The 3 Best Laptop Computers Under $300

The 3 Best Laptop Computers Under $300

Acer | Bargain Deals | HP | Laptops  |  2 Comments | All Tech & Gadget Reviews

Three bills. That’s all you need to get a quality laptop. It won’t be a laptop with a huge screen or an ultra-fast processor. It won’t run complex video-editing programs or graphics-intensive games. But it can be a laptop that’s lightweight, well-built and more than capable of performing the basic array of computer tasks — emailing, web surfing, streaming videos, running spreadsheets and word processors, et al — if you know which ones to buy.

Spot Cool Stuff took a look every laptop computer that’s available for $300 or less. Here’s a review of our three favorites:

The Acer C720, which, amazingly costs less than $200!

The HP Chromebook 14, with head-turning looks and a 9-hour battery life.

The Gateway LT41P04u, which runs a full version of Windows 8 and features a touchscreen.

laptop hp 2 bargain deals acer 2  The 3 Best Laptop Computers Under $300

Acer C720 Chromebook

Pros: Incredibly inexpensive, good speed for the money, vivid display
Cons: Average build quality, clunky looks
Discount Price: $199

Like all Chromebooks, the Acer C720 runs a version of Google’s Chrome operating system. That means your software choices are limited to Google’s suite of products and the relatively small number of other offerings in the Chrome Web Store.

Working on a Chromebook also means that most of your files and apps live in the cloud, eliminating the need for a lot of internal storage or the need to manually update software. The downside being that you need to be connected to wifi to use most apps. Also, most non-Google versions of Google products aren’t available. Instead of Microsoft Word you’ll have to use Google Drive. Instead of video chatting on Skype you do it through Google Hangout. But don’t worry: Angry Birds remains Angry Birds.

The C720 model is among the least expensive in Acer’s C7 Chromebook series. But it doesn’t seem cheap. The screen is vivid. The dual-core 1.40 GHz processor, while not exactly blazing, is capable. There’s even an HDMI port and video camera.

What’s the catch? It’s not blazing fast. The display is only 720p (though plenty bright, even for some outdoor use). The build quality is average. And the physical design of the Acer C7 isn’t going to impress anyone — though the price certainly will!

Suggested for: Those on a very tight budget; kids; travel; anyone who needs a laptop primarily to surf the web and write email; guest or backup laptop.

laptop hp 2 bargain deals acer 2  The 3 Best Laptop Computers Under $300

Feature: Acer C720 Chromebook specs:
  Operating system   Chrome OS
  Display   11.6 inches, 1366 x 768 resolution
  Processor   Intel Celeron (Haswell) 1.4
  Internal storage   16 GB solid-state drive (32 GB option also available)
  Approx battery life   8.5 hour (officially — some users report getting only around half that)
  Weight   2.76 lbs. (1.25 kg)

laptop hp 2 bargain deals acer 2  The 3 Best Laptop Computers Under $300

HP Chromebook 14

Pros: 9 hour battery life, large HD display, external design, color choices, free 100GB of Google Drive, boots in 10 seconds
Cons: Dim display
Discount Price: $299

The HP Chromebook 14 might be our favorite Chromebook. For around $300 you get an extremely well built, well designed laptop with an HD-quality 14-inch display and a truly full-sized keyboard. We like the sleek form factor (it’s less than an inch thick) and light weight (a touch over 4 pounds). Though the processor runs at a pedestrian 1.4 GHz, multitasking apps and browsing the web felt zippy enough to us. Best of all is the long battery life: up 9 hours under real-world conditions.

While some find the HP Chromebook 14′s choice of pastel-y bezel colors — coral peach, ocean turquoise and snow white — a bit too Miami Vice, we like how it makes the laptop stand out from all the other bland offerings out there.

Less enamoring was the brightness of the display. It was fine in low light situations but not bright enough to use outside on a sunny day. And, of course, all Chromebooks come with the disadvantages (and advantages) we outlined for the Acer C7, above.

The HP Chromebook is also available in a 4G version and with an 11-inch display

Suggested for: Avid users of Google software; streaming video; kids; anyone who needs a laptop primarily to surf the web and write email.

laptop hp 2 bargain deals acer 2  The 3 Best Laptop Computers Under $300

Feature: HP Chromebook 14 specs:
  Operating system   Chrome OS
  Display   14 inches, 1366 x 768 resolution
  Processor   Intel Celeron 2955U 1.4 GHz
  Internal storage   16 GB Solid-State Drive
  Approx battery life   9 hours (!)
  Weight   4.19 lbs (1.86 kg)
laptop hp 2 bargain deals acer 2  The 3 Best Laptop Computers Under $300
laptop hp 2 bargain deals acer 2  The 3 Best Laptop Computers Under $300 laptop hp 2 bargain deals acer 2  The 3 Best Laptop Computers Under $300
laptop hp 2 bargain deals acer 2  The 3 Best Laptop Computers Under $300

Gateway LT41P04u

Pros: Touchscreen, thin and light weight, full version of Windows 8 included, decent battery life
Cons: Slow, poor speaker quality
Discount Price: $279

Think of the Gateway LT41P04u as a cross between a notebook and a tablet.

