Sticker shock is a common problem when looking for a new laptop computer. There are plenty of options in stores or online that will run you hundreds or even thousands of dollars.
But do you really need to spend that amount of money to get a machine that fits your usage? By digging a little deeper, you can find a budget laptop that gets the job done while staying firmly under $200!
Picking The Best Cheap Laptop Under $200
When you’ve got a limited budget of $199 or less, finding the right machine means prioritizing which features are most important to you.
To find a workable system within that constraint, the biggest question should be whether you truly want a full laptop. In many cases, a netbook or Chromebook might actually work out better and at a lower cost.
After deciding whether you need Windows 10 or a more streamlined Chromebook, next comes size and weight decisions. How small is too small, and how heavy of a device do you want to lug around to classes?
Devices in this price range are built with portability firmly in mind. There can still be a wide range of sizes available however, with screens varying from 10 – 14 inches.
Finally, be sure to consider the overall hardware specs. Even at this low end price point, some laptops will still outclass others in terms of system memory, processor speed, and hard drive space.
Once you have a clear idea of what you need in mind, let’s dive in and get started looking at the contenders!
In A Hurry? Here’s The Winner From Hours Of Research
Samsung Chromebook 3
Why is it better?
In 2019, the current best laptop under $200 isn’t actually a true laptop at all, Instead, it’s a Chromebook model from Samsung that ditches Windows 10 entirely and opts for the Chrome OS.
At under $199, this nifty little notebook gives you fast boot up speeds and plenty of power for having multiple apps open at once. You won’t find a better laptop without either going refurbished or picking up a much more expensive machine.
The Lineup At A Glance
|1||Samsung Chromebook 3||Top Picks For Students||Check Price|
|2||ASUS L402WA-EH21||Thin & Light||Check Price|
|3||Dell Latitude E6420 (Refurbished)||Ready For Light Gaming||Check Price|
|4||Lenovo Ideapad 210s||Best Value||Check Price|
|5||HP 14" Notebook||With SSD For Fast Booting||Check Price|
By Ty Arthur, March 13, 2019. Our top SSD choice recently went out of stock, so with this update we’ve swapped out that unit with a budget refurbished model with plenty of power and a solid state drive.
The Contenders For Best Budget Laptop Under $200
1. Samsung Chromebook 3 – Top Picks For Students
- Excellent battery
- Lightweight and compact
- Silent operation
- Extremely small internal storage
- No touch screen
Need a cheap, lightweight device for school projects, editing photos, or working on word documents? This should easily be your top choice!
If you haven’t considered going the Chromebook route, now is the perfect time to try out this alternate operating system. It won’t always be the best choice for all users, but for most school or work tasks you won’t even miss Microsoft’s OS.
Yes, its true that there is slightly less functionality than you may be used to getting. You also end up with far fewer headaches and a much more streamlined experience than with Windows, however.
Honestly, you don’t even lose out on all that much by going with Chrome. This particular model has a full keyboard, and Google Play is now available with the Chrome OS so you can install Android apps.
The big advantage of a Chromebook is that it connects directly to your existing Google account. Your email, bookmarks, Google Docs and Spreadsheets — they all transfer over and are readily available.
With only 16GB of storage space, the idea here is to save everything online in the cloud, or to instead use an external device. The latter option won’t be a problem, as this model includes an SD card slot, 2 USB ports (and even an HDMI out port for an external monitor).
One of the best laptops for college courses, the lightweight Chromebook lets you get online without carrying around a bulky notebook computer. Although you won’t be gaming, this is a great option for taking notes, emailing, finding images online, and so on.
|Hardware specifications for Samsung Chromebook 3|
|Processor||Intel Celeron N3060 (1.6 – 2.48 GHz)|
|RAM||4GB DDR3 RAM|
|Graphics||Intel HD Graphics 400|
|Display||11.6-Inch Display, 1366 x 768 Pixels Resolution|
|Operating System||Chrome OS|
|Battery Life||11 hours|
2. ASUS L402WA-EH21 – Thin & Light
- Bigger screen
- Windows 10
- S version of Windows 10
- Small storage space
Want something thin, light, and secure? This is an excellent pick for your kids to browse the web or play Microsoft game apps!
Midway between a Chromebook and a full Windows 10 computer, the ASUS offering in our lineup is an excellent hybrid choice. You get a little bit of both worlds by picking this one over the other contenders.
