When preparing to buy a budget laptop, one of the first things you should do is to establish the criteria that you need this laptop to meet. The main things you are looking at are probably going to be screen size, the size of the hard drive, RAM, and possibly other additions such as a webcam. But of course there is much more to it then that. For this situation, we are going to try to find the best performing budget laptop for around $350 or less.

Of all the manufacturers that produce laptops in this price range, I have narrowed it down to three brands that have potential. Acer, HP, and Asus.


HP(110276)HP g6-1d01dx

Price: $359

4 GB Memory, 15.6 Inch Screen, Dual-Core Processor, 320 GB Hard Drive

Of the three brands listed here, HP is probably the most established and the one you can feel most comfortable about when it comes to reliability. This particular laptop, when compared to the other laptops in this price range, is going to run faster then most if not all of them straight out of the box.  It is meant for the intermediate user, which means that it is meant for things like surfing the web, checking email, and even running most games. One thing that sets this laptop apart from the others is the weight. At only 5.2 pounds, it feels light and portable, even though it has a larger 15.6 inch screen. The screen quality is not bad, however it is noticeably less clear compared to some more expensive laptops. Also, the 6-cell-lithium ion battery has an actual usage time of around 3.5 hours, which could be a problem if you need one to last longer than that. Overall, this is a solid laptop offering great value mixed with good performance for the average user and it should easily last years without problems.


ASUSAsus X401A

Price: $329

4 GB Memory, 14 Inch Screen, Intel Pentium Processor, 320 GB Hard Drive

This is a stylish computer available in a variety of colors, such as pink and lime green. With a price of only $329 and a weight of only 4.1 pounds, this laptop would make a great alternative to a netbook, as it would run twice as fast as nearly any netbook on the market. This is another computer geared towards the intermediate user. Browsing the internet, watching YouTube videos, and checking email can all be done quickly. However, if you are a gamer, many of the newer games are going to experience some lag, as the Intel Pentium Processor struggles to handle them. This Asus also lacks a DVD drive which can be annoying, especially if you want to back up the operating system. Also, this laptop does look and feel cheaper than most laptops, and some users have complained of a faulty spacebar button after awhile. If you are in the market for a netbook, I strongly suggest looking at this Asus, as this is one of the cheapest full-sized laptops available, and will offer twice the speed.


ACERAcer AS5250

Price: $334

4 GB Memory, 15.6 Inch Screen, Dual-Core Processor, 320 GB Hard Drive

Straight out of the box, this computer doesn't offer quite as much processing power as the HP or Asus. That is not to say that browsing the internet or watching YouTube videos would pose any kind of problem for it. The wireless range is also known to be weak out of the box. However, these issues can be worked on. This computer offers 4 GB of RAM, expandable up to 8 GB. This will offer a noticeable increase in performance if you know how to add RAM, which is very simple on this computer. If wireless range is a problem, downloading the updated drivers online offer a fix for this problem. This computer offers above average battery life, but it does weigh-in at 5.73 pounds. I have even spotted this Acer online for below $300. So if you are looking for an extremely low-priced laptop and you have some know-how when it comes to working on computers, than this would be the right choice for you.