Windows Laptop for the Cheap
January 30, 2019 12:51 PM   Subscribe

What is the 2019 version of this extremely cheap but entirely sufficient laptop?

I bought my little Asus laptop in 2015 for like $215 from Newegg. It worked great for two years, marginally well for one, and is now old and sad.

I want to buy something similar but I'm getting overwhelmed by choice.

I would like to spend around $225, ideally less. Refurb or open box is fine.

I only need to, like, open an occasional Word doc and file my taxes using a full-sized keyboard. I guess I could be convinced to get a Chromebook. I really loved that my old computer was tiny and light. I have other devices for music, streaming, and most web browsing.

What cheap computer should I buy?
posted by Snarl Furillo to Shopping (8 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
Datapoint: I adore my Chromebook. So far, Excel and Word open just fine into google docs. And I borrowed a USB keyboard from work last year and did my taxes no problem. I have the cheapest Lenovo one. It's suspiciously light.
posted by phunniemee at 12:59 PM on January 30, 2019 [3 favorites]

Another datapoint: I bought a $189 Dell Inspiron Laptop at BJ's on a whim 2 weeks ago and it came with 32 GB, which I thought was more than fine for what I wanted the laptop for. I then realized that the operating system (Windows 10, etc) takes up about 25 GB (and that is stripped down of any crapware) so I actually only have 7 GB free. Which again, I didn't mind too much but then I had to do a Windows update and it required me to plug in a 14 GB+ flash drive because there was not enough memory in the laptop to update itself. It was then I realized why it was only $189.
posted by NoraCharles at 1:05 PM on January 30, 2019 [3 favorites]

It looks like the ASUS VivoBook E203MA (Newegg link; Amazon also seems to have them, and with some different options) is almost a direct replacement upgrade - 11" screen, windows 10 instead of 8, 4GB memory instead of 2, 64GB storage instead of 32. It's $230 and you'll need to BYO MS Office.

FYI I found this by going to the NewEgg "Laptops & Notebooks" section and narrowing by price, starting with a range of $125-250. Then I required Win10 as an operating system to exclude Chromebooks since you said Windows/Office. I've also had mostly good experiences with Google docs, but I find that as far as Office compatibility, it works until it doesn't, and that always seems to kick in at exactly the wrong time.
posted by Joey Buttafoucault at 1:06 PM on January 30, 2019 [1 favorite]

I love my acer Chromebook. Google Docs suits my needs.
posted by Grandysaur at 1:11 PM on January 30, 2019

I got my Lenovo Chromebook for $149 in 2017 and it is holding up just fine. I got the cheapest one I could find at the time. The only thing I have not yet done with it is download photos but I think I could with Google, just have not tried to yet. I have a Windows 7 Acer laptop I use for pictures but it is slow and clunky. And heavy! Google Docs does all the word processing I need so far and saving things in Google Drive works well.
posted by luaz at 1:26 PM on January 30, 2019

I've bought a few refurbished off-lease business laptops from Dell which have worked well, in the low $200s. Make sure you get a solid state drive instead of a spinning disk-- you can tell because the capacities are 128, 256, 512 GB as opposed to round numbers. Dell has 40-50% off sales monthly or so, so sign up for their mailing list if you want an alert. They're a few years old, but the ones I've gotten have been in good shape.

Also, I think that you can still upgrade Windows 7/8 to 10 for free, just by installing it and using the same key code, even though the official free upgrade program has ended. That might make your search easier.
posted by alexei at 3:24 PM on January 30, 2019 [2 favorites]

Would one of your other devices support a bluetooth keyboard? I got one for $5 used, and it + GDocs would probably get you through your use cases on a tablet.

If you need for-real MS Office only once in a while, public and university libraries or FedEx stores can fix you up.

(I personally have a refurb corporate laptop with LibreOffice installed, and it's great and was cheap. But it sounds like you might not even need a laptop.)
posted by momus_window at 4:32 PM on January 30, 2019

I would strongly advise getting the most internal storage you can. 64GB is probably adequate, but if you can find one with a micro sd card slot, even better. You might not want the extra storage right away, but 32GB is just too small these days.

I run an Acer Iconia tablet as a backup Windows machine. It has only 2GB of RAM but runs Win 10 and Office 365 like a champ, as long as I am careful to limit myself to one or two open apps at a time. Since it does have a micro SD card slot, I've added a 200GB card and point my documents, pictures, etc. folders there (which Windows 8 and 10 do nicely) and my Dropbox as well (which requires trickery but works seamlessly).

The storage built into most of the machines is not as fast as true SSD-class storage, but often seems faster than the slow-as-molasses 5400 RPM spinning disk in my i5 laptop. As long as you're not a gamer, these low end Windows machines are amazingly useful.
posted by lhauser at 7:30 PM on January 30, 2019

« Older Steps to Working with Special Needs children   |   Looking for a unique switch plate Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.