How to Buy a Budget Laptop That Packs a Punch

edited August 2023 in PC Tech

With the laptop market continuing to churn out high-quality devices, it’s easy to find a computer that has all the features and design components you want. Finding a budget laptop that actually packs a punch so you don’t lose productivity may be a bit more difficult. 

Budget laptops have long been designed to go easy on your wallet. They’ve generally offered less-powerful components than more expensive alternatives and delivered fewer ports or less eye-popping displays. What you give up in flashiness, you make up for in serious savings at the cash register. 

But budget laptops are evolving. There are a host of budget laptops available now that still deliver the power and productivity gains you’re seeking in a new machine. Finding them, though, can be somewhat challenging. 

So here’s a guide on actually finding the budget laptops you desire with some important tips on choosing features that will deliver the most bang for the buck. 

Know your budget 

It goes without saying that if you’re looking to buy a budget-friendly laptop, you’ll actually want to know how much you want to spend before you choose your next computer. So first and foremost, establish a budget for your next laptop and be sure to stick to it. 

Depending on the size of the laptop you want and the features you desire within it, you should be able to find an outstanding budget-friendly laptop for a couple hundred dollars. If you want to up your performance a bit, your budget should range between $500 and $700. But as long as you’re not looking for an especially high-powered feature or component, you shouldn’t need to spend much more than that to get the budget machine you’re after. 

Pick the processor 

Your budget laptop’s processor will play a critical role in getting more out of your machine. While you can save a bit on a graphics card or even the amount of storage you choose, opting for a computer that has a more powerful processor is a good idea. 

Both Intel and AMD make processors that appeal to those on a budget. Even their latest-generation Intel Core or AMD Ryzen chips can pack the punch you want without breaking the bank. When choosing your processor, try to find a machine with a faster clock speed and newer technology. You should also be on the lookout for a laptop that runs last year’s processor technology. In many cases, you can get a faster clock speed and better performance by buying technology that’s only a year old. 

RAM is a power hack 

RAM is a great way to boost your budget laptop’s performance without spending too much money on a new machine. If you don’t want to opt for a more powerful processor or graphics card, adding more RAM to your machine will allow for your software to load more quickly and perform more effectively. 

One of the nice things about RAM is that you can upgrade your memory over time and keep your laptop running at near-peak levels. So even after you buy your budget laptop, you can often swap out the memory sticks for faster options to improve performance even if you don’t upgrade its processor, graphics card, or other components. 

Choose your operating system 

Opting for the right operating system is a critical component in using your next budget laptop. 

Both Microsoft and Google offer outstanding operating system options for budget laptops. Windows 11 is designed to be resource-efficient at any budget, meaning it’ll run exceptionally well on both high-powered and budget-friendly laptops alike. Google’s Chrome OS is a cloud-based operating system that was designed to deliver outstanding performance on computers with less powerful components. 

Regardless of the operating system you choose, most of the applications you use today work with Windows 11 and Chrome OS. And since Chrome OS is for the cloud, if you’re someone who often uses browsers and cloud-based apps to power your computing experience, you can opt for a Chromebook and not lose any productivity. 

Storage, graphics, displays, and more 

Now that you’ve decided on your operating system, processing power, and RAM, it’s time to analyze the other components that round out your next budget laptop purchase. 

You’ll firstly want to think about the display size you desire in your budget laptop. While smaller screens are generally found in less-expensive devices, you should be able to find 14, 15, or even 17-inch screens in budget laptops. You should try to pick a display with at least a 1080p resolution, but if you can find one with 4K at a reasonable price, go with that instead.

Budget laptops don’t typically ship with powerful graphics cards, so you won’t be able to play the latest and greatest video games at their peak levels. But even if you buy a machine with a less-powerful Nvidia or AMD graphics card, you should still be able to engage in light video editing and video gaming. 

To keep your budget laptop running well, try to buy a computer with at least 128GB of solid-state storage. Solid state drives are much faster than traditional hard disk drives and can make up for some lack of processing power. And although budget laptops don’t usually have a slew of ports, try to find a computer with four USB ports. Fast wireless connectivity and a display port that helps you connect an external monitor would also be preferable. 

As you embark upon the purchase of a new budget laptop, you’ll undoubtedly need to make some hard decisions about what you want and don’t. But as long as you stick to your budget and think hard about the features you desire, you should find appealing options. 


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