The Best Budget Laptops For Your Money: October 2013

| October 15, 2013 | (11)

Updated on October 15th 2013

The Best Budget Laptops For Your Money?

By that, we mean the laptops that offer the best features at a given price.

Why would you want that? 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?

If you have the time to do research… but who does?

Many of us don’t have the time to read or the knowledge to understand detailed laptop reviews and specifications and just want the answers.

In other words, what you want to know is:
What’s the best budget laptop for my budget?

So if you don’t have the time, don’t worry. We’re here to help you with this article.

The features that we evaluate in order to make our recommendations:

We evaluate the following:

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?

We then recommend laptops that score the best amongst all those points, at various price points.

Alternatives recommendations:

We also suggest alternative recommendations, with clear explanations as to why they are interesting alternatives. That way, you can easily choose the best laptop to answer YOUR needs and desires.

Put all of this together and you get this article: The Best Budget Laptops For Your Money.

ASUS X202E-DB21T

The ASUS X202E-DB21T, the best laptop for $400.

A few reminders:

I’ll use this opportunity to remind you that this article is only a guideline for the prices I’ve seen on October 15th 2013. Here are a few things to keep in mind when you read this article:

- This specific article on mainstream laptops have three price ranges for the recommended laptops: Under $300, $400 and $500. I may also suggest some alternatives to my main recommendations, for reasons that I’ll explain.
- This list is based on the best prices from B&H, NewEgg and/or Amazon. Prices and availability change all the time. While I can’t keep up with ever changing prices, I can suggest to you great drives that you won’t regret buying.
- All prices are based on new laptops prices, no refurbished or open box laptops are listed; they might be a good deal, but they come with trade offs, such as missing accessories, higher failure rate, limited return policy, limited warranty, etc.
- I recommend a few different types of laptops, such as General Computing, Gaming, Touchscreen, etc. Each type has its pros and cons, so make sure to read the details to figure out which type suits you best.
- I also recommend upgrades for RAM(memory) and faster/larger hard drive, as well as the far higher performance SSDs.

Summary

Click on any of these links to jump to the section that interests you. Alternatively, scroll down to see them all, in this order.

The Best Budget Laptop for:

  1. Less than $300
  2. $400
  3. $500

Performance upgrades: Upgrade the RAM and/or the hard drive:

  1. Upgrade the RAM
  2. Upgrade the hard drive to a larger/faster hard drive or to a SSD

Best Laptop for less than $300

Samsung Chromebook

$248 at Amazon (USA)
$248 at B&H (International Shipping)

About the Samsung Chromebook:

One of the smallest, most compact, most simple to use and most affordable laptop!

Are you looking for an inexpensive, great looking, simple to use and highly portable computer to browse the web, listen to music and/or stream videos (Spotify, Netflix, Hulu and Youtube)? This is it!

The Samsung Chromebook is unlike any laptop that you have ever used, as a matter of a fact this won’t be like anything you have ever used. This is just a web browser through and through, with apps. The laptop is more current now so more then ever, with “cloud computing” becoming the latest trend in the market, Chromebooks are literally made for cloud computing.

If you have an Android phone, used Gmail, and regularly used many of Google’s applications, you’ll feel just at home with the Chromebook. Even if that isn’t the case, it’s easy to learn.

Setup is very simple and only takes a few minutes. No need concern yourself with updates, patches, anti-virus software, or even software installation, the OS takes care of it for you automatically. All applications are used through the web browser (you’ve guessed it: Chrome), with Google Docs for office apps, Google Drive to save and share your documents and Google App store.

Thanks to the ChromeOS, the laptop is very snappy and easy to use. Really, if you’re looking for an inexpensive, great looking, simple to use and highly portable computer to browse the web, listen to music and stream videos, you should highly consider the Samsung Chromebook. I’ve used it myself and greatly appreciated it. I also recommended one to my girlfriend: She uses it to browse the web and to write. She loves it, loves its portability, looks and simplicity of use, as well as the low price of course!

For those who are brand new to Chrome, it will take some time adjusting to the strange new Chrome surroundings, having to work mostly within a browser and relying on the Chrome App Store, but it doesn’t take long to see the benefits of a cloud based laptop that does those everyday tasks so effectively and with minimal fuss. The cheaper components don’t have a detrimental effect on the overall performance, but if you are a power user, don’t expect a powerful quad-core laptop either.

