What's the best cheap laptop?
|Best cheap laptop||Price||Key specifications|
|HP 250 G4||£329||Windows 10, Intel Core i5-5005U, 8GB RAM, 1TB HDD, 15.6in 1366x768 display, 31Wh battery|
|HP 255 G4||£269||Windows 10, AMD A8-7410, 4GB RAM, 1TB HDD, 15.6in 1366x768 display, 31Wh battery|
|Asus X555LA-XX290H||£300||Windows 8.1, Intel Core i3-4030U, 4GB RAM, 1TB HDD, 15.6in 1366x768 display, 37Wh battery|
What's the best budget laptop? The best cheap laptop is the HP 250 G4, but also check out for the Asus X555LA and Toshiba Chromebook 2. Learn more about the top budget laptops in our best budget laptops chart below.
The 11 best budget laptops available to buy in the UK in 2016. Best budget laptops reviews. Want a cheap laptop? Read our best cheap laptops reviews and laptop buying advice. See also: all laptop reviews.
Latest entries: Jumper EZBook Air
Note: we've removed Chromebooks from this list as we have a separate roundup of the best Chromebooks.
Best budget laptops 2016 UK: budget laptop buying advice
We like a bargain, especially when we're spending our own money and while a laptop might be an essential device to have around, you probably don't want to be eating into any savings and risk not being able to afford that holiday you've been dreaming of. Also see: Laptop Advisor
Although we review many mid-range and high-end laptops, there are plenty of cheaper options out there in the market. We review and rank them with the same care and attention so here you can find the best budget laptop for your needs.
The situation is better than it has been in terms of what you can get for your money in the laptop market. With the rise of smartphone and particularly tablets, laptops have become more affordable and with better specs to tempt consumers.
You're still not going to get anything mind blowing but it's amazing what you can find for under £300 or even £200.
Chances are you're looking for a budget laptop for a specific task. Perhaps the best budget laptop for video editing, the best budget laptop for music production or even the best budget laptop for playing Minecraft and other games. There's also a chance you're looking for the best budget laptop with an SSD or the best budget laptop with good battery life.
Well we can't promise anything but you might find something which suits your needs without blowing your bank balance. Typically, it's hard to get something which is capable of demanding tasks like these examples within a tight budget and we'll explore why.
Also see: Best laptops 2016 UK
Best budget laptops 2016 UK: Which processor for a cheap laptop?
Which specs are important depend on what you want to do with your laptop. Some users may need tonnes of storage over everything else, while others will need as much power for the money as possible. Below we've outlined what you should expect and look for in each area of a budget laptop. Also see best convertible laptops and tablets 2016 UK.
Starting with the screen, you firstly need to decide on a size. Most laptops will be 13- or 15in which will be a happy medium for most but you can also go smaller or larger if you want something even more portable or if it rarely needs to move at 11- or 17in.
Remember that the size of the screen will have an impact on things like the weight of the laptop and other things like the keyboard and even how many ports can be fitted.
It's typical to find a budget laptop with an unexciting resolution of 1366x768 but if you can find higher then you'll be much better off. You're unlikely to find a matt finish but it's preferable to glossy which reflects lights all too easily and even yourself when you're trying to work or watch a film.
As you know, the processor is the heart of the computer and which chip sits at the core of a laptop is going to have a large impact on how smoothly it runs. You might well find many with an Intel Celeron or similar and these are to be avoided unless your workload is going to be very light.
You're better off looking for either an AMD A-series or Intel Core i processor if you can – and some of the laptops in this chart do offer this. The most powerful and efficient chips are currently Intel generations codenamed Haswell, Broadwell and Skylake and can be found in some budget laptops.
See also: AMD vs Intel
Go for the best you can find within your budget, especially if you're aiming to do demanding tasks like edit video. Don't worry too much about clock speed although higher is better for getting things done quickly. Often manufacturers and retailers will advertise the Turbo speed rather than the regular.
We run various benchmarks on every laptop to make sure you read the full review to see the results and what they mean for daily usage. The processor will also have an impact on battery life, something else which we test and you can find results and analysis in the individual reviews.
Storage and memory
Don't get confused between storage and memory. The latter is simply space to store programs and files while the latter is temporarily storing information while you're doing things.
In both cases it's better to have as much as possible. A lot of budget laptops will come with a decent 1TB of traditional storage via a hard drive but only come with 4GB of RAM (random access memory). You're unlikely to find an SSD (solid state drive) or more than 8GB of RAM but these are things you might be able to upgrade yourself – the latter being easier to DIY if there is a spare slot.
Read best cloud storage if you need additional space.
When buying a budget laptop make sure it's got exactly what you need (as well as the best specs possible as outlined above).
Depending on what you need it for, you might need to make sure it has an optical drive for playing or burning CDs/DVDs. Also make sure it's got the right ports such as HDMI, Ethernet and USB – don't just assume it has them all.
Try and get the best wireless tech, too, with the latest being 11ac which will help for streaming content such as music and video over the internet. If you want to watch or listen, also make sure the speakers are decent unless you're happy to use headphones.
Bear in mind that not all the laptops here are running full-blown Windows. The cheaper laptops can run Windows with Bing ((it's the same thing as standard Windows, but Bing is set as the search engine by default), Ubuntu or Chrome.
These days virtually all laptops come with Windows 10. Chromebooks will be a tempting alternative if you're on a limited budget, but just remember that a Chromebook is designed for online use and you can't install software such as Photoshop and iTunes on them.
For more details on Chromebooks see our best Chromebooks round-up.
Best budget laptops 2016 UK: I can't find this laptop
At the time of writing every one of the laptops listed here is available to buy in the UK. However, the budget laptop market is extremely volatile, and retailers tend to secure limited stock of any model so there's a chance it can go out of stock without us noticing – we check as often as we can.
