Best Laptop for the Money in 2017

best-laptop-2017

With literally thousands of laptops to choose from, finding the best laptop to buy can be daunting, to say the least.

We spent nearly 40 hours searching for the best laptop of 2017 that you can buy in each price range.

We’ve compiled this list to help you take the guesswork out of purchasing your next laptop computer.

Laptops Under $200.00

You can’t really expect much when you’re shopping for a laptop that costs less than $200.

What you’re going to find is a computer that can accomplish minor tasks like surfing the web and checking email, at best.

You should definitely be able to watch videos, but don’t expect to do any heavy multitasking or gaming.

Our Top 3 Picks

ThumbnailLaptopScreenCPURAMStorage 
hp-14-an013nr-thumbHP 14-an013nr14”AMD E24GB32GB SSDcheck-price
acer-chromebook-cb3-131-c3sz-thumbAcer Chromebook CB3-131-C3SZ11.6”Celeron N28402GB16GB SSDcheck-price
asus-e200ha-ub02-gd-thumbASUS E200HA-UB02-GD11.6”ATOM Z83504GB32GB SSDcheck-price

HP 14-an013nr Review

HP 14-an013nr
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The HP 14-an013nr has an AMD E2-7110 QC 1.8GHz quad-core processor, 4GB of DDR3 RAM, a 32GB SSD, and a 14 inch Full HD IPS display.

It has the latest 802.11 A/C WiFi technology, a USB 3.0 port, Ethernet port, VGA (D-SUB) port, and even an HDMI port.

It is the only laptop in our under $200 group with a 14 inch display, which makes it more of an actual laptop and less of a netbook/sub-notebook like the other two.

Pros

  • Decent build quality for the price.
  • RAM can easily be upgraded to 8GB for even better performance.
  • Battery can be replaced, unlike other inexpensive models.
  • Full size HDMI port, no adapter or special cable necessary.

Cons

  • Glossy screen has lots of reflection and glare. Best for indoor use only.
  • Not as lightweight and portable as the other sub-$200 models.
 

Acer Chromebook CB3-131-C3SZ Review

Acer Chromebook CB3-131-C3SZ
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The Acer Chromebook CB3-131-C3SZ has an Intel Celeron N2840 processor clocked at 2.16GHz, 2GB of DDR3 RAM, 16 GB of SSD storage, and an 11.6″ IPS display with Intel HD graphics.

Unlike a traditional PC, this model is a Chromebook that runs on ChromeOS. This is NOT a Windows PC.

This laptop was built to run in the cloud, so a fast internet connection is a must to get the most out of this computer.

Pros

  • Textured aluminum case feels nice, dissipates heat, and won’t show fingerprints.
  • Build quality is on point for the price.
  • IPS display is bright with vivid colors and dark blacks.
  • Loud speakers that you can actually hear. Great for watching videos.

Cons

  • Not recommended for a power user. If you tend to use a lot of tabs and browser plugins you will need a laptop with more RAM.
  • ChromeOS is more limited than a traditional Windows PC and there is a small learning curve.
 

ASUS E200HA-UB02-GD

ASUS E200HA-UB02-GD
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The ASUS E200HA-UB02-GD has an Intel ATOM Z8350 quad-core processor running at 1.44GHz, 4GB DDR3 RAM, 32GB of eMMC storage, and an 11.6″ display.

It has integrated 802.11 A/C WiFi, USB 3.0, and a battery that is rated for up to 13 hours of continuous video playback.

It is a small laptop but features a full-size chiclet keyboard and a large trackpad.

Pros

  • Lightweight and portable, yet powerful enough to multitask and be productive.
  • Best keyboard and trackpad you will find in this price range.
  • Good speakers that you can actually hear. You won’t have to grab your headphones every time you want to watch a movie or your favorite TV show.
  • USB 3.0 port makes adding additional storage extremely easy.

Cons

  • Not recommended for tabaholics that multitask constantly. You will need a laptop with a more powerful processor.
  • Very limited storage space, although connecting an external hard drive or USB memory stick to the USB 3.0 port is a good option.
 

Laptops Under $250.00

The $200-$250 category has some of the most popular “cheap laptops” you can find.

Love it or hate it, the infamous HP Stream is worth considering and the only PC in our Top 3 Picks.

The Acer Chromebook is a great choice for a larger desktop replacement Chromebook and the ASUS C201 is one of the nicest 11.6″ Chromebook models of all time.

Our Top 3 Picks

ThumbnailLaptopScreenCPURAMStorage 
HP Stream 14-ax010nr14”Celeron N30604GB32GB eMMC
Acer Chromebook 15 CB5-571-C1DZ15.6”Celeron 3205U4GB16GB SSD
ASUS C20111.6”RockChip4GB16GB SSD

HP Stream 14-ax010nr Review

HP Stream 14-ax010nr
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The HP Stream 14-ax010nr is like a netbook on steroids. What it lacks in processing power it makes up for in connectivity and functionality.

It is equipped with a Celeron N3060 processor, 4GB of RAM, 32GB of eMMC storage, and a 14 inch SVA bright-view WLED LCD.

Unlike most inexpensive laptops, the 14-ax010nr has three USB ports. Two of the USB ports are USB 3.1 Gen 1 and the third port is a standard USB 2.0 port. It also has a full size HDMI port and a media reader slot.

