The Best Budget Laptops?

By that, I mean the laptops that offer the best features according to their category, at multiple price points up to $650.

Why write this article?

How much time do you have to research the best computer?

Many of us don’t have much time to read, or the knowledge to understand, detailed laptop specifications nor reviews and just want to know:
What’s the best budget laptop for my needs?

I’m here to help you with this article. I believe that you deserve the computer that is the best for your needs. That way, your computer is working for you and not the other way around. This allows you to focus your full potential on realizing what you want, without being limited by your computer.

With 16 years of experience with computer hardware, researching, always up-to-date research with the newest parts, performance and prices, I know what matters in a computer.
See my About page for more information on me, Mathieu Bourgie, and this website, Hardware Revolution

Here are the features that I evaluate in order to make my recommendations:

1. Price
2. Performance: CPU, RAM, Storage, Video Card and Wireless Adapter
3. Screen: Size, Resolution, Matte or Glossy, Panel type (TN, IPS, etc.), Brightness, Contrast, Viewing Angles and Color Accuracy
4. Portability: Dimensions, Weight, Real-life battery life during average web browsing?
5. Usability: Keyboard: Layout, Key size, Travel/Pressure, Key Shape and any additional Function keys. Touch pad quality, trackpoint, backlit keyboard, numpad, Operating System, which ports are offered, Webcam resolution, sound quality, optical Drive, noise levels.
6. Reliability: How solid is the chassis? Are the temperatures under load reasonable? How solid are the screen hinges? Is the keyboard spill-resistant? Overall manufacturer long-term reliability? How easy is it to service the laptop?
7. Warranty: Warranty length? What does the warranty cover?

I then recommend laptops that I think are the best at a given price, according to those features that I evaluated on the hundreds of laptops that I’ve considered during the research that I do to write this article.

I offer to you the result of that research, by making recommendations for the best budget laptops at multiple price points up to $650.

Alternatives recommendations:

I also suggest alternative recommendations, with clear explanations as to why they are interesting alternatives.

My goal:
Help you easily choose the best laptop for your needs and budget.

Put all of this together and you get this article. Because if you’re about to buy a laptop, might as well get the one that offers the best features possible for your budget, right?

Looking for all our articles on laptops?

Visit the Best Laptops For Your Money category page, for all our articles on laptops.

A few reminders:

I’ll use this opportunity to remind you that this article is only a guideline for the is based on the best prices that I’ve seen on January 16th 2017, from B&H, NewEgg and/or Amazon.

Prices and availability change daily. While I can’t keep up with ever changing prices, I can suggest to you great laptops that you won’t regret buying as long as they are in the same price range.

Summary

Click on any of these links to jump to the section that interests you. Alternatively, scroll down to see them all, in the same order as they are presented here.

The Best Budget Laptop:

  1. Chromebook: Simple, inexpensive, secure, Chrome OS
  2. Ultrabooks: thin, lightweight
    Standard screen ultrabook
    – 2-in-1 convertible screen Ultrabook
    – Detachable screen ultrabook
  3. Apple Macbook
  4. Gaming laptops
  5. Traditional 15.6″ laptop
  6. 17.3″ entertainment and desktop replacement laptop
  7. Business laptops
  8. Workstations

Upgrade your laptop:

  1. Upgrade the RAM
  2. Upgrade the hard drive to a larger/faster model or to a SSD
  3. USB DVD and Blu-ray External Burners
  4. The Best WiFi Routers, WiFi Adapters and Bluetooth Adapters

Chromebook: Simple, inexpensive, secure, Chrome OS

About Chromebooks:

They are simple to setup and secure:
1- Setup is very simple and only takes a few minutes.
2- Your computer starts in a few seconds.
3- Installing software, through the Google App store, is easy.
4- No concern with updates, or complicated software installation, the OS does it for you automatically.
5- Battery life is generally above average to exceptional, depending on the model.

The Chrome OS is one of the most secure OS on the market. It includes security features such as sandboxing and categorizing websites that may be harmful. Chromebooks are outstanding at catching malware and viruses, so you’re unlikely to run into any problems of this sort.

Inexpensive and you can download many free applications:
Chromebooks are inexpensive computer compared to laptops running Windows, especially compared to Macbooks!

Need Office programs like Word, Excel, etc.? Google Docs offer Google equivalent for free, with automatic saving online, Google Drive to save and share your documents and the Google App store.

Chrome OS is a lightweight OS, so laptops running it boot quickly, feel snappy and are easy to use. If you’re looking for an inexpensive, great looking, simple to use and highly portable computer to browse the web, listen to music, read/write documents and stream videos, you should highly consider a Chromebook.

They are such great inexpensive laptops that we have a dedicated article for Chromebooks:
Find out the Best Chromebooks

Ultrabooks: Thin, lightweight

Standard screen ultrabook

Dell Latitude E7240:

– Click here to see the price on Amazon

About the Dell Latitude E7240:

If you are looking for a good Ultrabook at the most inexpensive price, this is the model for you. It has a Intel Core i5-4300U CPU, which is older, but still quite powerful, there is 8GB of RAM and there is even a 128GB SSD in it, which improves the computer overall responsiveness and helps it boot quickly.

This laptop is 0.8″ thin and only weights 2.99lbs which is really great.

This laptop is refurbished, meaning it has been restored to work and look like a new product, and comes with a 90 days warranty.

