Entertainment The best cheap laptops 2022: budget laptops and Chromebooks
The best cheap laptops 2022: budget laptops and Chromebooks
The best cheap laptops have made quite a compelling case over the last couple of years or so. With manufacturers like Intel, AMD and Qualcomm producing cheaper yet more powerful and power efficient mobile processors, it’s easier than ever to purchase a budget laptop without having to put up with a performance so slow it’ll make you want to pull your hair out.
We’ve tested many cheap laptops over the years so we’ve seen first hand what the best of them are capable of. These days, you’ll easily find a notebook that’s kind to your wallet and kinder still to your mental health, and with features you might expect from a premium option.
Bear in mind though that when it comes to devices, “cheap” is also a matter of perspective. A “cheap” laptop for video editing or gaming is going to cost more than a budget laptop for students and casual users because gaming demands more robust innards. So, when putting together this guide for you, we made sure to widen our price range when necessary.
Similarly, we looked at different types to make sure that you found the best budget option possible. Case in point, our pick of the best cheap laptop for business. Instead of a business laptop with a full Windows operating system, we found you a powerful, premium Chromebook, which should suit small to medium business owners who do not need enterprise-grade features.
You may rest assured, however, that every notebook in this guide – including the cheapest option – is powerful enough for most users’ everyday computing needs. Take a look at our carefully-curated list below of the best laptops to buy on a budget, and you’ll have a better chance of getting a quality option that isn’t a lemon.
The best cheap laptops 2022
The Acer Aspire 5 is the one to beat for the perfect balance of cheap price and solid performance. This 2022 model comes with 11th-generation and AMD Ryzen 5000 series processors, instead of the usual low-powered or aging chips you’ll find in many cheap laptops, which means that it’ll deliver snappy performance. Want it even snappier and have a bit more flexibility in your budget? You can get a higher configuration with bigger RAM.
In our own testing of the Intel Core i5-1135G7, Iris Xe, 8GB RAM configuration, it delivered a respectable performance that should see you through most productivity and casual workloads, as well as a decent battery life of up to 10 hours. And, whereas most dirt-cheap notebooks would cut corners in terms of build, Acer has given it a solid, lightweight chassis you’ll be glad to have when you’re commuting to and from work or traveling.
Read our full Acer Aspire 5 review
Chromebooks like the Lenovo IdeaPad Duet 5 are the first options to consider if you want the best laptop under $500. Since they need less power to be mighty multi-taskers, thanks to their lightweight operating system, chances are you’re getting a much more capable notebook if you choose Chromebook over a Windows 10 or 11 laptop with similar specs and a similar price. And it’ll likely have a more premium build and better features as well.
The Lenovo IdeaPad Duet 5 Chromebook is the perfect example of this. One of the best Chromebooks we’ve ever tested, even we’re baffled that Lenovo can roll out something with its level of quality for much less than you’d expect. We’re blown away by its gorgeous OLED touch display, bigger keyboard, and of course, one of the longest-lasting batteries we’ve seen on a Chromebook, which is saying a lot since these devices are known for their battery life.
Read our full Lenovo IdeaPad Duet 5 Chromebook review
HP’s latest in its line of budget gaming laptops, the HP Victus 15, is geared with the price-savvy gamer in mind from the get-go, offering great gaming performance at an even better price. Even the lowest specced configuration can play high-end titles well while still balancing most other tasks that the user may need.
We wouldn’t suggest investing in this laptop if you need something with a long battery life or a flashier appearance. The design isn’t necessarily ugly, but it can be a bit boring, while the battery life means this will likely not travel very far from a power outlet. But if you’re looking for a great gaming laptop for not a whole lot of money, then you definitely need to consider the HP Victus 15.
Read the full HP Victus 15 review
The Acer Chromebook Spin 311 reminds us of those clunky super-cheap laptops from the aughts, but that’s probably more because of its thick bezels, which not only makes it look a little dated but also robs you of a bigger display. Still, if you want a budget laptop for students – especially elementary and middle school students – this is a great, money-saving option.
After all, such users are likely only going to need it for research, schoolwork, and media consumption, and those do not require a lot of power. And while the Acer Chromebook Spin 311 might be dirt-cheap, we found its overall build and design to be robust yet classy and its compact size convenient for carrying from classroom to classroom all day.
Read our full Acer Chromebook Spin 311 review
If you want a cheap 2-in-1 laptop, the Asus Vivobook Flip 14 TP470 is a terrific option. While hybrid laptops are still usually pricier than traditional clamshell laptops, this model from Asus’ extensive roster of 2-in-1 laptops is making them more accessible to budget-minded folks who still crave a premium design and the Windows experience.