Pros:

  1. Extremely low cost: Less than $250!
  2. Highly portable: 11.4″ x 8.09″ x 0.7″ and only 2.43lbs! Small and light power adapter too.
  3. Matte screen
  4. Great battery life and quick recharge: 6-10 hours of battery life, recharges in about 2 hours.
  5. Quick boot-up and instant resume: Under 10 second boot up and nearly instant resume from sleep!
  6. All the free applications from Google: Google documents are a free and good alternative to Microsoft Office. Still want Office? Use Microsoft Office 365 online for $10 a month.
  7. No need concern yourself with updates, patches, anti-virus software, or even software installation.
  8. Google (Chrome) OS: Simple user interface, extremely lightweight and snappy.
  9. Automatic updates: Chromebooks automatically update themselves: all of your apps stay up-to-date, and you get the latest version of the operating system without having to think about it.
  10. Quick setup: Chromebooks require almost no setup, it takes only a few minutes.
  11. Completely silent: No moving parts (SSD and no noisy fan!).
  12. Despite the lack of a fan, it remains cool, due to its low-power components.
  13. Surprisingly good quality construction despite its rock-bottom price. It’s not a tank but it is sturdy.
  14. Full-size keyboard designed for Chrome: The keyboard is optimized for Chrome with a dedicated search key, a row of web-enabled keys, and a comfortable, full-size layout that doesn’t cramp your fingers.
  15. Online automatic backups/sync: Create, save and share your files online, thanks to Google Drive. You can access them from any computer too!
  16. Storage in the cloud: With 100GB of free Google Drive storage for two years, you can keep all of your apps, documents, favorites, and settings safe and securely accessible from anywhere.

Cons:

  1. This “Chromebook” doesn’t run on Windows, so you can’t install programs or games that run on Windows but only applications from Google app store.
  2. ChromeOS takes a bit of time to get used to. Give yourself some time (a few hours) to find everything that you need and to get used to it. It’s fairly easy to figure out and the help documents are actually helpful.
  3. May struggle to playback some higher bitrate high-definition (1080p) .AVI or .MKV video files. Most standard definition, some high-def content (720p) and streaming will playback without any issues though.
  4. Touchpad takes some time to get used to it, as it offers different gestures.
  5. Average 1366 x 768 resolution (Con or pro: Higher resolution would make text small and would increase the cost of the laptop).
  6. Limited onboard storage (16GiB) but Google offers 100GB of free online (cloud) storage for two years. You can also use a SD card.
  7. No Numpad

Ideal for:

  1. Anyone who’s looking for an inexpensive, great looking, simple to use and highly portable computer for basic computing.
  2. Someone who’s traveling a lot and who wants an highly-portable, lightweight laptop to carry around all day.
  3. Someone who wants a very long battery life.
  4. Someone who wants to use their laptop outside (Note that there’s a $397 version with 3G connectivity ), thanks to the anti-reflective matte screen.

To avoid for:

  • Someone who needs to install specific Window programs for which there are no good alternatives available online.
  • Someone who wants to play a lot of video games.
  • Someone who wants a powerful quad-core laptop to run about anything.

Compared to similar laptops:
There simply is no other laptop for $250 that offers what the Samsung Chromebook offers. There are other Chromebook, but they are either more expensive or aren’t as solid or don’t have the battery life of the Samsung Chromebook.
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Specifications:

Components
Samsung Chromebook
OS Chrome OS
CPU Samsung Exynos 5 (Cortex A15) Dual Core 1.7GHz
Screen
Webcam
Video Card
11.6″ 1366 x 768 LED backlight
Yes: 0.3P (640×480)
Integrated graphics: ARM Mali-T604
RAM
Slots/Max RAM
2GB (1x2GB) DDR3 1066MHz
None, soldered onboard, not upgradable
Storage 16GiB SSD + 100GB Google Drive Online storage free for 2 years
Optical Drive None
Audio Integrated microphone
3W Stereo Speaker (1.5W x 2)
Networking No LAN (USB slot can handle Ethernet dongle)
802.11b/g/n Wifi
Bluetooth 3.0 (for keyboard and mouse)
Ports 3-in-1 (SD/SDHC/SDXC) Card Reader
Headphone and Microphone Two-in-one 3.5mm jack
1 x USB 3.0
1x USB 2.0
HDMI Output
Dimensions
Weight
11.4″ x 8.09″ x 0.7″
2.43lbs
Battery Life 6-10 hours

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Alternative #1: $290 “Netbook” with Windows 8
If Google Chrome OS doesn’t interest you, the ASUS 1015E-DS01$292.50 at Amazon (USA) or: $295.00 at B&H (International Shipping), is an excellent alternative that runs on Windows 8 and doesn’t cost much more.

