If you own an old laptop, you must be excited by the prospect of buying a brand-new one that’s better than your current one. And if you desire a device from the big companies, you know how pricey their products are. While some of the leading brand products are out of the reach of the budget consumer, the good news today is that the prices of laptops have been on a steady decline, and if you search carefully, you can get a quality product without denting your wallet.
You might be pleasantly surprised to learn that some of the budget laptops you can buy today are awesome. They might not have all the capabilities of their expensive counterparts, but they’re packed with tons of features. Today’s budget laptops are sleek in design and don’t compromise on performance. And if you insist on getting a laptop from well-known brands like Asus, Lenovo, HP, or Dell, these companies now offer great laptops at highly affordable prices.
To help you get a good laptop on a tight budget, we’ve compiled the following list of the best laptops under $650 that you can buy in 2023.
- Best Overall: 2022 HP Pavilion x360
- Best Budget-Friendly: Acer Aspire 5 (A515)
- Best OLED: ASUS VivoBook Business Laptop
- Most Durable: Dell Inspiron 15 3521 Laptop
- Best for Portability: Microsoft Surface Go 2
Best Overall: 2022 HP Pavilion x360
- 14" touchscreen
- 12th Gen Intel 10-Core i5-1235U
- Iris Xe Graphics
- 8GB DDR4 RAM
- G12GB PCIe SSD
- Backlit KB
- Stylus pen included
- Windows 11 Home
When you think of a budget laptop that won’t disappoint, the 2022 HP Pavilion x360 would be a great choice.
This is a laptop that can also function as a tablet as its touchscreen can turn 360 degrees. Ideal for students and people that work from home, the HP Pavilion x360 is highly portable as it weighs only 3.35 pounds. It has a 14-inch touchscreen and its clarity is guaranteed by its 1920 x 1080p resolution, so you’re assured of great picture quality when streaming your favorite movies.
Aesthetics aside, the HP Pavilion x360 is a powerful laptop that will adequately meet the needs of the average user. Powered by a Core i5 processor, the laptop comes with 8GB RAM and SDD storage of 512GB. The graphics experience with the HP Pavilion x360 is pleasurable as the computer is powered by Intel Iris Xe Graphics. The HP Pavilion x360 is highly connectable. It comes with 1 USB 3.1 Type-C port (capable of data transfer up to 5 GB/s), 1 HDMI port, 2 USB 3.1 Type-A ports, a multi-card slot, and a microphone/headphone port.
If you intend to use your HP Pavilion x360 on the go, it won’t disappoint you with its battery life as the laptop could work for up to ten hours off a power source. Of course, how long a computer stays powered depends on the tasks you put it to, but one of the most alluring things about this laptop is that it comes with HP Fast Charge. All you need to do is plug it into a power source and you’ll get the battery charged up to 50% in about thirty minutes. The combination of portability, connectivity, good battery life, and powerful hardware makes the HP Pavilion x360 the best overall laptop under $650.
Check out the 2022 HP Pavilion x360 on Amazon today.
Best Budget-Friendly: Acer Aspire 5 A515
- 15.6" Full HD IPS display
- 11th gen Intel i3-1115G4 dual-core processor
- 8GB DDR4
- 128GB NVMe SSD
- Wi-Fi 6
- Amazon Alexa
- Windows 11 Home in S Mode
At $299.99, you might look far and wide before finding a better-priced laptop than the Acer Aspire 5 (A515).
Measuring 14.31 x 0.7 x 9.39 inches and weighing 5.56 lbs, this is a pretty portable laptop. Available in silver, the Acer Aspire 5 (A515) runs on Windows 11 and will therefore meet most of your work, web browsing, and entertainment needs.
The Acer Aspire 5 (A515) is also a great performer. Its CPU is 11th Gen Intel Core i3-1115G4 and it has 4GB of DDR4 RAM and 128GB M.2 PCIe NVMe SSD. Should you not be satisfied with the memory that this laptop comes with, you can upgrade it up to a maximum of 20GB. Built for those who might be forced to work in the dark, the Acer Aspire 5 (A515) has a backlit keyboard and, for the security of your gadget, it comes with a fingerprint reader.