Pros:

  1. Equipped with a Intel Core i5-4300U Dual-Core + Hyper-Threading 1.9-2.9GHz CPU.
  2. 128GB SSD that is a lot faster than a regular HDD, it greatly improve responsiveness especially when booting the laptop.
  3. Windows 10 Pro.
  4. 8GB of DDR3 RAM allows you to run multiple programs at once.
  5. Matte screen that doesn’t reflect sunlight.
  6. Battery life of around 4.5 hours for web surfing with WiFi.
  7. Removable battery so it can be easily replaced.
  8. Backlit keyboard: it’s easier to see your keys when typing where there is less light.
  9. SD card reader: Useful to expand the storage capacity.
  10. 3 x USB 3.0 ports.
  11. RJ45 LAN port.
  12. Docking port.
  13. HDMI, VGA and Displayport output to connect your display on a external screen.
  14. Solid aluminium build quality.
  15. HD Webcam
  16. Smart card reader and fingerprint for extra authentication security.
  17. Decent keyboard layout
  18. Decent sound quality.
  19. Easy maintenance: It is easy to get to all the important components such as RAM and storage drive.
  20. Highly portable:12.2 x 8.3 x 0.79″ and 2.99lbs
  21. Dedicated left and right click mouse buttons.

Cons:

  1. No optical drive. You can get an external USB powered optical drive, if you want to.
  2. No numpad.
  3. Low 1366 x 768 HD resolution screen with a TN panel: Poor contrast, not accurate color reproduction and poor viewing angles.
  4. Refurbished, meaning it has been restored to work and look like a new product, and comes with a 90 days warranty.
  5. Limited storage capacity

Dell Latitude E7240:

– Click here to see the price on Amazon

About the Dell Latitude E7240:

This is the exact same model as my recommendation above except for the CPU which is replaced by a more powerful i7-4600U CPU and the 256GB SSD which means you get double the storage capacity.

Other than that you get the same pros and cons as the recommendation above.

This laptop is refurbished, meaning it has been restored to work and look like a new product, and comes with a 90 days warranty.

Acer Touch V3-372T Ultrabook:

– Click here to see the price on Amazon

About the Acer Touch V3-372T Ultrabook:

This is for sure the best deal you can get on a budget Ultrabook for an amazing performance. It is equipped with a powerful Intel Core i7-6500U Dual-Core processor, has 8 GB of RAM and a larger 512GB SSD for a faster and smoother overall performance.

It also has a beautiful display with a full HD resolution and an IPS display panel for better contrasts, accurate colors and larger view angles.

This laptop is refurbished, meaning it has been restored to work and look like a new product, and comes with a 90 days warranty.

Pros:

  1. Equipped with a powerful Intel Core i7-6500U Dual-Core + Hyper-Threading 2.5-3.1GHz CPU.
  2. IPS panel: Great contrast, accurate color reproduction and large viewing angles.
  3. 8GB of DDR3 RAM allows you to run a good amount of programs at once and do several tasks.
  4. Amazing battery life: Expect up to 12 hours.
  5. Full HD 1080p 1920 x 1080 resolution
  6. Micro SD card reader: Useful to expand the storage capacity.
  7. 2 x USB 2.0, 1 x USB 3.0 and USB 3.1 type-C ports
  8. HDMI output
  9. Screen aluminium build.
  10. 802.11ac WiFi
  11. Bluetooth 4.0
  12. Highly portable: 12.9 x 9.0 x 8.0″and 3.53lbs

Cons:

  1. No optical drive. You can get an external USB powered optical drive, if you want to.
  2. Keyboard layout could be better: I find some of the arrow keys are too small and too close to other keys which can be bothersome for a few people.
  3. Finish tends to attract fingerprints

2-in-1 convertible screen ultrabook

Lenovo Yoga 700-11ISK

– $419.99 at Newegglenovo700

About the Lenovo Yoga 700-11ISK:

This Ultrabook is one of the most inexpensive and portable of its category. It has a Intel M5-6Y54 which is not a powerhouse but good enough for regular tasks such as browsing the internet, checking your emails and watching videos.

This laptop is also highly portable with a 11.6″ screen and with a weight of only 2.4lbs.

It has a 256GB SSD which is a fast drive that improves the laptop’s responsiveness and booting speed.

This laptop is refurbished, meaning it has been restored to work and look like a new product, and comes with a 90 days warranty.

Pros:

  1. Equipped with an Intel Core M5-6Y54 Dual-Core + Hyper-Threading 1.1-2.7GHz CPU.
  2. 256GB SSD for fast boot and a more responsive system.
  3. Windows 10
  4. 2-in-1 convertible screen to switch to tablet mode for whatever suits your needs.
  5. Good Battery : up to 7hrs.
  6. Full HD resolution (1920 x 1080) display
  7. IPS display panel for better contrasts, acurate colors and larger view angles.
  8. 4-in-1 card reader.
  9. Webcam.
  10. 1x USB 3.0 port and 2x USB 2.0 port.
  11. HDMI output
  12. Dedicated volume buttons
  13. Thin and light: 11.4″ x 7.8″ x 0.6″ inches and 2.4lbs
  14. 802.11ac WiFi
  15. Bluetooth 4.0

Cons:

  1. No optical drive. You can get an external USB powered optical drive, if you want to.
  2. No numpad
  3. Keyboard layout could be better : the arrow keys are stuck with the page down and page up keys, this can be bothersome for a few people.

Acer Spin 5

– Click here to see the price on Amazon
– $599.99 at Newegg

About the Acer Spin 5:

If you are looking for a convertible laptop that offers a better overall performance than the above recommendation, this is the model you are looking for. It has a quite powerful i5-6200U Dual core processor, 8GB RAM and a nice 256GB SSD.

Right now, there is hardly any other 2-in-1 convertible build that gets as good as this one at this price point.

