Best Budget Laptops: 6 of the best for around £500

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

Trusted Reviews has rounded up the best budget laptops available to buy right now – we’re ranking them based on their scores at the time we reviewed them, their prices now, and their position in the market relative to our best laptops and best student laptop recommendations.

Everything ranked here is also available to buy at – or very close to – the £500 mark. We’ll be adding to this article as and when we review more budget laptops. We’ve recently picked up review samples of the new Acer Aspire 3, which is priced around £400, and is undergoing testing now. We’ll update this article as and when new reviews are published.

Here to help you find the best budget laptop for your needs, we’ve narrowed everything down to the best five options currently available on the market, and have listed them all here – scroll on for full and detailed assessments of the best budget laptops below, as well as links to full reviews.

Also check out our Laptop Deals and Tablet Deals articles, which are regularly updated with all of the latest and best bundles, discounts, offers, and bargains.

Related: Back to school

Lenovo Yoga 530 06

1. Lenovo Yoga 530

Best budget Windows 10 laptop

We continually check thousands of prices to show you the best deals. If you buy a product through our site we will earn a small commission from the retailer – a sort of automated referral fee – but our reviewers are always kept separate from this process. You can read more about how we make money in our Ethics Policy.

Pros:

  • Balanced performance from AMD processor
  • Better GPU than Intel integrated graphics
  • Decent, smart exterior

Cons:

  • Slower than Intel in applications
  • Poor screen quality
  • Average battery life

Costing around £700 at the time of launch, last year’s Lenovo Yoga 350 can now be snapped up for less, making it even more of a bargain. 

If you’re looking for something for light PC office work, but boasts good build quality and smart design, then the Lenovo Yoga 350 is currently the best option. 

Very much a mid-range device, the Lenovo Yoga 350 can handle for basic PC work, like word processing and web browsing, as well as simple photo editing. Don’t expect it to go anything more advanced than this though – it’s not suitable for gaming, or intensive photo work, and certainly not video editing. 

While you can expect to get seven hours of power from this day to day, which about enough juice for office work, that’s below the eight hour average we’d expect from a laptop like this. 

The Lenovo Yoga 350 is also light on ports – one Type-USB 3.0 and one Type-C USB 3.0 port – you do get a full-sized SD card reader, so you’ll easily be able to transfer holiday snaps from your digital camera. 

Microsoft Surface Go

2. Microsoft Surface Go

Best budget Windows tablet

We continually check thousands of prices to show you the best deals. If you buy a product through our site we will earn a small commission from the retailer – a sort of automated referral fee – but our reviewers are always kept separate from this process. You can read more about how we make money in our Ethics Policy.

Pros:

  • Windows 10 gives users plenty of freedom
  • Extremely portable
  • Kick-stand offers versatility

Cons:

  • Pricey considering Type Cover isn’t bundled in
  • Low-powered performance
  • Dated design

The Microsoft Surface Go is an excellent Windows 10 convertible – while it’s nominally a tablet, the TypeCover keyboard dock means it can comfortably double as a notebook. 

The 10.1-inch touchscreen might be smaller than what you’ll see on most other laptops, at the maximum brightness of 225 nits means that you’d struggle to work on this outside on a sunny day. 

However, it’s covers 92.8% of the standard RGB colour space, and its colour temperature of 6382K is close to the 6500K – which in plain English means that photos, websites, streamed video content look excellent. Whites don’t look overly red or warm, and 

Ideally suited for working on the go and a spot of Netflix, the Microsoft Surface Go is the ideal Windows lifestyle – but it’s by no means a powerhouse, and as such is unsuitable for even light gaming or photo work. 

While the Type Cover isn’t included, you can still pick up bundle deals with this throw in. Otherwise, it’s usually an extra £100. 

Acer Chromebook 514 review

3. Acer Chromebook 514

Best all-round budget laptop

We continually check thousands of prices to show you the best deals. If you buy a product through our site we will earn a small commission from the retailer – a sort of automated referral fee – but our reviewers are always kept separate from this process. You can read more about how we make money in our Ethics Policy.

Pros:

  • Good value for money
  • Slim and light
  • Metal chassis

Cons:

  • Display quality is not great
  • Performance can grind to a halt if overloaded
  • Some apps like Spotify won’t work

The Acer Chromebook 514 costs a very reasonable £370, and for your money gives you a slimeline metal laptop that’s ideally suited to like PC work, i.e. word processing, checking email, and web browsing. 

Weighing just 1.5kg and measuring 17mm thick, the Acer Chromebook 514 is lightweight, won’t take up too much bag space, and the durable metal build means it’ll withstand more punishment than the kinds of plastic-bodied laptops you often find for this price. 

While the display is not fantastic, giving you a low maximum brightness and poor viewing angles, but it’s good enough for word processing and general PC work.

