The Best Budget Laptops for 2022

These low-cost Windows laptops and Chromebooks can handle everyday computing (and sometimes more) with aplomb, and many ring up under $500.

00:00 Introduction
01:15 Best Budget Laptop for Most People: Lenovo IdeaPad 3 14
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02:42 Best Budget 2-in-1: Lenovo IdeaPad 5i 14 (2021)
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04:38 Best Budget Detachable 2-in-1: Microsoft Surface Go 3
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06:38 Best Budget Gaming Laptop: MSI Katana GF66
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08:20 Best Chromebook: Acer Chromebook Spin 514
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09:57 Best Budget Laptop for Kids: Dell Chromebook 11 (3100)
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11:27 Outro

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– Sometimes, it feels like every laptop That tech reviewers or
salespeople recommend Ring up for a thousand bucks or more. And hey, that’s fine, if
you have that kind of money To spend on a top-end
laptop or gaming notebook. Here at PCMag, We review more than a
hundred laptops each year. And we know that it’s
not always that simple. Tight budgets are a real thing. And sometimes, performance
that’s simply good enough Is available for a lot less money – If you know what you’re looking for. That’s where we come in. Plenty of capable Windows
laptops and Chromebooks Can give you all of the
functionality you need Often for less than $500 or $600. Sure, you’ll have to give up
some of the latest new features Or take a step down in build quality, But making the right trade off Can get you a great performance
and save you a lot of money. Now, let’s be real. We can’t find you a powerful 4K gaming rig Or the latest Apple laptop. That’s not what we’re about in this video. But if you need an affordable
and capable Windows machine, Or a well-made Chromebook for
web browsing or schoolwork, We’ve got you covered. We’ll even show you our favorite
affordable gaming laptop, And some 2-in-1 convertible models, That are a laptop and a tablet
in one flexible machine. So let’s take a look At the six best budget
laptops we’ve tested. For the best budget
laptop, for most people, We love the Lenovo IdeaPad 3 14,

Which you can find in
configurations for less than $600. This 14 inch Windows laptop
delivers great performance In a surprisingly sleek and sturdy design. Yes, it’s plastic, not metal, But the chassis is rigid
and doesn’t feel cheap. It comes dressed up in a
subtle dark blue color, And looks better than your
average low cost laptop. And it performs as well as it looks. You get a six core AMD
Ryzen five 5500U processor That delivered strong results In our PCLab’s productivity test, And can do a decent job
with content creation work. With enough performance
for day to day work, And even some low-end
multimedia capability, This 14 inch laptop punches
well above its weight. It also has a great selection of ports. You get a USB-C port, an SD
card slot, an HDMI output, And an integrated fingerprint scanner. And that’s a surprisingly robust selection For a budget laptop. On top of that, the comfortable keyboard And responsive touch
pad are a real treat. Now, the IdeaPad 3 14 isn’t perfect. The display is a bit dull,
and the sound is so-so. And you get less memory and storage Than you’d find in a
more expensive system. But you can solve most of those issues With a pair of headphones
and an external drive. And for less than 600 bucks, We’ll put up with a less
than perfect display. There are two kinds of laptop
2-in-1 convertibles; The kind whose screen rotates 360 degrees And becomes a tablet, And the kind where the keyboard
detaches from the screen.

This is the kind that rotates. The Lenovo Ideapad Flex 5i 14 Is our favorite budget 2-in-1 laptop That doesn’t pull apart into two pieces. Prices for this affordable 14 inch model Start in the mid five hundreds. And it’s a pretty great
pick for the price, With a choice of Intel or AMD processors, A 14 inch touch screen,
and a 360 degree hinge, It’s our Editor’s Choice
for affordable convertibles. Now, a 14 inch screen is
especially good for laptop use; Since you get enough
display panel to multitask Without the compromises
of a smaller display. Lenovo also offers an
optional pen for the Flex 5i, In case note taking and
sketching are your thing. And the laptop’s keyboard
offers solid typing comfort. The touch pad could be a little bigger, But we were impressed that Lenovo includes A fingerprint reader That offers convenient
password-free logins. The ports are also a nice mix; With two USB 3.0 ports, a USB Type-C, An HDMI output, and an SD card slot. The unit we tested Had an 11th generation
Intel Core i5 processor, With 16 gigabytes of RAM, Which gets you through everyday
productivity performance That is equal to 2-in-1 systems That often cost much more. Plus, with nearly 13 hours of
battery life in our testing, That solid performance
should last through the day. Now, the IdeaPad Flex
is not a gaming laptop. Intel’s Iris Xe built-in graphics Are better than earlier Intel graphics,

But they are no match for
a dedicated graphics chip From NVIDIA or AMD. Still, the Lenovo IdeaPad
Flex 5i 14 is a capable, Well-engineered convertible laptop, And you get excellent bang for your buck For most other uses. If you want a proper tablet, While still getting a
capable Windows machine, You have no doubt considered
Microsoft’s Surface Pro family. Those Pro Windows tablets are a bit bigger Than say an Apple iPad, And they aren’t really budget models. If you’re willing to look
at a little smaller though, Microsoft’s Surface Go 3 Is a sized-down detachable
Windows 2-in-1, That will work well for most folks. It’s the affordable entry
point to the Surface family. The Go 3 has a distinctive
Surface tablet design, Complete with a built-in kickstand And an optional keyboard cover. Prices start at around $399 For the most basic model
without a keyboard included, And at that price level, It competes against
Chromebooks and the Apple iPad; Not against higher Windows
laptops and the Apple iPad Pro, Like Microsoft’s bigger
Surface Pro models do. The combination of Microsoft’s
refined fine tablet design And its detachable keyboard
pairs nicely with Windows 11 To deliver a compelling
productivity experience. Now, the Surface Go 3 isn’t a powerhouse. In our benchmark test, We saw the Surface Go 3
fall behind pricier tablets, Like the Surface Pro in
general productivity task And graphics performance.

