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 $700.

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 $700.

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.

Summary

Click on any of these links to jump to the section that interests you.

The best mid-range laptops:

  1. Chromebooks: Inexpensive, runs Chrome OS, simple to use, secure
  2. Ultrabooks: Lightweight, small, thin, great battery life. Ideal for traveling.
    Standard screen ultrabook: If you want a regular lightweight laptop. 
    – 2-in-1 convertible screen: 360 degree hinge touchscreen, use it as a tablet, tent, etc.
    – Detachable screen 2-in-1 ultrabook: Detach the screen from the base, use it as a tablet.
  3. Apple Macbook: The iconic Apple laptops.
  4. Gaming laptops: The best gaming performance at a given price.
  5. Traditional 14-15.6″ laptop: Larger screens than ultrabooks but a bit heavier too
  6. 17.3″ entertainment: Laptops with an even larger 17.3″ screen and good speakers.
  7. Business laptops: Security, solid build, easy to service, fairly powerful, portable
  8. Power Users: Ideal for photo/video/3D editing: High-performance CPU, RAM, storage.
  9. Workstations: Powerful, reliable and with workstation-class video cards

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
  5. External Storage Drive

This article is based on the prices that I’ve seen at B&H, Newegg and/or Amazon on July 1st 2017.

Prices and availability are subject to change. While I can’t keep up with ever changing prices, I do suggest to you outstanding laptops that you won’t regret buying.

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

The Best Standard screen ultrabooks:

ASUS E200HA

– Click here to see the price on Amazon

About the ASUS E200HA:

If you are looking for the most inexpensive laptop that’s highly portable (11.3 x 7.6 x 0.7″) lightweight (2.2lbs) and has up to 13 hours of battery life, the ASUS E200HA might be a good choice.

Amazingly, at that low price, you get a free one year Office 365 Personal license, which includes Microsoft Excel, Word, PowerPoint, OneNote, and Access.

I say that this laptop might be a good choice because well let’s face it, to reach that low of a price, there are compromises of course.

The CPU, an Intel Quad-Core Atom Z8350 1.44-1.92 GHz CPU, is no powerhouse. It’s fine for web browsing, email, social media, Office (Word, Excel, etc.) and other light tasks, but don’t expect to run games or heavy applications on it. Also expect the laptop to be slower overall.

You only get a 32GB eMMC storage drive, with Windows using a good part of it, so storage is very limited. which can fill up pretty quickly. Thankfully, the laptop comes with 25GB of cloud storage for a year on Dropbox, as well as 1TB of Onedrive cloud storage included with Microsoft Office 365. You can also add more storage using the MicroSD card slot.

Finally, the 11.6″ screen has a low-resolution of 1366 x 768 and doesn’t offer wide viewing angles. It might also be too small, depending on your preferences.

Now, if you don’t mind spending a bit more or want a laptop with a larger 14.1″ screen with a Full HD 1920 x 1080 resolution, an IPS panel for better colors, contrast and viewing angles, as well as more powerful CPU and twice the storage space, see my recommendation below.

Pros:

  1. Least expensive recommendation
  2. Intel Atom Z8350 Quad-Core 1.44-1.92GHz CPU: Not a powerhouse but at this price point a it is definitely a plus, compared to other similar models.
  3. Fanless: Silent
  4. MicroSD card slot : Useful to expand the storage capacity.
  5. Windows 10 Home.
  6. 4GB of DDR3 RAM allows you to run a few programs at once.
  7. Great battery life of up to 13 hours.
  8. 1 x USB 3.0 and 1 USB 2.0 ports.
  9. Micro HDMI output to connect your display on a external screen.
  10. There is a webcam, but very low VGA resolution (640 x 480).
  11. 802.11ac WiFi
  12. Bluetooth 4.1
  13. Highly portable: 11.3 x 7.6 x 0.7″ and 2.2lbs
  14. Comes with 1 free year of Microsoft Office 365 (Word, Excel, etc.)

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. Limited storage capacity : 32GB, you’ll have about 15GB of free space left. Buying a micro-SD card is highly recommended.
  5. Keyboard isn’t backlit
  6. Glossy screen that does reflect light.
  7. No touchscreen
  8. Plastic build: Build quality is fine, but it’s not metal.

CHUWI Lapbook:

– Click here to see the price on Amazon

About the CHUWI Lapbook:

If you are looking for an highly portable 13.3″ class laptop with a 14″ screen screen that’s just a touch more expensive than the HP Stream 11 and offers so much more for the price, this model is a great option for you.

While still no powerhouse, the Intel Celeron N3450 Quad-Core CPU offer better overall performance than the dual-core Intel Celeron N3060 found in the HP Stream 11, giving you a slightly more responsive system that’s capable of handling slightly more demanding workloads. Still, it isn’t powerful by any means, but it it better for handling lightweight tasks such as browsing the internet, emails and document writing.

One of the best features of this model is the Full HD 1920 x 1080 resolution display with an IPS panel which gives you better color reproduction, contrast and large view angles.

It’s also incredibly thin, at only .47″ thick. With its thin bezel and small dimensions, it’s basically a 13.3″ laptop with a 14″ screen!

Even though you get twice the storage capacity of the HP Stream, that’s only 64GB, which isn’t a lot. There is an empty microSD card slot in the laptop with which you can add up to an extra 128GB of storage. If you’re up for the task, you can also open the laptop to add a SATA III M.2 SSD drive in the empty M.2 slot.

