The 6 Best Laptops Under $700 of 2017

With the new year here already—and tax season just around the corner—many people will be looking for a new laptop soon. You’re no doubt reading this article because you’re trying to decide on which one to buy. What you end up purchasing will depend on your own taste, budget, and needs.

In general, the best deal is power at a reasonable price—something like $700 or less for a computer that will last a long time and suit most user needs. Below, we’ll be reviewing six of the top laptops to look out for in 2017. These will range in price and specs, from gaming-ready laptops to more economical models designed for the more budget conscious Internet denizen.

A quick note on specs

Since laptops are less upgradable than desktops, you’ll want to consider specs like processor, graphics card, and RAM most of all. Memory can usually be upgraded to twice the amount a computer comes with, but upgrading it can be costly. Many times the processor and graphics card will be integrated into the motherboard and cannot be upgraded at all, so it’s important to pick something with enough power for your needs. Things such as operating system and hard drive storage can more easily be improved on.

The number one thing that drives up the price of laptops is usually the processor. It’s arguably the most important factor in how smoothly you can run your programs. Many mid-to-high-range laptops these days will have about 4 cores. Some common processor types with 4 cores include: Intel i5 and Intel i7. These are usually enough to run most intensive programs like games and video editors. If that’s not your thing, you may want to consider a computer with just 1 or 2 cores. In that case, look for names like “Intel i3” and “Dual-Core.” The number of cores and threads (virtual cores) determines how much your computer can handle at once, and if you do a lot of video-intensive tasks like editing, you’ll want to get something that’s at least 4 or 6 cores anyway.

For under $700, you can expect to find a lot of quad-core or lower models, usually with anywhere from 2GB to 16GB of RAM. These days, it’s usually recommended to have 4GB because newer versions of Windows tend to use a good portion of this RAM and the more RAM you have, the more “space” you have in memory to run multiple programs without slowing your system down too much.

If you don’t plan on using your new laptop for gaming, you can generally ignore what kind of graphics come with it. The majority of them are just fine for most tasks, even light gaming in some cases. So, without further ado, these are the top 6 laptops that we found are up to snuff:

Lenovo Ideapad 700 80RU00FEUS

#1: Lenovo Ideapad 700 80RU00FEUS – Best for Gaming

Why we like it: Very good mid-range gaming laptop for the price

Specs:

Processor: Intel Core i5 6300HQ

Graphics: NVIDIA GeForce GTX950M

RAM: 12 GB

Storage:  256 GB SSD

OS: Windows 10

Color: Black

Pros: Very powerful specs for under $700, lots of RAM

Cons: Battery life averages out at about 4 hours, 256 GB is a bit low for storage without expansions

Who wants it: Budget gamers who want the most bang for their buck

Even with cheaper notebooks and netbooks, you may still get by with playing a few games from a few years ago, but these aren’t made for those in mind. If you’re considering buying a computer just to play that hit new game all your friends are talking about, consider upping your budget a bit and getting this Lenovo Thinkpad for $689.

Important note: because games and VRAM intensive programs such as video editors come in many flavors, not all combinations of processor and graphics cards will work with a specific program. To make sure your new laptop is compatible with a game you have your eye on, you can use handy compatibility utilities such as Notebook Check and System Requirements Lab. We’ve saved you the trouble, however, and reviewed the specs top to bottom ourselves. We tested for compatibility with the popular 2016 Blizzard hit Overwatch. According to the official specs, Blizzard recommends you have at least 6GB of RAM, a quad-core processor, and a graphics card like NVIDIA GeForce GTX 660 or above. According to Notebook Check, this laptop can run it at 152 fps on low settings and 33 fps on Ultra HD settings. How’s that for budget gaming?

We’ve checked the benchmarks for its NVIDIA GeForce GTX950M graphics card and also found that it’s capable of running almost any game at 30 frames per second and above. Some games that stood out to us where Rainbow Six Siege, reported to run at 111 fps on low resolution settings, and XCOM 2, clocking in at an average of 61 fps. If you’re curious about a specific game, you can check its benchmarks at this link: http://www.notebookcheck.net/NVIDIA-GeForce-GTX-950M.138026.0.html for more specific information.

Also in its all-star lineup is a quad-core processor, and 12 GB of RAM. This is more than enough power for the casual purveyor of Youtube videos, the diligent web surfer, and the gamer alike. If you have $700 to spend on any laptop, we hope you strongly consider the Lenovo Thinkpad 700. Its Amazon listing even has options for a few different configurations for you to expand the storage or upgrade to a Core i7 processor. These come at an additional cost, but we also found that you can bump down the specs to just an i5 processor, 8 GB of RAM, and a 1 TB HDD to shave $100 off the price.

An important note about Solid State Drives: Often, people will tell you SSD makes your computer faster. This is only partly true, because programs run off of the hard drive but are using RAM and processing power while actually running. This means that your programs may load faster, but won’t necessarily run much faster while actually in use. One definite advantage, however, is that SSD drives usually do not undergo mechanical failure and data recovery is much easier. SSD uses technology similar to SD cards. When failure occurs, data can often still be retrieved even when new data cannot be written to the drive.

