Best Cheap Laptops 2017: Budget Windows Laptop Reviews & Buying Advice

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Your buying guide for the best budget laptops in 2017

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.

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Although we review many mid-range and high-end laptops, there are plenty of cheaper options. We review and rank them with the same care and attention so here you can find the best budget laptop for your needs.

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 (particularly games) within a tight budget and we’ll explain why. If games are a priority, check out the Best Gaming Laptops.

What should I look for in a cheap laptop?

Which specifications are important depend on what you want to do with your laptop. You may want lots of storage or you might need as much power for the money as possible.

Screen

Starting with the screen, you need to decide on a size. Most laptops will be 13- or 15in but you can also go smaller or larger if you want something even more portable or if it rarely needs to move.

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 and connections it can have.

It’s typical to find a budget laptop with an unexciting resolution of 1366×768 but if you can find higher then you’ll be much better off. Look for a matt finish which is preferable to a glossy screen that reflects like a mirror when it’s bright and sunny.

Processor

The processor is the heart of the computer and has a large impact on how fast it runs.  You might well find many with an Intel Celeron or similar and these are to be avoided unless you will be simply browsing the web and sending emails.

Look for either an Intel Core processor or AMD A-series if you can – and some of the laptops in this chart do offer these. The most powerful and efficient chips are currently Intel generations codenamed Broadwell (5th) and Skylake (6th) and can be found in some budget laptops. You won’t see the latest Kaby Lake (7th gen) for a while yet in cheap models.

See also: AMD vs Intel

Ideally go for a Core i5 processor, but an i3 is a good compromise if everything else in the laptop is to your liking. We run various benchmarks on every laptop so be sure to read the full review to see the results and what they mean for daily use.

Storage and memory

Don’t confuse storage and memory. The former – also called RAM – is space to store files and programs while the latter is for temporarily storing information when you open an app or file.

In both cases it’s better to have as much as possible. A lot of budget laptops will come with a 1TB hard drive but only 4GB of RAM. You’re unlikely to find an SSD (solid state drive) or more than 8GB of RAM under £300 but these are things you might be able to upgrade yourself – the latter being easier to DIY if there is a spare slot.

Read our guide to the Best Cloud Storage if you need additional space.

Do you need a CD or DVD drive?

Many modern laptops ditch the CD drive to save money and weight. So if you need one, be sure to check your chosen laptop has an optical drive. Also make sure it has enough USB ports and even a network port. Again, lots of new laptops don’t have one as they assume you will connect to the internet via Wi-Fi. 

Try and get the best Wi-Fi tech, too, with the latest being 802.11ac which speed things up if you have a compatible router. Also make sure the speakers are decent unless you’re happy to use headphones.

Software

These days virtually all laptops come with Windows 10.  Don’t assume they will have Microsoft Office. This is separate software, but you can download free alternatives

What if I can’t find the exact laptop reviewed?

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 variations of the same laptop, with subtly different specifications. It’s generally safe to buy one of these alternatives if you understand the differences in specification.

Best cheap laptops for 2017


1.

HP 250 G5



2.

Asus X555LA


Asus X555LA


3.

Chuwi LapBook 14.1


Chuwi LapBook 14.1


4.

Chuwi LapBook 12.3


Chuwi LapBook 12.3


5.

HP Stream 11


HP Stream 11


6.

Asus VivoBook Max X541SA


Asus VivoBook Max X541SA


7.

Lenovo Yoga 300


Lenovo Yoga 300


8.

Chuwi Hi10 Pro


Chuwi Hi10 Pro


9.

Asus Transformer Mini T102HA


Asus Transformer Mini T102HA


10.

Asus Transformer Book Flip TP200SA


Asus Transformer Book Flip TP200SA

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