Simply put, this is the best value laptop. All these features at this price point were unheard of before this laptop came along.

That said, if you want a more powerful CPU, a touchscreen, more RAM, more storage, a more solid build quality and lots of ports, scroll down to our next recommend model.

Important notes:
1. Some people complain about the trackpad sensibility: Make sure to take the time to adjust the pointer speed in the Windows Control Panel/Mouse options.
2. Make sure to select English when you set it up the first time that you turn it on, unless you want Mandarin as the OS language.
3. Users report overheating/shutdowns when gaming. As long as you don’t use it for gaming, it will be fine.

Pros:

  1. Intel Celeron N3450 Quad-Core 1.1-2.2GHz CPU: Better than Celeron Dual-Core
  2. 4GB of DDR3 RAM allows you to have multiple web browser tabs and a few lightweight applications open at once.
  3. Narrow bezel, 14″ laptop that fits in 13.3″ laptop sleeves.
  4. Design similar to Macbook Air: Looks good
  5. Windows 10
  6. IPS panel: Great contrast, better color reproduction and large viewing angles.
  7. Full HD 1920 x 1080 display resolution
  8. Matte screen that doesn’t reflect light.
  9. MicroSD card reader: Useful to expand the storage capacity.
  10. 1 x USB 3.0 and 1 x USB 2.0 port.
  11. Micro HDMI output to connect your display on a external screen.
  12. Webcam
  13. 802.11ac WiFi
  14. Fairly good keyboard
  15. Good battery life: Expect up to 8 hours of web browsing
  16. Fanless: Silent
  17. Thin and light: 8.93 x 13 x 0.35-0.79″ and 3.3lbs

Cons:

  1. Intel Celeron N3450 CPU: No match for Core i3/i5/i7 CPUs, underpowered for demanding tasks.
  2. CPU will overheat/laptop will shutdown if you play games with it.
  3. No RAM slots: RAM cannot be upgraded
  4. No optical drive. You can get an external USB powered optical drive, if you want to.
  5. No numpad.
  6. Keyboard isn’t backlit
  7. For some reason, the USB slots are upside down. Just be aware of it.
  8. No dedicated left and right mouse button
  9. Limited storage capacity, although you can extend it in multiple ways.
  10. Plastic build: Build quality is fine, but it’s not metal.
  11. Manufacturer is from China: Warranty terms require you to pay shipping it back to China and it has a long turnaround time. Better deal with Amazon.

HP  ProBook 430 G4 Notebook

– $309.00 at B&H (Worldwide Shipping)

About the HP ProBook 430 G4 Notebook:

Compared to my previous recommendation, this model has an newer generation Intel Celeron 3865U CPU and an amazing 16 hours of battery life.

You also get a faster storage solution with a 64GB M.2 SATA III SSD and a better connectivity with a total of 4 x  USB ports and a RJ-45 port, as opposed to 2 USB ports and no RJ-45 for the previous model.

At this price point, it makes it a great budget Ultrabook that can also serve as a lightweight entry-level business laptop.

Pros:

  1. 64GB M.2 SSD, fast and responsive drive although its storage capacity is limited.
  2. 4GB of DDR4 RAM allows you to have multiple web browser tabs and a few lightweight applications open at once.
  3. Amazing battery life: Up to 16 hours of mixed usage.
  4. Matte screen that doesn’t reflect light
  5. SD card reader: Useful to copy photos from a camera, expand the storage capacity, etc.
  6. 1x USB 3.0 (Type-A), 1x USB 3.0 (Type-C) and 1x USB 2.0 ports.
  7. HDMI and VGA output
  8. Fingerprint scanner for extra authentication security
  9. RJ45 Ethernet port
  10. 802.11ac WiFi
  11. Webcam
  12. Windows 10 Pro
  13. Bluetooth 4.2
  14. Highly portable: 13.0 x 9.2 x 0.8″ and 3.28lbs

Cons:

  1. Intel Celeron 3865U: Fine for Office work, web browsing, email and the like, just don’t expect it to run heavy workloads.
  2. Low 1366 x 768 resolution
  3. No optical drive. You can get an external USB powered optical drive, if you want to.
  4. No numpad, as is usually the case in 13.3″ laptops
  5. Limited storage capacity, although you can extend it in multiple ways.

ASUS ZenBook UX330UA-AH54

– Click here to check the price on Amazon

About the ASUS ZenBook UX330UA-AH54:

Compared to the HP ProBook 430 G4 above, the ASUS ZenBook UX330UA offers a more powerful CPU, twice the RAM, four times the storage capacity, an higher resolution display with wide viewing angles and higher color fidelity, a fingerprint scanner and a backlit keyboard.

It’s also more portable, being considerably lighter (2.6lbs vs 3.28lbs) and thinner, being 0.5″ thick compared to .8″ for the HP.

