The best cheap laptops for 2024, tested and reviewed (2024)

Overview

Best cheap MacBook

Apple Macbook Air (13.3-inch, M2)

Jump to Details

$849.00Best Buy

Best cheap Windows laptop

Lenovo Yoga 7i 14 (Gen 9)

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$899.99Best Buy

Best cheap Microsoft laptop

Microsoft Surface Laptop Go 3

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$779.90Amazon The best cheap laptops for 2024, tested and reviewed (4)

Best cheap Chromebook

HP Chromebook Plus 15.6-inch

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$499.00Best Buy

Best cheap gaming laptop

Acer Nitro V 15

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$897.00Walmart

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Table of Contents

When it comes to shopping for the best cheap laptops, you can do a lot with $1,000. (Heck, even $500 cuts some mustard nowadays.) But you'll probably have to make some compromises along the way to stay below that price point.

That doesn't mean you have to settle for a total clunker that doesn't tick any of the boxes on your must-have specs list. It just means you have to shop a little smarter than someone with unlimited funds.

That's where we come in. The Mashable team is constantly reviewing new laptops, and we can recommend several affordable machines for different budgets, operating system loyalties, and use cases based on our hands-on testing.

SEE ALSO:

The best laptops of 2024, tested and reviewed

What is the best cheap laptop?

As of mid-2024, we believe the best cheap MacBook is the 13-inch Apple MacBook Air powered by the previous-generation M2 chip. It's speedy enough for most people, it's got a great keyboard, and it starts at $999 (though it's often on sale for less than $900).

Among Windows laptops, the Lenovo Yoga 7i 14 (Gen 9) is currently the best cheap laptop we've tested. It has a newer processor and a good battery life, it doubles as a tablet, and it comes in at a starting price of $899.99.

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Read on to learn more about these picks and some other solid options. FYI: We've listed the pricing and specs of our testing units, which may not apply to each laptop's base model.

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Best IpadsBest Bluetooth SpeakersBest Budget Wireless EarbudsAll Best Products

Our Pick

The best cheap laptops for 2024, tested and reviewed (8)

Apple Macbook Air (13.3-inch, M2)

Best cheap MacBook

$849.00Best Buy

Read Mashable's full review of the 13-inch Apple MacBook Air (M2).

Who it's for:

Apple's 13-inch M2 MacBook Air from mid-2022 isn't quite as fast as the latest M3 model, and it lacks its successor's support for two external monitors and WiFi 6E. (Get that new version if you want the very best MacBook regardless of price.) But those are easy sacrifices to make if you don't want to spend more than $1,000. All things considered, it's a no-brainer recommendation for budget-conscious Apple users in need of a reliable everyday laptop.

Why we picked this:

The M2 MacBook Air "delivers everything you need" in a laptop, wrote Mashable tech and games reporter Alex Perry in his review. That includes an all-day battery life, a snappy keyboard, and "enough horsepower to handle everyday tasks with ease." It also sports a 1080p FaceTime HD camera that produces a clear picture in low light, plus a four-speaker setup with Spatial Audio and Dolby Atmos support. Despite needing a few more ports, it effortlessly clinched our Mashable's Choice Award —and after a permanent list price drop to $999 in March 2024, it's now a better value than ever. (It technically isn't the cheapest MacBook available, as you can still buy the $699 M1 MacBook Air, but that model's too outdated to endorse at this point.)

Note that Apple has discontinued the M2 MacBook Air in a 15-inch screen size as of early 2024, but it was still up for grabs at third-party retailers like Best Buy and at the time of writing.

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Details

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$849.00Best Buy

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The best cheap laptops for 2024, tested and reviewed (9)

Lenovo Yoga 7i 14 (Gen 9)

Best cheap Windows laptop

$899.99Best Buy

Read Mashable's full review of the Lenovo Yoga 7i 14 (Gen 9).

Who it's for:

Lenovo's Yoga 7i is an affordable point of entry to the realm of AI PCs. It also has an Intel Core Ultra chip for those interested in a next-gen upgrade. Its 2-in-1 design will also entice thrifty shoppers torn between a laptop and a tablet.

Why we picked this:

Hailing from Lenovo's popular Yoga line, this convertible is an understated workhorse. A little boring, sure — the fact that it can flip into tablet and tent modes is probably the most exciting thing about it —but no-nonsense competence has its appeal. "I’m a tab hoarder, and the Yoga 7i 2-in-1 14 was able to handle my crazy daily research antics flawlessly with its Intel Core Ultra 5 125U processor," said Mashable contributor Sarah Chaney. (That's paired with a healthy 16GB of RAM.) Bonus: It doesn't run hot and won't die on you mid-day.

