If you’re still skeptical about budget laptops, I don’t blame you. We’ve been somewhat preconditioned by manufacturers that the only devices worth buying are the best laptops, most of which cost more money so we think the cheap ones are just a waste of money.
I was with you myself. As someone who’s been buying flagship devices my entire adult life, I’ve been guilty of looking down on sub-$500 laptops — and probably, to some extent, on my friends who own them (sorry, friends).
When a friend of mine bought a $100 11-inch laptop of any brand off Amazon about 10 years ago, I wondered how she had the patience to use a bulky, low-power notebook under $200. even if she only watched makeup tutorials on YouTube.
I would never have done that, and that was back when I was just researching and studying on my laptop. And now that my computing needs have increased, I’m starting to appreciate budget laptops.
But that’s less because budget laptops have always been grossly underrated and more because the way we rely on our computers in general has changed. Operating costs have also fallen, especially as online retailers often host device sales events like Amazon Prime Day.
A different landscape
If that was 10 years ago, you definitely wouldn’t catch me screwing up with a cheap laptop. But as I said, everything is different now.
Competition in mobile components and operating systems is fiercer than ever, especially with the lightweight Chrome OS showing Windows a thing or two about being powerful and reliable without requiring as much power.
Rivalries between manufacturers and between tech giants not only drive prices down, but also give us better and more powerful options. That means it’s now easier than ever to spend less money on a laptop that’s capable of handling your day-to-day needs. In fact, if the new Alder Lake benchmarks work, many budget notebooks will get even better.
We’ve also changed the way we interact with our devices. For example, instead of spending money to upgrade our storage drives, we just use cloud storage and portable SSDs.
Instead of downloading and installing the entire Microsoft Office suite, we can simply rely on web-based Google Docs editors. Instead of downloading all of our music and movies, we just stream them.
The privilege of being able to store and access everything online allows us to use fewer laptop resources, which means less strain on our devices.
That in turn means we no longer have to shell out the money for the most powerful – think less Dell XPS 15 and more Dell Inspiron 15 as a starting point.
Speaking of which, you should see a range of Inspiration Prime Day deals at Dell, including the Intel Core i3-powered Dell Inspiron 15 3000, which has dropped to $323 (opens in new tab) and the i5-powered Dell Inspiron 14 5000 for $392 (opens in new tab). UK consumers, on the other hand, should check out the Dell Inspiron 16 deal and knock the price down to £519 (opens in new tab).
How Much Should You Spend on a Laptop?
Keep in mind that the word “cheap” is very relative here. A “cheap” gaming laptop will still be more expensive than a “cheap” laptop designed for productivity. At the same time, a Chrome book Designed for business, the Chromebook may be “cheap” alongside business laptops with a full Windows operating system, but it won’t be the cheapest Chromebook out there.
So before you really figure out how much you should spend on a laptop and whether you should go for a cheap one or not, figure out your needs first and then go from there.
But even if you’re an image editor, graphic designer or engineer, you should know that you don’t have to spend more than $2,000/£2,000 for a flagship MacBook Pro. Especially in this economic climate where even a trip to the gas station feels like a highway robbery.
These premium notebooks are breathtakingly powerful and get things done in no time. But there are also affordable alternatives and budget options worth considering, even if they won’t be as fast as the premium offerings.
The budget models might be a test of patience, but if you can get a good one – like an Asus TUF Gaming F17, HP Victus, or a Dell G15, you’ll be glad to wait a few extra minutes when batch editing photos if this is the case the case means saving more than $1,000/£1,000.
As part of Amazon Prime Day 2022, you can get a Ryzen 5, RTX 3050 configuration Dell G15 for just £749 (opens in new tab) In the United Kingdom. Meanwhile the HP Victus 15 has dropped to $869 (opens in new tab) starting at $1,099 in the US.
If you’re like me whose day-to-day work is mostly done with the Chrome browser, a $700/£700 “premium” Chromebook like the Acer Chromebook Spin 713 might be worth your hard-earned cash more than a $1,399 MacBook Pro $. Assuming you’re on a tight budget, of course.
I have my iMac 24 inch on my desk powered by the acclaimed M1 chip, and yet I still spend the second half of my day on a Chromebook like the Lenovo IdeaPad Duet 5 Chromebook because I can do most things on my iMac just as easily. And for Prime Day, this Chromebook’s Snapdragon SC7180 configuration with 4GB of RAM 20% sale (opens in new tab).
What is a good cheap laptop brand?
A word to the wise, don’t just go for the cheapest laptop out there. Just like with mid-range and high-end laptops, there are budget laptops that keep them, and there are a handful of budget laptops that might as well go to the trash.
I’ve found that while I have the greatest admiration for Dell’s premium models, I probably wouldn’t go for the budget Chromebooks just because it feels like the manufacturer isn’t even trying. However, the manufacturer’s Inspiron Windows laptop line is pretty impressive.
I’d also look at Asus and Acer’s offerings, as I’ve found that their budget laptops are rugged, reliable, and sometimes even come with features you’d expect from more expensive models — including a comfortable keyboard and luxe trackpad.
Finally, Lenovo always has some wallet-friendly options that deliver quality and performance, especially in the Chromebook space.
Cheap can also mean simply scoring a lot
These days, “cheap” can also mean waiting for a big sales event and getting your dream laptop for 50% off. Sale events are now happening virtually every quarter so you never have to wait too long like you always did with any major retailer laptop deals on offer.
If you’ve decided on a flagship or premium laptop, sales events are like Amazon Prime Day and Black Friday are the best way to get them cheap. You can also save even more if you buy the previous year’s model of your dream laptop.
It’ll only be a little less powerful, but it’ll almost certainly be a lot cheaper.
More good news; If you’re ready to jump on the cheap laptop bandwagon, they also get generous price cuts during these massive sales.
So, should you buy a cheap laptop?
Whether you should buy a cheap laptop or not depends entirely on your needs. There are certainly clear circumstances where getting a cheap laptop makes a lot more sense – and not just from a budget perspective.
Most students, especially those in elementary and high school, won’t need a $500+ laptop to do their schoolwork and streaming needs. Even adults who only use their notebook to send email, video call loved ones and watch the latest movie releases won’t.
Hell, even some professionals — journalists, teachers, writers, small business owners — can get a lot out of a budget laptop.
If you’re not one of the above, I’ll leave the decision up to you. But before you do that, ask yourself: Do you absolutely need a premium laptop, or just want the status that comes with it? If the latter is the case, chances are a cheap laptop will serve you just as well.
Have you decided that a cheap laptop is what you need? These are the The best laptop deals out there for Amazon Prime Day, curated by our expert panel of writers and deal-snoops.