For those of you looking for a more competitive edge or who need a laptop for video editing, this is definitely a great model to think about.

Just make sure you have your power chord nearby at all times.

#2: Acer Aspire E 15 E5-575G-76YK 15.6-inch Full HD Notebook – Black Color

Acer Aspire E 15 E5-575G-76YK 15.6-inch Full HD Notebook – Black Color

Why we like it: An excellent amount of processing power for just under $700

Specs:

Processor: Intel Core i7

Graphics: NVIDIA GeForce 940MX

RAM: 8 GB

Storage: 256 GB SSD

OS: Windows 10 Home 64-bit Edition

Color: Black

Pros: Excellent specs for the price, potential for upgrades

Cons: 256 GB of storage may not be enough for some users, some games may still run slow at high settings

Who wants it: Anybody with a budget around $700 who still wants to play most of the latest games

This is an economically priced laptop featuring the i7 processor from Intel. Not only is it 4 cores, but it’s also in the 6th generation of Intel processors of the series. If you’re on a tight budget, it might be a little pricey because it’s very close to 700. But if you need a cheap laptop specifically for moderate gaming or other heavy tasks, this is a good choice with 8GB of RAM, a 256 GB Solid State Drive, and NVIDIA GeForce 940MX for integrated graphics.

Since laptops often have integrated graphics cards that cannot be upgraded, it’s important to invest in one with decent benchmarks if you plan on keeping your laptop for a long time. We checked the benchmarks on this particular card and found that it’s capable of running Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare and TitanFall 2 at over 60 frames per second on lower resolution settings.

On Amazon, this model in particular has 1,500 reviews and an average 4 star rating. It also has up to 12 hours of battery life, something unheard of in such powerful models. Not only did it receive glowing reviews, but it also happens to be #45 in the traditional laptops category on Amazon.

In case 8GB of RAM seems a bit low to you, keep in mind that the motherboard does support up to 16, which should be more than enough for even the most intensive programs. You can also add an additional HDD or SSD to expand your storage options. 256 Gigabytes may seem a bit low for the price of the laptop, but that’s only because the hard drive is an SSD, making it a bit faster. It also comes with a backlit keyboard for late night gaming and work.

Also, if you want to spend a little less, this computer also has another model that’s essentially the same thing, but with an i5 processor, knocking the price down to $550. So if everything clicks with you except for the price, consider looking for the cheaper option for almost the same amount of computing power.

Dell Inspiron 15.6" FHD Touchscreen Signature Laptop, Intel Core i5-6200U

#3: Dell Inspiron 15.6″ FHD Touchscreen Signature Laptop, Intel Core i5-6200U

Why we like it: It’s got a touchscreen, a backlit keyboard, and a good webcam (something a bit of a novelty these days). Oh, did we mention it’s also under $500?

Specs:

Processor: Intel Core i5-6200U

Graphics: Intel HD Graphics 520

RAM: 8 GB

Storage: 1 TB 5400 RPM HDD

OS: Windows 10 Home 64-Bit

Color: Silver

Pros: Very inexpensive for a touchscreen laptop with some cool added features

Cons: Might not be enough processing and graphics power for gamers

Who wants it: Anybody and everybody who wants to get a decent all-around laptop without breaking the bank.

This laptop is currently ranked #1 in New Releases under the traditional laptop category on Amazon. And let me tell you, it’s one of our favorites as well. If you’re looking for anything other than a heavy gaming rig, look over here. This thing is a jack of all trades with a little something for everyone.

For the college student on a tight budget, we may just have found their perfect match. Priced at $469 USD, this mobile computer packs a decent i5 processor with Intel HD graphics. Featuring a backlit keyboard, you can type in the dim light of your college dorm or apartment without disturbing your roommates. With 1TB of storage, you’ll have plenty of space to store all your important projects, papers, study guides, music, and pictures. What this model lacks in graphical power, it makes up for in price and useful features like touchscreen and Bluetooth capabilities.

Keep in mind that you don’t exactly need to spend close to 700 for a good laptop. Many laptops in the range from 200 to 600 will definitely suit most people’s needs and be able to run just about any typical program out there, especially office suites and browsers with ease.

Laptops on the higher end of 600 and up usually have a lot of RAM and a very fast processor and graphics chip. These are mostly used in high-end competitive gaming when the graphics are very intense. Many of these same games can be run on cheaper laptops with settings adjusted. If you can stand not to see every scratch on an avatar’s body, you may find it’s simply enough for you to simply be able to play the game in lower resolutions. This Dell Inspiron model is still, therefore, an option for some casual gamers on a tighter budget.

This is an excellent laptop for those interested in surfing the web, watching videos, and working on school and work related projects— basic usage with a splash of casual indy gaming. A recommended budget buy for a college student who studies hard during the week, typing away at their keyboards, and plays hard on the weekends, felling virtual foes.

