Help Me, Laptop: I'm Picky and Have Only $700!

Can you really have it all? Forum reader JobsforFun certainly wants to try. They asked us to recommend a laptop that lets them browse the web, type up documents and serve as the Dungeon Master for their Dungeons & Dragons group. But our reader has very specific wants. They include:

  • Price between $600 and $700
  • A 1080p display
  • "Decent" battery life
  • Ability to do light gaming (but they have a desktop for the heavy stuff)
  • 1TB of storage
  • Aluminum chassis
  • Thin bezels
  • For sale on Amazon or Newegg

They're willing to budge in just one area: screen size. It doesn't matter if it's 13, 15 or17 inches. Additionally, they're not loyal to any brands, which gives us more to choose from.

But with all of my research, I was hard-pressed to find an exact match. Here are some suggestions that hopefully help our reader, even if they'll have to compromise.

Acer Swift 3

Right now, this 15.6-inch laptop is available only on Amazon, for $699, and has an Intel Core i5-8250U CPU (the only laptop with an 8th Gen CPU on this list) and 8GB of RAM. Its 256GB SSD offers less storage than JobsforFun wants; but the laptop is made of aluminum, and the bezels aren't obnoxious. The 1080p display isn't very bright, but with the latest-gen CPU and its integrated graphics, the Acer Swift 3 should handle some Minecraft. Just know that you're only getting a bit over 7 hours of battery life.

Lenovo Flex 5

Lenovo Flex 5

You can't get this one on Amazon or Newegg, but hear me out. The $699.99 Lenovo Flex 5 is a 15.6-inch laptop with a Core i3-7100U CPU, an aluminum build and a 1080p display. The CPU is beginner grade but should work for web browsing. (If you can go to $750, you'll get a Core i7-7500U, which is a significant jump.) You get a full 1TB, 5,400-rpm HDD. You won't get a 1TB SSD at this price, so you'll have to be willing to opt for slower storage. You'll also be sacrificing some battery life, as this laptop lasts just 5 hours and 50 minutes on a charge.

Acer Aspire E 15

Acer Aspire E 15

At just $580, this is even cheaper than our reader's first budget. It's not entirely metal (the lid is plastic), but you get a 15.6-inch 1080p display, a 7th-Gen Core i5 CPU and a 256GB SSD (less than the 1TB JobsforFun asked for). For $669, you can bump it up to a Core i7. It has a DVD drive, which JobsforFun was nonplussed about, but it also boasts an Nvidia GeForce 940MX GPU. That won't handle Destiny 2, but it will work for Stardew Valley. Oh, and the Aspire lasts almost 11 hours on a charge.

Asus ZenBook UX330UA

Get last year's model while you can, because Asus is in the process of replacing it. This 13-inch Core i5 laptop has a 1080p display and a 256GB SSD, and it also runs for over 10 hours on a charge. We're currently testing the newer model, so we can't judge that one just yet. The 7th-Gen Intel Core i5 model is still available on Amazon for $699, while the 8th-Gen model exceeds our reader's budget, at $749.