Back to school events used to mean buying notebooks and mechanical pencil lead. Now it means making sure you’ve got a tablet or computer for taking notes and reading online courses!
While there are plenty of laptops out there that will thoroughly break your bank account, you don’t have to be rolling in cash to get a great computer. We’ve rounded up five of the absolute best laptops under $300 to fit any budget.
Recommendation for January 2021
Best Cheap Laptops Under $300 In 2021
HP EliteBook Folio – Best For School & Work
When you need to save money, a refurbished unit should always be in the back of your mind. The asking price goes down significantly, but you still get decent specs in return.
HP’s refurbished EliteBook is typically available in the $299 price range. For college students on a tight budget, that’s a huge plus.
In exchange for buying a pre-owned and restored machine, you get a full 8GB of RAM. That’s the biggest draw of going this route, as you won’t find a new laptop in this price range with that much memory.
This is an excellent entry-level option meant for upgrading as you go when funds allow. That’s if you aren’t afraid of opening up your laptop case, anyway!
Upgrading a portable computer like this is easier than you’d think. While this unit has plenty of memory out of the box, replacing the HDD with a higher speed solid-state drive would provide a huge boost.
By selecting a refurbished unit and upgrading, you get a high-end machine for a fraction of the price of buying a new computer.
Recommended Configuration For HP EliteBook Folio
CPU: Intel Core i7-4600U| Graphics: Intel HD Graphics| RAM: 8GB RAM | Screen: 14-inch 1366×768 HD LED Backlit display| Storage: 128GB SSD| Operating System: Windows 10| Battery Life: up to 7 hours | Weight: 3.56 lbs
Acer Aspire 1 – Thin & Light
At just over the $200 threshold, the Acer Aspire 1 can be the perfect budget laptop for a specific subset of users.
You won’t find a cheaper option for browsing social media, emailing, putting together Google Docs, and so on.
With a solid-state drive, 4GB of RAM, and huge battery life, this is an excellent budget option that’s well under $250. Of course, trade-offs have to be expected to find a notebook at this low a price.
Due to its ultra-small design, you can’t upgrade any components on this particular machine. The specs you get of the box will stay that way for the laptop’s entire life cycle.
The Aspire 1 gives you the full version of Windows 10, but that can be a potential issue due to the small storage space. Any amount of data — even just spreadsheets or a few MP3s — will prevent you from installing critical Windows updates.
Thankfully, there’s an SD card slot for storage, as well as USB ports. Just keep in mind that you will need to buy an SD card or USB hard drive to get the most out of this machine.
Buyers love the specs for the price but do often mention one odd downside. This model has no caps lock indicator light and instead uses a screen overlay.
An image will pop up on the screen to alert you when switching between caps or lowercase. If you aren’t used to this design, some users find it annoying at first.
Recommended Configuration For Acer Aspire 1
CPU: Intel Celeron N3450| Graphics: Intel HD Graphics| RAM: 4GB RAM | Screen: 14-inch 1920×1080 HD display| Storage: 32GB eMMC| Operating System: Windows 10| Battery Life: up to 9 hours | Weight: 3.64 lbs
HP 15.6” – Best Gaming Laptop Under $300
Frankly, at this price point you aren’t going to get anything approaching a decent graphics card. The built-in Radeon R4 chip is about the best you can hope for while staying under $300.
There’s still a surprising level of gaming versatility even with these lower specs, however. This is the bottom end of where you can expect to get GTA V to run, but it will install and play on this machine.
You can’t expect to play something like Battlefield 1 at high setting here, but anything that’s less graphics-intensive will run at stable frame rates.
While meant for school or work, this HP model will give you solid performance on older games. If you still regularly play Fallout New Vegas, The Sims, Diablo, and so on then this isn’t a bad option.
Buyers often bring up the included optical DVD-RW drive, which is becoming more of a rarity these days. They also like the HDMI output and extra USB ports for connecting peripherals or using an external monitor.
Recommended Configuration For HP 15.6”
CPU: AMD A6-9220| Graphics: AMD Radeon R4| RAM: 4GB RAM | Screen: 15.6-inch 1366×768 HD display| Storage: 500GB HDD| Operating System: Windows 10| Battery Life: up to 6 hours | Weight: 4.41 lbs
Lenovo N22 – Best Battery Life
If you plan on staying well under $300, many of the computers available will be netbooks or Chromebooks. There don’t tend to be as many lightweight options available with Windows Home or Pro.
The Lenovo N22 solidly breaks that trend. This tiny notebook offers the size and weight of a chromebook, but with the full version of Windows 10 instead.
