After hours of research, I established my selection of the 6 best budget laptops 2020 currently available on the market.
In this price range, the Acer Spin 11 CP311-1HN is probably the best quality/price ratio of the moment, with its build quality, versatility, and mobility exemplary. But I must admit that my favorite is probably the Asus Chromebook C423NA-BZ0004, which combines quality Chromebook and quality Asus for a winning combo.
If you are looking for a laptop but your budget is limited to 400 €, I invite you to read my purchase guide at the end of the article to be sure (e) not to invest in a computer whose you will get tired quickly.
The Best Cheap Laptops
1. HP Chromebook x360: The Best Budget Laptop
The first computer in my selection, like many others after him, is a Chromebook. And if you do not know these computers a little atypical and relatively new on the market, I invite you to read my buying guide at the end of the article or our comparative dedicated.
This model proposed by HP came out in the fall of 2018 and is, in my opinion, one of the best quality/price ratios of the moment.
On the design side, though, let’s face it: HP is not the champion in the world of Chromebooks. Its white plastic case, which reduces costs and makes it lighter (1.25 kg only!), Makes it a bit dull model and looks a little cheap (even if the plastic is quality ).
In addition, the ratio edges/screen is not more optimized, in that the edges are wide enough, giving you the impression of carrying a “big” PC while its screen is only 11.6 inches.
Nevertheless, and this is one of the first big advantages of this Chromebook, this choice is partly explained by the fact that it is a reversible 360 ° model. Basically, you can open it and completely flip it over so you can use it as a tablet. Because, yes, its screen is tactile.
This screen, moreover, offers a definition 1366 x 768 pixels (HD, so), which gives a good enough on a model of this size (Full HD in an 11.6 inches is, in my opinion, perfectly useless, so there is no point in paying more for not seeing – or almost – of difference).
At the level of the components that it embarks, it is rather (very) correct for a Chromebook, and especially for a Chromebook in this price range: Intel Celeron N3350 processor, Intel HD 500 graphics card, 4 GB of RAM and, especially, 64 GB of internal memory. It’s very wide for a Chromebook, where everything is stored in the cloud! And if that’s not enough, a Micro-SD card reader is planned. What more?
Regarding the keyboard, it is of course not very large, since it is an 11.6-inch model, but it has keys of the correct size and spaced enough to provide an excellent typing comfort, even for a long time. Honestly, comfort is there. It lacks only the backlight to be perfect.
5.1 surround sound is obviously not optimal (it is almost never on a laptop), but it is pretty good – enough, in any case, to allow you a nice Netflix evening. And indeed, you can safely use Netflix on this Chromebook since, from the last generation, it has natively Google Play Store. This will be the case for all Chromebooks in this selection.
Connectivity level, it is not left behind: the load is via USB-C, and it has an HDMI port, 2 USB 3.0 ports, and a headphone jack.
Finally, if the manufacturer announces a range of 13:45 (it’s accurate!), Users report that it is closer to 11 hours. It is nevertheless more than correct, and always better than with most laptops under Windows!
In the end, despite its more than affordable price and a little cheap appearance, this Chromebook HP x360 has under the hood. It is an ideal tool for anyone who wants to get into this type of device without breaking the bank!
2. Lenovo Ideapad 120S-14IAP: An Option Under Windows
As you will see, my selection is mostly made of Chromebooks, and I explain why in my shopping guide. But I must admit that Chrome OS is not made for everyone and that Windows PCs have many advantages, if only in terms of the overall compatibility of the machine with everything related to the domain High Tech. So this is a Windows PC that frankly surprised me by its excellent price/quality ratio.
On the design side, it gives a more qualitative impression than the HP above and is much more elegant. Moreover, it is rather solid for a Windows PC at this price, with a coating designed to withstand small shocks.
If it’s not a 360 ° model, it still has 180 ° hinges so you can open it flat, which can be handy if you have to share your screen with someone on the other hand, for group work, for example.
The screen is 14 inches, which is a good average in my opinion: neither too small to be used daily for several hours nor too large to be easily slipped into a suitable bag. Moreover, with its small weight of 1.4 kg, it is very light for a laptop of this size.
On the other hand, if the HD is optimal on a PC 11.6 inches, it is necessary to admit that on 14 inches, the difference is sensitive with Full HD. It’s still nice enough to watch movies, in my opinion.