This models includes the S version of Windows 10, which is entirely app-based and stripped down from the standard Home version. Essentially, that means you can only install programs straight from the Windows app store.
That’s much more secure than downloading web programs (since you can’t get any malware), but it does limit your options. It is fairly simple to upgrade to the full version of Windows 10 for free if that’s too restrictive for your needs.
Don’t discount staying with the 10 S edition, however, as that can actually be a positive aspect in some ways. If you are looking for a cheap, secure device this can be one of the best laptops for teens or kids.
Make sure to factor in the cost of buying a micro SD card if you go with this machine. You’ll need more than 32GB of space if you intend on storing anything on the device itself.
Buyers frequently bring up two issues not mentioned in the specs online. The wi-fi will oddly switch itself off when using battery saver mode, so prepare for less battery life than advertised.
The second issue is actually quite a boon for hardware techies — this model includes an empty 2.5” drive bay. That means you could upgrade to an SSD with full Windows 10 and save yourself a bundle of money over a more expensive machine.
|Hardware specifications for ASUS L402WA-EH21|
|Processor||AMD E2-6110 (1.5GHz)|
|RAM||4GB DDR3 RAM|
|Graphics||AMD Radeon R2|
|Display||14-Inch HD Display, 1366 x 768 Pixels Resolution|
|Operating System||Windows 10 S|
|Battery Life||6.5 hours|
3. Dell Latitude E6420 (Refurbished) – Ready For Light Gaming
- Full Windows 10
- Bigger hard drive
- Low battery life
When a Chromebook doesn’t appeal to you and you’d prefer a more traditional laptop, this is the way to go at under $200. Just be prepared to deal with a few potential hiccups by going refurbished.
Trying to find a full laptop with 4GB of RAM at under $200 is an exercise in futility. Unless you are willing to try a refurbished unit like this one, anyway.
Although this unit is pre-owned, it’s restored to factory settings and tested before being shipped out. Essentially, you get a like new laptop for a used price.
In exchange for going “used,” you get a much bigger hard drive and faster processor than the Chromebook models. When you need more room for documents and images, that can be the deciding factor.
With that feature in mind, this can be the best cheap laptop for digital art, storing music, or even light gaming.
Be very careful if you decide to buy through a third party seller instead of straight through Amazon. Buyers have reported that some resellers have the wrong product numbers listed, and you may not get these exact specs.
|Hardware specifications for Dell Latitude E6420 (Refurbished)|
|Processor||Intel Core i5 (2.5GHz)|
|RAM||4GB DDR3 RAM|
|Graphics||Intel HD Graphics 3000|
|Display||14.1-Inch Display, 1366 x 768 Pixels Resolution|
|Operating System||Windows 10 Home 64 Bit|
|Battery Life||3.5 hours|
4. Lenovo Ideapad 210s – Best Value
- Extremely thin and lightweight
- Full Windows 10 OS
- Low price
- Not much RAM
- Small storage space
Want a full Windows 10 laptop while spending the absolute least amount of money possible? This should be your pick if you don’t mind using external storage.
At well under $200, Lenovo’s IdeaPad is cheaper than many tablets! Considering you are getting the full version of Windows 10 for that price, this is a steal if you don’t mind slower speeds.
You have to give up quite a bit to get such a slim, inexpensive machine, however. There’s no optical drive, so streaming is the way to go for watching videos.
At only 2GB of RAM, you also can’t expect to be gaming or running any high end software. This is a portable computer meant for lighter tasks like writing papers or surfing the web.
Although they love the lower price point, there is one overriding issue frequently brought up by buyers.
There’s only 32GB of onboard storage included out of the box. That means you won’t even have enough room to update Windows if you are installing anything or saving any files.
To get around this problem, be sure to make use of the two USB ports and a microSD port for some external storage!
|Hardware specifications for Lenovo Ideapad 210s|
|Processor||Intel Celeron N3350 (1.10 – 2.0GHz)|
|RAM||2GB DDR3 RAM|
|Graphics||Intel HD Graphics 500|
|Display||11.6-Inch HD Display, 1366 x 768 Pixels Resolution|
|Operating System||Windows 10 Home|
|Battery Life||6 hours|
5. HP 14” Notebook – With SSD For Fast Booting
- Solid state drive
- No optical drive
Need a light, highly portable laptop with incredibly fast boot up while still sticking with the full version of Windows 10? This is our top pick for the best laptop under $200 with an SSD for fast data speeds.
