Which laptop is best under 250 pounds

The best laptops 2020

Notebook components such as the processor, hard drive, RAM and graphics chip can confuse even notebook enthusiasts. So don't feel bad if the spec sheets look like alphabet soup to you. Here are the main components that you should keep an eye on.

CPU: The "brain" of your computer, the processor, has a huge impact on its performance, but depending on what you want to do, even the cheapest model can be good enough. Here is an overview:

  • 10th Generation Intel CPUs - Ice Lake vs Comet Lake: Intel has introduced two types of 10th generation processors that will power the next generation of laptops. More information about these processors can be found here (Ice Lake) and here (Comet Lake). To sum up, Ice Lake, a 10-nanometer chip, has improved built-in Iris Plus graphics, while Comet Lake, a 14-nanometer chip, is solely concerned with raw power, especially the 6-core Core i7-10710U. Not sure which one is right for you? Read our guide which will also help you decipher Intel's confusing naming schemes.
  • Intel Core i9: Core i9 processors support the Core i7 as the new top-class CPU from Intel and offer faster performance than any other mobile chip. Core i9 CPUs are only available on premium laptops, workstations and high-end gaming rigs and are only worth their premium price if you are a power user who uses the most demanding programs and apps.
  • Intel Core i7: An advancement over Core i5, where models with numbers ending in HQ or K use higher performance and have four cores, allowing even faster gaming and even faster productivity. There are also Core i7 Y-series chips with lower power and performance. Look out for CPUs with a model number of 10 (e.g. Core i7-1060G7 for Ice Lake or Core i7-10710U for Comet Lake) as they are part of the latest 10th Gen Intel Core Series and offer better performance . Note that Intel's 9th generation H-series CPUs are available now.
  • Intel Core i5: If you're looking for a mainstream laptop with the best combination of price and performance, get one with an Intel Core i5 CPU. Models ending with U (e.g. Core i5-7200U) are the most common. Those with the a Y in their name have lower power consumption and poorer performance, while models with a head office consume more power and appear in thicker game and workstation systems. The latest Intel 10th generation "Ice Lake" CPUs have four cores and a number of useful features, including Wi-Fi 6 support, Thunderbolt 3 integration, and better AI. Read our benchmarking article to see how they work.
  • Intel Core i3: The performance is only one step below the Core i5, as is the price. If you can possibly upgrade to a Core i5, we recommend it.
  • Intel Xeon: Extremely powerful and expensive processors for large mobile workstations. If you're into professional engineering, 3D modeling, or video editing, you might want a Xeon, but you don't get good battery life or a lightweight laptop.
  • Intel Pentium / Celeron: These chips are common on laptops under $ 400 and offer the slowest performance. However, you can do this if your main duties are surfing the internet and editing simple documents. If you can pay more to get a Core i3 or i5, you are better off.
  • Intel Core m / Core i5 / i7 "Y-Series:" With low power consumption and low heat, systems with these processors can be operated without fans. The performance is better than the Celeron, but is a bit below the regular Core U series.
  • AMD Ryzen 4000: A new chipset designed to compete with Intel Core i5 and Core i7. We found that Ryzen 4000 chips outperform the equivalent Intel Core processors. For example, the Ryzen 5 4500U CPU offers roughly the same performance as an Intel Core i7 CPU. These chips are usually found in much cheaper laptops.
  • AMD A-, FX-, or E-Series: The AMD processors found on low-cost laptops - the company calls them APUs rather than CPUs - offer decent performance for the money it spends on web browsing, viewing of media and productivity is sufficient.

RAM: Some laptops under $ 250 only have 4GB of RAM. Ideally, however, you want at least 8GB for a budget system and 16GB if you can just spend a little more. For most people, 32GB or more is more than enough, while 64GB and more is reserved for power users.

Storage drive (also known as hard drive): Even more important than the speed of your CPU is the performance of your storage drive. If you can afford it and don't need a lot of internal storage, get a laptop with a solid state drive (SSD) instead of a hard drive because you'll see at least three times the speed and a much faster laptop overall. Among the SSDs, the newer PCIe x4 devices (also known as NVME) offer three times the speed of traditional SATA drives. Laptops under $ 250 use eMMC storage that is technically solid but no faster than a mechanical hard drive.

Display: The more pixels you have, the more content you can fit on the screen and the sharper it looks. Unfortunately, some budget laptops still have 1366 x 768 displays, as do some business laptops. If you can afford it, we recommend paying an extra charge for a 1920x1080 panel, also known as Full HD or 1080p. High-end laptops have screens that are 2560 x 1600, 3200 x 1800, or even 3840 x 2160 (4K), all of which look sharp but use more power, which reduces battery life.

Display quality is about much more than resolution. IPS panels vary in color and brightness. So, read our reviews to find out if the laptop you are considering has a good display. We typically look for an sRGB color rating above 100% and brightness above 300 nits. If you want the best picture quality and don't care about battery life, consider an OLED display. You should also keep an eye out for the upcoming display technology for laptops, including miniLED.

Touchscreen: If you buy a regular clamshell laptop instead of a 2-in-1, you won't get much benefit from a touchscreen and get 1 to 2 hours less battery life. Touchscreens are standard on 2-in-1 devices. If you still want a touchscreen, check out our best touchscreen laptops page.

Graphics Chip: Unless you're playing PC games, creating 3D objects, or doing high-resolution video editing, a built-in graphics chip (which shares system memory) is fine, especially the latest Iris Plus graphics from Intel. However, if you have any of the above requirements, an AMD or Nvidia discrete graphics processor is essential.

As with CPUs, there are both high- and low-end graphics chips. Low-end gaming or workstation systems these days typically have Nvidia MX250 or GTX 1650 GPUs, while mid-range models have RTX 2050 or RTX 2060 and high-end models have RTX 2070 or 2080 GPUs. Nvidia keeps a list of its graphics chips from the bottom to the top.

AMD, Nvidia's rival, is Apple's preferred graphics card provider, even though you shouldn't be buying a MacBook for gaming. AMD is expected to launch the Radeon RX 5600M and Radeon RX 5700M GPUs for laptops later this year. So keep an eye out for these chips. AMD also maintains a list of its graphics cards.

Ports: While the lack of ports isn't usually a deal breaker when choosing a laptop, it helps to find the connections you need right on the system instead of having to carry a ton of dongles with you. Most mainstream laptops have USB 3.0 ports and an HDMI out for video. However, more and more laptops are using USB Type-C or Thunderbolt 3 ports that are compatible with USB Type-C.

Getting Type C is a definite plus as it allows you to connect to universal chargers and docks. If you can wait, USB 4 will soon be available with faster transfer rates and the ability to daisy chain 4K monitors with one cable. Other useful connections include SD card slots, headphone jacks, and ethernet ports (especially if you're a gamer). Connectivity: If you need to use your laptop on the go, consider buying a notebook that supports 4G LTE. You have to pay for a data subscription, but you can access the internet from a router. If you're looking for a laptop with the latest and greatest connectivity options, look for one with Wi-Fi 6 support. Wi-Fi 6 offers higher theoretical throughput and a more stable connection than 802.11ac. We also recommend looking for a laptop with Bluetooth 5, the latest standard that offers improved connectivity with Bluetooth-enabled devices such as mice and headphones.

DVD / Blu-ray Drives: Few laptops come with optical drives as all software and movies are downloadable, although we've kept an eye on the laptops with DVD drives. However, if you really need to read / write discs and your laptop of choice doesn't have a built-in DVD drive, you can always buy an external drive that plugs in via USB for less than $ 20.