Laptop Advisor Buyer's Guide / $600 Laptops

What if you want a laptop, but you can only pay about $600 for? In this article, we take a look at four different laptop manufacturers and weigh the positives (and the negatives) of their lineup in the $550-$650 range. By Mike Lynch.
By , Last updated on: 12/3/2014

Dell: A Proven Commodity

The Inspiron laptop series is one of the most popular in the world. For under $600, you can get the 16-inch Inspiron i1545. This is a solid meat-and-potatoes machine for people who want to do a little bit of everything basic: surf the web, watch movies, download music, and so on. Unlike the other computers in this article, the Inspiron doesn't have any one or two specific things it does amazingly well. However, it doesn't do anything particularly poorly either. This is a perfect computer for someone who needs a computer but isn't really sure exactly what they need -- a solid all-around machine.

ASUS: Great Reputation and Battery Power

Of all four brands listed in this article, ASUS offers by far the best reputation. ASUS owners love their computers -- the customer service is solid, and the reliability of their computers is top notch. Furthermore, some ASUS machines get amazing battery life. For example, the ASUS UL20A-A1 costs under $600 and gets nearly eight hours of battery life. That's nearly double the other computers in this article! However, there's a down side: ASUS computers tend to be a bit...small. In fact, of all the laptops in this article, the UL20A-A1 is the smallest at only 12". It also gets the least RAM (2GB). But if you want reliability and longevity (in a small package), ASUS is the way to go.

Gateway: More Power and Storage Space

Gateway computers have a bad reputation. But in recent years, they've really come around and put out some great products. For example, the NV5936u laptop -- for under $600, you get an i3 processor (the most powerful one in this list) and a huge 500GB hard drive (easily the biggest hard drive of any laptop on this list). This is an extremely good deal. Before you can buy a Gateway, you'll need to get past their dicey reputation. However, once you do, you'll get a ton of power and storage space for your buck.

Samsung: Well-Built, Stylish, and Durable

If you're like me, you hear the name Samsung and think about televisions and stereos. However, Samsung also makes laptops, and in doing so they apply the same careful attention to style and quality that their TVs and other electronics are known for. Samsung's R530 might be the priciest entry on this list, but it makes up for that with solid computing power (less than the Gateway and more than the ASUS) and way above average craftsmanship. This is a light computer, but when you hold the R530 in your hands it doesn't feel flimsy unlike a lot of laptops on the market. Ironically, most complaints lodged against this computer are for its dim screen. But aside from that, if you're tired of inferior quality craftsmanship, Samsung's R530 could be the computer for you.


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