Fast Data, Low Price
There’s no doubt about it, SSDs have completely changed the mobile computing world in a very short time. The days of waiting forever for Windows to boot are long gone… if you have the money to spend.
Want a budget solid state drive model but don’t want to lose out on Windows 10 by going with a Chromebook? Unfortunately, your options are very limited.
Your best bet (especially if you need to stay under $200) is to go with a refurbished model.
With 4GB of RAM and a 64GB SSD, you get enough speed and power to run Windows 10 more efficiently than models with a 500 GB HDD.
Of course, keep in mind that 20GB of that space is taken up by Windows, so you’ll probably want to pick up a cheap thumb drive for saving big files.
Cheaper laptops in this price range often include an optical drive for burning DVDs, but note that feature is missing here.
If you still regularly use discs instead of saving your data in the cloud or streaming videos online, you’ll want to look for a different model.
|Hardware specifications for HP 14″ Notebook (Refurbished)|
|Processor||Intel Dual-Core Celeron N3350 (Up to 2.40GHz, 2MB Cache)|
|Graphics||Integrated Intel HD Graphics|
|Display||14” display, 1366 x 768 pixels resolution|
|Operating System||Windows 10 Home|
|Battery Life||7 hours|
Should I Go With Windows Or The Chrome OS?
When picking a laptop or hybrid device at this price point, Windows won’t always be your primary option. While full Windows 10 Home version machines exist under $200, they will usually have tiny hard drives.
While you may be more familiar with the Windows layout, don’t discount a Chromebook that uses the Chrome OS. There are major differences between the operating systems, but they aren’t difficult to overcome.
The Chrome OS is based around the web browser, and behaves more like a tablet. Rather than using the typical Microsoft Word or Open Office, the Chrome OS instead utilizes web-based programs like Google Docs.
Now that Chrome OS has received Google Play support, a Chromebook also opens up your options significantly in terms of downloading apps.
Do I Want A New Or Refurbished Unit?
The $200 – $400 range is where you start to see laptops with specs capable of running most programs. If you don’t want to lose out on a lot of functionality, spending less than $200 often isn’t an option.
The main exception to that rule involves buying a refurbished unit. You can get a much better system with significantly higher specs at a lower price.
There are some inherent issues to going this route, however. There are plenty of horror stories to be found in online reviewers where a buyer received a broken or malfunctioning computer.
When picking a refurbished unit, choosing a bigger name brand is usually a safer bet. Make sure to check the return policy and support options as well.
Some refurbished units only have warranties of as low as 30 days. Others have multi-year warranties, but they may charge you shipping to send the laptop in for repairs.
Whether you decide to pick a new or refurbished unit, taking a look at the return and warranty policies is always a good idea!
What Features Won’t I Get At This Price Point?
In order to find a laptop under $199 or less, unfortunately you can’t expect blazing fast speeds or huge hard drives. Manufacturers will often provide less RAM and slower processors here than with higher priced computers.
It isn’t usually until the $200 – $300 range that you get full 500GB – 1TB hard drives. At this price point, 32GB is usually the largest amount of storage space offered.
Due to that tiny amount of storage, remember that you may end up spending more buying an external hard drive or MicroSD card.
Screen resolutions also typically aren’t up to par with more expensive notebook computers. Some of them will be listed as “HD,” but that’s used more as a catch all term than a specific hardware specification.
In most cases, you won’t find high end displays at a full 1920 x 1080 pixels resolution. If you want higher end specs, normally you will have to bump up to a higher price point or make trade offs on other components.
Did you find a cheap laptop for school or work that will meet your needs in our list of contenders?
Between these five options, there should be a perfect Chromebook or laptop for everyone! Let us know what you thought of our budget notebook picks, and leave us a comment if you see any killer deals we missed.
Still Can’t Find What You Are Looking For?
A: Check out these awesome resources:
- How Often Should You Replace Your Laptop? (And Signs That You Need A New One)
- How To Buy A Laptop With Confidence? (A Laptop Buying Guide)
- What To Look For When Buying A Gaming Laptop? (A Trusted Buying Guide)
- Cheapest Laptops To Run Every Major Game (Including Fortnite, Fallout..)
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