Finding a budget laptop that does not look and feel cheap or perform terribly is a challenge, especially if you are not quite sure what it is you need. There are so many components and features to consider that it can feel overwhelming and like it is easier to just go for a more expensive model that has all the bells and whistles. But it is possible to find incredible laptops at affordable prices! In this guide, we will give you some helpful tips for finding the best budget laptop in Canada without sacrificing quality and performance where you need it most.
In our opinion, the best budget laptop in Canada is the Asus VivoBook 14. It is thin and light enough to make it super portable but that lightweight design packs a powerful processor, a lot of storage, and tons of features that you will love. It is a great laptop for work, study, or coding. You will love the long battery life, the bright, crisp screen, and the adjustable keyboard! It is yet another example of the great products Asus is known for developing and offering at surprisingly affordable prices.
Best Budget Laptops In Canada 2021 –
- Best Overall – Asus VivoBook 14
- Best Extra Features – Asus VivoBook Flip 14
- Best for Work – Asus L406MA-BS02-CB Laptop
- Best Budget – HP Stream 11-Inch Laptop
|Name||Screen Size||RAM||Internal Storage||Processor|
|1. Asus VivoBook 14||14 inches||4GB DDR4||128GB SSD||AMD Dual Core R3-3200U|
|2. Asus VivoBook Flip 14||14 inches||4GB LPDDR4||64GB eMMC||Intel Celeron N4000|
|3. Asus L406MA-BS02-CB Laptop||14 inches||4GB DDR4||64GB eMMC||Intel Pentium N5000|
|4. HP Stream 11-Inch Laptop||11.6 inches||4GB DDR3L||32GB eMMC||Intel X5-E8000|
What Kind Of Laptop Do You Need?
Choosing the best budget laptop in Canada is about knowing exactly what you need it for. What are your top priorities and what is not really relevant to you? We will discuss the different features and components you need to look at later on in this buying guide. For now, let us just take a quick look at the basic needs for different types of users:
For students looking for a laptop that they can use for study and for their after-school hobbies, the main priorities will be:
- Decent RAM. If this is your secondary laptop just for going to school, 4GB will be plenty. If it is your primary laptop, consider 8GB. If your hobbies include gaming, look for 16GB or more.
- Long battery life. If you plan to study at the library or use this in back to back classes all day, you need a long battery life in case you do not have access to an outlet.
- Lightweight and portability
If this is your primary computer and you also want to use it for non-study related activities like watching movies and gaming, look for high screen quality and high core processing power in addition to the priorities above.
Otherwise, prioritize those three components and be willing to compromise on the following:
- CPU. You will be more than capable of doing what you need to do with an Intel Core i3, i5 or AMD Ryzen R3, R5. No need to pay for anything more advanced.
- Storage capacity. Between free cloud storage and the fact that you will mostly just be saving notes and assignments in document form, your storage needs are not really that high.
If you are getting a laptop that you will be using as your primary work laptop, you want to be able to run multiple simple applications and have enough storage to keep all your files in one place. The main priorities for you will likely be:
- Large storage capacity
- Decent RAM. 8GB is ideal, but 4GB may be fine depending on what kind of work you are doing
- Long battery life if you are a freelancer who often works outside of your home or travels a lot
- Lightweight and portability
Given these priorities, the features where you can make compromises to save money are:
- CPU. You will do fine with an Intel Core i3, i5 or AMD Ryzen R3, R5.
- Screen quality. Unless you are in visual design or also use this laptop for movie streaming, contrast and crispness of the image are less important.
Gamers, Developers, And Designers
Anyone who needs a laptop that can run multiple, heavy-duty apps at the same time without lagging or freezing up will need to focus mainly on the following features when choosing a laptop:
- High-powered CPU, ideally an Intel Core i5, i7 or AMD Ryzen R5, R7
- Lots of RAM. 8GB at a bare minimum but ideally 16GB or more
- High screen quality
Given these priorities, the features where you will most likely want to compromise in order to stay in budget are:
- Lightweight and portability
- Stylish design
- Touchpad quality (since you will likely want to buy a mouse anyway)
Best Budget Laptops Canada 2021 Reviewed
Asus is well known for packing high performance into affordable laptop designs and this laptop is no different. You are getting a super-powered 4GB RAM and 128GB of internal storage. Plus, the design of the laptop itself is all about functionality.
