f you’re on a budget but need a new laptop, there’s never been a better time to buy. As recently as last year, you just couldn’t get a cheap laptop that didn’t have a few glaring flaws: a low-res, washed-out screen, mushy keyboard, janky trackpad, underpowered processor, not enough memory, terrible battery life, or an achingly slow mechanical hard drive. But right now you can get a good Windows laptop or Chromebook with a fast processor, plenty of memory, a blazing-fast SSD and a high-quality display — hardly any caveats at all — for less than $500.

We tested seven leading Windows laptops and Chromebooks to find the best cheap laptops. Sure, you can get a (much) nicer laptop for more money, but the price of entry for a decent experience has never been lower. And now’s the time to buy: prices are low as manufacturers sell through their current stock, but they will probably go up this summer.

Dell Inspiron 14

Best budget Windows laptop overall

The Inspiron 14 has all-day battery life, enough power to chew through schoolwork or office tasks, an excellent keyboard and trackpad, and a good (but dim) screen. It even includes nice-to-haves like a webcam cover and a more useful USB-C port (it supports both charging and video out) than its competition

$499 at Dell Acer Aspire 5 (A514-54-501Z)

A great budget laptop with more power, but fewer features

The Aspire 5 has a faster processor and more ports than the Dell, and its screen is brighter, but it’s bigger, heavier, doesn’t feel as nice to type on, and lacks convenient features like USB-C charging and USB-C video out, among other things.

Also, Check out this New MI Laptop which is popular like crazy on the internet.

 

$399 at Walmart Lenovo Chromebook Flex 5i (13-inch)

Best budget Chromebook

The Flex 5i’s Intel Core i3 processor and 8GB of RAM make it more powerful than most budget Chromebooks, and has a 360-degree hinge, a great keyboard and trackpad and decent speakers, though it only got about 5.5 hours of battery life in our testing.

$399 at Amazon Lenovo Chromebook Duet 5 (13-inch)

Best budget 2-in-1 Chromebook

Chromebooks don’t generally make good tablets, but the Duet 5 has a bright, beautiful OLED display and more than 10 hours of battery life. It only has USB-C ports, though, and its Snapdragon processor can’t handle multitasking as well as the Intel-based Chromebooks we tested.

$399 at Best Buy

$395 at Lenovo

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