Best cheap laptops in 2022
The best laptops out there pack mouth-watering specs and premium features in some stunning designs that are still light and portable. For tech enthusiasts like us here at XDA, they're what make the tech industry so fun and interesting. But all of those high-end pieces of hardware are not something everyone can afford, and if you're on a smaller budget, it can be easy to look at those laptops with envy. Don't fret, though. There are some great laptops out there with much more affordable prices, and we've rounded up some of the best.
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First off, let's set some ground rules. We're setting our budget at $700, though if you want to go lower, we also have an article focused on the best laptops under $600. We're also relying on sales for many of these, and that's because in this price range it can truly be worth it to look out for a sale. Many high-end laptops that might normally cost almost $1,000 can often be found discounted to prices in this range, and they're going to give you a fantastic experience. Of course, that means they fit our price range at writing time, but you may find slightly different prices when you're reading this.
Best overall laptop: Dell Inspiron 14 2-in-1
If you're like me and you love convertibles, the Dell Inspiron 14 2-in-1 is a fantastic choice at this price. This laptop is available in both Intel and AMD variants, but the Intel version is the one we're recommending right now thanks to an ongoing sale.
This model comes with an Intel Core i5-1235U, which means you get 10 cores and 12 threads with boost speeds up to 4.4GHz. Additionally, you get 8GB of RAM and 512GB of SSD storage, which is a very good combination for a convertible at this price. You can't upgrade any of this without going past our budget, but most people shouldn't need to. This will already give you a very good experience, especially in this price range.
The same can be said for the display, which is a 14-inch panel with a 16:10 aspect ratio. While it's not the only laptop with this taller format on this list, it's still quite uncommon to see it on laptops this affordable, especially convertibles. It comes in Full HD+ resolution (1920 x 1200), which is quite sharp for a screen this size. Another great thing about it is that the base model already has 400 nits of brightness, so you can use it outdoors without much of a problem, something laptops often skip out on in this price range. Of course, it's a convertible, so it also supports touch and pen input.
And there's a notable advantage this one has over many of the laptops on this list: the webcam. The Inspiron 14 2-in-1 comes with a 1080p webcam, something that's becoming the standard for most laptops in 2022. Unfortunately, there's no Windows Hello facial recognition on this one, but you can use a fingerprint reader to log in easily and securely.
The Dell Inspiron 14 2-in-1 also has some unique elements to its design that help it stand out a bit more. For one thing, it comes in a subtle green shade, which looks more unique than most laptops in this price range. Then there's the palm rest, which is actually made of glass. Instead of having a touchpad cut out of the palm rest, it's actually cut into the palm rest. It has three-sided borders, so at the top, it blends seamlessly into the laptop. It makes for a unique look overall. As for portability, the laptop is 17.86mm thick at its thickest point and weighs 3.61 pounds, which isn't too bad for a convertible.
Coming around to the ports, the Dell Inspiron 14 2-in-1 packs a decent supply that covers all the basics. You get two USB Type-C (10Gbps) ports, one USB Type-A (5Gbps) port, HDMI, a headphone jack, and a full-size SD card reader. The USB Type-C ports also support DisplayPort if you want to connect more monitors that way.
The Dell Inspiron 14 2-in-1 is one of the best value-for-money convertibles you can get right now, with great specs, a solid display, and a Full HD webcam. For this price, you'll be very well served.
Dell Inspiron 14 2-in-1 Dell Inspiron 14 2-in-1 The Dell Inspiron 14 is a very capable convertible laptop with a tall screen and solid webcam. See at Best Buy
Best lightweight laptop: HP Pavilion Aero
It shouldn't come as much of a surprise that the HP Pavilion Aero is one of our top recommendations. It has pretty much everything you could ask for from an affordable laptop wrapped up in a design that's still somewhat premium. It launched at $750, but you can find it for much less. Right now it's just $530, which is an absolutely fantastic deal.
So, what do you get for that price? For starters, you get an AMD Ryzen 5000 series processor, starting with a 6-core, 12-thread Ryzen 5 5625U with boost speeds up to 4.3GHz. This is already a fantastic processor for this price range, and you're going to get great performance for just about any daily task related to work, school, or just web browsing. Plus, you get 8GB of RAM and a 256GB SSD in the base configuration, and overall, this is a really strong combination of specs for the price you pay. And because it's so heavily discounted right now, you have some wiggle room for upgrades in that $700 budget if you want even more.
But the Pavilion Aero doesn't stop there. It also comes with a 13.3-inch display that comes in a tall 16:10 aspect ratio, which is usually something you only find in premium laptops. That extra vertical space is great for productivity, and the base model already comes in Full HD+ (1920 x 1200) resolution with a brightness up to 400 nits, which is very rare for this price. To sweeten the deal, you can upgrade to a super-sharp Quad HD+ (2560 x 1600) panel for just $30. Either way, the screen goes up to 400 nits of brightness, which means it's going to be decently visible outdoors, something many laptops at this price tend to cut corners on.
A fault of the Pavilion Aero, however — and this will be a common theme on this list — is the webcam. It's a lower-quality 720p camera and it doesn't support Windows Hello facial recognition, either. You do get a fingerprint reader below the keyboard, which is still nice for added security, but not quite as convenient.
In terms of design, the Pavilion Aero 13 looks like a fairly standard clamshell, but it's actually made of magnesium, something you don't see a lot on cheaper laptops. This allows it to be very light, weighing less than 2.2 pounds, and it's also relatively thin at just over 17mm. Something else that's unique to the Pavilion Aero is that it comes in four color options. The colors are all fairly subdued, but considering so many laptops barely give you any options at all, this is still nice to see.
Finally, there are the ports. You get one USB Type-C port (3.2 Gen 2), two USB Type-A ports (3.2 Gen 1), HDMI 2.0, a headphone jack, and a microSD card reader. That's a setup that covers all the basic needs you might have, though it doesn't support Thunderbolt because it's an AMD-powered laptop. Even if it wasn't, cheap laptops often don't include Thunderbolt 4. The USB ports could be faster, but if you just want to connect a mouse or transfer files occasionally, it works well.
With all of that, there's no doubt that the HP Pavilion Aero is one of the best cheap laptops you can buy right now, and it has earned our recommendation.
HP Pavilion Aero HP Pavilion Aero 13 The HP Pavilion Aero is powerful and lightweight laptop with a premium-feeling design and a great display. See at HP
Best for students: Surface Laptop Go 2
Microsoft doesn't make a lot of budget-oriented devices, but the Surface Laptop Go 2 is a good example of one. This iteration is a very big upgrade from the previous model in terms of performance, and it delivers a balanced experience all around, making it great for students and more casual users.
Performance-wise, the Surface Laptop Go 2 is powered by an Intel Core i5-1135G7, a quad-core, eight-thread processor that can boost up to 4.2GHz. This isn't the newest Intel processor around, but that's part of what allows this laptop to be as cheap as it is. Plus, you get Intel Iris Xe graphics, which is a major upgrade from the original Surface Laptop Go and its very weak GPU. The Surface Laptop Go 2 also comes with up to 8GB of RAM and 256GB of SSD storage, though that configuration usually costs more than $700. Still, the mid-tier configuration costs just under $700, and it includes 8GB of RAM and 128GB of SSD storage, which is already pretty good.