While the display size is much smaller than your average full laptop, in exchange you get extreme battery life. If you need something that runs all day at school or for working from home, this will be your best bet.
The main negative brought up by reviewers deals with a side effect of the small size. This model’s keyboard is rather cramped, and there’s no full 10 key section.
Despite the small size and high battery life, this isn’t actually a touch screen model like you might expect. If you want that functionality, check out the next contender instead!
Recommended Configuration For Lenovo N22
CPU: Intel Celeron N3050| Graphics: Intel HD Graphics| RAM: 4GB RAM | Screen: 11.6-inch 1366×768 HD display| Storage: 65GB eMMC| Operating System: Windows 10| Battery Life: up to 14 hours | Weight: 2.8 lbs
Acer Chromebook R11 – Best For Android Games
In terms of specs, this actually meets or exceeds several of the options above. The processor and RAM combo is easily on par with the IdeaPad.
But without the standard Windows OS and no large storage space, how are you going to play games? Surprisingly, there are quite a few gamer options for Chromebooks these days.
Plenty of classic titles are available through the Google Play store and are compatible with a Chromebook. A game like Tekken, Amazing Katamari, and Pocket Mortys — in addition to updated SNES classics — can all be played here.
For the Battle Royale fans, don’t forget that Fortnite is slated to hit the Android app store! Note that if you have a gaming desktop already, you can also stream your Steam catalog over to this device with the Steam Link app.
Buyers constantly mention loving the high battery life and full 360-degree rotation of the screen. The only downside frequently brought up in the small amount of internal storage space, so look for an online backup solution!
Recommended Configuration For Acer Chromebook R11
CPU: Intel Celeron N3060| Graphics: Intel HD Graphics| RAM: 4GB RAM | Screen: 11.6-inch 1366×768 HD IPS display| Storage: 32GB SSD| Operating System: Chrome OS| Battery Life: up to 10 hours | Weight: 3.8 lbs
Asus VivoBook L203MA – 1 Day Battery Life
This laptop is perfect for everyday use, it comes with pretty decent configuration considering the price and a perfect entry-level laptop for your kids.
The Asus VivoBook L230MA is built with a fantastic looking chassis that provides a great appeal, it’s made with aluminum materials that look stylish and professional.
Powered by an efficient Celeron processor and 4GB of RAM to ensure you can take on a day to day tasks without compromise.
Though it only comes with 64GB storage you can always utilize cloud-based storage for the maximum potential of this laptop.
This laptop is decent for video calling as it comes with an HD webcam, perfect for someone who constantly travels.
Recommended Configuration For Asus VivoBook L230MA
CPU: Intel Celeron N4000| Graphics: Intel HD Graphics| RAM: 4GB RAM | Screen: 11.6-inch 1920×1080 HD display| Storage: 64GB eMMC| Operating System: Windows 10| Battery Life: up to 1 day| Weight: 2.2 lbs
Lenovo IdeaPad S150 – Cheapest AMD CPU
Lenovo is one of the most trusted laptop brands in the market and they have something affordable too.
The Lenovo IdeaPad S150 comes with a decent configuration, powered by an AMD processor and backed by 4GB of RAM to ensure you can get to your day to day tasks without compromise.
The 64GB storage is pretty small but you can always use cloud-based storage so you can spare your internal storage for most critical updates.
This laptop comes with all of the ports any laptop has, it has USB 3.0, USB 2.0, Ethernet and HDMI port so you can always connect extra peripherals on this laptop.
Considering the price of less than $300 the AMD processor is the greatest asset this laptop has, aside from compact build and classy looking chassis.
Recommended Configuration For Lenovo IdeaPad S150
CPU: AMD A6-9220e| Graphics: Intel HD Graphics| RAM: 4GB RAM | Screen: 14-inch 1366×768 HD display| Storage: 64GB eMMC| Operating System: Windows 10| Battery Life: up to 5 hours| Weight: 3.1 lbs
Jumper EZBook X3 – IPS Display Under $300
The Jumper EZBook is a pretty decent laptop with a very affordable price tag and if you want to have an IPS display despite being under $300 budget then this laptop is your best choice.
Inside a very thin and sleek looking laptop is a powerful Dual-Core N3350 processor backed by a 6GB RAM to make sure you can do any day to day tasks without compromise.
It only comes with 64GB storage which is pretty true to all budget laptop but you can always use cloud-based storage to maximize the storage of this laptop.
This laptop is very thin with just an 8mm ultra-slim body which is also stylish, you can bring this anywhere with you.
It comes with a 12 months warranty for your protection, though they claimed that they are pretty confident with their laptop.
Recommended Configuration For Jumper EZBook X3
CPU: Dual-Core N3350| Graphics: Intel HD Graphics| RAM: 6GB RAM | Screen: 13.3-inch 1920×1080 HD IPS display| Storage: 64GB eMMC| Operating System: Windows 10| Battery Life: up to 6 hours| Weight: 2.7 lbs
YELLYOUTH Netbook – Chocolate Keyboard For Writers
The YELLYOUTH Netbook is a very portable laptop that has a very comfortable keyboard that is a perfect laptop for writers who’s always on the go.
Powered by Intel Celeron processor and 4GB of RAM, you can smoothly do any basic task in this laptop, and if you write this laptop can handle even if you open multiple tabs.
The 64GB storage is upgradeable to much larger storage for up to 1TB and it comes with a micro SD port that supports up to 128GB memory.
The battery life is pretty impressive too, it can last for up to 8 hours in one charge so you can do your writing anywhere even without electric plug available.
The chocolate keyboard is so comfortable you can work for hours without getting your hands hurt while typing.
Recommended Configuration For YELLYOUTH Netbook
CPU: Intel Celeron N3060| Graphics: Intel HD Graphics| RAM: 4GB RAM | Screen: 14-inch 1366×768 HD display| Storage: 64GB eMMC| Operating System: Windows 10| Battery Life: up to 8 hours| Weight: 2.65 lbs
HP Chromebook 14 – Best Chromebook Under $300
The HP Chromebook 14 is a very capable Chromebook for those who don’t want to deal with Windows OS.
Powered by Intel Celeron processor and backed by 4GB RAM you can do any tasks an Android is capable of, writing, editing, word processing, play games you can do it with this laptop.
It comes with a beautiful IPS display so its perfect for binge-watching movies or long hours of typing with its comfortable keyboard.
It has a sleek body so you can literally bring this laptop anywhere you go, perfect for people who always work while on travel.
The battery life is pretty long too, it can last for up to 11.75 hours so you can work anywhere without the worry of getting your battery dying out.
Recommended Configuration For HP Chromebook 14
CPU: Intel Celeron N4000| Graphics: Intel HD Graphics| RAM: 4GB RAM | Screen: 14-inch 1920×1080 HD IPS display| Storage: 32GB eMMC| Operating System: Chrome OS| Battery Life: up to 11.75 hours| Weight: 3.24 lbs
Picking The Best Cheap Laptop Under $300 In 2021
These days, portable computers come in all shapes, sizes, and configurations. From tiny tablets that fit in the palm of your hand to massive 17” gaming laptops, the options are nearly endless.
If you intended to stay under $300, that reduces your overall number of options, however. At this price, most laptops will run on the smaller side between 11 – 14 inches.
Within that size bracket you can find a wide range of hardware options. From super fast machines with tiny hard drives to slower models with huge storage, you need to prioritize what feature is most important to you.
Do you need the most RAM possible for running multiple programs simultaneously? Would you prefer to go with Windows 10 or with the stripped down Chrome OS?
While it is impossible to find an 8GB or 16GB RAM in this price range, we strive hard to find the biggest RAM that we can find in order to offer a better laptop within this price range.
We found some laptops with 8GB RAM size in the refurbished category and we picked the HP Folio considering it has really great specs and it’s under $300 but we are pretty sure you cannot find any 8GB RAM with this price range in brand new models.
In some cases, you can amp up the RAM size of a laptop given it is supported, and adding or upgrading RAM, storage or into SSD is a cost-effective and won’t add much expense to your initial investment.
The biggest RAM size we manage to find in this price range is 4GB in brand new models and is paired with Celeron processor so you don’t really expect laptops at this price range to be super fast, but they can manage basic tasks.
The bigger the storage the expensive it becomes which is true, almost all storage capacity that we found in this price range is less than 64GB. We manage to find some with more than that and that is surprising.
You can’t expect these laptops to have SSD, yet HP Folio has SSD but it is a refurbished laptop which is a great deal considering the price and spec ratio.
As a budget laptop the storage os this laptop is pretty small, so we recommend you use any cloud-based storage to maximize the internal storage on these devices.
Laptops under $300 price tag typically feature an Intel Core or Intel Celeron processor from i3 to i5. Though there is a Core i7 in this list it is once again a refurbished one and it most likely not to be found on a budget laptop like this on the list.
We found some AMD powered processors and we extremely find it a good deal, considering they are more latest and efficient those older Intel processors.
