With the rising inflation, it is essential we stay within our budgets regardless of what we buy. Whether it is gadgets or groceries, we need to find budget items that can serve their purpose just fine. We all think the same way, that is why we thought it was essential in making the best budget laptop list of 2021.
Our review list is categorized differently according to the use they will be put to. There are a few generalized categories as well if you cannot decide which one do you fall in. But overall we think this list will help you out in picking up a laptop on a tight budget.
Of course, when it comes to a tight budget, you will need to sacrifice somethings. But it depends on your use, in the end, and everyday laptop will not need a heavy GPU. Just like that, a gaming laptop does not need to be light and portable, and so on.
But first, a small buyer’s guide to help you pick what category you fall into.
Buyer’s Guide for Budget Laptops
Are you confused as to what category of the budget laptop is for you? Well, it depends entirely on what use you want the laptop for. If you are for instance into gaming, then you can go for the best budget gaming laptop category. If you are a student looking for a really cheap but reliable Chromebook, go to the best Chromebook category.
Either way, your use will choose which budget category best suits you. But here are some things you should look at before picking your category.
Since smartphones have been introduced, touchscreens have become more accessible for everyone. They are easier to use, with just a touch of the screen you can make things happen. Laptops have also adopted touchscreen technology and we have 2-in-1 laptops. These can be pretty expensive depending on the specifications it has.
But there is always an option for someone with a tight budget, but of course, it will be a bit more than a Chromebooks budget. But the possibilities of a 2-in-1 laptop are as endless as your imagination. Because these laptops are perfect for designers and artists.
Artists usually use graphics tablets, but these laptops have some really good touchscreens. They even have pressure sensitivity and such options available on them. So digital artists and designers alike can benefit from these laptops very much. These laptops also make for excellent editing devices.
Most of our laptops in the category feature Windows 10. Because let us face it, you will not get a MacBook, even the Air under $1000. That is not what we call a tight budget, even our most expensive laptop in the list that is capable of dealing with heavy tasks is under $1000.
So most of our laptops feature Windows 10, which is undoubtedly the most used OS in the world. But the second OS in our list you will find is the ChromeOS, which most Chromebooks use. Because Chromebooks are really cheap and they can be used to do day to day tasks without issues.
The difference between Windows 10 and ChromeOS is significant, with ChromeOS having very limited UI options. We all know how flexible Windows can be, and Windows 10 is just amazing. So when you choose the laptop you will be buying to make sure of the OS ahead of time.
GPU vs. APU
Some of our laptops feature an APU and some a GPU. Though both are completely different because an APU is a CPU with integrated graphics. And as we all know a GPU is a graphics card that can be used for graphic-intensive tasks like gaming. But APU’s like the Ryzen 7 3700U can still pull their own weight.
While not very efficient for gaming, these APUs can handle graphic intensive tasks very easily. They are also the reason why laptops are saving up on the money that could be used for a GPU. GPUs, on the other hand, are more powerful and very much capable of gaming.
We have a category for a gaming laptop as well so you can see the comparison yourself. You will see the difference in price automatically, but just so you know, you can do light gaming on low specs on APUs as well.
The new processors are very power efficient, even gaming laptops these days can run for hours before you need to charge them. The battery life depends on your use as well, even the highest battery life laptop might not last long if you put it under intensive loads. But good battery life is essential for all laptops.
Chromebooks vs. Laptops
Chromebooks are very cheap and budget laptops, but because they are very budget, they have very low specs. Meanwhile, laptops have expandable storage and memories, which makes them ideal if you plan on upgrading them in the future.
Chromebooks also use ChromeOS and usually have eMMC which is flash storage just like SSD, but slower and has very low capacity. So you cannot store a lot in your Chromebooks, but the ChromeOS apps are very light and do not require a lot of space.
Best Budget Laptops in 2021
Having a capable APU, the Dell Inspiron 14 5000 2-in-1 is a really awesome deal if you can scoop out a little over $650. Of course, that is not the cheapest budget out there for a laptop, but the capabilities of this laptop are nothing short of great.