The display on the Surface Laptop Go 2 is pretty unique compared to everything else on this list. It's a relatively small 12.4-inch panel, making it more suited for younger students, but it's also got a 3:2 aspect ratio, which makes it feel significantly larger. A 3:2 aspect ratio is even taller than 16:10, and all the benefits you usually get with 16:10 are even more prevalent this way, so this 12.4-inch screen can feel much bigger than that. It comes in an odd resolution, 1536 x 1024, but for a display of this size, that's plenty sharp. Plus, it supports touch, which is always nice to have.
The webcam is a potential letdown, seeing as Microsoft stuck with a 720p camera for this laptop. That's not too uncommon for laptops in this price range, though, and Microsoft says the camera has been enhanced from the previous generation (even though it's the same resolution), so it's not too bad. There's no Windows Hello facial recognition support, but the mid-range and top-tier configurations both offer a fingerprint reader built into the power button to make it easier to unlock the PC.
Surface devices have a very clean design that could almost be considered boring, yet they somehow still look iconic, and the Surface Laptop Go 2 stays true to that. There's really not much that can be said about this design, but it works well, and it gives you four colors to choose from, including Platinum, Matte Black, Sandstone, and Sage. Being a relatively small laptop, the Surface Laptop Go 2 weighs just 2.48 pounds, and it's 15.7mm thick, so it's a very portable machine.
Some may not love the port setup on the Surface Laptop Go 2, however. There's one USB Type-C port, one USB Type-A, a headphone jack, and a Surface Connect port for charging. It's a somewhat limited setup, but if you've used Surface devices, you know that's pretty typical.
It's not a perfect laptop, and in terms of performance, you can probably get some better options on this list. But the Surface Laptop Go 2's compact size and premium feel make it an option worth considering, and it's still one of the best cheap laptops out there.
Surface Laptop Go Microsoft Surface Laptop Go 2 The Surface Laptop Go 2 is a budget-oriented laptop, but it still has great performance the clean Surface design language, and a tall 3:2 display. See at Best Buy
Best cheap business laptop: Lenovo ThinkPad E14 Gen 4
Almost any laptop can be used for work, but if you're looking for a real business laptop — and from one of the most reputable business brands, no less — then the ThinkPad E14 Gen 4 is the best option in this price range. Like most business laptops, it can only fit our budget thanks to a discount, but it's still completely worthy of a recommendation.
As with many other laptops on this list, the Lenovo ThinkPad E14 Gen 4 is powered by 12th-generation Intel Core processors, specifically starting with an Intel Core i3-1215U, which gets you six cores and eight threads, with boost speeds up to 4.4GHz, delivering very good entry-level performance. It also comes with 8GB of RAM and 256GB of SSD storage, everything you need for a good baseline experience with Windows 11.
Turning to the display, the ThinkPad E14 Gen 4 comes with a 14-inch IPS panel and a 16:9 aspect ratio. More expensive business laptops are switching to taller screens these days, but this is still very common in this price range. It's a Full HD panel and it reaches 300 nits of brightness, which is great for this price. A compromise you'll have to make, as with most laptops on this list, is the 720p webcam, which won't be ideal, but it's serviceable if you need to use it in a pinch. You can upgrade to a 1080p webcam if you're willing to pay a bit more, though, and you can even add Windows Hello facial recognition support.
Design-wise, the ThinkPad E14 is exactly what you'd expect from a ThinkPad, so you get that classic business look that's very loved by ThinkPad fans. It's available in either silver or black models, though both still feature the iconic red accents and features like the TrackPoint on the keyboard. The laptop itself is 17.9mm thick, and it weighs 3.5 pounds, so it's not overly heavy, but it's not especially light, either. It's about what you'd expect for this price range.
One thing business laptops do very well is connectivity, and that holds true with the ThinkPad E14. You get one Thunderbolt 4 port, two USB Type-A ports, HDMI, RJ45 Ethernet, and a 3.5mm headphone jack, which means you can connect just about anything you want to this laptop without needing adapters or docking stations. Unlike more expensive ThinkPads, it doesn't have cellular connectivity, but that's just the cost of buying something this cheap.
All in all, the Lenovo ThinkPad E14 Gen 4 still has all the makings of a great business laptop, but with a price tag that's much more friendly to the wallet.
Lenovo ThinkPad E14 Gen 4 Lenovo ThinkPad E14 Gen 4 The Lenovo ThinkPad E14 is a relatively affordable business laptop that keeps the most iconic elements of ThinkPads, including the red TrackPoint and the classic design. It also comes with 12th-gen Intel processors for solid performance. See at Lenovo
Best cheap 15-inch laptop: HP Pavilion 15
If you want a slightly bigger laptop and more power to boot, this HP Pavilion 15 is a phenomenal choice, and the only reason it's on this list is that it's currently seeing a very big discount that brings it under $600. Officially, it costs quite a bit more, but thanks to frequent discounts, this is an easy recommendation if you want something affordable and capable.
For starters, this laptop starts with an Intel Core i5-1235U, which is already a fantastic processor to get in a laptop at this price, with 10 cores, 12 threads, and boost speeds up to 4.4GHz. It also includes integrated Intel iris Xe graphics, so it can handle some light GPU tasks, including some very light gaming. On top of that, the base configuration comes with 8GB of RAM and a 256GB SSD, and with the current discounted price, you can even get some upgrades and still stick under $700.
The 15.6-inch display comes in a typical 16:9 aspect ratio, which you might consider a downside depending on how you feel about taller screens. It comes in Full HD (1920 x 1080) so it's decently sharp and should look good enough indoors. Things change if you go outside because this panel maxes out at just 250 nits, which means strong sunlight is going to obfuscate whatever is on the screen.
As you'd expect, the camera on the HP Pavilion 15 comes in 720p resolution, and it doesn't support Windows Hello facial recognition. While we've seen some exceptions to this rule on this list, this is still the most common for laptops at this price. Thankfully, there is a fingerprint reader if you'd rather unlock the laptop that way.
Looks-wise, the HP Pavilion 15 is relatively basic, but that's not necessarily a bad thing. At 17.78mm of thickness and 3.86 pounds of weight, this is a surprisingly portable laptop considering its 15-inch size. It's obviously heavier than smaller laptops, but you'd be fine carrying this around in a backpack. One thing that's great about this model is that it actually comes in a few color options, so you can get something that's more unique to you.
Rounding things out with ports, there's one fully-featured USB Type-C connection, two USB Type-A ports, HDMI, a headphone jack, and a microSD card reader. It's a pretty solid setup overall, though the USB Type-C port doesn't come with Thunderbolt 4 support. That's a pretty rare feature at this price, so that shouldn't be considered a major downside.
If the bigger screen is something you value a lot, the HP Pavilion 15 is a very good laptop, and this configuration at this price is an absolute steal. If you want the most performance, this is really your best option.
HP Pavilion 15 HP Pavilion 15 This HP Pavilion 15 comes with 12th-generation Intel processors and other specs that will give you a great experience across the board. With the current discount, it's a phenomenal laptop for what you pay.
Best cheap gaming laptop: Acer Nitro 5
Not everyone uses their laptop just for work. If you want to get into some gaming, the Acer Nitro 5 may be the best laptop you can buy right now without breaking the bank. It's all thanks to a discount, which we definitely recommend taking advantage of if you can, as it makes this laptop much cheaper than usual. Even so, it's still one of the best cheap gaming laptops you can find.
