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Best Budget Laptop: Top 5 laptops under £600

If you’re looking for the best budget laptop, but unsure of your options, you’ve come to the right place.

We have rounded up the best five budget laptops that our team of experts have reviewed in the past couple years, ranking them based on their scores at the time we reviewed them as well as their current prices. We’ve tested every laptop with both synthetic benchmark tests and real-world use to ensure an accurate view of every machine’s performance. 

Everything included on this list is available to buy for under £600/$600. We’ll be frequently updating this list as soon as more budget laptop reviews are published, so keep this page bookmarked and check back later if you can’t find anything to your liking right now. 

Whether you’re a student, office worker or simply someone on the lookout for a bargain, check out our picks of the best budget laptops below. And if you’re looking for the absolute best laptops and best gaming laptops, check out our those Best List rankings instead.

Learn more about how we test laptops

Every laptop we review goes through a series of uniform checks designed to gauge key things including build quality, performance, screen quality and battery life. 

These include formal synthetic benchmarks and scripted tests, plus a series of real world checks, such as how well it runs the most frequently used apps. 

We also make sure to use every laptop we review as our primary device for at least a week to ensure our review is as accurate as possible.

Best all-round budget laptop
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Pros

  • Incredible value
  • Small and classy design
  • Excellent performance
  • Comfortable keyboard

Cons

  • Low-resolution display
  • No keyboard backlight
  • No fingerprint scanner on base configuration

The Surface Laptop Go isn’t the cheapest laptop on this list, but it’s arguably the best and it’s still very affordable. It’s packing an 10th Generation i5 Intel Core processor, which is comfortably powerful enough to coast through basic productivity tasks such as browsing the web, filling up word documents and watching Netflix. 

Weighing just 1.1kg and having a compact 12.4-inch display, the Surface Laptop Go easily fits into most bags too, making it a good option for those who work on the go, whether you’re commuting to an office or hopping between university lecture halls. 

Its biggest flaws are a sub-par resolution which isn’t ideal for video content, as well as the omission of a keyboard backlight for late night use. But if you just want one of the best Windows 10 laptops round for a super-affordable price, the Surface Laptop Go is our top recommendation.

Reviewer: Ryan Jones
Full review: Surface Laptop Go review

Best 2-in-1 budget laptop
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Pros

  • Very affordable price
  • Bundled keyboard offers versatility
  • Superb screen for video content
  • Excellent battery life

Cons

  • Lack of headphone jack
  • Poor speaker quality
  • Keyboard is uncomfortably small

The Lenovo Chromebook Duet is one of the cheaper options in this list. During testing we found it is a fantastic option for those who want a basic productivity performance. The Lenovo Chromebook Duet also boasts a fantastic battery life and a lovely Full HD display, making it a great value laptop option worth considering. 

There is a slight catch, as this isn’t a traditional clamshell laptop but rather a tablet bundled with a keyboard accessory – think iPad with an optional keyboard attachment, but at a far more affordable price point, using ChromeOS instead of iPadOS. 

Having a detachable screen means this is a very versatile gadget, allowing you to use it as a tablet for watching YouTube or reading the news, but with the added ability to snap the screen back into its keyboard as soon as you need to do some serious work. We did find the keyboard slightly cramped compared to proper clamshell laptops, but it still does a commendable job. If you’re looking for a 2-in-1 laptop at an affordable price, this is your best bet.

Reviewer: Ryan Jones
Full review: Lenovo Chromebook Duet

Best 14-inch budget laptop
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Pros

  • Student-friendly premium style
  • Superb value
  • Pleasant typing experience
  • More than capable productivity performance

Cons

  • Webcam positioned on keyboard
  • Below average display

The Honor MagicBook 14 (2020) is another Windows 10 laptop that might seem a little pricey for this list. However, its specs are so good that you’re getting incredibly good value for the money, with a AMD Ryzen 5 processor that’s easily fast enough to power through any of your day-to-day productivity tasks. 