When you get down to nitty-gritty design details, the Yoga 7i feels a little hit or miss. Its keyboard is "well-spaced and enjoyably springy," Chaney wrote, with adjustable backlighting and a built-in Copilot key that pulls up Microsoft's AI assistant. But its trackpad was laggy in testing. Its hybrid form factor gives it versatility, but its hinges aren't super strong and its display is a bit dim. It has a good selection of ports, but we wish its USB-C ports weren't restricted to one side. Still, those cons could be put-up-withable for $900 if all you really care about is excellent performance.

The Good

The Bad

Details

GET IT

$899.99Best Buy

Read Mashable's full review of the Microsoft Surface Laptop Go 3.

Who it's for:

You can stretch your dollar further with other tech giants, but the 2023 Microsoft Surface Go 3 is a good cheap laptop for brand loyalists and those who want a flashy ultraportable. "I can see this being the daily driver of young students or Gen Z users seeking a laptop that can handle casual usage with style and sophistication," said Mashable tech editor Kim Gedeon.

Why we picked it:

The 12.4-inch Surface Laptop Go 3 is basically a "Windows Air," Gedeon wrote, with a premium build quality that wouldn't seem out of place among Apple's ranks. And don't get her started about its snappy, spiffy keyboard, which she deemed "one of the best I’ve ever used during my entire career as a laptop reviewer."

Alas, its internals are far more underwhelming: Its 12th-generation Intel CPU is now two generations removed in 2024; its battery life clocked in at a mediocre eight-ish hours in our testing; and its dim display carried over from the 2022 Surface Laptop Go 2. But the base model's memory and storage have doubled, at least. It's also frequently on sale at Amazon and Best Buy for at least $100 off its list price, which feels way more reasonable given those specs. (We've seen it get it even cheaper on Black Friday; if you can hold out for a while, its next big discount will probably coincide with Amazon Prime Day in July.)

The Good

The Bad

Details

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$779.90Amazon The best cheap laptops for 2024, tested and reviewed (12)

$799.99Best Buy

The best cheap laptops for 2024, tested and reviewed (13)

HP Chromebook Plus 15.6-inch

Best cheap Chromebook

$499.00Best Buy

Read Mashable's full review of the HP Chromebook Plus 15.6-inch.

Who it's for:

HP's Chromebook Plus 15.6-inch is a bottom-of-the-budget laptop geared toward Google-based productivity and casual entertainment. It makes build quality concessions that can take some getting used to, but overall, the price is right for basic cloud-based multitasking.

Why we picked this:

The Chromebook Plus 15.6-inch is a sleek big-screened laptop from Google's next generation of ChromeOS laptops that comes in at only $499. It certainly feels that cheap in some ways (see: its stiff keyboard, poor audio quality, and questionable durability), and its battery life sucks, but its solid performance and spacious, vibrant anti-glare display go a long way to nullify those drawbacks. It's also equipped with some useful AI tools you won't find in non-"Plus" Chromebooks, including a File Sync tool and Google Photos Magic Eraser. "It's unfair to compare a Chromebook to other kinds of laptops," to quote my extended review, "but as a lifelong MacBook user, I feel compelled to admit that I was pleasantly surprised by how much I enjoyed using this laptop."

It's worth mentioning that while the Chromebook Plus 15.6-inch is a great value, it isn't the absolute best value of the Chromebook Plus bunch. (We'll be reviewing more of them in the near future.) You're not a sucker if you pay its $500 list price, but look for it on sale for around $400 at Best Buy if you can wait.

The Good

The Bad

Details

GET IT

$499.00Best Buy

Related Stories

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  • June's best laptop deals include a record-low M3 MacBook Air and a sub-$200 14-inch Chromebook

The best cheap laptops for 2024, tested and reviewed (14)

Acer Nitro V 15

Best cheap gaming laptop

$897.00Walmart

Read Mashable's full review of the Acer Nitro V 15.

Who it's for:

Gedeon put things succinctly in her review: "If you're just looking for a gaming laptop that ditches all the bells and whistles for impressive gaming performance, the [Acer] Nitro V 15 is the one for you."

Why we picked this:

The Mashable's Choice Award-winning Nitro V 15 is all about power, power, power —and while it strains the definition of "cheap," we do think it's the best budget gaming laptop under $1,000. The model we tested is "packed with delicious internals that can handle triple-A gaming," said Gedeon, including a 13th-gen Intel Core i7 H-series processor for desktop-level brawn and nice NVIDIA GeForce RTX 4050 graphics. She found it capable of running Cyberpunk 2077, "one of the most graphics-intensive games on the market, like a champ."

