The best budget laptops for 2019

These cheap laptops will make you wonder why anyone spends more

We’ve reviewed hundreds of laptops, so we know what to look for in a laptop regardless of the price. The best budget laptop you can buy is the Asus ZenBook 13 UX333, which starts at $850. It does everything that laptops hundreds of dollars more expensive can do — and in some cases, it does it even better. But if your budget is a bit lower, or if you want to be able to game on your laptop, we’ve included options for you below as well.

At a glance

Product Category Rating
Asus ZenBook 13 UX333 The best budget laptop 4 of 5 stars
Acer Aspire E 15 The best laptop under $600 4 of 5 stars
Acer Chromebook 514 The best budget Chromebook 4 of 5 stars
Dell G3 Gaming Laptop The best budget gaming laptop 3.5 of 5 stars
Microsoft Surface Go The best budget 2-in-1 3.5 of 5 stars

Asus ZenBook 13 UX333

The best budget laptop

asus zenbook 13 ux333fa

Why you should buy this: It’s fast, portable, affordable, and gets fantastic battery life.

Who’s it for: Everyone except gamers.

Why we picked the Asus ZenBook 13 UX333:

You might not expect quality from a laptop that costs less than a new flagship iPhone, but this ZenBook is a pleasant surprise. The newest ZenBook 13 enjoys the same all-metal unibody chassis, and now it is barely more than half an inch thick and has shed half a pound to weigh in at two and a half pounds. The latest version packs in the same surprising amount of horsepower into its small and inexpensive package. Featuring an 8th-generation Intel Core i5 processor, the ZenBook easily outperforms its nearest competitors running old hardware.

Better still, the laptop is a real pleasure to use. It has an excellent keyboard — one of the best on a 13-inch laptop at this price. It also offers a spacious touchpad and a 1080p non-touch display with extremely thin bezels. The display has been improved to offer extraordinary contrast no matter the price, along with an impressive increase in its color gamut. This isn’t a 2-in-1, so you won’t be swinging the ZenBook 13 UX333’s display around for use as a tablet, but its focus on conventional use helps Asus offer this system at a budget price. The incredible battery life is the cherry on top.

The Asus ZenBook UX333 is good or great in all important metrics, which is why we gave it our Editors’ Choice award. It’s not just one of the best budget laptops, it’s among the best laptops at any price.

Our full Asus ZenBook 13 UX333 review

Acer Aspire E 15

The best entry level option

best budget laptops buget acer aspire e 15
Mark Coppock/Digital Trends

Why you should buy this: Great performance for the price, with plenty of hardware options.

Who’s it for: Those who want a full Windows laptop, without the hefty price tag.

Why we picked the Acer Aspire E 15:

Typically, the lower down the pricing scale you go with laptops, the more sacrifices you have to make. With the Acer Aspire E 15 though, those sacrifices are surprisingly minor. Sure, it might have a pretty heavy chassis compared to many of its lightweight contemporaries, but for the kind of performance you get for this price, it’s an excellent budget laptop.

In our testing, we found it remarkably productive for its price point thanks to its 8th-generation Core i5 CPU and 8GB of RAM. If you opt for the version with the Nvidia MX150 discrete graphics chip, then it even works well for entry-level gaming too.

Yes, its bezels are thick, but they wrap around a full HD display with surprisingly great contrast. It also has decent battery life, a comfortable keyboard, and easy upgrade paths through more and faster RAM and expanded storage, so you don’t even need to buy the top configuration right from the start.

All in all, the Acer Aspire E 15 is a great, full Windows laptop that costs as little as some Chromebooks. You can’t ask for much more in a budget laptop.

Our full Acer Aspire E 15 review

Acer Chromebook 514

The best budget Chromebook

Acer Chromebook 514 review
Mark Coppock/Digital Trends

Why you should buy this: It’s extremely affordable, with a great screen, and all-day battery life.

Who’s it for: Anyone on a budget who doesn’t mind sacrificing looks for function.

Why we picked the Acer Chromebook 514:

Chromebooks — laptops that run Google’s Chrome OS — have become popular budget choices over the last few years, and many have won us over as well. The Acer Chromebook 514 is a great example of their strengths. It has a 1080p display, a limited, but fast enough Intel processor, and plenty of memory. No Windows notebook comes close to touching its value, and with battery life that will last all day, it’s supremely portable.