Also remember that laptop makers will make many slight variations/models of the same laptop, with subtly different product codes. These are called SKUs and although the laptop looks the same, the specs are different so one might have a better processor or hard drive. We can't always choose what model we're sent so when you're browsing, it might vary.
Bookmark now: Black Friday 2016 deals
1. HP 250 G4
- Reviewed on: 24 June 16
- RRP: £329 inc VAT
Those after something flashy may not find an awful lot of appeal in the HP 250 G4. However, it’s one of the best-value, low-cost laptops you can find right now. As well as having a very good CPU for an affordable machine, it has loads of storage, good build quality and plenty of RAM. HP’s upgrades are keenly-priced too. Spend a bit more and you’ll get a surprisingly fast machine with a good-size SSD. You’ll need to spend considerably more to get good screen quality, though. While the display here is practical, poor colour and contrast don’t make it a good fit for an entertainment device.
Read our HP 250 G4 review.
2. HP 255 G4
- Reviewed on: 7 January 16
- RRP: £269.99 inc VAT ($319.99)
The HP 255 G4 is a budget 15.6in Windows laptop with budget build and performance. We found no single serious flaw and it should get the job done eventually, making it ideal if you're on a tight budget and don't need lots of speed or a high-quality screen.
Read our HP 255 G4 review.
- Reviewed on: 28 July 15
- RRP: £300 inc. VAT
Asus has restricted build and component quality to fit the attractive £300 price point, but all the essentials work well together. The Haswell Intel chip means overall performance is better than any Celeron-based competition in the Asus X555LA-XX290H.
Read our Asus X555LA-XX290H review.
- Reviewed on: 23 June 16
- RRP: £179.99 inc VAT
If you're after a budget laptop that'll let you work on the go and last all day, the Dell Inspiron 11 3000 is one of your best options. It's comfortable to type on, has a practical screen and its battery life is great among Windows laptops. Just make sure you're ready for its humble performance first. Windows 10 does feel quite slow, making the Dell Inspiron 11 3000's best-fit use as a typewriter for checking your emails as you nip between free Wi-Fi spots across town. If you can't put up with a bit of lag, consider getting a Chromebook instead.
Read our Dell Inspiron 11 3000 review.
5. HP Stream 11
- Reviewed on: 2 April 15
- RRP: £179 inc. VAT
The HP Stream 11 is using the cheapest Intel chip that can run Windows comfortably, has a very limited eMMC storage card with just 20 GB available space, and includes a free version of Windows given away to PC makers to keep Google Chrome OS at bay. But the result is a surprisingly useful compact laptop, attractively styled for anyone that likes bold bright colours. It runs quick enough to surf and type, and always remains cool and silent. To use HP’s own bizarrely chinglish marketing prose, that’s got to help you ‘work from happy place’.
Read our HP Stream 11 review.
6. Asus X553SA
- Reviewed on: 30 May 16
- RRP: £279.99 inc VAT | USD $265
The Asus X553SA is a lesson in the sacrifices you need to accept when buying a bottom-rung laptop. Parts of the build are basic, the screen has some issues and — the real kicker — it doesn’t feel fast. Cheap phones and cheap tablets can often feel almost as fast as their expensive relatives, but the X533SA is unmistakably slower than a Core-series laptop. Those who don’t need to buy on the high street would do better by searching online for a Core i3-powered laptop from an earlier generation. Haswell and Broadwell i3 laptops can often be found online at similar prices, and will get you much less compromised performance. At this price, buying ‘old’ is often better than buying new. Of course, much of this is not Asus’s fault. Considered among its peers, the Asus X553SA is a serviceable laptop whose design covers most low-end use bases, and its look happily swerves between serious and fun depending on which colour you go for.
Read our Asus X553SA review.
- Reviewed on: 13 October 15
- RRP: £395 inc VAT
The Satellite C55-C includes a recent Haswell processor but elsewhere the budget cuts show, especially the poor screen. Upgrading is not feasible so don’t expect to easily fix the limited memory or slow disk storage later.
Read our Toshiba Satellite C55-C-175 review.
- Reviewed on: 30 July 15
- RRP: £442.80 inc VAT
Battery life is disappointing and screen quality is poor. Application performance measures well but it often felt slow to respond in actual use. Corners have been cut but overall the Dell Vostro is a workable machine that leads with the latest Intel silicon.
Read our Dell Vostro 15 3000 review.
- Reviewed on: 23 June 16
- RRP: £299 inc VAT
The Lenovo Yoga 300 hinge and size earn it plenty of flexibility points, but it pays a bit too much attention to its interior decor, and not quite enough on screen and keyboard quality.
Those considering a purchase also need to bear in mind that the entry-level Yoga 300 is also likely to feel very slow thanks to its baselines specs.
Read our Lenovo Yoga 300 review.
- Reviewed on: 13 January 16
- RRP: £309.99 inc VAT
Whether the Asus Transformer Book Flip TP200SA is a good buy or not depends entirely on your priorities. If you want to open up loads of browser windows and have plenty of apps open at once, this isn’t for you. The Asus Transformer Book Flip TP200SA only really runs well with an app or two running, and no data-intensive background processes going on. In laptop terms it’s a whelp. However, good stamina, a smart design and good, non-cramped keyboard make it a great low-cost choice if you want something to do some writing/emailing/browsing while you’re away from home.
- Reviewed on: 27 September 16
- RRP: £230.44 inc. VAT
For £230 the Jumper EZBook Air is something of a bargain if you’re looking for a cheap Windows 10 laptop. While it isn’t powerful enough for playing intensive games or much in the way of multitasking, it is easily portable and has good battery life. For casual use it’s a good buy, provided you can live with the poor connectivity.
Read our Jumper EZBook Air review.