Best overall: Acer Aspire 1

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For a laptop that costs about $210, Acer's Aspire 1 has a lot going for it. The 14-inch display sits at a 1080p resolution — something not often found at this price — and has a 720p webcam placed above for easy video conferencing. The Intel Celeron N3450 processor (CPU) has four cores and can hit a clock speed up to 2.2GHz, plus 4GB of RAM keeps things chugging along. The 32GB eMMC storage isn't much but can be expanded using the SD card reader.

Bottom line: The best overall laptop below $300 is the Acer Aspire 1.

One more thing: Our previous pick, the CHUWI 14.1 LapBook, has been discontinued, but you can sometimes still find it for sale on Amazon, albeit for a bit more than $300.

Why the Acer Aspire 1 is the best laptop under $300

One of the biggest issues most people have with budget laptops is the low-res display, often hitting only 768p or similar. Here, though, the 14-inch Aspire 1 has an FHD (1,920 x 1,080) resolution for a crisp picture, powered by integrated Intel HD Graphics 500.

The quad-core Intel Celeron N3450 CPU won't win any races, but it's certainly enough to tackle a day's light productivity tasks like word processing, web browsing, and video watching. The HDMI port also makes it easy to hook up to an external display, and USB-A 3.0 and USB-A 2.0 ports round out the selection. There's also an SD card reader to expand the internal 32GB of eMMC storage.

The Aspire 1 has a Precision touchpad and comfortable keyboard for easy typing, and the battery should last you through most of a workday. At only about $210, this is certainly a sweet package for anyone on a tight budget.

Best 2-in-1: ASUS Transformer Mini

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If you love the design of the Surface Pro, you'll love the Transformer Mini from ASUS (about $240). It has the same hinged kickstand to prop up the tablet when the keyboard and touchpad are attached, and it even includes a pen for inking. The 10.1-inch touch display has a 1,280 x 800 resolution, and there's a front-facing webcam tucked in at the top. Inside, get an Intel Atom x5-Z8350 CPU, 4GB of DDR3 RAM, and 64GB of eMMC storage.

Bottom line: An outstanding 2-in-1 is the ASUS Transformer Mini.

One more thing: This is the Signature Edition straight from Microsoft, meaning no bloatware or other added software.

Best cloudbook: ASUS L402WA

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Budget laptops generally suffer from a small amount of internal storage, and while you can often add to it with an SD card, you can also take advantage of cloud storage if you're never out of reach of Wi-Fi. Here, with the ASUS L402WA (about $220), the 32GB of eMMC storage is backed up by a one-year subscription to Office 365, which includes 1TB of OneDrive storage.

The laptop also has a 14-inch, 768p display, a quad-core AMD E2-6110 CPU with Radeon R2 graphics, 4GB of DDR3 RAM, and a ton of ports, including Ethernet, USB-C, USB-A, and HDMI.

Bottom line: For a great laptop that thrives when connected to the internet, check out the ASUS L402WA.

One more thing: You should be able to get a full day of work from a single battery charge.

Best convertible: Dell Inspiron 11 3000

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If you can't live without a touchscreen on your laptop, the Dell Inspiron 11 3000 is a great choice. The 11.6-inch display has a 1,366 x 768 resolution, and the touch functionality is responsive and precise. An Intel Celeron N3060 CPU has a clock speed up to 2.48GHz, and 4GB of DDR3 RAM keeps things running smoothly — this laptop is great for a light workload. Rotate the screen around for tent, stand, and tablet modes, or keep it in notebook mode for when you need to get serious work done. This laptop starts at about $250.

Bottom line: Consider the Dell Inspiron 11 3000 if you want a great convertible laptop under $300.

One more thing: Pair this laptop with OneDrive storage so that the 32GB eMMC drive doesn't fill up.

Best business: Dell Inspiron 14 3000

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Having multiple projects going at once demands a larger screen; the Dell Inspiron 14 has a 14-inch display at 768p. As far as RAM goes, the baseline model comes with 2GB of DDR3 RAM, but it can be upgraded to 4GB if you find that having multiple processes open is slowing things down. The Intel Celeron N3060 CPU has a clock speed up to 2.48GHz, which will handle word processing and web browsing. This laptop starts at about $230.

Bottom line: The Dell Inspiron 14 3000 is a great business option for under $300.

One more thing: Ports include HDMI 1.4, USB-A 3.0, and USB-A 2.0.

Conclusion

One of the best 2-in-1 laptop options out there is the ASUS Transformer Mini, but the overall best choice is the Acer Aspire 1. If you want something for business, check out the Dell Inspiron 14 3000, and if you want a convertible with a touchscreen, go with the Dell Inspiron 11 3000. Looking for a great cloudbook? Check out the ASUS L402WA.

Best overall: Acer Aspire 1

See at Amazon

For a laptop that costs about $210, Acer's Aspire 1 has a lot going for it. The 14-inch display sits at a 1080p resolution — something not often found at this price — and has a 720p webcam placed above for easy video conferencing. The Intel Celeron N3450 processor (CPU) has four cores and can hit a clock speed up to 2.2GHz, plus 4GB of RAM keeps things chugging along. The 32GB eMMC storage isn't much but can be expanded using the SD card reader.

Bottom line: The best overall laptop below $300 is the Acer Aspire 1.

One more thing: Our previous pick, the CHUWI 14.1 LapBook, has been discontinued, but you can sometimes still find it for sale on Amazon, albeit for a bit more than $300.

Updated February 27, 2018: We refreshed this list, including a new overall best choice, to ensure you're still getting the best budget laptops.