Pros

  • Full size SD card slot, not micro SD. Micro SD cards can be accessed with an adapter.
  • Very lightweight and quiet.
  • Works well for basic tasks like surfing the web and watching YouTube videos.

Cons

  • Very limited amount of storage. You will only have about 13 GB free when you first turn it on.
  • Not meant for heavy multitasking or advanced applications like Photoshop or video editing software.
 

Acer Chromebook 15 CB5-571-C1DZ Review

Acer Chromebook 15 CB5-571-C1DZ
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The Acer Chromebook 15 CB5-571-C1DZ is arguably one of the nicest Chromebooks available on the market, at a price that’s only slightly above the cheapest laptops available online.

It has a dual-core Celeron 3205U processor with the Broadwell micro-architecture that clocks at 1.5GHz, 4GB RAM, 16GB of SSD storage, and a compelling 15.6″ Full HD IPS display.

A windows PC with these specifications could easily cost $100+ more. The display alone makes this Chromebook an excellent choice and a solid recommendation in the $250 and below category.

Pros

  • Largest IPS display available for any Chromebook on the market. Feels like a “real” laptop and could easily replace a desktop computer.
  • Speakers are on top of the keyboard and sound great. They are loud, clear and don’t have a metallic resonance that you might find in other cheap laptops.
  • The battery charges super fast. You could go from 50% to 100% charge in less than an hour.
  • The keyboard is quite comfortable to use and the trackpad is large.

Cons

  • This is the largest Chromebook on the market. Big screen = big case. Not exactly a laptop you could just throw in your purse or a small backpack like those models with a tiny 11.6″ screen.
  • Battery is definitely not going to last 9 hours as advertised. You will probably get closer to 6 hours of use with some light web browsing and YouTube video watching.
 

ASUS C201 Review

ASUS C201
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The ASUS C201 is an excellent choice if you’re looking for a high-quality Chromebook that’s extremely lightweight and portable.

It has a RockChip CPU, 4GB of RAM, 16 GB of SSD storage, an 11.6″ HD display, and up to 13 hours of battery life.

Once again, this is a Chromebook so it won’t behave the same as a traditional Windows PC would. However, Chromebooks do have several advantages in terms of speed, security and updates.

You will want a fast internet connection to take full advantage of this little laptop. Built-in 802.11 A/C WiFi ensures a blazing connection to the cloud where available.

Pros

  • An extremely inexpensive option for those who only use their computers to surf the web and watch videos.
  • Vivid, bright LCD display. Perfect for consuming media.
  • High quality construction from ASUS, one of the most respected names in the industry.

Cons

  • No CAPS LOCK button by default. You can use a key mapper to assign this duty to another key. (There’s really no reason to shout anyway)
  • Will not run traditional Windows applications but will run anything available in the Chrome store.
 

Laptops Under $300.00

Once you hit the $250-$300 price range you start to see the tip of the ice burg in terms of quality and performance.

These laptops are all well made and have enough power for the average user, although they are probably not quite powerful enough for power users who use complex applications like CAD or video editing software.

Our Top 3 Picks

ThumbnailLaptopScreenCPURAMStorage 
Acer Aspire ES 1515.6”Core i3-6100U4GB1TB
HP 14-an090nr14”AMD E2-7110 APU4GB500 GB
Acer Chromebook 14 Aluminum14”Celeron N31604GB32GB

Acer Aspire ES 15 Review

Acer Aspire ES 15
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The Acer Aspire ES 15 is a really great value overall. It has plenty of power with a 6th gen Intel Core i3-6100U processor and 4GB of RAM.

The 1TB 5400 RPM hard drive will provide a lot of storage, although the slow speed of the hard drive will be somewhat of a bottleneck for hardcore power users.

It has a 15.6″ CineCrystal LED backlit LCD at a resolution of 1366×768 pixels.

At just an inch thick and weighing in at just over five pounds, this laptop is slim and portable without being bulky like other 15.6″ laptops.

Pros

  • The somewhat underrated Core i3 processor runs very cool and barely requires the fan to run while providing plenty of power for multitasking.
  • Has two SODIMM slots with a system maximum of 16 GB of RAM. You could buy a 16GB (8GBx2) kit and maximize system RAM easily for even better multitasking performance.
  • Slow mechanical hard drive could be easily replaced with an SSD to speed up the operating system and applications.
  • Chiclet keyboard is very robust. It has a solid feel and a quality build. Trackpad is also very large, maybe even too large for some people.

Cons

  • While the display is adequate, it’s definitely the Achilles Tendon of this machine. It won’t exactly be winning any awards for quality, but it does the job.
  • Slow 5400 RPM mechanical hard drive. Could be replaced but will cost you extra.
 

HP 14-an090nr Review

HP 14-an090nr
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The HP 14-an090nr is an excellent choice if you’re not interested in a large, 15.6″ laptop. The slightly smaller screen makes a world of difference when it comes to the overall footprint of this machine.

This notebook computer has an AMD quad-core E2-7110 APU, 4GB RAM, 500GB of 5400 RPM SATA storage, and a 14″ WLED-backlit LCD display with a 1366×768 resolution.

