Last year was great when it comes to the laptop section of the technology market. We have seen models that would start the butterfly effect, which will be visible throughout this year. It already is and we’ve seen lots of great models through the last three months. Some of them were expensive, those included the latest tech for sure, but others were coming at a fair price and also supplied users with everything they needed in a laptop!
I believe that in 2-3 years the models that are considered as top-end now and are worth over $1500 or even $2000, will become just average in terms of price tag because laptops (technology as a whole) will become even greater. Until then, we’ll continue to give you information about the best budget options, so we make sure that you spend your cash the right way.
In the next 10 paragraphs, we’ve decided to give you the top 10 laptop options, that are not only giving you everything but are doing it in the most money-worthy way! Of course, they wouldn’t be filled up with numbers in terms of specs, but will give you the essentials as I’ve already said and will surely be high-quality! The options will include laptops from the Dell Inspiron, Acer Swift, Asus Chromebook, HP Stream and Lenovo IdeaPad / ThinkPad series, so you won’t have to spend more than $500 for laptops that would give you the $1000 feeling.
|Product Name||Screen Size||CPU||Price|
|HP STREAM 14||14-inch||1.6 GHz Intel Celeron N3060 Dual-Core||$284.99|
|DELL INSPIRON 11 3000||11.6-inch||1.6 GHz Intel Pentium N3710 Quad-Core||$389.00|
|LENOVO IDEAPAD 120S||11-inch||Celeron N3350 Processor||$192.99|
|LENOVO FLEX 11 CHROMEBOOK||11.6-inch||1.3 GHz MediaTek MT8173C Quad-Core||$279.00|
|SAMSUNG CHROMEBOOK 3||11.6-inch||1.6 GHz Intel Celeron N3060 Dual-Core||$203.00|
|GULEEK MINI PC||N/A||1.44 Ghz Intel Atom Cherry Quad-Core||$100|
|ACER ASPIRE E15||15.6-inch||2.7 GHz Intel Core i7-7500U Dual-Core||$799.00|
|LENOVO IDEAPAD 320S||14-inch||2.4 GHz Intel Core i3-7100U Dual-Core||$579.00|
|ACER ASPIRE 5||5.6-inch||2.7 GHz Intel Core i7-7500U Dual-Core||$599.00|
|HP ENVY X360||15.6-inch||2.7 GHz Intel Core i7-7500U Dual-Core||$849.99|
|ASUS ZENBOOK UX330||14-inch||2.7 GHz Intel Core i7-7500U Dual-Core||$799.00|
HP Stream 14 – $188
Speaking of budget laptops, firstly I will give you the cheapest one, along with 5 reasons on why to get it! The model is made from HP and is from the famous HP Stream series. The exact name of it is 11-y010nr, so you can look it up online if you’d like!
The first and most obvious reason is the price that it sells at. For this money, you’ll have a hard time finding a better laptop out there. If you do so, I don’t think that it would be still under warranty and will have the ability to update. Moreover, getting this HP laptop will ensure you support and customer service/maintenance by the manufacturer and in this case, HP is known for good customer service so you won’t remain disappointed for sure in case anything happens.
The HP Stream 14 has a pair of downward-firing speakers, but on this laptop, you’ll want to use a pair of headphones. When I listened to the Red Hot Chili Peppers’ “Dark Necessities,” I heard the lyrics clearly and could make out percussion well, but Flea’s aggressive bass line was muted. The DTS Studio Sound utility, which offers some audio presets, is preinstalled, but none of the presets did much to improve the anemic sound from the small speakers.
The Stream 14’s power-sipping CPU helped stretch the Stream 14’s battery life to 7 hours and 4 minutes on the Laptop Mag Battery Test, which simulates continuous web surfing over Wi-Fi. That’s enough to get a student through a full day of classes and outlasts the Ideapad 100S-14 (5:51). You will get a slightly better battery, though, from the Inspiron 14 3000 (9:01) or the Samsung Chromebook 3 (9:44).
Believe it or not, the hardware is what rates at the third reasonable spot. The price may not be saying so, but the build quality, lightness, and quickness that it operates at, sheds completely different light on the HP Stream. The touchpad, keyboard, 3 x USB ports, card reader and HDMI port are pretty convenient and easy to access for a laptop this thin, light and cheap! It feels pretty comfortable and stable to operate on, so it would back up your productivity if you are planning to use it for work.
Behind reason four is the performance ability. As I’ve said above – it performs just well enough for a $188 laptop, so don’t underestimate it at all. It does not perform as quick as a thousand dollar laptop, but it does it properly! It has a 4GB RAM capacity and a 2.5GHz Dual-core Celeron 3060 processor.