Pros:

  1. Equipped with a quite powerful Intel Core i5-7200U Dual-Core + Hyper-Threading 2.5-3.1GHz CPU.
  2. IPS panel: Great contrast, vibrant colors 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. 256GB SSD for a more responsive system and a faster booting speed.
  5. Excellent battery life: Up to 10 hours while surfing the web with WiFi.
  6. 13.3″ screen with Full HD 1080p 1920 x 1080 resolution
  7. Matte screen that doesn’t reflect light
  8. SD card reader: Useful to copy photos from a camera, expand the storage capacity, etc.
  9. 2 x USB 3.0 and 1x USB 3.1 type-C ports
  10. 720p HD (1280 x 720) webcam
  11. HDMI output
  12. Stylish and solid aluminum build.
  13. Fingerprint scanner for extra authentification security.
  14. Backlit keyboard with three levels of brightness.
  15. Precise and responsive touchpad
  16. 802.11ac WiFi
  17. Surface temperature stays cool under heavy workload.
  18. Bluetooth 4.1
  19. Highly portable: 8.7 x 12.7 x 0.5″ and 2.6lbs
  20. One year accidental damage protection warranty with ASUS.

Cons:

  1. No optical drive. You can get an external USB powered optical drive, if you want to.
  2. No numpad, as is usually the case in 13.3″ laptops

The Best 2-in-1 convertible screen ultrabooks

Dell 11.6″ Inspiron 11 3000

– Click here to see the price on Amazon
– $299.00 at B&H (Worldwide Shipping)
– $349.99 at Newegg

About the Dell 11.6″ Inspiron 11 3000:

A good choice if you are looking for an inexpensive convertible laptop that can do everyday tasks such as emails, web, documents and movies while being highly portable and having a good battery life.

It is equipped with a Intel Pentium N3710 Quad-Core CPU which is a low power CPU but is fine when it comes to everyday tasks.

Now, if you want a more powerful convertible laptop that is more responsiveness and can handle heavier applications as well as multitasking, see our next recommendation below.

This laptop is available in three different colors : Blue, red and grey.

Avoid the model with 2GB of RAM and the Intel Celeron N3060 CPU: Performance is abysmal, slow as molasses.

Pros:

  1. Equipped with an Intel Pentium N3710 Quad-Core + Hyper-Threading 1.6-2.5GHz CPU.
  2. 500GB Hard Drive for a decent amount of storage.
  3. 4GB of DDR3 RAM allows you to have multiple web browser tabs and a few lightweight applications open at once.
  4. Windows 10 Home
  5. 2-in-1 convertible screen to switch to tablet mode for whatever suits your needs.
  6. Good Battery : up to 7hrs.
  7. MicroSD card reader.
  8. 720p HD Webcam.
  9. 1x USB 3.0 port and 2x USB 2.0 port.
  10. HDMI output to plug your device on a external screen.
  11. Dedicated volume buttons
  12. Thin and light: 11.48″ x 7.95″ x 0.82″ inches and 3lbs
  13. Available in red, blue and grey.
  14. Bluetooth 4.0

Cons:

  1. No optical drive. You can get an external USB powered optical drive, if you want to.
  2. Low 1366 x 768 display resolution
  3. No numpad
  4. WiFi is limited to 802.11b/g/n, no 802.11ac support
  5. 5400 rpm hard drive is slow: it makes the whole computer feel less responsive, Windows and apps take longer to load. They are also less shock-resistant, heavier and less reliable than SSD drives.

Acer Spin 5

Core i3-7100U/4GB RAM/128GB SSD: – Click here to check the price on Amazon
Core i5-7200U/8GB RAM/256GB SSD: – Click here to see the price on Amazon
– $591.83 at B&H (Worldwide Shipping)

About the Acer Spin 5:

If you are looking for a convertible laptop that offers significantly better overall performance than the above recommendation, this is the model you are looking for.

It is equipped with more powerful Intel Core i3 or i5 CPUs, is available with up to 8GB of RAM and has a SSD which greatly improves overall responsiveness, decreases Windows and applications loading time and is more reliable as well as more shock-resistant.

I recommend two models:
– The base model, with a dual-core Intel Core i3-7100U 2.3GHz CPU, 4GB of RAM and 128GB of SSD storage.
– The higher-end model, with a dual-core Core i5-7200U 2.5-3.1GHz CPU, 8GB of RAM and 256GB of SSD storage.

Basically, if all you do is browse the Web, stream music/video, use Word, Excel and other lightweight tasks and don’t need much storage space, the base model is a fine choice for you.

Now, if you want a laptop that can handle more demanding tasks, do some multitasking, a bit of photo editing and use more demanding programs, or just a more future-proof machine with twice the storage capacity, opt for the higher-end model.

Pros:

  1. Intel Core i3-7100U or Core i5-7200U Dual-Core + Hyper-Threading CPUs.
  2. 128 or 256GB SSD for fast boot and a more responsive system.
  3. 2-in-1 convertible screen to switch to laptop, display, tent or tablet mode for whatever suits your needs.
  4. 4GB or 8GB of DDR4 RAM.
  5. Great Battery life: 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 MU-MIMO
  13. Bluetooth 4.1
  14. Dedicated volume buttons

Cons:

  1. Built quality is fine, but could be better: it is mostly made out of plastic, not metal. Hinges are solid though.
  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.
  4. No RJ-45 LAN Ethernet port
  5. Two of the three USB ports are 2.0
  6. No USB Type-C port

2-in-1 Detachable screen ultrabook

Dell Latitude 13 7000:

– Click here to see the price on Amazon
– $369.99 at Newegg

About the Dell Latitude 13 7000:

It’s neither the lightest nor the fastest 2-in-1 detachable screen laptop, but if you are looking for a 2-in-1 detachable laptop that can handle tasks such as browsing the internet, emails and other small tasks and that doesn’t cost much, this is a great option.