Unsurprisingly, Acer has made some noteworthy trade-offs to offer that level of oomph at this price point, namely in the realms of display quality (it's not bright or vivid) and extra fixings (there's no RGB keyboard or 1080p webcam). Its pathetically short battery life also means it'll set up permanent shop on your desk — preferably with a microfiber cloth at the ready nearby, as it clings to fingerprints with a passion.

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$897.00Walmart

$899.99Acer

The best cheap laptops for 2024, tested and reviewed (15)

Acer Chromebook 516 GE

Best cheap cloud gaming laptop

$448.99Best Buy

Note: Google recently announced the new Acer Chromebook Plus 516 GE, which is effectively the same laptop with a newer processor, a darker finish, and some new Gemini AI tools. We'll test it soon.

Who it's for:

The Acer Chromebook 516 GE (the "GE" stands for "gaming edition") is a budget-friendly beaut for gamers who are tired of trying to keep up with new titles' fancy hardware requirements, as well as those who frequently play on the go — it's pretty light for a PC gaming machine. However, a reliable internet connection and an outlet are musts.

Why we picked this:

Gaming Chromebooks (or cloud gaming laptops) are a relatively new species of budget gaming laptop, and the Chromebook 516 GE was one of the first models to hit the market back in late 2022. It kicked off the genre on a high note: It has plenty of ports, a 1080p webcam, an anti-ghosting RGB keyboard, and a quality (not cheap-feeling) build, said Mashable lead shopping reporter Dylan Haas.

It also performed shockingly well in our testing; while there was some expected fidelity loss, the games Haas streamed never once lagged or stuttered —including Cyberpunk 2077. But "[the] real showstopper is the laptop's display," he wrote. "[The] 16-inch, 1600p screen looks fantastic and boasts clear, bright, and vibrant colors." It would be nice if Acer bumped its battery life a bit, though: Six hours per charge is fantastic if you're talking about a regular gaming laptop that plays natively, but it's less impressive for a cloud-based machine that uses far less power.

The Good

The Bad

Details

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$448.99Best Buy

The best cheap laptops for 2024, tested and reviewed (16)

Framework Laptop 13

Best long-term value

$1,049.00Framework

Note: We'll soon review the next-gen Framework Laptop 16, which is now available for purchase.

Read Mashable's review of the Framework Laptop (2021).

Who it's for:

The 2023 Framework Laptop 13 is a bit of an investment upfront, but its modular design translates to long-term savings for users who like to upgrade their specs every few years. Even if you lack DIY wizardry, the learning curve involved isn't too intimidating.

Why we picked this:

Unlike many consumer laptops, which have soldered-on parts, the Framework Laptop 13 has fully replaceable and repairable components. So, instead of buying another brand-new machine when your processor, RAM, storage, keyboard, or display conk out, you can simply Frankenstein in a different part —a great way to save money in the long run.

The best part is that almost anyone can do this: "It's with the tech coward's perspective that I am happy to report the Framework Laptop is nothing short of an industrial design miracle for newcomers," wrote Mashable's Perry, who tested an older version. If you feel a little more confident in your computer-tweaking abilities, consider the fully customizable DIY Edition (which starts at $849) instead of the pre-built model.

The Good

The Bad

Details

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$1,049.00Framework

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How we tested

Mashable staff tested all of the laptops in this guide (we tried a previous version of the Framework Laptop 13). At minimum, this involved inspecting their build quality and using them for a variety of real-world tasks for several weeks at a time. We worked with different kinds of documents, checked emails, watched videos, took photos on their webcams, participated in video calls, listened to music (via Spotify), played games (if possible), and experimented with any unique software features or use cases they claimed to support.

Additionally, we ran industry-standard benchmark software testing on a handful of the newer laptops featured here (specifically the Lenovo Yoga 7i 14, the Microsoft Surface Laptop Go 3, the HP Chromebook Plus 15.6-inch, and the Acer Nitro V 15). We recently started implementing these benchmarks in our testing, and you can expect to see them in all of our new laptop reviews going forward:

Performance benchmarks

We evaluate the overall performance of our testing units by putting them through the pertinent version of Primate Labs' Geekbench 6. (We use the Windows version for Windows laptops, including gaming laptops, and Android for Chromebooks.) This test measures CPU performance in a handful of common tasks, and we record the resulting multi-core scores. The higher the score, the better.

