Great news! I’ve done some of the work for you. If you only have $200 to spend on a laptop, your options are far better than they used to be. While these machines aren't built for hardcore gaming or video editing, they're more than enough for web browsing and writing papers.
These days, sub-$200 laptops commonly ship with HD displays, full Windows 10 (rather than something more limited, like Google's Chrome OS), and a decent chunk of internal storage. Many also come with a free year of Microsoft Office 365—perfect for the students they're targeting.
To find the best of this affordable bunch, we put the most popular models through a series of performance and display tests in our state-of-the-art labs. Then we put them to the test at our desks, to get a feel for real-world factors like keyboard feel, trackpad responsiveness, and build quality.
The result? We can tell you with authority that if you want the best affordable laptops available today, these are the ones to buy.
Asus E402SA – Best Overall - The Asus E402SA (also known as the EeeBook E402SA) won us over right away. While it's not much faster than its competition, its 14-inch screen is bigger than most. The display is a mere 1366 x 768 pixels, but it's glossy, looks great, and isn't a major drain on the battery. Its $249 MSRP is a little above our target price, but we've seen it on sale as low as $179. (Amazon $191.00)
Dell Inspiron 11 3000 (2016) - The Inspiron 11 3000's biggest flaw is the included McAfee install, which can be a real hog on system resources and annoys with frequent popups. But all things considered, Dell offers up a package that's colorful, modern, and just fast enough for schoolwork or surfing the web. It may not be inspiring, but this Inspiron is worth its asking price. (Best Buy $169.99)
Acer Aspire One Cloudbook 11 - While you can find a 16GB version, you should avoid that one at all costs; our test model had 32GB of storage and even that filled up right away. You can add more memory with an SD card, but since it's not microSD, it'll stick out the side of the machine. In our opinion, your best bet for inconspicuous extra storage on the Acer Aspire One Cloudbook 11 is probably a low profile USB drive. (Amazon $148.00, Best Buy $206.99)
Lenovo Ideapad 100s 11.6" Laptop - Inside, it has an older Intel Atom Z3735F chip. It may be quad core, but it's still slower than the Celeron N3050 dual-core processor found in rival machines. The 100s is also stuck with USB 2.0 ports, which can't keep up with the 3.0 ports on better machines. It's not all bad though. You can add storage through the compact microSD slot, the hinge rotates a full 180 degrees, and it had the best battery life of any of the sub-$200 models we tested. (Amazon $158.38, Best Buy $199.99)
HP Stream 11 (2016) - The worst part of using the Stream 11 is its iffy trackpad, which isn't nearly as responsive as we'd like. The screen also seemed a little duller than the rest of our test group. Unfortunately, HP also bundles McAfee with this computer; it's a pain, but you can uninstall it to speed things up. (Amazon $208.77, Best Buy $199.99, HP.com $199.99)
To get a better idea of the authors pitch: Check-Out the Video
Read Article (Staff | laptops.reviewed.com | 05/11/2016)
Now let’s do some serious shopping, here are rankings from 3 other review sites for “Best 5 Laptops Under $200”:
- Wiknix – 1) HP Stream 11-r010nr, 2) Acer Aspire One Cloudbook, 3) ASUS VivoBook E200HA-US01-GD, 4) Lenovo IdeaPad 100s 11.6" Laptop, 5) HP 11-p110nr x360 Convertible
- Best Laptop Advisor – 1) Acer Chromebook 11.6-inch HD, 2) HP Stream 11-r010nr, 3) Samsung Chromebook 2 XE500C12-K01US, 4) Acer Chromebook CB3-111-C670, 5) ASUS C201 11.6 Inch Chromebook
- Best Buy – 1) Dell - Inspiron 11.6", 2) Dell - Inspiron 14", 3) Lenovo - Ideapad 100s 11.6" Laptop, 4) Lenovo - IdeaPad 100s 11.6" Chromebook, 5) Samsung - 11.6" Chromebook
Notice that the HP Stream 11-r010nr and Lenovo IdeaPad 100s 11.6" Laptop is ranked in 3 out of the 4 reviews. If you are seriously considering the purchase of an inexpensive laptop, I would start by checking-out these two. Although my personal choice would be the Asus E402SA but you need to check-out the video to see why.
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