A DEFINITIVE GUIDE

We’ve reviewed hundreds of laptops, so we know what to look for in a laptop regardless of the price. The best laptop you can buy is the Lenovo Yoga C640. It does everything that laptops hundreds of dollars more expensive can do — and in some cases, it does it even better.

But if your budget is a bit lower, or if you fit a different category such as a student, we’ve included options for you below as well.

LENOVO YOGA C640

It’s fast enough for productivity, portable, affordable, and gets fantastic battery life.

WHO IT’S FOR

Everyone except gamers.

WHY WE PICKED IT

You might not expect quality from a laptop that costs much less than a new flagship iPhone, but the Lenogo Yoga C640 is a pleasant surprise. The laptop dropped the ARM processor and opted for a 10th-gen Core i3 instead to go with 8GB of RAM and a 128GB PCIe solid-state drive (SSD), providing plenty of performance for productivity and schoolwork and maintaining the previous version’s great battery life. It enjoys an all-metal chassis that feels like it should cost a lot more, and it’s barely more than half an inch thick and weigh in at under three pounds. The latest version packs a great deal of value into its small and inexpensive convertible 2-in-1 package.

Better still, the laptop is a real pleasure to use. It has an excellent keyboard — one of the best on a 13-inch laptop at this price. It also offers a reasonably sized touchpad and a premium-like 1080p touch display with active pen support. The display offers great contrast no matter the price, along with an impressive color accuracy that you normally find on laptops over $1,500. This is a 2-in-1, so you can swing the Yoga C640’s display around for use as a tablet — making the budget price even more remarkable. The incredible battery life is the cherry on top.

The Lenovo Yoga C640 is good or great in all important metrics, which is why we gave it our Editors’ Choice award. It’s not just one of the best budget laptops, it’s among the best laptops at any price.

DELL INSPIRON 13 7000

With powerful and efficient hardware, this budget laptop enjoys solid battery life for an all-day work schedule.

WHO IT’S FOR

Office workers who want to game in their off hours.

WHY WE PICKED IT

Whether you’re typing up another spreadsheet or winding down with a game at the end of a long workday, the Dell Inspiron 13 7000 strikes a great balance. It features powerful and efficient general computing power, like a ninth-generation Intel CPU — options include Core i5, Core i7, and Core i9 chips — and up to 16GB of RAM, and this laptop sports a dedicated graphics chip. The standard model comes with an Nvidia GTX 1050 3GB for entry-level gaming chops, but there’s also an option for a new-gen 1650, which can play all sorts of games if you tweak the settings enough.

With the typical Inspiron build quality, we’d expect this system to borrow a number of great design features from the more premium XPS range, but make them available in a more affordable form. It’s not the lightest laptop at just over four pounds, but it has a great, spill-resistant keyboard, full Wi-Fi 5 and Bluetooth connectivity, and a top-mounted 720p webcam for conferencing.

DELL INSPIRON 15 7591

It’s inexpensive and offers unparalleled upgradeability.

WHO IT’S FOR

Students, buyers on a budget.

WHY WE PICKED IT

If the Yoga C640 is a bit too small, then the Dell Inspiron 15 7591 is a fantastic alternative. It features a larger, 1080p 15-inch screen with plenty of brightness and colors, providing you with a bit more screen real estate to work on.

The Inspiron 15 7591 isn’t a 2-in-1, but it offers something that students might find valuable: The ability to easily upgrade the RAM and storage, meaning that the laptop you buy today can grow with your needs. And the Inspiron 15 7591 also comes equipped with a 45-watt Intel Core i5-9300H, 8GB of RAM, and a 256GB SSD, making it a faster performer than many laptops at this price range.

All of this means speedy performance and great quad-core multitasking to go with the expansive screen. You can configure the laptop with a large 97 watt-hour battery if you’re willing to give up a drive bay, meaning you get all-day battery life as well. If you keep the extra storage space, it should still get you through the majority of a workday so long as you aren’t running intensive applications.

ACER SWIFT 3 (AMD)

Those who need extra power for video editing on a tight budget.

WHO IT’S FOR

Video editors and anyone who doesn’t mind sacrificing style for power.

WHY WE PICKED IT

Finding a laptop for video editing under $1,000 isn’t easy. When it comes to video editing, the more cores the better. The best video editing laptops like the Dell XPS 15 and MacBook Pro 16-inch will cost you well over $2,000.

Fortunately, Acer has come on strong with the Swift 3 equipped with AMD’s latest Ryzen 7 4700U CPU. For just $650, you get an eight-core laptop with AMD Radeon integrated graphics. That helps the laptop churn through demanding tasks like encoding video. The display isn’t the best we’ve seen, but you’ll forgive it once you see how well this budget laptop performs.

The $650 also gets you 8GB of RAM and a large 512GB SSD. It’s not a sleek or modern-looking laptop by any means, although it’s very well built, but if pure video editing power per dollar is what you’re looking for, look no further.

LENOVO IDEAPAD DUET

It’s extremely affordable, with a great screen, and more than all-day battery life.

WHO IT’S FOR

Anyone on a budget who doesn’t mind sacrificing performance for extreme value.

WHY WE PICKED IT

Chromebooks have become popular budget choices over the last few years, and many have won us over as well. One form factor that hasn’t done as well as some others is the detachable Chrome OS tablet. That’s changed with the introduction of the Lenovo IdeaPad Duet, which not only is a very useable tablet but that represents a tremendous value thanks to the included kickstand cover and detachable keyboard.

The Lenovo IdeaPad Duet’s low price brings some limitations — performance isn’t the greatest, for example, although it’s good enough for the kinds of tasks you’ll want to run on it. And the display is very good but not great, with a 16:10 1,920 x 1,200 resolution that’s not as pixel-sharp as Apple’s baseline iPad that the Duet competes against.

However, if you want a tablet for web browsing, light productivity work, and consuming media, then the Duet has you covered. It’s a very comfortable size as a tablet — although it’s a bit chunky with the kickstand cover and keyboard attached — and it feels great in hand. Not only is this the best budget Chromebook, but it’s one of the best budget laptops you can buy, period.

You will have to get used to Chrome OS too. It’s not as functional as Windows, and it works best when you have an active internet connection, but it’s more fleshed out today than it was in the past. If you find yourself using a lot of Google web services and watching streaming services like Netflix, a Chromebook like the Duet could be a great way to save a lot of money on your next upgrade.

Article by Luke Larsen for DigitalTrends.com