The Surface Go 3 is far more affordable Than its Surface Pro siblings; But the trade off is that
lesser level of performance. And in true Microsoft fashion, The type cover keyboard sells separately; Bumping up the overall price by $100, So make sure that you factor that in. You’ll probably want to get a keyboard. The Surface Go 3 is a good
value in other ways, though. The screen is bright and vivid, And you get a high resolution
1080p webcam with Windows 11 For logging in via facial recognition. The 1080p camera is a very good thing If you do lots of video calling. And the battery life
should take you through A full day of work or school. If you want a Windows 11 tablet
that fits a tight budget, The Surface Go 3 is a great
and affordable place to start. The most expensive model by far In this rundown of budget
laptops is our gaming pick, MSI’s Katana GF66. But it’s all about context. The Katana is a gaming laptop, Which means it comes outfitted
with a discrete graphics card And high refresh rate display. Those things simply bump up the price. You don’t see those things
on laptops very often For less than $800 or $900. In this case, the Katana we
tested was in the low thousands, But it’s tricked out With an 11th generation
Intel Core i7 processor, 16 gigabytes of RAM, and NVIDIA’s
GeForce RTX 3060 graphics. That puts it on the low
end of gaming laptops, But it’s no slouch.

You’ll get solid frame rates
in current AAA game titles. And the screen is a 1080p 144Hz panel, Which means that you’ll
enjoy ultra smooth action In decent detail as well. Though our test model
was a little over $1,000, Even the base model of the Katana Will still offer a gaming grade graphics And processing power, and it
sells for just about $799. If you want to splurge out
for the model we tested, Expect a spacious one
terabyte solid state drive, Speedy Wi-Fi 6 connectivity,
and a basic 15 inch display. Overall, you get a surprising
amount of playability That’s just portable
enough to take on the go. Just don’t forget your charger, Since the Katana barely hit four hours In our battery rundown test. And you’ll need the plug for gaming, Which will drain it even faster than that. Sure, we’d love a brighter display, But gaming performance is
rarely this affordable, Making the Katana the
best budget gaming laptop We’ve reviewed so far this year. Now, if you really want to save a buck, It’s hard to beat a Chromebook. By ditching Windows, But giving you a full suite
of online productivity apps, Google’s Chrome operating
system is perfect For all sorts of basic work, Whether it’s in an office, at home, Or in a school environment, So long as you can do it in a browser. The Acer Chromebook Spin 514 Is our favorite affordable Chromebook, Thanks to its flexible 2-in-1 design

And perky AMD processor. Plus, you get more memory and storage Than with most
budget-friendly Chromebooks. The Spin 514 is also
surprisingly well built. The chassis is sturdy aluminum With military standard protection Against road hazards like shock, Vibration and environmental extremes, Making it perfect for taking on the go. It’s a 2-in-1 design Like the Lenovo Flex we mentioned earlier. And you get some unexpected nice touches, Like really thin bezels
around the 1080p touch screen Which is protected by Gorilla Glass. Plus, it has a snazzy backlit keyboard. The ports are also really
good for a Chromebook; With dual USB Type-C
ports, one USB Type-A port, An HDMI output and a microSD card slot. Even better, the Spin 514
lasted almost 11 hours In our battery test, Meaning you may be able to
leave its power adapter at home. Now some of the cut corners
in the low cost machine Are things you would expect, Like the use of flash memory, Instead of a proper solid state drive, And Wi-Fi 5 instead of the newer Wi-Fi 6. But this 2-in-1
Chromebook is as versatile As it is affordable. Chromebooks aren’t entirely
for kids these days. But if you’re buying a
Chromebook for a young student, It’s hard to beat the Dell Chromebook 11. When it comes to budget laptops, This Chromebook is one of
the most rugged we’ve seen, Making it as kid-proof
as it is kid-friendly.

Like the Acer Spin 514
we just talked about, This unit runs Google’s lightweight
Chrome operating system, And it’s ideal for the classroom. It has a ruggedized design for the rough And tumble life of a laptop
that’s thrown in backpacks And used in lunchrooms. Dell even offers a pretty
a reasonable warranty plan That covers accidental damage; Giving you peace of mind
as you send the Chromebook Off to school with your youngster. Now, before you think of
getting one for yourself, too, Know that the 11 inch screen
may be small for an adult. But the keyboard and
chassis offer plenty of room For smaller hands to type on. And the keyboard is even spill resistant. And while the display’s
1366 by 768 resolution May not be great for Netflix, It’s fine for the screen size And well suited for
reading Wikipedia articles And typing up essays. You won’t want to use this Chromebook 11 For a lot more than that, Since inside is a basic
Intel Celeron processor And just 16 gigabytes
of local flash storage. This is a machine built for
homework and classrooms; Not gaming and serious entertainment. But the no frills design also means That this rugged kid-proof
laptop sells for a song, Making it one of the most
affordable systems we’ve reviewed. So there you have it; Our favorite budget
laptops so far in 2022. Whether you need a
great performing laptop, A capable 2-in-1, an
affordable gaming machine, Or a Chromebook for you or your kids,

One of these will serve you well At a price you’ll be happy with. Check out for detailed
reviews and test results Of all these laptops and many more. Thanks for watching.

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