How to Choose a Laptop for Online Learning on a Budget

Looking for the best low cost laptop for online lessons? Well, you have come to the right place. We’ve already explored the various types of budget desktops available in the Indian market and now it’s time to take a look at laptops. While everyone wants a thin, powerful laptop, spending a lot of money isn’t always the right answer, especially if you’ll only be using the computer for online classes and basic productivity apps.

There are a number of low-cost options on the market, and in this guide we’ll look at some of the popular series and models you should keep track of from well-known brands. Like our desktop guide, we’re mainly focusing on established brands for one simple reason – better after-sales support.

Laptops may not be as flexible as desktops when it comes to updating components, but unlike a desktop, they’re highly portable so you can take your work wherever you go. If you need a laptop just to attend classes or write assignments and don’t rely on any apps for your work or studies, you should also consider Chromebooks. These are laptops that run Google’s operating system, called Chrome OS, which is lighter and easier to run on inexpensive hardware compared to Windows. You have access to the entire Google app bundle and can also download Android apps from the Google Play Store.

Matching your expectations with your budget

Before leaving, it is important to identify your budget and therefore set your expectations. You can get a Windows 10 laptop starting at Rs. 20,000, but finding one from a big brand is hard. Hyderabad-based startup RDP has its ThinBook 1010, as does local brand Avita with its Essential series. Most laptops at this price come with an Intel Celeron or Pentium CPU, 4GB of RAM, an HD resolution screen and a low-capacity eMMC for storage.

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Local brands like Avita offer laptops from Rs. 20,000

Increasing your budget to around Rs. 30,000 will give you many more choices from established companies like HP and Lenovo. In this segment, you can expect slightly more powerful CPUs, like AMD’s Ryzen 3 models and Intel’s older 10th Gen Core i3 models. Hard drive sizes are typically 1TB in this segment, but this would be a mechanical hard drive and not flash storage. RAM will still be 4GB with most of them, which isn’t ideal for Windows 10, so it’s best if you upgrade to at least 8GB after purchase.

Pushing your budget to around Rs. 45,000 open the door to better CPUs, more RAM and full-HD screens. You can also find models in this price range with mechanical drives and SSDs, which should offer a more responsive Windows experience. Of course, there will always be better models as you move up the price ladder, but that’s beyond the scope of this guide.

Now that you know how much you want to spend and what kind of components you can expect, let’s take a look at what’s available on the market from some of the better-known brands.

Microsoft Windows Laptops

Dell has a decent selection of cheap laptops from its Inspiron and Vostro lines. The Dell Inspiron 15 3000 series starts at around Rs. 29,500 which gives you an AMD Athlon Silver 3050U CPU, 4GB of RAM, a 15.6-inch HD screen, and a 256GB PCIe M.2 SSD or a 1TB hard drive, based on the model you choose . Increasing your budget closer to Rs. 40,000 will give you 8GB of RAM, an AMD Ryzen 3 3250U CPU and a full-HD screen.

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The Dell Inspiron 15 3000 series offers decent specs for the price

Dell’s Vostro series is aimed at small business users, but it also works well for basic home use. The Dell Vostro 15 3500 is the least expensive at around Rs. 30,000 and offers basic specs like Intel Pentium Gold 7505 CPU, 4GB RAM and 1TB hard drive, but a 15.6-inch full-HD screen. Spending around Rs. 10,000 more will give you an improved 10th Gen Intel Core i3 CPU, 8GB RAM and SSD storage options.

HP has a similar distinction with its product lines for home and business users. Their 14th and 15th series laptops for home users can be found online at deep discounts. You can expect similar specs to Dell’s Inspiron 15 lineup with a choice of AMD or Intel CPUs, mechanical or flash storage, and 8GB of RAM on models that cost closer to Rs. 40,000.

HP’s laptop business line may be less flashy, but it offers competitive specs within our budget. Look for the G7 and G8 series of laptops that feature AMD Ryzen 3 and Intel 11th Generation CPUs for prices between Rs. 30,000 to Rs. 40,000.

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HP’s line of G8 business laptops isn’t exactly eye-catching, but it does the trick.

