touch option / Dimensions: 12.31 x 8.82 x 0.71 inches / Weight: 3.09 pounds
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).
Read our Acer Chromebook Spin 714 review.
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