Best Cheap Computer To Buy
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The Lenovo IdeaPad Windows Duet 5i is for Windows users who like the tablet-plus-keyboard concept, but don't need tons of power. It's a smart choice for grab-and-go productivity and entertainment, delivering a welcome balance between cheaper and more deluxe 2-in-1 laptops.
This laptop is ideal for anyone looking for a powerful gaming laptop that won't break the bank. It's the best choice for gamers who want to play the latest games at high settings without sacrificing performance or visual quality. Despite its lack of biometrics, this laptop is also suitable for anyone who needs to balance both gaming and productivity, making it a versatile choice for students and professionals alike.
We're still opposed to cheap Chromebooks with dinky 11.6-inch screens, but we may have to change our stance on CPUs: Historically, we've warned that inexpensive models with ARM rather than Intel or AMD processors can be sluggish. The latest Acer Chromebook 514 relies on an ARM Kompanio chip, but it's a reasonably peppy performer, certainly livelier than systems with low-end Intel Celeron or Pentium silicon (if not a match for Intel Core or AMD Ryzen processors). The under-$500 Acer also offers solid design, great battery life, and a 14-inch full HD display.
It would be great if the IdeaPad 1 had a USB-C port and 8GB instead of 4GB of memory (don't expect to multitask much or open more than two or three browser tabs), but then it would cost considerably more. Consumers seeking a real computer for the price of a toy need look no further.
All of these CPUs also host the silicon that runs the laptop's graphics. The newest integrated graphics solutions can hold their own in browser-based games and even some online games like World of Warcraft. The higher demands of AAA titles, though, still require a discrete GPU, which you won't find in this price range. (If money is no object, check out our top-rated gaming laptops and ultraportables, as well as our favorite cheap gaming laptops.)
In years past, many of the barest-budget Windows laptops would come with just 2GB or 4GB of main system memory, but nowadays, at least in the Windows sphere, most come with 8GB. (A 4GB RAM count remains more common in Chromebooks and under-$300 Windows laptops.) In terms of batteries, an ideal budget laptop has one with six cells or more. The battery life for a cheap laptop should come in at a minimum of seven or eight hours, and these days, many will last quite a bit longer. (A lower-resolution screen, which is a feature of some of these machines, can consume less power, all else being equal, and end up being a benefit of sorts.)
An HDMI output and a USB-C port are definite pluses, and you can find these on even some of the very cheapest models. You shouldn't always expect a touch-screen display, however. (See our picks for the best touch-screen laptops.) Any 2-in-1 convertible machine, though, will by definition have a touch screen, as having one is necessary for using the machine as a tablet or in other orientations where the keyboard is covered up.
See our guide to the best 2-in-1 convertible and hybrid laptops for more information about this popular segment of the market. In part because of their added complexity compared with traditional clamshell designs, you won't find quite as many affordable ones, but there are a few Windows and ChromeOS-based models that cost $500 or below. They come in both permanently attached (generally 360-degree-rotating-hinge) designs, and in detachable-keyboard designs.
The best inexpensive laptops tend to go in and out of stock frequently. We've broken out the specs of our favorites here, and while we update this guide constantly, there's a good chance that at least one of our picks is back-ordered at any given time. But if you're on a strict budget, don't lose heart. You can definitely find PCs that will offer you enough performance to tackle your day-to-day tasks without a hitch.
For further in-depth breakdowns of our budget picks, take a look at our roundups of the best laptops for college students, the best laptops for kids, and the best Chromebooks. And for more general factors to consider when choosing a laptop, take a look at our buying guide with our top laptop picks overall.
The good news is, we're here to help. If you're searching for a laptop under $500, we've tested and reviewed the best budget laptops you can buy right now. Not sure what to look for in a good budget laptop Jump to the buying advice right below our recommendations. This advice is based on our years of testing and review experience if you want to continue your budget laptop hunt on your own.
The Acer Aspire 5 continues to be one of the best laptop deals available. Available in 14-, 15.6- and 17.3-inch sizes, I am partial to the 15.6-inch size because it's relatively compact and lightweight but still full-featured. Acer has a wide range of configurations to choose from starting under $500. This budget laptop also features a USB 3.2 Gen 1 USB-C port, two USB-A 3.2 Gen 1 ports, Ethernet and an HDMI port. The Acer Aspire 5 regularly includes a backlit keyboard and fingerprint reader for quick sign-ins -- rarities at this price.