To get a sense of gaming laptops' graphical prowess, we also play Cyberpunk 2077 on them. If they had a discrete/dedicated NVIDIA GeForce RTX graphics card (as opposed to an integrated GPU that's built into the CPU), we do this once with its DLSS tech off and again with DLSS on. This tests their raw GPU power and their performance with AI upscaling, respectively. We follow this up with 3DMark's Time Spy benchmark for gaming PCs and record their scores. Again, higher is better.

Battery life benchmarks

To find the laptops with the best battery life, we assess our loaners' stamina by having them run battery benchmarks. We look to see about nine to ten hours of battery life in the Windows laptops we test, for reference, with over 12 hours being exceptional. Gaming laptops are a different story: They only need to last at least two hours per charge to get our approval. (They earn extra brownie points for reaching the four-hour mark.) Meanwhile, eight hours is our baseline for Chromebooks, and nine to ten hours is the ideal.

We used UL Solutions' PCMark 10 battery life stress test on the Surface Laptop Go and the Acer Nitro V 15, and Principled Technologies' CrXPRT 2 battery life test on the Chromebook Plus 15.6-inch. Both tests ran a series of apps and functions until the laptop conked out.

On the Yoga 7i, we conducted a video rundown test that involved playing a looped 1080p version of Tears of Steel, a short open-source Blender movie, at 50 percent brightness. Going forward, we will only be using this rundown method to test laptop battery life.

After evaluating each model's performance in these tests, we made our final recommendations based on whether they offered a good overall value for the money. For the purposes of this guide, we defined a "cheap laptop" as one that costs less than $1,000. We made a lone exception to this rule for the Framework Laptop 13 ($1,049): It requires a bigger upfront investment, but it'll save you money on repair and replacement costs for years to come.

Finally, it should be noted that these aren't the only cheap laptops we've tried — we're constantly testing and assessing new models across different categories, and many don't make the final cut. With that in mind, you can expect this guide to evolve on a pretty continuous basis. We're always on the lookout for new top pick contenders.

Frequently Asked Questions

Certain times of the year are better for laptop shopping than others. If you're looking for a good deal on a laptop, we recommend buying around Black Friday, during back-to-school season (with a close watch on Amazon's Prime Day sale), and over long holiday weekends. If you're just after brand-new models with the latest specs, bargains be damned, you'll see them hitting the market in January and February after the Consumer Electronics Show (CES).

For more intel and buying tips, check out our guide to when you should buy a laptop.

The best cheap laptops for 2024, tested and reviewed (17)

Haley Henschel

Senior Shopping Reporter

Haley Henschel is a Chicago-based Senior Shopping Reporter at Mashable who reviews and finds deals on popular tech, from laptops to gaming consoles and VPNs. She has years of experience covering shopping holidays and can tell you what’s actually worth buying on Black Friday and Amazon Prime Day. Her work has also explored the driving forces behind digital trends within the shopping sphere, from dupes to 12-foot skeletons.

Haley received a B.A. in Journalism from the University of Wisconsin-Madison and honed her sifting and winnowing skills at The Daily Cardinal. She previously covered politics for The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, investigated exotic pet ownership for Wisconsin Watch, and blogged for some of your favorite reality stars.

In her free time, Haley enjoys playing video games, drawing, taking walks on Lake Michigan, and spending time with her parrot (Melon) and dog (Pierogi). She really, really wants to get back into horseback riding. You can follow her on X at@haleyhenschelor reach her via email at[emailprotected].

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The best cheap laptops for 2024, tested and reviewed (2024)

FAQs

The best cheap laptops for 2024, tested and reviewed? ›

The MacBook Air 13-inch M3 is the laptop we recommend first to most people because it delivers unbeatable value. You get great performance from Apple's M3 chip, a bright display and more than 15 hours of battery life (according to our testing) in an ultraportable package.

What is a good reliable cheap laptop? ›

The best budget laptops in 2024, tried and tested
  • Best budget laptop overall: Dell Inspiron 14.
  • A great budget laptop with more power, but fewer features: Acer Aspire 5 (A514-54-501Z)
  • Best budget Chromebook: Lenovo Chromebook Flex 5i (13-Inch)
  • Best budget 2-in-1 Chromebook: Lenovo Chromebook Duet 5 (13-Inch)
Jan 9, 2024

Which is the number one laptop in the world? ›

The MacBook Air 13-inch M3 is the laptop we recommend first to most people because it delivers unbeatable value. You get great performance from Apple's M3 chip, a bright display and more than 15 hours of battery life (according to our testing) in an ultraportable package.