Go for the cheaper configurations of this notebook, and you’ll get great multitasking performance alongside its redesigned chassis, which is lighter and sexier than ever. That’s right; despite its low price tag, this convertible doesn’t scrimp when it comes to design, even boasting a keyboard that’s responsive and satisfying to type on. Naturally, since you’re looking for that 2-in-1 experience, we picked this one for its ErgoLift hinge that not only gives you the tablet, tent, and stand modes but also lifts your keyboard slightly for a better typing experience when in laptop mode.
There’s a lot to love about the Acer Chromebook Spin 713 that we don’t even know where to start. This might be a premium Chromebook, but it’s a lot more affordable than most business laptops with a full Windows OS, making it our natural recommendation as the best budget laptop for business. Of course, its exquisite combination of performance, design quality, and battery life have something to do with that as well.
Stuffing powerful components in a laptop running on a lightweight operating system is a brilliant move. We found this to be a powerful laptop, despite the fact that access to apps is still a tad limited on the Chrome OS. But, most business owners aren’t going to be using apps like Premiere Pro anyway, and most of the apps they’ll need, they do have access to here. But, there’s one more thing we absolutely love about this option – the 3:2 aspect ratio of its display, which gives multitaskers a bit more vertical space to spread out. It’s this aspect ratio that makes us also heartily recommend the Acer Chromebook Spin 713 as the best laptop for writers on a budget.
Read our full Acer Chromebook Spin 713 review
The Dell Inspiron 14-inch was recommended specifically by our own TechRadar Pro Managing Editor as a great budget laptop for video editing, thanks in large part to its AMD Ryzen 7 5825U inside, which is an 8-core CPU. If you aren’t familiar with how CPUs work, just know that the higher the number of cores, the faster a processor’s performance will be in tackling intensive tasks with multiple parts, which in this case is rendering videos on software like Premiere Pro. Plus, it comes with 16GB of RAM, which should boost performance as well.
Those two innards should be terrific for producing new music as well, so if you’re looking for a cheap laptop for music production, this laptop is a terrific choice too. This laptop also comes in a great-looking package that’s thin and lightweight – a boon to videographers and video editors who shoot on location. Just remember that this is still Dell’s “budget” line, which means that there are still some compromises here like the poorly-designed hinges.
Read our full Dell Inspiron 14-inch review
How to choose the best cheap laptop for you
The idea of a cheap laptop is different for different people so when choosing the best laptop for you, you must first figure out what you’ll be using it for. If you’re hoping to just use it for emails, social media, and streaming, you can get away with a lower-powered laptop.
However, if you want to use it for gaming or video editing, you definitely have to shell out a bit more to get that power you need for such demanding workloads. The trick is to focus on the vital things you need like a multi-core processor for video editing, even if it doesn’t have the most powerful graphics card.
The good news is, whatever those needs are, there are cheaper alternative to pricey flagships if you look hard enough. You just have to be willing to compromise a little. Instead of an expensive gaming laptop from Razer or Alienware, for example, you can go for the best cheap gaming laptop you can buy if you’re happy to play at lower game settings. Instead of a flagship MacBook or the most powerful option for creating content, you can go for a more affordable laptop for video editing as long as you’re ok with longer render times.
You might also want to skip out on premium features. Some cheap laptops come with touch ID or an OLED display, but most of them sacrifice those frills for a lower price of entry.
How we test laptops
We know that buying a new laptop can be a huge investment, even budget ones, so we test every laptop we recommend in our buying guides. That means that most of the products on this list have already been tested by us. The rest, we’re in the process of testing.
When we test laptops, we use them in our day-to-day lives to see how they perform. We look at their design, including how stylish they are, or if they are thin and light enough to carry around with, and how comfortable they are to work on. We also test the webcam and mic as well as the battery life.
When it comes to performance, we use a mix of real-world tests and synthetic benchmarks to see how powerful (or not) these laptops are. This means using Windows 11 (or Chrome OS on Chromebooks and macOS on MacBooks) and running various apps and seeing how fast they load, noting down any problems.
Obviously, with budget laptops, we bring our standards down a little, not in terms of quality or performance, but in terms of power, speed and features. Setting our expectations lower is necessary as cheap laptop tend to be less powerful and/or less feature-rich. We then take everything we’ve learned about the laptop and compare it to its price, to see if it offers the best value to customers.