The Best Laptop Under 600 Dollars Of 2018 – Top 5 Mid Range Options

In the market for a new portable computer? There are far more options than you may realize, covering a wide range of features and sizes.

If you aren’t sure where to get started or how to pick the right notebook, we’ve got you covered! Below we’ve found five excellent picks for any user.

Let’s take a look at the best laptops under $600 and find the right device for your needs.

Picking the best budget laptop under $600

All of the laptop models listed below include Windows 10 and have a minimum of 8GB of RAM. Those should be your starting points when picking a computer in this price range.

From there, the number of potential options absolutely explode. From tiny 14 inch screens to huge 17 inch displays, the size, weight, and capabilities of each device will vary considerably.

Each contender listed below will be the one of the best laptops for online college classes, photography, basic teen use, or even small business tasks.

Although in many cases they can double as game machines for lower end titles, in general these aren’t meant to be gaming laptops.

The amount of RAM and processor speeds at this price range will let you run many games, but you don’t get a dedicated graphics card with any of these machines.

For nearly any other application, each of these five contenders could potentially be your best bet. Let’s take a look at see what’s available!

Monkey’s  cheat sheet

Top pick

ASUS VivoBook F510UA

In 2018, the single best overall laptop at the price range is the new 2018 Premium Dell Inspiron. It isn’t often you get full touch screen functionality in a full 15” display and still get a killer 8th gen processor for such a low price.

For those who don’t need a touch screen, your best option will instead be the  ASUS VivoBook F510UA. It has nearly identical specs to the Inspiron, but at a much lower price.

The contenders for best basic use laptop under $600

1. 2018 Premium Dell Inspiron 15 5000

  • Top of the line processor
  • Touch screen
  • Great screen resolution
  • No solid state drive
  • High price

Should this be your choice?

Looking for the absolute best processor and RAM along with a touch screen all without going over $600? This should be your pick as the best laptop for small business or school!

As one of the best laptops available in 2018, Dell’s latest Inspiron line is all about combining form and function. This particular model is seek and less heavy than other units at this price range, but still offers all the features you’d normally want.

Despite being under five pounds, you still get an optical DVD-RW drive for burning discs or transferring music. Of course you don’t lose out on more convenient storage options with the card reader or USB drives.

On the typing front, the Inspiron has a backlit keyboard for convenient use at night or in low-light office conditions. You also get the full 10 key design, so you don’t have to deal with the cramped keyboard style.

That’s all just window dressing, though. The real goods are what’s inside the machine, and you won’t be let down there, either.

The i5-8250U is one of the best processors currently available at this price, offering plenty of speed while drawing less power from the wall outlet.

Casual gaming is a possibility here, but there’s no dedicated graphics card here so don’t expect to play on high settings with newer games.

The only major downside is that you get a hard disk drive instead of a solid state drive. There are two ways around this issue.

First off, other models are available in this same series with varying specs. The price goes up, but you can get a 256GB SSD instead if you want a faster drive.

It’s also quite simple to manually upgrade components if you want to install your own SSD or extra RAM.

Besides the specs, buyers often mention this model’s strong wi-fi signal. That can be a big plus for work applications, as many laptops in the lower price ranges tend to have dropped connection issues.

Hardware specifications for 2018 Premium Dell Inspiron 15 5000
ProcessorIntel i5-8250U (3.4GHz)
RAM8GB DDR4 RAM
Storage1TB HDD
GraphicsIntel UHD Graphics 620
Display15.6-Inch Full HD 1080P TrueLife Touch Screen Display, 1920 x 1080 Pixels Resolution
Operating SystemWindows 10 Home 64 Bit
Battery Life10 hours
Weight4.85 lbs

2. ASUS VivoBook F510UA

  • High end processor
  • Extremely light weight
  • No touch screen
  • HDD instead of SSD

Should this be your choice?

Do you need high end specs but don’t care about having a touch screen? This should absolutely be your top pick for the best budget laptop! When your budget allows, just make sure to swap out the HDD with a 256GB SSD instead.

Scanning through the hardware specifications, you may notice this ASUS has very similar components to the Dell Inspiron listed above.

So why pick this one instead of our top contender? The main difference comes in the lack of a touch screen, frankly which won’t be needed by all buyers.

By culling out the touch screen functionality, you get the same high level specs but save yourself nearly $100! Yep, this one’s almost a full Benjamin Franklin cheaper than the Inspiron.