If you put the performance against the value of this laptop, it is very reasonably priced. Not to mention the fact, it is a 2-in-1, meaning this laptop can handle graphic oriented tasks way better than normal ones.
Being a 2-in-1 it can do editing tasks pretty easily, it is great for designers as well. It has a 14″ IPS display which gives a crisp image quality and vibrant color scheme. The APU can allow you to play light games on low specs and you can get around 30fps on some older titles.
But other than that, this laptop can handle workloads pretty decently. So whether you are a designer, a student, an artist, an editor, or even a programmer, this laptop will be perfect for you. Depending you can pull out enough cash to buy this thing.
It is a very light and sleek laptop, so it is fairly portable as well. With the 128GB SSD you can read write at lightning speeds, but the capacity is fairly small. You can expand it of course, if you have the money for it.
We rate this laptop the best because firstly, good integrated GPU, decent CPU performance, enough RAM for multitasking, and a fairly reasonable price point.
Best Budget Gaming Laptop
While there are better gaming laptops out there, this one will fall straight into your budget. Though the budget is around $890-999, it is still way less than what you expect other gaming laptops to be.
So the GTX 1050 isn’t the best GPU out there, but it is still better than many and can game pretty decently. When bound by a budget, you are either stuck with a GTX 1050 or some other card around this range.
The Dell G3 has a 15.6″ IPS display with a rich anti-glare display, though it might feel dull to some. But that is only because people are used to seeing very vibrant colors on gaming systems.
The design is also a big selling point for the laptop, it has matt black body with blue accented Dell logo. The blue accents are also on the trackpad and the keyboard, to give it a gamer savvy look.
Armed with an Intel 8th Generation Core-i5 8300H, this laptop can perform multi-tasking pretty well. The base model will have around 8GB of DDR4 RAM, but you can expand it according to your budget.
For storage options, you have both an SSD and an HDD, for the SSD you get 128GB while the HDD is 1TB. The SSD allows for faster booting time on games and the OS, the HDD is great for storing large games.
The Dell G3 is perfect for budget gamers due to its affordable price, it has been quite well received by gamers all over.
Best Budget Business Laptop
The ThinkPad has been a pretty successful series of laptops from Lenovo. It has been a choice of most people who cannot afford an Apple MacBook as their first choice as a work laptop.
This T470 comes with an Intel Core i5-6300U, which is a 2-core and 4-thread CPU which will allow you to multitask efficiently. It is a really durable laptop so you do not have to worry about it stop working after a bumpy ride.
The T470 also has a fingerprint reader to keep your personalized data personal. Although it feels like a gimmick, it is far from it and makes this laptop good at security.
The laptop has amazing battery life, great for business trips as it will last for a long time without charge. The only downside is that this laptop does feel a tad bit heavier.
The best part about this model is that it can go flat, by that we mean that the screen can go in a straight angle with the keyboard. That means that it can be laid back flat 180-degrees.
With 256GB SSD and 8GB of RAM, both of these are expandable according to your budget, of course, you have lightning-fast storage and multitasking capable memory.
Best Budget Chromebook
So firstly, Chromebooks have do not have high-end specs, that is the reason they are inexpensive. So when it comes to storage, memory, and processing speed, this Chromebook lags behind a lot.
It has an Intel Celeron N3060, a 2 core 2 thread CPU with a base clock of 1.60GHz, and a burst frequency of 2.48GHz. This is not bad, but the 2GB DDR3L will not be able to handle a lot of multitasking. You should only work with light loads on this Chromebook.
So Chromebooks are famous for not having a lot of storage, in this one you only get 16GB eMMC. While it also uses NAND as SSD does, it does not come in large capacities and is slower. But this Chromebook has a good battery life of almost 9-12 hours.
It has a 15.6″ 1366 x 768, LED-backlit ComfyView Display which is not that great but will get the job done for most. Other than that it has Wi-Fi capabilities so you can search the internet for your studies and research, or just watch Netflix.
