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Best Budget Laptop 2022: The top cheap laptops we’ve reviewed

If you’re on the hunt for a laptop, you’ve likely realised that the vast majority can cost upwards of $1000, which is an absurdly expensive outlay. Fortunately, there are more affordable alternatives, but it can be tricky knowing which are the best budget laptop options available to you.

That’s where we come. Our team of experts review countless laptops throughout the year, and so we’ve decided to round up the top rated picks right here.

Every budget laptop on this list has been tested for at least a week, as we measure performance via benchmark tests, the screen via professional equipment and the design with our own observations.

We’ve made sure that every laptop on this list is available under $600. There may be a few options that have SKUs that exceed that limit, but there will still be a base model that fits the criteria.

And if you’re happy to spend a bit more money for a more high-end laptop, then we recommend checking out our Best Laptop, Best Ultrabook and Best Student Laptop lists. Otherwise, make sure to keep the page bookmarked as we’ll be updating it as soon as we publish more reviews that can be considered for the best budget laptop shortlist.

Best Budget Laptop at glance

How we test

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.

Microsoft Surface Laptop Go 2

Best all-round budget laptop
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Pros

  • Fantastic value for money
  • Extremely portable design
  • Smooth performance for basic tasks
  • Better battery life than the original

Cons

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

Fancy a Windows laptop that costs less than $600? Then the Microsoft Surface Laptop Go 2 is our top recommendation. This is the company’s dinky laptop, with a small 12-inch screen which makes it an absolute doddle to use on the go and carry around in a bag.

Microsoft hasn’t introduced many major upgrades for this second iteration, but the new Intel processor does at least provide a nice performance and battery boost. Our benchmark results show that you will get far speedier laptops by spending a few hundred quid more, but we still found the Surface Laptop Go 2 to be comfortably speedy enough for basic productivity tasks such as office-based workloads.

It is important to remember it has a compact 12.4-inch touchscreen, which may be a little too small for some. And we found the screen resolution to be underwhelming, so video content won’t look quite as sharp as it will with other laptops. But it’s still colourful and punchy enough for a pleasant viewing experience, and the device’s tiny dimensions make it one of the most portable laptops on the market.

So if you’re looking for the best budget laptop that runs on Windows rather than ChromeOS, then the Surface Laptop Go 2 should be right at the top of your shortlist.

Reviewer: Ryan Jones
Full review: Surface Laptop Go 2 review

Lenovo Chromebook Duet

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

If it’s a versatile 2-in-1 device you’re after, then the Lenovo Chromebook Duet is an excellent option.

That 2-in-1 design means the Chromebook Duet is immensely portable and one of the lightest laptops we’ve ever tested, with a mass of just 450g. This makes it a great choice for people on the go, and those who crave the power of a standard ChromeOS laptop with the convenience of a tablet. The keyboard cover it comes with is therefore detachable, which means if you just want this as a tablet, the Chromebook Duet can definitely work as one.

The 10-inch touchscreen on offer is also great for the price, with some vibrant colours that worked well in testing for a variety of tasks, be it for bingeing episodes of BoJack Horseman, or for a small session of cloud gaming. Darker scenes were a little bit of a challenge for the Chromebook Duet, but for the most part, the panel was definitely usable.

In addition, the eight-core Media-Tek Helio P60T processor offered some speedy real-world performance for basic tasks such as general web browsing. Don’t be fooled by the lower-end benchmark scores with the Chromebook Duet, as they definitely don’t tell the whole story.

Moreover, the battery life is also something to behold, with it lasting a total of 13 hours regular use before dying. This ensures it’s punching way above its price range, even beating off Chromebooks that are several times more expensive.

Reviewer: Ryan Jones
Full review: Lenovo Chromebook Duet review

Acer Chromebook Spin 513

Best classic Chromebook
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Pros

  • Super-light and portable design
  • Sharp display with decent colours
  • Outstanding battery life
  • Whisper-quiet performance

Cons

  • Flat speakers
  • Mediocre performance
  • No keyboard backlight

The Acer Chromebook Spin 513 is one of the very best budget laptop options, and certainly represents one of the best Chromebooks out there today.

Its Qualcomm Snapdragon 7c processor breezed through basic work during testing such as web browsing or using Google Docs to write some work up, and there were little signs of slow-down even with a load of tabs open. The fact this is an Arm-based laptop also means it requires less in the way of cooling, and offers an excellent thermal performance. There’s even the ability to put in a compatible SIM card to give you 4G connectivity, should you need it.

This is also an immensely light full-size Chromebook, with it tipping the scales at just 1.2kg. This ensured it was portable and easy to carry around during testing. Moreover, its port selection turned out to be pretty good, with no real compromises despite the slim frame. In addition, this is also a convertible laptop, so if you want to flip the screen over and use it as a tablet, then Acer does allow you to do so.

On the point of screens, the 13-inch panel offers great viewing angles thanks to it being an IPS display. We also found it to offer up some punchy colours thanks to a total 318 nits of brightness, and its Full HD resolution allowed for a good level of detail and clarity, whether we were bingeing shows on Amazon Prime Video or getting on with some work.

The Spin 513 also has an excellent battery life, with it managing to last for just over 13 hours in our battery test, meaning you could even stretch to let the Spin 513 last for nearly two working days, which is brilliant.

Reviewer: Reece Bithrey
Full review: Acer Chromebook Spin 513 review

Acer Chromebook 314

Best budget Chromebook
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Pros

  • Great value for money
  • Sturdy construction
  • Good port selection
  • Fantastic battery life

Cons

  • Flat colours and dim display
  • No touchscreen
  • ChromeOS could provide some limitations

If you’re after a really affordable Chromebook that still offers some great features and functionality, then the Acer Chromebook 314 is one of the best out there.

