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The 5 best cheap laptops: Under $350

What is the best cheap laptop? Our choice is the HP 14 with its 10-hour battery life, quick-charge feature, and connectivity options. But be sure to check out our other top picks for the best budget laptops under $350 from Samsung, Dell, and more.
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Reviewed by Elyse Betters Picaro

You might have seen prices slowly going up, and most of this is due to the COVID-19 pandemic and the pressures it has put on supply chains. Not only did we see disruption to manufacturing, but the shift to working and learning from home meant that hardware was flying off shelves as fast as it could be made.

But, if you look around, there are still some good laptop deals to be had out there. You can score a very nice, very capable Windows 10 or ChromeOS laptop for under $350. This segment isn't as big as it was a year ago, so choices are a little more limited. But pick the right hardware, and you'll get value for money.

HP 14

Best cheap laptop overall

HP 14
Amazon

Features:

  • 14-inch HD  display
  • AMD 3020e processor
  • 4GB RAM
  • 64GB eMMC storage
  • OS: Windows 10 Home
  • Starting price: $339

This is very much an entry level system, complete with a 14-inch HD display, 4GB of RAM, 64GB of storage, and an AMD 3020e processor with built-in graphics. But you do get a solid 10-hour battery, a fast charge feature that can take the battery from 0 to 50% in 45 minutes, a decent keyboard, and a nice selection of ports.

And for all those Zoom sessions you're doing, there's a very capable 720p webcam.

This is a great workhorse for work and school.

Pros:

  • Great battery with fast-charge
  • Plenty of ports
  • Great storage

Cons:

  • Not user upgradeable
  • Screen not 1080p

Dell Chromebook 3100 Education

Best cheap laptop for students

Dell Chromebook 3100 Education
Amazon

Features

  • 11.6-inch HD 1366 x 768 display
  • Intel Celeron N4020 processor
  • 4GB RAM
  • 16GB eMMC storage
  • OS: Chrome OS
  • Starting price: $240

This is a Chromebook designed to last. It's been rigorously tested to the MIL-STD standards, and it can "survive 5,000 free fall micro-drops and 30-inch drops onto steel, while rubberized edges minimize impacts from drops and bumps". It also features a spill- and tamper-resistant keyboard that withstands up to 12 ounces of liquid.

Pros:

  • Spill and tamper resistant
  • Military-grade durability
  • Perfect for students

Cons:

  • Very limited storage
  • Limited ports

Lenovo IdeaPad 1 (14-inch, AMD)

Best audio for a cheap laptop

Lenovo IdeaPad 1 (14-inch, AMD)
Walmart

Features

  • AMD A6-9220E processor
  • Integrated AMD Radeon R4 graphics
  • 11.6-inch display
  • 4GB RAM
  • 64GB eMMC
  • OS: Windows 10 Home
  • Starting price: $240

This is a lightweight laptop with a decent processor and good battery life wrapped up in a robust package. 

You also get Dolby Audio, so the sound is quite spectacular for such a budget notebook. Overall, it's a very portable laptop that comes with a decent array of ports, and it has enough power and battery life for day-to-day tasks in the home, school, or office.

Pros:

  • Dolby Audio
  • Good amount of storage
  • Good battery

Cons:

  • Not user upgradeable
  • Screen not 1080p

Samsung Chromebook 4+ 15.6-inch

Best display for a cheap laptop

Samsung Chromebook 4+ 15.6-inch
Amazon

Features:

  • 15.6-inch FHD 1920 x 1080 anti-glare display
  • Intel Celeron N4000 processor
  • 6GB RAM
  • 64GB eMMC storage
  • OS: Chrome OS
  • Starting price: $299

Short of buying a Chromebook from Google, Samsung's offerings are the next best thing. And the Chromebook 4+ brings a lot of hardware to the table at a competitive price. You get a big 15.6-inch FHD display, 64GB of storage, and 10 hours of battery life in a thin-and-light package.

If you are a digital packrat, then you can bump the storage up to 128GB for an extra $80.

Pros:

  • 1080p screen
  • Good storage
  • Great battery

Cons:

  • Not user upgradeable
  • Limited ports

Lenovo Chromebook C340-11

Best cheap 2-in-1 laptop

Lenovo Chromebook C340-11
Amazon

Features

  • Chrome OS
  • Intel Celeron N4000 processor
  • 11.6-inch touch display
  • 4GB RAM
  • 64GB eMMC
  • OS: Chrome OS
  • Starting price: $158

This is a Chromebook with the Lenovo touch. It has a 10-hour battery life, a 360-degree hinge that allows it to switch from a laptop to a tablet, and the convenience of Chrome OS. While coming in at under $300, this device still feels like a premium device.

Pros:

  • 2-in-1 form factor
  • Great battery
  • Good storage

Cons:

  • Not user upgradeable
  • No stylus included

What is the best cheap laptop?

The best cheap laptop is the HP 14. It has a 10-hour battery life with a quick charge feature, which gives you up to 50 percent charge in just 45 minutes. The 14-inch display gives you plenty of room to browse the web, write school reports, and even stream movies, while the built-in webcam makes it easy to attend virtual meetings and classes.

Laptop

Price

CPU

Storage

HP 14

$339

AMD 3020e

64GB eMMC

Dell Chromebook 3100 Education

$240

Intel Celeron N4020

16GB eMMC

Lenovo IdeaPad 1

$240

AMD A6-9220E

64GB eMMC

Samsung Chromebook 4+

$299

Intel Celeron N4000

65GB eMMC

Lenovo Chromebook C340-11

$158

Intel Celeron N4000

64GB eMMC

Which cheap laptop is right for you?

Since the price here is fixed -- $350 or under -- that removes a massive variable and narrows down the field dramatically. But that doesn't mean you don't have any choices.

The first decision you need to make is whether you want a Windows machine or a Chromebook running ChromeOS (you can forget about MacBooks in this price category). Both operating systems have their strengths: Windows offers that continuity from the desktop experience, while ChromeOS offers a level of simplicity. So this is a choice that you need to make based on your predicted usage.

Some of these systems run Windows 10S, which is a version of Windows 10 that can only run apps from the Windows app store. This has both pros (increased security and reliability) and cons (less choice), so bear this in mind if you are planning on going down this route.

Next is prioritizing what you want from the hardware. The $350 price point is not going to buy you everything, so you're going to have to choose your focus. Will it be a big display, more storage, or more RAM?

This can mean some tough choices, especially in the current climate where options are more limited.

Choose this laptop...

If you need...

HP 14

An affordable, well-rounded laptop for everyday use

Dell Chromebook 3100 Education

A budget-friendly laptop for Chrome users

Lenovo IdeaPad 1

A cheap laptop that still delivers quality sound

Samsung Chromebook 4+

An affordable laptop with a 1080p display

Lenovo Chromebook C340-11

A cheap 2-in-1 laptop

How did we choose these cheap laptops?

We went for a combination of bang-for-the-buck (because the bucks are limited) and longer-term reliability and durability. Laptops get quite a hard life, so picking one that handle some abuse pays off in the long term.

Is $350 enough for a good laptop?

Don't be under the illusion that $350 is going to buy you a monster system that can do everything. It's not. If you are looking for a system that can handle things like photo and video editing -- or a gaming system -- then you are looking in the wrong place.

But if you are looking for a basic system capable of browsing the web (keep the Google Chrome tabs down to a minimum) or doing word processing and spreadsheets, then these are the systems for you.

Are desktops cheaper than laptops?

While there are some cases where a desktop can be cheaper than opting for a laptop (like if you're looking for a gaming rig or something for content creation), you'll be hard-pressed to find everyday use desktops that can compete with these laptop prices. 

For example, the most affordable HP desktop, the Envy TE01, starts at $450, while everything on this list is under $350. While you may get lucky and be able to take advantage of a really good sale or discount coupon from certain retailers, a desktop that sells for under $400 is very, very rare.

Are Chromebooks cheaper than Windows laptops?

Chromebooks do tend to be more affordable than their Windows-based counterparts. However, there are also premium-grade Chromebooks that retail for $1,000 or more. 

If you want an everyday use Chromebook, you can easily find them for $500 or less. This is great if you're shopping for a laptop for your school-aged kids to use for distance learning and classwork. 

Chromebooks are offered at such low prices because they're more stripped-back than a typical Windows option. They have less-powerful processors, less RAM, and much less storage space. They're often enabled for cloud-based storage, however, so you can offload documents, photos, and music to your favorite cloud storage provider to free up space on your local drive. 

What is a good, cheap laptop for school?

The Dell Chromebook 3100 Education is the perfect budget-friendly laptop for school, especially for younger students. It has a chassis that is tested against military standards for durability, so it can withstand trekking back and forth from home to the classroom every day. It's also spill and tamper-resistant, so you won't have to worry about spills during homework time or younger kids prying open the laptop. 

While it does only have 16GB of on-board storage, that's more than enough for reports, slide shows, and attending virtual classes. And if your older students need more space, they can offload documents and images to cloud-based storage services like Google Drive or Dropbox. 

Are there alternative cheap laptops worth considering?

There are plenty of options out there if you're looking for an affordable laptop for everyday use. Here's a short list of alternatives that are great choices:

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