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How to Buy a Cheap Laptop in 2022

Now is a fantastic time to learn how to shop for a cheap laptop, including what to look out for and what to avoid, as back-to-school shopping season is already underway. I don't mean cheap in a negative way; rather, I'm referring to a budget laptop that delivers high performance and overall value despite its low price. However, "cheap" is a common slang term, so let's use it.

I'm going to spend less time discussing specific brands and models because they vary frequently, especially at the low end, which is made worse by continuous supply chain problems that prevent stock from reaching stores. Apple's MacBook Air is frequently the first option people think about, but at $999 for the older M1 model and $1,199 for the current M2 model, it's out of reach for many customers on a tight budget. In our ranking of the best laptops overall, you can learn more about the MacBook Air and our other top picks.

What qualities make a laptop on a tight budget?

The price point for a cheap laptop used to be $500. But with time, the sub-$500 laptops on the market have begun to appear excessively weak. Right now, I'd define a cheap laptop as anything priced under $700. Your selections will be fairly constrained if you spend $500 or less, and, to be honest, there's a strong possibility you won't be completely satisfied with the result.

The possibilities increase if you give yourself a little wiggle room, more like $700. If you do that, it will be lot simpler for you to choose something that you will enjoy and that will last for a long time. But there are some: You're good even if you buy a Chromebook for less than $500.

Is a Chromebook all I need?

Probably. A Chromebook, a laptop that runs Google's Chrome OS, would be suitable for the majority of people. Chrome OS now allows users to run Android apps from the Google Play Store, Linux programs, and some games in addition to the Chrome web browser and a few add-ons that were previously available.

On a laptop, you typically use a browser to do the majority of your email, web browsing, streaming video, social media, and shopping. And if you want to spend less than $500, you'll get a prettier, more responsive machine as opposed to a low-cost Windows laptop at the same price.

Why would you not desire a Chromebook? It's possible that you need to locally install some specialized Windows-only program on the laptop for your job or academic studies. I could make a similar argument for software like Photoshop or video games, but if you're spending $500 on a laptop, that's probably not what you want it for.

What features should I search for?

It will be really basic, costing around $500 or less. generally persevere until you locate a good CPU. Since Intel is currently on its 12th generation of Core CPUs, it is recommended to purchase one from the most recent generation; otherwise, you risk receiving outdated hardware.

Although you'll likely need to spend more than $500, I'd opt for an Intel Core i5. It's challenging to surpass the Core i3 version for less than $500. Anything with an Intel Pentium, Celeron, Atom, or M3 chip is generally to be avoided. Instead of an AMD Athlon, search for an AMD Ryzen 4000-series processor. This is my own long-term recommendation starting in the spring of 2022 for chipmakers, who should release new chip models at least once a year, if not more.

You need 16GB of RAM to run Windows 11, but finding that won't be easy until you spend $700 or a little more. Once more, I advise saving a little money to purchase a Core i5 laptop with 16GB of memory. Get at least 8GB of RAM if you can't. And if you do go cheap, seek for a laptop that you can open up later on and add extra RAM to. You can accomplish this with a lot of budget laptops and gaming laptops. You won't be able to install more memory later if the laptop memory is classified as "onboard"; this indicates that it is more likely to be soldered down.

I'm not picky about storage. In any case, the majority of individuals save everything online. Instead of a spinning platter disk, choose a solid state drive (SSD) (HDD). Size-wise, 256GB is excellent, and 512GB will be much better but more difficult to find. Only accept 128GB if you absolutely must or if cloud storage is your primary method of storing. But if it came down to it, I would choose more RAM over more storage. Budget laptops occasionally have doors that can be unlocked, allowing you to switch in a bigger drive if you need to in the future.

What should I keep away from buying a cheap laptop?

Beware of "doorbuster" sales around the holidays that seem too good to be true. They are typically outdated and underpowered. A $200 laptop purchased on Black Friday might be obsolete by Cyber Monday.

Typically, displays are where PC manufacturers make savings on budget laptops. Look for a 1,920x1,080 (also known as Full HD) display resolution. In addition to avoiding low-power ARM processors, which I've already discussed in my previous post, I'd also advise avoiding them unless they are found in Chromebooks. I could be convinced to buy a laptop with a Qualcomm Snapdragon chip, but those are typically used in more expensive laptops with always-on mobile broadband connections.

Verify the seller of the laptop if you're purchasing it from Amazon or Walmart's websites. Is it Amazon or Walmart, or is some other vendor only using them as a platform for selling their goods? My recommendation is to only buy electronics from Amazon or

When is the ideal time to purchase a budget laptop?

I enjoy seasonal sales like Black Friday, but you have to read the deals extremely carefully because some retailers prefer to drag out-of-date merchandise. But you may still find some great bargains, especially as you approach the $500–$700 price point.

As everyone gets ready for the autumn semester, the summertime back-to-school season is also a hot period for computers. There are fewer fake doorbusters, but remember to confirm the age and contents of the laptop before purchasing. Check the Chromebook's automatic update expiration date (AUE), as beyond that date it might not receive OS updates from Google.

I typically tell customers not to worry if they are concerned that something they acquire will soon be replaced by a new model. Choose what works best for you and your budget unless a completely new version is coming out in the next few weeks (and new PCs are typically publicized ahead of time, before they go on sale). Spend less time fretting and more time using your new laptop because every technological equipment will eventually be replaced or abandoned.