Unlike the Surface Laptop Go, you’re getting a crystal clear 14-inch matte display here, making it a superb option for watching films, TV and your favourite YouTube channels. During testing we found its screen is not as bright as some other laptop picks, but you’ll need to pay significantly more for better quality. 

The MagicBook has also got more storage space than Microsoft’s laptop, making it ideal if you plan on downloading lots of video and don’t want to rely on cloud services for student and office work. 

The biggest issue with the Honor MagicBook 14 (2020) is its webcam, as it’s positioned underneath the display and so gives an unflattering view up your nostrils. This is an especially annoying flaw during a time where video calls are the norm. But if you’re willing to look past this issue, the MagicBook is an outrageously good value laptop.

Reviewer: Adam Speight
Full review: Honor MagicBook 14 (2020)

Best 15-inch budget Chromebook
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Pros

  • Affordable price
  • Big screen for a Chromebook
  • Smooth performance for a Chromebook
  • Great selection of ports

Cons

  • Poor battery life
  • Unimpressive keyboard
  • Heavy build

The Acer Chromebook 315 is the most affordable laptop on this list by a considerable margin. It’s a proper Chromebook, which means all apps have to be downloaded through Google’s own store. But thanks to this streamlined software approach, the Acer offers smooth and reliable performance for basic productivity tasks such as web surfing and reading emails. 

This laptop also has a large Full HD screen, measuring in at 15.6-inches. A big display not only makes it easier to juggle more web browsers and apps on screen, but also makes it a good option for video streaming. 

The downside? It’s a very large and hefty laptop, making it unideal for those who want to port around in a bag frequently. The poor battery life we found during testing only emphasises the idea that this is a laptop best kept rooted to your desk. 

But if you want a laptop that’s as cheap as possible, and don’t care about its portability flaws, then the Acer Chromebook 315 is still a decent option to consider.

Reviewer: Ryan Jones
Full review: Acer Chromebook 315

Most powerful Chromebook with convertible design
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Pros

  • Pleasant screen
  • Comfortable, quiet keyboard
  • Long battery life

Cons

  • Value of high-spec models is questionable
  • Plastic touchpad
  • Weak speaker

The Lenovo Ideapad Flex 5 Chromebook is one of the most powerful Chromebooks you can buy, packing Intel’s 10th Generation i5 processor so it can pace through day-to-day tasks. 

It’s also flaunting a 2-in-1 design, allowing you to flip into tablet mode for whenever you want to watch a video or scroll through Instagram. Lenovo’s Chromebook also features a fantastic battery life and a comfortable keyboard, making it ideal for student and office goers.

However, at this price, you could argue that you might as well buy a Windows laptop instead. This means the Lenovo is only worth considering if you’re not fussed about the restrictions of ChromeOS. 

Reviewer: Andrew Williams
Full review: Lenovo IdeaPad Flex 5

FAQs

What is a budget laptop?

We’ve deemed a budget laptop to encompass any portable computer that costs less than £600/$600. This could include Chromebooks, Windows laptops or even 2-in-1 convertibles.

What is the best budget laptop brand?

That’s subjective, especially since two laptops from the same brand can differ significantly in quality. Lenovo has built up a good reputation for budget laptops, while Acer offers a lot of affordable Chromebooks. But we suggest judging each individual laptop on its own merits rather than relying solely on the reputation of a brand.

Are budget laptops worth it?

It really depends on the laptop. You can find a lot of sub-par systems for less than £600, but there are also some outstandingly good value options at this price point. We suggest reading reviews for any budget laptop you consider purchasing, as specs can’t tell the whole story.

What is the best budget laptop for video editing?

If video editing is a priority, then you’ll need to increase your budget. Heavy workloads such as video editing will require a beefier performance than what Chromebooks and budget laptops currently offer. The latest MacBook Air is one the best value options for such tasks right now, but you’ll need to pay just shy of a grand for that laptop. 

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