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Top 5 budget laptops for the holidays

by Danny Zepeda | December 3, 2016December 3, 2016 7:00 am PST

With Black Friday behind us and Christmas coming up fast, I decided to go in search of some of the best laptops you can buy right now. You might decide to pick one of these for yourself or gift it to somebody, but regardless the reason, these are some pretty sweet machines.

The list is no particular order, but instead focuses on the best computers you can get for the best value.

The budget for this list is flexible and offers different types of computers for different types of people. Some might appeal to you while others won’t. These aren’t powerhouse machines for video editing or gaming but they’ll get the job done for everything else.

ASUS Chromebook Flip – $240

The Asus Chromebook Flip is powered by Chrome OS and is one of the most versatile machines you can buy right now. With a slim design weighing just two pounds, you won’t break your back carrying it to your classes or local coffee shop. It comes with a 1.8GHz Rockchip RK3288 quad-core chip, 4GB of RAM and 16GB of SSD. 

Chromebooks aren’t meant to be powerful computers—they’re meant to be agile, inexpensive machines that do everything from the cloud. The Chromebook Flip does that perfectly. Its slim design make it an easy traveling computer and its seamless integration with Google’s apps give it a dynamic ecosystem to work out of. And at only $240, what’s not to love about it?

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Dell Inspiron 2-in-1 13.3-inch – $650

Dell’s Inspiron 2-in-1 13-inch laptop is a pretty sweet machine. It’s higher up the price point when compared to a Chromebook, but it’s worth it. The Dell Inspiron comes with Intel Core i5 processor, 8GB of RAM and 256GB SSD, meaning it’s ready to handle everyday tasks easily. The real gem of this computer is its beautiful 13.3-inch Full HD touch display that serves as the canvas to use Windows 10.

If you didn’t get the hint from the name (2-in-1), this machine is aimed to be a hybrid computer with the touch screen. You can retract the display all the way back to hide the keyboard and use it in tablet mode for as long as you want. Our very own Todd Haselton bought this computer and loves it.

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HP Pavilion 15 – $430

HP’s Pavilion 15 is a throwback for a niche crowd who still want some aging tech (more on that later) but with up-to-date specs that will age like fine wine. The 15-ay013nyr model offers a huge 15.6-inch Full HD display, an Intel Core i5 processor, 8GB of RAM and 128GB of SSD, so its pretty new in terms of internals specs. Now on to those throwback specs we mentioned: this machine sports a disc drive and a full-size keyboard complete with number pad. These are features not present common in computers, but I know there are users out there that look for these features and the HP Pavilion 15 may be right up your alley.

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Lenovo Ideapad Miix 700 – $515

The Lenovo Idea Miix 700 is what happens when a MacBook and Surface Pro meet and have a baby. Its design is similar to the Surface Pro, with a detachable keyboard and kickstand, but  it comes with specs comparable to the MacBook. It features a Intel Core M5 processor, 4GB of RAM, a 128GB SSD, a 5MP front-facing camera and 12-inch touchscreen display. It also promises a 9-hour battery life, which should get most users through a work day.

The Miix 700 looks pretty awesome with the crazy Lenovo watchband hinge and a kickstand that shoots-out from the back. This is the closest you’ll get to a Surface Pro without paying the high premium of Microsoft hardware. It also comes in a sweet gold color that makes it stand out from the sea of silver and black laptops in coffee shops.

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MacBook Air – $979

Okay, this is not a budget computer, but it is a budget Apple computer. The 13-inch MacBook Air is one of the best computers ever created, and you can now find it for under $1,000 on Amazon . It’s slick aluminum design with thin hedge scream premium. It weighs 2.96 pounds and sports a 1.6GHz Intel Core i5 processor, 8GB RAM and 128GB of storage. Also, unlike newer MacBooks, it also has all the important ports you’ll need including MagSafe.

Its thin design, premium build and top-notch usability make this a laptop worth investing in. Sure, you’re missing the Retina display, but you’re also avoiding the expensive dongle life. I’d even argue it’s a better value than the new 12-inch MacBook. If you’re looking buy your first Apple computer or just want great computer for school, you still can’t go wrong with the MacBook Air. 

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Danny Zepeda

Born and raised in Southern California, Danny grew up on a steady diet Pixar, Star Wars and Steven Spielberg movies. Unbeknownst to him, this was...

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