The Acer Aspire 5 (A515) is also highly connectable. In addition to the standard HDMI port, the laptop also has a multi-card slot, a lock port, two USB-A 2.0 ports, one USB-A 2.0 port, and one USB-C 3.1 port. While you’ll certainly not be buying this computer for gaming purposes, it has a good battery that could last up to six hours off a power source. As far as budget laptops go, the Acer Aspire 5 A515 sits up there with the best.
Take a look at the Acer Aspire 5 A515 on Amazon today.
Best OLED: Asus Vivobook Business Laptop
Available in slate gray and weighing 3.97 lbs, the Asus Vivobook Business Laptop is not only cute but also quite portable.
Other features that make this budget computer stand out are its OLED screen and its Ryzen 7 5700U APU. The laptop’s screen has a 1920 x 1080p resolution that offers excellent contrast.
Despite its high affordability, the Asus Vivobook has exciting hardware specs. It comes with 11th Gen Intel core i3-1115G4, has RAM 20GB DDR4 SDRAM memory, and its storage capacity is above 1TB. For a GPU, this computer uses Intel UHD GI Graphics. For the student, casual gamer, or work-from-home professional, the Asus Vivobook has what it takes to enhance productivity.
Speaking of productivity, the only feature that might prove limiting with this laptop is its battery. The WHr lithium battery that comes with the computer might not last for more than six hours off a power source (which is expected for computers in this price range) but the computer has fast-charging capabilities so you can get it charged up to 50% in less than an hour.
A highly connectable laptop, the Asus Vivobook has an HDMI port, an SD card reader, three USB-A ports, and one USB-C port. This is one laptop that will meet (and even exceed) your expectations when you’re shopping for a computer to play simple computer games or perform routine office and school tasks. To make sure that you do not lose your precious gadget to thieving hands it even has a fingerprint sensor.
Check out the Asus Vivobook Business Laptop on Amazon.
Most Durable: Dell Inspiron 15 3521 Laptop
The Dell brand is associated with durability, and the company stays true to form with its budget Dell Inspiron 15 3521 Laptop.
This is a sturdy product and, with proper care, it will give you many years of useful service. First, the surface pattern of the laptop provides a good grip and there’s hardly any risk of scratching. Although it’s made entirely of plastic like other budget laptops, the Dell Inspiron 15 3521’s keyboard is split-resistant. The keys are rugged and positioned in such a way that an accidental split on the keyboard would take time to reach the laptop’s mainboard. An accidental split does not risk your Dell computer, which is a quality you’re unlikely to find with other laptops in this price range.
The precious hardiness of the Dell Inspiron 15 3521 comes with a little trade-off, though. Compared to other computers in this range, it’s rather heavy as it weighs 7.2 pounds. Outside that, this is a good laptop packed with impressive features. The computer has an Intel Core i3-3227U Dual-Core Mobile Processor and a memory of 4GB PC3-12800 DDR3. It runs on the Windows 10 OS and has a hard disk size of 320GB. While you can’t use this laptop for serious competitive gaming, its 4000 Intel HD Graphics are adequate for casual gaming and simple computer games.
The Dell Inspiron 15 3521 is also highly connectable. It has four USB ports. Two USB 3.0 ports are exclusively for use with high-speed external drives and there’s an additional USB 2.0 port. The computer is Gigabit Ethernet, wireless and Bluetooth enabled. And if you ever wish to burn DVDs, this laptop comes with a two-layer burner.
For a beginner laptop, the Dell Inspiron is a product that will meet most of your computing needs. Take a look at the Dell Inspiron 15 3521 Laptop on Amazon today.
Best for Portability: Microsoft Surface Go 2
If there’s one outstanding quality that sets the Microsoft Surface Go 2 apart from the other budget laptops, it’s size.
This 10.5-inch laptop, which also doubles as a tablet, weighs a mere 1.2 pounds, which is way lower than the other computers we’ve reviewed. However, this tiny giant competes with the best in the league on some fronts.