What differs this sequel of the HP Stream series is that it has double the RAM storage of the previously released models. The downside of all things is that it features only 32GB of internal storage capacity, which will quickly load up after installing a few programs. That’s why the card reader is there and you can solve the problem by adding an external hard drive if you have such.
Finally, the practical side of the laptop is what stands on the last spot. It has most of the things that you’ll want a laptop to feature, including a long-lasting battery life. If you charge it up to 100% it will give you some good 8 to 10 hours of action, before hitting the charger again. Wireless connection is quick as well and will stream videos and internet content with ease, just make sure that you have stable connection nearby.
2-in-1 Dell Inspiron 11 3000 – $220
So, second up here is the 2-in-1 Dell Inspiron from the 11 3000 series, which will cost you around $220. It packs a quad-core Intel Pentium N3540 processor, with each core working at 2.16 GHz frequency.
The Inspiron 11 features Windows 10 to ensure easy navigation as you tap, swipe, pinch and stretch your way around the web with impressive touch responsiveness. Windows 10 also lets you personalize your Inspiron 11 with great new apps and features, that will be backed up by 4GB of RAM storage and other stacked up specifications. This makes me think that a comparison between a hp laptop vs dell laptop would be actually interesting.
On the hard drive, you have free space of 500 GB, which considering the price is just phenomenal… a hard drive of half terabyte will cost you the half price of the laptop. On this Dell Inspiron, you can scan social media, stream favorite TV shows, update your blog, and actually do whatever you want, except a few things that require lots of power – obviously.
No matter what you decide to do, you can do it in HD 1366×768 resolution on an 11.6-inch edge-to-edge touch display, that is incredibly easy to navigate. You can tap, scroll and zoom your way around the screen with no effort, so it will be pretty cool to use it for studying, writing and working as a whole.
Lenovo Ideapad 120s 11″ – $240
The third model on the list is the $240 IdeaPad by Lenovo that brings you a redesigned chassis with simple, clean lines – giving it a modern and classy look. If you are expecting from your devices to keep up with you, you will make use of the protective finish that keeps it away from wear and tear. Lenovo also included subtle rubber detailing on the bottom cover to maximize ventilation and extend product life. The IdeaPad is available in a sophisticated range of colors: Denim Blue & Mineral Grey.
You will be able to experience true visual clarity with an 11” high definition, anti-glare screen, backed up by Integrated Graphics from Intel. The processor is also manufactured by Intel and is not that powerful but does work perfectly. It is a Celeron N3350 Processor with cores working at 1.10GHz and with awesome benchmark + 2MB of cache. The 2GB LPDDR4 RAM storage is enough for simple tasks, but it could be slightly upgraded.
What I don’t really like about this laptop is that it has a hard drive storage of only 64GB, which is something that is common for smartphones, not laptops. This problem is kind of easy to solve, but you’ll have to spend excessive money on a portable hard drive, so if you find the 64GB internal storage not enough, then you can opt out for this!
The Ideapad 120s offers over 8 hours of battery life and can charge your other devices – even when powered off, so this makes it even more helpful! If you need even more help you can ask the integrated Cortana assistant, which made some popularity last year. Cortana works with more than a thousand apps and services to ensure you’ll always have the answers you need. Best of all, it works across all your Windows 10 devices to keep you organized.
Lenovo Flex 11 Chromebook – $280
Going to the fourth option, we stuck up with another rotate laptop screen model from Lenovo, but this time from the Flex series. It is again an 11″ device, but with slightly better specs. What it differs mostly from the previous Lenovo is the difference in the design and build quality. It’s drop resistant and can withstand falls of up to 75cm (2.4 feet).
Its ports are reinforced, its touchpad is sealed to protect against accidental spills, and its non-slip texture assures a secure grip when you’re on the go. What’s more, its water-resistant keyboard uses innovative internal channels beneath the keyboard to divert liquid away from sensitive electrical components. It can handle up to 330 ml – about 1 cup – of liquid without damage.
The battery life is also slightly better and gives you +2 more hours than the Lenovo Ideapad, which makes you a total of 10hours battery performance. Its total weight is 1.35 kilograms, which combined with the lots of battery package makes a really comfortable device for travel or work/study on the go. With the 720p HD webcam facing you from the upper lid, you can make calls with friends, relatives or business online meetings, so it will be good if you’re using it for communication.
The system that it uses to operate on is also different from some of the additions on the list. It uses a Google Chrome OS, which is a system that I truly aspire actually. For those who are not familiar, you should know that Google Chrome OS is based on the Linux kernel and uses the Google Chrome web browser as its principal user interface. As a result, Chrome OS primarily supports web applications.
