Best Budget Laptops 2016-2017

In this video and article I will be looking at the best laptops to buy if you’re on a low budget in 2016. All of the laptops listed here are under $300.

With most of the laptops in this review you will be able to do most normal stuff you’d do with a computer like watch videos online, stream movies, listen to music, make documents, spreadsheets and presentations for school or work, edit photos and so on.

However cheap laptops like these usually don’t have the hardware to perform more demanding tasks like playing high definition video games, edit HD videos or render complex images such as 3D models. While some of these things might still be technically possible, the performance is going not going to be ideal. For example it may take half a day to render a short HD video if you’re doing video editing.

I have not personally tested each of these laptops. I am doing this review based on their features, specifications, performance tests, user ratings, my own experiences with similar laptops and other data I’ve been able to find on the internet.

The laptops are also not listed in any hierarchical order, as they are all pretty good for their price point, it really depends on the user as to which laptop is the ideal choice for them. Obviously I will provide my opinion on who might benefit from each of these computers.

# Name Platform Screen Size RAM Memory Storage Processor
1 Acer Aspire ES1 Windows 10 15.6 in 4GB 500GB 2.1GHz Intel CEleron N2840
2 Dell Inspiron i3552 Windows 10 15.6 in 4GB 500GB 1.6GHz Intel Pentium N3700
3 HP Stream 13 Windows 10 13.3 in 2GB 32GB SSD 1.6GHz Intel Celeron N3050
4 Asus Chromebook Flip Chrome OS 10.1 in 2GB 16GB SSD 1.8GHz Rockchip
5 Samsung Chromebook 2 Chrome OS 11.6 in 2GB 16GB SSD 2.1GHz Intel Celeron N2840

 

#1 Acer Aspire ES1

Acer Aspire ES1

Price: $280-290

Buy from Amazon

The Acer Aspire ES1 is another good replacement for a low-end desktop PC and also a decent basic office or school workhorse due to it’s 15.6 inch screen size and other specifications. Video editing could be possible to some extent with this laptop, although don’t expect ideal performance or fast rendering times.

It runs Windows 10 Home edition on a 2.1GHz Intel Celeron N2840 processor with 4GB of RAM memory, 500GB harddrive and a Intel HD graphics card. It also comes with a 1GBit ethernet port, WiFi, Bluetooth, 3 x USB ports one of which is USB 3.0 to connect external devices and a HDMI port for a second monitor.

Battery life is up to 8 hours which is really good for a laptop of this size.

SPECIFICATIONS
Screen Size: 15.6 inches
Platform: Windows 10 Home
Processor: 2.1GHz Intel Celeron N2840
Graphics Card: Intel HD Graphics
RAM: 4GB
Harddrive: 500GB
Battery Life: Up to 8 hours
Other: WiFi, Bluetooth, 3 x USB ports, HDMI, 1Gbit ethernet port

Pros

  • 15.6 inch screen
  • Plenty of harddrive storage
  • 4GB RAM
  • Good sized keyboard
  • Good battery life
  • Windows OS

Cons

  • Windows 10
  • No SSD drive

 

#2 Dell Inspiron i3552

Dell Inspiron i3552

Price: $290-300

Buy from Amazon

If you’re looking for a cheap low-end desktop replacement, the Dell Inspiron might be a good choice. You won’t be able to play high definition video games with it but it’s good for most of the basic stuff like browsing the web, watching videos, office and school work. Video editing might also be possible to some degree but don’t expect smooth performance or fast rendering times.

The Dell Inspiron i3552-5240BLK runs on Windows 10 Home edition and has a 1.6GHz Intel Pentium N3700 CPU, 4GB of RAM, a 500GB harddrive and an integrated Intel HD graphics card. It also comes with WiFi, Bluetooth, 1 x USB 3.0 port, 2 x USB 2.0 ports and an HDMI port for a second monitor.

The Dell has an average battery life of up to 6 hours.

SPECIFICATIONS
Screen Size: 15.6 inches
Platform: Windows 10 Home
Processor: 1.6GHz Intel Pentium N3700
Graphics Card: Intel HD Graphics
RAM: 4GB
Harddrive: 500GB
Battery Life: Up to 6 hours
Other: WiFi, Bluetooth, 3 x USB ports, HDMI

Pros

  • 15.6 inch screen
  • Plenty of harddrive storage
  • 4GB RAM
  • Good sized keyboard
  • Pentium processor
  • Windows OS

Cons

  • Windows 10
  • No SSD drive
  • No ethernet port
  • Average battery life

 

#3 HP Stream 13

HP Stream 13

Price: $220-240

Buy from Amazon

The HP Stream 13 is a good choice for those with slightly more advanced needs who require a an ultraportable laptop with the Windows operating system for various purposes. But due to the low amount of RAM memory it’s not a good choice for a lot of things, even basic video editing might be cumbersome. All the basic stuff I mentioned at the start of this article should be possible though.