If you ever had a “netbook” computer, this is the updated version so to speak, with a more powerful processor, a screen with an higher resolution (1366 x 768 vs 1024 x 600 for netbooks) and a fully operational OS (Windows 8 vs a crippled “starter” version of Windows 7).

With its 1.1GHz dual-core CPU and 2GB of RAM, it’s no powerhouse but if all you want to do with it is browse the Web, listen to some music and use Office applications (Word, Excel, etc.) and need a good battery life (6-7 hours), it’s a good choice.

Another big pro of ASUS notebooks is the 1-Year Accidental Damage Protection, which covers accidental drops, spills, power surges and fire damage (registration required, for more information, visit http://notebookcare.asus.com ))

Alternative #2: A more powerful ultra-portable laptop with a touchscreen for $300
If you want a more powerful alternative with a touchscreen, the ASUS X200CA-DB01T: $299.99 at Amazon (USA) or $299 at B&H (International Shipping) is another excellent alternative that runs on Windows 8 and doesn’t cost much more.

The Intel Celeron 1007U in the the ASUS X200CA-DB01T offers far better performance than the Intel Celeron 847 in the ASUS 1015E-DS01 (alternative #1 above), thanks to its higher frequency (1.5GHz vs 1.1GHz).

It also features a touchscreen, unlike the ASUS 1015E-DS01 and its a bit larger, due to its 11.6″ touchscreen (10.1″ for the ASUS 1015E-DS01).

It also has only 2GB of RAM (cannot be upgraded unfortunately), so it’s no powerhouse but if all you want to do with it is browse the Web, listen to some music and use Office applications (Word, Excel, etc.), want a touchscreen and need a decent battery life (4-5 hours), it’s a good choice.

It also comes with the 1-Year Accidental Damage Protection, which covers accidental drops, spills, power surges and fire damage (registration required, for more information, visit http://notebookcare.asus.com ))

Best Laptop for $400

ASUS X202E-DB21T:

$396.48 at Amazon (USA)
$396.48 at B&H (International Shipping)

About the ASUS X202E-DB21T:

Pros:

  1. Highly portable: It measures 11.9″ x 7.9″ x 0.9″ and it weights only 2.9lbs
  2. For the price, decent processing power with the 1.8GHz Dual-Core Intel Pentium 2117U processor.
  3. 11.6″ touchscreen, a rare thing at this price point.
  4. One year warranty that covers accidental damage such as drops, spills, fire with 2-way free shipping and 30-Day Zero Bright Dot warranty.
  5. ASUS makes some of the most reliable laptops in the industry.
  6. Good keyboard.
  7. Metal frame: Solid and attractive.
  8. ASUS 2-second resume from sleep or hibernate mode
  9. ASUS SonicMaster: Despite its small size, this notebook has pretty good sounding speakers.
  10. One USB 3.0 port.
  11. 3-in-1 card reader
  12. Low cost: $400

Cons:

  1. Limited video card (Intel HD) performance. Fine for older games or some less demanding newer games with low-resolution/minimum details settings.
  2. RAM cannot be upgraded.
  3. Average battery life. Expect about 3-4 hours of web browsing.
  4. No Numpad. The larger alternative has one if you need it.

Ideal for:

  • Someone who’s traveling a lot and who wants an highly-portable, lightweight laptop to carry around all day.
  • Someone who wants a low-cost laptop with a touchscreen.

To avoid for:

  • Someone who wants to play a lot of video games.
  • Someone who wants a very long battery life.

