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Best budget laptops under $1500 in 2023
A cool grand (or even less) is more than enough capital to secure yourself some impressive portable power.
Budget laptops are often defined by how they fall short, but unrealistic expectations are usually the fastest way to set yourself up for disappointment when it comes to buying one.
There’s typically a sweet spot when it comes to computers. Those unable to find it either end up paying too much for a machine with too many features, or settling for the cheapest thing they can find. Either is an expensive mistake that is likely to leave you with a begrudged opinion of whatever the manufacturer of that particular machine was.
If you’re shopping on a budget, finding the right option is about picking your battles. Don’t just blindly accept the sacrifices that a brand asks of you. Think about the ones you’re willing to make and take that as your true north when it comes to finding the right option.
The search for a good budget laptop can often feel futile, but there are decent options out there if you know how and where to look for them.
- : Best laptop under $1500
- : Best budget laptop under $1000
- : Best budget gaming laptop
- : Best budget laptop under $500
- : Best super budget option
Best budget laptop under $1500
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Best overall budget laptop under $1000
|Microsoft Store||12.4-inches||PixelSense||1.16kg|| |
Best budget gaming laptop
Best budget laptop under $500
|The Good Guys||14-inches||FHD||1.12kg|| |
Best super cheap laptop
Apple MacBook Air
Best overall laptop under $1500
If $1500 is your limit, then you’ll be hard-pressed to find a better option when it comes to laptops than the 2020 version of Apple’s MacBook Air. It doesn’t reinvent the wheel, but it does polish the edges to a dazzling effect.
Even if you prefer Windows-based PCs, this particular MacBook Air is well worth considering. It won’t be the right fit for everyone, especially gamers. However, there’s a consistency and balance here that sometimes be hard to find at this price point.
The MacBook Air won’t cover all the bases, but it’ll probably do a great job at almost all of your computing essentials. The device is powered by Apple’s headlining-grabbing M1 processor and is designed to get the most out of the company’s macOS operating system. There’s no touch screen, but there is a reworked magic keyboard, a Touch ID fingerprint sensor and a matching set of Thunderbolt-grade USB Type-C ports.
If you’re the type of user who can work within the Apple ecosystem, you can’t get more obvious when it comes to sub-$1500 options than the new MacBook Air.
Apple MacBook Air (M1)
Apple M1 Chip
Apple M1 GPU
Starts at 8GB unified memory
Retina display with True Tone
Starts at 256 GB of SSD storage
2x USB Type-C (Thunderbolt 3), combo audio jack
Wide stereo speakers with support for Dolby Atmos
720p FaceTime HD camera
The best laptops you can buy in 2023
If you’re looking to buy a new laptop in 2023, these machines represent the cream of the crop.
Microsoft Surface Laptop Go 2
Best laptop under $1000
While there are plenty of options available for those who want to go even cheaper, Microsoft’s own Surface Laptop Go 2 is hard to beat as far as budget-friendly options go. It’s not difficult to find the limits, but there’s plenty to like about the simple aesthetics, humble specs and decent battery life found in the company’s entry-level house-brand laptop.
The Microsoft Surface Laptop Go 2 brings together a tighter 12.4-inch PixelSense display, an 11th-generation Intel Core processor and up to 256 GB of SSD storage. It’s probably not going to cut it was the last laptop you'll ever need to buy, but if you want something that can reliably handle the basics at an affordable price, it may be exactly what you’re after.
The emphasis here is less on flair and more on functionality, with nary a pixel of bloatware to be seen. That being said, there aren’t that many ports and some might come away irked by the size and brightness of the display.
If you’re a penny-pinching student looking for an affordable laptop that nails the basics and delivers plenty of bang for your buck, the Surface Laptop Go 2 is well worth investigating in the interim.
Microsoft Surface Laptop Go 2
Starts at 10th Gen Intel Core i5-1135G7
Intel Iris Xe Graphics
Starts at 4GB RAM
12.4-inch PixelSense Display
Starts at 128GB SSD storage
1 x USB-C, 1 x USB-A, 3.5 mm headphone jack, 1 x Surface Connect port
Omnisonic Speakers with Dolby Audio
720p HD (f/2.0)
Dell G15 (2022)
Best budget gaming laptop
It might not do all it could to dispel the usual caveats that come with gaming laptops (and cheap ones in particular), but if you’re after something that will let you jump into PC gaming without breaking the bank, then Dell’s G15 gaming laptop delivers a ton of bang for your buck.
Even if the display on the baseline Dell G15 is only FHD when it comes to quality, it's more generous when it comes to size and refresh rate than many other laptops in its class. What's more, it comes in both AMD and Intel varieties.
