Last Updated: March 29th 2015
Improvements in computer technology in the last few years have made laptops more accessible to the average user. Today, it is common to see laptops that cost less but still offer good performance. However, buying laptops below $300 can be a little tricky. Laptops that cost that low may not perform as well as or last as long as you expect them to, and it can be frustrating to work with an under-performing laptop.
Desktop PCs that work poorly can be easily upgraded, but the same cannot be said for laptops. Therefore, it is important to make the right choice and separate the good laptops from the bad ones.
At a price range below $300, a laptop will definitely not do any multi-tasking- it can only be a specialized machine. Some machines are designed for portability, others offer more performance but cannot be carried around too much, and a few others still function more as basic office machines. Of course, gaming is completely out of the question. At most, you would be able to multi task with Office applications or play HD videos.
Our best laptops for under $300: Top Picks
Acer Aspire 5349
This laptop is available for £299.99 at select stores, and it offers rather decent specifications for its price. Of course, Acer has always offered more power than most other laptops in the same price range. The Aspire 5349 is a great example of how to build a great budget laptop. It comes with an Intel GMA dual core BB15 process that clocks at around 1.6 GHz. It has an integrated graphics card and a 6 GB DDR3 RAM. With these specifications, you can run Microsoft Office applications, browse the internet, and play online games with ease. You can also play pre-2005 games, but do not expect great graphic performance from the integrated GPU.
The most notable features of this laptop are:
- Dual core processor
- 6 GB RAM
- Integrated graphics card
Read more about Acer Aspire 5349 here.
Fujitsu AH530 Lifebook
The Fujitsu AH530 is available for a little over $280. The laptop is sturdy and robust offering decent performance for the price. Its Pentium P6200 dual core processor is a little more powerful than the one in the Acer Aspire listed above, with a clocked speed of 2.13 GHz. However, it has a smaller hard drive of 320 GB with just 2 GB of RAM. With these specifications, you can perform most day-to-day activities like web browsing or playing online games.
However, the laptop cannot be stressed too much, and multitasking is out of the question. The Fujitsu Lifebook lacks adequate battery life as well, lasting less than the six hours claimed by the company. High-Definition movies, however, can be played on this laptop without a problem. The 15.6-inch widescreen display is as bright and sharp as most other laptops within this range. It has a rather firm build and feels solid in your hands.
The most notable features of this laptop are:
- Intel Pentium dual-core processor
- 2GB RAM
- Bright and sharp 15-inch screen
Click here to read more about the Fujitsu AH530 Lifebook.
Lenovo Essential G575
The Lenovo Essential G575 is available from a starting price of $299, which puts it right under this price bracket. This laptop comes with an AMD processor, specifically the AMD Fusion C-50 processor that is clocked at 1 GHz. This processor is quite slow as compared to the Intel Atom, so multitasking can be a big pain on this particular laptop. The very basic specifications continue with a 320 GB hard drive and Intel Mobile GMA 4500M graphics.
The G575, however, does come with 4GB RAM, which is quite good for its price range. The matte surface of the lid and work surface use smooth plastic, and the laptop itself has been built very well. Apart from the Lenovo emblem, there are no ornamentations or stylizations- this laptop is as bare-boned as it gets.
The main features of this laptop are:
- Intel Atom processor
- 4GB memory
- Integrated GMA 4500M graphics unit
- Good build quality
Read more about the Lenovo Essential G575 here.
Samsung is not popular for its low-end laptops, so it comes as no surprise that the RV510 is hardly popular even with a price tag of $299. However, this particular laptop is a solid and reliable machine for people with bare basic requirements. Its weight of 2.4 kg makes the Samsung RV510 a rather portable machine, even though it has a thicker frame than usual. Battery performance, however, is quite poor. Two hours of video playback and suck the battery dry.
The Samsung RV510 comes with a basic Intel Pentium processor along with 3GB DDR3 RAM and integrated graphics. Overall, these specifications are good enough for running Office applications, browsing the internet, and enjoying movies and photos. Games, however, is a complete no-no. The graphics processor in this laptop is the poorest performer in the lot. HD videos tend to stutter very often, and movie editor applications are out of the question.
Here are the top features of this laptop:
- 3GM memory
- Solid but portable machine
- Good laptop for minor day-to-day work
Click here to read more about the Samsung RV510.
Toshiba Satellite C660
Priced at $300, the Toshiba Satellite C660 is capable of meeting only basic needs. A single-core Intel Celeron processor powers this machine, and it is backed up by a 2GB RAM, which is the minimum specification of any laptop in this list. As expected, the laptop scores far behind most other budget laptops. With poor performance and specifications, the Toshiba Satellite C660 is capable of handling simple tasks like web browsing and Word processing.
The integrated graphics processor in the Toshiba Satellite C660 is also very basic. It is capable of just about coping with simple media tasks like photo editing and watching DVDs. As for games, you are limited only to very simple online ones. One of the biggest drawbacks of this laptop, however, is the lack of integrated camera. While other laptops in this list come with at least a basic VGA integrated camera, the Toshiba Satellite does not come with anything at all.
On the positive side, the Toshiba Satellite C660 boasts of great build quality. It is quite light as compared to other laptops on this list, and it comes with a full-sized keyboard that is mounted very well on the chassis. Battery life is quite good too, lasting over four hours. In other words, this laptop is a good choice for those who want a basic machine they can carry around often.
The notable features of this laptop are:
- Single-core Intel Celeron processor
- 2GB memory
- Good build quality
- Light weight
- Full-sized keyboard
- Good battery life
Read more about the Toshiba Satellite C660 here.