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Specifications:

Components
ASUS X202E-DB21T
OS Windows 8 64-bit
CPU Intel Pentium 2117U 1.8GHz Dual-Core
Screen
Webcam
Video Card
11.6″ 1366 x 768 Multitouch Touchscreen
Yes: HD (1280×720)
Intel HD
RAM
Slots/Max RAM
4GB (1x4GB) DDR3 1333MHz (Soldered)
No open Slot, maximum 4GB
Storage 500GB Hard Drive running at 5,400RPM
Optical Drive None
Audio Integrated microphone
Altec Lansing Stereo Speakers
SonicMaster Lite audio enhancement
Networking LAN: 10/100/1000Mbps
802.11b/g/n Wifi
Ports 3-in 1 Card Reader
Headphone and Microphone 3.5mm 2-in-1 combo jack
1 x USB 3.0
2x USB 2.0
LAN
VGA Output
HDMI Output
Dimensions
Weight
11.9″ x 7.9″ x 0.80″
2.9lbs
Battery Life 3-4 hours

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$450 Entry-Level Gaming Laptop Alternatives

If you’re strapped for cash but still want a decent gaming laptop that can handle games at low/medium settings, here are two alternatives that cost about $450:

#1:
The first one, the $441.02 – ASUS K55N-DB81 comes with the AMD “Trinity” A8-4500M Quad-Core 1.9GHz APU and the Radeon HD 7640G integrated video card. While it’s no match for a dedicated video card, it’s still far better than Intel integrated graphics and it will allow you to play most video games with low or medium settings.

It also comes with the 1-Year Accidental Damage Protection, which covers accidental drops, spills, power surges and fire damage (registration required, for more information, visit http://notebookcare.asus.com ))

#2:
The second one, the $438.66 – Acer Aspire V5-552-8404, comes with the slightly faster newer generation AMD “Richland” A8-5557M Quad-Core 2.1 GHz APU and the slightly faster AMD Radeon HD 8550G integrated video card.

With its brushed aluminum finish, at only 0.82″ thick and with a weight of only 4.4 pounds, it’s a very light and very attractive gaming laptop.

Please note that it only comes with a single memory stick, which hampers performance quite a bit, as the integrated video card uses the laptop RAM. If you intend to buy this laptop, I HIGHLY recommend getting a $42.66 – Crucial 4GB SO-DIMM DDR3 1600MHz memory stick to put it in the available RAM slot, so that the laptop can run with dual-channel memory, in order to maximize the integrated video card performance.

Adding a memory stick to the laptop is a very simple procedure, you can find various guides on how to do so online. If you don’t intend on adding that memory stick, I’d then recommend going with the #1 alternative for better video game performance.

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Best Laptop for $500

Lenovo G500 59373039: $479.99 at Amazon (USA)

About the Lenovo G500 59373039:

Pros:

  1. Most powerful CPU at this price point: Intel Core i5-3230M Dual-Core + Hyper-Threading, 2.6-3.2GHz Turbo
  2. Numpad: Very useful for spreadsheets.
  3. Good keyboard, typing is a joy.
  4. 1280 x 720 Webcam: Great for Skype and other IM programs, or simply for video recording.
  5. Two USB 3.0 port.
  6. Lenovo build quality

Cons:

  1. Somewhat limited video card (Intel HD 4000) performance. Fine for older games or some less demanding newer games with low-resolution/minimum details settings.
  2. Average 1366 x 768 resolution.
  3. Average battery life. Expect about 3.5 hours of web browsing.
  4. Average size and weight, not exactly a small lightweight laptop.
  5. LAN speed limited to 100Mbps instead of 1000Mbps.

Ideal for:

  • Anyone who needs a laptop with a powerful CPU at a low cost. Also great for anyone who needs a laptop with enough power to last a few years, without ruining him/her.

To avoid for:

  • Someone who’s traveling a lot and who wants an highly-portable, lightweight laptop to carry around all day.
  • Someone who wants to play a lot of video games.
  • Someone who wants a very long battery life.

Compared to similar laptops:
No other budget laptop for $500 or less comes with such a powerful Intel dual-core processor, making this laptop the most powerful $500 laptop available on the market today.
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Specifications:

Components
Lenovo G500 59373039
OS Windows 8 64-bit
CPU Intel Core i5-3230M Dual-Core + Hyper-Threading 2.3GHz-3.2GHz Turbo
Screen
Webcam
Video Card
15.6″ 1366 x 768 LED backlight
Yes: 720P (1280 x 720)
Intel HD 4000
RAM
Slots/Max RAM
4GB (2x2GB) DDR3 1600MHz
2 Slot, maximum 16GB
Storage 500GB Hard Drive running at 5,400RPM
Optical Drive DVD+/-RW SuperMulti DL LightScribe
Audio Dolby Advanced Audio
Integrated microphone
Two stereo speakers
Networking LAN: 10/100Mbps
802.11b/g/n Wifi
Ports 3-in 1 Card Reader
Headphone and Microphone 3.5mm 2-in-1 combo jack