You will find many Lenovo V14 and V15 series laptops priced around Rs. 40,000 (less if you look online), which offer decent designs and up-to-date specs, like Intel’s 11th gen CPUs. If you are looking for something more stylish and portable, you can try Lenovo’s IdeaPad Slim 3i which, with a starting price of under Rs. 40,000, has an 11th generation Intel Core i3 CPU, 4GB of RAM, a 256GB SSD and a 15.6-inch full-HD screen. You can also find some interesting offers for student laptops on their website.

If you like a budget Acer laptop, you should focus on its Aspire 3 and Aspire 5 series. Going through Acer’s own online store, prices start at Rs. 26,499 for which you get decent specs like an AMD Athlon Silver 3050U CPU, 4GB of RAM and a 1TB hard drive with the option to add an NVMe SSD later. The Aspire 5’s range starts a little higher, at around Rs. 38,999, but this series offers a slimmer design and better CPU specs.

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The Acer Aspire 5 series offers a stylish look and is still easy in the pocket

Acer also has its Extensive lineup of conventional models if you’re on a really tight budget. We also saw an Acer laptop from the TravelMate series with impressive specs (Core i3 11th generation, 8GB RAM, full-HD screen, 1TB hard drive) costing just Rs. 37,999 on Amazon.

If you’re looking for cost-effective specs, it’s hard to beat Xiaomi’s RedmiBook 15 e-Learning Edition, which was recently released for Rs. 41,999. For that money, you get a full-HD screen, 11th generation Intel Core i3 CPU, 256GB SSD and 8GB RAM. If you need more storage, there is a 512GB SSD variant for Rs. 44,999. Realme also recently released their first laptop called Realme Book (Slim), which goes a little beyond the scope of this guide, but is a decent option if you don’t mind spending around Rs. 46,999. The base model offers an 11th generation Intel Core i3 CPU, 8GB of RAM, a 256GB SSD and a 2K resolution screen (2160×1440).

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The Xiaomi RedmiBook 15 e-Learning Edition is a good budget option to consider

Asus has long offered cost-effective laptops in the Indian market and this continues today. Its VivoBook 14 and 15 series offer competitive specifications for the price. The Asus VivoBook 15 X515, for example, starts at around Rs. 30,000, which gives you an Intel Pentium Silver N5030 CPU, 4GB of RAM, a 1TB hard drive, and a full-HD screen. Asus also offers a stylish EeeBook 14 E410 series that comes with an Intel Celeron N4020 CPU, 4GB of RAM and a 256GB SSD for about Rs. 24,990.

Google Chromebooks

If your work or studies don’t require the use of any specific Windows apps, you should really consider purchasing a Chromebook. Google’s lightweight OS should offer better performance than Windows on the same hardware, plus longer battery life. Chromebooks can get quite expensive, just like thin and light Windows laptops, but there are also affordable options.

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The Lenovo Duet Chromebook is an affordable 2 in 1 that can be used as a tablet or laptop

The HP Chromebook 14a is available at Rs. 27,999, which gives you an Intel Celeron N4020 CPU, 4GB of RAM, 64GB of expandable storage, and a 14-inch HD screen. In early April, the company also announced an 11-inch model called the HP Chromebook 11a with a MediaTek MT8183 SoC, 4GB of RAM and a promise of up to 16 hours of battery life.

Lenovo has a good economical offer called Duet Chromebook. It is a 10.1-inch convertible laptop with a detachable screen and built-in support, starting at Rs. 26,999. Last but not least, Asus also has some conventional models with varying screen sizes, including the Chrombook Flip which comes with a 360 degree swivel keyboard.


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Roydon Cerejo writes about smartphones and laptops for Gadgets 360 from Mumbai. He is the Deputy Editor (Reviews) for Gadgets 360. He has written frequently about the smartphone and PC industry and is also interested in photography. With over a decade of experience covering the consumer technology space, he’s also an avid sci-fi movie and TV show geek and is always up for good horror movies. Roydon is available at roydon@gadgets360.com, so please send us your leads and tips. Most

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