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Home / Features / Best budget laptop 2023: cheap Chromebooks and Windows 11 PC notebooks

Best budget laptop 2023: cheap Chromebooks and Windows 11 PC notebooks

Looking for a budget notebook? We've tested all of the best cheap laptop options for work, play and creativity.

Best cheap laptop featuring ASUS Huawei MateBook and Dell Inspiron

Looking for the best budget laptop? You’re in the right place. We’ve tested all manner of cheap laptops to gather a selection of top picks, all of which cost less than $500/£500.

From homework and Netflix to browsing, emails, work and more, it’s possible to net yourself a notebook that meets your needs, without bleeding your bank balance dry.

Before we crack on though, it’s worth quickly setting some expectations. If you’re after a notebook that’s capable of breezing through games with ease or want a notebook for video editing/ rendering, then the products below are unlikely to meet your needs.

While great for regular use, budget laptops simply don’t have the power to deal with more intense tasks. They are, however, much cheaper than fully specced-out alternatives, so if you want to nail the basics without paying more, this lot should have you covered. Here’s our guide to the best cheap laptop to buy today.

What’s the best budget laptop?

Before we crack on with the full list, here’s a look at our three top choices:

  • Best high-end budget laptop: Asus VivoBook X515JA
    The most expensive option on our list is well worth splurging out for if you’ve got the budget and want a machine that’ll treat you well for years to come. With an Intel i7 processor, 8GB of RAM, and a whopping 512GB of storage, you won’t be disappointed.
  • Best mid-range budget laptop: Huawei MateBook D 15
    Huawei’s entry doesn’t quite have the raw power of our more expensive choice above, but it’s not far off the mark. Thanks to an Intel i3 processor, 8GB of RAM, and a beautiful MacBook-like design that looks and feels premium, its looks as good as it performs.
  • Best budget Chromebook: Asus Chromebook CX1100
    On sale for a great price at the time of writing, Asus’s Chromebook can’t be beaten on price. While Chrome OS isn’t as robust as Windows, it still nails the basics, making this the perfect laptop for a young child or other casual users.

Our roundup of the best budget laptops:

Asus VivoBook X515JA

Currently available for a great price, the VivoBook X515JA is the priciest option on this list. And yet, if your wallet can stretch to it, it’s absolutely worth snapping up, because its specs are comfortably above any of the other options, providing a decent level of future-proofing in the process.

Your cash will net you a notebook with a 15.6in Full HD screen, along with 8GB of RAM and 512GB of SSD storage. The real jewel though, is the 10th gen Intel i7 processor. While not the latest variant, it’s still more than powerful enough to meet your app and multitasking needs. Not only that, but Intel’s integrated Iris Plus graphics will let you dabble in some gaming too.

Less demanding titles like Rocket League should pose no problems, and you could even get away with other titles if you experiment with the different quality settings (although this is very much dependent on the games you try).

Overall, you’re getting a lot of bang for your buck here — an ideal choice for multitaskers who want the option of dabbling in some casual gaming.

Dell Inspiron 15 3000

Dell’s Inspiron 15 series comes in what appears to be 10,000 different flavours. We’ve settled for this AMD-powered one which is comfortably budget while still offering very solid specs for your money.

Its 15.6in Full HD screen is large enough to view anything from text to spreadsheets without straining your eyes, and it’s even a 120Hz affair for slick, smooth scrolling. Don’t be fooled though — you won’t be playing games at 120fps on this machine. While its integrated AMD Radeon Graphics won’t be busting out the likes of Cyberpunk 2077 any time soon, you could still get away with casual games and other less demanding titles at lower settings.

Gaming aside, its AMD Ryzen 3 5425U CPU, coupled with 8GB RAM and 256GB of storage make for a formidable work and media machine, letting you effortlessly flitter between open programmes without a care. It’s got Windows 11 running out of the box too, so you won’t need to worry about upgrading to it yourself.

Asus Chromebook CX1100

At the time of writing, the Asus Chromebook CX1100 can be snapped up for a truly great price. And no, that’s not a typo. One of the cheapest notebooks from a well-known brand you’re likely to find, its price makes it an absolutely superb option for a spare machine, or a first PC for a younger child.

The caveat is that it runs Chrome OS — Google’s own operating system that’s much less feature-packed than Windows. Still, you can download all sorts of apps, and it nails basic tasks like email, browsing, media consumption and more.

Given its pared-back nature, you’re getting weaker hardware in comparison to other more expensive items on this list, but Intel’s Celeron N3350 processor and 4GB of RAM should suit casual users — especially when you take into account the smaller 11.6in, 1366 x 768 screen.

It won’t blow your mind of course, but at this price, it doesn’t have to.

Huawei MateBook D 15

Currently available for a budget price, Huawei’s MateBook D 15 is certainly one of the best budget laptop options around. The specs start strong with an 11th gen Intel Core i3 processor, paired with 8GB of RAM and a generous 512GB of nippy SSD storage.

Other notable tricks include a built-in fingerprint sensor, and an included 65W USB-C charger that’s fast enough to provide up to two hours of use on a 15-minute charge.

Specs aside, it’s one of the best-looking notebooks on this list too, with definite Apple-esque design vibes. Weighing just 1.56kg and with a 15.6in Full HD screen, you’ll definitely feel like you’ve got your money’s worth when you open it up.

Throw in Wi-Fi 6 for the latest in speedy Wi-Fi smarts (though you’ll need a recently released router to take advantage of it), and Huawei’s offering is up there with the very best.

Asus Vivobook E510MA

The second-cheapest notebook on our list is another Asus entry, and can currently be bought for a wallet-friendly £189.99. Despite its cheap price, it’s not a Chromebook — it’s running Windows 10 as standard.

This makes it an ideal laptop for slightly older children who are looking to use fully-fledged apps and software for school/hobbies, or other casual users. Its 15.6in screen doesn’t have a Full HD resolution (running 1366 x 768 pixels), but it should still be sharp enough for comfortable use.

Your savings mean you’re only getting an Intel Celeron N4020 CPU, along with just 4GB of RAM and 128GB of storage, but again, as far as first laptops are concerned, you could do far worse. Plus, the Enter key is highlighted in bright green, which, as we all know, makes everything faster.