2x USB 3.0
1x USB 2.0
LAN
VGA Output
HDMI Output
Dimensions
Weight
14.8″ x 9.8″ x 1.3″
5.73lbs
Battery Size
Battery Life
6-cell Li-Ion
3.5-4.5 hours

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Three Touchscreen Laptop Alternatives:

Want a laptop with a touchscreen that costs around $500? I recommend three alternatives:

#1: Low cost, Good battery life, 4 USB ports and optical drive:
The $439.00 – Dell Inspiron 15 (3521) i15RV-6143BLK is a 15.6″ touchscreen laptop available for $480.

Pros:
- Low cost ($439)
- 15.6″ touchscreen
- 4 USB ports: 2xUSB 3.0 and 2xUSB 2.0
- Somewhat thin (1″) and light (5.0lbs)
- Good keyboard with numpad
- Decent audio
- Low voltage CPU/RAM and 6-cell battery results in a good battery life

Cons:
- Not the fastest CPU: Intel Pentium 2127, Dual-Core 1.9GHz. Older 2nd generation Core CPU, with no Hyper-Threading nor Turbo.
- Weak video card (Intel integrated): This is not a gaming laptop.
- Average build quality, plastic.
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#2: Fast CPU, backlit keyboard and optical drive:
The $519.95 – Acer Aspire V5-471P-6498 is a 14″ touchscreen laptop available for $513.

Pros:
- Powerful CPU: Intel Core i5-3337U Dual-Core + Hyper-Threading 1.8-2.7GHz Turbo
- 14″ touchscreen
- Backlit keyboard
- Somewhat thin (0.95″) and light (4.85lbs)
- Good keyboard
- Bluetooth 4.0+HS

Cons:
- No numpad
- Average build quality.
- Poor battery life: Expect roughly 3-4 hours of web browsing
- LAN connection requires a provided adapter.
- Wifi may require available updated drivers to avoid issues.
- Average speakers located at the bottom of laptop.
- Weak video card (Intel integrated): This is not a gaming laptop.
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#3: Good CPU, backlit keyboard, 32GB SSD cache and good speakers:
The $625.49 – HP ENVY TouchScreen 14″ is a 14″ touchscreen laptop available for $549.

Pros:
- Good CPU: Intel Core i3-3217U Dual-Core + Hyper-Threading 1.8GHz
- 32GB Hybrid SSD based cache: Allows the laptop to boot in 15 seconds, accelerates program launches and makes the laptop more responsive.
- 14″ touchscreen
- Backlit keyboard
- Somewhat thin (0.90″) and light (4.70lbs).
- Above average build quality, with brushed aluminum.
- Good speakers
- Good keyboard
- Bluetooth 4.0+HS
- Two USB 3.0 ports, one USB 2.0 port

Cons:
- Higher price ($610)
- No numpad
- Poor battery life: Expect roughly 3-4 hours of web browsing
- No optical drive.
- Weak video card (Intel integrated): This is not a gaming laptop.
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Two high-resolution (1600 x 900) Laptop Alternatives:

Want a laptop with a screen that has a higher resolution than the “standard” 1366 x 768? Here are two alternatives with a screen that has a 1600 x 900 resolution:

#1: Low cost, warranty that covers accidental damage:
The ASUS X75A-DB32: $479 at B&H (International Shipping) is a 17.3″ laptop with a screen that has a 1600 x 900 resolution and is available for $479.

Pros:
- Low cost ($479)
- 17.3″ screen with a 1600 x 900 resolution
- 1-Year Accidental Damage Protection: Covers accidental drops, spills, power surges and fire damage (registration required, for more information, visit http://notebookcare.asus.com ))
- 6GB of RAM (4GB + 2GB, upgradable to 8GB)
- Bluetooth 4.0
- Fairly powerful CPU: Intel Core i3-2328M Dual-Core + Hyper-Threading 2.2GHz
- Numpad
- Good audio
- ASUS Super Hybrid Engine II Technology: 2-second instant on resume from sleep or hibernate mode

Cons:
- Weak video card (Intel integrated): This is not a gaming laptop.
- Only 1 USB 3.0 port, two USB 2.0 ports.
- Large, thick and somewhat heavy: 16.5″ x 11.1″ x 1.4″ and 6.61lbs
- Average build quality, plastic.
- Not a great keyboard
- Average battery life: 3-4 hours of web browsing
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#2: Fast low-power CPU, 4x USB ports, more RAM, more storage capacity, solid brushed aluminum build, a good keyboard that’s spill-resistant and a good battery life:
The $549.99 – Dell Inspiron 17 i17RM-2419sLV is a laptop with a 17.3″ screen that offers a 1600 x 900 resolution, that’s available for $538.

