Best budget laptops 2021 UK: 5 top-rated options, starting at just £179

·4-min read
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Searching for a new laptop on a budget? You're not the only one. (Getty Images)

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With a shift to online remote learning, owning a great laptop has become more important than ever for students. Virtual seminars, Zoom calls and lessons are all part of the everyday online experience.

But with a limited budget, what laptops offer the best bang for your student buck?

We’ve scoured the net for the best student laptop deals available right now, and have come up with five fabulous buys, with prices starting at just £179.

There are several points to consider before buying a budget laptop for school: Is a larger screen size more important than portability? And what operating system is going to serve you best?

Windows 10 is the default that most students will feel comfortable with, and it’s undeniably versatile, but if your homework and computing needs can be accomplished within a browser, then perhaps a Chromebook is the way to go? The Google Docs suite of free programmes will cover all your word processing and spreadsheet needs. Chromebook's also have built in virus protection, which isn’t to be sniffed at.

5 of the best budgets laptops 2021

1. Acer Aspire 5 - Windows 10, 15.6-inch screen

If you’re after a slick looking laptop that warrants go-faster stripes, then take a close look at this Aspire 5 from Acer. There are numerous Aspire iterations, but this one really satisfies, and Amazon has it for £419.

The specification is built around an AMD Ryzen 5 4500U processor, with sharp Intel UHD 620 GPU, 8GB of RAM and a generous 512GB SSD. It’ll whip through everyday tasks, and look great doing it, thanks to that 15.6-inch HD screen. Battery life is rated around 10 hours. It’s games capable too, and you can hook it up to a TV for some R&R.

Buy it: Acer Aspire 5 Slim Laptop, 15.6" Laptop | £419 from Amazon

2. Lenovo IdeaPad 3 - Chromebook, 11.6-inch screen

For an everyday laptop that will manage all your homework needs (basically everything you do via Google), run don’t walk to this Lenovo Chromebook, which is currently just £179 on John Lewis. With its 11.6-inch screen, it’s a doddle to pop into a bag or backpack, and it weighs just 1.12kg, so you’ll barely know it’s there.

The Google OS is fast and lean, and this Lenovo offer great sound and vision for the price. It runs an Intel Celeron processor, and has 4GB RAM with a small-ish 32GB hard drive. Battery life is rated at 10 hours.

Buy it: Lenovo IdeaPad 3 Chromebook Laptop | £179 from John Lewis

3. Acer 314 Touch - Chromebook, 14-inch screen

If you like the idea of a no-fuss, easy to run Chromebook, but want a larger screen, Currys PC World has a brilliant clearance deal on the Acer 314 Touch. With £50 off, you can pick one up for £279.

The bigger 14-inch HD screen is a boon when it comes to prolonged, in-depth use, but at 1.7kg this Chromebook can still be considered lightweight. This model runs the Google Chrome OS on a Celeron N4000, and is relatively fast, with 4GB of RAM and a 64GB SDD. Battery life is rated at an indefatigable 13 hours.

Buy it: ACER 314 Touch 14" Chromebook | £249 (Was £299) from Currys

4. Microsoft Surface GO 2 -Windows 10, 10-inch screen tablet PC

If you want the convenience of a tablet, but the power and functionality of a laptop, then take a close look at Microsoft’s Surface range, specifically the Go2. You can pick this 2-in-1 up for £399 at John Lewis, or bundle it with a Type Cover keyboard and mouse for £445 from Amazon.

The keyboard clips on magnetically, and acts as a cover for the screen. When you don’t need it, you can pop it off and use the Go 2 like a regular tablet. It’s beautifully built and powerful too. It runs Windows 10 Home on a Pentium Core 3 processor, has 4GB of RAM and a 64GB hard drive (a hearty 128GB hard drive is also available). Battery life is around five hours.

Buy it: Microsoft Surface GO 2 10 Inch Tablet PC | £399 from John Lewis 

5. HP 14-CF2518SA - Windows 10, 14-inch screen

There’s currently a healthy £50 saving on the well specified HP laptop over at Currys PC World; you can pick one up for £279. HP has an excellent reputation when it comes to laptops, and with good reason. They’re reliable and value orientated.

Student-ready with Windows 10 S, the 4-CF2518SA boasts a speedy Intel Pentium Gold 6405U processor, with 4GB of RAM and a 128GB SSD. There’s also an HDMI output, for hooking up to a TV. The 14-inch screen is a bonus at this price point, and weighing just 1.8kg, it’s not too onerous to carry around. Battery life is rated at 10 hours, and it’ll fast charge to 50 percent capacity in less than an hour.

Buy it: HP 14" Laptop - Intel® Pentium® Laptop | £279 (Was £329)

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