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Best laptops under $300 2021: the top laptops you don't have to splurge on

(Image credit: Future)
PRICE
VERDICT
REASONS TO BUY
REASONS TO AVOID
VERDICT
REASONS TO BUY
REASONS TO AVOID

In a world permeated with premium machines, the best laptops under $300 are often underestimated. Users are naturally drawn to powerful machines touting the latest and greatest specs, after all, and as long as they have the money, they’re happy to spend a lot on more than what they’ll ever need. 

However, there is a strong case for the best laptops under $300. Beyond that bargain-basement price, a lot of budget laptops are more than capable for what a lot of consumers need. They can be very hit and miss with some being much better than you would expect and others being much worse. However, finding quality devices at that price point isn’t impossible.

If your daily computing needs don’t require a $1,000 or more powerful laptop like the Dell XPS 15, save your money for some other gadget you’ve been eyeing on and get one of the best laptops under $300 instead. We’ve collected great machines under $300 here, from smaller notebooks to light Chromebooks, along with our price comparison tool for finding the best deal. 

Check out our best laptop under $500 and best laptop under $200 guides as well to expand your options. Is money not an issue? One of best Dell laptops might be the right call.

Acer Chromebook Spin 311

(Image credit: Acer)

1. Acer Chromebook Spin 311

Versatile and fun

Specifications
CPU: AMD A4-9120C – Intel Celeron N4000
Graphics: AMD Radeon R4 – Intel UHD Graphics 600
RAM: 4GB
Screen: 11.6" HD (1366 x 768) 16:9 – 11.6" HD (1366 x 768) 16:9 IPS
Storage: 32GB Flash Memory
Reasons to buy
+Empty Great design and build+Excellent touch screen and flip mechanism
Reasons to avoid
-Dim screen

While the Acer Chromebook Spin 311 was over $300 when it was released, many of its configurations have dropped in price, which is only good news for budget-minded consumers. This little Chromebook that could has many things going for it, starting with its surprisingly great design and solid build, as well as its comfortable to use keyboard and touchpad.

But, that’s only to start. It also delivers performance-wise, with a solid set of components under the hood. You can multitask without issue on this laptop, so you can use it for work and entertainment. That is, as long as you can do most of your work on Google Chrome. It is still a Chromebook, after all.

The features we love most about this laptop, however, is its versatile 2-in-1 design and touchscreen display. You won’t often find that combination in cheaper laptops, which adds more value to this particular portable. And, we’re not talking about a crappy screen here. It has a Gorilla glass touch display that may be a little dimmer than its premium counterparts, but is still tough and nice to touch.

Read the full review: Acer Chromebook Spin 311 

HP Chromebook 14A G5

(Image credit: HP)

2. HP Chromebook 14A G5

Powerful Chromebook for cheap

Specifications
CPU: AMD A4-9120C APU
Graphics: AMD Radeon R4 Graphics
RAM: 4GB
Screen: 14" diagonal (1366 x 768) HD SVA eDP anti-glare LED backlit with 220 cd/m²
Storage: 32 GB eMMC
Reasons to buy
+Great performance+Excellent battery life
Reasons to avoid
-Keyboard not comfortable to use

There are several reasons why HP’s Chromebook 14 is so popular, including the fact that it has a surprisingly wide range of configurations, giving economical buyers many options. Though in the budget range of the lightweight Chromebook environment, this line is also powerful enough, has an impressive battery life and boasts a good selection of ports.

And, if you choose wisely, you’ll be rewarded with a configuration that gives you great value all around, like the HP Chromebook 14A G5. Beyond the line’s 14-inch display, battery longevity and port selection, it’s also fitted with AMD A4-9120C APU and Radeon R4 Graphics. It’s one of the crowd-favorites in the bunch, but it won’t set you back more than $300, unlike the other highly rated configurations.

It’s not without its compromises. The lower resolution HD display isn’t anything to write about, and the keyboard isn’t great either. But, budget laptops are never without flaws. At least with this, you’re getting great performance without breaking the bank.

Lenovo IdeaPad 1 14-inch

(Image credit: Lenovo)

3. Lenovo IdeaPad 1 14-inch

For portability and design

Specifications
CPU: AMD A4-9120E – A9-9420E
Graphics: AMD Radeon R3 – R5
RAM: 4GB
Screen: 14.0” HD (1366 x 768) anti-glare, 220 nits
Storage: 64GB eMMC
Reasons to buy
+Lightweight for a budget laptop+Great port selection
Reasons to avoid
-Slow performing 

Even with its most budget laptops, Lenovo has never been one to shy away from great, modern aesthetics. It’s one of the many things we appreciate about the Lenovo IdeaPad 1 14-inch. Inside, it kind of reminds you of older MacBooks, only with a small yet noticeable Lenovo logo sitting at the edge on the right. Outside, the logo’s there again, but nothing else. This makes it perfect for fans of the minimalist look. And, if you’re sick of the same old gray/silver color, it comes in ice blue too.

Of course, there’s more to laptops than just looks, and this one’s got a few other things going for it, including a great port selection and a lightweight design. Well, lightweight for a budget laptop at least There’s also it’s “just right” 14-inch screen size – it’s not too big like a 15-inch and not too small like a 13-inch.

Fair warning, though: this isn’t known for its speedy performance and multitasking skills. So only get it for casual use. If you have a penchant for multitasking and addiction to games, this probably isn’t the best laptop under $300 for you.

Lenovo IdeaPad 1 (11")

(Image credit: Lenovo)

4. Lenovo IdeaPad 1 (11")

Cheap and small

Specifications
CPU: Intel Celeron N4020 Processor
Graphics: Intel UHD Graphics 600
RAM: 4GB DDR4 2400MHz
Screen: 11.6" HD (1366 x 768) anti-glare
Storage: 64GB eMMC
Reasons to buy
+Portable+Really cheap
Reasons to avoid
-Don’t expect a whole lot of power 

Those who are happy with a tablet-sized portable will love the price of the 11-inch Lenovo IdeaPad 1, which is now cheaper than ever. It’s just under three pounds and is powerful enough to help you tackle productivity tasks. Thanks to that eight-hour battery life, you won’t need to carry that charger with you either if you’re traveling light. It also comes with a built-in dual stereo speaker for media consumption on your bed. While it’s terrific for doing light productivity tasks, this one’s best for the matriculating members of the household.

Dell Inspiron 15 3000

(Image credit: Dell)

5. Dell Inspiron 15 3000

SSD goodness under $300

Specifications
CPU: Intel Celeron N4020
Graphics: Intel UHD Graphics 600
RAM: 4GB DDR4 2400MHz
Screen: 15.6-inch HD (1366 x 768) anti-glare LED-backlit non-touch narrow border
Storage: 128GB M.2 PCIe NVMe SSD
Reasons to buy
+Bigger and faster storage+Decent screen+Great port selection
Reasons to avoid
-Battery life could be better

For an affordable 15-inch laptop, the Dell Inspiron 15 3000 hovers just under $300. That’s pretty good considering the extra real estate you’re getting. But, that isn’t the best part. While it keeps things pretty modest on the CPU and graphics front, it does go for a fast SSD with 128GB of storage. It’s just the ticket if you have a lot of photos, videos and documents to store. You’ll want this if you’re looking for the best laptop under $300 to get you through your workload.

Michelle Rae Uy

Michelle Rae Uy is a Los Angeles-based editor, writer and photographer with a bad case of wanderlust. She is a regular contributor for Thrillist, TravelAge West, HuffPo Travel, Paste Magazine, and Travel Pulse. She has written for publications like Nylon, Fodor's and SmarterTravel, and is also the contributing editor for MiniTime.com.