Best Budget Laptop: Acer Swift 3
- ✓ An incredible hardware package
- ✓ Excellent performance
- ✓ Great value
- ✓ Seriously, this is a lot of hardware for the price range
- ✗ Higher end of budget
- ✗ Build quality and battery life could be better
No one wants to spend more money than they have to. When shopping for a lower-priced laptop, you’re going to have to think about the tradeoffs you’re making. The less you spend, the more you compromise.
We’re fans of the Acer Swift 3 if you’re on a budget. It’s often available for a bit over $600, which might seem expensive, but you’re getting what you pay for. The Swift 3 has a 14-inch 1080p screen, a speedy AMD Ryzen 7 eight-core processor with Radeon graphics, 8 GB of RAM, 512GB of fast NVMe storage, Wi-Fi 6, and a fingerprint reader. That’s an incredible amount of powerful hardware in a mid-range laptop package at this price level. The keyboard and touchpad work well, too.
But what’s the best laptop under $500, you might ask? Well, first we’d recommend upping your budget a bit. Lots of solid PCs, like the Acer Swift 3, are available in the $550 to $650 range. You’ll end up getting a laptop that you’ll be much happier with for a longer period of time.
If you can’t go about $500, then we’d recommend getting not a PC, but a Chromebook. The Lenovo Chromebook Flex 5 is an excellent Chromebook at any price range—although our favorite Chromebook is a bit more expensive—with speedy performance, solid battery life, and a good keyboard and trackpad. You won’t have to deal with Windows, either.
But just how cheap can you go? Well, there’s a computer called the HP Stream 11. It’s among the cheapest Windows laptops you can buy at just over $200. However, it has a slow Intel Celeron CPU, just 4 GB of RAM, and slow (and small) 32GB eMMC storage. At 11 inches, it’s smaller than the 13-inch laptops most people would be comfortable with. That’s a lot of compromises, and we wouldn’t recommend it for most people.
You’ll need to pick the machine that makes sense for you at your price point—but we think you’ll be pleased with an Acer Swift 3 as a PC laptop. It’s budget but doesn’t have too many compromises.