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A few years ago, my MacBook completely crashed. It served me well for six years before we had to part ways. I couldn’t afford to buy a new MacBook (or even a Windows 10 Ultrabook), so I opted for an inexpensive HP Chromebook 14 to hold me over.
Well, that temporary laptop turned into my primary laptop for 18 months. I was honestly surprised how long my “backup” lasted and how well it served me. I used it to write article after article, watch YouTube and Netflix, research things on the internet and teleconference into meetings.
If your laptop is broken and you’re looking for a quick—and inexpensive—fix, consider a Google Chromebook or Windows 10 model. Who knows? You just might fall in love.
Below, the best laptops under $300.
Acer Chromebook R 11
The Acer Chromebook R 11 is a robust machine with the capabilities of a laptop and a touchscreen tablet, complete with a hinge design so you can angle the screen whichever way you’d like. Once signed in (using a free Gmail account) and connected to the internet, all your bookmarks, extensions, documents and music will automatically be loaded up. With up to 10 hours of battery life, it features an 11.6-inch HD touch display, 4GB of memory and 32GB of storage. And you’ll get an additional 100GB of Google Drive storage for free.
Shop it: Acer Chromebook R 11, $205 (was $281), amazon.com
Lenovo Chromebook S330 Laptop
For a basic machine that’ll get you through a day of work, look to the Lenovo Chromebook S330. It offers a traditional laptop feel with a clicky keyboard and a 14-inch HD display. It’s great for watching YouTube and Netflix, and is powerful enough for Google Docs, Google Sheets, Google Slides and more.
Shop it: Lenovo Chromebook S330, $199 (was $299), walmart.com
HP Stream 14
If Windows 10 is a must and you’re a Microsoft user, the HP Stream 14 is perfect. With a 14-inch HD display, it offers 4GB of memory, 32GB of on-board storage and up to nine hours of battery life on a single charge. Instead of Google Docs, it features Microsoft’s full suite of productivity apps with Office 365. In fact, you get a one-year subscription to the service for free, along with 1TB of Microsoft One cloud storage—no Gmail account required.
Shop it: HP Stream 14, $178 (was $220) at amazon.com
Shop it: HP Stream 14, $199 (was $220) at walmart.com
Lenovo Chromebook C330 2-in-1 Convertible Laptop
The Lenovo Chromebook 330 2-in-1 shares the same features as its laptop counterpart (listed above)—but this one’s a hybrid. It sports an HD touchscreen and a cool hinge design. And it has all the features you’d want in a Chromebook, including Google Docs, YouTube, Google Maps, Google Drive and more—all accessible with a free Gmail account.
Shop it: Lenovo Chromebook C330 2-in-1 Convertible Laptop, $222 (was $300), amazon.com
Samsung Chromebook 3
Armed with an 11.6-inch HD anti-reflective display, the Samsung Chromebook 3 is powered with the Intel Celeron processor for faster speeds and smoother graphics. It’s backed with 2GB of memory, 16GB of on-board storage, 100GB of Google Drive cloud storage for free, along with all of Google’s productivity and entertainment apps. Not bad for less than 200 bucks.
Shop it: Samsung Chromebook 3, $159 (was $219), walmart.com
Shop it: Samsung Chromebook 3, $219, amazon.com
HP Chromebook 14
Made with entertainment in mind, the HP Chromebook 14 has a wide 14-inch HD display and 180-degree dual speakers backed with Bang & Olufsen audio. It also has a battery life of 81/2 hours with a one-year warranty and 24/7 support from Google and HP.
Shop it: HP Chromebook 14, $239 (was $279), amazon.com
Shop it: HP Chromebook 14, $249 (was $279), walmart.com
HP 15 Laptop
This one’s a little better than a backup. Armed with an Intel Core i3 processor, 4GB of memory and 1TB of on-board storage, the HP 15 laptop is a powerful and speedy machine that runs Windows 10 Home edition. It’s a full scale laptop for online and offline use, with a long battery life of 10 hours, 45 minutes on a single charge. Featuring Windows 10 and Chrome apps via the Chrome browser, it’s the best of both worlds.
Shop it: HP 15 Laptop, $279 (was $399), walmart.com
Acer Aspire 1
Packed with 6 1/2 hours of battery life, the Acer Aspire 1 is one of the best entry-level Windows 10 laptops around. It features a large 15.4-inch full HD display with 4GB of memory and 64GB of SSD storage. The laptop also comes with Windows 10 S—a more streamlined version of the operating system that’s ideal for beginners. Easy to use, it’s perfect for pre-teens and seniors.
Shop it: Acer Aspire 1, $179 (was $249), walmart.com
Shop it: Acer Aspire 1, $230 (was $249), amazon.com
Lenovo Flex 11
For a laptop under $300, Lenovo Flex 11 has some of the best specs and features we’ve seen. Audio is crystal clear, thanks to built-in Dolby Audio Premium. The Windows 10 laptop comes with a 3.0 USB port, a USB-C port, HDMI out and a 4-in-1 card reader. Bonus: It includes a free one-year subscription to Office 365.
Shop it: Lenovo Flex 11, $229 (was $269), walmart.com
Shop it: Lenovo Flex 11, $240 (was $269), amazon.com
The ASUS VivoBook is a great blend of power and usability. At about three pounds, it’s very lightweight, and also thin (.5-inch profile). It has lots of bells and whistles you wouldn’t expect from a budget laptop, such as super-thin bezels for an immersive viewing experience, a fingerprint reader for speedy login and a variety of ports including USB-A and USB-C.
Shop it: ASUS VivoBook, $259 (was $399), walmart.com
The reviews quoted above reflect the most recent versions at the time of publication.
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