If you look on Amazon, there is also an option to get this same laptop with 32 GB eMMC storage at a much lower price. If you don’t need a lot of storage for music, videos and pictures, the smaller eMMC drive will load your operating system and applications much faster.

Pros

  • The display is bright and vivid. Great for watching movies and TV shows.
  • Lightweight and runs quiet. It is very portable and you’ll hardly know that it’s running.

Cons

  • The case on this laptop is a fingerprint magnet. It will always look a little greasy and smudged unless you clean it constantly.
  • The case is primarily made of plastic and doesn’t feel as solid as other devices.
 

Acer Chromebook 14 Aluminum Review

Acer Chromebook 14 Aluminum
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I had to sneak this Acer Chromebook 14 with aluminum chassis into the list, based on how popular it is alone.

This is the latest generation Chromebook 14 from Acer that comes with a lot of nice upgrades from the previous version.

This new model has a quad-core Intel Celeron N3160 processor that clocks in at 1.6GHz and bursts to 2.24GHz in turbo mode.

It has 4GB of system RAM and 32GB of eMMC storage. The display is 14″ of Full HD IPS glory that is LED-backlit.

The most significant improvement is the all aluminum chassis that feels amazing compared to its plastic counterpart. You just have to get it in your hands to really appreciate it.

Pros

  • All aluminum chassis dissipates heat and doesn’t feel like a cheap, flimsy plastic toy.
  • The display is amazing. Enjoy all your favorite Full HD 1080p content on this 14 inch IPS display with rich, vivid colors and dark blacks.
  • New quad-core Celeron processor sings. Some people compare this Chromebook to a Macbook in terms of speed and feel, for about 1/4th the price.

Cons

  • This is a Chromebook so you may run into compatibility issues with hardware, and you won’t be able to use traditional Windows applications, although there are many portable alternatives available in the Chrome store.
  • While 4GB of RAM is adequate for most users, power users that open dozens of tabs might find their system gets bogged down.
 

Laptops Under $350.00

The $300-$350 range finally introduces the first ASUS laptop running Windows 10.

These laptops are all above average and could be considered “medium end” laptops.

They are all capable of moderate multitasking and could support more complex applications, although higher end laptops could handle them better.

If you are a tabaholic multi-tasker who is looking for a great deal, this is the category for you.

Our Top 3 Picks

ThumbnailLaptopScreenCPURAMStorage 
Asus F555LA-AB3115.6”Core i3-5010U4GB500 GB
Acer Aspire E 1515.6”Core i3-7100U4GB1TB
Lenovo Thinkpad 11E11.6”Celeron N31508GB128GB SSD

Asus F555LA-AB31 Review

Asus F555LA-AB31
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The Asus F555LA-AB31 has a Core i3-5010U clocked at 2.1GHz, 4GB of RAM, a 500 GB mechanical hard drive, and a 15.6″ Full HD 1920×1080 pixel display.

It has two USB 3.0 ports, a single USB 2.0 port, HDMI, and VGA video outputs. It has the latest 802.11 A/C WiFi technology and a dual layer DVD+RW optical drive.

ASUS offers a one year accidental damage plan, standard with all of its laptops. The warranty alone is reason enough to buy one of their outstanding products.

Pros

  • The best hardware specs combined with a Full HD 1080p display in this price range.
  • For an extra $100 you can install 8GB of RAM and an SSD for storage to make this laptop even faster.
  • Speakers sound amazing. They have a full, rich sound without any metallic, “tinny” resonance to them. You wont need to throw on headphones every time you want to watch a movie.

Cons

  • A bit of a barebones high end laptop with 4GB of RAM and a 5400 RPM mechanical hard drive, although this can be easily upgraded if you are so inclined.
  • The keyboard flexes a little bit and could have been reinforced better.
 

Acer Aspire E 15 Review

Acer Aspire E 15
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You’re probably thinking to yourself, “Havent I seen this laptop somewhere before?” In our laptops under $300 section above we reviewed the Acer Aspire ES 15.

While these two models are almost identical, the E 15 has a 7th generation Core i3 processor while the ES 15 has the 6th generation Core i3 processor. So, you are essentially paying slightly more for newer hardware when you choose the E 15 model.

You can expect about a 10% performance increase going from the Core i3-6100U to the Core i3-7100U as you can see from the comparison benchmarks on CPU boss. There is also a jump from the Intel HD 520 to the HD 620 graphics chip on the 7100U. Other than that, these two CPUs and laptop models are nearly identical.

Pros

  • Bright, vivid, sharp full HD LCD display. You can get an even better visual performance if you tweak the settings in the Intel Graphics application.
  • Amazing battery life for a 15.6″ laptop. You can realistically expect up to 7 hours of continuous use. This is about double the battery life of any comparable model.
  • USB 3.0 and 3.1C ports will future proof your laptop and ensure compatibility with hardware created years from now.

Cons

  • Battery cannot be removed. Although the battery they have installed is quite good, you will never be able to replace it down the road.
  • Webcam is kind of grainy unless you’re in a very bright room.
 

Lenovo Thinkpad 11E

Lenovo Thinkpad 11E
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The 3rd generation Lenovo Thinkpad 11E is an extremely efficient 11.6″ notebook that packs a lot of performance in a tiny package. It has an Intel Celeron N3150 quad-core processor that clocks at 1.6GHz that sips power and keeps excess heat to a minimum.

