Laptops for $600 or Less

Consumer Reports identifies solid low-priced models from Gateway, Lenovo, and Microsoft

A laptop opened and showing its keyboard.

Here’s something you might not know: It’s entirely possible to find a solid and reliable laptop for less than $1,000. In fact, several fine examples in our laptop ratings sell for less than half that.

They’re well-suited for today’s challenges, enabling you to effortlessly browse the web, edit office documents, and conduct Zoom calls with the built-in webcam. They might not be the fastest or most powerful laptops on the market, and they might not look especially “fancy,” but they’ll serve you well.

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All the laptops featured here use the Microsoft Windows operating system, but if you want to spend even less, you might also consider a Chromebook. They use Google’s Chrome OS and may be a good choice if your computing needs are very basic.

And while you won’t find any Macs on this list, retailers such as Amazon, Best Buy, and Apple itself sell refurbished Mac laptops for $500 and up. Just keep in mind that many shops define “refurbished” differently, so try to do a little research before you shop to make sure you’re getting a device that suits your needs. For more advice on how to buy refurbished electronics, click here.

Every year, Consumer Reports tests dozens of laptops, from premium picks to popular budget options. The three models highlighted below, arranged in ascending price order, split the difference: They’re available for less than $600 (in some cases, less than $500) yet still scored reasonably well in our labs, where we evaluate their performance across a range of criteria, including battery life, portability, and display quality.

Lenovo IdeaPad 3 15

This 15.6-inch notebook performed reasonably well in our tests, except perhaps when it comes to the quality of the display. (More on that in a second.) It comes with an Intel Core i3 processor, 8 gigabytes of memory, and 256GB of solid state storage, all of which are about average for a laptop as of early 2021.

You’ll also find decent battery life (as many as 9 hours on a single charge) and a touch screen, which is handy for navigating certain types of content, such as photo galleries.

While our testers had mostly nice things to say about the model, they did note that the display is capable of producing only so-so colors. So while this laptop might make a fine workhorse, it’s not ideal for watching Netflix or YouTube.

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