What is not cool, however, is that with only 32GB of hard drive storage you won’t be able to download every movie or song you like, but you’ll have to stream them online. This actually makes the system more cloud-orientated and that’s why Lenovo added 802.11 a/g/n/ac + Bluetooth 4.0 connections because you’ll need those two mostly.
This means that you’ll do just fine with 4GB of RAM storage and MTK 8173C Processor that has a core frequency of 2.10GHz. It will perform well with the execution of all the media you connect to the wide variety of ports including HDMI, USB 3.0, a mic/audio jack, and an SD card slot. Considering everything said, I think that the price is good, just make sure that those are the things you should expect and nothing more because if you think that it will do as a $1000 laptop, just forget it!
Samsung Chromebook 3 – $170
Another proposal in this article and buying guide is the Samsung Chromebook 3 that came a while ago but still has incredible capabilities that are up-to-date. It got released some months ago, don’t worry it was not considered as the best value laptop 2016, but was rather released on the market at the end of last year.
So, in terms of hardware, the Chromebook 3 packs an Intel Celeron Processor N3060 with frequency varying between 1.6 GHz and 2.48 GHz. It has 4GB RAM as well and even less internal of all up here – this one has only 16GB hard-drive space, which is even less than a smartphone.
It is great for people who use it for light activities – no software-needed work, browsing the net, watching videos, studying, video-chatting and etc. It’s not just for such people who download files and never use them – just to keep the device stacked up with unneeded files. What’s great about this Chromebook 3 is that it weighs less than a kilo, so imagine how you’d feel it in your backpack or in your hand. Sounds convenient and travel-supporting, right?
It is not better than the other options but for the price of $170 it is perfectly giving you the essential and basic things you’ll need in a laptop. I like such cheap and efficient ideas and I admire this major factor, while I also think that it doesn’t lack anything else than internal storage capacity. You’ll have to spend extra money on a microSD card or external hard drive.
Guleek Mini PC – ONLY $100
You just laughed at the price just now, right? I didn’t believe it as well, but before watching how it performs. If you are looking for one of the cheapest, I have something that will really be of use for you. It is a computer with the smallest size I’ve seen in a while and with the smallest amount on the price tag as well. This Guleek Mini PC is a pocket-sized computer, so you have to make sure that you have the full set arranged and if you do then you can transfer the PC wherever you want.
You may be thinking that for $100 you wouldn’t be even able to buy a casing for the hardware to be stored in, but with this Guleek PC, you wouldn’t have to spend money on a casing. It comes at a 17.5*10.7*5.4cm small box, looking more of a portable battery, rather than a PC.
When you take a closer look at the sides, you’ll see an HDMI port, 3.5mm Audio Jack, USB 2.0 and 3.0, and a Micro USB for charge or host. In terms of connectivity it is okay, but in terms of storage capacity, you’d better not expect much. For a single bill, a hundred one, you are getting 2 GB of RAM capacity and 32GB eMMC of internal. This means that when you include the operating system in those 32GB of HDD, you remain with storage that you can not use for anything, except browsing the net.
This problem could be solved, kind of, with a TF card, which is also included among the ports on the alloy metal case’s side. Through a USB port, you can also connect a portable hard-drive, which can be up to 1TB, which is pretty convenient and a cheap + effective upgrade. This affordable Guleek Mini PC operates very well on Windows 10 and is backed up by a processor that works quite well when you take the price into consideration.
It is an Intel Atom Cherry with 4 cores working at 1.44GHz speed. It is something different, but you’ll have to ensure that you will have a so-called NEST, which means that you’ll have to be aware whether you have a keyboard, monitor and a mouse, so you can star it up. This particular downside, makes me spend another $88 and get the HP Stream 14. A laptop will give you everything in a similar way, but you’ll have yourself secured with a fully ready set to operate on. The lack of peripheral devices only enables you to use the Guleek PC in school, work or university, right?
Considering the other features, however, I think that $100 are worth the try and you won’t lose a lot. Aside from doing study-related procedures on it, you can even use it for work. It has all Microsoft Office apps on it and it surely runs them well enough! If not working or studying, you can just use it for browsing the net, connecting with people on social media or just watching movies – it has it all in there.
Acer Aspire E15 – $350
In terms of hardware, the laptop is pretty standard and good for the money. It packs a 7th Generation Intel Core i3-7100U Processor, that’s clocked up at 2.4GHz and has a solid hard drive with 1TB capacity. The RAM is 4GB but the laptop could be easily upgraded. All you have to do is unscrew the bolts on the bottom and you have direct access to every component, that you may be willing to upgrade/change. You won’t have to detach a thousand things just to get to what you want, which is pretty convenient.