While you don’t get a lot of on-board storage here, integration with Google Docs means that most of your work will be saved in the cloud. You get up to 15GB of cloud storage for less, and you can upgrade this to 100GB for £1.59/month.

App support is, at the time of writing, still limited, so just because you can download something from the Google Play App store, there’s no guarantee that it’ll work. For example, you can Netflix and chill here, but currently, Spotify and Slack don’t even load. 

Acer Swift 1 SF114-32

4. Acer Swift 1 (2019)

Bare bones budget Windows 10 laptop that’s ideal for writing and office work

Pros:

  • Nice price
  • More than enough ports
  • Ideal for light PC work

Cons: 

  • Below average battery life
  • Viewing angles and max brightness are not great

The new Acer Swift 1 (SF114-32) from the 2019 range is very nicely priced, with models sitting in the £300-£450 bracket. While it is by no means a powerful and cutting-edge device, the Acer Swift 1 is plenty good enough for office work, and therefore, the Swift 1 is a good option for anyone in the market for a laptop for writing, browsing the web, and checking emails.

You also get a fingerprint scanner on the new Acer Swift 1 (rare for a budget laptop) as well as a healthy selection of ports, so if you wanted to hook your laptop up to an office monitor or TV for a closer look at your writing, or, if you need to give a PowerPoint presentation, you’re all set.

The Acer Swift 1’s battery life is not great. Expect around six hours of power when you’re not connected to the mains adapter. Hopefully your presentations won’t last that long, and even if they do, the Acer Swift 1 charges back up quickly. For most of the time, you’ll be fine. Just go easy on it.

Dell Inspiron Chromebook 14 7000 2-in-1 review

5. Dell Inspiron Chromebook 14 7000 2-in-1

Expensive for a ‘budget’ laptop, but still excellent value

We continually check thousands of prices to show you the best deals. If you buy a product through our site we will earn a small commission from the retailer – a sort of automated referral fee – but our reviewers are always kept separate from this process. You can read more about how we make money in our Ethics Policy.

Pros:

  • Great build quality
  • Good display
  • Excellent battery
  • Nice, eye-catching design

Cons:

  • Chrome OS app support is still limited
  • Speakers are not optimally positioned

The Dell Inspiron Chromebook 14 7000 2-in-1 is currently our recommendation for the best Chromebook. While at £650, it’s sitting at the more expensive end of the price spectrum, this Chromebook represents excellent value for money.

The all-metal body gives the Dell Inspiron Chromebook 14 7000 2-in-1 a modicum of flair you don’t always get with Chromebooks, which is complemented by the glossy finish of the display. 

The battery will typically give you between 8 and 10 hours of power when not plugged into the mains, and if you’re already invested in Google’s ecosystem, using Gmail, Google Docs, and Google Sheets for your communications and office work, then picking up a Dell Inspiron Chromebook 14 7000 2-in-1 is an obvious choice. 

It can also comfortably double as a tablet, or be propped up a desk or coffee table if you need to run a presentation on Google Sheets, or you just want to stream something on Netflix at the end of the day. 

App support for Chrome OS is still lacking. While we were able to easily run Netflix, Spotify, and Photoshop Express on the Dell Inspiron Chromebook 14 7000 2-in-1, Slack looked awful, and some games, like Civilization Revolution 2 didn’t even work. 

Dell Chromebook 3100 2-in-1 review

6. Dell Chromebook 3100 2-in-1

Best budget laptop for schoolkids

We continually check thousands of prices to show you the best deals. If you buy a product through our site we will earn a small commission from the retailer – a sort of automated referral fee – but our reviewers are always kept separate from this process. You can read more about how we make money in our Ethics Policy.

Pros:

  • Virtually indestructible
  • 360 hinge design
  • Portable
  • OK battery life

Cons:

  • Screen is small and low res
  • Keyboard could be better

The Dell Chromebook 3100 2-in-1 is solid, if simple laptop running Google’s Chrome OS. It’s trump card is its near indestructibility, due to the fact that it’s been designed to withstand the wear and tear of the classroom – the 11.6-inch, 1366 x 768 resolution screen is protected with a layer of toughened and scratch-resistant Gorilla Glass. 

As such, it’s ideal for school-age children who want to get to grips with typing, connecting to the Internet, and learning how to load apps and save work to the cloud. In terms of ports, you get two USB-C and two USB-A ports as well as a microSD card reader, so you’ll be able to connect phones, mice, keyboards, and easily transfer photo files as well. 

Thanks to integration with Google Docs, all homework and essays can be saved instantly to the cloud. And, despite its sturdy and splash-resistant (read: not splash-proof) construction, the Dell Chromebook 3100 2-in-1 is light – it weighs just 1.41 kilograms.

Unlike other sites, we thoroughly review everything we recommend, using industry standard tests to evaluate products. We’ll always tell you what we find. We may get a commission if you buy via our price links. Tell us what you think – email the Editor