Our annual PC reliability survey revealed that most people spend between £300 and £600 on laptops. Models that fall within this ‘sweet spot’ should offer a decent screen, plenty of storage space and a reasonably speedy processor. Everything you need for everyday tasks like web browsing, watching a movie or working with Microsoft Office.
But how do you pick the best laptop at the right price? Read on for five decent laptops that cost under £500.
Lenovo IdeaPad Flex 15D – for versatility
Although the Flex 15D isn’t a full tablet/laptop convertible – the screen doesn’t detach – it comes pretty close to one. The rotating hinge allows you to flick its 15-inch touchscreen from a regular clamshell position to a standing one, which is useful for Skype or watching films.
Unfortunately, the display doesn’t fold fully backwards and demonstrates a noticeable wobble in ‘stand mode’. This means the Flex’s versatility can only stretch so far – as you might expect for a laptop at this price.
Disappointingly, the Flex 15D didn’t meet our expectations for either video playback or internet browsing.
Toshiba Satellite NB10t-A-101 – ultrabook
Ultrabooks are thin, light and sleek-looking Windows-powered equivalents to Apple’s MacBook Pro range. This Toshiba Satellite ticks most of the category’s boxes with its compact design and 11.6-inch screen.
Despite a solid build quality, compromises have been made to meet the £279 price point. The Satellite’s battery lasted just four hours when watching video, and you’ll get even less use out of it if you want to browse the web.
Samsung ATIV Book 9 Lite – for portability
A portable laptop that’s ideal for students, the Samsung ATIV Book 9 Lite has a trim 13.3-inch screen and weights in at just 1.5kg. This means you can easily tuck it into a rucksack for computing on the go.
Battery life isn’t bad, either – you’ll get a smidge over five hours of web browsing when surfing over wi-fi. Due to the Book 9’s slim design it doesn’t offer a great selection of connections – you’ll have to make do with only two USB ports, and the adapters required for ethernet and HDMI.
Asus X550CA-XX877H – for screen size
Featuring a 15.6-inch screen with a good 1,366×768 resolution, this Asus laptop is an excellent budget choice for movie-lovers. Plus, its built-in SonicMaster speakers offer better sound than you’d expect for a laptop at this price.
Sadly, the Asus doesn’t hold up well when transported away from a mains power supply, with battery life when playing video less than three and a half hours.
Asus VivoBook X200 – for price
You can pick up this VivoBook for as little as £259, which is about as cheap as you’re likely to find a Windows 8 laptop. With an 11.6-inch touchscreen and weighing in at a light 1.3kg, it’s extremely portable, too.
Battery life isn’t great, timed at around three hours when using wi-fi, and if you tend to use processor-intensive programs on your laptop, like Adobe Photoshop or Premiere, this VivoBook, like many cheaper laptops, will struggle.