Pros:

  1. Equipped with an Intel Core i5-6200U Dual-Core + Hyper-Threading 2.3-2.5GHz CPU.
  2. 256GB SSD for fast boot and a more responsive system.
  3. 2-in-1 convertible screen to switch to tablet mode for whatever suits your needs.
  4. 8GB of DDR4 RAM.
  5. Great Battery: up to 10hrs.
  6. Thin and light : 12.94″ x 9.00″ x 0.78″ and 3.53lbs
  7. IPS display panel for better contrasts, acurate colors and larger view angles.
  8. MicroSD card reader to add an extra MicroSD card to add more storage for your music, videos and images.
  9. HD Webcam.
  10. 1x USB 3.0 port and 2x USB 2.0 port.
  11. HDMI output
  12. 802.11ac WiFi
  13. Bluetooth 4.1
  14. Dedicated volume buttons

Cons:

  1. Built quality could be better: it is mostly made out of plastic.
  2. Build leaves fingerprints on the cover easily.
  3. No optical drive. You can get an external USB powered optical drive, if you want to.

Detachable screen ultrabook

ASUS Transformer Book Chi  300CHI-F1-DB:

– Click here to see the price on Amazon

About the ASUS Transformer Book Chi:

If you are looking for a 2-in-1 detachable laptop that does minimal tasks easily such as browsing the internet, emails and other small tasks. This is the right model for you. Some of it’s best feature are the Full HD resolution and an IPS panel for better contrasts, accurate colors and larger view angles. It has a Intel Core M 5Y10 CPU which is by no means a powerhouse but will be enough for regular tasks, as long as you don’t need high sustained performance and don’t run anything that is too heavy such as demanding game and apps.

It’s also a fanless design, so it’s completely silent.

Pros:

  1. Equipped with an Intel Core M 5Y10 Dual-Core + Hyper-Threading 0.8-2GHz CPU.
  2. 128GB SSD for fast boot and a more responsive system.
  3. 2-in-1 detachable screen to switch to tablet mode for whatever suits your needs.
  4. Fanless and doesn’t heat up much.
  5. 4GB of DDR3 RAM.
  6. Thin and light : 12.5″ x 7.5″ x 0.4″ – 0.6″ and 3.2lbs
  7. Full HD 1080p 1920 x 1080 resolution
  8. Good build quality.
  9. IPS display panel for better contrasts, accurate colors and larger view angles.
  10. MicroSD card reader to add an extra MicroSD card to add more storage for your music, videos and images.
  11. HD Webcam.
  12. Micro HDMI port
  13. 1x micro USB 3.0 port
  14. 802.11a WiFi
  15. Bluetooth 4.0

Cons:

  1. No optical drive. You can get an external USB powered optical drive, if you want to.
  2. Lacks a full size USB port so you are limited to the mini USB, meaning you need adapters or new cables.
  3. Poor audio quality.
  4. Keyboard is not backlit.

Lenovo IdeaPad Miix 700:

– Click here to see the price on Amazon
– $619.95 at Newegg

About the Lenovo IdeaPad Miix 700:

This is a really nice upgrade from the above recommendation as just about everything in it is better. It has a newer Intel M5 6Y54 6th generation processor which is more powerful. It is also lighter, the tablet part of this device is only 1.70lbs!

If you’re looking for a low-cost alternative to the Microsoft Surface, this is an excellent choice.

It also has double the RAM meaning you can multitask and run more applications at the same time without slowdowns. Double the storage space which allows you not to worry about running out of space as quickly.

For its great price and even better features, this is the best budget detachable 2-in-1 laptop on the market.

Pros:

  1. Equipped with an Intel Core M5 6Y54 Dual-Core + Hyper-Threading 1.1-2.7GHz CPU.
  2. 256GB SSD for fast boot and a more responsive system.
  3. 2-in-1 detachable screen to switch to tablet mode for whatever suits your needs.
  4. Fanless and doesn’t heat up much.
  5. 8GB of DDR3 RAM.
  6. Great Battery : up to 9hrs.
  7. Lightweight : 12.4 x 9.6 x 3.1 inches and 2lbs.
  8. Better than Full HD resolution: 2160 x 1440
  9. IPS display panel for better contrasts, acurate colors and larger view angles.
  10. MicroSD card reader to add an extra MicroSD card to add more storage for your music, videos and images.
  11. HD Webcam.
  12. 1x USB 3.0 port and 1x USB 2.0 port.
  13. Micro HDMI output
  14. 802.11ac WiFi
  15. Bluetooth 4.0
  16. Included keyboard (unlike the Microsoft Surface…) which works even its detached.
  17. Dedicated volume buttons

Cons:

  1. No optical drive. You can get an external USB powered optical drive, if you want to.

Alternative

Acer Switch Alpha 12

acerswitchalpha– 509.99 at Newegg

About the Acer Switch Alpha 12:

Compared to the Lenovo IdeaPad, this model has a more powerful i5-6200U Dual-Core CPU, a 128GB SSD and a battery that lasts up to 8hrs. Other than that, it has the same resolution and display panel and has a similar weight and features as the IdeaPad. All of this at a less expensive cost. What’s the catch? This product is an open box, meaning it has been received and returned by a previous customer. If you don’t mind that, you can get a great deal!

Apple Macbook

Apple MacBook Air MD711LL/A


– Click here to see the price on Amazon

About theMacBook Air MD711LL/A:

This is great if you want an Apple Macbook at the lowest cost possible. This laptop is light weight, has an excellent battery life, great backlit keyboard and trackpad. This model has a Intel Core i5-4250U CPU which is older but still relatively powerful.

The Macbook air is a reliable machine and is ideal or traveling.

This Macbook is a refurbished item, meaning it has been restored to work and look like a new product.