The battery life will ensure you long-time usage before the need of a charger and for this kind of laptops I rarely expect them to have a backlit keyboard, so they are great for dark spaces as well, which means that you wouldn’t press the wrong key at all. I really love the idea of this low-cost machine and I think that it should become a tendency among companies to try to offer some of their audience with more affordable tech like all described up here.
Let’s be straight – the laptop doesn’t need more than $80 to get to a level, that it could be more flexible and used for different tasks. If you decide to go with the specs and hardware provided by Acer, then you can use the machine for watching movies to playing at low-resolution games like DOTA or CS:GO, listen to music, browse the net and even optimize your workload as you can use different software easily.
It offers you 1TB, which compared to those products that we already assessed is making it the boss here. The RAM storage is not bad at all and overall it is an upgraded option of all previous laptops for a slightly but acceptably higher price. Now we’re about to get into more expensive progressively, so you’ll see better and better in terms of specs versions and will be ready to make a conclusion of how much money you’re ready to spend and what’s the best thing for you!
Lenovo IdeaPad 320S
If you are looking for a lighter and compact laptop still under $500, then this is the last such proposal. If this is your criteria, this is the perfect choice for you. It still offers powerful hardware but in a smaller size and weight. The weight of this one is 1.7kg and the dimensions are 38 x 27.7 x 1.93 sm, while the hardware capabilities are almost the same.
The processor is again Intel i5 7th Gen 7200U, clocked up at 2.5GHz with the familiar already Intel HD Graphics. In terms of storage, this one is again the same as the previous model, coming with 256GB internal and 8GB RAM storage. The laptop is also capable of 7-8 hours of total use because of the easily removable 40 WHr, 4-cell battery.
The IdeaPad 320S 15″ offers startling graphics power, powered by NVIDIA GeForce 940MX graphics. A dedicated graphics card relies on its own processor, accelerating graphics performance by more than 3 times. Play games, edit video and more – with reduced screen tearing and advanced photo and video-editing performance.
Featuring two Harman speakers with Dolby Audio, the IdeaPad 320S offers advanced sound optimization for greater detail across a wide range of sounds. Watch a movie or video chat with a friend- Dolby Audio automatically enhances dialogue and maximizes the volume of your PC without distortion. It sounds really good for a $490 laptop, right?
Acer Aspire 5 – $590
Getting into the more heavy artillery, we’re about to focus on some options now above $500! The Acer Aspire 5 is one awesome option to start with.
It comes at a screen size of 15.6″ and price of $590 on Amazon. It offers 256GB of internal storage and 8GB of RAM. Powered by an Intel i5 7th Gen 7200U, clocked up at 2.5GHz, it will operate quickly and support each and every move you perform on it. It’s perfect for gaming with the combination of Intel HD Graphics 620 and the full HD CineCrystal LED-backlit display.
This means that you’ll never get bored in school, but due to the low battery life, you’ll have to bring your charger with you. It offers 5-6 hours before a charging’s needed but if you don’t play games on it and don’t use power-requiring software, then it may last the whole day with you – it’s up to you.
Apart from the battery life, another thing that won’t be found really comfortable by students is the size. The laptop weighs 2.2kg, which is not that much, but the dimensions of 38.1 x 26.3 x 2.16 sm may be a problem for the backpack, so students may search for a bigger one to put it in.
HP Envy x360 – $630
The list got full of Lenovo’s, which shows how great the company is in terms of laptop making! Props to Lenovo for the great customer care and service. The next model is called HP Envy x360 and is one of those 2-in-1 versatile laptops, so I guess that it would be great for gaming. Along with the versatility, lots of other “gaming” features are also included. The specs are just phenomenal for this price and the design is more than sleek. For me, it is soon to unveil the truth, but the laptop is worth it!
The only con that it has in terms of the physical aspect of the design is hiding in its dual hinges. They feel weaker than the hinges of the Yoga 720 series and require the user to pay lots of attention while performing any movement when lifting and transporting the notebook.The 1920 x 1080 resolution boasts impressive color and clarity.
Touch, tap, glide and make the most of Windows 10, as you can use the notebook at both tablet and laptop mode. The IPS technology feels and looks great for wide viewing angles and it even has an energy-efficient WLED backlight, so you’ll save some money on the electricity bill. The substantial high-bandwidth RAM is there to smoothly run your games and photo/video editing applications, as well as multiple programs and browser tabs all at once. This means that it is great not only for gamers, but for developers, photographers, and producers as well!