Pros:
- Powerful low-power CPU: Intel Core i5-3337U Dual-Core + Hyper-Threading 1.8-2.7GHz Turbo
- 17.3″ screen with a 1600 x 900 resolution
- Four USB ports: 2x USB 3.0 and 2x USB 2.0
- Solid brushed aluminum build
- Good keyboard that’s spill resistant
- Numpad
- 6GB of RAM
- 750GB hard drive
- Bluetooth 4.0+HS
- Good battery life: 4.5-5.5 hours of web browsing

Cons:
- Large, thick and somewhat heavy: 16.22″ x 10.63″ x 1.12″-1.4″ and 6.02lbs
- Higher cost ($549.99)
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Gaming Laptop Alternative:

Want the most powerful gaming laptop that you can get for around $500?

The $529.99 – Acer Aspire V5-552G-8632 is a 15.6″ laptop that comes with the fairly powerful AMD Radeon HD 8750M 2GB video card and is available for $549.99.

Pros:
- Fairly powerful AMD Radeon HD 8750M 2GB video card
- Fairly powerful CPU: AMD A8-5557M Quad-Core 2.1-3.1GHz Turbo
- Somewhat thin (0.71″-0.82″) and light (4.41lbs).
- Good build quality, brushed aluminum
- Good keyboard.
- Bluetooth 4.0
- Numpad
- 720p HD webcam (1280 x 720)

Cons:
- Only 1 USB 3.0 port, two USB 2.0 ports.
- LAN connection requires a provided adapter.
- Average speakers located at the bottom of laptop.
- Average battery life: 3-4 hours of web browsing
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Upgrade your RAM or Hard Drive

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. I provide that info for main recommendations, for alternatives, you can find that info on the product information page, usually under specifications. Otherwise, a quick google search on the manufacturer’s website should provide that info. Feel free to ask me in the comment section if you aren’t sure and can’t find the info.

Pick one of the following recommendations below, depending on if your laptop comes with a single stick of RAM or two, or if you can have up to 4 sticks.

My recommendations should be compatible with all the laptops recommended in this guide, all those that can be upgraded that is.

I recommend the most reliable sticks that I can find.

Add a single 4GB stick:

Crucial 4GB 1600MHz DDR3 SODIMM Notebook Memory: $44.50 at B&H (International Shipping)

Add a single 8GB stick:

Crucial 8GB 1600MHz DDR3 SODIMM Notebook Memory: $84.95 at B&H (International Shipping)

Replace a 2x2GB (4GB) or a 4GB+2GB (6GB) kit by a 2x4GB (8GB) kit:

Crucial 8GB (2x4GB) 1600MHz DDR3 SODIMM Notebook Memory Kit: $89 at B&H (International Shipping)

Replace a 2x2GB (4GB) or a 4GB+2GB (6GB) or 4GB+4GB (8GB) or 8GB+4GB (12GB) kit by a 2x8GB (16GB) kit:

Crucial 16GB (2x8GB) 1600MHz DDR3 SODIMM Notebook Memory Kit: $169.90 at B&H (International Shipping)
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Upgrade your hard drive:

You can also upgrade your hard drive to a faster and/or a larger hard drive. Alternatively, you can also replace it with a tremendously faster SSD (Solid State Drive), which also consume a tad less power than laptop hard drive, so replacing a hard drive by a SSD will slightly boost your laptop’s battery life.

Do note that most laptops accept hard drives with a 9.5mm height. Some laptops, can only accept drives with a 7mm height, but those are the exception rather than the norm. SSD wise, we recommend 7mm thick SSDs, so they should fit in pretty much any laptop with a standard hard drive. Do also note that some laptops cannot be upgraded at all, due to their unique design.