Pros:

  1. Least expensive Macbook laptop.
  2. Incredibly thin and lightweight: Only 2.38lbs and 0.11-0.68″ thick. Perfect if you’re traveling and often on the move.
  3. It’s an Apple computer: Mac OS X, Time Machine backup (automatically backs up system data to an external hard drive), many built-in apps, highly reliable, excellent customer service
  4. Excellent keyboard, great for typing
  5. Backlit keyboard
  6. High-end performance storage makes your computer feel more responsive.
  7. Very quiet: The fan is hardly audible, unless you push the CPU to 100% for a long time.
  8. Long battery life: 9 hours of web browsing
  9. Solid chassis: All-aluminum unibody
  10. Solid screen hinge
  11. Excellent trackpad, with great multi-touch support
  12. MagSafe power connector which automatically detaches from your laptop if you pull on it, preventing your Macbook from accidentally falling if you trip on the power cord.
  13. Bluetooth 4.0
  14. Latest generation 802.11ac WiFi

Cons:

  1. Limited amount of ports: 2x USB 3.0, one ThunderBolt 2 (Mini DisplayPort via Thunderbolt port) and a combo audio jack.
  2. Low screen resolution: Only 1366 x 768 resolution. Poor compared to the Macbook 12″ or Macbook Pro with their high-resolution Retina displays.
  3. Average CPU performance: Great for web browsing, music, Office work and lightweight programs. Not ideal for heavy photo/video editing, heavy multitasking or demanding programs where high sustained CPU performance is required. You’ll want a more powerful CPU and possibly more RAM for better performance, so consider a Macbook Pro instead.
  4. Limited GPU (video card) performance. Forget playing modern video games or 3D rendering: you want a dedicated video card for that. Once again, a Macbook Pro would be a better option.
  5. No LAN port
  6. No optical drive. You can get an external USB powered optical drive, if you want to.
  7. No Numpad
  8. The Macbook Air RAM cannot be upgraded: It’s soldered. The SSD storage can be upgraded if you have the right tool, don’t mind following a guide to disassemble your Macbook Air and a guide to copy your data.

Gaming laptops

If you are looking for a budget gaming laptop, we have a whole article on the subject, click here to see the 4 Best Budget Gaming Laptops.

Traditional 15.6″ laptop

Acer Aspire E5-575-33BM:

Click here to get the price on Amazon

About the Acer Aspire E5-575-33BM:

The Acer Aspire E 15 offers amazing value for the money:
This is a laptop equipped with a relatively powerful latest 7th Generation Core i3 CPU, a screen with a 1920 x 1080 resolution. a 12 hours battery life, a backlit keyboard, multiple USB 3.0 ports, including an USB Type-C port at such a low price is unheard of.

Pros:

  1. Equipped with an Intel Core i3-7100U Dual-Core + Hyper-Threading 2.4GHz CPU.
  2. RAM can be upgraded to up to 32GB.
  3. Screen with a Full HD 1920 x 1080 resolution
  4. Great battery life: up to 12 hours per charge but you can expect a bit less, realistically, while working on it.
  5. Body finish that prevents fingerprints
  6. Large storage capacity: 1TB
  7. Backlit keyboard : it’s easier to see your keys when typing where there is less light.
  8. 2x USB 3.0 ports, 1x USB 2.0 port, and 1x USB 3.1 (Type C) port.
  9. HDMI and VGA Output to plug in your display to an external screen.
  10. SD card reader for SD Cards : Can be useful for extra storage or to upload media from devices such as cameras.
  11. 802.11 ac WiFi
  12. Optical drive
  13. HD webcam
  14. Numpad
  15. Bluetooth 4.1

Cons:

  1. Screen with a TN panel: Poor contrast, not accurate color reproduction and poor viewing angles.
  2. 5,400rpm hard drive which means the system is less responsive and takes some time to boot.
  3. Average build quality. It could be better.
  4. Keyboard layout could be better: the up and down arrow keys are half-size and the power button is part of the keyboard.

Acer Aspire E5-575-521W:

1467838324000_1263206

– $499.00 at Newegg

About the Acer Aspire E5-575-521W:

If you’re looking for better performance all around, this model is a nice step up from the E5-575-33BM. It’s equipped with a more powerful Intel Core i5-7200U 7th gen processor, has 8GB of DDR4 RAM and is also equipped with a full HD screen.

This laptop also comes with a 256GB SSD which is great as SSDs help your computer feel more responsive than with a regular hard drive and even faster when it comes to booting the laptop.

There is no other comparable model at this price point.

Pros:

  1.  Equipped with an Intel Core i5-7200U Dual-Core + Hyper-Threading 2.5-3.1GHz CPU.
  2. 8GB of DDR4 RAM that can be uprgraded up to 32GB
  3. Screen with a Full HD 1920 x 1080 resolution.
  4. Windows 10
  5. 256GB SSD which is much faster than a regular hard drive and also offers a great booting speed.
  6. Great battery life of up to 8 hours.
  7. HDMI and VGA Output to connect your display on external screens.
  8. 2x USB 3.0 ports, 1 x USB 2.0 port,  and 1 x USB 3.1 (Type C) port
  9. RJ45 Ethernet port to connect your device to the Internet.
  10. Backlit keyboard
  11. Easy maintenance: Compartment door make it easy to change the SSD and the RAM.
  12. SD card reader: Can be useful for extra storage or to upload media from devices such as cameras.
  13. 802.11 ac WiFi
  14. Numpad
  15. Bluetooth 4.1
  16. Lightweight for a 15.6″ laptop: Only 4.92lbs

Cons:

  1. Screen with a TN panel: Poor contrast, not accurate color reproduction and poor viewing angles. Expected at this price point.
  2. Average build quality. It could be better.
  3. Keyboard layout could be better: the up and down arrow keys are half-size and the power button is part of the keyboard.
  4. No optical drive. You can get an external USB powered optical drive, if you want to.
  5. Quite thick: 1.2″

ASUS F556UA-AB54:

– Click here to see the price on Amazon

About the ASUS F556UA-AB54:

Compared to the previous model, you get a a matte screen which means it doesn’t reflect light which makes it more fun to use outside when it’s bright and sunny!

It is also thinner and has a more modern design than the Acer Aspire E5-575-521W.

Other than that, you get the same CPU , RAM and amount of storage.

Pro:

  1.  Equipped with an Intel Core i5-7200 Dual-Core + Hyper-Threading 2.5-3.1GHz CPU.
  2. Screen with a 1920 x 1080 resolution.
  3. 256GB SSD which is much faster than a regular hard drive and also offers a great booting speed.
  4. 8GB of DDR4 RAM  that can be upgraded to up to 32GB of RAM
  5. Windows 10
  6. Decent battery life of up to 6 hours.
  7. 2x USB 3.0 ports, 1x USB 2.0 port and 1x USB 3.1 (Type C) port.
  8. HDMI and VGA Outputs to connect your display on external screens.
  9. SD card reader: Can be useful for extra storage or to upload media from devices such as cameras.
  10. Matte screen that doesn’t reflect sunlight
  11. 802.11 ac WiFi
  12. Good speakers
  13. Numpad
  14. Optical drive
  15. Bluetooth 4.1
  16. Gold Metallic finish: Solid and in my opinion, looks great
  17. In my personal opinion: This laptop has a beautiful, stylish, and modern design.

Cons:

  1. The arrow keys on the keyboard overlaps the numpad: this can be an inconvenience for some.
  2. Screen with a TN panel: Poor contrast, not accurate color reproduction and poor viewing angles

Acer Swift 3:

Click here to see the price on Amazon
$621.89 at B&H (Worlwide Shipping)
– $699.30 at Newegg 

About the Acer Swift 3:

This laptop has a CPU that is a bit older than the ASUS F556UA-AB54 but still offers similar performance. It is also much more portable with its 14″ screen and is much lighter with a weight only 3.3lbs.

Combine that with an IPS display panel for better contrasts, more accurate colors and larger view angles and you get the perfect traditional laptop to carry around. This is also the best model in its category for this price range.

At a budget price range, this is the best traditional laptop you can get, with great performance, highly portable, good build quality, great screen and good battery life!

Pros:

  1.  Equipped with an Intel Core i5-6200U Dual-Core + Hyper-Threading 2.3GHz CPU.
  2. Screen with a 1920 x 1080 Full HD resolution.
  3. 256GB SSD which is much faster than a regular hard drive and also offers a great booting speed.
  4. Windows 10
  5. IPS display panel for better contrasts, accurate colors and larger view angles.
  6. Thin and lightweight : 9.3 x 13.4 x 0.7″ and 3.3lbs.
  7. Solid all-aluminium body, good build quality.
  8. Finger print reader for better authentication security.
  9. HDMI output to connect your display to an external screen
  10. 1x USB 3.0 ports, 1x USB 2.0 port and 1x USB 3.1 (Type C) port.
  11. Backlit keyboard so it is easier to type in the dark.
  12. SD card reader: Can be useful for extra storage or to upload media from devices such as cameras.
  13. 8GB of DDR4 RAM
  14. Good battery life : up to 10 hours per charge. Realistically you can expect less when browsing the internet with WiFi turned on.
  15. 802.11 ac WiFi
  16. HD Webcam
  17. Numpad
  18. Bluetooth 4.0

Cons:

  1. Keyboard layout could be better: the up and down arrow keys are half-size and the power button is part of the keyboard.
  2. No optical drive. You can get an external USB powered optical drive, if you want to.
  3. No numpad

17.3″ entertainment and desktop replacement laptop

HP Notebook Laptop:

– Click here to see the price on Amazon

HP Notebook Laptop:

This is the best choice if you are looking for the most inexpensive entertainment desktop replacement laptop at the best price. This laptop has a AMD quad-core A10-8700P CPU which is good, good AMD Radeon integrated graphic card, 8GB of RAM and a 1TB HDD.

This laptop is refurbished meaning it has been cleaned, built and tested to work and look like a new product. It is also repackaged and has a 90 days warranty.

Pros:

  1.  Equipped with an  A10-8700P Quad-core APU 1.8-3.2GHz.
  2. 1TB hard drive which is plenty of storage.
  3. 1600 x 900 HD+ resolution.
  4. Windows 10
  5. 2 x USB 2.0 and 1 x USB 3.0 ports.
  6. HDMI output to connect your display to an external display.
  7. Ethernet RJ45 port for a direct internet connection.
  8. Multi-format digital media card reader : Can be useful for extra storage or to upload media from devices such as cameras.
  9. 8GB of RAM.
  10. HD Webcam
  11. Optical drive
  12. Numpad

Cons:

  1. TN panel: Poor contrast, not accurate color reproduction and poor viewing angles.
  2. Poor integrated video card performance: Fine for web, office and the like. Forget about gaming.
  3. No dedicated left and right click buttons.

DELL Inspiron i5759-4129BLK:

– 449.99 at Newegg

About the DELL Inspiron i5759-4129BLK:

This laptop has a good all around performance with a i5-6200U processor, and HD+ resolution of 1600×900  and a good amount of storage with a 1TB HDD drive.

It also has a decent display with a 1600 x 900 HD+ resolution.

This laptop is refurbished meaning it has been cleaned, built and tested to work and look like a new product. It is also repackaged and has a 90 days warranty.