The 8GB of RAM and 128GB SSD storage means you’ll be in multi-tasking heaven. Your operating system will load quickly and all of your applications will run smoothly without any hangups.

This laptop has 802.11 A/C WiFi and integrated Bluetooth for maximum wireless connectivity. The 11.6″ LCD is LED-backlit and has a resolution of 1366×768 pixels, nothing too impressive, but it certainly gets the job done.

Pros

  • Lots of RAM and SSD storage for a super responsive operating system and applications.
  • Very lightweight and portable. Unlike Chromebooks and other inexpensive netbooks/sub-notebooks, this laptop has enough RAM to open a lot of tabs and actually get some work done.
  • Keyboard and trackpad are both very responsive and tactile.

Cons

  • Battery life isn’t very impressive. You can expect up to 4-5 hours of average usage.
  • Celeron processor may run cool, but it isn’t going to be as powerful as a Core i3 processor.
 

Laptops Under $400.00

The $350-$400 price range picks up the first laptop with a Core i5 processor and the first touchscreen computer.

If you are looking for a great deal on a truly powerful laptop or a touchscreen laptop, this is the category you will want to check out.

Our Top 3 Picks

ThumbnailLaptopScreenCPURAMStorage 
ASUS F556UA-AB3215.6”Core i3-6100U4GB1TB
Dell Latitude E643014”Core i5-3210M8GB500GB
Acer Aspire V 15 Touch15.6”Core i3-5005U6GB1TB

ASUS F556UA-AB32 Review

ASUS F556UA-AB32
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The ASUS F556UA-AB32 is like a newer version of the Asus F555LA-AB31 we reviewed in the $300-$350 price range. It has the Intel Core i3-6100U processor as opposed to the Core i3-5010U CPU in the older model. The i3-6100U is newer, has a higher clock speed, and a better turbo clock speed as you can see in the CPU Boss benchmark.

This model also includes the new USB 3.1 Type-C port that can be used to connect an external monitor and other high-bandwidth applications. This port ensures that your laptop will be compatible with future hardware for years to come.

This laptop has 4GB of RAM, 1TB of storage, and a 15.6″ full HD 1920×1080 pixel display. It also has an HDMI port, 802.11 A/C WiFi, and an SD card reader. The 38Whr polymer battery will last up to twice as long as a traditional lithium-ion battery would.

Pros

  • Relatively inexpensive laptop packed with a lot of modern hardware and options. You really couldn’t ask for much more at this price point.
  • Easy to upgrade the RAM. Going to 8GB or 16GB of RAM could significantly improve the performance of this PC when working with advanced applications.
  • Textured casing means no annoying fingerprints to look at every day.

Cons

  • Hard drive is difficult to replace or upgrade.
  • Keyboard feels a little cheap, although it functions well.
 

Dell Latitude E6430 Review

Dell Latitude E6430
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The Dell Latitude E6430 is the least expensive laptop we reviewed that features a Core i5 (i5-3210M) processor.

Aside from the more powerful processor, it also has 8GB of RAM and 500GB of storage.

It also has a DVDRW optical drive, WiFi, an HDMI port, Bluetooth connectivity, and a webcam for video chat.

This laptop comes with Windows 7 and I would definitely recommend sticking with it instead of upgrading to Windows 10.

Pros

  • Cheapest laptop you’ll find with a Core i5 processor. If you want a deal on a FAST laptop, this is it.
  • Has all the power you need to multi-task right out of the box. No upgrading required to have a fast, powerful PC.
  • Easy to upgrade to a SSD storage device to make this fast laptop even faster.

Cons

  • Runs Windows 7 instead of Windows 10. This is only a con if you prefer to have Windows 10, which I do not.
  • Mechanical hard drive is somewhat of a performance bottleneck in this otherwise fast laptop.
 

Acer Aspire V 15 Touch Review

Acer Aspire V 15 Touch
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The Acer Aspire V 15 Touch V3-572P-326T Signature Edition Laptop is the first laptop we’ve reviewed so far that has a touchscreen display, making it the least expensive model we would recommend. The display has a resolution of 1366×768 with 10-finger multi-touch support.

This system is powered by an Intel Core i3-5005U processor, 6GB of RAM, and 1TB of storage. It comes with Windows 8.1 pre-installed and can be upgraded to Windows 10 easily.

It has one USB 3.0 port, two USB 2.0 ports, an HDMI port, a VGA (D-SUB) port, and a 3-in-1 card reader slot. It also has 802.11 A/C WiFi and a 1MP webcam for video chat.

Pros

  • Best value in a touchscreen laptop available. If you want a great deal on a touchscreen computer, this is a great option.
  • Keyboard has a backlight so you can see it in the dark.
  • Doesn’t come preloaded with a bunch of bloatware that will slow your system down.

Cons

  • Screen resolution is somewhat lacking. Would have liked to see a Full HD 1920×1080 pixel display on this model.
  • Would have been nice to see 8GB of RAM instead of 6GB, although it could be upgraded.
 

Laptops Under $500.00

The $400-$500 price range is definitely the sweet spot for overall value.

