Best Cheap Laptop Deals for May 2021

If, like millions of people around the world, you use a laptop for work or study (or both), then we don’t have to tell how essential these portable computers are. There’s also a pretty good chance that if you need a new laptop, you need it quickly, meaning that you can’t afford to wait for seasonal sales like this summer’s Prime Day deals to arrive. The best laptops don’t always come cheap, though, but if you’re hunting around for a new one on a budget, let us help you out. We’ve rounded up the six best laptop deals available this week, each of which comes in at less than a grand.

Looking for something more specific? Check out these MacBook deals and gaming laptop deals, too. If you want an even better deal and don’t mind a pre-owned laptop, then also consider these professionally refurbished laptop deals.

The best laptop deals today

  • Lenovo IdeaPad Flex 5 2-in-1 Laptop$369, was $699
  • Gateway Ultra Slim Notebook$399
  • Microsoft Surface Laptop Go$650, was $700
  • HP 15t Touchscreen Laptop$680, was $820
  • Lenovo Yoga 7i 2-in-1 Laptop$870, was $1,150
  • Apple MacBook Air (M1 CPU, 2020)$950, was $999

Lenovo IdeaPad Flex 5 2-in-1 Laptop — $369, was $699

No laptop roundup would be complete without at least one cheap 2-in-1, and the Lenovo IdeaPad Flex 5 is an unassuming one that you might have overlooked. Despite its straightforward appearance, it features just about everything you want in a modern PC right down to its convertible design, solid build quality, and generous battery life. The 14-inch FHD display also offers some extra real estate over smaller ultrabooks along with a 1080p resolution (no 720p corner-cutting on this one). In short, this thing is built for just about any type of work, and it’s built to do it all day long.

This configuration comes loaded with a new AMD Ryzen 3 CPU, 4GB of RAM, and a 128GB SSD — basic specs, but plenty capable for a daily workhorse. This laptop can be yours for an eye-popping $369 right now after a $330 savings.

Gateway Ultra Slim Notebook — $399

Gateway Ultra Slim Notebook Laptop

Gateway is back and is now cranking out some of very nice high-value work machines. This 15-inch slimline notebook is a great entry-level computer for anyone looking for a good work machine for less than $400: It runs on an AMD Ryzen 5 3450U CPU and 16GB of RAM, and it also sports a high-speed 256GB solid-state system drive. Solid specs for a cheap laptop and perfectly suited for those with standard everyday needs.

At just $399, it’s around the same cost or even cheaper than many Chromebooks out there and is arguably the best cheap laptop you’re going to find right now for around 400 bucks. Its specs rival laptops that often go for $500 or more — and since it’s packing pretty impressive hardware for such a cheap laptop, it shouldn’t feel outdated any time soon despite its low price.

Microsoft Surface Laptop Go — $650, was $700

One of the best laptops on the market today actually comes from a lineup of tablets. The Surface Pro devices have sat among our favorites for awhile now and the new Surface Laptop Go, while not a groundbreaking development, is nonetheless a very solid (and very affordable) machine sporting some unique innovations. It’s well-built, looks great, and performs well. We’d also be remiss if we didn’t mention that gorgeous, productivity-friendly 3:2 PixelSense touch display that will leave you wondering why 16:9 ever became the standard widescreen aspect ratio.

One of our few complaints with the Surface Pro tablets was that the Type Cover still isn’t included by default, but the Surface laptops solve that little conundrum. This deal gets you the Surface Go laptop with the Core i5 CPU, 8GB of RAM, and a 128GB SSD for $650, giving you everything you need for work (including a touchscreen!) right out of the box.

HP 15t Touchscreen Laptop — $680, was $820

HP 15t laptop

Everyone knows HP for its work-focused computers, but this new touchscreen model isn’t all suit-and-tie. The HP 15t touchscreen laptop brings the brand’s excellent no-nonsense design to a laptop with a great build quality, utilitarian 15-inch size, and versatile HD touch display (we recommend upgrading to the 1080p model for just $10 more at the customization page). Its 11th-gen Intel Core i7 CPU, boosted 16GB RAM, and quick-loading 256GB SSD are also perfect specs for work — which is precisely what this thing is built for.

This cheap laptop with the 1080p display upgrade can be your work companion for just $680, with a limited-time discount that delivers one of the better prices we’ve seen for this good touchscreen laptop.

