Lenovo Chromebook Duet right profile

A cheap laptop is no longer guaranteed to be a bad laptop. It’s easier than ever to grab a quality machine for less than $500. Unfortunately, there are still some pretty terrible options out there, so you have to know how to avoid them. We’ve tried to do our part to help out, and these are our picks for the best cheap laptops you can get.

See also: The best laptops for students

If you need to get connected without hurting your wallet, these are your best bets. We’ve tried to cover the main manufacturers and limit our picks to less than $500. The majority of our list is Windows-based, but a few of the Chromebook options are too good to leave off. We also have a list dedicated to the best Chromebooks under $300 if you’re thinking of taking the Chrome OS plunge.

The best cheap laptops:

Editor’s note: We’ll update this list of the best cheap laptops as new options launch.

 1. Microsoft Surface Go 2

Microsoft Surface Go 2 cheap laptop

The Microsoft Surface lineup is a leader in the 2-in-1 game and has been since its launch in 2012. It’s also been known for its hefty price tag — that is, until the Microsoft Surface Go and the brand-new Surface Go 2. This refreshed version of the smallest Microsoft Surface tablet makes the cut with its low price point.

If you’re familiar with the Surface line, you can probably guess that this price includes only the tablet itself. You’ll have to spend a bit extra to pick up a type cover and a Surface Pen for the full experience. The base configuration of the Surface Go 2 is rocking 4GB of RAM and 64GB of storage, but you can splurge and double them to 8GB and 128GB respectively.

See also: The best Surface Pro deals

In a relatively crowded market of 2-in-1s and tablets, the Surface Go 2 is a refined option with years of experience. It’s one of our top picks for the extensive catalog of accessories and peripherals Microsoft offers.

Microsoft Surface Go specs:

  • Display: 10.5-inch, 1,920 x 1,280
  • CPU: Intel Pentium Gold 4425Y
  • GPU: Intel HD Graphics 615
  • RAM: 4/8GB
  • Storage: 64/128GB
  • Software: Windows 10 Home S-Mode

 2. Asus VivoBook 15

Asus VivoBook 15 cheap laptop

It’s nearly impossible to make a list of the best cheap laptops and leave the Asus VivoBook 15 off of it. An affordable AMD Ryzen 3 chip keeps the VivoBook 15 well under-budget. The AMD setup continues with a Radeon Vega 3 graphics card powering the sharp 15.6-inch Full HD display.

Under the hood, you’ll find 4GB of DDR4 RAM along with a 128GB SSD to keep the Windows 10 Home S-Mode experience running smoothly. Some budget-friendly laptops can be accused of looking cheap, but the VivoBook 15 combines a four-sided NanoEdge display and a backlit keyboard for an experience that punches above its price.

For all of the perks, the VivoBook doesn’t skip out on peripherals either. It’s equipped with two USB-A ports, one USB-C port, and an HDMI port too.

Asus VivoBook 15 specs:

  • Display: 15.6-inch, Full HD
  • CPU: AMD Ryzen 3
  • GPU: AMD Radeon Vega 3
  • RAM: 4GB
  • Storage: 128GB
  • Software: Windows 10 Home S-Mode

 3. Acer Aspire 5

acer aspire 5

Another perpetual competitor for the title of best cheap laptop is the Acer Aspire 5. The base model is loaded with an AMD Ryzen 3 chip, though you can boost it to a Ryzen 5 or 7 for a price.

It matches the Asus VivoBook in terms of internals, with 4GB of DDR4 RAM and a 128GB SSD. Acer’s Full HD 15.6-inch display runs on AMD Radeon Vega 3 graphics with Windows 10 Home in S-Mode. You should have more than enough battery life to work comfortably away from an outlet for up to 7.5 hours.

The Acer Aspire 5 is another laptop with plenty of potential for peripherals. It features an HDMI port, three USB-A ports, and an Ethernet hookup.

Acer Aspire 5 specs:

  • Display: 15.6-inch, Full HD
  • CPU: AMD Ryzen 3
  • GPU: AMD Radeon Vega 3
  • RAM: 4GB
  • Storage: 128GB
  • Software: Windows 10 Home S-Mode

 4. Acer Spin 1

acer spin 1 cheap laptop

If you’re on the hunt for a cheap laptop, it’s always nice to know that you’re not limited to simple clamshells. There are a number of affordable 2-in-1s out there, including the Acer Spin 1.

One drawback of the 2-in-1 design is that you only get an Intel Celeron processor, though 4GB of RAM and 64GB of storage should be enough to keep you going. As you’d expect with a laptop that’s also a tablet, the Spin 1 has an 11-inch multi-touch HD panel. Eight hours of battery life is certainly respectable for a 2-in-1 at this price.

Like many of the budget-friendly options, the Acer Spin 1 is running Windows 10 Home S-Mode, though some may find an 11.6-inch screen a bit too small.

Acer Spin 1 specs:

  • Display: 11.6-inch, HD
  • CPU: Intel Celeron N4000
  • GPU: Intel UHD Graphics 605
  • RAM: 4GB
  • Storage: 64GB
  • Software: Windows 10 Home S-Mode

 5. Lenovo IdeaPad S145

lenovo ideapad s145

Lenovo may be known for its Yoga lineup, but the manufacturer offers a wide variety of affordable laptops as well. One such option is the IdeaPad S145, which comes with a solid spec sheet.

You’ll find the base model working with an Intel Celeron 4205U chip, 4GB of RAM, and 128GB of storage. The large 15.6-inch HD display is powered by an integrated Intel UHD 610 graphics card, though the main fault with this IdeaPad is the weak six-hour runtime. Sure, many people use their laptops plugged in anyway, but it would be nice to know that you can go for hours unplugged.

