If you’re planning on buying a new laptop and your budget is around $600, then you're in good company. This is the price range that the majority of consumers go for, although there are always going to be people that spend more or less. That makes $600 a pretty good price to settle on because laptop manufacturers are well aware of the massive numbers of people who set this price as their limit. Manufacturers want to sell as many units as possible, and so they’ve crammed as much power into this price range as possible. As laptops continue to have more power for less cost, $600 might get you a lot more machine than you thought.
As much as laptops under $600 are going to be able to do a lot, they’re not going to be able to do everything. If you have a specific need, then you’re probably worried about all of the technical stuff that can get a little overwhelming. It can be a big undertaking to know what they all mean then decide exactly what you need, which is why we’ve got the Choosist Wizard to help you. Laptops in this price range will have limitations, and even the most tech-savvy buyer is going to struggle to find a machine that does the more demanding tasks that you ask of it. Before we look at what a laptop under $600 will be capable of, here’s where you might find that they struggle.
Video editing takes a lot of power for any computer, so chances are that you won’t be able to find a machine that can edit video using professional software. The processor in a laptop that’s under $600 will not usually be enough to run video editing software, largely because of those processing necessities.
If you want to focus on video editing then there are some absolutely vital specs that you are going to need to keep an eye out for. By far the most popular video production software is Adobe Premiere Pro. Ideally, you need as much as RAM as possible. 8GB or higher will need to be the goal, but you may have to use the Choosist Wizard to work out your options in this price range. When it comes to your processor, that’s where you’re going to need to aim high, and this is where you’re probably going to run into issues. Anything less than a 7th generation Intel i3 processor is going to make video editing at any level very challenging if not impossible. You may find the occasional bargain, but if you want to use your laptop primarily for video editing, then you're going to need to spend a little more than $600.
Basic Video Editing
If you’re more into casual tinkering of video clips, like family holiday videos, birthday parties and friends goofing around, then you might not need a machine with incredible power. Unlike the Pros, the kind of work you’ll be involved in can be catered for with Laptops sporting at least 8GB of RAM and an Intel Core i3 processor from the 7th generation or later.
However even at this level if you’re looking at producing videos at 4K or at a silky 60FPS, you might struggle. In this case renders, exports or format conversions could take a while.
You’re going to struggle to find laptops under $600 that are capable of playing the latest high-end titles. While you will be able to play a huge number of good quality games, the fact is that hardcore gamers will need to look a little closer at their budget and consider waiting to invest a little more. Check out our list of best gaming laptops and consider whether your requirements are going to need a little more of a higher spend. The reason that you’ll struggle to play games like Assassin's Creed Odyssey or Crysis 3 is that they need a lot more processing power than you can expect to get for under $600, and they’ll need a more expensive and dedicated graphics card as well. The good news is that there are still some highly sought after titles that will be playable. Some of these AAA games are perfectly capable of running on a laptop under $600, although you’re always going to have the advantage if you check your specs before you buy. Some of these titles include well-known and popular classics like Skyrim, Half Life 2 (still a classic), Minecraft, Civilisation V, and Sims 4. So don’t start feeling as if you’re going to be too limited when it comes to dedicated gaming options.
While there are a good number of laptops available under $600 that will be able to cope with the demands of some basic graphic design, the majority will start to struggle if you try to run professional design software. Largely, this is due to your RAM options. Most laptops in this budget range will be limited to around 4GB although there are options in the 8GB range, and design software packages tend to need at least 8GB to run smoothly. It’s not just the RAM either. Even if you do find a laptop with 8GB of RAM, you’re still going to need to get a strong processor like a 7th generation Intel i5 processor or higher. Finding that balance is going to be very challenging when your budget is under $600.
If you’re an engineer or engineering student, then you’re probably hoping to run 3D design software on your new laptop. For under $600 you’re going to have an issue because CAD needs a lot of power and a brilliant graphics card. There are dedicated 3D graphics cards on the market, with IrisPro, Quadro, and FirePro being the most popular options available, but they may be outside of your budget for now. However, any laptop that comes with one of these options is going to perform better when it comes to 3D design projects. Speed is also going to be a factor, and you’re really going to have to prioritize getting a laptop that comes with an SSD instead of an HDD. This will give you the speed that you need to keep your workflow going without interruption. An HDD might give you the storage space but it will definitely slow you down. For under $600 you’re simply not going to get the internal power that you need. It might be useful to check out lists of the best laptops for engineers and assess your budget so that you're not left frustrated and feeling like you’ve invested in the wrong computer.
What You Can Do
If that’s a basic list of what you can’t do with even the best laptop under $600, then you probably want to know what you can do. The good news is that $600 will get you a good all-rounder when it comes to laptops, so your question has to be concerned with what you're going to be using it for. Everyone uses their tech for different purposes, so knowing how you use your laptop will go a long way to determining the best options available to you. Here’s what you can easily do with the best laptop under $600.
Let’s face it; most people use their laptops for not much more than browsing the internet and checking their emails. If your laptop is going to spend most of its time scrolling through Facebook or submitting links to Reddit, then you’re not going to have any problems with a laptop in the $600 range. If that sounds like you, then you might be better off looking at either a Chromebook or a tablet. These can be considerably cheaper, but will let you do everything social media related, as well as allow you to use Cloud platforms as well. If that sounds tempting, remember that Chromebooks will always need a live internet connection. Otherwise, they become largely useless. If you’re looking for portability, then a tablet might be better for you. If your heart is set on a laptop, then any of the options in our list will suffice for the generic uses that you’re going to put your laptop to.
