If you need a new laptop but are on a tight budget you’ll be pleased to hear that if you shop around it’s possible to buy a decent laptop for under £300.
We’ve taken a good look around the major retailers for you and have identified a number of sub £300 laptops that are surprisingly capable.
Best Buy Under £300 For General Use»
What we like – LED Backlit HD Screen, 802.11N Wireless Networking, HDMI
Best deal – View Deal at Ebuyer.com
Update 28/03/12 – Amazon are now stocking the AH530, check price at Amazon.co.uk.
Details – If you’re looking for an inexpensive laptop for work and general tasks the AH530 is a good choice. It’s P6200 Pentium processor is considerably faster at most tasks than the AMD Fusion based machines below and for that reason is the most suitable sub £300 laptop for the majority of users.
Key features include:-
Pentium P6200 – The P6200 used in the AH530 is based on a first generation i3 processor. It’s a dual core processor with a 3MB cache and runs at 2.13GHZ. It uses the same 32NM die as the first generation i3 chips and consumes a relatively frugal 35W. It’s considerably faster than the other laptops on this page when performing office based and general tasks but is not as accomplished when it comes to graphical tasks.
HD LED Backlit Screen – The AH530 features a HD screen that runs at 1366 x 768. This is the same resolution as the majority of 15 inch laptops including many more expensive models. As such, you’re not sacrificing screen space by spending less. The screen is also LED backlit which helps produce crisper blacks and improves contrast.
HDMI Socket - We were pleased to see the inclusion of a HDMI socket on the AH530. HDMI has become the standard connection format for audio and video signals and simplifies connection to modern flat panel displays. It’s normally one of the first features to be omitted on cheaper laptops.
Wireless “N” Networking – The AH530 features the latest 802.11N wireless technology which has a maximum transmission speed of 600 Mbits/s. This is considerably faster than the legacy 802.11G wireless still used on many budget laptops which has a far slower maximum speed of 54 Mbits/s.
Best Buy Under £300 For Multimedia»
What we like – LED Backlit HD Screen, 802.11N Wireless Networking, HDMI Socket, Integrated Radeon Video Decoder
Best deal – View Deal at LaptopsDirect.co.uk
Details – If you spend a lot of time watching video’s in digital formats the Asus K53U is a great choice and comes in at just under £300.
Key features include:-
AMD Fusion E450 – The E450 processor found in the K53U is an interesting piece of technology and part of AMD’s series of “Accelerated Processing Units”. The idea is to combine a traditional processor and a graphics processor on a single, low power chip. The E450 APU used in the K53U is a dual core item that runs at 1.65GHZ and houses a Radeon HD 6320 graphics chip.
The advantage of this configuration is that the Radeon HD 6320 chip handles any graphics or video based tasks. 3D performance is still limited but the Radeon’s real party piece is it’s integrated UVD3 video decoder which supports most popular video formats including MPEG2, H264, Div-X and Xvid.
HD LED Backlit Screen – The Asus K53U features a very similar screen to the AH530 above which is also an LED backlit panel running at 1366 x 768.
HDMI Socket - Again, we were pleased to see the inclusion of a HDMI socket on the K53U. Six months ago it would have been very difficult to find a laptop costing less than £300 that includes a HDMI socket. This no longer seems to be the case and it’s likely that in the next six months or so the majority of laptops will feature a HDMI socket.
Wireless “N” Networking – The K53U also features the latest 802.11N wireless technology which as mentioned previously is considerably faster than the legacy 802.11G wireless still found in some budget laptops.
Best Buy Under £300 For Portability»
What we like – Ultra Compact, AMD Fusion, HDMI, Great Value
Details – If you tend to do most of your computing away from your home or office and need a low cost, ultra portable solution the Lenovo S205 is a great buy and can be found refurbished for less than £260. It offers the portability typically associated with Netbooks but is considerably more capable.
Key features include:-
AMD Fusion E350 – The Lenovo S205 uses a similar processor to the K53U above but this time it’s the slightly slower E350. The E350 is also a dual core chip and runs at the same 1.6GHZ as the E450 but uses the Radeon HD 6310 as opposed to the Radeon HD6320. The difference between the two chips is negligible and the E350 still boasts HD video playback thanks to the integrated video decoder.
11.6″ HD LED Backlit Screen – Unlike the two 15 inch laptops above the ultra compact S205 uses an 11.6 inch screen. Whilst the physical dimensions of the screen are considerably smaller it still runs at exactly the same 1366 x 768 resolution.
HDMI Socket - The S205 completes the trio of laptops we managed to find under £300 that include a HDMI socket. Perhaps, even more important on an 11.6 inch notebook like the S205.
Wireless “N” Networking – The S205 also features the latest 802.11N wireless technology which has a maximum transmission speed of 600 Mbits/s. This is considerably faster than the legacy 802.11G wireless still found in some budget laptops which has a maximum speed of 54 Mbits/s.