It’s also more than a pound lighter, so if you prefer portability over having a DVD-RW drive, this is a better way to go. While you lose the optical drive, you still get a card reader, three USB ports, and an HDMI port.

Two potential downsides are frequently brought up in reviews: the keyboard isn’t backlit, and the 1TB HDD is noticeably slower than laptops with a solid state drive.

That can especially be an issue when installing Windows updates. Be prepared to swap out the drive for an SSD when you’ve got some extra money to spend.

Your upgrade options are fairly open on the RAM as well. This model features two memory slots and only one 8GB stick, which means upgrading to 16GB is much cheaper than normal.

Hardware specifications for ASUS VivoBook F510UA
ProcessorIntel Core i5-8250U (1.6 – 3.4GHz)
RAM8GB DDR4 RAM
Storage1TB HDD
GraphicsIntel UHD 620
Display15.6-Inch Anti Glare Full HD Display, 1920 x 1080 Pixels Resolution
Operating SystemWindows 10 Home 64 Bit
Battery Life5 hours
Weight3.7 lbs

3. Asus VivoBook Flip R518UA

  • Touch screen
  • Hybrid flipbook design
  • Solid state drive
  • Heavy for a hybrid flipbook model
  • No backlit keyboard
  • Lower screen resolution

Should this be your choice?

Do you want a flipbook that can be used as a tablet or a laptop and can change freely between both modes? This should be your top pick!

The ASUS model may have a very similar name to the previous contender, but it couldn’t be more different.

Want a touch laptop that flips around to sit like a tablet? This is easily one of your best hybrid flipbook options within the price range.

Best of all, you don’t actually lose any screen size by getting the flipbook design with this model. Most hybrid devices are 11 – 14 inches, while this one stays at the full 15.6 inch style.

Obviously, a few trade offs to be made to include that extra functionality at the same price. Most notably, the processor gets a slight downgrade from the previous two contenders.

You get a solid state drive instead of the slower 1TB HDD however, which can make up the difference. Having an SSD means much quicker Windows updates and faster data transfer.

There are three main issues to take into account before picking this model that are often referenced by reviewers.

  • The VivoBook Flip R518UA has a lower screen resolution than most other contenders under $600.
  • At just shy of five pounds, this is one of the heavier hybrid options that flips all the way around 360 degrees.
  • Due to that full 360 degree rotation, the speakers are actually on the bottom. That means you won’t get good sound quality when the machine is sitting at a 90 degree angle like a normal laptop.
Hardware specifications for Asus VivoBook Flip R518UA
ProcessorIntel Core i5-7200U (2.50 – 3.1GHz)
RAM8GB DDR4 RAM
Storage256GB SSD
GraphicsIntel UHD Graphics 620
Display15.6-Inch HD Glossy Touch Screen Display, 1366 x 768 Pixels Resolution
Operating SystemWindows 10 Home 64 Bit
Battery Life6 hours
Weight4.9 lbs

4. HP – 17.3″ Laptop

  • Biggest display size
  • Optical drive
  • Slower processor
  • No keyboard backlighting
  • Odd speaker placement

Should this be your choice?

Do you need to stay under $600 but still want a 17 inch desktop replacement? This budget laptop should be your pick!

Here we arrive at our massive 17 inch contender in the list of best affordable laptops. Just because laptops are portable doesn’t mean they have to be tiny!

This contender is all about the display size. When you want something big to replace your desktop and still have great screen resolution, this should be on your short list.

Besides the difference in screen size, most of the specs are on par with the other laptops listed above. To stay under $600, this one features a 1TB hard disk drive, which means more noise and less speed.

We mention this quite a bit, but the SSD just outclasses the HDD in terms of speed. If you want top of the line, you will need to pay more by installing an SSD.

Two primary issues are mentioned by buyers who reviewed this 17” HP, and both deal with some odd design choices.

The laptop’s internal speakers are positioned on the bottom of the device, which is very odd for a non-hybrid laptop. You’ll need to either use headphones or get a pair of external speakers to get decent sound quality with this machine.

Also, this one doesn’t have a power light indicator, which is a newer trend in laptop design. Its a minor inconvenience though, and most users won’t care one way or the other.

Hardware specifications for HP – 17.3″ Laptop
ProcessorIntel Core i5-7200U (2.5 – 3.1 GHz)
RAM8GB DDR3 RAM
Storage1TB HDD
GraphicsIntel HD Graphics 620
Display17.3-Inch SVA BrightView WLED Backlit Display, 1600 x 900 Pixels Resolution
Operating SystemWindows 10 Home 64 Bit
Battery Life5 hours
Weight5.84 lbs

5. Acer Switch Alpha 12

  • Extremely thin and lightweight
  • Touch screen
  • Solid state drive
  • Least powerful processor
  • Low battery life

Should this be your choice?