First, its configuration is based on the designs of the more pricey Surface products that endeared people to Microsoft computers. The sleek design aside, it runs on the Windows 10 OS and has an Intel Premium Gold 4425Y dual-core processor. The computer is powered by RAM of 4GB but its storage capacity is rather limited to only 64GB.
For connectivity, the Microsoft Surface Go 2 has one USB 3.2 type-A port and an additional type-C port in addition to a headphone jack. Regrettably, it lacks an HDMI port. Battery life is one of the biggest issues with budget laptops, and in this respect, the Microsoft Surface Go 2 does better than its competitors. On a single charge, this laptop could help you perform routine tasks for more than eight hours. The Microsoft Surface Go 2 is an ultraportable, sleekly designed computer and one of the best laptops under $650.
Check out the Microsoft Surface Go 2 on Amazon.
How to Pick the Best Laptop Under $650: Step-by-Step
When you’re shopping for a laptop under $650, the price will certainly be a major consideration, but there are other crucial things to look for. We break down the critical considerations into five distinct categories, namely:
- Size and portability
- Battery life
Let’s take a close look at each.
Size and Portability
Most people shopping for a budget laptop might also own a desktop and wish to replace it with a gadget to take home from work or to attend college. When shopping for your laptop, size and weight matter since you want a machine that you can quickly slip into a bag and get going. Ultra-thin laptops that weigh just slightly over 2 lbs and are less than 15 inches would be a great choice.
Once you’ve identified a portable laptop, consider how long it’ll serve you off a power source. A light laptop that goes off after an hour of use won’t meet your needs and you should ideally look for a product that could give you up to six hours. It’s important to remember that battery life is influenced by the activities you engage in, and when off-power, you should remember to avoid programs that consume a lot of power. To make sure that you’re buying a laptop with great battery life, look for one with considerable Watt-hours.
The CPU is central to the performance of your laptop, and most budget laptops will come with Intel Core CPUs. While you might desire to get a laptop with the Core i9 processor, you’ll find that most laptops with such processors are rather pricey. Most laptops fitted with Core i3 and Core i5 processors are adequate for basic computing and casual gaming needs.
Alongside the CPU, the random access memory (RAM) of a budget laptop is critical to its performance. The higher the RAM, the greater the number of tasks you can perform on your computer simultaneously without getting the machine overwhelmed. While 4GB RAM could serve the needs of a student, if you intend to multi-task, you should look for a computer with RAM above 6GB.
Some people use their computers for the storage of important documents and, ideally, you want to get a computer with adequate storage. Owing to their thin designs, most budget laptops cannot carry hard drives and are fitted with solid-state drives. If you can get a laptop with 1TB storage, you should certainly go for it, but most beginner needs are met by storage above 500GB.
What to Know Before Buying the Best Laptop Under $650
While your budget laptop will help you perform some tasks satisfactorily, always remember that it only does so much. If, for instance, you’re just starting out in a career such as photography, the budget laptop might serve you well for a year or so. But what happens when your laptop is forced to handle bigger and more complex jobs? Can your laptop ably handle such jobs or shall you be forced to upgrade it?
Before buying a cheap laptop, you should consider both your current and future needs to decide whether you should proceed with the purchase or wait till you can get a computer that will serve you well in the long-term.
Using a Laptop Under $650: What It’s Like
Other than saving money, most of the people that buy budget laptops do so because they have no need for premium computers. If, for instance, you only use your laptop to browse, send emails, or complete assignments, a cheap laptop is adequate. As long as you know the limits of your computer, a budget-friendly laptop can give you a very satisfying experience.
Some of today’s budget laptops use very advanced processors. Some are packed with 12th Gen Intel core. These can handle incredibly heavy tasks such as gaming and video editing. However, it’s important to remember that, because of their limited RAM, budget laptops will struggle or get overwhelmed when they are subjected to gaming or other heavy tasks.
The image featured at the top of this post is ©Undrey/Shutterstock.com.