What you’ll find is a nice mix of laptops with mid to high-end specs that cost significantly less than comparable models in the upper echelons.

The Acer Aspire E 15 E5-575G-53VG is a good example of this. It has everything you could possibly cram into a laptop without an over-inflated price tag. The specs are on point and you won’t have to compromise on build quality.

The other two laptops are worth investigating as well, although the Acer is definitely a standout model.

Our Top 3 Picks

ThumbnailLaptopScreenCPURAMStorage 
Acer Aspire E 15 E5-575G-53VG15.6”Core i5-6200U8GB256GB SSD
HP 15-ay013nr15.6”Core i5-6200U8GB128GB SSD
Lenovo Ideapad 31015.6”AMD A12-9700P12GB1TB HDD

Acer Aspire E 15 E5-575G-53VG Review

Acer Aspire E 15 E5-575G-53VG
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The Acer Aspire E 15 E5-575G-53VG is like a supercharged version of the Aspire E 15 and Aspire ES 15 listed in the previous price ranges. It has an Intel Core i5-6200U processor, 8GB of DDR4 RAM, a 256GB SSD, and an NVIDIA 940MX discrete GPU with 2GB of dedicated DDR5 VRAM.

This probably the most powerful laptop you can find for under $500. It has amazing hardware, a 15.6″ Full HD display, and the battery is rated at 12 hours of use (ymmv).

It also has the latest USB 3.1 Type-C port that can be connected to an external 4K display. The HDMI port supports HDCP, the webcam is in HD with HDR, it has Bluetooth 4.1, and the WiFi is 802.11ac with MIMO.

Show me a better laptop for less than 500 bucks and I’ll buy it any day of the week.

Pros

  • This laptop comes with a single 1x8GB DDR4 RAM chip. Throw another 8GB chip in to easily double your RAM.
  • While Acer might rate this battery at 12 hours of use, you can realistically expect 8-10 hours of continuous use. Considering the specs, this is extremely good.
  • Speakers are plenty loud and clear. Probably not the best on the planet, but definitely adequate.
  • Has every port you could possibly need including USB 3.0, USB 2.0, USB 3.1 Type C, HDMI, VGA, Gigabit Ethernet, and SD card reader.

Cons

  • NOT an IPS display. The display is decent, but don’t expect high-end top notch quality.
  • Keyboard has a number pad. Not a huge fan of this design.
 

HP 15-ay013nr Review

HP 15-ay013nr
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The HP 15-ay013nr is the least expensive laptop in this category. It has excellent hardware specs and is definitely worthy of a recommendation for anyone who isn’t at all interested in gaming or other graphics intensive applications.

It has a Core i5-6200U CPU, 8GB of RAM, a 128GB SSD, and a 15.6″ Full HD display. The WiFi is 802.11 A/C, it has a single USB 3.0 port and two USB 2.0 ports, and an HDMI port.

This laptop is a great choice for any power user who loves to open dozens of tabs and multiple applications simultaneously. The only thing it wouldn’t do well is play games on the integrated graphics chip.

Pros

  • Great price for the hardware.
  • SSD makes this system very snappy. Boots up and loads applications quickly.
  • Plastic casing mimics a brushed aluminum finish and won’t show fingerprints and dust as easily.

Cons

  • Difficult to upgrade, but possible. The entire bottom must be removed in order to upgrade the RAM.
  • Only accepts M.2 storage. Don’t expect to be able to swap in a SATA SSD.
 

Lenovo Ideapad 310 Review

Lenovo Ideapad 310
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The Lenovo Ideapad 310 is sort of the happy medium between the other two models in this category. It costs less than the Acer Aspire, yet is comparable is terms of CPU and graphics performance.

The only downside is the 1TB mechanical hard drive compared to the SSD in the Acer. What you get in exchange for a 5400 RPM hard drive is another 4GB of RAM compared to the other models.

This laptop has an AMD A12-9700P CPU, 12GB of DDR4 RAM, a 1TB mechanical HDD, a 15.6″ 1366×768 pixel display, and an integrated AMD Radeon R5 graphics chip as part of the AMD APU.

It has an HDMI port, VGA (D-SUB) port, one single USB 3.0 port, two additional USB 2.0 ports, an SD card slot, DVD+RW drive, and 802.11 A/C WiFi.

Pros

  • High quality construction. Very nice finish on the plastic casing.
  • Hardware specs are extremely competitive for a laptop in this price range.
  • Long range on the WiFi, as good or better than any laptop on the market.
  • Speakers sound rich and full with a little punch.

Cons

  • 1366×768 display is NOT Full HD. The display is adequate but definitely not top of the line.
  • 5400 RPM hardware will be somewhat of a performance bottleneck. Definitely not as fast as a PC with the same specs that has an SSD.
 

Laptops Under $600.00

Laptops in the $500-$600 range represent some of the best hardware you can find in a system that isn’t designed specifically for gaming.

Here you will find high-end PCs that only lack discrete graphics chips designed for playing modern games on the highest settings. Everything else about them is top of the line.

