While modern laptops can come packing hardware that would make desktops of yesteryear blush, not everyone needs all that power, and not everyone has the budget for it. Just because your future laptop doesn’t cost the earth though, doesn’t mean it will be slow or incapable. Some of the best laptops under $300 are impressive little machines.
It’s important to note that as great as the below choices are, some sacrifices need to be made to keep the price so low. You can’t expect to have top-tier hardware in these systems, and fancy features are kept to a minimum. However, we wouldn’t go ahead and recommend any of these if they didn’t offer decent performance and battery life, so you can buy any of the following systems with the confidence that they will serve you well — just not as quickly as their more expensive counterparts.
If your budget is a little higher than the laptops seen in this guide, check out our list of the best laptops under $500.
Although Microsoft itself doesn’t offer much in the way of low-cost mobile computing with its Surface line up, there are plenty of other manufacturers out there willing to fill that niche. These are the best Windows laptops under $300 available right now.
Lenovo Ideapad 120S ($200)
Lenovo has a number of offerings under $300, and the Ideapad 120S is one of the best. Coming in 11-inch ($200) and 14-inch ($250) form-factors, it packs an Intel Celeron N3350 processor running at 1.1GHz (turbo 2.4GHz), 2-4GB of memory and 64GB of on board flash storage. Graphics wise it runs the on board Intel HD 500 chip which powers the 1,366 x 768 TN display.
Despite the affordable price tag, the Ideapad 120S has a premium look to it, with a great finish available in a few different color choices. While there are some reports of the frame not being the most sturdy, you do get a good selection of ports, including a USB Type-C which can be used as an alternative charging port if needed.
Most important is its portability. Although the smaller-screen variant is more compact, neither are heavy, weighing in at 2.53 pounds and 3.17 pounds respectively. The battery life lasts up for up to 8.5 hours, so this laptop is good for almost a full working day without charging.
Buy one now at:
HP Stream 14-ax010nr ($215)
Released to try and compete with the ultra-affordable Chromebooks out there, HP’s Stream 14-ax010nr might be hard to pronounce, but it’s not hard to understand why it’s still a great choice for an affordable laptop. It sports a dual-core Intel Celeron N3060 which turbos to 2.48GHz, 4GB of DDR3L memory, and 32GB of on board flash storage.
It sports a 14-inch WLED backlit display with a resolution of 1,366 x 768 powered by Intel HD Graphics 400. Ports include a single USB 2.0 port, twin USB 3.0 ports, an SD card slot, combination microphone/headphone jack, and an HDMI output.
Although this laptop does have a rather small storage footprint, it comes complete with a one-year subscription to a OneDrive account with a terabyte of storage space, so you can expand your collection of photos and videos online if you need to.
Battery life tests peg this laptop at somewhere around the eight-hour mark, which when combined with its just over 3.1 pound weight, means it’s a great portable work machine. Don’t expect to do anything too complicated on it, but this laptop will handle email and web browsing without difficulty.
Buy one now at:
Dell Inspiron 11 3000 ($180)
You don’t need to skirt the $300 border to get a great laptop in this guide. Although the Dell Inspiron 11 3000 is the cheapest laptop on this list, it’s still an impressive piece of kit with a ton of options for those with a little more to spend.
For a bare-minimum of $180, you can get yourself an 11-inch laptop with an Intel Celeron N3060 processor paired up with 2GB of DDR3L memory and 32GB of on board storage. Its display is the same resolution as the previous entries in this list (1,366 x 768), and it sports USB 3.0 and 2.0 ports, alongside an HDMI 1.4 output, SD card reader, and combination microphone-headphone port.
Along with having stellar battery life — up to 13 hours in some tests — the Inspiron 11 3000 comes in a variety of eye-catching colors (tango red, bali blue, and alpine white). Its the options which make it so applicable to a wide customer base. You can spend $40 more for an additional 2GB of memory, or upgrade its form-factor to 2-in-1, so it can twist into a tablet shape. There’s also expanded screen options all the way up to 15-inch, which still stay under the $300 threshold for this guide.
Buy one now at:
Acer Aspire 1 ($220)
Though not exciting to look at, the Acer Aspire 1 makes up for that with an improved array of internal hardware. It sports an Intel Celeron N3450 quad-core CPU with 4GB of memory, 32GB of local storage, and a 14-inch display with 1080p resolution.
None of that comes at the price of portability. Although it is a little heavier than the other entries at 3.5 pounds, that’s not enough to be significantly noticeable. Battery life comes in at a respectable seven hours, which isn’t stellar, but it’s enough for most of a work day, and would be plenty for the average medium-distance flight.
Its one major weakness may be local storage space, but with a USB 3.0 port, two USB 2.0 ports and an SD card reader, you can expand that if you wish. The Amazon listing for this one even comes with an optional flash drive for a few dollars more. There are options for cloud storage if you prefer.
The 1080p display is this laptop’s main attraction. It makes this laptop great for watching movies and online video, even if the display is a little on the dull side.
Buy one now at: