The best cheap laptops for 2024, tested and reviewed (2024)

Overview

Best cheap MacBook

Apple Macbook Air (13.3-inch, M2)

Jump to Details

$799.00Best Buy

Best cheap Windows laptop

Lenovo Yoga 7i 14 (Gen 9)

Jump to Details

$899.99Best Buy

Best cheap Microsoft laptop

Microsoft Surface Laptop Go 3

Jump to Details

$649.00Amazon The best cheap laptops for 2024, tested and reviewed (4)

Best cheap Chromebook

HP Chromebook Plus 15.6-inch

Jump to Details

$399.00Best Buy

Best cheap gaming laptop

Acer Nitro V 15

Jump to Details

$899.99Walmart

See 2 More

A how-to series to help kick-start new ventures and hobbies — whether it’s an updated gaming setup, a home gym, or a sparkly new home office. Starter Kit features all of the trusted tech, tools, and guidance you need to start something new.

Table of Contents

When it comes to shopping for the best cheap laptops, you can do a lot with $1,000. (Heck, even $500 cuts some mustard nowadays.) But you'll probably have to make some compromises along the way to stay below that price point.

That doesn't mean you have to settle for a total clunker that doesn't tick any of the boxes on your must-have specs list. It just means you have to shop a little smarter than someone with unlimited funds.

That's where we come in. The Mashable team is constantly reviewing new laptops, and we can recommend several affordable machines for different budgets, operating system loyalties, and use cases based on our hands-on testing.

SEE ALSO:

The best laptops of 2024, tested and reviewed

What is the best cheap laptop?

As of mid-2024, we believe the best cheap MacBook is the 13-inch Apple MacBook Air powered by the previous-generation M2 chip. It's speedy enough for most people, it's got a great keyboard, and it starts at $999 (though it's often on sale for less than $900).

Among Windows laptops, the Lenovo Yoga 7i 14 (Gen 9) is currently the best cheap laptop we've tested. It has a newer processor and a good battery life, it doubles as a tablet, and it comes in at a starting price of $899.99.

Related Stories

  • The best laptops for college students in 2024
  • The best cheap gaming laptops under $1,000 prove you can game on a budget
  • The 5 best laptops under $500 that are actually worth buying
  • The best time of year to buy a Mac, whether you want a MacBook or iMac
  • June's best laptop deals include a record-low M3 MacBook Air and a sub-$200 14-inch Chromebook

Read on to learn more about these picks and some other solid options. FYI: We've listed the pricing and specs of our testing units, which may not apply to each laptop's base model.

MORE:

Best Laptops Under 500Cool Gadgets Great GiftsBest KindlesAll Best Products

Our Pick

The best cheap laptops for 2024, tested and reviewed (8)

Apple Macbook Air (13.3-inch, M2)

Best cheap MacBook

$799.00Best Buy

Read Mashable's full review of the 13-inch Apple MacBook Air (M2).

Who it's for:

Apple's 13-inch M2 MacBook Air from mid-2022 isn't quite as fast as the latest M3 model, and it lacks its successor's support for two external monitors and WiFi 6E. (Get that new version if you want the very best MacBook regardless of price.) But those are easy sacrifices to make if you don't want to spend more than $1,000. All things considered, it's a no-brainer recommendation for budget-conscious Apple users in need of a reliable everyday laptop.

Why we picked this:

The M2 MacBook Air "delivers everything you need" in a laptop, wrote Mashable tech and games reporter Alex Perry in his review. That includes an all-day battery life, a snappy keyboard, and "enough horsepower to handle everyday tasks with ease." It also sports a 1080p FaceTime HD camera that produces a clear picture in low light, plus a four-speaker setup with Spatial Audio and Dolby Atmos support. Despite needing a few more ports, it effortlessly clinched our Mashable's Choice Award —and after a permanent list price drop to $999 in March 2024, it's now a better value than ever. (It technically isn't the cheapest MacBook available, as you can still buy the $699 M1 MacBook Air, but that model's too outdated to endorse at this point.)

Note that Apple has discontinued the M2 MacBook Air in a 15-inch screen size as of early 2024, but it was still up for grabs at third-party retailers like Best Buy and at the time of writing.

The Good

The Bad

Details

GET IT

$799.00Best Buy

Check Amazon

Read Mashable's full review of the Lenovo Yoga 7i 14 (Gen 9).

Who it's for:

Lenovo's Yoga 7i is an affordable point of entry to the realm of AI PCs. It also has an Intel Core Ultra chip for those interested in a next-gen upgrade. Its 2-in-1 design will also entice thrifty shoppers torn between a laptop and a tablet.

Why we picked this:

Hailing from Lenovo's popular Yoga line, this convertible is an understated workhorse. A little boring, sure — the fact that it can flip into tablet and tent modes is probably the most exciting thing about it —but no-nonsense competence has its appeal. "I’m a tab hoarder, and the Yoga 7i 2-in-1 14 was able to handle my crazy daily research antics flawlessly with its Intel Core Ultra 5 125U processor," said Mashable contributor Sarah Chaney. (That's paired with a healthy 16GB of RAM.) Bonus: It doesn't run hot and won't die on you mid-day.

When you get down to nitty-gritty design details, the Yoga 7i feels a little hit or miss. Its keyboard is "well-spaced and enjoyably springy," Chaney wrote, with adjustable backlighting and a built-in Copilot key that pulls up Microsoft's AI assistant. But its trackpad was laggy in testing. Its hybrid form factor gives it versatility, but its hinges aren't super strong and its display is a bit dim. It has a good selection of ports, but we wish its USB-C ports weren't restricted to one side. Still, those cons could be put-up-withable for $900 if all you really care about is excellent performance.

The Good

The Bad

Details

GET IT

$899.99Best Buy

The best cheap laptops for 2024, tested and reviewed (10)

Microsoft Surface Laptop Go 3

Best cheap Microsoft laptop

$649.00Amazon

The best cheap laptops for 2024, tested and reviewed (11)

Read Mashable's full review of the Microsoft Surface Laptop Go 3.

Who it's for:

You can stretch your dollar further with other tech giants, but the 2023 Microsoft Surface Go 3 is a good cheap laptop for brand loyalists and those who want a flashy ultraportable. "I can see this being the daily driver of young students or Gen Z users seeking a laptop that can handle casual usage with style and sophistication," said Mashable tech editor Kim Gedeon.

Why we picked it:

The 12.4-inch Surface Laptop Go 3 is basically a "Windows Air," Gedeon wrote, with a premium build quality that wouldn't seem out of place among Apple's ranks. And don't get her started about its snappy, spiffy keyboard, which she deemed "one of the best I’ve ever used during my entire career as a laptop reviewer."

Alas, its internals are far more underwhelming: Its 12th-generation Intel CPU is now two generations removed in 2024; its battery life clocked in at a mediocre eight-ish hours in our testing; and its dim display carried over from the 2022 Surface Laptop Go 2. But the base model's memory and storage have doubled, at least. It's also frequently on sale at Amazon and Best Buy for at least $100 off its list price, which feels way more reasonable given those specs. (We've seen it get it even cheaper on Black Friday; if you can hold out for a while, its next big discount will probably coincide with Amazon Prime Day in July.)

The Good

The Bad

Details

GET IT

$649.00Amazon The best cheap laptops for 2024, tested and reviewed (12)

$649.99Best Buy

The best cheap laptops for 2024, tested and reviewed (13)

HP Chromebook Plus 15.6-inch

Best cheap Chromebook

$399.00Best Buy

Read Mashable's full review of the HP Chromebook Plus 15.6-inch.

Who it's for:

HP's Chromebook Plus 15.6-inch is a bottom-of-the-budget laptop geared toward Google-based productivity and casual entertainment. It makes build quality concessions that can take some getting used to, but overall, the price is right for basic cloud-based multitasking.

Why we picked this:

The Chromebook Plus 15.6-inch is a sleek big-screened laptop from Google's next generation of ChromeOS laptops that comes in at only $499. It certainly feels that cheap in some ways (see: its stiff keyboard, poor audio quality, and questionable durability), and its battery life sucks, but its solid performance and spacious, vibrant anti-glare display go a long way to nullify those drawbacks. It's also equipped with some useful AI tools you won't find in non-"Plus" Chromebooks, including a File Sync tool and Google Photos Magic Eraser. "It's unfair to compare a Chromebook to other kinds of laptops," to quote my extended review, "but as a lifelong MacBook user, I feel compelled to admit that I was pleasantly surprised by how much I enjoyed using this laptop."

It's worth mentioning that while the Chromebook Plus 15.6-inch is a great value, it isn't the absolute best value of the Chromebook Plus bunch. (We'll be reviewing more of them in the near future.) You're not a sucker if you pay its $500 list price, but look for it on sale for around $400 at Best Buy if you can wait.

The Good

The Bad

Details

GET IT

$399.00Best Buy

Related Stories

  • The best laptops for college students in 2024
  • The best cheap gaming laptops under $1,000 prove you can game on a budget
  • The 5 best laptops under $500 that are actually worth buying
  • The best time of year to buy a Mac, whether you want a MacBook or iMac
  • June's best laptop deals include a record-low M3 MacBook Air and a sub-$200 14-inch Chromebook

The best cheap laptops for 2024, tested and reviewed (14)

Acer Nitro V 15

Best cheap gaming laptop

$899.99Walmart

Read Mashable's full review of the Acer Nitro V 15.

Who it's for:

Gedeon put things succinctly in her review: "If you're just looking for a gaming laptop that ditches all the bells and whistles for impressive gaming performance, the [Acer] Nitro V 15 is the one for you."

Why we picked this:

The Mashable's Choice Award-winning Nitro V 15 is all about power, power, power —and while it strains the definition of "cheap," we do think it's the best budget gaming laptop under $1,000. The model we tested is "packed with delicious internals that can handle triple-A gaming," said Gedeon, including a 13th-gen Intel Core i7 H-series processor for desktop-level brawn and nice NVIDIA GeForce RTX 4050 graphics. She found it capable of running Cyberpunk 2077, "one of the most graphics-intensive games on the market, like a champ."

Unsurprisingly, Acer has made some noteworthy trade-offs to offer that level of oomph at this price point, namely in the realms of display quality (it's not bright or vivid) and extra fixings (there's no RGB keyboard or 1080p webcam). Its pathetically short battery life also means it'll set up permanent shop on your desk — preferably with a microfiber cloth at the ready nearby, as it clings to fingerprints with a passion.

The Good

The Bad

Details

GET IT

$899.99Walmart

$899.99Acer

The best cheap laptops for 2024, tested and reviewed (15)

Acer Chromebook 516 GE

Best cheap cloud gaming laptop

$448.99Best Buy

Note: Google recently announced the new Acer Chromebook Plus 516 GE, which is effectively the same laptop with a newer processor, a darker finish, and some new Gemini AI tools. We'll test it soon.

Who it's for:

The Acer Chromebook 516 GE (the "GE" stands for "gaming edition") is a budget-friendly beaut for gamers who are tired of trying to keep up with new titles' fancy hardware requirements, as well as those who frequently play on the go — it's pretty light for a PC gaming machine. However, a reliable internet connection and an outlet are musts.

Why we picked this:

Gaming Chromebooks (or cloud gaming laptops) are a relatively new species of budget gaming laptop, and the Chromebook 516 GE was one of the first models to hit the market back in late 2022. It kicked off the genre on a high note: It has plenty of ports, a 1080p webcam, an anti-ghosting RGB keyboard, and a quality (not cheap-feeling) build, said Mashable lead shopping reporter Dylan Haas.

It also performed shockingly well in our testing; while there was some expected fidelity loss, the games Haas streamed never once lagged or stuttered —including Cyberpunk 2077. But "[the] real showstopper is the laptop's display," he wrote. "[The] 16-inch, 1600p screen looks fantastic and boasts clear, bright, and vibrant colors." It would be nice if Acer bumped its battery life a bit, though: Six hours per charge is fantastic if you're talking about a regular gaming laptop that plays natively, but it's less impressive for a cloud-based machine that uses far less power.

The Good

The Bad

Details

GET IT

$448.99Best Buy

The best cheap laptops for 2024, tested and reviewed (16)

Framework Laptop 13

Best long-term value

$1,049.00Framework

Note: We'll soon review the next-gen Framework Laptop 16, which is now available for purchase.

Read Mashable's review of the Framework Laptop (2021).

Who it's for:

The 2023 Framework Laptop 13 is a bit of an investment upfront, but its modular design translates to long-term savings for users who like to upgrade their specs every few years. Even if you lack DIY wizardry, the learning curve involved isn't too intimidating.

Why we picked this:

Unlike many consumer laptops, which have soldered-on parts, the Framework Laptop 13 has fully replaceable and repairable components. So, instead of buying another brand-new machine when your processor, RAM, storage, keyboard, or display conk out, you can simply Frankenstein in a different part —a great way to save money in the long run.

The best part is that almost anyone can do this: "It's with the tech coward's perspective that I am happy to report the Framework Laptop is nothing short of an industrial design miracle for newcomers," wrote Mashable's Perry, who tested an older version. If you feel a little more confident in your computer-tweaking abilities, consider the fully customizable DIY Edition (which starts at $849) instead of the pre-built model.

The Good

The Bad

Details

GET IT

$1,049.00Framework

TopicsAppleMicrosoftGadgets

How we tested

Mashable staff tested all of the laptops in this guide (we tried a previous version of the Framework Laptop 13). At minimum, this involved inspecting their build quality and using them for a variety of real-world tasks for several weeks at a time. We worked with different kinds of documents, checked emails, watched videos, took photos on their webcams, participated in video calls, listened to music (via Spotify), played games (if possible), and experimented with any unique software features or use cases they claimed to support.

Additionally, we ran industry-standard benchmark software testing on a handful of the newer laptops featured here (specifically the Lenovo Yoga 7i 14, the Microsoft Surface Laptop Go 3, the HP Chromebook Plus 15.6-inch, and the Acer Nitro V 15). We recently started implementing these benchmarks in our testing, and you can expect to see them in all of our new laptop reviews going forward:

Performance benchmarks

We evaluate the overall performance of our testing units by putting them through the pertinent version of Primate Labs' Geekbench 6. (We use the Windows version for Windows laptops, including gaming laptops, and Android for Chromebooks.) This test measures CPU performance in a handful of common tasks, and we record the resulting multi-core scores. The higher the score, the better.

To get a sense of gaming laptops' graphical prowess, we also play Cyberpunk 2077 on them. If they had a discrete/dedicated NVIDIA GeForce RTX graphics card (as opposed to an integrated GPU that's built into the CPU), we do this once with its DLSS tech off and again with DLSS on. This tests their raw GPU power and their performance with AI upscaling, respectively. We follow this up with 3DMark's Time Spy benchmark for gaming PCs and record their scores. Again, higher is better.

Battery life benchmarks

To find the laptops with the best battery life, we assess our loaners' stamina by having them run battery benchmarks. We look to see about nine to ten hours of battery life in the Windows laptops we test, for reference, with over 12 hours being exceptional. Gaming laptops are a different story: They only need to last at least two hours per charge to get our approval. (They earn extra brownie points for reaching the four-hour mark.) Meanwhile, eight hours is our baseline for Chromebooks, and nine to ten hours is the ideal.

We used UL Solutions' PCMark 10 battery life stress test on the Surface Laptop Go and the Acer Nitro V 15, and Principled Technologies' CrXPRT 2 battery life test on the Chromebook Plus 15.6-inch. Both tests ran a series of apps and functions until the laptop conked out.

On the Yoga 7i, we conducted a video rundown test that involved playing a looped 1080p version of Tears of Steel, a short open-source Blender movie, at 50 percent brightness. Going forward, we will only be using this rundown method to test laptop battery life.

After evaluating each model's performance in these tests, we made our final recommendations based on whether they offered a good overall value for the money. For the purposes of this guide, we defined a "cheap laptop" as one that costs less than $1,000. We made a lone exception to this rule for the Framework Laptop 13 ($1,049): It requires a bigger upfront investment, but it'll save you money on repair and replacement costs for years to come.

Finally, it should be noted that these aren't the only cheap laptops we've tried — we're constantly testing and assessing new models across different categories, and many don't make the final cut. With that in mind, you can expect this guide to evolve on a pretty continuous basis. We're always on the lookout for new top pick contenders.

Frequently Asked Questions

Certain times of the year are better for laptop shopping than others. If you're looking for a good deal on a laptop, we recommend buying around Black Friday, during back-to-school season (with a close watch on Amazon's Prime Day sale), and over long holiday weekends. If you're just after brand-new models with the latest specs, bargains be damned, you'll see them hitting the market in January and February after the Consumer Electronics Show (CES).

For more intel and buying tips, check out our guide to when you should buy a laptop.

The best cheap laptops for 2024, tested and reviewed (17)

Haley Henschel

Senior Shopping Reporter

Haley Henschel is a Chicago-based Senior Shopping Reporter at Mashable who reviews and finds deals on popular tech, from laptops to gaming consoles and VPNs. She has years of experience covering shopping holidays and can tell you what’s actually worth buying on Black Friday and Amazon Prime Day. Her work has also explored the driving forces behind digital trends within the shopping sphere, from dupes to 12-foot skeletons.

Haley received a B.A. in Journalism from the University of Wisconsin-Madison and honed her sifting and winnowing skills at The Daily Cardinal. She previously covered politics for The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, investigated exotic pet ownership for Wisconsin Watch, and blogged for some of your favorite reality stars.

In her free time, Haley enjoys playing video games, drawing, taking walks on Lake Michigan, and spending time with her parrot (Melon) and dog (Pierogi). She really, really wants to get back into horseback riding. You can follow her on X at@haleyhenschelor reach her via email at[emailprotected].

Prime Day Deals

All Prime Day Coverage

  • Prime Day laptop deals: Two gems aside, your shopping cart can stay empty for now
  • Shop the best tablet deals ahead of Prime Day 2024
  • Best early Prime Day Apple deals: Every pair of AirPods is down to a new record low price
  • Unlocked phone deals are limited to Motorola a week before Prime Day
  • Robot vacuum deals at Amazon are booming pre-Prime Day
  • Prime Day Echo deals: the Amazon smart home devices are falling to record-low prices
  • Some invite-only deals are live ahead of Prime Day 2024
  • Walmart's new Prime Day-rivaling sale is already much better than Walmart+ Week
  • All AirPods just dropped to their lowest price ever ahead of Prime Day
  • A Best Buy sale during Prime Day? Almost definitely.
  • The best noise-cancelling headphone deals live ahead of Prime Day
  • There are already some great discounts on 2-in-1 laptops ahead of Amazon Prime Day
  • Lots of wireless earbuds from top brands are on sale ahead of Prime Day
  • You should probably wait to get a Fire Tablet until Prime Day starts, but there are a few on sale ahead of the big event
  • Bluetooth speaker deals are heating up ahead of Prime Day
  • Early Kindle deals you can get ahead of Prime Day 2024
  • Prime Day Chromebook deals are already going strong — check out our top picks
  • AirPods deals just upped the ante for early Prime Day headphones and speakers deals
  • A few popular MacBook models are already discounted ahead of Prime Day
  • Samsung and Apple are leading the list of early Prime Day fitness tracker deals
  • Using Affirm on Amazon: How to buy now, pay later this Prime Day
  • Amazon Prime Day is just around the corner — here's how to find the best deals
  • Prime Day: 11 things you should buy, and 3 to avoid
  • Preparing an Amazon wishlist ahead of Prime Day can save you serious time (and money)
  • Amazon just announced the exact dates of Prime Day 2024

Prime Day

How to use Apple Pay on Amazon ahead of Prime Day 2024

Opt for Apple Pay as your go-to payment method for a seamless shopping experience on Prime Day.

By Impu Sehgal

Amazon TV deals ahead of Prime Day are actually pretty good

This selection of cheap QLEDs is begging you to stop settling for your 2018 LED.

By Leah Stodart

Prime Day 2024: 5 must-shop product categories

If you haven't made a shopping plan yet, we're here to help.

By Alex Humphreys

Prime Day 2024 is coming: Here are the best early deals you can already shop

In true Amazon fashion, plenty of deals are already available.

By Mashable Shopping Team

The best early Prime Day AirTag deal isn't from Amazon

Find savings, then find your things

By Samantha Mangino

Recommended For You

Buy an LG Gram laptop and get a free portable projector

Stream your favorite content anywhere you go.

By Brittany Vincent

The Lenovo Yoga Slim 7x is available for pre-order

Lenovo is coming for Apple with this new laptop.

By Tabitha Britt

Bring home a new computer during the Lenovo Memorial Day Sale

Save hundreds off some of Lenovo's best discounted laptops and PCs.

By Brittany Vincent

Run, don't walk: The 13-inch M3 MacBook Air is $150 off at Amazon

This is the lowest price we've seen yet.

By Tabitha Britt

The AI-powered HP OmniBook X laptop is available to pre-order — here's where to get one

Sorry, did you say 26 hours of battery life?

By Dylan Haas

More in Tech

Our favorite tech gifts for the gadget-loving set

These are the gifts you dream about.

By Leah Stodart , Miller Kern , and Timothy Beck Werth

The best gifts under $50 that are great for absolutely everyone

Yes, it's possible to give them something they'll love without obliterating your budget.

By Mashable Shopping

Momfluencer Cathy Pedrayes picks her top Walmart back-to-school essentials

Fun, functionality, and a bit of flair in 12 items.

By Mashable BrandX and Walmart

Throw a hit summer party with these 9 essentials from Walmart

Nab these rad Walmart deals for your 4th of July festivities, and beyond.

By Mashable BrandX and Walmart

Withings Body Comp smart scale review: For better or worse, I'm obsessed

This smart scale helped me actually stick to a fitness plan.

By Amanda Yeo

The biggest stories of the day delivered to your inbox.

This newsletter may contain advertising, deals, or affiliate links. Subscribing to a newsletter indicates your consent to our Terms of Use and Privacy Policy. You may unsubscribe from the newsletters at any time.

Thanks for signing up. See you at your inbox!

The best cheap laptops for 2024, tested and reviewed (2024)
Top Articles
Latest Posts
Article information

Author: Kerri Lueilwitz

Last Updated:

Views: 5799

Rating: 4.7 / 5 (47 voted)

Reviews: 94% of readers found this page helpful

Author information

Name: Kerri Lueilwitz

Birthday: 1992-10-31

Address: Suite 878 3699 Chantelle Roads, Colebury, NC 68599

Phone: +6111989609516

Job: Chief Farming Manager

Hobby: Mycology, Stone skipping, Dowsing, Whittling, Taxidermy, Sand art, Roller skating

Introduction: My name is Kerri Lueilwitz, I am a courageous, gentle, quaint, thankful, outstanding, brave, vast person who loves writing and wants to share my knowledge and understanding with you.