When you travel, no matter if you are a digital nomad running an online business or just taking a break from work, you will most likely need and want to have a laptop with you. The best laptops for travel are lightweight, easy to carry around, extremely durable and offer a good battery life for low costs: this way, you can enjoy them for longer without the need to constantly have them plugged in to recharge.
We are here to help you make an educated choice and get the best cheap laptops for travel, under $500: we did the research and chose these great laptops after checking out and ranking over 100 highly portable, high performance laptops. In the end, we chose laptops that pack a real punch despite their relatively low price. I am sure you are going to be extremely satisfied with whichever you choose and they will all become faithful companions during your travels.
So without further ado, let’s check out below the best cheap laptops for travel in 2016:
Chromebooks are extremely light, ultraportable and extremely cheap laptops that can be an awesome companion on the road – but they have limitations. They can not run an operating system like Windows and they only run on the Chrome OS, which is build around Google’s web browser Chrome. You can not install regular Windows programs (like Microsoft Office / Word or Adobe Photoshop), but they are still good for regular internet browsing, editing/writing documents in Google Docs and watching movies online, as well as AVI (or similar) files you have. Apart from that, though, a Chromebook doesn’t do more. But in most cases, when you travel – even if you work when traveling – you don’t need a lot more. So here are my top picks for the best cheap laptops for travel under $500 – Chromebooks:
Samsung Chromebook 3
Considered by many (myself included) one of the best – if not THE best – chromebook on the market, the Samsung Chromebook 3 is reliable, durable, lightweight and extremely powerful. It runs on a 2.16 GHz Intel processor, has 4 GB of RAM and offers resolutions up to 1366×768 pixels on its small 11.6-inch display. It has an ultra fast 16GB SSD – but if you want to store a ton of movies, you should definitely consider bringing an USB stick as well because those 16GB can fill up quickly with music and especially movies. But for streaming music online, browsing your favorite websites, YouTube and writing/editing documents, it’s perfect.
It weights about 2.5 pounds and its battery can easily last you up to 7-8 hours, even more if you don’t use it for intensive stuff. It looks good, it is good, it is fast and for its price, it can’t get any better. Will require a bit of adjusting (like all small portables) if you are used with a large keyboard, but eventually you will be able to do a lot of typing on it without much trouble. Highly recommended!
Click here to find out more & buy it on Amazon (US & World)
Click here to find out more and & buy it on Amazon (UK & Europe)
When it comes to portability, a larger screen size isn’t the best option, but in many cases, 11.6 inches is a bit too small – I personally find it difficult to adapt to the small screen and especially smaller keyboard, so I prefer a 13-something inch laptop instead. If you want a Chromebook, then the Acer Chromebook is a great choice for a slightly larger screen and keyboard which are more comfortable if you also to a lot of writing when traveling or you simply prefer the larger screen.
In terms of performance, it’s very similar to the Samsung model above: it is powered by a NVIDIA Tegra K1 Quad Core 2.1 GHz Processor, 4GB of RAM and offers up to 32 GB of SSD storage space. Just like the Samsung model, it doesn’t have a CD or DVD drive, so you will need an USB stick for extra storage or file transfers. So basically, the two are very similar in what they offer, with the Acer model bringing a larger display, but it’s also slightly heavier at around 3.3 pounds.
If you need more from your travel laptop and are ready to spend a bit more than what you would normally spend on a Chromebook, a traditional laptop is the notebook that you need. I personally prefer those because they offer not only a regular operating system like Windows, but they are also better in terms of storage space and usability, offering a lot more options, including text editing software, photo editing software (like Photoshop) and even video editing options. In other word, if you need a real laptop for travel, we have have the best cheap options: lightweight, with great specifications and long battery life.
Dell Inspiron 2-in-1
This is a 2-in-1 laptop, meaning that it can also be used as a tablet thanks to its 360 degree rotating keyboard. This is a great option for those who want increased portability, but have in mind that you will get a “tablet” running on Windows 10 so you might still not get access to your mobile apps. If that’s not a problem and you want the extra portability, the Dell Inspiron 10099SLV is a really impressive choice.
It has decent processor power – an 1.6 GHz processor from Intel which won’t blow you away in terms of performance, but it will do a good job keeping your programs, work and movies as fast as possible. It also has 4GB of RAM to speed things up a bit, but what it excels at is storage space: you get 500 GB of storage so plenty of room to fill it up with movies and never worry about anything. Its display is small, 11.6-inch, but this means that you can get over 6 hours of battery life on a single charge, which is not bad at all!
Dell Latitude E6320
This laptop offers an incredible performance for its low price: it is powered by a modern and extremely powerful processor, the Intel Core i5 2.5GHz Processor which can handle a lot of advanced processes and does it really fast. It also has 4GB of RAM, which is impressive, as well as plenty of storage space thanks to its 320 GB SATA HDD. Finally, a 13.3″ display ensures that the screen size is not extremely small, but remains small enough to be portable. This travel laptop is a refurbished one – and that is the reason why you can get it for such a low price. But if you have nothing against this minor Con, then you should go for it as its specs are really awesome! I’d personally just give it a try – it’s just too good to say no to!
Acer Aspire One Cloudbook
If you want a larger laptop under $500 that’s perfect for travel, go for this one! With a display size of 14″, it’s still smaller and more portable than a 15.6″ model or larger, but not as tiny as a 11-inch one. But size isn’t the only thing that impresses when it comes to the Acer Aspire One Cloudbook: it also comes with Windows 10 installed and comes with Microsoft Office installed (Word, Excel, PowerPoint, Outlook etc). The UK/Europe version also has 1TB of free cloud storage (the US version might as well, just check it out!) which is A LOT!
In terms of horse power, it runs on an 1.6GHz Intel processor and 2GB of RAM, which doesn’t make it the fastest laptop on the marke, but it’s really fast for the money you buy and it can easily run advanced programs like Photoshop, Autocad and so on. It weights just 3.5 lbs (1.6 Kg) and those who want a larger keyboard, will get a perfect experience with this laptop. So if you’re looking for a writing oriented laptop, this one is perfect for you not only because of the MS Office that it comes with, but also thanks to its larger size.
You have a few nice options here and I made sure to sort my suggestions based on what you might and might not need. In the end, it’s up for you to decide which of these budget travel laptops are best for you: if you need to to a lot of work on them, I would suggest getting the larger display sizes, if you want it mostly for casual internet browsing, the Chromebooks will do just fine, while those who want it mainly for movies should opt for the high storage options. However, no matter which choice you make, I am sure you will absolutely love your new laptop that’s perfect for travel.