HP Stream 13 is a 13.3 inch laptop that runs Windows 10 Home edition on a 1.6GHz Intel Celeron N3050 processor and Intel HD graphics card with 2GB RAM and a 32GB solid state harddrive. This mid-sized laptop also includes WiFi, Bluetooth, 3 USB ports one of which is a USB 3.0 port and an HDMI port.

The battery life on the HP Stream 13 is up to 9 hours which is excellent.

SPECIFICATIONS
Screen Size: 13.3 inches
Platform: Windows 10 Home
Processor: 1.6GHz Intel Celeron N3050
Graphics Card: Intel HD Graphics
RAM: 2GB
Harddrive: 32GB
Battery Life: Up to 9 hours
Other: WiFi, Bluetooth, 3 x USB ports, HDMI

Pros

  • Keyboard size is OK
  • Great battery life
  • Ultraportable
  • SSD drive
  • Low price
  • Windows OS

Cons

  • Windows 10
  • Only 32GB local data storage
  • HP brand

 

#4 Asus Chromebook Flip

Asus Chromebook Flip

Price: $230-240

Buy from Amazon

The Asus Chromebook Flip is kind of a laptop and tablet hybrid. Its screen size is only 10.1 inches and it runs Google Chrome OS on a 1.8GHz Rockchip processor and Rockchip Mali T764 graphics card with 2GB of RAM memory and a 16GB solid state harddrive. The Chromebook flip also has WiFi, Bluetooth, 2 x USB 2.0 ports and a Micro HDMI port.

The battery life is very good, it lasts around 9 hours.

Google Chrome OS is the poor man’s Apple OS X, and actually looks similar to some Android tablets in terms of the layout. It’s easy to use and fast, but also has some limitations. The only feasible way to get software on a Chrome OS laptop without hacking it is by using the Chrome Web Store which only has a limited selection of apps, although it is adequate for most casual users and the store is constantly growing.

The Asus Chromebook Flip is ideal for casual users, newbies and those who don’t have many requirements from their computers.
One thing to keep in mind though is that Chromebooks in general require constant internet access to be effective, they are not very useful while offline. This is why I would expect a 3G or LTE modem in these laptops but the cheap ones at least don’t have them.

SPECIFICATIONS
Screen Size: 10.1 inches
Platform: Google Chrome OS
Processor: 1.8GHz Rockchip
Graphics Card: Rockchip Mali T764
RAM: 2GB
Harddrive: 16GB
Battery Life: Up to 9 hours
Other: WiFi, Bluetooth, 2 x USB ports, Micro HDMI

Pros

  • Touchscreen
  • Chrome OS
  • Rockchip CPU
  • Great battery life
  • Ultraportable
  • SSD drive

Cons

  • Chrome Website limited software selection
  • Small keyboard
  • Less usefull without internet
  • No 3G/4G/LTE modem

 

#5 Samsung Chromebook 2

Samsung Chromebook 2

Price: $190-200

Buy from Amazon

The Samsung Chromebook 2 is a small 11.6 inch laptop that runs Google Chrome OS on a 2.16 GHz Intel Celeron N2840 processor and an integrated Intel HD graphics card with 2GB of RAM memory and a 16GB solid state harddrive. It also comes with all the basic features such as WiFi, Bluetooth, a USB 3.0 port and an HDMI port.

The battery life is up to 8 hours.

This laptop is not too different in terms of performance than the Asus Chromebook Flip, although it doesn’t have a touchscreen display and it’s an inch and a half bigger, but still highly portable. The Samsung Chromebook 2 is also around $30-40 cheaper.

As mentioned in the Chromebook flip review, Chrome OS is fast and easy to use but it only has a limited amount of software available on the Chrome Web Store, although it should be adequate for casual users for which this laptop is intended. One con with this laptop as well is the small size of the keyboard, so watch out if you have chubby fingers. Chromebooks in general also rely a lot on the internet for their functions, so using this laptop offline may limit its features significantly.

There are also cheaper Chromebooks out there like those from Chinese manufacturers like Lenovo. But Chinese laptops have had some issues with spyware and backdoors recently so I decided not to include them in this review.

SPECIFICATIONS
Screen Size: 11.6 inches
Platform: Google Chrome OS
Processor: 2.16GHz Intel Celeron N2840
Graphics Card: Intel HD Graphics
RAM: 2GB
Harddrive: 16GB
Battery Life: Up to 8 hours
Other: WiFi, Bluetooth, 1 x USB 3.0 port, HDMI

Pros

  • Chrome OS
  • Great battery life
  • Ultraportable
  • SSD drive
  • Low price
  • Samsung brand

Cons

  • Chrome Web Store limited software selection
  • Small keyboard
  • Less usefull without internet
  • No 3G/4G/LTE modem

 

 

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