You don’t have to spend a fortune on a laptop to get the job done.
By Nicole Bonaccorso on July 11, 2023
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Acer Aspire 5 Intel i7 512GB SSD 16GB RAM 15.6″ Laptop (Opens in a new window) — $599.99 (List Price $636.66) Acer Swift 3 Ryzen 7 512GB SSD 16GB RAM 14″ Laptop (Opens in a new window) — $599.99 (List Price $799.99) MSI Thin GF63 Intel i7 RTX 4050 512GB SSD 16GB RAM 15.6″ Laptop (Opens in a new window) — $859.99 (List Price $999) Asus TUF Dash 15 Intel i5 RTX 3050 Ti 15.6″ 144Hz Laptop (Opens in a new window) — $799.99 (List Price $999.99) HP Envy x360 Intel i7 1TB SSD 16GB RAM 15″ Laptop (Opens in a new window) — $899.99 (List Price $1,119.99) Asus VivoBook 16 Ryzen 7 1TB SSD 8GB RAM 16″ Laptop (Opens in a new window) — $579.99 (List Price $699.99) Asus VivoBook 16 Intel i5 512GB SSD 8GB RAM 16″ Laptop (Opens in a new window) — $449.99 (List Price $549.99) Asus Vivobook S 14 Flip Ryzen 5 512GB 2-in-1 Laptop (Opens in a new window) — $499.99 (List Price $599.89) Asus Chromebook Vibe C55 Flip Intel i5 512GB Gaming Laptop (Opens in a new window) — $589.99 (List Price $699.99) Microsoft Surface Pro 9 Intel i7 1TB SSD 13″ 2-in-1 Laptop (Opens in a new window) — $1,599.99 (List Price $2,199.99) Samsung Galaxy Book3 Intel i7 512GB SSD 15.6″ Laptop (Opens in a new window) — $879.99 (List Price $1,099.99) LG Gram Intel i7 1TB SSD 16GB RAM 16″ Laptop (Opens in a new window) — $999.99 (List Price $1,699.99) Asus Zenbook 14 Flip OLED Ryzen 7 1TB 14″ 4K Touch Laptop (Opens in a new window) — $1,199.99 (List Price $1,399) Lenovo IdeaPad 3i Intel i5 512GB SSD 15.6″ Laptop (Opens in a new window) — $479.99 (List Price $649.99) Lenovo IdeaPad Gaming 3 Ryzen 5 RTX 3050 15.6″ Laptop (Opens in a new window) — $599.99 (List Price $899.99) Apple MacBook Air M1 Chip 256GB SSD 13.3″ Laptop (Opens in a new window) — $749.99 (List Price $999) Apple MacBook Pro M2 10-Core 512GB SSD 14.2″ Laptop (2023) (Opens in a new window) — $1,799.00 (List Price $1,999) Asus ROG Strix Scar 15 Intel i9 RTX 3070 Ti 1TB SSD Laptop (Opens in a new window) — $1,499.99 (List Price $2,049.99) HP Pavilion Intel i7 512GB SSD 16GB RAM 15.6″ Laptop (Opens in a new window) — $735.00 (List Price $949.99) Acer Aspire Vero Intel Core i5 15.6″ 1080p Laptop with Sleeve (Opens in a new window) — $486.98 (List Price $736.98) Alienware m15 R7 Intel i9 RTX 3080 1TB SSD 15.6″ Laptop (Opens in a new window) — $1,990.02 (List Price $2,449.97) Razer Blade 14 Ryzen 9 RTX 3080 1TB SSD Laptop (Opens in a new window) — $2,078.39 (List Price $2,799.99) A new laptop is a big investment, one that you’ll likely need to make every few years to keep up with ever-changing technology. But shopping for one can get overwhelming fast once you see just how pricey new laptops can be (on top of the sheer number of options out there).
The good news is you don’t always need to break the bank to get a suitable laptop — there are affordable models out there for less than $300. (We’re of the firm belief that your laptop shouldn’t need to cost more than your rent.) And if you just need another device to check email, do some basic word processing, or browse YouTube — not all of us are gaming or editing the next Oscar-winning film, after all — maybe a budget laptop is all you need.
Cheaper laptops may not have all the features of top-of-the-line computers, but for a couple hundred bucks, you can still get a reliable machine with all the basic features you’ll be using every day.
What are the best laptops under $300?Not sure where to begin? Keep reading to check out our favorite laptops under $300 — whether you need one for school, work, or fun, you’ve got options.
While companies like ASUS and Lenovo tend to dominate the budget laptop space, the entry-level Samsung Chromebook 4+(opens in a new tab) from 2021 still has a ton of great features for the price tag and the quality you’d expect from the brand. Like all Chromebooks, it runs on Chrome OS — and even with the two-core CPU you’d expect for under $300, it does the jobs you need to get done with ease. It’s lightweight at well under 4 pounds, and a full HD, 1920 x 1080 display is better than many we see for the price point. (Peep that huge 15.6-inch screen, too.) Though it’s a little low on storage, it does come with a 128GB microSD card bundle in case you need more space for photos, videos, and other files.
The HP Stream Pro 11(opens in a new tab) is the best deal on our list — not just because it sits at a tempting $219.99, but also because it includes a year’s worth of Microsoft 365 Personal (formerly Microsoft Office 365), some essential software that’s valued at $70. It’s also a highly portable option for someone who commutes or travels often, coming in just under 2.5 pounds. Battery-wise, it’ll get you up to 12 hours of video playback or up to 8.5 hours of wireless streaming per charge — not too shabby. And with two USB 3.1 ports, a USB 3.1 Type-C, an HDMI port, and a headphone jack, it’s got you covered on the connectivity front.
With a battery life of over 13 hours per charge, the HP Chromebook 14(opens in a new tab) will easily last you all day. Better yet, you can top it up on the go — it’s got a fast charge feature that can take it from dead to 50% battery in about 45 minutes. As with all budget laptops, it’s not going to be the zippiest computer out there, but it does pack a lot of other perks for its price, including Bang and Olufsen speakers and reasonable portage (two super-fast USB-Cs and a USB-A, plus a headphone jack).
Frequently Asked Questions Different people will need different specs — it all depends on what kinds of things you’re hoping to do with your new laptop. Perhaps you’re someone who wants a portable notebook they can take to the coffee shop, or maybe you’re a student who needs a long-lasting laptop that’ll get you through a day of classes. If you’re someone who likes watching Netflix on their laptop, find one with a larger screen. And if you need a place to store a bunch of photos and documents, look for one with a decent amount of storage space. Think about the main purpose your laptop will serve, and start your shopping search from there.
Full disclosure: Laptops in the $300-or-below price range are not going to be good for PC gaming. You’re priced out of a 4K resolution display or a refresh rate higher than 60Hz, and your RAM is going to max out at around 8GB. (Not bad, but not spectacular, either.) You’re also unlikely to get more than 500GB of storage space out of a cheap laptop.
Screen-wise, most of the best laptops under $300 are on the smaller end. Manufacturers are starting to make more in the 14- to 15.6-inch range, but most clock in around 11.6 inches. Bells and whistles like touchscreens and backlit displays are available on some machines in this price range, but they’re few and far between.
You’re mostly going to be looking at entry-level, pared-down laptops that are best for light tasks like browsing the web, writing and editing documents, video calls, and streaming — which again, may really be all you need. Basic isn’t necessarily a bad thing.