With this model, you're getting an Intel Core i5-12500H processor, which is already a very strong start. This is a 45W processor with 12 cores and 16 threads, and it can boost up to 4.5GHz, so you get a lot of performance for gaming and productivity alike. On top of that, you get an Nvidia GeForce RTX 3050 GPU, which means you can play most modern games as long as you're willing to tweak some settings here and there. This model also comes with 8GB of RAM and a 256GB SSD, but you can always upgrade later if you need more space.
This is a 17-inch variant of the Acer Nitro 5, so you're getting a very large screen for gaming, which can be that much more immersive. It's a Full HD panel, and it has a refresh rate of 144Hz, so your games can run much more smoothly, which means they look and feel that much better. Of course, that uses more GPU power, so not every game can take advantage of it, especially if the title is already demanding normally. Above the display, the Acer Nitro 5 has a 720p webcam, which is good enough for the occasional video call.
The Acer Nitro 5 definitely looks like a gaming laptop, with some red accents and large fan vents making it obvious what the laptop is used for. The keyboard is also backlit with a red light, which adds to the overall aesthetic. Being a powerful gaming laptop — and a 17-inch one at that — means this is also not a very portable machine. It's up to 28.7mm thick and it weighs 6.61 pounds, so this isn't something you want to take with you everywhere.
Finally, we come to the ports, with a setup that includes one USB Type-C port, three USB Type-A ports, HDMI, RJ45 Ethernet, and a headphone jack so all your connectivity needs are covered. Similar to business laptops, gaming laptops tend to have a lot of ports, and this one is no different.
It's not a super high-end gaming rig, but the Acer Nitro 5 is great for anyone looking to get into gaming for the first time, or if you simply don't want to spend a lot on a laptop right now.
Acer Nitro 5 Acer Nitro 5 The 17-inch Acer Nitro 5 is an affordable gaming laptop with the latest 12th-gen Intel processors and Nvidia RTX graphics, which can handle most modern games with same tweaks. It's great for anyone getting into gaming. See at Best Buy
Best cheap 17-inch laptop: Lenovo IdeaPad 3i
Some of us like small screens, but if you're one of those who like big screens, and you're in the market for a cheap 17-inch laptop, the IdeaPad 3i is probably one of your best options.
First off, it comes with an Intel Core i3-1215U processor with 6 cores, 8 threads, and boost speeds up to 4.4GHz. There's also a higher-tier model with an Intel Core i5, which is even better if you can find it discounted. Still, the base model is already a great starting point, and it also includes 8GB of RAM and a 512GB SSD right out of the gate, so performance should be pretty good, and you have a lot of space for files.
As expected, this model of the IdeaPad 3i has a 17.3-inch display, and it comes in the typical 16:9 aspect ratio. The resolution is Full HD (1920 x 1080), which is decently sharp, and definitely the best you'll find in a laptop at this price. 17-inch displays won't look super sharp at this resolution, but it's perfectly usable. The display also reaches 300 nits of brightness, which is alright. You'll likely need to max out the brightness to see well outdoors, but it should still be usable.
Above the display, there's a 720p webcam, and once again, there's no Windows Hello facial recognition support. Instead, a fingerprint reader is built into the power button, so you're not completely missing out on the convenience of Windows Hello. The camera also has a privacy shutter for the more privacy-conscious users.
Design-wise, the IdeaPad 3i looks fairly standard, coming in a standard gray color that looks very subdued. The more powerful model we've mentioned above comes in an Abyss Blue colorway that's a bit more unique, but still not overly flashy. Being a 17-inch laptop, it's obviously not very light, but considering its size, the 4.49 pounds of weight is actually very reasonable. It does manage to come in just under 20mm thin, so it should still fit easily in a laptop bag or backpack.
As for the ports, the IdeaPad 3i comes with one USB Type-C (3.2 Gen 1) port, two USB Type-A ports (one USB 3.2 Gen 1, one USB 2.0), HDMI, an SD card reader, and a headphone jack. The setup covers most of the basics, though it would have been nice to see Thunderbolt 4 support. Still, it should get the job done for most people, and for this price, it's hard to ask for much more.
17-inch laptops don't come cheap, and they usually make a few more compromises than their smaller siblings. Still, this is a great option if you want something of this size, and if you happen to find a discount on the higher-tier option, it's certainly worth the upgrade, too.
Lenovo IdeaPad 3i Lenovo IdeaPad 3i The Lenovo IdeaPad 3i is a solid 17-inch laptop with powerful specs and a Full HD display. See at Lenovo
Best tablet: Surface Go 3
If what you want is more of a tablet that can also serve as a laptop, the Surface Go 3 is probably the best option in this price range. It's a budget tablet, but it makes some careful choices to offer a premium experience in aspects that are the most important. It starts at just under $400, so you also have room for some upgrades.
The performance is one area where the Surface Go 3 makes some sacrifices, but it's still solid. The base model comes with an Intel Pentium Gold 6500Y processor with two cores and four threads, as well as boost speeds up to 3.4GHz. That's not on par with the Intel Core and AMD Ryzen processors on this list, but it should still be good enough for basic tasks like web browsing and writing up documents. You also get 4GB of RAM and 64GB of eMMC storage in the base model, but these are two areas where we recommend upgrading. The $700 budget is fairly generous, and for $550, you can go up to 8GB of RAM and a 128GB SSD, which we absolutely recommend. There's also a model with a faster processor for $630.
Where the Surface Go 3 excels, however, is with the display. Across all configurations, you get a 10.5-inch Full HD+ (1920 x 1280) display, which is very sharp and bright. It also comes in the signature 3:2 aspect ratio of the Surface family, and it's one of the very few laptops you'll find with a tall display like that. This aspect ratio is great for productivity and reading, so whether you're browsing the web or working, it's going to serve you well. Of course, it also supports touch and the Surface Pen, which is sold separately.
The Surface Go 3 also stands out from the pack thanks to its fantastic webcam. The front-facing camera on the Surface Go 3 is a 5MP sensor capable of recording 1080p video, which means it's already far ahead of any other laptop on this list. Not only that, but it actually supports Windows Hello facial recognition, making it very easy to unlock the PC just by looking at it. And there's even another camera on the back: an 8MP sensor also with 1080p video. For students with online classes, or even if you're just trying to call far-away relatives, this is great to have, and it makes the Surface Go 3 really stand out.
Being a small tablet, the Surface Go 3 is also easily the most portable device on this list. It's made of magnesium, which allows it to be just 8.3mm thin and weighing just 1.2 pounds. This is truly a device you can take anywhere, and you can even slip it into a large handbag. Of course, that's without the keyboard, which is also sold separately, but even if you add that, it's easily the most portable device on this list.
One of the more unfortunate sacrifices of the Surface Go 3 is the ports, which is somewhat typical of Surface devices. You get one USB Type-C port, one Surface Connect port for charging and docking, a headphone jack, and a microSD card reader. This port setup makes sense for a tablet, so it's hard to say it's terrible, but when you compare it to other laptops, it's not very capable. You'll likely need an adapter for display output using the USB Type-C port, and the same goes for any USB Type-A peripherals you might still have.
Despite its sacrifices, the Surface Go 3 offers a fantastic experience in key aspects like the display and webcam, while still offering good enough performance and extreme portability. It's easy to recommend, but there's a big caveat since the keyboard and Surface Pen are sold separately. If you want either of them, you need to account for that when considering the price.