Our Top 3 Picks

ThumbnailLaptopScreenCPURAMStorage 
HP 15-ay018nr15.6”Core i7-6500U8GB256GB SSD
ASUS F556UA-AS5415.6”Core i5-6200U8GB256GB SSD
Lenovo Ideapad 310 80SM00JSUS15.6”Core i7-6500U8GB256GB SSD

HP 15-ay018nr Review

HP 15-ay018nr
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The HP 15-ay018nr is a high end laptop with a medium-end price tag. It has all of the specs you could ever want, minus a discrete video chip for playing modern games on high settings.

It has an Intel Core i7-6500U processor, 8GB of RAM, 256GB of m.2 SSD storage, and a 15.6″ Full HD IPS display with WLED-backlight.

The WiFi is 802.11ac. It has an HDMI port, Ethernet port, a single USB 3.0 port, and two USB 2.0 ports. It also has a super multi DVD burner optical drive, as well as a media card slot for reading SD cards and other card media.

Pros

  • Open RAM slot for adding another 8GB chip. Upgrade this laptop to 16GB for maximum multitasking performance.
  • Full HD IPS is a huge upgrade over models lacking the IPS panel and FHD resolution.
  • The absolute best hardware you can get in this price range. If you want performance, compare this laptop to others under $600. You might find similar hardware but none with an IPS display.

Cons

  • Plastic casing feels a little flimsy and cheap.
  • Keyboard isn’t backlit. Would have made this laptop perfect.
 

ASUS F556UA-AS54 Review

ASUS F556UA-AS54
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The trade-off between the ASUS F556UA-AS54 and the HP above is a less powerful CPU for a much higher quality build overall. If you aren’t obsessed with having the very best performance possible and would rather have a sturdy, reliable laptop, go with the ASUS.

This laptop has an Intel Core i5-6200U CPU, 8 GB of DDR3 RAM, 256GB SSD storage, and a 15.6″ Full HD 1920×1080 pixel display.

This laptop also has a USB 3.1 Type-C port, unlike the HP above. It also has HDMI, VGA, USB 3.0, USB 2.0, Bluetooth 4.1, and an SD card slot.

Pros

  • Very little bloatware preinstalled. You won’t have to waste your time uninstalling a bunch of unnecessary software out of the box.
  • Maximum connectivity with every kind of port you could imagine, other than DisplayPort.
  • Runs very cool and quiet, although it doesn’t have a power indicator LED. Hard to tell it’s even on sometimes.

Cons

  • Battery is built-in and cannot be removed. No way to replace it in the future unless you’re technically inclined and want to open up the casing.
  • All plastic housing. Solid build but doesn’t feel very expensive.
 

Lenovo Ideapad 310 80SM00JSUS Review

Lenovo Ideapad 310 80SM00JSUS
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This Lenovo Ideapad 310 (80SM00JSUS) has similar hardware specs to the HP in this category. However, it lacks the IPS display and Full HD resolution (1080p) that the HP has.

This laptop has an Intel Core i7 processor, 8GB of DDR4 RAM, a 256GB SSD, and a 15.6″ 1366×768 pixel display.

In terms of connectivity, it has an HDMI port, a single USB 3.0 port, two USB 2.0 ports, an Ethernet port, a VGA (D-SUB) video port, and a media card slot. It also has a DVD+RW optical drive.

Pros

  • Very good hardware specs for the price from a trusted manufacturer.
  • Not very much bloatware installed, runs fast out of the box.
  • Very thin and light, highly portable.

Cons

  • Shift key is is a non-standard place and is a little uncomfortable to use.
  • The display is somewhat lacking. Not IPS or Full HD.
 

Laptops Under $1000.00

This is the category you should be spending the most time in if you’re looking for a great deal on a gaming laptop.

Laptops in the under $1000 price range tend to be “last generation” gaming laptops that were the best you could buy 6-12 months ago.

If you have no intention of playing modern games on the highest settings, please consider checking out our top picks in the Laptops Under $600 category. They will provide the most value in terms of cost to performance for non-gamers.

Our Top 3 Picks

ThumbnailLaptopScreenCPURAMStorage 
ASUS ROG GL752VW-DH7117.3”Core i7-6700HQ16GB1TB
MSI GE62 Apache Pro-00415.6”Core i7-6700HQ16GB1TB
Dell Inspiron i7559-3763BLK15.6”Core i7-6700HQ16GB1TB + 8GB

ASUS ROG GL752VW-DH71 Review

ASUS ROG GL752VW-DH71
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The ASUS ROG GL752VW-DH71 is the only laptop on this entire list that has a 17.3″ matte IPS display. It is currently value priced because it is a “last generation” gaming laptop with an NVIDIA 960M graphics chip, with the latest generation of laptops having the new 1000 series chips.

Don’t let that fool you, though. Just six months ago this was a top of the line gaming laptop. It is capable of playing modern games on the highest settings. The 6th generation Intel Core i7-6700HQ is still among the most powerful mobile CPUs in the world. Combined with 16GB of DDR4 system RAM and 2GB of dedicated video RAM, this laptop is smoking fast, even in the most demanding games and applications.

Connectivity includes latest generation technology like 802.11ac WiFi, USB 3.1 Type C, three traditional USB ports, HDMI, mini-DisplayPort, Ethernet, and a BluRay combo DL DVD+RW optical drive.