The Acer Chromebook Spin 514’s low price brings some limitations — you won’t find a budget Chromebook in this price range with a fast solid-state drive or an optional discrete GPU — but they aren’t necessities for the typical Chrome OS user. Its CPU isn’t blazing fast either, but it’s quick enough for everyday tasks.

It also has a Full HD (1,920 x 1,080) resolution IPS display that’s more than good enough for web browsing and productivity work, 8GB of RAM, and 64GB of eMMC flash storage. The keyboard is particularly noteworthy with a very satisfying feel when typing and the backlighting is tastefully done so you can easily run this device in the dark.

You will have to get used to Chrome OS too. It’s not as functional as Windows, and it works best when you have an active internet connection, but it’s much more fleshed out today than it was in the past. If you find yourself using a lot of Google web services and watching streaming services like Netflix, a Chromebook like the 514 could be a great way to save a lot of money on your next upgrade.

Our full Acer Chromebook 514 review

Dell G3 Gaming Laptop

The best budget gaming laptop

Dell G3 Gaming Laptop Review
Riley Young/Digital Trends

Why you should buy this: It offers solid gaming performance for less than $1,000.

Who’s it for: Gamers, and only gamers.

Why we picked the Dell G3 Gaming Laptop:

Although gaming laptops are typically quite expensive, the Dell G3 Gaming Laptop is a great example of why they don’t need to be. Starting at around $700, you get an Intel Core i5-8300 CPU, a GTX 1050 graphics chip, 8GB of RAM, and 1TB of hybrid-HDD storage, with options for faster CPUs, more powerful graphics, extra and faster storage, and memory if you don’t mind spending a little more. You can now even bump up to next-gen components such as 9th-gen processors and 16-series graphics cards, though those configurations start at $950. Every model comes with a 15.6-inch, 1080p IPS display.

With decent build quality and good performance in a relatively light chassis, the G3 offers an all-around solid gaming package at an impressively competitive price. It does have its weak points, most notably a less than stunning display — it’s dull, but still looks good enough if you crank up the settings. Similarly, the storage options aren’t the quickest, but those are sacrifices that are worth making to keep the price down on such a capable gaming machine.

There are far better gaming laptops out there, but we’d struggle to find one that’s as powerful as Dell’s G3 at this price point. It’s a fantastic, budget gaming machine.

Our full Dell G3 Gaming Laptop review

Microsoft Surface Go

The best budget 2-in-1

Microsoft Surface Go Review
Rich Shibley/Digital Trends

Why you should buy this: It’s quick, lightweight, and versatile.

Who’s it for: Anyone who needs the on-the-go mobility of a small, 2-in-1.

Why we picked the Microsoft Surface Go:

The Surface Go may be limited by its small size and low-powered Intel processor, but it offers something never before seen in the Windows world: A truly budget-minded 2-in-1. Its build is every bit as strong as its older brother, the Surface Pro, and it boasts a beautiful, bright display to boot. The best part? It’s actually thin and light enough to be held in one hand like a proper tablet.

While performance doesn’t feel as smooth as on something like an iPad or even a Chromebook, those devices can’t do quite as many things as the Surface Go, which runs a full version of Windows 10. On the battery front, it’s a bit lacking. That’s its most unfortunate compromise since this is a device made for portability. Also, we still wish the excellent keyboard and Surface Pen came bundled in.

But even with its fair share of faults, it’s absolutely the best budget 2-in-1 you can buy.

Our full Microsoft Surface Go review

Should you buy now, or wait?

Intel’s 8th-generation Core processors are commonplace today and make for a small, but noticeable improvement over their predecessors. Those gains were achieved by cramming more cores into the processors, which is why we now have quad-core Core i7 chips in much smaller laptops than we had in the past. That’s great news for anyone in the market for a mid-range laptop, and as we’ve seen with the Asus ZenBook UX330UA, those processors are already finding their way into low-priced models.

On the other hand, both Intel and AMD are gearing up to release their next generation of mobile processors. AMD’s Ryzen 3000 mobile lineup shows a promising selection of both dual-core and quad-core processors with boost clocks as high as 4GHz. Additionally, Ryzen 3000 mobile CPUs will include Vega graphics cores, which should be more capable than Intel’s commonplace on board GPUs. That said, Intel’s 9th generation mobile chips will likely offer higher clock speeds and overall performance when announced, though their release date is still up in the air at this time.