Despite its low price, you get a nice screen with Full HD 1920 x 1080 resolution and an IPS panel for better contrasts, accurate colors and larger view angles.

Performance wise, it comes with a low-power Intel Core M 5Y71 CPU, which is by no means a powerhouse but is powerful enough to handle lightweight tasks. Just don’t expect it to handle heavy applications such as Adobe Photoshop and other applications where high sustained performance is required.

You also only get 4GB of RAM, so it’s not ideal to handle many tasks at once.

Storage wise, you get a SSD, so this laptop boots quickly and is responsive, but storage capacity is limited, with 128GB, but with Windows installed, expect 80-90GB of available space. There is a SD card reader that you can use to expand storage.

Pros:

  1. Equipped with an Intel Core M 5Y71 Dual-Core + Hyper-Threading 1.2-2.9GHz CPU.
  2. SSD for fast boot and a more responsive system.
  3. Windows 10 Pro
  4. 2-in-1 detachable touchscreen to switch to tablet mode for whatever suits your needs.
  5. Full HD 1920 x 1080 resolution
  6. Good build quality.
  7. Silent
  8. IPS display panel for better contrasts, accurate colors and larger view angles.
  9. SD card reader.
  10. Backlit keyboard
  11. HD Webcam.
  12. Micro HDMI port
  13. 2 x  USB 3.0 ports
  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. 4GB of DDR3 RAM: Enough for an app or two, but not ideal for multitasking or more demanding applications.
  3. Micro Displayport will most likely require an adapter.
  4. A bit heavy and thick for a detachable 2-in-1 ultrabook: 12.6″ x 9″ x 0.8″ and 3.67lbs
  5. Up to 5 hours of battery life
  6. Not ideal for heavy photo/video editing, heavy multitasking or demanding programs where high sustained CPU performance is required.
  7. No RJ-45 LAN Ethernet port

Acer Switch Alpha 12 SA5-271-39N9:

Core i3/4GB RAM/128GB SSD:
– Click here to check the price on Amazon

Core i5/8GB RAM/256GB SSD:
– $680.17 at B&H (Worldwide Shipping)

About the Acer Switch Alpha 12 SA5-271-39N9:

This is a really nice upgrade from the above recommendation as just about everything in it is better.

It has a far more powerful Intel Core i3-6100U Dual-Core + Hyper-Threading 2.3GHz CPU, allowing you to run heavier workloads and have a faster overall computer.

RAM and storage are the same as above, 4GB and 128GB respectively, but the Acer Switch Alpha 12 is available in higher-end configurations, with an Intel Core i5 or Core i7 CPUs, 8GB of RAM and a 256GB or 512GB SSD.

The Core i5/8GB RAM/256GB SSD and the Core i7/8GB RAM/512GB SSD configurations also include a stylus.

It is also significantly lighter than the Dell above, almost a pound lighter, weighting in at 2.76lbs for the tablet and keyboard.

It also has an higher resolution, 2160 x 1440 display.

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

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 i3-6100U Dual-Core + Hyper-Threading 2.3GHz CPU. Also available with a Core i5-6200U or Core i7-6500U.
  2. 128GB SSD for fast boot and a more responsive system. Also available with 256GB or 512GB.
  3. 2-in-1 detachable screen to switch to tablet mode for whatever suits your needs.
  4. Fanless
  5. Available with 8GB of RAM.
  6. Good Battery Life: up to 8hrs.
  7. Lightweight, highly portable : 11.5 x 0.6 x 7.9″ and 2.76lbs.
  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. 5MP (2592 x 1944) rear facing and 2MP (1920 x 1080) front facing cameras.
  12. 1x USB 3.1 Type-C port (supports Displayport over USB Type-C) and 1x USB 3.0 port.
  13. 802.11ac 2×2 MU-MIMO WiFi
  14. Bluetooth 4.0
  15. Included backlit keyboard
  16. Two built-in front facing speakers.
  17. Dedicated volume buttons

Cons:

  1. No optical drive. You can get an external USB powered optical drive, if you want to.
  2. 4GB of DDR3 RAM: Enough for an app or two, but not ideal for multitasking or more demanding applications.
  3. No RJ-45 LAN Ethernet port

Apple Macbook

Apple MacBook Air 11 (MD711LL/A)

Click here to check the price on Amazon

About the MacBook Air 11:

This is my recommendation if you want an Apple Macbook at the lowest cost possible.

This laptop is highly portable, solid, reliable, has an excellent battery life, great backlit keyboard and an excellent trackpad.

This Macbook is a refurbished item, meaning it has been restored to work and look like a new product, with minimal to no signs of wear, by a specialized third-party seller approved by Amazon.

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

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 (graphic 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. Limited amount of storage
  9. 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 our article on the Best Budget Gaming Laptops.

Traditional 14-15.6″ 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.

It is equipped with a relatively powerful 7th generation Intel Core i3-7100U CPU, a screen with a 1920 x 1080 resolution, it offers a up to 12 hours battery life, high-performance 802.11ac MU-MIMO WiFi, a backlit keyboard and four USB 3.0 ports (including an USB Type-C port)!