While it's not overflowing with extras, the Flex 5i Chromebook does have a privacy shutter on the webcam so you can physically block it when it's not in use. The touch display is also pen-enabled so you can write or draw it with a USI pen. It is definitely one of the best Chromebook models for its price, power and size.
Lenovo has another two-in-one option on our best budget laptop list, the Lenovo Duet Chromebook. The Lenovo Duet Chromebook is similarly priced to the Flex 5i but is a detachable two-in-one -- i.e., a tablet with a removable keyboard cover. If you need a Chromebook for full-day use, go with the Flex 5i. The Lenovo Duet Chromebook is better as a secondary device for on-the-go productivity tasks and entertainment.
As a rule of thumb, resist buying out of desperation -- don't spend $500 because you can't find a cheaper laptop deal available, for example. Buying a need-it-now laptop can be like shopping for food while hungry.
One thing you won't find at these cheap laptop prices: a MacBook or any other Apple laptop. An iPad will run you more than $500 once you buy the optional keyboard (though it might work out to less if you look for sales on the tablet or keyboard), which is above our budget here. A base-model iPad with an inexpensive Bluetooth keyboard and cheap stand for the iPad might suffice.
You'll see a lot of cheap laptops listed as coming with Windows 10 S, a stripped-down and locked-down version of the operating system intended for use by schools -- it only allows you to install applications from the Windows Store, forces you to use Microsoft's Edge browser and includes a subset of the administrative tools in Windows 10 Pro. You can upgrade to the full version for free, though.
For a cheap gaming laptop, though, you'll still have to break the $500 ceiling to support most games. The least expensive budget laptops suitable for a solid gaming performance experience -- those with moderately powerful discrete graphics processors -- will run you closer to $700. Here are our recommendations if you're looking for the best gaming laptop under $1,000.
Considering all specs and options -- battery life, storage space, screen resolution, screen size, core processor performance, general machine and battery performance -- you'll find some of our top picks for 2022's best Windows laptops and Chromebooks under the $500 budget in the list above, along with their pros and cons.
The review process for laptops, desktops, tablets and other computer-like devices consists of two parts: performance testing under controlled conditions in the CNET Labs and extensive hands-on use by our expert reviewers. This includes evaluating a device's aesthetics, ergonomics and features. A final review verdict is a combination of both those objective and subjective judgments.
The list of benchmarking software we use changes over time as the devices we test evolve. The most important core tests we're currently running on every compatible computer include: Primate Labs Geekbench 5, Cinebench R23, PCMark 10 and 3DMark Fire Strike Ultra.
And, although some console gamers might tell you that PC gaming is too expensive to get into, the reality is that even if you are working with a tight budget, you can build (or buy) a cheap gaming PC that can deliver excellent performance at 1080P resolution in most games.
Traditionally, you could spend $500 on a cheap gaming PC and have a system that would be able to max out most games on a 1080P display. As of right now, though, the 1080P-killing graphics cards that used to cost $150-$200 now cost a bit more.
While prices are dropping, a prebuilt gaming PC can be a solid alternative. The companies that provide prebuilt systems are able to purchase their components at much more reasonable prices by buying them in bulk. You can check out our recommendations for the best budget prebuilt gaming PC at each price range in the sections below.
And, of course, if you just want to play on a 1080P monitor, this budget system will easily be able to handle that as benchmarks for the RX 6700 XT show that it can handle 1080P gaming incredibly well. In fact, pairing this build with a cheap 144Hz gaming monitor would make for a great gaming PC for Fortnite, GTA, Apex Legends, or any other highly-competitive game.
Ultimately, this is one of the best budget gaming PCs available. It can easily handle 1080P gaming, it will serve well for 1440P gaming, and it can even run games on a 4K monitor on mediumish settings.
With an Intel Core i5-12400F CPU and an NVIDIA GTX 1660 Super GPU, this is one of the best budget gaming PC builds for $700. It is even capable of functioning as an entry-level 4K gaming system (it can run non-demanding games on a 4K monitor).
Thanks to an Intel Core i3-10100F processor, an RX 6500 XT graphics card, and 8GB of DDR4 RAM, the cheap $500 gaming PC build listed below can max out pretty much any game on a budget 1080p monitor, as well as play non-demanding games at 1440p on medium-to-high settings. 59ce067264