Pros:

  1.  Equipped with an Intel Core i5-6200U Dual-Core + Hyper-Threading 2.3GHz-2.8GHz CPU.
  2. 1TB hard drive which is plenty of storage
  3. Windows 10
  4. HD+ 1600 x 900 resolution
  5. Backlit keyboard
  6. Decent keyboard layout
  7. 2x USB and 1 USB 3.0 ports.
  8. HDMI output.
  9. Ethernet RJ45 port for a direct internet connection.
  10. SD card reader: Can be useful for extra storage or to upload media from devices such as cameras.
  11. 8GB of DDR3 RAM.
  12. 802.11ac WiFi
  13. Bluetooth 4.0
  14. Optical drive
  15. Numpad

Cons:

  1. TN panel: Poor contrast, not accurate color reproduction and poor viewing angles.
  2. Poor integrated video card performance: Fine for web, office and the like. Forget about gaming.
  3. 1.2″ thick and 7.49lbs: Not that portable
  4. 5400 RPM hard drive makes the system slower to response and boot.

Acer Laptop Aspire E5-774G-52W1

– Click here to see the price on Amazon
– $569.99 at Newegg

About the Aspire E5-774G-52W12:

At this price, the Aspire E5-774G-52W1 offers great performance with the i5-7200U CPU from the newest generation of Intel processors. A beautiful full HD display and top that with a 256GB SSD for a responsive laptop with a fast booting speed.

It also comes with a NVIDIA GeForce 940MX graphics card which is a decent card to run games at low or medium settings with a good FPS rate.

Pros:

  1. Good processor, capable of handling demanding tasks: Intel Core i5-7200U Dual-Core + Hyper-Threading 2.5-3.1GHz
  2. 256GB SSD drive: Much faster than a regular hard drive and an even faster booting speed.
  3. Dedicated NVIDIA GeForce 940MX graphics card, which allows you to play most games on low visual settings with decent FPS and some games on medium settings well.
  4. Windows 10
  5. Full HD 1920 x 1080 display
  6. 8GB of DDR4 RAM that can be upgraded to 32GB (2 x 16GB).
  7. 2x USB 3.0 port, 2x USB 2.0 and 1x USB 3.1 (Type C) port.
  8. SD card reader: Can be useful for extra storage or to upload media from devices such as cameras.
  9. Good audio quality
  10. HD Webcam
  11. 802.11ac WiFi
  12. VGA and HDMI Output to connect your display on external screens.
  13. Bluetooth 4.1
  14. Numpad

Cons:

  1. TN panel: Poor contrast, not accurate color reproduction and poor viewing angles. Expected at this price point.
  2. 1.09″ thick and 6.83lbs: Not the lightest portable
  3. No optical drive. You can get an external USB powered optical drive, if you want to.
  4. The battery life is not that good, with an estimate of 5.5 hours battery life per charge so you can expect much less when using the computer for demanding tasks such as games and ressource heavy applications.

Business laptops

HP 13.3″ ProBook 430 G3 Notebook:

– $399.99 at B&H (Worldwide Shipping)

About the HP  ProBook 430 G3:

This laptop is the perfect entry-level business laptop. It is equipped with a fairly powerful Intel Core i3-6100U Dual-Core CPU, 8GB of DDR3 RAM and has a 128GB SSD that makes the laptop more responsive, boot faster, more reliable and more shock resistant than a laptop equipped with a regular hard drive.

It is equipped with a fingerprint scanner for extra security and a Trusted Platform Module that does hardware based encryption to protect your data.

The HP ProBook 430 also comes with 1 year of Kaspersky internet security 2016 anti-virus which is a nice little perk.

Pros:

  1. Equipped with an Intel Core i3-6100U Dual-Core + Hyper-Threading 2.3GHz CPU.
  2. 128GB  SSD that is a lot faster than a regular HDD, it greatly speeds up your overall performance and booting speed.
  3. 8GB of DDR3 RAM allows you to run a few programs at once.
  4. Windows 10
  5. Battery life of around 5 hours for web browsing with WiFi on.
  6. 1 year of free Kaspersky anti-virus
  7. Matte screen finish so it doesn’t reflect sunlight.
  8. Micro SDXC and SDXC card reader: Useful to expand the storage capacity.
  9. 2 USB 3.0  and 1 USB 2.0 port.
  10. 1 HDMI and 1 VGA output to plug your display on external screens.
  11. Dedicated touchpad right and left click buttons.
  12. Bluetooth 4.0
  13. HD 720p webcam.
  14. Finger print reader for better authentication security.
  15. Encryption platform
  16. Good  build quality.
  17. RJ-45 LAN port
  18. Highly portable: 12.8 x 0.8 x 9.2″ and 3.31lbs

Cons:

  1. No optical drive, so if you want to listen to music on audio CDs or to DVDs or Blu Ray disks, you’ll need to use an external USB optical drive.
  2. No numpad: Usually the case on a 13.3″ laptop
  3. WiFi is limited to 802.11a/b/g/n, not the faster 802.11ac variant.
  4. Keyboard is not backlit.
  5. Keyboard layout could be better : half size up and down arrow keys can be an annoyance if you use them a lot.
  6. Screen equipped with a 1366 x 768 resolution and low-quality TN panel: Poor contrast, not accurate color reproduction and poor viewing angles.

Lenovo 14″ ThinkPad E460 Notebook:

– Click here to see the price on Amazon
– $599.00 at B&H (Worldwide Shipping)
– $638.99 at Newegg

About the Lenovo 14″ ThinkPad E460 Notebook:

If you are looking for more performance and more features than what the HP ProBook 430 can offer, this model will do the job for you. It is equipped with an Intel Core i5-6200U CPU which is a nice upgrade from the i3-6100U as it features the Turbo mode, allowing it to reach higher frequencies, resulting in higher performance..

It also has several nice features such as a trackpoint, a finger print reader for extra security and a spill resistant keyboard.

It has a 7200 RPM 500GB Hard drive, meaning it is a bit faster than what most laptops have but slower than an SSD.