While these laptop doesn’t have a very powerful processing speed it can handle any basic tasks like social media scrolling, writing, basic office, and bookkeeping tasks. More complex applications require more power so expect some lag and stutters if you used one on these machines.
You really can’t find an ergonomic keyboard or any hybrid keyboard set up for this price range, we picked laptops that have a potentially good keyboard though the best we’ve got is the chocolate style keyboard that is very comfortable and good for typing even in long hours.
Though they don’t have the best keyboard we choose the best and not some clunky keyboards that you’d be pissed off while typing and we found these laptops to have a decent keyboard as well that’s we we include them on the list.
While high-end laptops have some ergonomic keyboard features or magic keyboard like from MacBooks, in the near future we can expect some advancements on the keyboards of some budget-friendly laptop as competition becomes tighter.
Today even a budget-friendly laptop sometimes offers a touchscreen display and detachable keyboards but it mostly sacrifices the processing speed or RAM size so we tend to go for basic screen to maximize the full potential of specs.
Most of the screen size on this list is less than 14” and that is considerable for a laptop that is under $300, though we manage to find an IPS display within this budget which is a pretty good finding.
You may find 15” screen size for under $300 but with old models and old models tend to stop updating so you can’t really say it is worth the investment.
Do I Want A Chromebook?
Within this price range, you are going to have two main considerations. Are you willing to buy a refurbished machine, and do you want a full laptop or a Chromebook with touch screen?
After taking into account if you are willing to save money by going refurbed, the hybrid issue depends entirely on what you do with your computer.
Are you always glued to your phone and love the touch screen style? Do you need something that’s light and easy to carry between classes?
On the other hand, do you prefer more hard drive space for storing photos, music, ebooks, videos, etc.?
Either option can work well for school and work tasks, but hybrids tend to weigh much less and have better battery life.
If you store most of your data online or use your computer primarily for social media, a hybrid is the way to go. If you need large amounts of physical storage space without spending much money, go with a full size laptop instead.
How Much Do I Really Need To Spend On A School Laptop?
The answer to this question entirely depends on how much power you actually need from a portable computer.
Are you primarily just browsing the web and sending emails or writing word docs? Do you need to have dozens of tabs open at once with multiple programs up for editing photos or video?
For basic school projects or word processing / spreadsheet creation at work, a cheap computer with 4GB of RAM gets the job done. For anything more heavy duty than those tasks — or to get faster speed while working — you want to bump up to 8GB.
In most cases, that means spending more than $300. The only exception there is when you can find pre-owned or refurbished machines with higher end specs.
If you find that laptop computers at this price range just don’t offer acceptable speed, try moving up to the $400 – $500 range for the best experience.
What Do I Lose Out On At This Price Range?
When You Have To Stick To A Small Budget, High End Hardware Specs Just Won’t Be Available. Besides Getting Less RAM And A Slower Processor, There Are Other Trade Offs That Will Be Necessary.
When you stay below the $300 threshold, lower screen resolutions will be pretty standard in most models. That won’t matter much for web browsing or word processing, but it can be a pain for gaming or watching Netflix.
Unless you go with a hybrid tablet / laptop crossover such as the Chromebook, don’t expect to get a touch screen model, either. 14 – 15 inch screens will be the norm, with no options available for larger 17 inch models.
With no moving parts and faster boot speeds, solid state drives are now becoming industry standard. They haven’t been adopted yet at the lower price ranges, however.
If you get a portable computer at this low a price, you will likely either get a standard HDD, or at most an SSD with a very small storage capacity. An external disc drive will become a necessity if you don’t upgrade the internal drive.
How Can I Get A Better Experience From Here?
Unquestionably there are many concessions to be made on the hardware side when buying a cheap laptop.
You don’t have to go all the way to the bottom of the barrel, however, and there are options for upgrading later.
Many lower priced laptops feature a secondary RAM slot so you can upgrade from 4GB to 8GB of memory. Swapping out the existing drive with a larger SSD is also easier than you’d think.
In many cases, the upgrade process only requires removing a single screw. With some models the process is a little more intensive, and you may have to pull off the entire bottom cover.
For gamers, there are more upgrade options than just increasing the base specs. Don’t forget about external peripherals!
You can get a better experience by spending a bit more on a high end gaming mouse, headphones, speakers, or an external monitor.
Did you find a budget computer that will work for you in our roundup of the best laptops under $300?
Let us know what you think of our picks and be sure to drop us a line if you’ve seen any better deals. We’re always on the lookout to get the best specs at the lowest price!