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The 3 Best Cheap Laptops Under $300 For Work & Play

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Most laptops will run you several hundred dollars, but that doesn't mean you can't find a bargain. The best cheap laptops under $300 can handle most (if not all) of the same tasks; you just need to make sure the specs and features are aligned with your needs whether that's word processing or watching movies. Before purchasing anything, get acquainted with a few key details: namely the operating system, size, and storage and speed capabilities.

The first step when buying an affordable laptop: ground your expectations. You likely won't be able to find a MacBook for under $300 (not even a refurbished one), and Windows laptops are few and far between. At this price point, you're most likely looking at a Chromebook — a laptop that has Linux-based Chrome as its operating system. If you've never used this OS before, it may take a little getting used to, but overall, users find it to be intuitive, secure, and convenient (especially if they use other Google services). Keep in mind, however, that support for some apps is inconsistent, so if you need widespread compatibility, you might be better off with a slightly more expensive laptop.

Next, check the overall size of the laptop to ensure that it's big enough for your needs. As a general rule of thumb, cheaper laptops tend to be smaller, with screens that range from 11 to 14 inches. This might not be the best for movie-watching, but it does have its upsides — namely portability and a more lightweight frame.

Last but not least, make sure that the drive and RAM are powerful enough. Drives are measured in gigabytes and dictate how much long-term data your computer can store. RAM, or random access memory, is storage that's dedicated to your current applications, so generally, the more gigs you have, the faster your computer will run.

According to reviews as well as specs, these are four of the most impressive laptops you can get for the price.

1. The Overall Best Laptop Under $300

Judging by its 1,500-plus reviews and 4.3-star rating, this HP Chromebook is one of the best machines you can get for the price. It has a ton of features that are typically reserved for more expensive laptops, namely a 14-inch touch screen, a 9-hour battery life, dual speakers, Bluetooth capabilities, and a built-in webcam. The larger memory and RAM make it well-suited for both work and play — plus it's available in chalkboard gray, ink blue, or white.

One reviewer wrote: "Worth every penny I paid for it. Battery life is amazing. Can easily last 9 hours on a single charge. Build quality is excellent as well."

  • Operating System: Chrome OS
  • Display size: 14 inches
  • RAM: 4 GB

2. The Runner-Up: A Smaller Laptop For A Little Less

It has a smaller screen and less memory, but if you're looking for a quality laptop at a very cheap price, look no further than this Chromebook from Samsung. Even at this price, it has a built-in webcam, ample USB ports, and Bluetooth technology. It also has relatively impressive screen and sound quality, according to reviewers — so if you're looking for a beginner laptop, this is a great way to go.

One reviewer wrote: "Good buy if you know what you're getting. [...] All said, I think this makes a good inexpensive all around computing device as long as you have generic tasks; watching videos, browsing, writing your book."

  • Operating System: Chrome OS
  • Display size: 11.6 inches
  • RAM: 4 GB

3. The Best Affordable Windows Laptop (That's Just Over $300)

Windows laptops are typically more expensive, but this one from HP is barely above the $300 mark. Plus, your purchase includes 1 terabyte of cloud storage and Office 365 for a year. It's designed to meet your needs for school, work, or entertainment thanks to its powerful processor, bright, clear picture, strong connectivity, and thin, lightweight design. Most importantly, it runs on Windows 10 for those who are used to the Windows OS.

One reviewer wrote: "This Windows10 laptop is perfect for enjoying browsing the web, or streaming shows and movies. I love to take it on trips because it is so thin, but has a good sized screen. [...] I don't think the video card and Celeron processor could do more than basic gaming, but this laptop shines in portability and ease of use."

  • Operating System: Windows 10
  • Display size: 14 inches
  • RAM: 4 GB

Also Great: The Best Laptop Under $400

The Lenovo Chromebook is ideal if you're looking for portability and versatility. For one, it's convertible, meaning that it transforms into a touch-screen tablet in seconds. (It folds 360 degrees, so you can also use it in laptop, tent, or stand mode.) For another, it's extremely thin and lightweight, so you can take it just about anywhere with you. Finally, the built-in virus protection, long-lasting battery life, and built-in camera contribute to its overall 4.4-star rating. Plus, you get the reliable build of a brand like Lenovo.

One reviewer wrote: "I bought this with the intention of only using it for weekends when I'm away from work, but still on call. It's so portable and easy to bring anywhere. [...] The touchscreen is awesome, and the fact that it can fold in half so you can use it as a tablet is so neat!"

  • Operating System: Chrome OS
  • Display size: 11.6 inches
  • RAM: 4 GB