If you're going to be using your laptop for more than checking your Twitter notifications, then you are going to have to be aware of your laptop’s limitations. If you're planning to do your bookkeeping, either personal or for your business, then you should not have any problems at this price. Laptops that are around $600 will easily be able to run the majority (if not all) of the bookkeeping software choices currently on the market. If you’re using your laptop for some simple bookkeeping, then remember to make sure that your keyboard has a ten-key number pad and plenty of access ports so that you can add external hard drives, printers, and your mouse. Many bookkeeping software choices are now available in the Cloud, so don’t panic too much over the type of drive your laptop has. Aim to get as much RAM for your budget as possible, and you’ll have no difficulties.
If you’re a student looking at investing in a laptop that will last throughout your education, then $600 is a good budget to have. However, you may have to spend a little more if your course requires specialist tech. A business studies major is going to need a very different machine to someone studying graphic design. For essays and assignments, laptops in this price range will not have any problems running Microsoft Word or loading up Google Docs, but may struggle with more specialist, course-related software and downloads. If you're not sure what your course is going to require in terms of laptop tech, check with your institution and get some advice from previous students. You don’t want to spend a large chunk of your student loan on a machine that doesn’t do what you need it to do.
There are going to be some surprisingly good choices available for you if you're into creating your own music, but your laptop budget is set at $600. Most people think that pro music production will take as much power as video production, but the requirements are very different. What you will have to pay attention to is your RAM, and you may need to exchange more RAM for a less powerful graphics card. Prioritize your RAM, and you should have few problems managing reliable music production software. If you’re a professional, then you already know that the more you spend on your laptop, the better it will be for this, but even at $600, you will be able to do a lot more than you might expect.
Not everyone is going to need a laptop with a touchscreen, but they can be very useful. They are also becoming increasingly popular, so there are certainly people out there who are putting them as a priority. If you think that a $600 budget is going to exclude you from getting a touchscreen, you’ll be surprised to find that there are actually some good quality touchscreen options at this price. The problem is that touchscreens themselves are expensive, so opting for a laptop with one means that you're going to be losing out somewhere else. That could mean settling for less processing power or RAM, and that can affect what else you’ll be able to do on your laptop. Touchscreens also take a heavy toll on your battery life, so if you’re getting a laptop primarily for portability then you may run into difficulties.
These are designed specifically for people that want the power of a laptop with the portability and flexibility of a tablet. It’s a great way of getting two devices without having to pay out extra money, but they aren’t all positives. In the $600 and under price range, you're going to have some good quality options to choose from, but 2-in-1s are not suitable for everyone. Due to the demands of portability, they generally lack the power of dedicated laptops, and as a result, may suffer from not being able to do the more demanding tasks that you ask of them. You’ll still be able to do the basics, but your graphics aren’t going to be as good as they’ll be with other laptop types, and they will be noticeably slower too. This is going to come down to what you are going to be using the device for, and weighing up the pros and cons a little more closely.
If you’re not a hardcore gamer but you enjoy some more casual gaming, then a laptop in this price range will perform very well. You may not be able to play some of the more high-tech demanding games, but there are plenty of titles that are still in the charts that you’ll be able to load and play. The fact is that there are thousands of games that a laptop under $600 will play easily, and there are more being released every day. From classic titles like Pillars of Eternity and Batman: Arkham Asylum, to more recent offerings like Overwatch or Fortnite, there’s going to be a game for you. Make sure that you check the power of your graphics card and your processor, and remember that if there is a game that you are dead set on playing, then it will be worth checking the system requirements of that game before you commit to a purchase.
You’re going to have a few options to play with here, but you won’t have unlimited choice. If you're planning to do some basic photo editing, then you need to be looking for at least a 6th generation Intel i3 processor, although if you can get any higher than this then all the better. One of the things that you may not have considered is your screen. If you’re editing photos then you want to be able to see your images clearly, so you're going to need a laptop with some high-quality screen resolution. Make sure that you look for something with at least 1080p. Don’t forget your RAM either, as you're going to want this to be as high as possible, with 8GB being the bare minimum. Anything higher than that is going to be better. The lower your RAM, the less of a fun time you’re going to have tinkering with those photos and images.
Depending on what you are most likely going to be using your new laptop for, it’s always worth factoring in your accessories when it comes to your budget. There’s nothing worse than loading up your new laptop only to find that you need a peripheral in order to get the most from it. Here are some of the most popular accessories that might change the way that you use your laptop.
Your battery life will have an impact on your portability, so if you’re planning on throwing your laptop into a bag and taking it with you wherever you go then you’ll need to be aware of your recharge times. Of course, if you're planning on leaving your laptop in one place for the majority of the time then battery life is not going to be a factor that you need to waste much brain time on. If you're the type of person who likes to take their laptop with them wherever they go, then a strong battery with at least a few hours of life will make portability considerably easier for you. Have a look at the Choosist guide for getting the right battery life for your laptop and you’ll have a much clearer idea of where you may have to adjust your expectations.
For laptops under $600 you're going to have to get used to making compromises. Higher RAM might mean a slower graphics cards, whereas improved portability might have to be traded for screen size. Knowing exactly what you're going to be using your laptop for will go a long way to helping you make a decision. If you’re struggling to make a choice, then use the Choosist Wizard to narrow down your options. You could be loading up your laptop before you know it!
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