What is the most long lasting laptop? ›

Apple MacBook Pro 16 (M3 Max, 2023)

With a battery life of more than 21 hours, the latest 16-inch MacBook Pro is the longest-running laptop we've tested in the last year. That's an outstanding figure for any laptop and particularly so given the large, high-resolution display that the battery must power.

Is Dell or HP better? ›

When getting the best quality device, HP is usually the preferred choice. However, Dell has its advantages, too – such as offering more affordable laptops and desktops. So whether you want high performance and reliability or something more budget-friendly, both HP and Dell have great products that suit your needs.

Which laptop has the lowest failure rate? ›

Asus laptops were to top ranked for repairability in 2024

Our report found that among most popular laptop brands, Asus leads in repairability with a B+. Their laptops scored well for disassembly, which is an essential feature when it comes time to replace broken parts.

Which laptop brand is very best? ›

Lenovo. Much like Dell, ASUS, Acer, and HP, Lenovo offers a diverse range of laptops. While its premium models are some of the best in the market, its mid-range and budget options are also competitive. They typically have sturdy builds and deliver a superior user experience compared to other reliable laptop brands.

What are the top five laptops to purchase? ›

  1. Microsoft Surface Laptop. Microsoft's refreshed Surface Laptop is the best laptop you can buy in 2024. ...
  2. Lenovo IdeaPad Duet 5 OLED Chromebook. The best affordable laptop around. ...
  3. Apple MacBook Air 13-inch (M3) Apple's latest MacBook Air is the best MacBook money can buy right now. ...
  4. Dell XPS 14 (9440)

What things to check before buying a laptop? ›

10 things to consider while buying a new laptop
  • Purpose. Determine the primary purpose of your laptop. ...
  • Performance. Consider the laptop's processor, RAM, and storage capacity. ...
  • Portability. Consider portability when choosing a laptop. ...
  • Display and resolution. ...
  • Operating system. ...
  • Connectivity. ...
  • Battery life. ...
  • ​Keyboard and trackpad.
Jun 20, 2023

What's the difference between a laptop and a Chromebook? ›

A Chromebook is basically a budget laptop that does not run Mac OS, Linux, or Windows, and instead operates on a special Google-based operating system called Chrome OS. Chromebooks are especially popular with college students.

Which laptop is strong and durable? ›

If you're looking for durable laptop brands, these include the Panasonic Toughbooks and Dell Latitude Rugged lineup. The ThinkPad line-up is also good for day-today use with some MIL-STD rated protection, but for the best Lenovo tough laptop, check out the ThinkPad Extreme range.

Where is the best place to get a good laptop? ›

Here are our top recommendations for the best place to buy a laptop online in 2024.
  • Best Place To Buy A Laptop Online Overall: Best Buy.
  • Best Place To Buy A Budget Laptop Online: Amazon.
  • Best Place To Buy A Gaming Laptop Online: Newegg.
  • Best Place To Buy A Work Laptop Online: Walmart.
Jan 19, 2024

What is the most trusted computer brand? ›

TOP 9 Ranked Computer Brands – 2024 Study
1Apple★★★★★
2HP★★★★
3Microsoft☆☆☆
4Dell☆☆☆
5Samsung☆☆☆
4 more rows

Which is better, Dell or HP or Lenovo? ›

It ultimately depends on your specific needs and preferences. If you're looking for a reliable, durable laptop that is well-suited for business use, Lenovo or Dell may be your best bet. If you're on a tight budget, HP may be a good option, but be aware of the potential for hardware failures.

What is a good laptop just for basic use? ›

The Lenovo IdeaPad Duet 5 Chromebook is the best ultra-low price laptop you can buy, and it's a brilliant follow-up to the original IdeaPad Duet. While it's been out for a while, Chromebooks don't date as quickly as Windows laptops, and it's still one of the best Chromebooks we've used.

How do I choose a budget laptop? ›

Displays are typically where PC makers cut costs on cheap laptops. Look for a display resolution of 1,920x1,080, aka Full HD. I've already talked about what CPUs to look for, but I'd also skip anything that's a low-power ARM processor... unless it's in a Chromebook.

What's the difference between a Chromebook and a laptop? ›

A Chromebook is basically a budget laptop that does not run Mac OS, Linux, or Windows, and instead operates on a special Google-based operating system called Chrome OS. Chromebooks are especially popular with college students.

How much RAM do I need for my laptop? ›

How much RAM do you need? Generally, we recommend 8GB of RAM for casual computer usage and internet browsing, 16GB for spreadsheets and other office programs, and at least 32GB for gamers and multimedia creators. How you use your computer influences how much RAM you need, so use this as a guideline.

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