Pros:

  1. Equipped with an Intel Core i5-6200 Dual-Core + Hyper-Threading 2.3-2.8GHz CPU.
  2. Great battery life: Expect 6-7 hours of web browsing
  3. Windows 7 Pro
  4. 2 memory slots for RAM and one slot is empty, meaning you can easily add an extra stick of memory to get 8GB or even 12GB.
  5. Backlit keyboard
  6. Finger print reader for better authentication security.
  7. Power on password lock for extra security.
  8. Dedicated touch pad buttons for left and right click.
  9. Trackpoint.
  10. Spill resistant keyboard
  11. Pretty good build.
  12. Docking connector to add a docking station for extra ports.
  13. 720p HD webcam
  14. HDMI output to plug your display on an external screen
  15. 4-in-1 Media card reader
  16. 802.11ac WiFi
  17. Bluetooth 4.2

Cons:

  1. Screen equipped with a low-quality TN panel: Poor contrast, not accurate color reproduction and poor viewing angles.
  2. Single stick of RAM means single-channel memory, not dual-channel. Expect a small (average 5%) performance hit compared to dual channel. Add a second stick (preferably same capacity) for optimal RAM performance.
  3. No optical drive. You can get an external USB powered optical drive, if you want to..

Dell Latitude E5470:

– $687.99 at Newegg

About the Dell Latitude E5470:

This model is ideal if you want a powerful Intel quad-core CPU in a relatively lightweight laptop.

It combines a powerful Intel quad-core CPU, 8GB of RAM, a SSD that makes the laptop more responsive, boot faster, more reliable and more shock resistant than a laptop equipped with a regular hard drive, a great display and much more, while weighting 3.88lbs.

It is also easy to open up for maintenance and upgrades.

Combine all of this with a solid build quality, plenty of different ports and multiple security features and you get the best business laptop on a budget!

Pros:

  1. Equipped with an Intel Core i5-6300HQ Quad-Core 2.3-3.2GHz CPU.
  2. Oustanding battery life: Expect 11 hours of web browsing with WiFi
  3. Windows 10 Pro
  4. 8GB of DDR3 RAM that can be upgraded up to 64GB.
  5. 2 memory slots for RAM and one slot is empty, meaning you can easily add an extra stick of 4GB to get 12GB or even a stick of 8GB to get 16GB.
  6. Easy maintenance : you only have to remove the bottom cover and the memory, drive, battery and fan are accessible.
  7. Full HD 1080p 1920 x 1080 resolution
  8. 3 x USB 3.0 ports
  9. RJ45 Ethernet port
  10. HDMI output
  11. SD card reader and Smart card reader to read SD cards and Smart cards
  12. Finger print reader for better authentication security.
  13. Security software for data protection.
  14. Dedicated touchpad buttons for left and right click.
  15. Trackpoint.
  16. Very solid build.
  17. Good keyboard layout
  18. 720p HD webcam
  19. 802.11ac WiFi
  20. Bluetooth 4.0
  21. Good weight for its size : 3.88lbs

Cons:

  1. Screen equipped with a low-quality TN panel: Poor contrast, not accurate color reproduction and poor viewing angles.
  2. No optical drive. You can get an external USB powered optical drive, if you want to.
  3. Single stick of RAM means single-channel memory, not dual-channel. Expect a small (average 5%) performance hit compared to dual channel. Add a second stick (preferably same capacity) for optimal RAM performance.
  4. No Backlit Keyboard
  5. Maximum screen brightness is a bit on the low side.
  6. Limited storage capacity, but you can always upgrade the storage if you need more.

Workstations

Lenovo Thinkpad W530:

– $356.9thinkpadw5309 at Newegg

About the Lenovo Thinkpad W530:

This workstation is the best laptop you can get performance wise and reliability wise when it comes to mobile workstations at this price point.

It is the first time that I have seen such a powerful workstation at such a low price and as such, this deal may not last very long.

It is equipped with a older but still highly powerful Intel Core i7-3720QM Quad Core + Hyper-Threading 2.6-3.6GHz CPU, 8GB of RAM, a 180GB SSD and a NVIDIA K1000M 2GB Graphic Card.

Being a workstation laptop, it is easy to upgrade to add RAM and/or

It also has a HD+ (1600 x 1900) display and extra features such as a fingerprint reader for authentification and an optical drive to read CDs, DVDs and Bluerays.

You also get a free one month Office 365 trial preloaded in the laptop.

This is a refurbished product, meaning it has been restored to work and look like a new product. It also has a 90 days warranty.

Pros:

  1. Equipped with a Intel Core i7 3720QM Quad-Core + Hyper-Threading 2.6-3.6GHz Quad Core CPU
  2. Dedicated NVIDIA K1000M 2GB workstation class graphic card.
  3. Windows 10 Pro
  4. 180GB SSD for better responsiveness and booting speed.
  5. 8GB of DDR3 RAM
  6. Better than HD 1600 x 900 resolution
  7. Matte screen
  8. VGA, mini display and Firewire 400 Output
  9. 2x USB 3.0 ports and 2x USB 2.0 ports
  10. Dual-band 802.11 ac WiFi
  11. Bluetooth 4.0
  12. Very solid build: Military-Specification Testing
  13. Trackpoint
  14. Dedicated left and right click buttons.
  15. Great keyboard layout
  16. Backlit keyboard
  17. Easy maintenance: Two RAM slots and a mSATA slot are easily accessible via the bottom panel, the optical drive can easily be replaced with a Hard drive or an SSD.
  18. Docking connector to add a docking station for extra ports.
  19. Fingerprint reader
  20. Optical drive
  21. Up to 6 hours battery life browsing the internet with WiFi
  22. ISV Certification
  23. Integrated Color Calibrator

Cons:

  1. No numpad
  2. The 180GB SSD is a bit small for storage, on the other hand, you can easily add another drive to the laptop via the maintenance hatch or the optical drive that is replaceable.
  3. No Webcam
  4. CPU performance drops when running on battery power.
  5. Limited battery life, will vary depending on the state of the battery on the refurbished unit. Good news is that the battery can be swapped.

