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Best Budget Laptop for 2015 - Affordable New Laptops

Updated on January 9, 2015

Laptop Guide and Comparison for 2015

As someone who uses a laptop constantly on business trips and at home I'm constantly on the look out for a good deal. Now that my daughter is going to college I began doing research on some affordable laptops that she could take with her. In this post I'll review the best rated budget laptops according to consumer popularity and rating and give you a guide on what to look for.

Best Budget Laptop
Best Budget Laptop

What to Look for in a Budget Laptop

Just because you're on a budget doesn't mean that the laptop you purchase needs to be slow or a lemon. Here's a few tips on what you should look for.

Processor - AMD vs. Intel

The processor is essential to your laptops overall performance. Intel makes 3 types of laptop processors, the core i3, i5, and i7 with the higher numbers having more processing capability. The first generation of "i" series processors were released back in 2009, so be sure to look for a second generation "i" series processor. These also might be referred to as "Sandy Bridge". Ivy Bridge is the third generation of "i" series processors. For laptops under $400 you'll most likely end up with an AMD processor. AMD is known for making bargain processors that also have decent performance; however, Intel's latest Sandy Bridge processors tend to have better integrated graphics and speed - so if you have a choice at this price range, go with Intel.

Dedicated Graphics Card vs. Integrated

Most laptops of the laptops I feature below have an Integrated graphics card in the processor. Both Intel and AMD integrated graphics have taken leaps and bounds over the last several years making budget dedicated graphics cards less important. If all you plan to do with your laptop is watch movies or play flash games, then there is no need to worry about getting a laptop with a dedicated graphics card.

Hard Drive vs. Solid State Drive

Unless you plan on storing movies, images, or other types of large files, then most likely you can get away with having a hard drive as small as 250GB. Some consumers are now opting for a smaller solid state drive instead which greatly increases the rate at which your computer can read and write data. Solid state drives use NAND Flash memory, the same type that is used in cell phones and portable devices.

Ram

Ram is one of the first things that I upgrade in older machines in order to enhance performance. Random Access Memory, which today is more like burst access memory, is a form of computer data storage. Memory is essential in making sure that all of the programs running in the forefront and the background of your computer are working properly. For most, 4GB is enough; however, gamers, graphic designers, or those who use performance heavy software may want 8-16GB.

Battery Life

From experience I can tell you that a short battery life is one of the most frustrating things with almost any laptop you come across. While there are some that are able to frequently plug their laptop in, for most a long battery life may be one of the most important things in a laptop. For students and those who go on business, I recommend you purchase a laptop with enough battery life to last an entire day. This varies on how much you plan on using the laptop during the day and doesn't count for the times which you may power it down. Most modern computers come with a battery life of at least 5 hours with as much as 11 hours in total.

And Remember...

Not every laptop in this price range is going to be lightweight, have the best CPU available, and have a long battery life. Pick and choose what is most important to you based on your needs. Below I'll list the top rated laptops from $300-$600 and give you their specifications so that you can easily compare them.

Toshiba Satellite L755-S5349
Toshiba Satellite L755-S5349

Toshiba Satellite Laptop

This handy little device runs on a second generation Intel Core i3 Processor and comes with 640GB. It has a 15.6 widescreen display. The screen is big enough that you can multi-task with ease. The Super Multi drive will burn a host of disc formats, it has plenty of ports and storage so you can expand as you need. Other features include a built-in web cam with Face Recognition, Toshiba Bulletin Board that aids you in desktop organization, tools for media sharing and search utilities. Users like the button to deactivate the track pad when you are using an external mouse so there aren't any accidental mouse movements on the screen. The track pad also lets you expand and contract your internet browser for convenience. In sleep mode, you are also able to charge all your devices. If you like a backlit keyboard, you will be disappointed as this does not have one. This machine will run approximately 6 hours on a single battery charge. This is not the best laptop for gaming but will play some basic games and definitely will measure up for the average person or businessman.

Dell D620
Dell D620

Dell D620 Laptop $194.00

For entry level laptop users, this next choice by Dell works quite well. It is not a good machine for heavy gamers however, but students and average users should find this a good piece of equipment. Having dual core processors gives you the freedom to split tasks between two processor cores so that they can share the load of what you are doing. It comes with spreadsheet and word document programs to get you started out of the box. You get 2GB of memory which is adequate for average everyday use, and incorporates an internal wireless card that will let you connect to any wireless hotspot; this makes a great option when on the go. You can also connect to a high speed DSL internet modem when needed. Buyers should be aware that this laptop does not come with a webcam. There are some reviews that report battery malfunction, but this does not seem to be a problem across the board. Users like the ease that the keyboard types with and that it has an integrated microphone with a headphone and mic jack. For connectivity, you get 4 USB ports.

HP g6-1d60us
HP g6-1d60us

Best HP Laptop 2015

Sharing your photos and videos is super easy with this laptop when connected to a PC or HDTV. This device does not come with an HDMI cable but it does have ports for one. It runs on a dual core processor and is Bluetooth compatible so you can use any device to print, email and surf the Internet with the built in WiFi. You get a webcam and microphone so video chatting is even easier than ever. The 15.6 inch screen gives you a great display with which to share your media or video chat. You can also burn DVD's if you so choose with this machine. The battery will last you upwards of 7 hours which is very handy; this may vary depending on what applications you are running however. At only just over 5 pounds, this is a light machine to carry around. Users really enjoy the price and that this computer holds up under gaming sessions and does not take long to boot up. Something that you might not be used to on a laptop are nice and loud speakers; users have raved over the sound quality from this laptop. As a last feature, it is Energy Star Qualified to save you more money and use less energy.

Acer Aspire AS4743-6628 Laptop

This laptop will do everything all the others do with multi-tasking abilities, internet surfing and accessing media. It runs with an Intel Core i5 processor with Intel's Turbo Boost Technology so everything is faster and more efficient. The 14" widescreen is an LED LCD display and the machine has HDMI connectivity so you can watch anything you desire on an HD device. Users like the sound quality with the Dolby Advanced Audio V2 technology. For storage, you get a 640 GB hard drive and it is also WiFi certified so you can connect anywhere. The laptop comes with Windows 7 Home Premium preloaded to get you started. This machine also comes with a 1.3mp HD webcam and microphone for video chatting. Another thing about this laptop that people seem to love is the finish; the textured cover keeps fingerprints at bay. This is a sturdy little machine that makes any job easier and most users have nothing but good things to say about it.

Sony Vaio EL2
Sony Vaio EL2

Sony VAIO EL2 Laptop

This VAIO from Sony has a 15.5 inch display with 720p HD resolution. The keyboard is isolated and includes a full integrated number pad. Users find the palm rest to be quite comfortable as well. This machine is powered by a dual core AMD E-450 accelerated processor which utilizes a CPU and GPU on a single chip which will make daily applications fast to use while making your power consumption lower overall. It too, will connect to any HD device with an HDMI cable and incorporates WiFi networking. The built in camera has face tracking abilities and the microphone makes video chatting convenient. A feature that most users like are the unique hardware buttons - WEB, VAIO and ASSIST that will get you where you need to go with just the touch of a button. The ASSIST button will help you troubleshoot any issues or do maintenance procedures on your computer. The VAIO button will let you access Sony's Media Gallery software. This machine is also not the kind that hard core gamers would want to use for gaming, but for working and daily activities, it does quite well. A drawback to the laptop are the speakers; they are quiet and do not have the best sound. The touchpad has also been reported to be a highly functional and user friendly feature.

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