Pros

  • Upgrade panel offers instant access to add an M.2 SSD, another HDD, or more RAM.
  • Keys are firm and responsive with 1.8mm travel.
  • Virtually silent while running, never feels like it’s gasping for air.
  • Core i7 processor combined with 16GB of DDR4 memory makes for one of the fastest laptops you can buy.

Cons

  • Speakers could be louder, although you can’t expect a lot from laptop speakers in general.
  • Battery only lasts 3-5 hours, depending on use.
 

MSI GE62 Apache Pro-004 Review

MSI GE62 Apache Pro-004
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The MSI GE62 Apache Pro-004 has similar specs to the ASUS reviewed above. However, it has a much nicer gaming keyboard and is a bit flashier overall. It’s a little more expensive but worth it if you’re looking for a 15.6″ gaming laptop that’s really going to impress people.

This laptop also has the 6th generation Intel Core i7-6700HQ processor, 16GB of DDR4 RAM, an NVIDIA 960M discrete graphics chip with 2GB dedicated RAM, and a 1TB hard drive. Unlike the ASUS, this laptop has a 15.6″ screen which gives it a much smaller footprint and makes it more portable.

Connectivity includes USB 3.1 Type-C, dual USB 3.0 ports, HDMI, VGA, Ethernet, 802.11ac, and Bluetooth. The extra USB 3.0 port is nice if you transfer files from one portable storage device to another frequently, like copying media for friends.

Pros

  • Backlit keyboard that can be programmed with a variety of color combinations.
  • Great sound quality, much better than most laptops on the market. They say it’s military grade technology.
  • Truly lightweight and portable gaming laptop that weighs just over 5 pounds.
  • Great specs for the price, sold by a trusted manufacturer.

Cons

  • Battery is NOT use replaceable. For a laptop in this price range I find this to be very strange.
  • Plastic casing is a fingerprint magnet. Not a huge fan of glossy cases.
 

Dell Inspiron i7559-3763BLK Review

Dell Inspiron i7559-3763BLK
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The Dell Inspiron i7559-3763BLK is unique in that it looks like a business laptop, but hidden beneath the layers of boring is a furious gaming beast waiting to be released, or something. But seriously, this is a gaming laptop you can bring to a business meeting without looking like a douche.

This laptop has the same Core i7-6700HQ CPU as the previous two models. It also has the same 16GB of RAM, the same GTX960M graphics chips, and the same 1TB HDD. The main difference is that this Dell model has 4GB of video RAM and an additional 8GB SSD for running the operating system. It also has a 15.6″ Full HD anti-glare matte screen like the MSI gaming laptop above.

What it lacks is a USB 3.1 Type-C port and an optical drive. However, it does have three USB 3.0 ports, HDMI, Ethernet, 802.11ac WiFi, and an SD card slot.

Pros

  • Core i7-6700HQ + 16GB RAM + 4GB VRAM = Best specs available for under $1000. Comparable to laptops that cost twice as much.
  • All USB ports are 3.0 and the one on the right side doubles as a charging port.
  • Speakers sound great and there’s even a tiny subwoofer to add depth of sound.
  • Sturdy construction. Solid screen hinges. Overall very nice build quality.

Cons

  • No optical drive at all. This laptop is really thin and adding an optical drive would have only made it thicker anyway.
  • Very little feedback from the keyboard. Not really a gaming keyboard at all.
 

Best Laptop Buyer’s Guide Ever

I’m going to try to keep this buyer’s guide short and sweet. I will hit on the most important topics you will need to know about without bogging you down with information overload.

I’ve listed these sections in order of most to least important, in my most humble opinion.

Processor (CPU)

The Central Processing Unit, or CPU for short, is the part of your machine that is doing the actual work.

Processors are rated in terms of clock speed, but that doesn’t tell the whole story. Clock speed determines how many cycles per second your processor can complete. A higher number usually means more processing power or a faster computer.

Processors are also rated by the number of cores and threads they have. Having a processor with multiple cores allows your PC to run different applications in parallel on each core. This is basically like having more than one physical CPU in your system, although the cores do share resources like cache and bus bandwidth. Having more cores is great for multitasking.

Threads are the same concept as cores, however, threads are virtual and don’t exist in separate physical cores. Instead, more than one thread can be run on a single core.

In short, a higher clock speed (frequency) and more cores/threads mean your computer will run faster in general. This is especially true when you multitask and run multiple applications or many tabs in your web browser.

The downside to additional cores and a faster clock speed is heat. The faster your CPU runs the more heat it will put off.

RAM (System Memory)

The amount of RAM that your system has determines how much active information it can work with at any given moment. Every time you load another application or open a new tab in your browser, your system uses its RAM to store the information about that application or web page.

When your system runs out of RAM to use it will start writing the active information to your hard drive instead of the RAM. Your hard drive is MUCH, MUCH slower than your RAM. This creates a performance bottleneck that will bring your computer to its knees quickly. This is especially true of mechanical hard drives that are extremely slow compared to modern SSD storage.

In short, the more RAM you have, the better your system will multitask. Before buying a laptop it is a good idea to not only see how much RAM it has in it but also see if it’s possible to upgrade the RAM to improve performance. RAM is the easiest and least expensive way to improve your overall system performance.

Display (Monitor, LCD etc)

The first thing you will want to check is the resolution of the display. The higher the resolution is, the more pixels your display has. The more pixels your display has, the sharper the image will be.