Surface Go 3 Microsoft Surface Go 3 The Surface Go 3 is a budget laptop with a great display and an ultra-portable design. See at Best Buy
Best Chromebook: Acer Chromebook Spin 514
Acer makes some of the best Chromebooks around, and the Chromebook Spin 514 is a great choice if you're looking for something relatively affordable. It delivers very solid performance for day-to-day tasks, plus it has a great screen and other perks.
First off, there's performance. The latest model of the Acer Chromebook Spin 514 is powered by an AMD Ryzen 3 5125C, a special version of AMD's processors designed for Chromebooks. It gives you two cores and four threads, which is good enough for solid entry-level performance, and that's paired with 8GB of RAM and 128GB of eMMC storage, so you get a solid experience across the board.
For the display, the latest Acer Chromebook Spin 514 comes with a 14-inch panel, as the branding indicates, and it has a typical 16:9 aspect ratio. The resolution is Full HD, which is about what you'd expect from a laptop at this price. Above that display, there's a 1080p webcam, which helps this laptop stand out. This is a pretty good laptop for video calls and meetings thanks to that camera.
The design of the Chromebook Spin 514 is fairly standard for a convertible, but it still feels premium. It uses an aluminum chassis for the most part, and as we've mentioned, the display is protected by Corning Gorilla Glass, so it definitely feels high-end in that regard. It's also durable, meeting the military MIL-STD-810H durability standard. In terms of portability, it weighs 3.31 pounds and measures just over 17mm in thickness, so it's fairly lightweight and compact for a convertible of this size.
Coming around to connectivity, you get two USB Type-C ports, one USB Type-A port, and a headphone jack, which covers most of the basics you could want. It's not an overly generous setup, especially with the lack of HDMI, but it's not bad, either. There's a good chance you're not buying a Chromebook to use with multiple screens anyway.
While this is a great laptop, we're only including it on this list because it's significantly below $700, and it still offers a great experience. But if you can spend a little more, the Acer Chromebook Spin 714 is a major upgrade in every way and costs $730, so we recommend checking that one out if you can afford it.
Acer Chromebook Spin 514 Acer Chromebook Spin 514 The Acer Chromebook Spin 514 is a great Chrome OS convertible with the latest AMD Ryzen processors for Chromebooks, plus a sharp display and a great Full HD webcam. See at Best Buy
These are the best cheap laptops you can buy right now. All of these are great devices for their asking price, though each of them is more geared toward a specific kind of user. We chose the Dell Inspiron 14 2-in-1 as our best overall pick because it brings together great performance with AMD's latest Ryzen processors, a great display with a tall aspect ratio, a Full HD webcam, and the versatility of a convertible. It's a really compelling combination, but other models on this list are also great.
If you're not necessarily looking for a cheap laptop and you want Thunderbolt 4 support above anything else, check out our list of the best Thunderbolt 4 laptops you can buy today.
Best budget laptops for music production 2022: 8 cheap laptops for home recording
Recording music on a laptop has never been easier. For the uninitiated, there is all manner of software allowing you to do everything from replicating a guitar amp through to full multi-track sessions with total creative control over recording, mixing and mastering. These days, even the best budget laptops for music production possess enough in the way of performance to get you going.
It can be tricky, if you’re new to the entry-level laptop world, to know where to start though. Perhaps you’re new to recording and don’t want to - or have - a huge amount of cash to spend. Or maybe you’re rekindling an old passion and have seen the world has moved on from tape machines. Whatever your journey to this point, we can find a laptop for recording music to suit your needs. And, while most - if not all - modern laptops will do a job, there are certain things that separate the best budget music production laptops from the rest.
Audio work requires a specific set of features that differ from gaming, for example, or everyday computing. In this guide, we’ll point out the things you should prioritise when choosing the best budget laptop for music production (head straight to our buying advice section for that), along with offering some recommendations to get you started - including our choice for the best laptop for music production under $300/£300.
Best budget laptops for music production: Product guide
(Image credit: Acer)
1. Acer Aspire 5 A515 The budget laptop for most producers Specifications Price: $499/£499 CPU: Intel Core i5 RAM: 8GB Storage: 512GB SSD OS: Windows Screen: 15.6” Full HD Connectivity: 2 x USB 3.0, 1 x USB-C Reasons to buy + Plenty of power + USB-C Reasons to avoid - Base processor speed isn’t earth-shatteringly quick
Taking into account the holy trinity of music production laptop specs – CPU, RAM and storage – the Acer Aspire 5 is a great choice for the vast majority of people on a budget. The Intel i5 processor will chug along nicely, while 8GB of RAM means you can be reasonably expansive with your arrangements.
Adding in a USB-C port means you can take advantage of faster data transfer speeds, although its 512GB SSD is a real bonus at this price point. You’ll struggle to find a better Windows machine for under $500/£500.
(Image credit: Asus)
2. ASUS VivoBook Flip Decent value 2-in-1 with everything you need Specifications Price: $679/£599 CPU: Ryzen 5-5500U RAM: 8GB Storage: 256GB SSD OS: Windows 10 Screen: 14” Full HD Touchscreen Connectivity: microSD card reader, Audio I/O jack, USB-C, USB 2, HDMI Reasons to buy + Looks amazing + Great value package + Decent processor Reasons to avoid - Screen collects fingerprints
ASUS has plenty to offer in the mid-range market, but we’ve opted for the ASUS VivoBook Flip. While it might look a bit gimmicky, essentially what we’ve got is a nicely specced convertible laptop/tablet, which runs full Windows 10 and has a decent baseline spec for music production.
Using a touchscreen to control a DAW like Ableton does come with its benefits - and occasional drawbacks - but for the budget-conscious producer who likes to leave the studio every now and again this is a solid, versatile entry-level option.
(Image credit: Microsoft)
3. Microsoft Surface Go The best budget laptop for capturing ideas and basic arrangements on the move Specifications Price: $549/£499 CPU: Intel Pentium Gold RAM: 8GB Storage: 128GB SSD OS: Windows 10 Screen: 10” touchscreen Connectivity: 1 x USB-C Reasons to buy + Small but perfectly formed + Superb design Reasons to avoid - Only one USB port - Cost rises when you add in accessories
Interest in the Surface line-up gathers pace with each new iteration, but for budget-conscious producers the Microsoft Surface Go 2-in-1 is worth consideration. Admittedly, you’re not going to be crafting extensive compositions on its small touchscreen – the low-end Intel Platinum processor will see to that - and having only one USB port means hubs will be required, but on paper it’s still an impressive proposition.
8GB of RAM on the top-line model, along with a 128GB solid-state drive, means using the Surface Go as a musical sketchpad is a viable option. It comes pre-installed with Windows 10 S, which restricts what apps can be installed, but this can be changed to offer full-fat Windows 10 Home easily in the settings.
(Image credit: Samsung)
4. Samsung 4+ Chromebook The best laptop for music production under $300/£300 - create simple beats and patterns on a budget Specifications Price: $299/£299 CPU: Intel Celeron RAM: 4GB Storage: 32GB eMMC Flash OS: Chrome Screen: 15.6” Full HD Connectivity: 1 x USB 3.0 Reasons to buy + Cheap + Lightweight Reasons to avoid - Limitations inherent to Chrome OS
Bit of a curveball, this one. The Samsung 4+ Chromebook won’t run regular digital audio workstations (DAWs) like Ableton Live, Cubase or Pro Tools. It doesn’t have banks of power to draw from. But it does offer a glimpse at what the future might look like for computer-based audio production.
With Chrome OS, you are essentially limited to apps that can be found in Google’s Play Store, or run via a browser – assuming you don’t want to go down the Linux route, that is. On the Play Store there is a slimmed-down version of FL Studio which works a treat, while online you’ll find services like Audiotool and the Spotify-owned Soundtrap which give tech-savvy beatmakers the chance to produce tracks directly through a cloud-based browser interface.
Chromebooks aren’t going to be the first choice of most producers, particularly those recording and working directly with raw audio, but for anyone content to play around with loops and virtual instruments it’s definitely worth investigation.
(Image credit: HP)
5. HP Pavilion x360 This 2-in-1 device offers portability and versatility Specifications Price: $549/£499 CPU: Intel Core i3 RAM: 8GB Storage: 128GB SSD OS: Windows 10 Screen: 14” Full HD touchscreen Connectivity: 2 x USB 3.0, 1 x USB-C Reasons to buy + Good I/O options + Compact Reasons to avoid - We’d prefer a better CPU over the touchscreen
As one of the bigger names in computing, it’s reasonable to expect HP would have a decent offer in the low-to-mid range. The HP Pavilion x360 fits the bill, serving up a nice set of base specs which would suit anyone learning their craft. The non-music headline comes in the shape of the touchscreen; fold the Pavilion back on itself and it becomes a tablet device.
Realistically, other than as a party piece, the touchscreen doesn’t immediately jump out as being useful to a producer – your mileage may vary – but if the device is going to serve other purposes than music creation then the Pavilion x360 is a sound choice.
(Image credit: Lenovo)
6. Lenovo V145 Higher than average storage makes for an ideal sample-based setup Specifications Price: £429/$499 CPU: AMD A6 RAM: 8GB Storage: 480GB SSD OS: Windows 10 Screen: 15.6” Full HD Connectivity: SD card, 2 x USB 3.0, HDMI Reasons to buy + Lots of storage + Nicely priced + Trusted brand Reasons to avoid - Processor not up to strenuous tasks
Music production is a broad church, and for every composer looking to build complex multitrack sessions with 400 plugins running, there are an equal number of producers who simply want to crack open Splice or Loopmasters and sit layering premade loops together into songs. If that sounds like you then the Lenovo V145 is a great choice, as it packs in a large solid-state drive to store your samples, and as audio doesn’t require as much processing power as MIDI it’ll plough ahead quite nicely.
If, in the future, you think your setup may expand to include softsynths and external controllers then you might want to look elsewhere for something with a beefier processor, but for simple lego-builder style loop compositions, this Lenovo will cope just fine.
(Image credit: Dell)
7. Dell Inspiron 15 3000 This budget laptop is the first port of call for many bedroom studios Specifications Price: $449/£399 CPU: Intel Core i3 RAM: 8GB Storage: 1TB HDD and 128GB SSD OS: Windows 10 Screen: 15.6” Full HD touchscreen Connectivity: 1 x USB 2.0, 2 x USB 3.0 Reasons to buy + Two types of storage + Good value Reasons to avoid - No USB-C - Limited CPU
The Dell Inspiron range has been the first laptop many bedroom producers use to start them on their recording journey. Packing in some respectable spec, and the peace of mind that comes from using a trusted brand like Dell, the Inspiron range is definitely worth a look.
The model we’ve opted for features 8GB of RAM, which can be upgraded in the future quite easily, and a dual storage method that provides 1TB of HDD storage with 128GB of solid-state offering the best of both worlds. We’d have liked a USB-C port, as that’s the way the world’s going, and the Intel i3 isn’t what you’d call a powerhouse, but you can’t go far wrong with the Inspiron.
(Image credit: HP)
8. HP 15-ef0023dx The best budget laptop for anyone into production for the long haul Specifications Price: $599/£579 CPU: AMD Ryzen 5 RAM: 12GB Storage: 256GB OS: Windows 10 Screen: 15.6” Full HD touschscreen Connectivity: 2 x USB 3.0, 1 x USB-C Reasons to buy + Loads of power + Snappy storage Reasons to avoid - Price - Fan seemed overly loud
We’ll end the list on something aspirational. Just shy of $600/£600 may seem excessive for a ‘budget’ laptop, and it’s something we’re aware of, but we’re of a mind to keep it here simply because it’s worth highlighting the jump in overall performance capability you get when you wander north of this price bracket.
The HP 15-ef0023dx (laptop brands have the worst product naming conventions) offers 12GB of RAM, making it ideal for large arrangements or tracks using a lot of recorded audio. It has a speedy solid-state drive for accessing files, and the Ryzen 5 CPU performs consistently well under testing. Yes, it costs a bit more, but the increased spec means it could end up serving you far longer than some of the other cheaper models on test today.
Best budget laptops for music production: Buying advice
(Image credit: Getty/Jose Luque/EyeEm)
What are your budget music laptop essentials?
Why you can trust MusicRadar Our expert reviewers spend hours testing and comparing products and services so you can choose the best for you. Find out more about how we test.
Laptops used with music production in mind tend to focus on three key features; CPU, RAM and storage. Where gamers or video editors prioritise graphical and visual elements, for audio we need only focus on how fast the laptop processes things (CPU), its short-term memory (RAM) and its ability to access data quickly (storage):
The CPU is what powers the laptop as it processes commands. In music terms, this dictates how many virtual instruments you can run at the same time, or how many effects you can add, or how quickly you can export your finished tracks. Intel and AMD have the monopoly here, and you get what you pay for. For audio and music production we would recommend looking at Intel’s i5 line, or AMD’s Ryzen 5 line, although the lower-end CPUs will suffice if budget is a sticking point – you might just be staring at progress bars a bit longer.
is what powers the laptop as it processes commands. In music terms, this dictates how many virtual instruments you can run at the same time, or how many effects you can add, or how quickly you can export your finished tracks. Intel and AMD have the monopoly here, and you get what you pay for. For audio and music production we would recommend looking at Intel’s i5 line, or AMD’s Ryzen 5 line, although the lower-end CPUs will suffice if budget is a sticking point – you might just be staring at progress bars a bit longer. RAM is a bit more straightforward. It dictates how large the arrangements you can create are, and how many audio files you can work with at a given time. A laptop with 4GB of RAM will technically allow you to open music production apps like Garageband or Ableton Live and create short, basic arrangements, but you’ll quickly run into a wall where the laptop can’t cope with what you’re asking it to do. Look for a minimum of 8GB here.
is a bit more straightforward. It dictates how large the arrangements you can create are, and how many audio files you can work with at a given time. A laptop with 4GB of RAM will technically allow you to open music production apps like Garageband or Ableton Live and create short, basic arrangements, but you’ll quickly run into a wall where the laptop can’t cope with what you’re asking it to do. Look for a minimum of 8GB here. Storage will come down to one of two options; HDD or SSD. Hard-disk drives are cheaper and can hold large volumes of data, but are typically slower which means streaming sample libraries isn’t ideal. SSDs, on the other hand, are lightning quick but do cost more.
The one other essential non-laptop component for music production is a USB audio interface ; this effectively outsources the laptop’s sound card and allows you to record electric guitars , microphones and other instruments into the computer, as well as hooking up a pair of studio monitors or studio headphones to listen back to your work.
What are the non-essentials?
If you’re buying a laptop for general use, with a bit of music production thrown in occasionally, then you will likely have other factors to consider. The size and resolution of the screen, for example, or the battery life. These are all worthy considerations and shouldn’t be discounted, but bear in mind that the more non-negotiable things you have on your wishlist, the higher the cost will be. If the laptop is being bought with music production, and only music production, in mind then you should keep your focus on performance over aesthetics.
Many Windows-based laptops come stuffed with non-essential software and apps – known as ‘bloatware’ – which you’ll want to discard. And, while it might sound strange in an article about music production to tell you to ignore the laptop’s speakers, that’s exactly what we’re going to do. For watching YouTube videos or holding video calls, laptop speakers are fine but for audio and music production they’re not going to give you the results you want (whatever you spend). So, while it might sound appealing to have B&O or Beats speakers in your laptop, in reality they aren’t going to have much of an effect on your music production so don’t make them a deal-breaker.
(Image credit: Getty/Manuel Breva Colmeiro)
What are the ‘nice-to-haves’?
As your recording career progresses, you may find you want to add to your studio with extra gear like MIDI keyboards , home studio mixers , drum machines and more. Most kit these days connect to your computer via USB, so you’ll want to ensure you have a decent number of USB ports. Increasingly brands are looking to incorporate USB-C into their gear so look out for these ports where possible too. This is also useful when using an external hard drive for music production , where the combination of USB-C and an external solid-state drive (SSD) makes light work of large audio or sample files.
Another ‘nice-to-have’ element is the option to upgrade components in the laptop yourself in the future. This won’t be possible on every laptop, but having the ability to chuck in a couple of extra sticks of RAM can have a significant impact on overall performance.
Start small, start clever
Realistically, not everyone can afford the latest M1 Apple MacBook Pro or Dell XPS. Hence, we all have to sometimes make compromises in what we want versus what we can afford. It would be great to have a touch-enabled 4K screen, all-day battery life, plenty of horsepower, and all those other headline features. But we have to cut our cloth accordingly, right?
That’s not to say music production can’t be done on a budget laptop. It absolutely can, as we’ll outline in our recommendations in this guide, but just be aware that certain concessions may have to be made. Start small, before working your way up. This way, when you reach the skill level where you are making 72 track arrangements featuring a symphony orchestra, you’ll know the equipment inside out and have a handle on what’s really important from a music production laptop.
Put simply, a decent budget laptop for home recording will focus on power, performance and speed above anything else. If you can park those desires for shiny features and other pointless-but-quite-cool elements, you should end up with a machine that will serve you well as you take your first steps into music production.
How we test budget laptops for music production
The criteria for testing a budget laptop for music production differs slightly to how we’d test higher-spec machines. At the entry-level end of the spectrum, small tweaks to a laptop’s internal spec can have a huge impact on its ability to perform. Rather than becoming a jack of all production trades, budget laptops tend to be better chosen when they have an end goal in sight.
For example, if your setup involves using lots of loops and samples, then the speed at which the laptop can grab them from your external storage will be paramount. For users with lots of MIDI tracks in their compositions, CPU is king. Using any DAW, we are quickly able to build template sessions which test a variety of real world situations, and from there can assess the suitability of a machine for a particular user group.
With it being a laptop, there are other factors which may come into a buying decision, so we look at these too. Things like battery life, and screen viewing angles or brightness levels, are all easy to test so we take those into consideration when making our recommendations.
Find out more about how we test music gear and services at MusicRadar.
Related buyer's guides
7 Best Budget Laptops for Computer Science Students | 2022
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When choosing the best laptop for computer science students, an affordable option can be to get a laptop that has the Technology specs required for the apps you’ll be using.
Coincidentally, many gaming laptops are also good for computer science and computer science students.
In this list, I’ll cover the top laptops for computer science as well as budget options and alternatives.
The benefits and disadvantages will be explored and what limitations on computer science applications each laptop may have.
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At a Glance – Top Laptop Picks for computer science
Choosing a laptop with 16gb of ram, and a powerful CPU & GPU is of course necessary. However, a large screen size, multiple ports, and a long lasting battery is essential and oftentimes overlooked by many computer science students.
Recommended System Requirements for a Computer Science Students
As a Computer Science student, you might have the impression that you need a high-end, super expensive laptop. This is not necessarily always the case. Sure, you will have to gain expertise in essential computing software during your studies, however the recommended hardware requirements are met by the list of budget laptops in this article.
The reviewed laptops are aimed to cover the daily needs of a computer science student, both for personal and academic use.
In the rare cases that you will need a more powerful computer for an assessment, many colleges offer remote access to high-end desktops. Let’s have a look at the the laptop specs you’ll need for computer science:
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CPU : The latest processors of both Intel and AMD can handle computer science software easily. Although Intel i7s and AMD Ryzen 7s are faster, the corresponding i5s and Ryzed 5s are also powerful enough and cover your needs. As the ‘’brain’’ of your new laptop, CPU should be a priority.
: The latest processors of both Intel and AMD can handle computer science software easily. Although Intel i7s and AMD Ryzen 7s are faster, the corresponding i5s and Ryzed 5s are also powerful enough and cover your needs. As the ‘’brain’’ of your new laptop, CPU should be a priority. RAM : The ideal size of RAM a computer science laptop needs is 16GB, but 8gb will be enough for those on a budget, just don’t expect it to last you as long. However, given the fact that your CPU will be powerful enough, you could get away with buying a laptop that has only 8GB, especially when most laptops support future upgrades to 16GB or more.
: The ideal size of RAM a computer science laptop needs is 16GB, but 8gb will be enough for those on a budget, just don’t expect it to last you as long. However, given the fact that your CPU will be powerful enough, you could get away with buying a laptop that has only 8GB, especially when most laptops support future upgrades to 16GB or more. Graphics Card: Fortunately, the times when an expensive dedicated graphics card was essential for a computer student has passed. The offered integrated graphics by both Intel and AMD CPUs can manipulate computing software.
Fortunately, the times when an expensive dedicated graphics card was essential for a computer student has passed. The offered integrated graphics by both Intel and AMD CPUs can manipulate computing software. Storage: An SSD drive is a good investment as it concerns the speed of your computer and should be preferred over an HDD. Thankfully, most of the new laptops are equipped with one of them. Even though the recommended size for you is 500GB of storage, your college needs could be covered with 256GB.
An SSD drive is a good investment as it concerns the speed of your computer and should be preferred over an HDD. Thankfully, most of the new laptops are equipped with one of them. Even though the recommended size for you is 500GB of storage, your college needs could be covered with 256GB. Screen: As a computer science student, you will have to spend a lot of hours in front of your laptop. Thus, a High-Quality display with good viewing angles should be a high priority for you. Also, the screen should be around 13 to 15 inches to ensure a fluid process of multitasking with different windows open at the same time.
As a computer science student, you will have to spend a lot of hours in front of your laptop. Thus, a High-Quality display with good viewing angles should be a high priority for you. Also, the screen should be around 13 to 15 inches to ensure a fluid process of multitasking with different windows open at the same time. Brand: Asus, Acer and HP have proven to provide good batteries and their laptops do stand the test of time, which is important for you as a student. Their built-in cameras also prove to be enough for upcoming video meetings you might have.
Related: 7 Best Gaming Laptops for Graphic Design
Best laptops for computer science students
Most of the time, you will be looking for a laptop that is not only affordable but also has excellent performance. However, when you are in need of a laptop for studying the computer science field, it is important to make sure that you are getting something that can handle exactly what you need.
Below, you’ll find our top laptop picks for computer science students, researched and chosen by experts & professionals in the field.
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1. ASUS VivoBook 15.6”
CPU: AMD Ryzen 5 Quad-Core up to 3.7GHz
GPU: AMD Radeon Vega 8
Storage: 512GB SSD
Display: 15.6 inch FHD(1920 x 1080)
Being one of the best-selling series, The ASUS VivoBook offers the package a computer science student needs. It’s part of the ASUS mid-range lineup and combines good performance with high portability and beautiful design.
The Ryzen 5 3500u is one of the most reliable and fast processors of the market and the 8GB DDR4 RAM will prove to be enough for most cases but the laptop can also be upgraded to 16GB.
Moreover, the CPU’s integrated Radeon Vega 8 graphics will not only cope with most of the computer software you’ll use as a programmer, but will also meet the recommended requirements for games like League of Legends and games like Fortnite can be played in medium graphics.
A computer student also needs a High-Quality big display for multitasking and the VivoBook 15 offers an elegant 15,6 inch Full HD (1920 x 1080) display with NanoEdge bezels that can be your “partner’’ for many hours without wearing you out.
Asus has also included a 512GB SSD, which is more than most laptops offer in this price range and will prove to be more than enough for you. Another strong feature of the VivoBook is the size and weight, as it prides to be one of the thinnest (only 0.7 inches) and light (3.53 lbs) laptops out there, making it ideal to carry with all the time.
Overall, Vivobook could be characterized as the all-rounder of the list as it promises a fluid, non-problematic environment that won’t cause any problem to your needs as a computer science student. However, it will not be an ideal pick for you, if you are a student who dedicates time playing high-end games such as PUBg or Witcher III.
2. Acer Aspire 5 Slim 15.6”
CPU: AMD Ryzen 3 Dual-Core up to 3.5GHz
GPU: AMD Radeon Vega 3
Storage: 512GB SSD
Display: 15.6 inch FHD (1920 x 1080) IPS
The brand new 2020 Acer Aspire 5 also has the potential to meet your needs as a computer science student. Acer has created a laptop that includes solid performance, a very good battery life, and high portability and kept its cost under 600 when it was first released.
The dual-core Ryzen 3 ranks as a solid dual-core workhorse that will handle the computer software you use as a student pretty easily. Having 16GB of RAM is pretty rare in this price range and means it is not likely to have performance hiccups when you run too many programs at the same time.
The Radeon Vega 3 integrated graphics core will allow for your computing software and everyday occupations such as Netflix or youtube, but you might find it harder to cope with something more challenging like highly demanding, graphic heavy PC games.
A solid-state drive always helps to speed up performance and the 512GB capacity will not fill up quickly. Also on the plus side, the laptop is equipped with a 15.6 inch, full-on 1080p display, and also uses an IPS (in-plane switching) panel for wider viewing angles, which is pretty rare in this price range.
The Aspire 5 weights 3.97 lbs and measures 14.3x 9.7x 0.7 inches and therefore quite portable.The keyboard works nicely without issues unlike previous models I’ve tested.
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To sum up, at the given price, the Acer Aspire 5 justifies its offering and can cope with every computing software like Python, Java, Octave, etc. It might not be the most powerful laptop on the list, but it is equipped with a very good display and thus if you want to spend time watching videos and movies online and you are not a fanatic gamer, this could be the best choice for you.
3. Asus ZenBook 15
CPU: Intel i7 Eight-Core up to 4.60GHz
GPU: Intel HD Graphics 620
Storage: 512GB SSD
Display: 13.3 inch FHD (1920 x 1080)
Being the definition of a beautiful and portable laptop, the Asus ZenBook has nothing to be ashamed of as it concerns its performance too.
It may lean towards the more expensive side on the list, but for good reasons as it can handle Artificial intelligence, software design, and computer graphics. Mining data, program probots, build websites
The Asus ZenBook could be characterized as a ‘pocket-size performance beast’. It hosts an 8th Gen Intel Core i7 processor, which will easily handle anything you can imagine for many years, and combined with the 16GB RAM, the ZenBook will be able to handle anything you throw at it. Likewise, the fast 512GB SSD will be more than enough for your college, but also your personal needs.
The crisp, clear, high-resolution display makes the visual look great with wide viewing angles and vivid colors. The 13inch screen might be smaller than the 15.6inch screens, but meets the recommended display size for you as a computer science student and will not make your life hard when multitasking.
On the other hand, only ZenBook’s downside is gaming. Although Intel integrated graphics are more than enough for computing software and occupations like Netflix or browsing won’t be a problem, it is not the best choice for gamers, as you will be able to play games like Overwatch or CS: GO, but games like PUBG will be a problem.
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The i7-8565U processor, 16GB SDRAM, and a 512GB SSD will easily handle your heavy-performance usage as a computer science student. Thus, if you are not a gamer, this might be the most expensive but it is also the most powerful solution of the list.
4. Asus ZenBook 13 Ultra-Slim
CPU: Intel i5 Quad-Core up to 3.60GHz
GPU: Intel HD Graphics 620
Storage: 256GB SSD
Display: 13.3 inch FHD (1920 x 1080)
If you were thrilled about the elegance and power of the Asus ZenBook reviewed above, but you want to spend less, maybe the Asus ZenBook 13 Ultra-Slim is the best solution for you.
With a small compromise in performance, Asus has managed to reduce the cost keeping the same display and design as the more expensive model. This ZenBook model has a powerful Intel i5 processor that has the speed that you need, and an 8GB RAM that should be enough for you and could also later be upgraded.
The 256GB SSD is fast and meets the requirements, and you could add an external disk for more space in the future. The keyboard didn’t have any disadvantages, which is sometimes common with slim laptops due to the design.
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As mentioned above, although Intel integrated graphics will easily cope with computing or editing software and occupations like Netflix and browsing, the Intel HD 620 is not the best choice for gamers. If gaming is not your priority, the crisp, clear, high-resolution display and the portability of ZenBook combined with the i5 processor, the 8GB RAM, and the 256GB SSD make it one of the best choices in this list.
5. Asus TUF Gaming Laptop 15.6”
CPU: AMD Ryzen 5 Quad-Core up to 3.70GHz
GPU: Nvidia GeForce GTX 1650 4GB
Storage: 256GB SSD
Display: 15.6 inch FHD (1920 x 1080)
Keeping in mind that many students spend some time in gaming, it would be a deficiency if we didn’t include in the list the new Asus TUF A15, one of the most versatile and economic gaming laptops you can buy right now.
The model comes equipped with a powerful Intel Core i5 CPU and 8GB of RAM (which can be upgraded), a 256GB SSD, and a dedicated Nvidia Geforce GTX 1650 GPU.
Thus, performance will not be a problem for you as a student, as this build can handle any computing software, browsing, and pretty much anything.
The great difference with the rest of the reviewed laptops is that Asus TUF contains a powerful dedicated GPU which will allow you to play every game you want. You won’t have any problem running demanding games like PUBG or Witcher III in 1080p and Ultra settings.
The 15.6 FHD display will do more than just ‘the job’ and the keyboard worked flawlessly as expected, even over a long period of time which we’ve tested.
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The Asus TUF A15 is designed for gamers and this is obvious only by looking at it. However, the dedicated GPU and the gaming design has its cost as it concerns the size, as the TUF is larger (14.2x 10.3x 1) and heavier (4.9 lbs) than the rest laptops on the list. If you consider gaming more important than portability and elegance, this is probably the best laptop of the list for you.
6. HP 14 inch
CPU: AMD Athlon Silver 3050U up to 3.2 GHz
GPU: AMD Radeon Graphics
Storage: 256GB SSD
Display: 14 inch HD (1366 x 768)
The HP 14 inch also has the potential to meet your needs as a computer science student at the lowest price on the list.
Although the hardware build of HP 14 with AMD Athlon 3050U processor, 16GB of RAM, and AMD Radeon graphics probably is not as quick as the rest of the laptops, it will meet the basic needs of a computer science student. Some models will be touchscreen and pose large benefits for those taking notes
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Because of the 16GB of RAM, you won’t have a problem in multitasking as well and the 256GB SSD is good enough for the price range and could be upgraded with an external hard drive later.
The fact that the display is not 1080p but 720p is reflected in the image quality but the display is not bad in any case and the 14inch screen proves to be big enough. The HP 14 is also small and easily transferred with dimensions of 12.8x 8.9x 0.8 and a weight of 3.24 lbs.
Overall, the HP 14 is a great choice for you as a computer science student, if you want a laptop that meets (and in some features exceeds) the minimum hardware requirements for your college and does not cost a lot.
7. HP Aspire 15.6”
CPU: AMD Ryzen 3 Dual-Core up to 3.5GHz
GPU: AMD Radeon Vega 3
Storage: 256GB SSD + 1TB HDD
Display: 15.6 inch FHD (1920 x 1080) IPS
HP Aspire is also very popular, was released this year and the differences it has from the rest contestants make it an interesting choice for a computer science student. The laptop includes stable AMD performance, a very good screen for the price range, a great battery, and two separate Hard Drives at a low cost.
HP Aspire contains the Ryzen 3200U, the same as the ACER’s Aspire, which is, as mentioned above, a solid dual-core processor that will handle the computer software you use as a student. The 12GB RAM proves to be more than enough too and you won’t have performance issues when multitasking.
The laptop’s Radeon Vega 3 integrated graphics core will suffice for your computing software and everyday occupations and performance issues might pop up only with demanding pc games.
Although the HP Aspire seems to be similar to the ACER one, the great difference between the two can be found in the Hard Drives, as HP has also included a 1TB HDD drive that works separately from the SDD. That means that you could have all the computing software installed in the SSD drive which is faster and keep the 1TB of the HDD to save all your important files. HP Aspire’s FHD 15.6 inch, 1080P display is great for the price range.
Respectively with the ACER Aspire, the HP Aspire could not be the first choice for a gamer, but can easily cope with your everyday needs as a student and it will provide a pleasant viewing experience in streaming platforms like Netflix.
How to choose the best laptop as a computer science student for college
As a computer science student you’ll want to choose a laptop that is more powerful than the standard, average low cost choices available. However, exactly how powerful do you need the laptop to be and what other factors also need to be considered the weighing in the price.
The core of what you’ll need is based around what softwares and application you’ll be using for computer science.
If you want the laptop to last a while as a computer science student you’ll want to get a laptop with an adequate CPU that is i7 equivalent or better, a good gpu, 512GB storage, and a larger than average display (14 inches or larger is ideal). Long Battery life, and having many ports, a USB-C or an external adapter for several ports also works.
See our post: 5 Fastest MicroSD Cards (256GB, 512GB, 1TB)
What Computer science apps can students use on a laptop?
As a computer science student you’ll be using many of the same programs, softwares, and applications that a professional will use. However, there are some computer science apps specifically created to help students.
The field of computer science has given birth to different career opportunities for people. In the realm of app development, there are a lot of opportunities for those who have a computer science degree. There are also those who do not have any formal education in the field. Which apps you choose will depend on your preferences and requirements as a computer science student.
Best apps for computer science students
Computer science students will be using apps that are based around machine learning, artificial intelligence, data structure, statistical inference, software development, terminals such as bash, unix, linux, and more are ideal. Choosing the right laptop for these apps is crucial.
Best apps to help students learn computer science
Solo learn is a learning app used to improve your coding, programming and all around computer science knowledge. They provide courses and unique ways of learning computer science.
Mimo is very popular and can show computer science professionals and students how to handle all the terminology and basic programming knowledge.
Code Academy explores fundamental such as algorithms, databases ,computer architecture and more. As one of the most popular coding learning web programs, code academy is a great resource to use after you get your first laptop for computer science and are ready to go.
What type of laptop should a computer science student get?
Knowing the type of laptop you need as a computer science student is crucial before making a final choice for college or class. You’ll need to know which laptop works best for your studies and what tech specs and requirements are necessary.
A big part of understanding which is the best laptop as a computer science student, is knowing the type of laptop you need. Students have quite a few options, such as: touchscreen 2-in-1 laptops, gaming laptops, MacBooks, lenovo, acer and more.
If your’e using a non touch screen laptop, see the best ways to Write and Draw on a Non Touch Screen Laptop
Many other brands that have variations of these features will fulfill the requirements you need.
Touchscreen Laptops for computer science
Getting a laptop that is touchscreen, like the Microsoft surface Pro model, is not required. However, some computer science students find it useful for lectures because they can draw, take notes, and annotate over display.
A Gaming laptop is also ideal, but even a good laptop without a strong graphics card will work well if you’re sticking to computer science and not many other extra activities outside these needs.
Is it worth getting a gaming laptop for my computer science studies?
A gaming laptop works well for computer science students because it will fulfill the 16GB recommendation, they have a powerful graphics card, and have many ports and a long lasting battery life that will greatly benefit a computer science student.
The laptops in this post will work similarly for your needs: Best Gaming Laptops for Graphic Design
Is lenovo a good laptop for a computer science major?
Lenovo Yoga, ThinkBook, and other ideapad models work very well for computer science majors because they are very secure compared to many other lesser-known laptops and they also have the tech specs most computer science students need.
Gaming laptops are created for professionals of all types have have many unique features that make navigating and performing computer science tasks intuitive and easy to accomplish.
Related: Lenovo Thinkpad vs Ideapad: Which is better?
Is a Microsoft Surface Pro good for computer science?
The Microsoft Surface Pro is a touchscreen laptop that has all of the features you would need for a computer science student. While, it’s on the more expensive side for the tech specs you get, the innovative touchscreen and overall user experience is top notch, especially for a student.
The surface pro can be used like a tablet and has downloadable apps that are available for computer science students.
See more on the surface pro: Surface Pro 7 vs iPad Pro for Drawing & Art (Compared)
How much RAM do I need for computer science
Computer science students and professionals will ideally grab a minimum of 16Gb ram on their laptops or desktops. In the past, 8GB RAM was adequete, but as technology advances more RAM will be needed, especially if you want your laptop to last you for years to come.
Computer science desktops on the other hand are typically less expensive in regards to the amount of ram you need.
A computer science students looking for the best laptop will need to know the tech specs they need. Once that is established, you can choose a laptop based around if these specs can handle the type of computer science tasks they need, such as handling data structures, algorithms, computer architecture and discrete math.
Shooting for 16Gb of RAM and a fast CPU is ideal and this is why may gaming laptops are also used for computer science. You can choose any type of laptop that has these specs – including, but not limited to 2-in-1 touchscreen laptops, gaming laptops, lenovo laptops, HP, and other name-brands that are reliable such as Macbook Airs and Pros & Microsoft Surface Pro’s.