On a tight budget? You don’t have to sacrifice quality with this selection of the best cheap laptops from top brands like HP, Acer, and Dell.
So you’re in the market to buy a new laptop? We have some advice: Don’t let big tech companies 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 device 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.
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 to be a more informed PC shopper. You know all that computer talk of processor-this and gigahertz-that? We’ll explain it all in terms everyone can understand.
We have checked out everything on offer and lined up a selection of the best cheap laptops around, including impressive devices from big brands like Microsoft, Dell, and HP.
These are the best cheap laptops for 2020.
IMAGE: MICROSOFTThe GoodThin and light — great for travel • High-res PixelSense displayThe BadStylus and keyboard not includedThe Bottom LineThe smallest and lightest Microsoft Surface available, the Surface Go is a great option for anyone with an unpredictable day-to-day.Microsoft Surface GoA small and light laptop-tablet combo that’ll adapt to on-the-move lifestyles with no gimmicks.
- Storage: 64GB/128GB
- Memory: 4GB/8GB
- Features: PixelSense display, USB Type C, fast-charging Surface Connect, microSDXC, 3.5 mm headphone jack, front- and rear-facing cameras, Intel Pentinum Gold 4415Y processor
£519.99 from AmazonIn need of some personal tech that can adapt to an unpredictable way of life?
Enter the Microsoft Surface Go — the smallest, lightest iteration of Microsoft’s iconic 2-in-1 laptop and tablet combo. 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
1.6 GHz Pentium processor, and a nine-hour battery that will get you all the way from daytime to down time.
IMAGE: CURRYSThe GoodLong 12-hour battery life • Brilliant display • LightweightThe BadLacks in powerThe Bottom LineThe 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.
- Storage: 1TB
- RAM: 4 GB
- Features: two USB 3.0, one USB 2.0, one USB-C, HDMI port, SD slot, 15.6-inch Full HD Widescreen LED-backlit display, Intel Core i3-7100U Processor, Intel HD Graphics 620
£449 from CurrysThe Aspire Series of laptops by Acer has many appealing features for everyday use. This one has a thin, lightweight design so you can take Windows 10 with you on-the-go.
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.
IMAGE: AMAZONThe GoodBuilt with a fingerprint sensor • Comfy keyboard • A lot of portsThe BadBattery life needs improvement • Lacks in audio qualityThe Bottom LineThe 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.
- Storage: 64GB
- RAM: 4GB/8GB
- Featured: one USB 2.0, two USB 3.0, one USB-C, HDMI port, SD slot, 13.3-inch, 1080p with 1920×1080 resolution display, Intel Core 1.10 GHz processor, Intel HD Graphics 505
£499 from CurrysThe 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.
IMAGE: DELLThe GoodCompact design • Long battery life • Kid proofThe BadMushy and flat keyboard • Too small for office workThe Bottom LineThe 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.
- Storage: 64GB
- RAM: 4GB
- Features: two USB 3.1, HDMI port, USD Card Reader slot, 11.6-inch HD IPS 16:9 1366 x 768 Touch with Corning Gorilla Glass NBT display, Intel Pentium Processor N4200
£386 from DellThe Dell Latitude 2-in-1 touchscreen is literally one of the best affordable laptop choices a student can have. This 11-inch system is built to withstand a lot, since it’s durable and spill resistant. Students can go all day without charging thanks to its long 10-plus hours of battery life.
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.
- Storage: 500GB
- RAM: 8GB
- Features: two USB 3.1, one USB-C, HDMI port, SD card reader slot, 14-inch diagonal HD SVA anti-glare micro-edge WLED-backlit multitouch-enabled edge-to-edge glass 1366 x 768 display, Intel Pentium processor, Intel HD Graphics 620
£499 from CurrysWhen you have both new materials and advanced technologies at your fingertips, you have an opportunity to transform something traditional into something pretty freakin’ remarkable. That’s what the makers of the HP Pavilion had in mind when they set out to create a laptop that really reflects today’s busy lifestyle. It’s lightweight, it’s durable, and it has quite a few features that we think you’ll be happy with.
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.
IMAGE: AMAZONThe GoodComes with Microsoft Office 365 for one year • 10 hours of battery life • Very affordableThe BadOnly 36GB of storage • Not HD • Always reliant on WiFiThe Bottom LineThe 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.
- Storage: 32GB
- RAM: 4GB
- Features: one USB 3.0, one USB 2.0, HDMI port, microSD slot, 11.6-inch diagonal HD sva Anti-Glare wled-backlit 1366 x 768, Intel Celeron N3060 up to 1.6GHz, Intel HD Graphics 400
£199 from CurrysThe HP Stream 11 is pretty much in direct competition with the Inspiron 11, since they have similar specs and even more similar colour options. But the Stream does include a few noteworthy features, especially for students.
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.