How do we test laptops?

We judge laptops on a wide variety of factors including the processor, storage solution, and graphics performance, battery life, and display quality. We test these components with objective tools, rather than trying to rely on our subjective impressions. For more information on our test procedures, check out our full guide to how we test laptops.

Computing

Monzo will launch its banking app in the U.S., but it may be a hard sell

Monzo, a popular mobile banking app from the U.K., will launch this summer in the United States, but its plan for a slow release and an initially feature-light banking app may be a hard sell for its prospective U.S. customers.
Computing

If you need your laptop to be large, these ones are most in charge

Whether you're in the market for a mobile workstation or a gaming behemoth, there's probably something in the 15-inch form factor that can fit the bill. Here, we've rounded up the best 15-inch laptops available.
Computing

Our best laptop deals for June 2019, including the discounted Dell XPS 13

Whether you need a new laptop for school or work or you're just doing some post-holiday shopping, we have you covered: These are the best laptop deals going right now, from discounted MacBooks to on-the-go gaming PCs.
Photography

You don't need an epic budget to shoot epic photos with the best cheap cameras

You don't need a huge budget to shoot epic photos with the best cheap cameras. There are great deals to be found on both lower-end cameras and older versions of high-end cameras that you can still find new.
Deals

Get this Samsung 65-inch 4K Smart TV for a massive 50% off discount from Walmart

If you're looking for a quality smart TV on a budget, Walmart has a sweet deal you may want to check out. The online retailer has dropped the price of the Samsung 65-inch 4K Smart TV (NU7300 model) from $1,400 to $700.
Computing

Apple just registered seven new MacBooks, but what are they? Let’s speculate

When Apple registers new devices, that usually means they’re only weeks away from being released. The company has just registered seven new devices -- but are they Airs, Pros or something else entirely?
Photography

The Loupedeck Plus custom keyboard will make you feel like a pro video editor

With recently added support for Final Cut Pro X, the Loupedeck Plus improves speed and accuracy for video editors. With a collection of customizable buttons and dials, the Loupedeck can almost completely replace a mouse and keyboard setup.
Deals

Amazon cuts prices on Microsoft Surface Pro 6 and Surface Go

The Microsoft Surface series is an excellent alternative to other tablets if you're a dedicated Windows user, and the superb Surface Pro 6 (our favorite 2-in-1) and its cheaper sibling, the Surface Go, are both on sale right now.
Deals

Amazon sale drops deals on Microsoft Surface laptops

Despite an increasingly crowded market, the sleek Microsoft Surface laptops have left their mark. Both the Microsoft Surface Laptop 2 and Surface Book 2 are discounted on Amazon right now, too, with deals that can save you up to $300.
Computing

Need more pixels? These 4K laptops have the eye-popping visuals you crave

If you're looking for the best 4K laptops, you need to find one that has powerful internal hardware, and doesn't scrimp on weight and battery life. All of these 4K notebooks are great options, but which one is the right one for you?
Computing

AMD’s Ryzen one-two punch will end with a 64-core Threadripper in 2019

AMD's Threadripper may be set to deliver the killing blow to Intel in Q4 2019, with a rumor suggesting a new Zen 2-based Threadripper line is coming down the pipe with a top chip that has as many as 64 cores.
Photography

What’s the difference between Lightroom CC and Lightroom Classic?

Lightroom CC has evolved into a capable photo editor, but is it enough to supplant Lightroom Classic? We took each program for a test drive to compare the two versions and see which is faster, more powerful, and better organized.
Computing

HP's Spectre x360 is a better 2-in-1 than Microsoft's Surface Laptop 2 is a clamshell

The Microsoft Surface Laptop 2 is a refresh of Microsoft's clamshell option, an oddity given Microsoft's creation of the modern 2-in-1. The HP Spectre x360 13 is, therefore, an interesting comparison.
Deals

Amazon deal drops prices on Asus VivoBook laptops and 2-in-1s

Asus is one of the premier PC brands cranking out Windows ultrabooks today with its sleek VivoBook series, and these Amazon deals let you score one for $700 or less. Read on to find out what we love about these laptops and how you can save.