Integrated graphics chipset by AMD Radeon Vega with shared video memory provides solid image quality for Internet use, movies, basic photo editing and casual gaming. Moreover, the 1TB internal storage capacity holds a sizeable collection of digital photos, music, HD videos and DVD-quality movies. 7200 rpm spindle speed enables rapid read/write times for handling large files and complex applications, which will make transferring files from one device to another faster and easier!
The main attraction for this particular system is indubitably the 15 W – 25 W Ryzen 5 2500U APU with integrated Radeon RX Vega 8 graphics. Configurations with the Ryzen 7 2700U are not yet available but should be coming soon, most likely during the second quarter of 2018. Processor clock rate idles at 1.48 GHz when on Power Saver mode and can run up to 2.6 GHz and 3.6 GHz in multi-threaded and single-threaded operations, respectively, according to Task Manager and user reviews.
And last, in terms of connectivity, you should know that an Ethernet port and one USB Type-A port in favor of a single USB Type-C Gen. 1 port are included. Users who want to output to a native 4K60 external monitor can still do so via the HDMI 2.0b port, but users who wish for Thunderbolt 3 may want to consider some other type of gaming laptop, but this may cost you a couple of hundred dollars more. Be careful with your decision and let me know in the comment section whether you think that this laptop is worth it or it does not.
Asus ZenBook UX330
Next laptop that’s up on the list is the Asus ZenBook UX330. It’s definitely not the cheapest version here, coming at the price of $700, but it’s surely the best one here. The 8th generation Intel i5-8n50U clocked at up to 3.4GHz and perfectly cooperates with the 8GB RAM and 256GB internal storage. It has the best screen and keyboard of all the models mentioned above.
The display is with 1920 x 1080 pixels resolution and has anti-glare technology that looks amazing and prevents distracting glare whether you’re working in a brightly lit room or streaming videos sitting at a cafe table in the sun.
The battery life is great, offering 6-7 hours of average use and the audio system on this laptop is phenomenal, with the two speakers located on the bottom of the case. If you are looking for a small, compact and powerful laptop, then this one is the right version for you, but it’s not the cheapest. You’ll spend the most out of all the previously discussed models, but you’ll get the best specs, display quality, and top-notch design, so it is fully up to you!
Acer Nitro Spin 5 – $1000
I wanted to really close the whole list with something that would make you save a little bit of money for a month, before hurrying with the attempt to get a laptop and after a few months change it because you wouldn’t expect it to give you the essentials. With this Acer Nitro 5, you’ll be able to do whatever you want on a convertible 2-in-1 laptop!
The colorway of the Nitro 5 is full black with contrasting red details all over the brushed aluminum body, which adds the feel of premium level laptop and I truly like that. What is the bad side, however, is that due to how slim it is, it will be easier to drop it while carrying around, so you gotta be careful with that.
The hinges are painted in red as well and are a bit stiff, which Dave Lee may not like, but I actually do. I’d prefer to use a laptop with stiff hinges that’ll stay in one position and will not move when you apply pressure by using the touchscreen feature with your fingers. The red lid all around the body is attracting attention as well and I think that with some RGB lightning on some sides it would’ve rocked! Overall, I love the design, keyboard, color, and hinges, but I would’ve loved if the laptop had more grip.
Moving to the hardware now. The laptop packs an Intel Core i5 quad-core processor and GTX 1050 graphics. Hard-drive space will be enough for you to store all your favorite games with ease – it has 1,000GB HDD and 8GB of RAM capacity. It can run most of the top games out there and will present them on a big 15.6″ display with 1920 x 1080 pixels resolution, which ensures top-level gaming experience. It is not a 4K screen but it is a $1k device.
It is Full HD, IPS display with wide-viewing angles ideal for playing games, watching videos or browsing photos. The display also includes Acer BluelightShield, which helps reduce blue light emissions that cause eye strain, so you’re fully supplied with everything you need for long-time gaming sessions.
Of course, the Acer Nitro 5 can’t be the perfect laptop and it has some minor cons. One of them is the ventilation/cooling of the hardware components. This doesn’t mean that there’s not enough airflow, but when running a power-demanding game you may experience some overheating if you play for hours. This problem could be easily solved by putting a cooler underneath the laptop or by using an external keyboard and flipping the laptop into “presentation mode”.
If you flip it you’ll turn the air sucking vents to the opposite side and there won’t be any surface that’ll cover them, meaning that air will enter with double amounts. This mode is really interesting and not only it will solve the cooling problem but it will let you place the laptop in whatever position is comfortable for you and you’ll be able to adjust the external keyboard in any position as well. Such comfort and convertibility are hard to be delivered by a desktop computer, which makes me fall for the Acer Nitro 5 even more.