While modern laptops may contain hardware that would make the desktops of yesteryear blush, not everyone needs all that power – and not everyone has the budget for it. Just because your future laptop is cheap (you can get a cheaper laptop in Black Friday deals) doesn’t mean it has to be slow or unable. Some of the best laptops under $ 300 are awesome little machines.
It’s important to note that, as great as the choices below are, some sacrifices must be made to keep the price so low. You can’t expect to have top-notch hardware in these systems, and the fancy functionality is kept to a minimum. It’s no surprise that the best options are usually Chromebooks, as well as some Windows laptops.
Laptop Buying Guide
However, we wouldn’t go ahead and recommend any of these if they don’t offer decent performance and battery life, so you can buy any of the following with the confidence that they will serve you well – but not as quickly as their more expensive counterparts.
Inspiron 15 3000
Most of the budget laptops on our list use Google’s Chrome OS, but that doesn’t mean you can’t buy a Windows 10 laptop at prices that are just as easy on the wallet.
For that minimal investment, you’ll get a well-designed laptop with a ton of useful ports, a reasonable weight of over 4.80 pounds considering the 15.6-inch (1366 x 768) HD display, and a thickness that measures a little less than an inch. The cheapest version offers an Intel Pentium processor fast enough for basic productivity work, 4GB of DDR4-2666MHz RAM, and options for 1TB of SATA storage or 128GB of PCIe SSD – all on the budget.
TheThe display resolution of this model doesn’t quite reach Full HD levels, but everything about this model is solid and good for the average user. There are also plenty of ports including one USB 2.0, two USB 3.1 and HDMI, but unfortunately nothing quite as advanced as USB-C. The battery also has a redesign that simplifies it to help increase durability and reduce charging issues after multiple uses.
Acer Chromebook 15
Ranked as the best budget Chromebook in our guide, Acer’s Chromebook 15 has a rare 1080p IPS display – most budget machines are limited to 720p. This also makes it the Chrome OS laptop with the largest screen on this list at 15.6 inches, which may impact portability, but certainly helps with productivity and media viewing.
Internally, the Chromebook 15 packs an Intel Celeron N3060 processor, paired with 4GB of memory and 32GB of SSD storage. There’s a 16GB version for those who want to save a few bucks, but there’s not much of a price difference between the two, and doubling the built-in storage is a worthy upgrade.
This is a bigger laptop than some of the others on this list, weighing just under 5 pounds. It is also moving above and below our $ 300 threshold. However, theThe battery life is much more impressive, lasting up to nine hours under the right circumstances. Considering the size and resolution of this screen, it’s a good run and makes it ideal for simple work and multimedia viewing.
Read our full review of Acer Chromebook 15
HP Chromebook 14
The HP Chromebook 14 has a simple value offering: a portable yet rugged 14-inch Chromebook with powerful hardware. Inside you’ll find an AMD A4 processor, 4GB of RAM, and a 32GB SSD plus a microSD card slot.
Connection wise, you get two USB-C charging ports – a rare addition in affordable Chromebooks. The two-cell battery isn’t the best on our list, but it’s still good for several hours of multitasking, which is good enough for school and work.
HP also gave thea nice paint job in a blue hue, which helps it stand out from its silver and black brethren – albeit the bezels are a bit chunky.
Read our full review of the HP Chromebook 14
Asus C202 Chromebook
The Asus Chromebook C202 is designed for college students and middle schoolers, giving them a rugged and reasonably powerful laptop to work with. It may not contain some of the features and hardware of other entries on this list, but it may better withstand the rigors of everyday use.
Internally, it sports an Intel Celeron N3060 processor, up to 4GB of memory and 16GB of flash storage. Its screen is small, measuring just 11.6 inches with a resolution of 1366 x 768, but it sports an anti-glare coating and the small form factor makes it easy to port.
This Chromebook weighs just 2.2 pounds, so it’s the lightest on this list, and with an average battery life of around 10 hours, it’s more than capable of lasting through a school day.
With a sturdy frame, rubber guards, easy-grip handles and a spill-resistant keyboard, the can handle all kinds of situations while doing the job seamlessly. It’s not the fastest Chromebook out there, but it’s incredibly capable of handling such a tough little package.
Lenovo IdeaPad Duet
The Lenovo IdeaPad Duet is ideal for those looking for the versatility of a budget convertible tablet. It features a portable and lightweight design and even comes preloaded with Google’s stable Chrome OS. It’s a great laptop that offers tablet functionality even when you don’t feel like bringing your keyboard.
All of this portability is due to the 10.1 inch HD display, which houses all of the critical components of the laptop. When you take your screen with you on the go, you’ll have access to 4GB of RAM, a 64GB SSD, and a MediaTek Helio P60T processor. The battery offers 10 hours of autonomy: it has withstood our tests admirably.
Portability has its drawbacks, however. Get used to Lenovo IdeaPad Duet may take a while because there is no 3.5mm audio jack and there is only one USB-C port. But you will be able to use Bluetooth to connect to a wide variety of accessories.
The standard keyboard might feel a bit cramped, so it might be a good idea to upgrade to a full-size BlueTooth keyboard. Overall, the IdeaPad Duet is a great option if you’re looking for an extra-light Chromebook that you can easily turn into a tablet.
If your budget is not very strict, it may be worth checking out the Lenovo Chromebook Flex 5. It has a higher price than the IdeaPad Duo, but it has some pretty cool extra features.
Read our full Lenovo IdeaPad Duet review