When you’re looking for a good, cheap laptop, knowledge is power. Every budget machine (which we’re defining as Windows laptops costing $500 or less) is the product of compromise—corners carefully cut here and there to hit a price point.
Your job is to find the one that checks off the most boxes for your needs. We’ll show you what to look for by highlighting which budget laptops among the best-sellers currently listed at Amazon and Best Buy are worth buying. We haven’t necessarily tested these specific machines (we’ll let you know if we have), but we’ve seen enough similar ones to have a good idea of the pros and cons. We’re also focusing on 14-inch and larger laptops, because part of the great deal should be getting a decent-sized display.
Both retailers’ lists change constantly, so we’ll recheck the top sellers frequently to update you on the trends. Keep reading to learn about the features that matter for any budget laptop you’re eyeballing. (This article was updated July 1, 2019.)
The best cheap laptops on Amazon
Lenovo IdeaPad 130-15AST
The IdeaPad 130-AST has risen to the top of the rankings for an obvious reason: It’s dirt-cheap. This laptop’s configuration is as basic as it gets, from its AMD A9 CPU to its USB-A ports and DVD drive. It has an SSD, but it’s very small. If your budget is tight, though, it will do the job.
CPU: AMD dual-core A9-9425
Memory: 4GB DDR4 SDRAM
Storage: 128GB SSD
Display: 15.6-inch, 1366×768 WLED
Graphics: Integrated AMD Radeon R5
Connectivity: Two USB 3.0 Type A, HDMI, media card reader (SD, SDHC, SDXC), 10/100 ethernet, 802.11ac Wi-Fi
Dimensions: 14.8 x 10 x 0.9 inches
Weight: 4.63 pounds
Aspire E 15 E5-576-392H
It’s clear why this one’s been on top for a long time—you get a fair amount for the money. (See our review of the latest model.) What’s nicest is the large, high-resolution display, a rarity in this price range, even if the brightness is mediocre. It’s also nice to see an…