Pros:

  1. Equipped with an Intel Core i3-7100U Dual-Core + Hyper-Threading 2.4GHz CPU.
  2. Hard Drive and RAM are easy to access by removing a panel on the bottom.
  3. RAM can be upgraded to up to 32GB.
  4. Screen with a Full HD 1920 x 1080 resolution
  5. Screen with wide viewing angles and wide color gamut: 94% of NTSC color space.
  6. Great battery life: up to 12 hours per charge, varies depending on your usage.
  7. Body finish that prevents fingerprints
  8. Large storage capacity: 1TB
  9. Backlit keyboard : it’s easier to see your keys when typing where there is less light.
  10. Four USB Ports: Two 3.0 ports, one USB 2.0 port, and one USB 3.1 (Type C) port.
  11. HDMI and VGA Outputs to plug in your display to an external screen.
  12. SD card reader for SD Cards : Can be useful for extra storage or to upload media from devices such as cameras.
  13. 802.11ac MU-MIMO WiFi
  14. Optical drive
  15. HD webcam
  16. Numpad
  17. Bluetooth 4.1

Cons:

  1. 4GB of RAM is enough for web browsing, Office and basic workloads, but you’ll need more for multitasking and heavier programs.
  2. 5,400rpm hard drive which means the system is less responsive and takes some time to boot.
  3. Average build quality. It’s all plastic and 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

– $509.99 at Newegg

About the Acer Aspire E5-575-521W:

If you’re looking for better performance all around, this model is a significant step up from the Acer E5-575-33BM above.

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 optical drive, but there’s an empty optical drive bay, so you can get a hard drive caddy to add an hard drive or another SSD for additional storage space.

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 M.2 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. Easy maintenance: Compartment door make it easy to access the 2.5″ drive bay and the RAM.
  11. SD card reader: Can be useful for extra storage or to upload media from devices such as cameras.
  12. 802.11 ac WiFi
  13. Numpad
  14. Bluetooth 4.1
  15. Empty optical drive bay: You can get a hard drive caddy to add an hard drive or another SSD for additional storage space.
  16. Empty 2.5″ drive bay: You can add an hard drive or a 2.5″ SSD for additional storage space.
  17. 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’s all plastic, it’s not bad, but 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. A lot of bloatware to uninstall.

Acer Swift 3:

Intel Core i3-6100U, 4GB RAM, 128GB SSD:

– Click here to check the price on Amazon

Intel Core i5-6200U, 8GB RAM, 256GB SSD:

Click here to see the price on Amazon
– $678.02 at Newegg 

About the Acer Swift 3:
This laptop offers four major advantages compared to the models above:
– It’s much more portable with its 14″ screen and far lower weight of only 3.3lbs.
– Premium build quality, with an all-aluminum body with rounded corners, much better than models above.
– Its screen is equipped with an IPS display panel: Better contrasts, more accurate colors and larger view angles
– Fingerprint reader: Secure login

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 M.2 SSD which is much faster than a regular hard drive and also offers a great booting speed.
  4. Windows 10
  5. Dual-channel RAM for optimal performance
  6. IPS display panel for better contrasts and larger view angles.
  7. Screen has a matte finish: Doesn’t reflect light
  8. Thin and lightweight : 9.3 x 13.4 x 0.7″ and 3.3lbs.
  9. Sturdy aluminium outer case, plastic inner case, little to no flex, good build quality.
  10. Looks like a Macbook Air.
  11. Finger print reader for better authentication security.
  12. HDMI output to connect your display to an external screen
  13. USB 3.1 (Type C) port.
  14. Backlit keyboard so it is easier to type in the dark.
  15. SD card reader: Can be useful for extra storage or to upload media from devices such as cameras.
  16. 8GB of DDR4 RAM
  17. Good battery life: Expect 7 hours of light web browsing, 10 hours of Youtube, 13 hours of local video.
  18. 802.11 ac WiFi 2×2 MU-Mimo
  19. HD Webcam: Decent quality, fine for Skype
  20. Numpad
  21. Bluetooth 4.1
  22. Relatively quiet, even under load.po
  23. Good cooling, no CPU throttling under load, stays relatively cool unless you push it hard, in which gets it gets warmer, but not uncomfortably hot.
  24. Moderately loud speakers
  25. Touchpad is fairly good.
  26. 180 degree screen hinge allows you to lean the screen back flat.

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
  4. Upgrading or maintenance is more complicated: Many screws to remove, as well many small plastic clips.
  5. RAM is soldered: It cannot be upgraded.
  6. One of the two USB Type-A port is USB 2.0 (One USB 3.1 Type-C, one USB 3.0 Type-A and one USB 2.0 Type-A)
  7. Screen doesn’t get that bright, so even though it has a matte finish, it is not ideal for outside usage, unless you’re in the shade.
  8. Small fans emit an high-pitched noise, which can be heard in a quiet environment.
  9. Speakers sound quality isn’t that great: Lacks bass, lacks rich mids, a bit too much emphasis on high frequencies.

Traditional 14-15.6″ laptop worldwide alternative

Unfortunately when it comes to traditional 14-15.6″ laptops as a worldwide alternative, B&H doesn’t offer much that compares to my current recommendations.

The laptops that are around the same price point are simply not good enough in terms of performance and features. This is why if you are looking for a worldwide alternative from B&H, I recommend going for the Acer 13.3″ Spin convertible laptop, that I also recommend in the best 2-in-1 convertible ultrabook category.