You can expand the storage with an SD card as well well, so there is that option that you can choose later. The ChromeOS is not as flexible as Windows. Though it has a pretty easy interface so there won’t be any trouble there.
For graphics, you have Intel HD Graphics 400, which are the run off the mill graphics and do not support graphical tasks. But you can get all of this in just $300 which is not a bad deal if you are a student.
Best Budget 2-in-1
Lenovo Flex 14 2-in-1 has a pressure-sensitive FHD screen that can be used to draw what you want. With the AMD Ryzen 5 3500U APU, you get some graphical intensive tasks done on this laptop easily.
With the AMD model you get the pen included which can be used to draw on the touchscreen display. You also get 12GB of DDR4 RAM for its price, which is absolutely amazing for multitasking. Not to mention it helps the integrated graphics quite a lot.
With the integrated Vega graphics you can even game on this laptop, getting 30fps on low settings on optimized titles. A Trueblock shutter allows you to close access to the webcam when you are surfing on sites without a VPN protection.
A 256GB SSD makes the storage on the laptop a breeze, so whether you are editing large vector images or illustrations, you are getting the best performance in a 2-in-1 laptop.
Best Budget Laptop for College
Armed with a Ryzen 3200U APU, you are looking at some decent performance whether it is working on tasks or watching media. The APU makes editing tasks easier as well, making it great for students of all kinds.
So whether you are a student of arts or programming, the DDR4 4GB memory, and the 128GB SSD make quick work of your homework. A Chromebook is mostly suited to students but when you have the option to choose more power in such a budget, why shouldn’t you?
This has an SSD compared to the eMMC in a Chromebook, which is very low capacity and slower. Not to mention ChromeOS limits your capabilities, but with Windows 10 you have more freedom.
Lastly, the design of this laptop is very slim and sleek, it looks great, it feels sturdy. The Acer Aspire 5 Slim Laptop costs only around $350 on Amazon making it a steal for its features.
Best Budget Video Editing Laptop
Though for those who already own the Surface Laptop 2, it might not be a viable option to upgrade to the Surface Laptop 3. But if you have not yet purchased the Surface laptop 2, you should definitely go for the Surface laptop 3 instead.
While the Surface Laptop 2 is a perfect budget option, you can always go a step further and get the Surface Laptop 3 instead. This is a great budget laptop which will make your life a lot easier if you are a video editor.
Most video editors these days are opting for the Surface Laptop due to its amazing touchscreen and lightweight design. The clean design gives it a really sharp and beautiful look, making this an aesthetic laptop.
The 13.5″ model which we are reviewing comes with an Intel Core-i5 with Iris Plus Graphics. This integrated GPU option makes it easier for video editing tasks and graphically intensive tasks in general.
The Surface Laptop 3 is compatible with the Surface Pen, but it is not included with it. This base model has 8GB of DDR4 RAM which can more than easily handle multitasking.
For storage, you have 128GB SSD, for lightning-fast file transfers, which is important when you are editing videos as those can be huge in capacity.
Lastly, the Surface Laptop 3 will set you back a grand, making it the most expensive budget option there is. If you want somewhat similar specs, you can jump back a generation and get the Surface Laptop 2 which will cost you around $800.
Best Under $800
The HP Pavillion Gaming Laptop 15 has an Intel Core-i5 9300H, a 4-core, and 8-thread CPU which you mostly find in high-end laptops. But this model of the laptop from HP has all the best specs but still costs less than $800 on Amazon.
It features an Nvidia GTX 1650 which is a relatively new GPU, it’s 4GB GDDR5 memory is more than enough to power games on medium settings. It also means it can handle some graphics-intensive tasks pretty easily.
The memory size is 8GB, which can always be upgraded later on. You also get a 256GB SSD, as usual, you can also expand that when you have enough money to do so.
This laptop is a bargain at its price, we would highly recommend it to anyone who is interesting in gaming and doing editing tasks. The laptop has some issues, like poor battery life. But it has decent audio and decent cooling to compensate for that.