DELL Precision M4700:

– $579.99 at Neweggdellprecision

About the DELL Precision M4700:

If you are looking to get even better performance, the DELL precision M4700 has 16GB of RAM instead of 8GB and is equipped with a more powerful NVIDIA K2000M workstation class graphic card.

You also get a better display with a Full HD 1920 x 1080 display with an IPS panel for better contrasts, accurate colors and larger view angles.

This is a refurbished product, meaning it has been restored to work and look like a new product. That said, you still get a one year warranty.

Pros:

  1. Equipped with a Intel Core i7 3720QM Quad-Core + Hyper-Threading 2.6-3.6GHz Quad Core CPU
  2. Dedicated NVIDIA K2000M 2GB workstation class graphic card.
  3. Windows 10 Pro
  4. 256GB SSD for better responsiveness and booting speed.
  5. 16GB of DDR3 RAM
  6. Full HD 1920 x 1080 resolution
  7. IPS display panel for better contrasts, accurate colors and larger view angles.
  8. Matte screen
  9. VGA, HDMI, Displayport and Firewire 1314 Output
  10. 2x USB 3.0 ports and 3x USB 2.0 ports
  11. 802.11 ac WiFi
  12. Bluetooth 4.0
  13. Very solid build.
  14. Trackpoint
  15. Two sets of dedicated left and right click buttons.
  16. Great keyboard layout
  17. High quality comfortable keyboard
  18. Keyboard backlight
  19. Numpad
  20. Easy maintenance: Two RAM slots and a mSATA slot are easily accessible via the bottom panel that can be opened by removing the battery and two screws.
  21. You can easily add an hard drive with the available 2.5″ that slides out from the side of the laptop
  22. Docking connector to add a docking station for extra ports.
  23. Fingerprint reader
  24. Smartcard reader
  25. SD card reader
  26. Optical drive
  27. Webcam
  28. Excellent cooling system, won’t throttle under full load.

Cons:

  1. The 256GB SSD is a bit small for storage, on the other hand, you can easily add another drive to the laptop by removing the bottom panel.
  2. Poor battery life : up to 3 hours while web surfing with WiFi, with a new battery. Refurbished units batteries won’t last that long.
  3. Graphic card performance drops when running on battery power.
  4. Heavy and thick: 7.58lbs

Click here to go back up to the summary

Upgrade your Laptop:

Upgrade your RAM:

RAM can easily be upgraded on most laptops. Do note that some laptops cannot be upgraded at all, due to their unique design. A quick google search should provide that info. Feel free to ask me in the comment section if you aren’t sure and can’t find the info.

Visit The Best Computer Memory (RAM) article for my recommendations. Note that you’ll want SODIMM RAM, either DDR3 or DDR4 depending on your laptop.

Upgrade your hard drive:

You can upgrade your hard drive to a faster and/or a larger hard drive. See our article on The Best Hard Drives (HDD) For Your Money and scroll down to the best 2.5″ hard drives for my recommendations.

Some laptops accept hard drives with a 7mm height, others with a 9.5mm height.

Upgrade to a SSD or upgrade your current SSD to get higher capacity and/or higher performance!

A SSD (Solid State Drive) is far faster than a hard drive (See our SSD FAQ) and it also consumes less power than a hard drive, so replacing a hard drive by a SSD will slightly boost your laptop’s battery life.

If you want to upgrade your hard drive to a SSD, I recommend that you read our The Best SSDs (Solid State Drives) For Your Money article.

I also recommend getting an external hard drive enclosure, so you can put your hard drive in it and use it for additional storage

When you replace the hard drive that your laptop came with, I recommend putting it in the Sabrent USB 3.0 2.5″ SATA Hard Drive Enclosure from Amazon or from B&H (Worldwide Shipping)

This particular enclosure comes with a retractable cable that is connected to the enclosure, so you don’t lose/forget it and it makes the whole package more compact too. It comes with an extension cord if you need it.

Looking for a different external case or need a specific cable? Leave a comment if you need assistance with finding what’s best for your needs.

USB DVD and Blu-Ray Drives

If your laptop doesn’t come with an optical drive and you want one, here are my recommendations for external USB optical drives.

USB DVD Burner

The LG GP60NB50 8x, from Amazon or from B&H (Worldwide Shipping), is the one with the best customer reviews.

USB Blu-Ray Burner

I recommend three USB Blu-Ray burner. Make sure to plug them in an USB 3.0 port to get the maximum speed possible.

In order of price and burning speed:
Pioneer BDR-XD05S 6x, from Amazon or $74.99 at B&H (Worldwide Shipping)

– ASUS BW-12D1S-U 12x from Amazon or $97.50 at B&H (Worldwide Shipping)

OWC Mercury Pro External USB 3.0 16x Blu Ray reader/writer, $129.50 at B&H (Worldwide Shipping)

WiFi routers, WiFi Adapters and Bluetooth adapter:

Need a WiFi router, an USB WiFi adapter or an USB Bluetooth adapter for your laptop? Check out our recommendations for The Best WiFi Routers, Best WiFi Adapters and Bluetooth Adapter.

Conclusion

I hope that you’ve enjoyed this article.

With this being such a long article with many recommendations and alternatives, you may find some typos.

Alternatively, you may believe that there’s a better option than my recommendation.

Or you may have some questions.

In any case, please leave a comment below and I’ll get back to you, to help find the best laptop for your needs and to answer your questions.