Keep your old hard drive for external storage via an USB 3.0 enclosure:

(Note that USB 3.0 is backward compatible with USB 2.0, if your laptop does not have USB 3.0 ports)

When you replace the hard drive that your laptop came with, I recommend putting in this OWC 2.5-Inch USB 3.0 External Hard Drive Enclosure: $19.50 at B&H (International Shipping) and using it for external portable storage, such as backups.

You might also want this Kingwin SATA to USB 3.0 adapter: $16.94 at B&H (International Shipping), to help you transfer the content of your current hard drive to the new hard drive/SSD, in order to minimize downtime and make your life easier.

750GB, 7,200rpm hard drive:

As fast as it gets for a standard laptop hard drive:
Western Digital Scorpio Black 750 GB 7200 RPM 2.5″: $74.75 at B&H (International Shipping)

1TB, 5,400rpm hybrid hard drive with SSD cache:

As large as it gets for a laptop hard drive capacity. Performance wise, thanks to its hybrid design that brings a SSD cache, cache data performance is higher than the 7200rpm hard drive, but data that isn’t cached isn’t accessed as fast as the 7200rpm hard drive. For OS loading time and frequently used programs, it should be faster than the 7200rpm hard drive.
Seagate 1TB Solid State Hybrid Drive ST1000LM014: $117.23 at B&H (International Shipping)
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Upgrade to a SSD

If you want to upgrade your hard drive to a SSD, I recommend to you the Samsung 840 EVO line-up of SSDs, which offers great performance, at a great price, with high reliability of course.

I also recommend getting this Kingwin SATA to USB 3.0 adapter: $16.94 at B&H (International Shipping), to help you transfer the content of your hard drive to the SSD, in order to minimize downtime and make your life easier.

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Conclusion

I hope that you’ve enjoyed this article on the Best Budget Laptops For Your Money.

Of course, with this being such a long article (over 4500 words) 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.

If that happens, feel free to leave a comment below and remember, you can join us on our forums to discuss with everyone else the laptop that you’re planning to buy, ask your questions and join our helpful community!

Category: The Best Laptops For Your Money

About Mathieu Bourgie: HR Founder - Computer expert with 13 years of experience in building, fixing and modifying PCs. Over the years, I’ve developed a passion for PC hardware and now I enjoy helping others build their own PCs! In April 2008, I launched Hardware Revolution and ... Read more at my about page .

  • M4ENY

    Thank you for another great article Mathieu. I was hoping that you could do best laptop for your money for gaming laptop. or something that cost more maybe around 1000 dollar range

    • https://www.facebook.com/Mathieu.HR MathieuB

      I plan on doing that soon enough, can’t tell you when exactly it will be published though, as it will be published only when it’s ready.

  • Don

    Thanks Mat. Enjoy your articles,keep you on my e-mail list.Could you possibly do an article on some of the better tablets in the 3 to 5 hundred dollar range.Samsung Nexus and others?

    • M4ENY

      I have the nexus 7 (2013) and ipad 3. I can tell you they are both great with nexus being way more portable and easier to hold on to (better for bringing to school) and ipad being better for reading textbook/magzine due to its screen ratio. Movie viewing is great on both of them.

      The only deciding factor should be your budget lol.
      500 dollars = ipad
      250 dollars = nexus 7 (2013)

  • polargirl360

    I wish you would have added the cheapest 1080p laptops with the 2.33 GHZ or higher processor necessary to run the latest Flashplayer. DirectX 11 or higher would also be nice.

    • https://www.facebook.com/Mathieu.HR MathieuB

      There simply is no laptop with a 1080p screen at such low prices. You’ll find such recommendations in our upcoming “The Best Mainstream Laptops For Your Money” article.

  • RepeatReader

    Really enjoyed the article. I love coming to your site. I’ve built multiple computers using your articles. Everything from piecing it together using Budget Gaming or Workstation to going through your best parts for your money sections.

    Thanks for continuing to update these. I’m sure it’s an enormous time eater.
    Have a good one!

    • https://www.facebook.com/Mathieu.HR MathieuB

      Thank you for your nice words, it’s always a pleasure to hear!

  • Norma T. Bickham

    Thanks for this article. I have been looking for selection of different laptop computers with fast and free shipping for a while now so Im thankful that I found this site.

  • Momus

    Not even one Win laptop with matte/anti-glare screen :-(

    Even worse, some manufactures make now the base shiny glare in your eyes. I guess they design those mirror surfaces for the makeup on the go users…

  • chollie

    excellent work