Help Me, Laptop: Should I Get a Notebook Under $600?

Sometimes, a deal can seem too good to be true. And after a recent visit to a local Best Buy, reader modeonoff wonders if they found one.

"I went to [Best Buy] and saw quite a few laptops below $600,"

modeonoff wrote on our forums. "Why so cheap? What are the cons [of] buying those laptops compared with those over $1,000[?]"

If you don't review laptops for a living, it might surprise you that you can get something affordable. In fact, there aren't just laptops under $600. We've reviewed laptops as cheap as $200.

Now, are you giving something up? Sure. In most cases, you get what you pay for. And more money spent means more-powerful components, premium materials and designs, and higher-resolution displays.

Now, modeonoff didn't tell us what they need their laptop for. If it's their work machine or if they plan on gaming or just running a lot of programs at once, a cheaper machine may not be for them. But if all you're doing is sending a few emails, writing up a few Word documents, streaming some TV shows and scrolling through Facebook for a few hours, you may not need anything that's uber-powerful or pretty. Additionally, a few hundred can be a lot of money for some people to spend on notebooks. And while my personal mantra is that you should invest in good tech and use it until it's no longer feasible, not everyone has a thousand dollars to drop.

MORE: Best Laptops Under $500

But when you're in that budget and midrange price band, you want to be a smart shopper. Avoid 1366 x 768 displays if you can, but you should still be able to get Intel Core i-series processors at that price. You'll probably have to settle for a slower hard-disk drive (HDD) rather than a faster, more-stable solid state drive (SSD), though in some models, you may be able to upgrade that yourself later.

Our favorite affordable laptop these days is the Acer Aspire E 15 (E5-575-33BM). For $360, you get a Core i3-7100U CPU, 4GB of RAM, and a 1TB and 5,400-rpm hard drive. And while those are lesser specs than our general recommendation, that machine does come with a vivid 1080p display, and it lasted over 8 hours on our battery test.

You may also be looking for something cheaper for your kids. Lots of Chromebooks are less than $600, and if all you need to do is run a browser (supplemented, perhaps, by a few Android apps), a cheap Chromebook may be right for you. Our favorite overall Chromebook, the Acer C302CA, which is also a 2-in-1, is just $469. It offers just shy of 9 hours of battery life and has a 1080p display.

So, don't discount cheap systems altogether. For certain users, they're enough. These laptops may not look or feel as nice or have the same strong performance as pricier models, so if that's what you need, you should absolutely spend the money to get one of those machines. But if you are a light user, are buying for a kid or are on a budget, there are cheap systems out there that can serve you well. Just be a smart shopper and get the best specs you can. For some of our favorites, check out our list of the best laptops under $500.

Credit: Laptop Mag