Lenovo Yoga 7i 2-in-1 Laptop — $870, was $1,150

Any laptop roundup will almost feel naked without a beefy 2-in-1 (but one you can still score for less than $1,000), and the excellent Lenovo Yoga 7i fits the bill perfectly for a great price. If you’re looking for a featherweight laptop that’s as light as it is durable, then you need to look no further than this one, which has stood out as one of the best ultrabooks money can buy in 2021 owing to its gorgeous design, excellent performance, solid build quality, and all-day battery life.

Right now, you can grab this 2-in-1 laptop with an 11th-gen Core i7 CPU, 16GB RAM, 14-inch IPS display, and 512GB SSD on sale for $870 after a very nice discount that knocks it below our budget threshold. That’s a searing-hot bargain on this superb ultrabook convertible with specs like these, which might make it our favorite laptop deal to be had for under a grand right now.

Apple MacBook Air (M1 CPU, 2020) — $950, was $999

Macbook Air M1

Deals on Apple products are hard to find, and so sometimes you need to grab them when you can — especially when it’s one of the best MacBooks. The MacBook Air, which was modernized and redesigned in 2018, is the best entry-level MacBook you can buy — perfect for a college student or businessperson. The latest 2020 refresh is just as great, and if you want the one with the latest and greatest hardware (that you can still find for less than 1,000 bucks), this is it.

Right now, you can score this deal on this 2020 MacBook Air at $950. This configuration comes with Apple’s fantastic new M1 CPU, 8GB RAM, and a 256GB SSD. It also comes with a lovely display with a 2,560 by 1,600 resolution, giving you plenty of performance for productivity work. What’s not to like?

How to choose a laptop in 2021

The first step of choosing a laptop, after setting your budget, is determining what you need it for. Most people just need a standard laptop that will perform well and won’t feel outdated within one or two years, and for that, you’ve got plenty of very affordable options available to you. Those with more specific needs — artists, graphic designers, video editors, and gamers, to name some examples — may need extra features like touchscreens, fold-flat displays, and dedicated graphics cards. Keep size in mind as well. Laptops commonly range from 13 to 17 inches (which refers to screen size measured diagonally), and also pay attention to overall dimensions and weight if you’re going to be moving and carrying yours around fairly often.

As far as hardware goes, the three basic components to consider are CPU, RAM, and storage. The CPU, or central processing unit, is the “brain” of any PC. It’s what actually does the computing: Reading data, running programs (and other processes), and so on. The two biggest CPU makers are Intel and AMD, and unless you’re on the tightest of budgets, we typically recommend sticking with 10th or 11th generation Intel Core i5 processors, AMD Ryzen 5 processors, and above (Core i7, Ryzen 7, etc.). If the specific generation of Intel CPU isn’t stated explicitly, it will be indicated in the first two digits of the processor’s model number. For example, a Core i5-10400 is a 10th-gen model, while the Core i5-11400 is 11th-gen.

RAM, or random access memory, is a bit more straightforward. In simple terms, if the CPU is your PC’s brain, then RAM could be described as its short-term memory. It supports your CPU’s performance by storing data and tasks for quick recall when needed. The more the better. We suggest a minimum of 8GB for good performance by modern standards, and like Core i5 and Ryzen 5 CPUs, you can find this even on cheap laptops — you really aren’t saving much money my skimping on RAM, but you will definitely feel your computer stumbling when under load.

Storage needs are personal to the user, but today, solid-state drives (SSDs) have largely replaced older platter-based hard disk drives (HDDs) owing to their superior read/write speeds and reliability due to lack of moving parts. However, SSDs are typically smaller (or at least cheaper per gigabyte) than traditional HDDs, which is something to bear in mind if you do need a lot of storage space for things like games or large project files. We recommend sticking with SSDs as a rule, but some laptops come with a smaller solid-state system drive paired with a larger HDD for overflow, so you’ve got options.

Finally, depending on your needs, a discrete video card may be worth the extra money. A GPU, or graphics processing unit, is essentially a second processor dedicated solely to demanding graphical tasks like rendering videos and playing 3D video games. Mobile laptop GPUs are a bit different than their desktop counterparts and Nvidia GeForce cards are by far the most common. The current-gen models are the 16-series, 20-series, and (less common) 30-series cards. Avoid the 10-series cards still found on some laptops, as they are significantly outdated by today’s standards. AMD has also rolled out its own line of laptop graphics cards, the 5000M series, as mobile counterparts to its desktop GPUs. These are a fine option as well, especially if you prefer AMD hardware.

We strive to help our readers find the best deals on quality products and services, and we choose what we cover carefully and independently. The prices, details, and availability of the products and deals in this post may be subject to change at anytime. Be sure to check that they are still in effect before making a purchase.

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