It has a smaller screen, but has great features and a good performance, similar to the Acer Swift 3 and the Acer Aspire E5-575-521W. It is also available in multiple configurations, which gives you plenty of options and price points to chose from.

Check out the Acer spin 5 by clicking here to view my recommendation.

17.3″ entertainment and desktop replacement laptop

HP Pavilion 17-G121WM:

– Click here to see the price on Amazon

About the HP Pavilion 17-G121WM:

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 a decent amount of storage
  3. 1600 x 900 HD+ resolution.
  4. Windows 10r
  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.

HP 17-X116DX:

– Click here to see the price on Amazon

About the HP 17-X116DX:

If you are looking to get a model that is not refurbished and offers better performance than the above recommendation, check out the HP 17-X116DX

It is equipped with a reasonably powerful newest generation Intel Core i5-7200U CPU and 8GB of RAM, which means it is capable of handling demanding tasks and multi-tasking.

It also has a 1TB hard drive which means you get a great amount of storage to store pictures, videos and music.

If you are looking for a model that has a similar performance but offers a better responsiveness and the possibility of light gaming, check out my next recommendation!

Pros:

  1. Good processor, capable of handling demanding tasks: Intel Core i5-7200U Dual-Core + Hyper-Threading 2.5-3.1GHz
  2. 1TB hard drive which is a good amount of storage
  3. 1600 x 900 HD+ resolution.
  4. Windows 10
  5. 2 x USB 2.0 and 1 x USB 3.1 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 DDR4 RAM.
  10. Dedicated left and right click buttons
  11. 802.11b/g/n WiFi
  12. HD Webcam
  13. Optical drive
  14. Numpad
  15. Decent weight for a 17.3″ laptop : 5.84lbs

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. 5400 RPM hard drive, not as fast as 7200 RPM drive or as an SSD. This could slow your laptops responsiveness.
  4. Keyboard doesn’t have a backlight
  5. No 802.11ac WiFi

Acer Aspire E5-774G-52W1

– Click here to see the price on Amazon
– $629.99 at Newegg

About the Aspire E5-774G-52W12:

At this price, the Aspire E5-774G-52W1 offers great performance with the Intel Core i5-7200U CPU. 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.

HP Envy Touch 17t Quad Edition

– Click here to see the price on Amazon

About the HP Envy Touch 17t Quad Edition:

Compared to my recommendation above, you get a more powerful Intel Core i7 Quad Core CPU and double the amount of RAM (16GB).

This gives you the possibility to execute more demanding task, it also makes it much easier to multi task.

You also get a touchscreen display, which is nice if you want to use this laptop as a tablet or for drawing.

Other than that, you get a large 2TB hard drive which is a great amount of storage to store all your files, music, videos and more!

This item is refurbished meaning that it has been restored to work and look like a new product. You also get a 90 days warranty.

Pros:

  1. Good processor, capable of handling demanding tasks: Intel Core i7-6700HQ Quad-Core + Hyper-Threading 2.6-3.5GHz
  2. 2TB hard drive which is a good amount of storage
  3. Windows 10
  4. Full HD 1920 x 1080 display
  5. 16GB of DDR3 RAM that can be upgraded to 32GB (2 x 16GB).
  6. 2x USB 3.0 port and 1x USB 2.0 ports
  7. RJ45 Ethernet 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. Optical drive
  11. HD Webcam
  12. 802.11ac WiFi
  13. HDMI Output to connect your display on external screens.
  14. Bluetooth 4.0
  15. Numpad

Cons:

  1. TN panel: Poor contrast, not accurate color reproduction and poor viewing angles. Expected at this price point.
  2. 1.21″ thick and 8.8lbs: Heavy and not that portable
  3. No dedicated graphic card
  4. No SSD

Business laptops

ASUS P-Series P2540UA-AB51:
– Click here to see the price on Amazon

About the ASUS P-Series P2540UA-AB51:

Featuring the newest 7th generation intel i5-7200U dual-core CPU combined with 8GB of RAM. This laptop is equipped to handle everyday and moderate tasks on top of being able to multi-task quite easily.

You get 1TB for a good amount of storage space, although it is a 5400RPM drive, which means it is slower than 7200RPM drives and SSDs.

It also has a good battery life that can last up to 9 hours and the battery can be swapped!

You also get security features such as a fingerprint reader and TPM security software.

If you are looking for a smaller, lightweight touchscreen business laptop, check out my recommendation below.

Pros:

  1. Equipped with an Intel Core i5-7200U Dual-Core + Hyper-Threading 2.5-3.1GHz CPU.
  2. Good battery life: Expect 9 hours of web browsing with WiFi
  3. Windows 10 Pro
  4. 8GB of DDR4 RAM that can be upgraded up to 32GB.
  5. Matte screen that doesn’t reflect light
  6. Full HD 1920 x 1080 resolution display
  7. Easy maintenance: easily removable bottom pannel so you can easily swap RAM and battery
  8. 1 x USB 2.0 and 3 x USB 3.0 ports
  9. SD card reader
  10. HDMI and VGA output.
  11. Fingerprint reader for better authentication security.
  12. TPM security
  13. Optical drive
  14. VGA webcam
  15. Numpad
  16. Bluetooth 4.1
  17. Battery can be swapped

Cons:

  1. Low-quality TN panel: Poor contrast, not accurate color reproduction and poor viewing angles.
  2. Keyboard doesn’t have a backlight
  3. No dedicated left and right click buttons

Dell Latitude E7250:
– Click here to see the price on Amazon

About the Dell Latitude E7250:

Compared to the ASUS P2540UA-AB51, the Dell Latitude E7250 is considerably more portable and lighter.