The Intel-based version of the laptop relies on an Intel Core i5-12500H as standard, but this can be upgraded to an Intel Core i7-12700H for an extra $200 or so. If you're looking at sticking with the G15 for the long haul and squeezing as much performance out of it as possible, this is surcharge is probably one worth paying.
On the other hand, those looking to squeeze every bit of possible savings should seriously consider the Ryzen-based version of the G15. This model boasts an AMD Ryzen 5 6600H processor, an Nvidia GeForce RTX 3050 graphics card, 8GB of DDR5 RAM and 256GB of PCIe NVMe M.2 SSD storage.
The Dell G15 won’t let you crank up the in-game settings up in the way that something twice its price will, but if you’re looking to do a modest amount of gaming on the go, it’s our pick for the best way to go about it.
|Model||Dell G15 Ryzen Edition|
|Processor||AMD Ryzen 5 6600H Mobile or Intel Core i5-1200H or Intel Core i7-12700H|
|Graphics||NVIDIA GeForce RTX 3050|
|Memory||Starts at 8GB RAM|
|Display||15.6-inch, FHD 120Hz, Non-Touch,|
|Storage||Starts at 256GB SSD storage|
1x HiSpeed USB 2.0, 1x HiSpeed USB 2.0 with PowerShare, 1x SuperSpeed USB 3.2, 1x USB Type-C, 1x HDMI, 1x Power In, 1x RJ45 Ethernet, 1x 3.5 mm headphone jack
|Speakers||Stereo speakers with Realtek ALC3254|
|Webcam||HD RGB camera with digital-array microphones|
|Dimensions||24.9mm x 357.26 mm x 272.11 mm|
Lenovo IdeaPad 3 3i 14-inch Chromebook
Best laptop under $500
If you’re going to spend $500 on a Windows-based laptop, you’re going to have to accept a few major compromises. You won’t really be able to play any games or run intensive software, and the hardware involved is probably going to struggle to deliver anything beyond basic tasks like emails and browsing the web.
On the other hand, Chrome OS is built to deliver a snappy and smooth user experience even when paired with modest or underpowered specs. If ditching Windows is a step you’re willing to take for a better overall experience, then the Lenovo IdeaPad 3 Slim 3i Chromebook might be the best bet you can find for under $500.
Even if it doesn't run on Windows, you can still get a lot of work done on this thing. It even supports Android apps, which increases the scope of what you can do on it compared to older Chromebooks or low-spec Windows machines.
If you’re trying to buy a laptop at a budget this small, then some sacrifices are going to be necessary. However, if you’re willing to make Windows itself one of those trade-offs, Lenovo’s IdeaPad 3 Slim 3i gives you plenty of value in return.
Lenovo IdeaPad 3 3i
Intel Celeron N4020
Intel UHD Graphics 6000
Starts at 4GB RAM
Starts at 64 storage
2x USB-A 3.2, 2x USB-C 3.2, 1x Micro SD, 1x 3.5 mm headphone jack
2x down-firing speakers with Dolby Audio
286.7 x 205.5 x 18.05 mm
Lenovo Ideapad V14
Best super cheap laptop
The Lenovo IdeaPad V14 is exceptional among sub-$500 laptops in that it runs on an AMD 3020E processor rather than one made by Intel. While this detail doesn't magically transform the machine into something it obviously isn't, it does give it a huge edge over the competition.
Throw in a sizable 8GB of RAM and 256GB of SSD storage and you've got a cheap laptop that swings well above its weight when it comes to performance. The design and form factor offers little more than the essentials, but if you're after a cheap Windows laptop with a little more oomph to it then the Lenovo Ideapad V14 is a solid pickup.
Lenovo IdeaPad V14
Integrated AMD Radeon graphics
Starts at 8GB RAM
Starts at 256GB storage
2x USB-A 3.1, 1x USB-A 2.0, 1x HDMI 1.4b 1x 3.5 mm headphone jack, 1x card reader
Stereo speakers with Dolby Audio
327.1 x 241 x 19.9 mm
Budget laptops we also considered
Huawei Matebook D14
Ever since Huawei got its name notched on the US government’s infamous Entity List, the Chinese tech giant has been losing ground in Western markets. However, their desperation can sometimes be to the benefit of consumers looking for a bargain.
This is absolutely the case when it comes to Huawei’s Matebook laptops, and especially the case when it comes to the Matebook D14. Boasting a sleek design that’s designed to be a dead-ringer for Apple’s MacBook, this particular Matebook comes powered by an 11th Generation Intel Core i5 processor and armed with a gorgeous 14" FullView display.
With up to 512 GB of SSD storage, thinner 4.8 mm bezels, fast charging via USB Type-C and a fingerprint sensor for added security, the Huawei Matebook D14 comes with many of the premium perks of a luxury laptop at half the price.
