:last-child{display:block!important}amp-story-page,amp-story[standalone]{display:block!important;height:100%!important;margin:0!important;padding:0!important;overflow:hidden!important;width:100%!important}amp-story[standalone]{background-color:#fff!important;position:relative!important}amp-story-page{background-color:#757575}amp-story .i-amphtml-loader{display:none!important}[amp-fx^=fly-in]{visibility:hidden} /*# sourceURL=/css/amp.css*/8 best laptops under £250 | The Independent

8 best laptops under £250

Fast, light and durable, the latest laptops and netbooks are great value for money

Small laptops and netbooks rival bigger machines ( iStockphoto )

It used to be you couldn’t snag a laptop for under a grand. Now, there are decent machines for a quarter of that.

First of all, it’s important to work out exactly what you’re after. Screen size is key, and most laptops at low prices tend towards smaller displays (11in is common). 

Next, pick a processor, which is often an Intel Celeron N3060, for instance. At this price range, storage is usually limited (32GB is common), which is less than many smartphones.

Low-price laptops use Windows or Google Chrome as their operating system. You can’t buy an Apple MacBook for anywhere near this price range.

Chromebooks are very competitively priced, but some of their features require you to be connected to the internet to work properly – though they are much more flexible when it comes to offline versatility these days. When connected, they make good use of the Cloud for document and other storage, which takes pressure off the hard drive inside the laptop.

Windows machines have the greatest choice of applications.

At this price, expect lower-quality displays and features like backlit keyboards to be omitted, though some do manage a touchscreen.

HP Stream 14-ax000na: £213.49, Amazon

Operating system: Windows 10

Storage: 32GB

RAM: 4GB

Processor: Intel Celeron N3060

Display size: 14in

This is a great price for a 14-inch screened Windows laptop.

The bright blue hue all over (only the keys are white) is attractive. 

Its 32GB storage can be boosted using an SD memory card, which almost tucks right into the laptop so you can leave it there pretty much permanently.

The battery lasts a good eight hours and performance is decent.

At 1.44kg, it’s not as light as some here, but still manageable.

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Acer Spin 1: £219.99, Amazon

Operating system: Windows 10

Storage: 32GB

RAM: 4GB

Processor: Intel Celeron N3350

Display size: 11.6in

The display may be a cosy 11.6in, but this is a cool machine and strong value.

Storage is average, but RAM is higher than many at 4GB, which makes it more responsive.

The name comes from the fact that this is a hybrid: it folds round on itself to give an experience more like a tablet, or can be stood up like a tent to make video watching more pleasurable.

The display has wide bezels, but it’s a very good screen that looks really strong, not to mention far more expensive than it really is.

Performance is OK, while battery life is very good, closer to 12 hours than the 8 hours most offer.

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Acer Aspire One 14: £249.99, Argos

Operating system: Windows 10

Storage: 32GB

RAM: 4GB

Processor: Intel Celeron N3350

Display size: 14in

If the thought of a bright-red laptop case appeals, you’ll like this. It’s appealingly styled with red on the case lid and around the black-keyed keyboard.

Battery life clocks in at about 9 hours, so a decent day’s work, especially if word processing and web surfing are your main priority.

Like all-too-few budget laptops, this one has extra RAM to make it faster and a better performer. 

The audio sound system is described as HD, but it’s not outstanding.

Still, this is a well-built, and certainly eye-catching, laptop.

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Acer Chromebook 14 CB3-431: £215.99, Amazon

Operating system: Google Chrome OS

Storage: 32GB

RAM: 2GB

Processor: Intel Celeron N3060

Display size: 14in

This is a likeable Chromebook with a choice of colours including the champagne gold finish on the chassis here. The screen isn’t bad and the look of the machine overall is appealing. 

There could be a little more travel in the keys, but it’s not uncomfortable to use.

Battery life is beaten by some here, though you can still get most of a working day before it conks out.

If all you need is internet browsing and word processing, you should be OK, but gamers should look elsewhere. Playing graphic-heavy games is not this laptop’s forte.

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HP Stream 11-y050sa: £139.98, Currys

Operating system: Windows 10

Storage: 32GB

RAM: 2GB

Processor: Intel Celeron N3060

Display size: 11.6in

The cute blue tiddler that is the HP Stream is very reasonably priced and works out even better thanks to the inclusion of a year’s subscription to Office 365 Personal.

It doesn’t look bad, either, though not everybody will care for the white keyboard, like on the other HP above.

The display is not high-resolution, and you may want to spend a bit more for a Full HD screen instead. Colours are not as vivid as on some laptops and brightness will make working in the sunshine hard.

But it’s still a fair performer at a very keen price and battery life is around eight hours, similar to the full working day many others here manage. And it charges quickly.

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Lenovo Ideapad 120S 81A500H6UK: £199.99, John Lewis & Partners

Operating system: Windows 10

Storage: 32GB

RAM: 4GB

Processor: Intel Celeron N3350

Display size: 14in

This is a pretty stylish looking laptop, and certainly looks classier than the price sticker suggests. 

Although the screen isn’t the best, it’s certainly acceptable, as is the audio. Video playback is smooth and effective, but this is not a high-end gaming machine.

Build quality is adequate rather than top notch, but it’s a decent performer and has a big, useful trackpad.

Battery life is pretty good, too, a full working day and even when you’re working it hard, this laptop doesn’t get uncomfortably hot.

Oh, and it has 4GB of RAM, twice as much as you’ll find on some entry-level laptops.

Buy now

Asus C202 11.6” Chromebook: £179, PC World

Operating system: Chrome OS

Storage: 16GB

RAM: 2GB

Processor: Intel Celeron N3060

Display size: 11.6in

If you want to pay as little as possible for a laptop, it’s hard to beat the Asus Chromebook. 

Battery life is strong, at up to 10 hours.

It only has 2GB of RAM, but with Chromebooks much of the heavy lifting is done in the Cloud so as long as you’re connected to the internet, this needn’t slow you down.

Neat extras include a spill-proof design so it isn’t defeated if you splash it, but this isn’t the same as proper waterproofing.

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Acer Chromebook 11 N7 C731-C78G: £199.14, PC World Business

Operating system: Google Chrome OS

Storage: 32GB

RAM: 4GB

Processor: Intel Celeron N3060

Display size: 11.6in

A Chromebook that’s dirt cheap and solidly built, and is a perfect choice for students and school use, assuming a decent internet connection is available in the classroom –full use of a Chromebook depends on it.

It’s quiet and reasonably speedy, with the spill-proof keyboard found on other Chromebooks. 

Battery life is claimed at an excellent 13 hours and in real use you can expect around that. 

It has a relatively small screen, but the keyboard feels decently sized and spaced, so using it for a long period isn’t awkward.

Buy now

The verdict: 

Laptops under £250 are highly capable at basic tasks, but lack the grunt for demanding programs. Still, they’re ideal to take on the daily commute or when travelling, leaving the power machine at home.

The HP Stream 14-ax000na has a lot going for it, not least more RAM than many entry-level machines.

Chromebooks offer outstanding value. The Acer Chromebook 11 is fun and useful.

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