The screen is bright enough to use outdoors without a problem so for those remote workers or students who want to study outdoors for a change, this is the way to go. It can last up to 8 hours on a full battery so you can have that outdoor work or study session without stressing about finding the nearest outlet.
What really sets it apart, though, is the keyboard. It is not only a full keyboard with a fingerprint reader, it also has an ergolift hinge. This unique feature allows you to raise the keyboard up slightly for a more comfortable typing angle.
This VivoBook Flip from Asus is incredibly well built and sturdy. The innovative hinges allow you to flip the screen all the way back so that you can use this like a tablet or prop it up like a stand. The aluminum chassis makes this more durable than cheaper, plastic models yet still manages to be lightweight.
If you are looking for something both portable and versatile enough to fulfill all your device needs, this is the laptop to get. Ditch the tablet to save space in your luggage because this will do the work of both devices.
For visual designers or those who just want a crisp, clear image when binging their favourite show, this 14-inch nano edge display offers vivid colours, clear contrasts, and sharp angles.
We also love the battery life on this machine. Not only can it last much longer than other batteries on laptops at this price point, but it also features battery health charging technology. This is a feature that allows you to set a “state of charge” so that it stops charging once it reaches the capacity you set.
Set the state of charge to 100% and the second it hits that limit, it will stop charging. This prevents the swelling and overcharging that shorten the lifespan of your battery over time, causing it to drain faster the longer you have it.
Thin, sleek, and portable is the name of the game with this laptop from Asus. It is tailor-made for the professional or student who needs an everyday laptop that can handle hours and hours of use. It boots up fast and can last up to 12 hours on a full battery!
This truly is designed for the student who needs to spend hours in the library or the freelancer who works out of coffee shops. It is portable. It is lightweight. It can last a full workday or school day without needing to be plugged in.
When you do plug it in, it charges really fast. So, if you are working alongside a friend or study buddy, you can easily share a single outlet. A dead or nearly dead battery can be back up to 60% in just 49 minutes, giving you another few hours of run time before it needs to charge again. So, your friend with the less efficient battery can hog up the laptop while you are free to work totally unplugged!
For the right balance of portability and full functionality, look no further than the HP Stream 11-inch laptop. It is compact enough to go with you when you are travelling or going to class, but it also boasts the full functionality of a Windows 10 operating system with 4GB of RAM.
You can work or study from the road (or the library) without missing all the features that a full laptop comes with. And with up to 9 hours of battery life, you can be on the go all day long without needing to find an outlet.
We also really love that this comes with a free year of Office 365 Personal. That perk means you will have everything you need to get to work as soon as this laptop arrives at your doorstep!
Tips For Shopping The Best Budget Laptop
With more expensive laptops, you tend to expect them to be perfect in every way and you should, given the money you are spending. You want every component to be top of the line and every possible feature to be crammed into it. Because if it has everything under the sun, it will definitely do whatever it is you actually need to do.
However, most people do not need all these components or features. Someone who does not do a lot of gaming, for example, is going to have no use for an expensive, state of the art graphics card. In fact, if you are not a gamer, you might not even notice it is there. You just spent a lot of money to have a component that absolutely does not need to be there.
With budget-friendly laptops in Canada, the shopping gets trickier. Different laptops within your price range will have different strengths and weaknesses. In order to keep the price affordable, they have to leave out something. The question you need to answer is what did they leave out and do I really need that?
That means the key to staying within your budget without sacrificing quality is knowing exactly where you need that quality to be and where you do not. If you are a coder, for example, you do not really need a top of the line graphics card. It is more important to you to have lightning speed processing power and a lot of storage.
By narrowing down your needs, you can find laptops that provide top of the line performance on those specific points while keeping the cost down by sacrificing quality in other areas that really are not important to you.
These are some of the features you will want to look at. While all of them are important in their own way, you should rank them in order of your own priorities so that as you are narrowing down your selection of laptops to choose from, you can easily identify the one that most closely fits your priorities:
The battery life of your laptop can be a top priority dealbreaker for some and pretty much irrelevant for others. If you plan to do a lot of work from coffee shops or studying at libraries, you probably want a longer battery life so that you can still get work done even during those peak hours when competition for an open outlet is fierce.