At the component level, as is usually the case with Windows PCs, you can find it with all kinds of layouts and at all prices. I have selected here the most “basic” version (but also the least expensive) in that, on the one hand, it does not exceed the maximum initial budget of 400 € that I gave myself in this article, and that on the other hand, this is good enough for a “classic” use of desktop type, surfing and watching videos.
Of course, it will not be suitable for gaming use. No computer of this selection will be sufficient from this point of view. If you are looking for a cheap gaming laptop, I invite you to go see my dedicated selection, but the minimal budget will obviously be even more important.
In the end, this version offers you an Intel Celeron N3350 processor coupled to 4 GB of RAM, with an Intel HD Graphics card. The set is quite consistent to allow smooth operation of the computer, although, with Windows, it will necessarily be slower than with Chrome OS.
The internal memory of 32 GB, if it is very small for a Windows PC, has the merit of being able to be extended via the Micro-SD player. This is a very good point. And its autonomy, it allows about 8 hours of use, which is very rare on Windows PCs.
Moreover, the little plus of this model, which makes it caught my attention, is that it is stripped to the maximum of bloatware usually found on Windows PCs.
That is to say? On any Windows computer, you have a set of pre-installed software companies that automatically launch – often invisibly – when the computer boots, making it cumbersome and slowing it down unnecessarily. Here, Lenovo has chosen to best scan the 120S, which has almost the official applications Lenovo (McAfee LiveSafe and Microsoft Office excepted). The result is a PC a little more fluid, and with which we are less easily distracted by various tabs that appear impromptu.
Finally, I find it nice that it has a USB-C port, which is still quite rare on Windows PCs in this price range. This makes it a model for which you have long-term compatibility insurance with different instruments since the USB-C is undoubtedly the future of high-tech connectivity.
In the end, with the Lenovo Ideapad 120s, you have a very good alternative to Chromebooks, for a really small price. Affordable price, autonomy, transportability, … It presents just about everything you need at a cheap laptop.
The Best Mid-Range Cheap Laptops
3. Acer Chromebook 11 CB311-8HT: The Best Midrange
So now I come back to a Chromebook and this time, it is proposed by Acer. If you’re interested in the subject, you’ll find that the manufacturer is very active in the field of Chromebooks and as he was disappointed, in the past, with some of its models under Windows, as its Chromebooks are most often among the best quality/price ratio of the market.
Design side, I personally have no complaints about this model, which is a redesign of the famous Acer Chromebook 11. Its brushed blue coating is original and the most beautiful effect. But above all, we see more noble materials appear, such as aluminum arranged around the keyboard, on the upper shell, and on the sides.
On the one hand, this gives it increased resistance. But on the other hand, it has a very small weight: with only 1.19 kg on the scale, it is the lightest of my selection, and at this most mobile level.
On the other hand, it is again an 11-inch screen, which can obviously discourage some. However, it has a beautiful HD display (again, it is sufficient on a model of this size), and has the advantage of being tactile too.
The components have been improved compared to the previous version: an Intel Celeron N3350 processor (the same as Lenovo running on Windows), a RAM of 4 GB (against 2 GB on the old model). The result is smooth navigation in all circumstances. The internal memory, it is 32 GB, expandable via Micro-SD. So you should not have any problem with that.
And of course, as its battery has also been improved, you can use it for ten hours without having to use the charger. This, combined with its small weight and small size (11.6-inch screen requires), makes it one of the most easily transportable models.
In the end, this Chromebook seduced me by its design, performance and excellent value for money. However, I understand that an 11.6-inch screen may be a daily drain and those looking for a more ergonomic screen should be delighted by the following model.
4. Asus Chromebook C423NA: Asus Chromebook Quality
Well, I confess to you directly, I have a soft spot for notebooks Asus signed. Already on Windows, they won my preference, and on Chromebook, they win it definitely.
design side first, as always, is managed from Asus. It is distinguished by the quality of its construction and it’s aluminum thin (1.6 mm).
So this is a 14-inch model that I present to you, but there is a point on which it can disappoint, and that I will therefore directly underline. Its screen has a resolution of 1366 x 768 pixels. HD so. And if it was optimal on a screen 11.6 inches, it is less, in 2020, on a 14-inch screen.
Personally, I’m not a pixel addict and I’m just happy with an HD display, but I can perfectly well imagine that it puts some people off, and that’s why it did not take the first place in this section.
