The best affordable laptops sold today are leaps and bounds more advanced than their predecessors. In years past, laptops that sold for under $1,000 were often very underpowered. Not anymore. The best affordable laptops—like our best overall, the HP Pavilion Plus 14-Inch—can offer solid performance and storage space, all for under $1,000. Not only do they look good, but they can perform well and remain relatively lightweight and portable. You may have to make some sacrifices, but you can still get a smart and effective laptop at a very approachable price.
These affordable laptops offer more than enough computing strength to power typical school and work needs. Some of these models make excellent picks for a secondary laptop. For example, the Lenovo Chromebook Duet 5 OLED is a perfect travel companion, and the Acer Nitro 5 is a great fit if you want an affordable gaming system.
To pick the best affordable laptops, we combined extensive personal and hands-on experience with in-depth research. Whatever your needs, one of these affordable laptops will be perfect for you.
Best Affordable Laptop Deals You Can Buy Today
In addition to our picks above, we’ve corralled the best affordable laptop deals you can buy now.
What To Consider When Buying An Affordable Laptop
Buying a laptop can be a big decision, filled with choices about components and what to get inside. And even more so when it comes to affordable laptops. Unlike big budget spenders who can splash the cash to get whatever they want, budget shoppers need to prioritize what’s important for their computing needs. That doesn’t mean making major sacrifices, though, as the best affordable laptops can all be excellent options. But you do want to focus your money where you can to get the kind of laptop you want and need.
Think you can stretch your budget a little? Consider some of the best laptops overall, too.
What You Use It For
Before you buy an affordable laptop, you need to consider what you’re actually going to use it for. If you’re not a gamer or content creator, you don’t need to buy a laptop with a discrete graphics card. By skipping discrete graphics, you can save money or spend it on a configuration with other features, like a better CPU, more storage or a better screen.
Will you be doing any photo or video editing? You want at least 8GB of RAM and the best CPU you can afford. Better still if you can bump up to 16GB of RAM. Want your laptop for working on-the-go? Pick a lightweight laptop with a full-size keyboard so you can throw it in your backpack.
The processor—also called the central processing unit (CPU)—is the heart of any computer. The CPU is the core component driving general computing tasks, since it moves data around and makes all the important calculations.
Picking a CPU isn’t as easy as just getting a laptop with the best CPU available. For one, the best available CPU is often overkill for your needs. Plus, small variations exist among processors, with fine print which is hard to translate to real-world impact. The best thing you can aim for is to make sure the CPU is current or at most one generation back. For Intel, you’d be looking at 12th generation systems, with some 11th generation models still in play at a lower cost. For AMD, consider Ryzen 5000 or later. Ideally you want at least four cores, but if you’re only planning on using the laptop for lightweight tasks like email and web browsing, you can get away with two cores.
You only need a discrete graphics card if you’re planning on using the laptop for gaming, video capture or 3D design work. Otherwise, the integrated graphics should be enough, and it will help your system achieve greater battery life. Both Intel and AMD have integrated graphics.
If you are a gamer, mobile graphics like the Nvidia GeForce GTX 3050 and GeForce GTX 1650 are much better than the MX450 or equivalent, so try to find one with a full-scale mobile GPU rather than those limited options if you want to play anything outside of esports games.
The display is a key component in any laptop and it’s often one area that sometimes suffers in affordable laptops. At the least find a 1080p screen, as anything less than that can look a little fuzzy at 13-inches and above. The systems with less than a 1080p display tend to cost less, but that may not be a compromise you’re willing to make.
Brightness and color saturation make a big difference too, so check individual reviews for laptops to make sure that you’re getting something that looks good. If you’re looking to game on this laptop, try to find one that has a 120Hz or higher refresh rate, as that can make your games look and feel much smoother.
Battery life is important in any kind of laptop, as laptops stop being quite so versatile if you can’t use them away from a charge point. Still, most laptops provide at least 10 hours of mixed usage, while the best can go over 20 hours. Laptops priced under $1,000 often have more prosaic battery life estimates hovering at 10 hours or less. Treat those estimates as a guideline but not set in stone, as many factors—including screen brightness and choice of activities—can impact a laptop’s battery life. Make sure whatever laptop you choose can handle how long you want to be untethered. If it’s for work or school, you want at least eight hours of solid use to get you through the day.
Increasingly we’re seeing sub-$1,000 laptops with touchscreens and 2-in-1 designs. Such designs typically have a hinge which allows you to safely reposition the screen in tent mode or flip it all the way around into tablet mode, for example. Such laptops work with a stylus, but the stylus is often an extra-cost.
Wi-Fi and Bluetooth are standard in almost all laptops, even affordable ones, but the better laptops using the most recent CPUs will offer more recent generations of those technologies, such as like Wi-Fi 6 and Bluetooth 5.
For connecting wired accessories like external drives, mouse and keyboard, and external displays, you’ll want a decent array of wired connections. High speed USB Type-A and USB Type-C ports will help you with all of your peripherals, and some laptops allow USB Type-C charging for added convenience. Look for a laptop with multiple USB 3.1 or 3.2 ports, to get the maximal speed possible, particularly important for connecting external storage.