CPU wise, you get two options:
The Intel Core i5-5300U CPU or the higher-performance Core i7-5600U CPU.

For storage, this model comes with a 256GB SSD that improves responsiveness, booting speed, reliability as well as shock resistance compared to an hard drive.

You also get plenty of security features such as a SmartCard reader, a fingerprint scanner and a lock slot.

It’s available brand new or refurbished if you wish to spend less.

Pros:

  1. Equipped with an Intel Core i5-5300U Dual-Core + Hyper-Threading 2.3-2.9GHz CPU.
  2. Decent battery life: Expect 7.5 hours of web browsing with WiFi
  3. 2 years warranty
  4. Windows 10 Pro
  5. 8GB of DDR3 RAM that can be upgraded up to 32GB.
  6. Easy maintenance : you only have to remove the bottom cover and the memory and storage are acessible.
  7. IPS panel: Great contrast, vibrant colors and large viewing angles.
  8. Touchscreen display
  9. Great backlit keyboard.
  10. 3 x USB 3.0 ports
  11. Docking station port.
  12. SD card reader
  13. HDMI and Mini displayport output.
  14. Smartcard reader
  15. Fingerprint reader for better authentication security.
  16. Dedicated touchpad buttons for left and right click.
  17. Great build quality
  18. Good speakers
  19. HD webcam
  20. Bluetooth 4.0
  21. Thin and light 0.76″ thick and 3.3lbs
  22. Battery can be swapped

Cons:

  1. Limited storage capacity, but you can always upgrade the storage if you need more.
  2. Glossy screen reflects light
  3. No VGA port
  4. No optical drive
  5. No numpad

Best Laptop for Power Users

HP EliteBook 8570W:

– Click here to see the price on Amazon

About the HP EliteBook 8570W:

If you are looking to get a relatively powerful laptop at the absolute lowest possible cost, this is the right choice for you.

You get an older but still quite powerful Intel Core i7-3720QM Quad-Core CPU, which makes you able to run demanding tasks at a very low price point.

You also get 8GB which is a good starting point for some multi-tasking. You can upgrade all the way to 64GB (4x16GB).

Storage wise, you get a 500GB 7200rpm hard drive.

One interesting aspect of the model is that you get a HD+ ( 1600 x 900 ) resolution display. This is definitely a plus as most models at the price point only have a 1336 x 768 resolution.

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

Pros:

  1. Equipped with a Intel Core i7-3720QM Quad-Core + Hyper-Threading 2.6-3.6GHz CPU
  2. Windows 10 Pro
  3. 500 GB 7200RPM drive, which is faster than 5400RPM drive, but slower than an SSD
  4. 8GB of DDR3 RAM
  5. Supports up to 64GB of RAM thanks to its 4 RAM slots ( 4 x 16GB )
  6. Bottom panel is easy to remove as it is screwless: Maintenance and upgrade of hard drive, RAM and even the fan is accessible.
  7. HD+ 1600 x 900 resolution.
  8. Matte screen that doesn’t reflect light.
  9. Displayport, VGA and Firewire 400 ouputs
  10. 2 x USB 3.0  1 x USB 2.0/eSata  and 2x USB 2.0 ports.
  11. Optical drive
  12. Bluetooth 4.0
  13. RJ45 Ethernet Port
  14. Docking port
  15. Excellent build quality
  16. Dedicated left and right click buttons
  17. Decent keyboard to type with
  18. Decent keyboard layout
  19. Fan can be accessed and cleaned
  20. SD card reader
  21. 720p Webcam

Cons:

  1. TN panel, contrast, color vibrancy and viewing angles are lower than with an IPS panel.
  2. a/b/g/n WiFi : not as fast as ac WiFi
  3. Keyboard isn’t backlit
  4. No SSD, although via the available upgrade bay, it is possible to add one.

Acer Aspire VX:

– Click here to see the price on Amazon

About the Acer Aspire VX:

If you are looking for something that offers power, responsiveness and a beautiful display while being affordable, this model is an amazing option considering its price.

You get a quite powerful newest generation Intel i5-7300HQ CPU combined with 8GB of RAM, which can handle some multi-tasking and relatively heavy tasks.

This laptop is equipped with a 256GB SSD which greatly improves responsiveness, booting speed, reliability and shock resistance.

You also get a great matte display that doesn’t reflect light with a Full HD 1920 x 1080 resolution.

Last but not least, this laptop is equipped with a Nvidia Geforce GTX 1050 with which you can play most games at a 1600 x 900 resolution with high details and a good fps rate. Gaming at 1080p is possible with lower details or less demanding games.

