If someone on your holiday gift list put in a request for a laptop, and visions of four-digit price tags are dancing in your head, worry no more. We found a variety of laptops you can pick up for under $600, including detachables, thin-and-lights, touchscreens, and more.
Of course, the budget prices on these laptops generally keep them from being among the heavy-hitters when it comes to speed. But all are decent performers, with batteries that will last at least a day.
Here are five of the best laptops under $600 that we've tested.
Acer Aspire R14 R3-471T-53LA, $550. You might not use this 14-inch convertible laptop as a tablet very often. It's on the big side, and probably too heavy at 4.3 pounds to carry for extended periods. But that doesn't affect the value: Even if it's never used as a tablet, this convertible laptop is worth the price. It's among the best in its category for battery life, with 13 hours on a charge. It has a generous 1TB hard drive, providing more room than many laptops for storage. And we liked the response and feel of the touchscreen. So if you're looking for a bit of flexibility in a laptop that has more than a miniscule screen, this one could be just what you need.
Microsoft Surface 3, $500. This machine starts out as a tablet, but when you add the great Microsoft Type Cover keyboard for a total of $500, you've built a very effective laptop. With this model, you get a 10.8-inch display, more than 10 hours of battery life, and a 64GB solid-state drive. It weighs a light 2 pounds with the keyboard. But if the plan is to use it as a tablet, it is on the heavy side at 1.4 pounds—and that's without the keyboard. You get a one-year subscription to Microsoft Office 365, a $99 value. But if you have only one computer, we'd recommend switching to Office Home & Student 2016 ($150) after the first year so you don't have to pay an annual fee.
Dell Inspiron 13543-3251BLK, $500. This 15.6-inch laptop has a touchscreen and a large 500GB hard drive. Its 11.25-hour battery life is among the longest in its size category. There's also a DVD player, which is becoming increasingly rare on laptops. If you want to stream movies, however, you'll need to add external speakers since the built-in ones are inadequate for all but the simplest use.
Toshiba Satellite Fusion 15-L50W-CBT2N01, $550. Toshiba's Fusion is one of the larger convertible laptops we've tested. As with the Acer, even if you never use it in tablet mode, it's worth the purchase price. Battery life is a decent 9.5 hours, and this is another model with a large hard drive—in this case, 750GB. We like the touchscreen; movements feel smooth and easy. And if, every so often, you do fold the display back and use the Fusion as a tablet, well, that just sweetens the deal.
Dell Inspiron 15 5000 Non-Touch, $400. If you're in the market for a capable computer with just the basics, this 15.6-inch Dell is a great candidate. There's no touchscreen, but that's a good thing—it helps keep the price down. Most other features are what you'd expect to find in a no-frills model, but you're not making huge sacrifices. You still get a 500GB hard drive, 9-plus hours of battery life, and speakers that are good enough for casual listening.
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