Do you prefer your device to be as thin as a tablet instead of carrying around a bulky laptop? This should easily be your pick!

We’ve covered flipbooks, normal displays, and even machines with giant 17” screens. So what’s left as we finish up this look at best portable computers?

There’s one other type of laptop that may be worth considering, and its technically not actually a laptop at all. Essentially, this is Acer’s take on the Surface Pro tablet.

You get the incredibly thin and light design of a tablet, but with the specs of a full Windows 10 computer.

Whether you need that or not depends entirely on how you plan to use your device. In terms of portability and multi-purpose usage, you can’t beat the Acer Switch, and its much less expensive than an actual Surface Pro.

At less than three pounds, this is one of our lightest contenders. While you can simply carry it like a tablet, it also includes a kickstand for sitting upright to watch streaming videos or read recipes in the kitchen.

A detachable keyboard gives you the full laptop experience, although its much thinner and less sturdy than you may be used to if you haven’t tried out a Surface Pro before. Even with the thin design, it still manages to be backlit, however.

Aside from the high end specs held in the size of a tablet, most buyers mention the extremely short battery life. The battery will drain quickly when you aren’t in power saver mode, so keep that in mind if you are going to be away from a wall outlet most of the time.

Hardware specifications for Acer Switch Alpha 12
ProcessorIntel Core i5-6200U (2.3GHz)
RAM8GB DDR3 RAM
Storage256GB SSD
GraphicsIntel HD Graphics
Display12-Inch QHD Display, 2160 x 1440 Pixels Resolution
Operating SystemWindows 10 Pro 64 Bit
Battery Life4 hours
Weight2.76 lbs

Will my laptop come with a charger?

The portability offered by a full size laptop or hybrid tablet requires a battery pack that can hold a charge away from a wall outlet. Battery life can vary wildly between brands or even between different models in the same series.

All laptops have one thing in common, though, and that’s the inclusion of a charger straight out of the box. There wouldn’t be much point in a notebook computer if it couldn’t hook up to a wall outlet and charge the battery.

If your laptop didn’t include a charger for some reason, that will be a problem at the factory. Be sure to contact the manufacturer to get a charger sent to you as soon as possible!

Charger types can also vary significantly between brands. While a six foot cable is standard, some will be shorter or longer.

If you need to sit farther away from a wall outlet, keep in mind that after market chargers are readily available at sites like Amazon. Third party chargers typically are much cheaper than buying straight from the manufacturer and are often available in 10 feet versions.

Do I want a bigger screen or a lightweight laptop?

The answer to this question is primarily based on personal preference. Where do you intend to use your laptop, and how often will you have to carry it between locations?

If you are lugging a computer around between multiple college classes a day and still take it back to the dorm for homework, smaller may be better.

Do you often need to flip your laptop around to show off a design to co-workers? A larger screen may be a better pick for you in that instance.

Weight isn’t the only deciding factor here, however. Different screen types can also mean different hardware specs.

2-in-1 flip hybrids often come with the Chrome OS instead of Windows, or they may come with the stripped down S version of Windows 10. Be sure to check what you are getting before placing your order!

Although it can vary depending on the specific hardware used, in general a bigger screen will also mean a shorter battery life.

What do I get if I go above or below this laptop price range?

In most cases, there wouldn’t be much need to go above $600 for the typical school or work laptop. With an 8th gen processor and 8GB of RAM, you can normally run any program you need.

There are a few exceptions to this rule, however. For engineering students who need to run CAD software or anyone who regularly edits large video files, you may need to go up to the next price range.

In those instances, 16GB of RAM and a dedicated graphics card are much preferable. Getting those features will usually mean paying a lot more than $600 or looking for a pre-owned machine.

If you need to save money and go below the $600 price range, you can often get similar specs by picking a refurbished laptop. In order to still get a new machine, typically you will see slower processors or only 4GB of RAM at lower price points.

Finding a killer deal on an affordable laptop

From tablet junkies who need the lightest possible machine to those who want a bleeding edge display and super high specs, we’ve got a contender that will work for you!

Are you planning on picking up any of the laptops listed above? Let us know which one you like best, and be sure to comment if you see any other deals we shouldn’t miss on the best laptops under $600.

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