The best budget laptops of 2022

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best budget laptops


Get a laptop without spending a lot of money We tested and ranked the best options under $500 / £500 Not sure how to choose? We explain what to take into account.

Owning a solid laptop can be essential to your work or study, but it doesn't necessarily have to cost more than $500/£500 to get the job done.

While many guides and reviews tend to focus on the best laptops for any budget , not everyone wants to spend a lot of money on such a device.

The good news is that there are plenty of budget and mid-tier devices out there at reasonable prices. And to help you decide which one is right for your needs, we've rounded up a selection of the best laptops under $500.

In this guide, we've chosen to focus on full-featured laptops, rather than Chromebooks. That said, if you need something simple for basic web browsing and productivity, you can check out our guide to the best Chromebooks available .

Plus, we've created a quick section at the bottom with some helpful tips on how to find the best laptop for you. Now, let's dive into our picks.

What is the best budget laptop? Currently our top recommendation is the Lenovo IdeaPad 5 . However, we also recommend checking out the Asus VivoBook 15 , Microsoft Surface Go 3 , Huawei MateBook D15 , and HP Stream 11 .


Best budget laptop

LENOVO

Lenovo IdeaPad 5

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For

  • Powerful processor
  • Big FHD screen
  • USB-C charging

Against

Memory is not upgradeable

No touchscreen or fingerprint reader

This Lenovo IdeaPad 5 is powered by an AMD Ryzen 5 4500U processor and we think it's the most powerful budget laptop around.

This machine will burn through productivity tasks without breaking a sweat and can even handle some light gaming.

SSD storage keeps things feeling fast, and USB-C charging makes it super convenient to stay charged throughout the day.

Inexpensive laptops that we also recommend

While the Lenovo IdeaPad 5 is at the top of this list, it's not necessarily the right laptop for everyone, especially since it only falls under the $500/£500 mark. That's why we've also selected the following devices for you to consider.


ASUS

Asus VivoBook 15

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For

  • Powerful Intel processor
  • Large Full HD screen
  • Thin and light

Against

Memory can only be partially upgraded

Old DC power adapter

In terms of specifications, the Asus VivoBook 15 is quite similar to Lenovo's IdeaPad 5, but it features an Intel Core i5 processor instead.

In practice, although the Ryzen processor is slightly better on paper, both perform very well.

If you're an Intel loyalist, then this is probably the best budget laptop in that space. It's quite powerful with good connectivity options and a fast SSD, a joy to use.


MICROSOFT

Microsoft Surface Go 3

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For

  • Windows 11 pre-installed
  • 2 in 1 design
  • All day battery life

Against

The keyboard is not included.

The processor is on the slower side.

Now, it's important to note right away that the Surface Go 3 doesn't come with a keyboard by default, you'll have to buy one, but, even with the extra expense, you can still get it for an affordable price.

Basically, the Surface Go 3 is a great 2-in-1 tablet and laptop hybrid, and most people will really enjoy using it seamlessly as both devices. We understand that it won't be to everyone's taste and in an ideal world you would upgrade the processor to the best version available.

However, if you want a 2-in-1 with some style, the Surface Go 3 is a very good option.


HUAWEI

Huawei MateBook D 15

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For

  • Modern design with slim bezels
  • Upgradable storage
  • USB-C charging

Against

Low webcam creates unflattering angles

no touch screen

The Huawei MateBook D 15 offers incredible value for money. It has a sleek metal design and a modern slim-bezel display with the convenience of USB-C fast charging.

The Core i3 processor isn't the most powerful out there, but it will do the job just fine for basic productivity, video calling, and streaming content.

Despite being slim and light, there are also plenty of ports for connecting accessories.


HP

HP flow 11

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For

  • Unbelievably cheap
  • Great battery life
  • Super portable

Against

weak processor

low on storage

This might be better suited as a kids' laptop, rather than something you rely on every day, as its limited storage and weak processor mean it can't do too much heavy lifting.

That said, for an unbelievably low price, you get a full Windows laptop. It really is exceptional value for money. It will handle the basics with no problem and is super lightweight and portable.

