The beauty of the laptop market is competition – every company will do what it can to get you to buy from them. Because of this, the budget laptop market has exploded. You’d be a fool to believe that just because these top budget laptop manufacturers can get you set up with a laptop for under $500, they’ll be poorly made and fail within months.

Clevo / Sager / PC Specialistmaxresdefault-3

These are all the same company, the products are all the same, just with a different name depending on where you buy them (Clevo and Sager in the US and Canada, PC Specialist in the UK and Europe). Clevo have become hugely popular due to their wide customisation options on every one of their laptops. Whether you’re a gamer, working with media, or even just someone who likes to browse the web, if their base specifications aren’t up to scratch for you, you can chop and change parts as you wish to suit you. The beauty of this isn’t only that you get a tailor made machine for what you need, but the price comes down too. If you just browse the web and do a little word processing, a big $100 graphics card is no use to you – so you don’t have to buy one. Clevo aren’t completely perfect, with sub-par audio systems and bland, vanilla casing. You won’t stand out with one, but you won’t you won’t find machines with similar specifications less.

Lenovoimages-1-1

Lenovo have come a long way in the last few years. They still specialise in budget options, same as they always have. Practice makes perfect, and Lenovo have been making cheap machines that can keep up with the big boys for so long that you wouldn’t be blamed for thinking they make expensive machines. More expensive than Clevo but with a better build quality and part range, they are the perfect branch between true ‘ultra budget’ brands and the high end manufacturers like HP and Dell. With a Lenovo you’re almost guaranteed a quick processor and starter-level graphics card. They also like to fit big hard drives as standard to their machines. Lenovo have all the power of the bigger companies but of course there are a few things to be aware of – cases look good, but are very plastic and definitely not made with the best materials available. They also use cheap hard drives unless you choose a higher spec version. As long as you aren’t a regular dropper of laptops and you’re careful with your data, you’ll find it hard to run into any issues, however.

Dell

Okay, Dell aren’t necessarily a budget company. They build high spec, expensive PCs and servers, as well as the colourful Alienware gaming machines. They do make cheap laptops, though, in the form of the Inspiron and Latitude models. These will be slightly more expensive than products from Lenovo and Clevo, and they may even be a little less powerful. What you’re buying when you buy from Dell however is peace of mind. You’ll want a laptop to last and you’ll also likely want help if something goes wrong. Dell has excellent support service and their build quality is good, even on the lower end models. So definitely consider them when making a cheap but long term investment on a laptop.