5 high performance yet affordable
laptops you need to know about
Laptops come in so many configurations these days that it can get very confusing when you try to make sense of all the specs and features.
Of course, you should always start with a budget and work your way from there. But there are still many choices to sift through. Say if you’ve $1,500 to spend and two similarly-priced laptops have caught your eye. Should you go for the one that has better graphics and plenty of storage but is slightly thicker and heavier, or the one that doesn’t have as much RAM but is super light and features a beautifully crafted enclosure?
If you’re facing the same dilemma, don’t fret. Here’s a list of laptops that we recommend based on typical user profiles and usage scenarios. The one thing that’s similar across all of them is that they’re affordable and offer performance in spades.
ASUS VivoBook S13 S330 — A stylish laptop for professionals
Sporting a stunning icicle gold colour chassis that’s bound to attract your peers’ attention, the ASUS VivoBook S13 S330 has a 13.3-inch Full HD display framed by a very 4.3mm-thin bezel. Even the ErgoLife hinge design is pretty neat: when the screen is lifted, it adds a very slight tilt to the keyboard base to help you type more comfortably.
Under the hood, the S330 packs some impressive horsepower to get things done. The Windows 10 laptop is powered by an Intel i7-8565U processor with Intel UHD 620 integrated graphics and 8GB RAM, and features a 512GB PCIe SSD for all your content stash.
Despite just 17.9mm thin, this laptop has no lack of connectivity options. You get one HDMI port and three USB ports, including one USB-C port that supports up to 5Gbps file transfer speeds. Bluetooth 4.2, 802.11ac Wi-Fi, headphone jack — they’re all present here.
Now available at COURTS for $1,398, the VivoBook S13 S330 is an ideal candidate if you’re looking for a laptop that can reflect your personality. Not only does it look good, at 1.2kg, it also won’t weigh you down when you’ve to bring it to and fro your workplace or school every day.
ASUS ZenBook 14 UX433 — A surprisingly small 14-inch laptop
Like the VivoBook S13, when you lift up the ZenBook 14 UX433’s display you’ll be greeted with an expansive canvas thanks to its tiny 2.9mm side bezels. In fact, ASUS has managed to cram a 14-inch Full HD panel into a laptop body that’s no more than 15.9mm at its thickest point and make it weigh just 1.09kg.
Specs-wise, the $1,498 UX433 is also one mean machine. You get Intel’s 8th Gen Core i7-8565U processor with 8GB RAM and a 256GB PCIe SSD; two USB Type-A ports with one of them capable of USB 3.1 speeds; and one USB Type-C port capable of 10Gbps. Incredibly, ASUS has even found space to squeeze in one HDMI port. This laptop is also built to last as it meets the MIL-STD-810G military standard for reliability and durability.
All said, the laptop’s biggest highlights are its keyboard with 1.4mm key travel and large trackpad. Like the VivoBook S13, the display hinge lifts the base at a slight angle to help you use the keyboard more comfortably.
And at the bottom, the trackpad includes an innovative NumberPad function, which surfaces a numeric keypad to help you enter numbers or do calculations without your hand leaving the touchpad. If you do a lot of data entry work, take a look at this ASUS ZenBook 14 UX433.
Lenovo IdeaPad S145 — A value-for-money 14-inch laptop for the family
If you’re on a tight budget or don’t need a super lightweight laptop because you don’t intend to bring it around, Lenovo’s IdeaPad S145 offers terrific value because it’s a 14-inch laptop that costs just $799.
Other than a 14-inch Full HD anti-glare display, the 1.6kg S145 packs an Intel Core i5-8265U chip, 4GB of RAM and a 512GB PCIe SSD. You also get plenty of ports to connect your accessories to, including three USB ports (two of which support USB 3.1 Gen 1 for 5Gbps speeds), one full-size HDMI port and an SD card reader. Even the good old headphone jack is here.
Long story short, the S145 is a value-for-money laptop that will appeal to families, students, or even working professionals who need a reliable device without any bells and whistles. For everyday computing tasks, such as web browsing, crafting Office documents and the like, the S145 is a more than capable machine.
COURTS is currently running a promo that takes $20 off Microsoft Office if you were to buy the productivity software together with the S145.
Acer Swift 3 14” — A laptop for programmers and those who hoard files
Featuring a blue chassis with a brushed finish, the Acer Swift 3 is another head turner. Like the ASUS ZenBook 14, this Swift 3 uses an Intel i7-8565U processor and has a 14-inch Full HD display.
However, instead of 8GB, this laptop is equipped with a whopping 12GB of RAM and packs two storage drives — 512GB PCIe SSD and 1TB HDD. All this makes the Swift 13 an ideal choice if you work with memory-intensive programs or have a lot of large files (e.g. RAW photos and high-res video files) that you need to store locally.
The 1.45kg laptop is also able to handle casual games (even some taxing games but at medium quality settings) without breaking any sweat thanks to its dedicated NVIDIA GeForce MX250 graphics chip with 2GB video RAM. Compared to laptops that use integrated graphics, you’ll get a smoother gaming experience as well as faster performance in photo and video-editing applications.
COURTS is currently selling this well specced Acer Swift 3 laptop for $1,598. Alternatively, there’s another model with Core i5-8265U, 8GB RAM and 256GB SSD, and that’s going for just $898.
Dell Inspiron 5584 — A 15-inch laptop for a little over $1K
If you’re on a tight budget but still want a laptop with a big screen, take a look at this Dell Inspiron 5584, which has an Intel Core i5 processor, 8GB RAM and a 256GB SSD in a package that’s only going for $1,149 now at COURTS.
The processor in this Dell laptop is the i5-8265U, which is the same one found in the aforementioned Lenovo laptop. While this chip isn’t as fast as the i7-8565U in some other laptops, it’s still mighty fast. In fact, for everyday computing tasks like browsing the web, replying emails and working in Microsoft Office, it’s more than sufficient. Not that we’re complaining for a 15-inch laptop that costs a little over $1K.
The 15.6-inch laptop (Full HD screen, too) also sports the NVIDIA GeForce MX130, which is a dedicated graphics chip that will help to improve the performance of your apps and games. Yes, this may an entry-level graphics unit, but we’ve seen more expensive laptops that don’t even have this option.
In summary, this Dell Inspiron 5584 is a worthy contender if you’re shortlisting a laptop for your parents or kids. It may not look as sleek as the ZenBook or VivoBook, but it makes up by offering great performance at an equally great price.