However, if you mostly plan to use this laptop at home, battery life should not be a deciding factor for you. Sure, it is convenient to sit on the couch without a power cord dangling from your laptop, but this is not a necessity. Since you will always have access to an open outlet at home, you will not have to worry about your battery dying in the middle of a project.
RAM, like CPU, determines the power of your machine. Without enough RAM, you will experience lag in keystroke or mouse click responses and frustrating delays in opening new browser tabs or applications. However, more RAM is more expensive and paying for 32GB of RAM when you really do not need more than, say, 8GB is a waste of money.
Here are some recommendations to give you a ballpark estimate of how much RAM you should be looking for:
- 4GB: Basic daily tasks like light word processing, web browsing. No plans for heavy multi-tasking like using multiple applications at the same time. Ideal for school or work only or as a secondary laptop for class or travel.
- 8GB: Heavy multi-tasking of basic tasks like web browsing, word processing, and video streaming. Ideal for work or school.
- 16GB: Heavy multi-tasking of more advanced tasks like multiple applications, video streaming, gaming, graphic design, etc. Ideal for professionals in visual design or software development and for light gamers.
- 32GB: Top of the line processing for playing AAA games while keeping hundreds of tabs open on your browser and skyping with your friend, all at the same time. Ideal for heavy gamers and professionals in design, development, and other computing-heavy fields.
With that in mind, when choosing between two laptops of a similar price and similar quality in all other aspects, go for the one with more RAM. This is true even if you do not really need it. As software advances, so does the need for processing power. Once upon a time, 1 or 2GB of RAM used to be considered more than enough. So, you will get more years out of your laptop if you get the one with more RAM.
Internal storage is important if you are shopping for your primary laptop. You want to be able to keep everything you need all in one place. While the growth of cloud storage has relieved some of that need for large hard drives, it still is useful to have.
However, if you are shopping for a secondary laptop, something that you will mainly use when you are on the road or in class, storage should be less of a deciding factor. Your primary computer at home can handle the bulk of your storage needs. Your secondary laptop just needs enough storage to get you through your day (or your vacation).
For designers or gamers, screen quality is a high priority. If you are designing something, you need to be able to see it clearly and trust that the colours and contrast levels you are seeing are accurate. You do not want to send a finished design to your boss or client that looks entirely different on their computer than it does on your own.
If you are a gamer, you want beautiful, crisp images and strong angles so that you can enjoy the full, immersive experience of that game as the game maker intended it. What is the point of buying that AAA game if it will only look like a slightly nicer version of Doom on your screen?
Weight is an important consideration for a couple of reasons. For those who plan to carry this laptop around, you obviously want something lighter and easier to transport. However, in order to make a laptop lightweight and slim, manufacturers usually have to take things out like big batteries that help it last longer or large hard drives with more storage capacity.
So, when you are shopping for lightweight models, you do need to accept a certain amount of compromise with those other features. If you cannot accept that compromise, you will need to look at heavier laptops that include the larger batteries and hard drives and other components that will weigh the machine down but help it run better.
The keyboard is an especially important consideration for professionals, students, coders and anyone who will be doing a lot of typing. You need a keyboard that is full size and well designed so that you can use it comfortably for hours at a time.
If you will not be doing a lot of typing, however, the keyboard is less important. You might be more concerned about touchscreen capabilities or a compact design where you are willing to live with a smaller keyboard in exchange for something that can easily fit in your purse.
If you are a multitasker, a gamer, or a graphic designer, you need a lot of processing power. You definitely want an Intel Core and ideally, a Core i3, i5, i7 or a Ryzen R3, R5, R7. The more you need your computer to handle, the higher you want to go.
However, you do not want to get a more powerful CPU than you need just for the sake of it. A heavy-duty core processor like the Intel Core i7 provides that high performance at the cost of overheating. If you have this laptop on your lap while you are using it, that could lead to burning. If the laptop does not feature an adequate fan or cooling system, that high-powered CPU could lead to damage.
So, if you will not be gaming, designing, or multitasking heavily (think streaming videos, playing games, and opening 30 tabs on your browser at a time) go for a smaller CPU to avoid overheating and save money.
Choosing the best budget laptop is about knowing exactly what you want and what you have no use for. Narrow down your list of priorities to the top two or three components that are most important to you. Then, find the budget laptop that offers the best when it comes to those components and makes any necessary cuts to quality in other aspects that you will not miss. Once you know what you want, it is easy to find the perfect laptop for you that does not break the bank!