Editorâ€™s note: The sudden rise in working from home has created unanticipated demand for laptops. As a result, many models that used to be inexpensive are now pricier. Our list of good buys is shorter as a result, but we still care about your limited budget and want to help you make good choices.Â Â
When youâ€™re looking for a good, cheap laptop, knowledge is power. Every budget machine (which weâ€™re defining as Windows laptops costing $500 or less) is the product of compromiseâ€”corners carefully cut here and there to hit a price point.
Your job is to find the one that checks off the most boxes for your needsâ€”and doesnâ€™t saddle you with features (or lack thereof) that youâ€™ll regret in a year. Weâ€™ll show you what to look for by highlighting which budget laptops among the best-sellers currently listed at Amazon and Best Buy are worth buying.Â We havenâ€™t necessarily tested these specific machines (weâ€™ll let you know if we have), but weâ€™ve seen enough similar ones to have a good idea of the pros and cons. Weâ€™re also focusing on 14-inch and larger laptops, because part of the great deal should be getting a decent-sized display.