Here is a list of the Best i5 Laptops under 300!  I am always on the lookout for a great deal.  Given the cost of a laptop, it makes sense to look for and get the best deal that you can. 

This post will be a review of the best i5 laptops under $300 that I have purchased recently that I feel are incredible and worth every penny.

What Makes a Great Laptop

There are different grades of laptops. 

The Residential Class models are the ones sold in Best Buy and Staples. 

The Business Class Laptops are made for business use and are designed to take a beating. 

Both laptops look similar but are built very different, as are the prices.  Residential models start at a few hundred where business class laptops start at over $1,000.

Every residential model laptop I have purchased has broken in under 2 years!

What’s inside matters.  The inside will determine if the laptop will be able to support the latest software for years to come.  You also need to be very concerned about the laptop life span.  There are several components you need to consider.  The core components are:

  • Memory (8 GB base, more the better)
  • Processor (i5)
  • Hard Drive (SSD with at least 180GB)
  • Weight or size (under 3 pounds)
  • Battery life (at least 6+)

The last option is the OS the laptop was made to run. 

There are 3 primary operating systems to consider.  We have Windows, MacOS, and Linux. 

Linux is designed for techies because it is more difficult to use and setup but its free.  Windows is extremely popular and compatible with everything.  The Mac OS is super easy to use and reliable.


To find a great deal on a laptop, you need to shop used or refurbished. 

The best deal is to buy a laptop that was leased by a corporation for 2-3 years and is now being sold on Amazon or eBay.  These tend to be often lightly used and extremely durable machines.  Few have been abused so you need to know what to buy.

My recommendations to people who often ask me what computer to buy is the HP Elitebook series

There are several laptops in this line that will match your needs and these laptops are build extremely well.  They have plenty of power and can be purchased for a fraction of their new price.

Review the Best i5 Laptops under 300!

HP Elitebook 2760p
HP Elitebook 2760p

HP Elitebook 2760p

The HP Elitebook 2760p are very different laptops designed for very different purposes. 

The 2760p laptop is a 12 inch convertible laptop (laptop/tablet) that is very functional and cheap (under $130 as of this post).  I have bought about 5 of these for my kids and family members and we all love them. 

I strongly recommend getting it with Windows 10 already installed and SSD will make your experience much better. 

It also comes in an i7 version for those power hungry tasks.  Both of my high school kids have this laptop and both love it.  It is a little thick to carry around all day but great for home.  I also use this as my primary laptop.

HP Elitebook 9470m

HP Elitebook 9470m
HP Elitebook 9470m

The HP Elitebook 9470m is an extremely thin, light, and strong laptop.  The average cost is under $300 in a 14 in screen. 

Did I say extremely thin and light?  It is worth repeating it if it didn’t sink in. 

Look for SSD and Windows 10 here too. 

My college aged son is using this at school.  It is performing much better then expected even though it is being abused to the limits.  This in my opinion is the perfect student laptop given its size and power.

HP Elitebook 840

The HP Elitebook 840 is another extremely thin, light, and strong laptop.  The average cost is under $200 in a 14 in screen and slightly more for the touch screen option

This is an update to this list that I bought in the Summer of 2018. I was looking for something a little smaller then the 9470 and was debating between the 840 and the 820 models.

They are both fantastic. They both have an option for the touch screen and will support 16 GB of RAM and 2 hard drives (one 2.5 and one M2 42mm). I created several articles about the 840 and how I use it as my portable IT lab running Hyper-V.

I love it and recommend it to everyone. Look for SSD and Windows 10 here too. 

My high school son is using this at school and I bought his for under $150 off eBay.  His has SSD and I think came with 8 GB of RAM but no touch screen option for him (he didn’t want one).

Apple Macbook MC503LLA

Macbook Air MC968LL-A

The Apple Macbook MC503LLA does not fit on this list well.  Macs are expensive laptops but the one listed here is just under $300 and super light in the 13 inch model. 

I recommend the i5 chip instead of the core 2 but that will raise the price to under $400.  Again look for SSD where possible. 

I purchased a Macbook 15 inch core 2 model (not air) several years ago for under $200. 

For under $100, I upgraded the laptop hard drive and memory.  I am writing this post on it and it is showing no limitations given its age.  Because it is so light and thin, it is the perfect student laptop.  It will be fantastic for any student for the majority of their work.

Why are These Perfect for Students?

Most people always say buy the biggest CPU you can afford.  I disagree. 

You can often get by for many years with an under powered CPU.  As long as it is able to average under 25% while doing normal work, your CPU will be fine.

What this means is an i5 chip is great, i7 better but not critical, and a Celeron is too weak for years of service.  To say it another way, do not get anything lower than an i5 Intel chip.

The one component that must be sufficient is your memory. 

Hard drive needs to be fast on an older laptop so I recommend SSD whenever possible. 

Lastly make sure the case can hold up so look for titanium or another very strong material.

I think the most important part of a student laptop is its size.  It needs to be portable and moved where ever they want to work or play.  It must be light but with a very strong battery.

The HP Elitebook series have easily exchangeable batteries and the 2760 has an second battery that can be attached. 

Both models have an optional docking station that can allow the laptop to connect to multiple full sized screens for great multitasking assignments.

The Macbook is super light and super simple to use.  You cannot exchange the battery easily on a MAC.  Make sure you always have a power adapter with you.


Selecting the right computer comes down to your personality and style. 

Your budget should not come into account anymore since you can get any of these great high end Best i5 Laptops under 300

They all offer great performance and will last for years to come.  They are all very portable, have a great battery life, and can run the latest software. 

The only thing that remains is which fits into your lifestyle best.

Did you find this article helpful?  Do you have another budget laptop you feel should be included in the list?  If so, let me know in the comment section below and share it with our readers. 

If you own any of these laptops, how have they worked for you and are you happy with them?  Your experiences will help others like you who are looking for a new budget laptop for under $300.