Huawei’s fast depreciation in Western markets might be bad news for them, but it leaves the Matebook D14 looking like a steal for those on the lookout for a budget-friendly Windows laptop in 2023.
iPad Mini (6th Gen)
If you’re looking to spend more than $1000 on your next laptop, there’s a good chance that one of Apple’s iPads might work as an alternative.
Yes, you’ll probably have to invest in a keyboard and an extra accessory or two to get the most value out of it. However, if your workflow can play nice with or fit within the lines and limits of what a modern iPad can experience, then it might be worth considering one instead of a traditional laptop. The form factor is a little more lightweight, and the software experience of using a sub-$1000 iPad is generally a lot smoother than that of most sub-$1000 PCs.
There are plenty of things that a proper laptop can do that an iPad simply can’t match. But if all you’re doing is answering and writing emails, working on shared documents or collaborating using a browser-based platform like Trello, then one of Apple’s tablets might be able to do the job better and at a cheaper price.
Apple’s iPads continue to be the default tablet for good reason, and if you can get away with using one for work, they can be an option worth investigating.
The ASUS E410 is a lean and mean Windows machine that nails the basics and squeezes in a few fun extras. If you’re satisfied with the idea of a budget-friendly Windows laptop that handles the essentials and not much else, it’s hard to beat - even if it’s not hard to wish for a little more.
The ASUS E410 comes kitted out with one of Intel’s Celeron processors, 4 GB of RAM and 128 GB of SSD storage. While it’s not hard to imagine a beefier version of this product armed with a Core processor instead, the upshot is that the E410 comes with the lofty promise of 12 hours of day-to-day usage.
In addition to a quirky and eye-catching rear design that helps the E410 stand out and avoid feeling generic among other laptops at this particular price point, the machine also boasts ASUS’ nifty TouchPad 2.0. Your mileage may vary, but this feature does add utility that many other budget laptops can’t match.
The ASUS E410 is armed with everything you expect from a lean budget laptop, plus a few fun extras. When most of its competition sticks solely to the former, it’s easy for the latter to win you over.
When it comes to picking and choosing the best laptops on the market, the easiest place to start is with the similarities that each brand brings to the table. This helps give us a basis for what the "meta" of laptops looks like at any given time.
The next phase in our analysis specifically looks into the details. Where do the different laptop designs brought to market by hardware manufacturers like Lenovo, Dell, HP and ASUS differ, and why? What additions or twists on the formula are novelty versus necessary? How much value do these niche features really provide end consumers?
We then weigh the findings of this process against the price expectations market segment attached to the category involved. While the overall category assumes you're a consumer who isn't looking to cut corners, neither does it act like your budget is unlimited. This helps us determine which laptops are providing the best bang for our buck and value for money.
Budget laptop buying guide
The limits of budget laptops
There’s a knack for finding a budget laptop that works for your needs. However, in order to get there, you’re inevitably going to have to accept some level of compromise. The trick to making that sacrifice work in your favour is to calculate it ahead of time rather than at the till.
Ask yourself what you’re planning to use your budget laptop for, work you what specs matter the most for that purpose, and rank your potential picks accordingly. If you’re only planning to use your budget laptop for streaming or social media, then maybe a bigger or better screen matters more than additional hard drive space or RAM.
It’s rare to find a budget laptop that does it all, but if you know what you’re looking for, it’s much easier to find one that does what you need it to do.
Try last year’s stock
Looking for online deals or clearance sales for last year’s laptops can be a great way to expand your options when it comes to shopping for a new laptop on a budget.
One of the biggest mistakes that many budget shoppers make when it comes to laptops is exclusively looking at the most recent ranges from major brands like Acer, HP and Dell. While you can go awry by rewinding the clock back too many years, there’s a good chance that a depreciated laptop from last year will serve you just as well as its successor.
Try to make a "budget buy" last
If you’re buying a budget laptop but want it to last a bit longer, it can be worth spending that bit of extra cash for the model with a better CPU, more RAM or SSD storage.
Even if doing so doesn’t feel like it makes a massive difference in the short term, it could help you eke out an extra year or so of usage before you eventually have to upgrade. No laptop is going to last forever, but the version of a budget laptop that’s best positioned to go the distance is usually a good investment.
Budget laptop FAQs
Depending on what you consider budget-friendly (and what you consider to be a good display), it is possible to find an affordable laptop with a decent screen. While QHD and 4K screens can be found on many modern laptops, the benefits of those extra pixels aren't necessarily written in stone. For many, FHD is resolution enough and there's no shortage of budget laptops that boast this spec.