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14 best budget laptops of 2014: the best budget laptop you can buy in the UK right now

The 14 best Laptops for less than £600

Rather than asking, “what is the best laptop?” the majority of people want to know, “what is the best laptop I can buy for the cheapest price?” It's a great question, and one we’re about to answer. Here we present to you the 14 best budget laptops of 2014.

What to look out for when buying a budget laptop

Most people don't need all the features that very best laptops offer, and that’s because most people’s needs are relatively basic – in computing terms, that is. Email, web browsing, Microsoft Office and organising and sharing photos are not particularly demanding tasks for today’s laptops, so you probably don’t need the fastest laptop out there.

The term "budget laptops" is slightly misleading as is implies that inexpensive laptops are somehow substandard. This simply isn't the case, a lot of budget laptops are excellent machines, but crucially they laptops also have affordable prices.

Budget laptops are cheap for a variety of reasons. For example you might find a sub-£500 laptop that has a huge hard disk that rivals the very best laptops. However you can be fairly sure that it will be less well-endowed in other areas, such as its screen quality, processor, RAM or even battery life. When it comes to screen quality, keyboard layout and battery life, it’s important to read our reviews, which will tell you whether these areas are up to scratch – or not.

The vast majority of budget laptops offer a balanced set of specifications, but the important areas to look out for are storage, screen resolution (and
quality) and the ports (does it have those you need?). Many laptops these days have no CD or DVD drive, so make sure you’re happy with that, or look for one that does.

To help find the best budget laptop for you, here are the 14 best budget laptops we have reviewed in our test centre recently.

14 best budget laptops of 2103/2014

14. Samsung NP535U3C-A02UK

Samsung NP535U3C-A02UK
  • Reviewed on: 7 March 13
  • RRP: £480 inc VAT
  • Rating: Rated 7 out of 10

Producing an ultra-portable laptop that costs less than £500 inevitably involves some compromises, and the 13in Samsung Series 5 won’t win any awards for performance or battery life. Even so, it’ll handle most routine computing tasks perfectly well and its neat, lightweight design makes it a genuine ultra-portable without being ultra-expensive.

13. HP Pavilion 11 Touchsmart notebook

HP Pavilion 11 Touchsmart notebook
  • Reviewed on: 17 September 13
  • RRP: £330 inc VAT
  • Rating: Rated 7 out of 10

HP's Pavilion 11 Touchsmart is a good model to consider if you're after a laptop that's small, yet well featured. It's not overly fast, but it has enough grunt for basic Web, communications, and multimedia tasks.

12. Lenovo G505s

Lenovo G505s
  • Reviewed on: 26 November 13
  • RRP: £499.99
  • Rating: Rated 7 out of 10

The limited battery life is disappointing, but that's not a fatal flaw since a large laptop like the G505s isn't going to spend a lot of time out and about anyway. Other features, such as performance, screen quality and the comfortable keyboard, are all good for a laptop in this price range, making the G505s a good option for people who need a reliable workhorse laptop for around £500.00.

11. Asus V550C

Asus V550C
  • Reviewed on: 28 November 13
  • RRP: £582 inc VAT
  • Rating: Rated 7 out of 10

The Asus impressed with its smart, svelte design and its good keyboard and trackpad, and it's got better speakers than its main rival. But it falls behind the competition in several key areas.

10. Asus X501A-XX277H

Asus X501A-XX277H
  • Reviewed on: 8 February 13
  • RRP: £299 inc VAT
  • Rating: Rated 8 out of 10

Despite its low price, Asus gets all the basics right with the X501A, providing a sturdy, portable laptop with good battery life. It’s no speed demon, but if you just need a basic laptop for undemanding tasks then the X501A provides excellent value for money.

9. Asus VivoBook S200E

Asus VivoBook S200E
  • Reviewed on: 16 August 13
  • RRP: £430 inc. VAT
  • Rating: Rated 8 out of 10

Our only real complaint about the S200E is the annoyingly reflective screen. Performance and battery life are respectable rather than outstanding, but the S200E offers an attractive, lightweight design and build quality that are rarely seen in laptops costing less than £500.

8. Sony Vaio Fit 15E

Sony Vaio Fit 15E
  • Reviewed on: 22 August 13
  • RRP: £438 inc. VAT
  • Rating: Rated 8 out of 10

It’s nice to see Sony making a real effort to produce a decent budget laptop, and the attractive display and speakers on the Sony Vaio Fit 15E make it a good choice for entertainment and web browsing. However, it is fairly heavy and battery life is relatively modest too, which means that the Fit 15E is probably more suited to life at home than in a backpack. 

7. Asus Transformer Book T100T

Asus Transformer Book T100T
  • Reviewed on: 25 November 13
  • RRP: £349 inc. VAT
  • Rating: Rated 8 out of 10

This is not an iPad killer, or even a rival to the Surface Pro 2. But at £349 it is a compelling deal. The Asus Transformer Book T100T is a compact device that offers true functionality and decent performance. And it is a truly portable office PC. Much more updated netbook than desirable gadget, students, school children, home PC users and office road warriors could easily spend more and get less.

6. Dell Latitude 3440

Dell Latitude 3440
  • Reviewed on: 28 November 13
  • RRP: £514 inc VAT
  • Rating: Rated 8 out of 10

The Latitude 3440 is designed for work rather than play, and that means its talents lie in certain keys areas: the Haswell processor delivers reasonable application and games performance and excellent battery life, and the keyboard and touchpad are excellent. It’s one of the slimmest and lightest machines in this group, too, but it’s also got the best build quality. The middling screen and speakers count against the Dell, but it excels in more key areas than any other machine here – and that makes it a worthy all-round winner.

5. Acer Aspire V3-571

Acer Aspire V3-571
  • Reviewed on: 7 September 12
  • RRP: £450 inc VAT
  • Rating: Rated 9 out of 10

The Acer Aspire V3-571 laptop is a great example of just how much can be achieved within the constraints of a severely limited budget.

4. Compaq CQ58

Compaq CQ58
  • Reviewed on: 20 August 13
  • RRP: £239 inc. VAT
  • Rating: Rated 7 out of 10

It may be a bit slow, but the CQ58 will get you online for several hours at a time, and let you run Microsoft Office for less than £250.00. We'd recommend stepping up to the 4GB model if you can afford it, but the CQ58 definitely represents good value for money if you're on a really tight budget.

3. HP Pavilion 14

HP Pavilion 14
  • Reviewed on: 21 August 13
  • RRP: £339 inc. VAT
  • Rating: Rated 7 out of 10

The Pavilion 14 provides good performance and value for money, and would be a good choice for students or other people who need a capable laptop but can't stretch to £400 or £500. Battery life could be better, though, so it's not the best choice if that's your main priority.

2. Lenovo Z580

Lenovo Z580
  • Reviewed on: 23 August 13
  • RRP: £499 inc. VAT
  • Rating: Rated 8 out of 10

The size and weight of the Lenovo Z580 mean that it’s not the most portable of laptops, and will probably spend most of its time indoors. However, its strong performance and low cost makes it an excellent choice for anyone that needs a powerful desktop-replacement system for use at home or in the office. 

1. Dell Inspiron 14z

Dell Inspiron 14z
  • Reviewed on: 21 August 13
  • RRP: £459 inc. VAT
  • Rating: Rated 8 out of 10

The Inspiron 14z does a really good job of cramming a fully featured laptop into a compact, lightweight design. It's no gaming rig, but its good performance and battery life make it an attractive option for anyone on a tight budget.

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