While its dual-core Celeron CPU may sound behind the times, we found it to be perfectly adequate for day-to-day tasks, and offer up some snappy performance in basic tasks. Combined with this, the 4GB of RAM provided enough headroom to open a few programs and Chrome tabs without too much slowdown. The only real issue internally is the 32GB of eMMC storage, which felt a little stingy. If you’re somebody who has a few big files and needs to install a lot of programs, then you may be left with little to no space left.

The battery life of the Chromebook 314 is also suitably fantastic, with it lasting for around thirteen and a half hours before shutting down in our video loop test. This means you should comfortably get a working day’s worth of usage before needing to charge it back up again. And if you’re clever with brightness settings, you may well get two day’s charge here, which is immense.

Of course, with a laptop this price, some corners will have had to have been cut, and in the case of the Chromebook 314, it comes in the form of its display. A 1366 x 768 resolution causes images to look grainy with some noticeable pixels, and colours can look a little flat. We found this to be noticeable during testing when bingeing shows on Amazon Prime Video and Disney+. There’s also no touchscreen here, which may well be a deal breaker for some.

Reviewer: Reece Bithrey
Full review: Acer Chromebook 314 review

MSI Modern 15

Best budget 15-inch laptop
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Pros

  • Affordable pricing
  • Good performance for the money
  • Looks quite slick for a budget laptop

Cons

  • Poor colour reproduction
  • 5.5-hour battery life

The MSI Modern 15 is a great choice for those on a budget who fancy a large screen.

The Modern 15 features a 15.6 inch LCD screen with narrow bezels to aid in cultivating that modern look. With that being said, the 58% sRGB colour space coverage we measured with our colorimeter means this display is a little weak, and its 270 nits of brightness means it’s only suitable for indoor use. For the price, the panel here is fine, with a 1080p resolution offering decent detail and a contrast ratio of 1300:1 being more than passable.

The Modern 15 comes with an Intel Core i7-1255U, 8GB of RAM and a 512GB SSD, which offered up a great performance for the money. In this configuration, the laptop clocks in at £729, which stretches the ‘budget’ nature of it a bit, pushing it more into mid-range territory. But the laptop is available at more affordable prices if you dial down the specs. While the fan speeds may be a little high, MSI offers some great software based control for keeping the noise low when you need it to be.

The MSI is made entirely of plastic, but feels alright for the price. With a soft touch finish, the general frame doesn’t feel cheap at all. The port selection here is decent, with HDMI out and Micro SD, as well as a pair of USB 2.0 ports and a singular USB-C connection. We found the keyboard to feel decent too, with a solid amount of travel and key action that doesn’t feel spongy.

When it comes to battery life, the Modern 15 lasted for only around five and a half hours, with the different power modes only splitting results by a handful of minutes. This makes it a poor performer by comparison to other laptops at this price, which can offer up to eight hours, or more. You’ll be able to get through most of a working day here before you’ll need to reach for a charger, and the Modern 15 uses its own cylindrical port, leaving the USB-C port free for any other cables or drives.

Reviewer: Andrew Williams
Full review: MSI Modern 15 review

Lenovo IdeaPad Flex 5

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

For those after an especially powerful Chromebook, the Lenovo IdeaPad Flex 5 is one of the best budget laptop options.

The internal components of the IdeaPad Flex 5 also provided a stellar performance. The Intel Core i5-10210U processor is more than serviceable for tasks like web browsing, video streaming and general working, and 8GB of RAM means you have a shedload of headroom for opening a load of browser tabs at once if you so need to.

In addition, the battery life is particularly good, with the Flex 5 lasting for around 13 hours before conking out in our video loop test, which puts it among some of the best laptops we’ve tested, regardless of cost. This means the laptop should last you through a working day comfortably before needing to be charged back up again.

The 13.3-inch Full HD panel on the Flex 5 is also a major plus point. It’s also a touchscreen, which we found make this a very versatile laptop. In actual fact, it’s a better display than some Windows laptops that occupy the same £500 or so price point, including one of our favourite budget laptops, the Surface Laptop Go 2 from Microsoft.

Just watch out for the thin-sounding speakers and plastic trackpad, which we weren’t big fans of. But if you’re after power in a Chromebook at a more affordable price, the Flex 5 is an excellent option.

Reviewer: Andrew Williams
Full review: 
Lenovo IdeaPad Flex 5 Chromebook review

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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. 

Trusted Reviews test data

You can see a detailed breakdown of all the test data we collected reviewing the laptops in this list in the table below.

PCMark 10
Geekbench 5 single core
Geekbench 5 multi core
3DMark Time Spy
CrystalDiskMark Read speed
CrystalMarkDisk Write Speed
Brightness
Black level
Contrast
White Visual Colour Temperature
sRGB
Adobe RGB
DCI-P3
PCMark Battery (office)
Battery Life

Comparison specs

You can see a complete summary of all the laptops in this list’s specs in the table below.

UK RRP
USA RRP
EU RRP
CA RRP
AUD RRP
CPU
Manufacturer
Screen Size
Storage Capacity
Front Camera
Battery
Battery Hours
Size (Dimensions)
Weight
ASIN
Operating System
Release Date
First Reviewed Date
Model Number
Model Variants
Resolution
Refresh Rate
Ports
GPU
RAM
Connectivity
Colours
Display Technology
Screen Technology
Touch Screen
Convertible?
Bin capacity

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Founded in 2004, Trusted Reviews exists to give our readers thorough, unbiased and independent advice on what to buy.

Today, we have millions of users a month from around the world, and assess more than 1,000 products a year.

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