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Some low-priced alternatives to that cheap ass Walmart laptop not worth its salt

All of these are a better bang for your buck.

best laptops under $300
Image: KnowTechie

You might have read about a discount laptop currently stinking up the shelves at Walmart, a $140 paperweight that is being met with horrible reviews. While discount laptops have their place in this world, there are much better laptops to be found without spending too much money.

We are tempted to buy a $140 laptop and think we are getting a deal. Often, we can find sub-$200 laptops that do the job. I own at least two eMMC (flash drive instead of hard drive) laptops, both purchased for under $200. Even these eMMC machines are better than the EVOO being touted by Walmart (as long as you have external storage, because eMMC is usually fairly light on that). The point of a laptop that inexpensive is obvious — it’s freaking cheap. But cheap is not always good enough. The laptop has to be able to at least moderately perform.

With record-breaking unemployment, schools moving online, and a surge in work-from-home activity, we’re all looking for deals on laptops to prepare ourselves and our children (students) for the fall semester. The assumption is they are going to be working online so they are going to need a laptop.

That’s why a $140 Walmart laptop is so enticing. If you are willing to spend a few dollars more, you can get a machine worth the money that won’t immediately let you down, and you don’t even have to leave the house.

There are a ton of retailers out there that offer discount laptops, but I’ve found over the years (based on the pile of used laptops in the corner of my home office) that often has the best deals on a daily basis. While you can find good refurbished laptops at places like Best Buy and Amazon, Best Buy usually requires a visit to the store and is still a bit overpriced. Amazon requires a risk when buying from third-party sellers — may as well buy off Craigslist (if you’re here to sell used laptop online, look somewhere else).

Today we’re going to focus our search on new and refurbished laptops between $200-$300. So here are five laptops from that search range that are much better machines than that chunk of plastic from Walmart.

Lenovo IdeaPad 1 ($289)

lenovo ideapad laptop
Image: KnowTechie

This laptop and the next two are sold through 3rd party sellers on Newegg. Newegg is a bit more restrictive on its 3rd party sellers (since they are usually selling computer equipment) and I’ve never experienced an issue buying 3rd party on Newegg. This laptop comes with a Dual-core AMD A6-9220e 1.6GHz processor, 4GB RAM, and a 64GB eMMC flash memory hard drive. It’s not a killer machine, but I’ve owned a pile of these and they do the job as far as getting online and getting things done.

Acer C771T-C1WS Touchscreen Chromebook ($289)

acer touchscreen
Image: KnowTechie

This is a dull looking laptop and as much as I personally hate Chromebooks, a lot of people enjoy the simplicity of them. This is your basic burrito. It has an Intel Celeron 3855U processor, 4GB RAM, 32GB eMMC memory (you don’t need much for Chrome OS), and is a touchscreen laptop. Touchscreen usually jacks up the price, but this is a deal at once again, under $300. Acer (and Asus) generally puts out solid little laptops so if you want to drop a few dollars more for a better hard drive, keep reading.

Asus X441BA Notebook ($299)

asus laptop on purple background
Image: KnowTechie

This Asus laptop is very similar to the Acer and I sometimes get them confused. The differences are between the keyboard and the screws on the back. This one runs off an AMD Dual-Core A6-9225 2.6GHz processor that can clock up to 3.0GHz. That’s a good speed for a laptop this cheap and small. It has 4GB RAM and an upgraded 128GB SSD drive, a deal in itself. This thing has been customized by the seller and is selling for a very fair price. If I didn’t have a cheap laptop in every room already, I’d totally buy this one right now.

HP 8460p Refurb ($230)

low-cost hp laptop
Image: KnowTechie

This is a refurbished laptop sold directly by Newegg. There is nothing wrong with refurbs. Usually, they are in that state because of a physical defect that has been corrected, like a screen issue or chipped frame. Regardless, this is the cheapest one on this list, offering an Intel Core i5 processor and 4GB RAM with a 250GB SSD drive. $230 is a sweet deal for a laptop with a SSD drive versus an optical drive. While the memory is lacking, it’s certainly not the paltry 2GB in the EVOO.

Dell E6230 Refurb ($299)

refurbished dell pc
Image: KnowTechie

This laptop comes with an Intel Core i5 3rd Gen processor, 8GB RAM and a 256 GB SSD drive. That’s about the highest ram and hard drive specs you’ll find for under $300. It’s not exactly the highest resolution laptop on the market at only 1280×800, but it will certainly suffice for doing school work. This is probably the best deal on this list considering the specs. It’s not much to look at, Dell computers rarely are, but for a refurb and with that size SSD, you’re hard pressed to find a better deal.

Sure, none of these computers are $140. But you get what you pay for when you spend that little on a computer. While there might be a huge budgetary difference between $140 and $300 (I have been there, am still there, so I get it), if you can swing the $300 you will get much better ROI on these machines than a $140 machine that you’ll have to replace in three months.

I have 4GB RAM eMMC machines that I’ve been running for upwards of several years. I have a refurbished HP that my kid uses for school that has been passed down from kid to kid. No Windows update has bombed it yet. Which is what will happen with a $140 2GB RAM laptop with a mediocre processor and barely enough storage to hold Windows itself.

Editors’ Recommendations:

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