So you’re in the market to buy a new laptop? We have some advice: Don’t let big brands with multimillion pound marketing campaigns fool you into thinking you have to pay upwards of £1,000 to get a quality device.
You can actually get a brand new laptop for less than half of that price. And we aren’t talking about poorly made, subpar options that run slower than your smartphone. We’re talking about cheap laptops that are high-tech and responsive, helping you do the things that matter most, like writing, browsing the internet, storing files, and even gaming.
There’s a whole world of laptops that cost £600 or less, and many of them are perfect companions for students returning to school or anyone who needs something that’s a little more capable than an iPhone.
What are the most important things to look for in a laptop?
We need to set expectations right away: The laptops on this list will not come with the latest and greatest processors, graphics cards, or displays. You have to spend more than £700 for those things. For students or workers who just want something to get them through the day, things like ports and memory are more important.
If you want to record audio with a microphone or use a mouse, you’ll need USB ports. Photographers or videographers should emphasise microSD card readers. An HDMI port goes a long way if you like streaming on a TV. Above all else, you want as much RAM and storage as you can get. More RAM means the computer can handle more applications at once and more storage means less hard drive management.
What do you lose by getting a cheap laptop?
Laptops in the £600-or-below price range are not going to be good for PC gaming. You won’t get a 4K resolution display or a refresh rate higher than 60Hz. RAM is going to max out around 8GB, which isn’t bad but also isn’t spectacular. You’re also unlikely to get more than 500GB of storage space.
In this price range, laptops are going to be best for web browsing, word processing, Zoom calls, and streaming. As long as you don’t expect more than that, you’ll be fine.
Are cheap laptops actually worth it?
You know the old saying: You get what you pay for. But thanks to the technology boom of the last few decades, a cheap laptop can actually take you pretty far and won’t break down immediately. It’s all about knowing which one to select.
Rather than just making a few purchase suggestions and sending you on your way, we’re going to equip you with some knowledge that’ll help you be a more informed laptop shopper. You know all that computer jargon of processor-this and gigahertz-that — we’ll explain it all in terms that anyone can understand.
What is the best cheap laptop?
We have checked out everything on offer and lined up a selection of the best cheap laptops on offer, including impressive devices from big brands like Microsoft, Dell, and HP. There is something for everyone in this list, so we recommend taking your time and considering all of the options.
These are the best cheap laptops for 2021.
Thin and light — great for travel • High-res PixelSense display
Stylus and keyboard not included
The smallest and lightest Microsoft Surface available, the Surface Go 2 is a great option for anyone with an unpredictable day-to-day.
Microsoft Surface Go 2A small and light laptop-tablet combo that’ll adapt to on-the-move lifestyles with no gimmicks.
It’s made for those whose office may change depending on the day, who call an airport their second home, or who just don’t want to be held down by some clunky device.
Its small size still packs a punch, though — it has a high-resolution PixelSense touchscreen display that’ll show anything you do in its best light, runs the fan-favourite Windows 10 effortlessly, has two cameras, a 1.7 GHz Intel Pentium Gold Processor, and a 10-hour battery that will get you all the way from daytime to down time.
Long 12-hour battery life • Brilliant display • Lightweight
Lacks in power
The Acer Aspire 5 features a bright and brilliant display in a lightweight and portable presentation.
Acer Aspire 5The Aspire E Series laptops by Acer have many appealing features for everyday use.
It’s powered by a i3-10110U Intel Core processor to help handle demanding applications and it’s built with 4 GB of memory onboard and 256 GB of SSD to help boot and load pages as fast as possible.
Tye Aspire E5 hits that sweet spot between useful features and affordability. The go-where-you-go notebook has an impressive 14-inch HD display to deliver wide-viewing angles, the largest on this list.
On top of all that, it has a long 12.5-hour battery life, making it a slightly better choice than some of its cheaper counterparts.
Built with a fingerprint sensor • Comfy keyboard • A lot of ports
Battery life needs improvement • Lacks in audio quality
The Acer Swift 1 is a sleek laptop that’s also pretty powerful for its price point.
Acer Swift 1The designers of the Acer Swift 1 created a simple but pleasing to look at laptop with some pretty impressive specs.
Of course, you’ll find all the standard port options including HDMI and UBS ports. But unlike the previous options on the list, the Acer Swift 1 is built with a 13.3-inch HD screen. The screen is an IPS display, which means it produces excellent colour you can see from multiple viewing angles.
The keyboard still has enough space to give you a comfy typing experience. There’s also a fingerprint sensor, which is a great feature to have if you’re worried about anyone going through your laptop. The Acer Swift 1 has a built-in touchpad and is equipped with 4GB of RAM.
The speakers on the Acer Swift 1 aren’t the best in the world, but few of the budget laptops offer jaw-dropping speaker output. What you’ll get is something you can hear fine in your living room or bedroom. You can expect about 9.5 hours of battery life.
Sure, that’s not quite as long as some of the others out there, but it should be plenty to get some work or gaming done on the go.
Compact design • Long battery life • Kid proof
Mushy and flat keyboard • Too small for office work
The Dell Latitude 2-in-1 is a good option for young students with a Microsoft suite of learning apps and functions.
Dell Latitude 2-in-1The Dell Latitude works in Laptop, Tablet, or Tent Mode and is designed for use with a variety of Microsoft learning apps.
The Dell Latitude works in Laptop, Tablet, or Tent Mode and is designed for use with a variety of Microsoft learning apps. A built-in webcam makes for easy photography or for making Skype calls. And you can use the Active Pen to draw, write, and take notes right on the screen.
HP Audio Boost brings music to life • It’s a durable machine
Hard drive capacity is low • Battery life could be better
The HP Pavilion is one of the best utility notebooks under £600.
HP PavilionThe HP Pavilion laptop is one of the best utility notebooks under £600.
If you want to listen to music, watch TV or movies, then then the Pavilion is a good choice because it has some of the best audio around for a laptop within this class. Under the hood, you’ll find 500GB of hard drive capacity, 6GB of system memory, and a processor speed of 2.4 GHz. The Pavilion has a Windows 10 operating system, but only has an 8.5-hour battery life.
Comes with Microsoft Office 365 for one year • 10 hours of battery life • Very affordable
Only 36GB of storage • Not HD • Always reliant on WiFi
The HP Stream 11 is a good option for university students with its inexpensive price point.
HP Stream 11This HP laptop is engineered without a fan, so it should be quiet and comfortable to use on your lap while you enjoy 10 hours of battery life.
It comes with a one-year subscription to Office 365, which includes Excel, Word, and Powerpoint. You also get 60 free monthly Skype minutes and one terabyte of cloud storage. The notebook is entirely cloud enabled so you have access to all your files no matter where you are.
The 11-inch laptop has advanced WiFi connectivity, and since this HP laptop is engineered without a fan, it should be quiet and comfortable to use on your lap while you squeeze the 10 hours of battery life out of it. The HP Stream 11 also has ports so you can connect it to various displays, TVs, and other accessories.
Does it have a fingerprint reader? No. Does it have a backlit keyboard? No. But you don’t really need those anyway. What it does have is a built-in webcam, a thoughtfully designed body, and more cloud storage than you’ll know what to do with. And bonus: the 14-inch screen is just £20 more.