It offers great battery life and is also available in a range of colors.

Other products we consider

In trying to figure out what we think are the best laptops currently available for under $500/£500, we spent hours going through spec sheets and comparisons, as well as testing the devices in real-world scenarios. We consider a variety of factors when it comes to recommending devices, and also when a new device enters our top five picks. We not only take into account our own tests, but also consumer opinions, quality and brand value.

In all of our roundups, there are also plenty of products we tried that didn't make the final cut. However, since they may be suitable for some people, we have listed them below.

Microsoft surface go 2

14-inch Samsung Galaxy Book

15.6-inch HP Pavilion

How to choose a cheap laptop

When it comes to buying a great budget laptop below the $500/£500 mark, you'll inevitably have to make some compromises to stay on budget. You won't find a high-spec gaming machine in this price range, but if you keep your expectations realistic, you can get your hands on a highly capable machine.

To help you find the best option for you, here are some things to think about:


What do you need the laptop for?

An obvious benefit of laptops, compared to phones or tablets, is that you get a physical keyboard. This makes them much more suitable for tasks like typing, working on spreadsheets, and the like. If the tasks you need to complete are that simple, you might want to consider a Chromebook, as you could save even more there.

All of the options on our list run Windows, and that means they can run the widest variety of software that any operating system has to offer. This can be great if you need to run a niche program for work or a hobby, as you'll almost certainly find a Windows compatible version for any software imaginable.

If you need to do something more demanding, like edit videos or play games, then you'll want to pay special attention to the processor. Some of the options on our list are surprisingly capable given the price range and will be able to run apps like Adobe Premiere and even play games like Overwatch on medium settings.

AMD or Intel?

Intel and AMD have a long history of going head-to-head over performance and pricing. Until recently, Intel was pretty much the only good option for a laptop CPU, but AMD has made huge strides in recent years, so much so that it's essentially done the opposite.

In this price range, the best processor you'll find is either an Intel Core i5 or an AMD Ryzen 5. If you want the most performance for your money, we recommend going with the Ryzen option. AMD's Ryzen 5 chips beat Intel's i5 in just about every way, while also tending to be cheaper and increasing device battery life.

The Intel Core i5 processors, of course, are still very good and with each new iteration, both companies continue to innovate and further close the performance gap.

At home or on the go?

Laptops give you the luxury of using the computer from anywhere you want, instead of being stuck at home with a desktop computer. If you're going to be traveling a lot, you'll definitely want to pay attention to the battery life on offer, as well as the size and weight of the device. If you end up with a laptop that's too big and heavy, you'll probably never want to take it anywhere.

Also pay attention to how the device is charged, as some laptops can be charged via USB-C, just like a smartphone. This is especially handy, as it means you only need to take one charger with you when you travel, and you can probably borrow one from someone else if you forget it. Laptops with old-school DC connectors aren't compatible with each other, and can often add a little extra weight to your bag.

If you're going to be using it primarily at home, then you can enjoy having a nice big screen to watch and weight becomes much less of a concern. Similarly, it doesn't matter too much about the charger or the battery life, since it will always be close to a power outlet. So there are some potential savings to be had by ignoring those specs.

All of the products on this list have been thoroughly tested to ensure they will work exactly as a recommended selection should.

There are dozens of budget laptops vying for the fray, but not all of them offer the right mix of design, specs, and performance—or, indeed, offer a price that represents good value for money.

With a price cap of $500 / £500, there are naturally trade-offs in some of these areas, but our aim is to provide a list of recommendations that suits different types of users looking for a budget model.

However, as with any summary, it's not possible to deliver a list that works for everyone, which is why we drew on the experiences and opinions of the wider Pocket-lint team, as well as thoroughly evaluating the above areas, to do our best in this regard.

What we always tend to avoid when compiling these picks are spec comparisons and unnecessary marketing lines; we just want to provide an easy-to-understand summary that gives you an idea of ​​how each charging station is used. Our verdicts are concise, but this is purely for the sake of brevity.

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