Many Lenovo laptops are great for business with a hinge that flattens out to 180-degrees. You can share your screen with your team or add other functionality with three USB-A ports.

Lenovo IdeaPad S145 specs:

  • Display: 15.6-inch, HD
  • CPU: Intel Celeron 4205U
  • GPU: Intel UHD 610
  • RAM: 4GB
  • Storage: 128GB
  • Software: Windows 10 Home

 6. Lenovo Chromebook Duet

lenovo chromebook duet cheap laptop

The Duet is a brand-new Chromebook tablet by Lenovo, and the keyboard is included — unlike the with Surface. This ultra-portable little device slots in at the same price as the Surface Go 2 as well.

See also: Lenovo Chromebook Duet review

At first glance, the Duet looks just like a small journal. Once you open the cover, however, you’ll find that it’s a bright 10.1-inch Full HD Chrome OS tablet with 4GB of RAM and 64GB of memory. The internals may not be the most familiar to everyone, with a MediaTek Helios P60T chip and ARM G72 MP3 graphics, but they’re plenty capable in the small form-factor.

A small tablet might worry you when it comes to battery life, but the Duet should last 10 hours without much trouble. Unfortunately, the Duet isn’t exactly loaded with ports beyond a single USB-C option.

Lenovo Chromebook Duet specs:

  • Display: 10.1-inch, Full HD
  • CPU: MediaTek P60T
  • GPU: ARM G72 MP3
  • RAM: 4GB
  • Storage: 64GB
  • Software: Chrome OS

 7. Samsung Chromebook 4 Plus

samsung chromebook 4 plus

Samsung’s lone appearance on the list comes thanks to the value and specs that the Chromebook 4 Plus offers. You can get above-average specs and USB-C charging capability on a Chromebook while still coming in under budget at $399.55.

See also: Need a replacement Chromebook charger? These are your best choices

This Chromebooks comes with 4GB of RAM and 32GB of memory as standard, but we recommend going with the slightly upgraded variant with 6GB of RAM and a 64GB hard drive. You also get a 15.6-inch Full HD screen, which is comparatively large for most Chromebooks. An Intel Celeron N4000 processor rounds out the list with Intel UHD Graphics 600 in tow.

Samsung Chromebook 4 Plus specs:

  • Display: 15.6-inch, Full HD
  • CPU: Intel Celeron N4000
  • GPU: Intel UHD Graphics 600
  • RAM: 4/6GB
  • Storage: 32/64GB
  • Software: Chrome OS

 8. HP Stream 14

hp stream 14

As a leader in the laptop market, HP has finely crafted a wide range of machines. The Stream is the most affordable by far. It’s a perfect pick for students if remote learning continues well into the next school year.

See also: The best HP laptops to buy in 2020

For your money, HP will hook you up with an Intel Celeron dual-core N3060 processor and 4GB of DDR3 RAM. The Stream 14 also has 32GB of storage, which isn’t a lot by any means but it should be enough for most schoolwork. HP has loaded the Stream 14 with Windows 10 Home in S-Mode, which should be no surprise compared to many options on this list.

HP Stream 14 specs:

  • Display: 14-inch, HD
  • CPU: Intel Celeron N3060
  • GPU: Intel HD Graphics 400
  • RAM: 4GB
  • Storage: 32GB
  • Software: Windows 10 Home S-Mode

 9. HP Chromebook 14

hp chromebook 14

For a long time, Chromebooks were thought of as less than Windows laptops. This option, the HP Chromebook 14, pokes a good number of holes in that idea when compared to the Stream 14. The costs are fairly similar, but the Chromebook packs a punch in a number of ways.

See also: The best HP Chromebook for your needs and budget

It’s fully loaded with 4GB of RAM, 32GB of storage, and an HD 14-inch display. HP also boasts that the Chromebook 14 can get more than 9 hours of battery life and the brushed metal finish lends a premium feel. As the name suggests, it’s a Chromebook, so you may have to adjust to a different operating system than you’re used to.

The port selection is solid though not spectacular, with two USB-C ports and two USB-A options as well as a headphone jack.

HP Chromebook 14 specs:

  • Display: 14-inch, HD
  • CPU: AMD A4-9120C
  • GPU: Integrated AMD Radeon R4
  • RAM: 4GB
  • Storage: 32GB
  • Software: Chrome OS

 10. Dell Inspiron 14 5000

dell inspiron 14 5000

Credit: Dell

Bringing up the rear on our list of the best cheap laptops is the Dell Inspiron 14 5000. It’s by no means the weakest link, and it presents some of the best value on the list. If you’re looking for the latest Intel hardware, the Dell Inspiron 14 5000 is worth considering.

See also: Best Dell laptop deals

The Inspiron 14 5000 is an affordable way to lock down an 11th-generation Intel chip and Intel UHD graphics. On the inside, you’ll find 4GB of RAM and 256GB of storage. Dell actually offers a wide variety of sizes and options in the Inspiron line, but the 14 5000 offers the best bang for your budget.

Dell Inspiron 14 5000 specs:

  • Display: 14-inch, HD
  • CPU: 11th-gen Intel Core i3-1115G4
  • GPU: Intel UHD Graphics
  • RAM: 8GB
  • Storage: 256GB
  • Software: Windows 10 Home in S-Mode

That wraps up our list of the best cheap laptops available right now. However, there’s a lot more to the perfect laptop setup than your computer itself. Check out a few of these resources while you’re here: