I review laptops for a living and this is probably the best laptop under $300 you can buy this Black Friday

acemagician ax15
(Image credit: Acemagician)
Acemagic AX15 laptop:$459.99 $309.99 at AmazonSave $52We just reviewed it and gave it a solid 3.5 stars

Acemagic AX15 laptop: $459.99 $309.99 at Amazon
Save $52 The AX15 reminds us of the old Apple MacBook Air thanks to its metal chassis. It comes with a recent quad-core Intel CPU plus 16GB of RAM and a large 512GB SSD. It has a dedicated numeric keypad as well, which makes it great for students and anyone that needs to crunch numbers. We just reviewed it and gave it a solid 3.5 stars

What’s the deal?
At just under $300, the Acemagic AX15 is the cheapest laptop with 16GB of RAM on the market right now - regardless of whether you want to use it for work or leisure -  and the one I’d probably go for you’re on a very tight budget this Black Friday (PS: Check out our Black Friday deals page).

What else I should know?
It comes with Windows 11 Pro, making it the cheapest laptop I know of that comes with the business version of Microsoft's ever-present software. Windows 11 Pro costs $200 by itself and has several features that make it superior to Windows 11 Home (check out our Windows 11 Pro vs Windows 11 Home piece to find out more). It uses 802.11ac Wi-Fi (Wi-Fi 5), has a 15.6-inch full HD IPS display that opens 180 degrees. Other notable features include a HD webcam, Bluetooth 5.0 and a flurry of ports - five USB ports including a Type-C one that is used for charging.

Any issues?
The battery capacity is small at 38WHr (so don’t expect a long battery life - our reviewer got just under six hours in light use), it uses a SATA SSD (rather than NVMe), it has a single memory module that you can’t upgrade and is therefore limited to single channel (slower performance). You can’t add more mass storage components as well and Notebookcheck mentioned that the Wi-Fi is slow and a single USB 2.0 port. None of these are showstoppers though.

What about after sales?
The item is sold and shipped by Amazon so you get the full 12-month warranty and the support from the world’s largest online retailer. Sadly, there's no Amazon Protection Plan by Asurion.

Who are they?
Acemagic is one of the many direct-to-consumer brands from mainland China that are trying to compete for your hard-earned dollar. While they are relatively new to the market, they have been reviewed by numerous outlets (more on that later) and the AX15 covered by Amazon’s stellar support scheme. As such, it is eligible for return, refund or replacement within 30 days of receipt (T&C apply as expected).

What should you consider it for?
It is an entry-level laptop so it would be great for light office usage. You won't be able to game or do anything that requires heavy lifting (e.g. 3D rendering, video editing etc).

What have others said about it?
We reviewed it a few weeks ago and our reviewer said that "It is an impressively engineered design that has many admirable features. However, it can easily be swamped by Windows 11, and the SATA SSD didn’t help make the most of what the AX15 can offer. As a Chromebook, this hardware would make more sense."

Notebookcheck gave it a solid 78% back in July when they reviewed it. “With the Intel N95, the Acemagic Ace ‎AX15 offers a very economical, decently performing SoC and a surprisingly premium selection of materials”, the reviewer added. Other written reviews include the gadgeteer (no rating) and ekiwi (no rating). I’ve also added a couple of Youtube videos for those of you who prefer visual hands-on.

Also consider

Gateway 14-inch laptop: $386.40 at Walmart

Gateway 14-inch laptop: $386.40 at Walmart
I quite like this laptop because of its sheer value for money. Not none to put a dent on your family or business budget. It has a Core i5, 16GB RAM, a full HD display and a long battery life. Grab it while you can

Desire Athow
Managing Editor, TechRadar Pro

Désiré has been musing and writing about technology during a career spanning four decades. He dabbled in website builders and web hosting when DHTML and frames were in vogue and started narrating about the impact of technology on society just before the start of the Y2K hysteria at the turn of the last millennium.