#4: HP Business 15 15.6” with AMD Quad-Core A6

Why we like it: Another well-priced laptop with decent specs all around

Specs:

Processor: AMD Quad-Core A6-73110

Graphics: AMD Radeon R4

RAM: 8 GB DDR3L

Storage: 128 GB SSD

OS: Windows 10

Color: Black

Pros: Priced under $400, decent specs

Cons: Not made with heavy use in mind, 128 GB isn’t a lot of storage space

Who wants it: The college student on an even tighter budget than before, who still wants to get into some casual gaming.

With a 128 GB SSD, this laptop will save you some serious money, but you may want to consider getting an external hard drive to store more of your projects, pictures, music, and games. Yes, we said games. Not the latest games, but some of the less intensive ones. If you have a very casual interest in PC gaming, you could still get by with this one, but if you want something more versatile and powerful, consider the other laptops we cover in this article, such as the Dell Inspiron and the Lenovo Ideapad.

Barring good gaming specs, this thing still manages to have a quad-core processor and 8 GB of RAM for under $400, so it should be able to run just about anything you need that isn’t a game or video editor. If that’s fine with you and you have about $350 in your new laptop budget, then this model is right up your alley.

#5: 10.6″ Fusion5 Windows 10 Quad Core Netbook IPS FULL HD

Why we like it: Can you say “dirt cheap?”

Specs:

Processor: Intel Baytrail 3735F Quad-Core

Graphics: Intel HD Graphics, 7th Generation

RAM:  2 GB

Storage:  32 GB SSD

OS: Windows 10

Color: Silver

Pros: Extremely cheap computer for light tasks, specs aren’t half bad for the price you pay

Cons: Not enough power for heavier usage, may experience slowdown often, very little storage, no DVD drive

Who wants it: Those newer to laptops who don’t wish to spend over $200, very casual browsers

Netbooks are great for casual and light users. They often come very economically priced and are usually light and portable so you can take them anywhere you need to go. One important thing to remember is that netbooks often lack DVD drives, so if you plan on watching movies or listening to CDs with your new computer, look for a heftier type of laptop. This usually isn’t much of an issue anymore because USB storage has gotten more popular in recent years. Not to mention, it’s always possible to get an external DVD drive if you really, really need to use discs with it.

While you can’t expect to run the latest version of World of Duty Battlewatch 3 (thank you, we’ll be here till Thursday), you should be able to pull off some light browser gaming if you’re new to computers and want to venture into the curious world of using them for playing games.

All in all, this is is a one-time $159 payment for those of you who don’t need anything fancy, but just need a computer, period. It can handle most of your programs and files, you can use it to browse the Web and watch Youtube all day, or just check your E-Mail. One advantage this model has over the ASUS Rockchip 2-in-1 we reviewed at #6 coming up is that it does indeed run on Windows 10. This means you shouldn’t experience any compatibility issues with most of your programs or files transferred from another computer. It has an average 4 star rating on Amazon, and for all the right reasons.

#6: ASUS C100PA-DB02 10.1-inch Touch Chromebook Flip

Why we like it: Can you say “cheap?”

Specs:

Processor: Rockchip 3288-C Quad-Core

Graphics: Mali T764

RAM:  4 GB

Storage:  16GB eMMC

OS: Chrome OS

Color: Silver

Pros: A very good computer for light work, lots of portability, very cheap price, touch screen, 2-in-1

Cons: Chrome OS doesn’t have as much compatibility as Windows, not enough power for more serious users, very little storage without expansion

Who wants it: Light users on an extremely tight budget

Coming in at #6, this Asus Chromebook should get the job done for those of you who simply need a new computer for your basic needs. There’s an important distinction between traditional laptops and 2-in-1 models. These are essentially tablets and lack the same level of power that dedicated laptops are capable of. Usually, these are still suitable for the average user, are easily portable, and often far more affordable than their more streamlined counterparts. Because of this, they also lack the same level of compatibility. Many of them do not have a Windows OS or very large hard drives. This one, for example, only comes with 16 GB of storage.

If you’re always on the go, consider this 2 in 1 laptop. It’s a perfect complement to your fast paced lifestyle if you need to quickly go from a mobile to office setting or vice versa. Another great advantage of 2-in-1 models in general is their usually much lower prices than standard models. At this price, it does sacrifice some processing power, however. If you use your computer or tablet for mainly browsing and office work with a few mobile games, then this little Chromebook may be just right for you.

Let’s wrap this up: What you’re looking for and how much money you’re willing to spend will be your two most important factors in deciding which laptop to buy. Laptops come in many forms these days, and range from around $150 to over $1000, so there’s a lot of variance in quality. We hope you liked our list of the top six models to look out for, and we also hope you find just what you’re looking for in your new laptop, whether you’re a hardcore gamer type, a busy office worker, or someone who just wants to check their E-Mail once every few days.

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