Note the difference between an “HD” display and a “Full HD” or “FHD” display. HD usually means the display has a 1366×768 pixel resolution, slightly higher than the 720p HD standard (1280×720 pixels). Full HD, on the other hand, has a resolution of 1920×1080 pixels, the 1080p HD standard.

The next thing you will want to check is whether or not your display is an IPS panel. Without getting too deep into the technical jargon, just know that an IPS panel will be much more vivid, have darker blacks, and have a much wider viewing angle than a traditional TN display. If IPS isn’t specified, it is PROBABLY a TN panel, but not always.

Storage

Storage is probably equally as important as a good display. Storage can be one of the biggest performance bottlenecks and shouldn’t be overlooked.

Traditional mechanical hard drives have moving parts that make them much slower than an SSD storage device that uses memory chips without moving parts. If the storage in a laptop isn’t specified as SSD or M.2, it’s probably a mechanical hard drive. These drives are rated by RPM with a higher RPM yielding a faster drive.

A lot of cheap laptops will try to pass off a large 5400 RPM HDD (Hard Disk Drive). It’s great to have the extra storage, and you WILL save money over a system with an SSD, however, that storage and savings will come at the expense of performance.

Your operating system and applications live on your storage device. If your storage device is slow, your operating system and applications will load slow. Your system will also be slower when working with large files.

There are also some laptops that have a hybrid system of one mechanical hard drive paired with a smaller SSD. The SSD will generally house the operating system and applications, while the mechanical HDD will be used to store media like music and movies.

If you purchase a laptop with a mechanical HDD storage device you could potentially upgrade it to an SSD at some point. So if you find a really great deal, don’t overlook it just because it doesn’t have an SSD. Instead, check and see how much it would cost to upgrade to an SSD or better yet, don’t even worry about it.

Connectivity (Inputs/Outputs)

The type of connectivity you will want to look for depends a lot on what you plan on using your laptop for. Want to hook it up to your big screen? Get a laptop with an HDMI port. Need support for Bluetooth accessories? Make sure that your laptop has a Bluetooth chip because not all new laptops do (for whatever reason).

The new USB 3.1 Type-C standard is also important to look for. This new standard allows for cool things like high-bandwidth applications such as connecting a 4K monitor. It is NOT backward compatible with previous USB versions and has a new reversible connector type.

Other modern standards to look for include 802.11ac (or 802.11 A/C) WiFi, Bluetooth 4.1, USB 3.0 (the fastest standard using the original connector style), DisplayPort, and Gigabit Ethernet.

Odds are, if you have a specific application in mind you will already be familiar with the connectivity options you need to achieve it. If not, just leave us a comment below and we can help you out.

Graphics Chip (To Discrete or Not to Discrete)

What’s so discrete about a graphics chip anyway? Generally, a discrete graphics chip refers to a stand-alone chip used to handle your graphical processing needs. This is usually only important to gamers, CAD designers, and video editors.

A lot of modern processors have graphic chips built-in. These graphic chips are capable of handling 2D tasks like watching 1080p/60fps videos and some light 3D tasks.

Some processors, like the ones from AMD, actually have a powerful 3D graphics chip built-in. The Intel Core series, on the other hand, has fairly weak integrated graphics in comparison.

In short, if you’re a gamer, get a laptop with a discrete graphics chip or an AMD APU that has a great 3D GPU built-in. If you’re not a gamer, don’t even worry about it at all.

Input Devices (Keyboard, Trackpad, etc)

Keyboards are generally island style (aka chiclet) or not. Island style means all of the keys are separated and do not touch or line up directly next to each other. This helps keep a lot of crumbs and grime from falling between your keys when you type.

Some keyboards have a number pad next to them. This might be really useful to some people, but I find it completely useless and a waste of space. You will usually only see this on laptops in the 15.6″ range or larger.

The size and placement of the trackpad are important to note. It’s also important to check if your trackpad supports multitouch gestures. This allows you to do cool stuff like scroll around a web page by sliding two fingers up and down your trackpad. Not all trackpads are created equal and some are much more or less sensitive than others.

People will usually complain about trackpads and keyboards in the customer reviews, so be sure to do your homework so you don’t get stuck with a laptop that is great other than the fact that the trackpad is impossibly frustrating to use (Don’t worry, I wouldn’t include any of those laptops in this guide).

Laptop Manufacturer Resources

Throughout this article, we’ve looked at laptops from a number of manufacturers. Below you can find resources including links to company websites, technical support, product listings, and more.

Acer

Acer Homepage

Acer Laptops

Acer Drivers and Manuals

Acer Service and Support

ASUS

ASUS Homepage

ASUS Laptops

ASUS ROG G-Series Gaming Laptops

ASUS Drivers, Manuals, Support

Dell

Dell Homepage

Dell Laptops

Dell Inspiron 15 Gaming Laptops

Dell Laptop Manuals

Dell Drivers

Dell Support

HP

HP Homepage

HP Laptops

HP Drivers

HP Service and Support

HP Manuals

Lenovo

Lenovo Homepage

Lenovo Laptops

Lenovo Manuals

Lenovo Service, Support, Drivers

MSI

MSI Homepage

MSI Gaming Laptops

MSI Support

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