Like a notebook, the geekily-named LT41P04u runs a full Home and Student version of Windows 8. It has a hard drive (320 gigs), a surprisingly good keyboard and trackpad, a microphone and webcam. It has one HDMI and two USB 2.0 ports as well as an SD card reader.

Like a tablet, the LT41P04u has a touchscreen, upon which the multi-touch technology can recognize ten fingers at once. The device is also only 1 inch thick and weighs a more 2.4 pounds. But, like a tablet, there’s no Ethernet connection.

So why is the Gateway LT41P04u so inexpensive? Because it has only 2 GB of RAM and a blah processor. Together, they are capable of running Word, Excel, PowerPoint (each of which comes included). You can video chat on this computer and even stream HD movies onto a television via the HDMI port. But forget about multitasking or running memory-intensive software.

If that’s a downside you can live with, the Gateway LT41P04u is an excellent value.

Suggested for: Budget laptop buyers who don’t want a Chromebook; students and retirees; frequent users of Windows Office software

laptop hp 2 bargain deals acer 2  The 3 Best Laptop Computers Under $300

Feature: Gateway LT41P04u specs:
  Operating system   Windows 8
  Display   10.1 inches, 1366 x 768 resolution
  Processor   Intel Celeron 1.46 GHz (1 MB Cache)
  Internal storage   320 GB 5400 rpm hard drive
  Approx battery life   5 hours
  Weight   2.4 lbs (1.1 kg)
published: 2 April 2014
laptop hp 2 bargain deals acer 2  The 3 Best Laptop Computers Under $300

More from Spot Cool Stuff:

Google Chromebook Comparison: Acer vs Samsung
The Best Tablet Computers for Students
5 Cool, Luxurious, Yet Inexpensive Hostels

laptop hp 2 bargain deals acer 2  The 3 Best Laptop Computers Under $300



  1. Dave Cardwell says:

    April 4th, 2014at 2:42 am(#)

    Lets open this can of worms and make smarter choices..
    In case you missed it Microsoft has just dropped support for Windows XP and some aspects of Windows 7. This will inevitably drive people to ditch their old machine. This means that by summer we should see an abundance of used machines saturate the market. Today you can buy used machines for just a bit over $100. ( market is around $150 Canadian)Many of these machines are far more powerful than any listed here. Most people will ditch their laptop or PC for a new one just because its running slower. Save your money on a new machine and have somebody just reload windows fresh. The machine will be fast as if it was new.

    Microsoft ( on purpose) adds updates that expand the work load on standard files. Microsoft wants you to buy a new machine every 2 years. Since mid 2013 aspects of Internet Explorer and some services have (lets say)started running purposely slower on XP and now not at all. While nobody from MS will admit it I have run an experiment on machines to confirm it. You can still run XP by doing the following. Disable Windows updates, System event notification, and security center in control Panel/admin tools/services. Dump Internet explorer for Firefox and your good to go. This solves the problem for those wanting to still use XP however I recommend you doing the same tweak to Windows 7 .. Microsoft automatically turns on Automatic updates, using the other programs mentioned, as a means of resetting your settings automatically without your permission.

    Another mistake people make is they update versions of software that don’t need it. Newer versions run slower and often offer no real benefit in updating. What ain’t broke don’t fix. If you install programs NEVER EVER EVER use express install. Always use manual instal. Read every page. Say no to tool bars, added value software or anything you don’t need. Venders bundle junk as value added.. Who’s value we aren’t quite sure..
    Don’t install multiple virus programs the work against each other. Don’t buy or install tweakers, cleaners, registry helpers or anything similar. Install a free version of a virus program ( AVG is good) just ignore the ads. Don’t install Norton, Avast or McCaffee. Windows 8 is a dog and there is more than one version.. one bad and the other really bad.. be sure to ask if your still looking at a new machine which version you get.

    Its also a good idea to target upper versions of windows and never ever take the home version of anything. If you can find it use XP professional SP3 with Firefox. Windows 7 Ultimate 32/64. Either one is fine and fully loaded.

    Now there will be people reading this that will say I’m crazy but I have a Bench PC I built in 2000. It runs 24/7 and does pretty much everything and it had the above mod done then. It runs just as fast as it did in 2000.

    Any way you look at it.. treat a laptop like a car. Take it for a spin.. put it through its paces. Take a DVD Movie both home burned and purchased and a blank DVD.. burn a disk, watch parts of both movies. Play a game, Play a song(mp3)try programs. Check the hinges, make sure it charges, Ask about the battery life. Look for impact marks. If this seems too much then take a computer guy with you.

    If your laptop has 2Ghz CPU, 2-4G ram,300G+ size Hard drive.. you have all you need and the price I mentioned in the beginning is for this exact spec. You can do pretty much anything accept playing intense graphic games.

    Give a used Laptop a try.. save your cash.
    (I bought an Acer Travelmate 6592 for $160 in October last year. Its retail price new was $1500 and its fully loaded and runs everything.

    [Reply to this comment]

    Spot Cool Tech Stuff Reply:


    Some excellent points! Personally, we’d rather have a new Chromebook than a 14-year-old Windows laptop. But there are certainly uses for which is used computer is plenty good enough.


    ~ SCS

    [Reply to this comment]

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