On the other hand, its screen is tactile and, like the Lenovo, it offers the possibility of a 180 ° opening, which allows an optimized screen sharing.
Its components are not left behind: Intel Dual-Core Celeron N3350 processor, 4 GB of RAM, 32 GB of memory. There is a 64GB version, but personally, I do not find that the difference in price is justified in that on both models the memory is expandable via Micro-SD.
Users also report very often that its keyboard is very pleasant to use and that the touchpad is responsive.
Finally, on the autonomy side, it ranks among the good average of Chromebooks, with ten hours of use without recharging.
In short, I highly recommend this Chromebook, in that it combines the overall quality of its devices with the quality Asus. It is a very good guarantee of sustainability. By cons, it will make a concession on the HD display. But honestly, at this price, are we really going to be upset?
And for those who are really interested in this Chromebook but have a real need for Full HD, know that for an additional investment, it is possible to get the version C423NA-EB0048, which does not have a touch screen but always a 180 ° reversible screen, this time Full HD, combined with an Intel Pentium N4200 processor and 8 GB of RAM.
The Best High-End Budget Laptops
5. Acer Spin 11 CP311-1HN: The Best High-End Cheap Laptop
Here is the last Chromebook of my selection, and it is signed Acer. This is one of the very latest models in the Spin 11 range on the market and, in a nutshell, it combines just about everything I’ve found good on the Chromebooks of this selection, if that this is, again, an 11.6-inch model.
First of all, the design side, there is nothing wrong with its aluminum frame of good quality, which makes it a model both light (1.4 kg) and solid.
On the other hand, I will address the same reproach to HP x360: the edges of the screen are a bit too wide for my taste. But this is explained, again, in that it is a Chromebook convertible to 360 °, which can, therefore, among other things, be used in tablet mode.
This is again an HD touch screen, but here has the advantage of being directly delivered with a Wacom ERM pen, which allows you to take full advantage of the touch, including for more work. specific.
Its components are among the best in Chromebook: Intel Pentium N4200 processor, HD Graphics 500 graphics card, 4 GB of RAM and 32 GB of internal memory, expandable via micro-SD card.
And, not to spoil anything, it also has an autonomy of 10 hours.
Connectivity, it is almost flawless: 2 USB-C ports, 2 USB 3.0 ports, a jack, and the Micro-SD I mentioned above. No HDMI port so, it’s a shame. But if it is really necessary, a small HUB USB-C and, hop, the case is in the bag!
In the end, this small Chromebook has everything great: touch well operated, screen and keyboard quality, strength, autonomy … Its only disadvantage lies in its small size, which restricts its use in everyday life.
6. Acer Swift SF114-32: Good Value For Money on Windows
Of course, Microsoft could not ignore the market share that slowly nibbles Chromebooks, especially in the US. So, we see more and more attempts to compete with Google in the field of quality at a lower price. That’s why the Acer Swift SF114-32-P6M2 is what is cheaper while remaining of good quality in the Windows world.
And this time, lovers of beautiful large quality images will be delighted, since it is a 14-inch Full HD screen. It is an ideal companion if you like to watch movies on your PC.
I do not have anything specific to mention about its design. How to say? It is an Acer laptop on Windows. I believe that there is nothing that looks more like (and this is evil since the result is sober and boilerplate).
Side components, it is equipped with an Intel Pentium N5000 processor (the most powerful of my selection, so), 4 GB of RAM, and 64 GB eMMC. That’s where it stuck for me, in the sense that, as much as we do not care a bit about a Chromebook, as much on a Windows PC is frankly little!
On the other hand, it is rather well-provided connectivity level, and you can easily connect an external hard drive: 1 HDMI port, 1 USB 2.0 port, 2 USB 3.0 ports, 1 USB-C and a 3.5 mm jack.
Another point where it also stuck is on the side of its autonomy: 5 hours. It’s ok for Windows, but ridiculous compared to the rest of my selection. By cons, its light weight of 1.3 kg is very practical to take it everywhere.
Of course, you can not expect incredible performance from this laptop, but it is still able to launch many tabs simultaneously and run a few light applications without worry.
It is a PC definitely enough for a standard use: you can browse the Internet, do the office, check emails without worry. But it soon shows its limits when it comes to making more use of it, and is definitely slower than its Chromebook competitors.
Nevertheless, the overall result is more than satisfactory given its price. It is among the cheapest in the Windows domain, without sacrificing the quality of other components (except the autonomy and internal memory).