What's the best cheap laptop?
|Best cheap laptop||Price||Key specifications|
|HP 250 G5||£349||Windows 10, Intel Core i5-6200U, 8GB RAM, 256GB SSD, 15.6in 1366x768 display, 31Wh battery|
|Dell Inspiron 11 3000||£249||Windows 10, Intel Celeron N3050, 2GB RAM, 32GB SSD, 11.6in 1366x768 display, 32Wh battery|
|Asus X555LA||£349||Windows 10, Intel Core i3-4005U, 4GB RAM, 1TB HDD, 15.6in 1366x768 display, 37Wh battery|
What's the best budget laptop? The best cheap laptop is the HP 250 G5, but also check out for the Asus X555LA and Dell Inspiron 11 3000 . Learn more about the top budget laptops in our best budget laptops chart below.
Also see: Best Laptop Deals
The best budget laptops available to buy in the UK in 2017. 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: Asus VivoBook Max & Transformer Mini.
Note that we've removed Chromebooks from this list as we have a separate roundup of the best Chromebooks. However, ultra-cheap Windows laptops to compete with Chromebooks could be coming soon - see Windows Cloud rumours.
Best budget laptops 2017 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 2017 UK
Best budget laptops 2017 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 2017 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 2017 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.
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.
- Reviewed on: 23 June 16
- RRP: £249.99 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.
3. Asus X555LA
- Reviewed on: 28 July 15
- RRP: £349.99 inc VAT
Asus has restricted build and component quality to fit the price point, but all the essentials work well together. The 5th-generation Intel chip means overall performance is better than any Celeron-based competition, but note that there's no SSD here.
Read our Asus X555LA review.
- Reviewed on: 30 January 17
- RRP: £224.68, 280.26
Chuwi's LapBook is not the fastest laptop you can buy by any stretch of the mind, but it is both capable for most daily tasks and more up to the job than most cheap Windows 10 laptops. The full-HD screen and full-size keyboard are highlights, as is the incredibly quick startup, but you'll want a proper mouse to get around that awful trackpad. Recommended for those looking for a usable Windows 10 laptop at an attractive price.
Read our Chuwi LapBook 14.1 review.
5. HP Stream 11
- Reviewed on: 2 April 15
- RRP: £179
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: 14 October 16
- RRP: £172.69, 219.89
Chuwi's tablets are not the fastest Windows machines you can buy, but they make excellent portable computers if you're on a budget. With its Quad-HD screen and fast USB-C charging, the HiBook Pro is a very good cheap option. We recommend you also buy the optional keyboard that turns this Windows/Android tablet into a laptop.
Read our Chuwi HiBook Pro review.
- Reviewed on: 2 February 17
- RRP: £299.99 inc VAT
The Asus VivoBook Max X541SA is a laptop made for those who want a solid, cheap computer. It has some neat extras such as a large hard drive, a fake brushed metal finish and speakers that sound much better than most at the price. If you need a computer you’ll use extensively most days, though, we’d strongly advise getting one with an Intel Core i3 CPU rather than the Intel Pentium used here. While it’s the “next best” option, it is noticeably slower, regardless of what you’re doing. If £300, or even £400, is your max budget you also have to accept that you won’t get a dazzling screen. The VivoBook's dated display technology ensures image quality is, at best, passable. Still not put off? We won’t deny there’s a good amount on offer here for those on a very tight budget, with plenty of storage, wide-ranging connectivity and reasonable build quality.
Read our Asus VivoBook Max X541SA 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.
10. Chuwi Hi10 Pro
- Reviewed on: 3 October 16
- RRP: £128.53, 166.59
The Chuwi Hi10 Pro is an excellent value Windows 10 laptop-tablet hybrid with the addition of Android (albeit old Android) and a pleasing build for the money. We take issue with its fingerprint-prone screen and tinny, poorly placed speakers, but in all other respects this is a very decent device for the money. It’s not a fast device, and we wouldn’t recommend it to gamers, but it’s fast enough for most daily Windows tasks.
Read our Chuwi Hi10 Pro review.
- Reviewed on: 27 January 17
- RRP: £349 inc VAT, 399.99
Buyers are likely to either love the Asus Transformer Mini T102HA or be disappointed in it. Its highs and lows are marked. Don’t expect the quality of the Surface Pro 4 for less than half the price. While build isn’t dramatically reduced, general performance is. It’s the same old issue with Windows 10 laptops that have Atom processors, making the Asus Transformer Mini T102HA much slower than a Chromebook or Android hybrid. It’s the price of Windows 10 flexibility. However, if you can accept the slower feel, common to everything that runs Windows 10 using an Atom CPU, then the T102HA is a handy little machine. Battery life is excellent, the keyboard solid once you become accustomed to its smaller size and the stylus a fun extra.
Read our Asus Transformer Mini T102HA 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, 288.99
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.