Now more than ever, a solid laptop feels like an essential part of our belongings - letting us do anything from stream entertainment to get work done with ease. Still, though, with the market dominated by the likes of Apple's MacBooks and other ultra-portable all-metal numbers, it's easy to overlook that many of us don't want to spend that much on a machine.
The good news is that there are loads of far more reasonably-priced devices out there, many of which offer really excellent value for money. We've gathered together a selection of the very best budget laptops on the market, sticking to a price limit of £500 for the sake of consistency. See what you think, below.
Our pick of the best laptops under $500/£500
Lenovo IdeaPad S340
Lenovo's IdeaPad range contains a list of pretty impressive laptops, but we like the S340 the most in this price range. You get SSD storage (even if not a huge amount), entirely decent specs and a build quality that doesn't feel cheap at all, despite the extremely competitive price tag.
There are even a few colours to choose from if you wanted more positives, and 10 hours of battery life to help get you through any taxing work sessions without reaching for the charger. Lastly, the all-important screen is HD and once again excellent given what you're paying. If you're looking for a budget laptop, this really is the best option at the moment.
HP 250 G7
- View offer on HP Store (sponsored link)
We'll be open on this one - sometimes you'll see the 250 G7 under £500, and sometimes you won't. That's just about good enough for us, and lets us include what is an impressive machine, even at its most basic spec. It's a nice, simple design that will fit into an office or classroom without drawing much attention.
Its battery life is singularly impressive, as its build quality, which is nice and solid, and while it's not exactly the most lightweight model on the market, it's a workhorse that will be able to tackle most of what you throw at it. The core, after all, is that for under £500 you won't get specs much better than what it offers up (if you can find it!).
Asus C433 Chromebook Flip
Chromebooks might not be to everyone's taste - there's no getting around the fact that it'll take some getting used to Google's OS, and you are slightly limited in what you can with the machine as a result. But if you're likely to be web browsing, word processing and media streaming, it's sure to be a good fit, and the ASUS C433 is a superb little Chromebook at its price.
It's solid and premium feeling and has a full-swing hinge to let you view it in multiple modes and use the touchscreen to the fullest, which is a nice addition. Plus, it's solidly specced, with a great display - if you're happy to use Chrome OS, this is a great pick.
Acer Swift 1
Acer has managed to make a nice, really slim laptop here at an impressive price. Its SSD will keep your files zipping around nice and quickly, and while its processor is far from cutting-edge, it will get the job done, especially if you're not likely to be trying to edit high-resolution videos or anything.
If you're looking for a nicely designed laptop, then, this is a great shout, and its price sees it come in well below the £500 mark, which is not to be sniffed at by any means.
Microsoft Surface Go 2
Now, as that image will immediately demonstrate, the Surface Go 2 doesn't come with a keyboard by default; you'll have to buy one, which will see the price likely tick up to the very border of the £500 mark. At its core, though, the Surface Go 2 is a great 2-in-1 tablet/laptop hybrid, and most people will really enjoy using it seamlessly as both devices.
We recognise that it won't be to everyone's tastes, and in an ideal world you'd upgrade the processor to the better version available, which sadly increases the cost still further, but if you want a 2-in-1 with some style, the Surface Go 2 is a really nice new option.