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

Pros:

  1. Equipped with a Intel Core i5-7300HQ Quad-Core 2.5-3.5GHz CPU
  2. Windows 10
  3. Dedicated Nvidia Geforce GTX 1050 graphic card with 4GB of VRAM
  4. 8GB of DDR4 RAM
  5. 256GB SSD for an improved responsiveness and booting speed
  6. 1920 x 1080 resolution display
  7. IPS display for vibrant colors, good contrasts and large view angles
  8. Matte screen that doesn’t reflect light.
  9. Numpad
  10. Backlit keyboard
  11. RJ45 Ethernet port
  12. HDMI output
  13. 1 x USB 2.0, 2 x USB 3.0 and 1 x  USB 3.1 (Type-C) port.
  14. SD card reader
  15. 802.11ac WiFi with MU-MIMO technology
  16. 720p Webcam

Cons:

  1. No optical drive
  2. 256GB storage isn’t much if you plan on using this laptop to play video games or store heavy files.

Workstations

HP ZBook 15:

-Click here to see the price on Amazon

About the HP ZBook 15:

If you are looking for a great budget mobile workstation at a relatively low price, the HP ZBook 15 is the way to go.

It is equipped with an older but quite powerful Intel i7-4800QM Quad-core CPU combined with 16GB of RAM, which means you get great performance and responsiveness at a great cost, on top of being able to multi-task easily.

You also get a Nvidia K610M 1GB workstation class graphic card which is suitable for doing light work using editing and softwares such as Autodesk CAD or Adobe  Photoshop. With only 8GB of RAM though you might fall a bit short when it’s time to work on heavier files.

You get a 256GB SSD which greatly improves this laptops responsiveness and booting speed.

It’s important to note that to buy my recommended configuration, you need to click “See all buying options” on the product page to select the correct model, which is the “i7-4800QM (2.7GHz) – 16GB – 256GB Solid State

This is a refurbished product, meaning it has been restored to work and look like a new product. You also get a 1 year warranty.

Pros:

  1. Equipped with a Intel Core i7-4800QM Quad-Core + Hyper-Threading 2.7-3.7GHz Quad Core CPU
  2. Dedicated NVIDIA K610M 1GB workstation class graphic card.
  3. Windows 7 Pro: Free Window 10 Pro Upgrade upon Request.
  4. 256GB SSD for improved responsiveness and booting speed.
  5. 16GB of DDR3 RAM
  6. Supports up to 32GB of RAM, with the two RAM modules being easily accessible via the maintenance hatch. ( 2 x 16GB )
  7. Full HD 1920 x 1080 resolution
  8. Matte screen that doesn’t reflect light
  9. Displayport, VGA and Thunderbolt outputs
  10. 3x USB 3.0 ports and 1x USB 2.0 ports
  11. Bluetooth 4.0
  12. Excellent build quality
  13. Trackpoint
  14. Two sets of dedicated left and right click buttons.
  15. Great keyboard layout
  16. Numpad
  17. Easy maintenance: Two RAM slots and a mSATA slot are easily accessible via the bottom panel that can be opened by sliding the screwless bottom panel.
  18. Removable battery
  19. Docking connector to add a docking station for extra ports.
  20. laptop stays cool even under heavy workloads.
  21. Fingerprint reader
  22. Optical drive
  23. 720p Webcam

Cons:

  1. Poor battery life : up to 4 hours while web surfing with WiFi, with a new battery. Refurbished units batteries won’t last that long.
  2. Keyboard doesn’t have a backlight
  3. TN panel: contrast, color vibrancy and viewing angles are lower than with an IPS panel.
  4. 802.11a/b/g/n WiFI, not as fast as ac WiFI

Dell Precision M3510:

– Click here to see the price on Amazon

About the Dell Precision M3510:

This model offers a nice step up in terms of performance compared to my recommendation above. It comes with a more recent CPU : the Intel i5-6300 HQ Quad core CPU. You also get 8GB of RAM.

It is also lighter, at 5.34 lbs as opposed to the HP Zbooks 6.2 lbs

In terms of storage, this model is equipped with a 256GB SSD, this greatly improves the laptops responsiveness and booting speed.

All of this means that you get a workstation that offers a smooth performance and can handle quite heavy workloads at a relatively low cost.

You also get a better display with a Full HD 1920 x 1080 display.

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 i5 6300HQ Quad-Core  2.3-3.2GHz Quad Core CPU
  2. Dedicated AMD Firepro W5130M 2GB workstation class graphic card.
  3. Windows 10 Pro
  4. 256GB SSD for an improved responsiveness and booting speed.
  5. 8GB of DDR4 RAM
  6. Full HD 1920 x 1080 resolution
  7. Matte screen
  8. HDMI and VGA outputs
  9. 2x USB 3.0 and 1x USB 2.0 ports
  10. 802.11 ac WiFi
  11. Bluetooth 4.2
  12. Very solid build.
  13. Trackpoint
  14. Two sets of dedicated left and right click buttons.
  15. Great keyboard layout
  16. High quality comfortable keyboard
  17. Keyboard backlight
  18. Numpad
  19. Easy maintenance: Two RAM slots  a 2.5″ slots and mSATA slot are easily accessible via the bottom panel that can be unscrewed.
  20. Smartcard reader
  21. SD card reader
  22. Webcam
  23. Stays cool under load.

Cons:

  1. TN panel: contrast, color vibrancy and viewing angles are lower than with an IPS panel.
  2. No optical drive

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 $99.50 at B&H (Worldwide Shipping)

OWC Mercury Pro External USB 3.0 16x Blu Ray reader/writer, $129.95 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.

External storage drive

Do you want to buy a external storage drive for extra storage or backup? Check out our recommendations for the Best External Hard Drives, SSDs and Flash Drives.

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.