October 15, 2020

Perhaps you are looking to buy a new laptop that isn’t too cheap and can actually handle some intensive tasks, but don’t wish to spend over a thousand dollars. In that case, a laptop that is priced between the 600 to 700 dollar range is what we recommend. This is the sweet spot in terms of performance vs price, and you can get some quality machines that are actually built well and packed with the latest features such as 802.11ax Wi-Fi, Type C, Windows Hello facial recognition, etc.

Our top pick for the best laptop under 700 dollars is the Acer Swift 3 model SF314-42-R9YN. It packs what many consider to be one of the best laptop CPUs, a Ryzen 7 4700U octacore. And the display is leagues ahead of most competitors at this price range. Read on to learn more about the Swift 3 and other laptops on our list.

Here is our list of 7 best laptop under 700 dollars price range:

Acer doesn’t mess around while designing their midrange laptops. Ad the Swift 3 is a massive hit among customers thanks to its combination of excellent performance with great features. It is the perfect 14” laptop for a student in college, a teacher, a small business owner, or even a businessman. This is the best laptop under 700 dollars, period.

The processor is an octacore Ryzen 4700U with IPC that matches/ beats out Intel’s Ice Lake 10th generation chips. It also has excellent clock speeds and power efficiency, thanks to the TSMC 7nm process that AMD uses. Combining this excellent processor with 8GB of LPDDR4 RAM and an ultra-fast 512GB NVMe drive, you get a laptop that is suited for work, play, and anything in between.

Pros

  • Superb Ryzen 7 4700U processor with great single and multithreaded performance for photo editing, video encoding, gaming, etc.
  • 8GB of LPDDR4 RAM
  • 512GB NVMe storage drive
  • Type C port supports display output and charging
  • Windows Hello fingerprint reader
  • Built in Alexa
  • Wake on voice
  • 2.65lbs and just 0.63”
  • 8+ hours of battery life
  • FHD IPS thin bezel display
  • Backlit keyboard and large trackpad

Cons

  • Mediocre webcam
  • The speakers feel a bit weak and sound tinny

The laptop for people who are constantly on the move, like travel bloggers, businessmen, and wildlife photographers. It is extremely compact and light, has a touchscreen, and boasts all-day battery life (10+ hours with moderate usage). The display looks crisp and bright, ideal for outdoor usage. It has excellent viewing angles, and colors are accurate.

Photo and video editing can be done on this laptop, although with a 10th gen Core i5 it is more suited to running essential apps such as Word, PowerPoint, Excel, etc. The RAM is a solid 8GB of DDR4, although storage is sort of low at 128GB. Which makes this laptop reliant on cloud storage and external drives.

Pros

  • Intel Core i5 10th generation Ice Lake processor with excellent onboard graphics, great IPC, and good efficiency
  • 8GB DDR4 RAM
  • Windows Hello facial recognition
  • Just 2.44lbs and 15.69mm thick
  • 12.4” touchscreen IPS display
  • 10 to 12 hours of battery life
  • Full size keyboard that feels great to type on
  • Large trackpad
  • USB Type C and Wi-Fi 6
  • SD card reader
  • Fingerprint reader integrated into the power button
  • Premium build quality

Cons

  • Very limited on ports, has just one Type A and one Type C
  • 128GB of storage will fall short very fast, so we suggest you buy an external storage drive
  • Slightly expensive for the specs you’re getting

Want a laptop that packs more than just integrated graphics? Check out the Aspire 5 from Acer, at under 700 dollars it features a NVIDIA GeForce MX350 dedicated graphics processor with 2GB of GDDR5 VRAM. This is leagues ahead of any Iris Plus or Vega integrated graphics, and it doesn’t share system RAM with the processor.

The Aspire 5 is a full sized laptop with a 15.6” FHD IPS display and 10th generation Intel Core i5 processor that is both fast and power efficiency. Ideal for watching movies, streaming, playing indie titles and esports games, etc. It is also perfect as a work/ study laptop thanks to the light design and long battery life.

Pros

  • Intel 10th generation Ice Lake Core i5 processor with 4 cores and 8 threads
  • 8GB of memory
  • 512GB SSD
  • IPS FHD display with thin bezels
  • Wi-Fi 6
  • NVIDIA MX350 graphics with 2GB of GDDR5 VRAM
  • Full size backlit keyboard
  • Ethernet, Type A, HDMI out and USB Type C

Cons

  • Mediocre webcam
  • Part of the RAM (4GB) is soldered, so you have only one free slot for upgrades
  • The numpad is a bit cramped

Want a 2-in-1 for drawing, movies, and taking notes? The x360 Pavilion provides all the benefits of a 2-in-1 design at an excellent price point which is accessible to most people. It packs an Intel Core i5 10th generation Ice Lake chip, and has 8GB of RAM. This is plenty for everyday computing and is also good for some casual gaming since the integrated graphics on the i5-1035G1 is pretty good.

Build quality feels solid and onboard audio is much better than what you normally find in laptops of this tier. It supports all the popular styluses and has a FHD IPS touchscreen with excellent colors. Keyboard is backlit and the trackpad is fairly large. There is a fingerprint reader and the overall design is extremely sleek, battery life is well above average.

Pros

  • 2-in-1 design is extremely versatile- tent, laptop, and tablet mode
  • Excellent for creative professionals who use software like Photoshop, Lightroom, etc.
  • Power Intel 10th generation Core i5 processor
  • 8GB of RAM
  • Good battery life
  • Backlit keyboard and large trackpad
  • Good display with accurate colors, wide viewing angles, and high brightness
  • Speakers actually don’t lose clarity at higher volumes and pack some bass

Cons

  • The 256GB SSD is a bit on the smaller side
  • Fingerprint sensor is on the side of the trackpad, not integrated into the power button

Want a bog standard HP laptop without any bells and whistles? The HP 15-dy1036nr packs all the hardware of the x360 Pavilion 2-in-1, but costs less since it is a conventional laptop. It has the exact same processor (Intel 10th generation Core i5-1035G1) and performs the same way in every application. Even the RAM amount is same at 8GB.

You get more real estate in terms of display because this laptop has a 15.6” FHD IPS screen instead of the 14” FHD touchscreen in the x360 Pavilion. If you don’t need a touchscreen, but a larger display for sharing content and watching movies, this is it. The keyboard is physically larger as well, compared to the x360 2-in-1 which results in a more relaxed typing experience.

Pros

  • Intel 10th generation quad core Ice Lake processor
  • 8GB of DDR4 RAM
  • Excellent FHD IPS display
  • Solid build quality
  • Full size backlit keyboard and smooth trackpad
  • Wi-Fi 6 and Bluetooth 5
  • Plenty of ports- SD card reader, Type A, Type C, HDMI out (no Ethernet though)

Cons

  • RAM is soldered onto the motherboard, not upgradeable
  • 256GB SSD will get filled up really fast

This is a cheaper version of the Swift 3 that we chose as our clear overall winner earlier in the article. Instead of an octacore Ryzen 7 4700U processor, it uses a Ryzen 5 4600U hexacore. There is a slight reduction in multithreaded performance, but single threaded performance is pretty much the same. And it actually sips even less power as a result of having fewer cores.

This version of the Swift 3 is what we recommend for folks who want a simple laptop. Not too much power but enough for everyday stuff like emails, social media, blogging, movies, etc. In terms of display and features, it shares everything with the higher tier Swift 3 model that we reviewed earlier. So you get a 14” FHD IPS screen, Wi-Fi 6, USB Type C, fingerprint reader, etc. The only other notable difference apart from the CPU is the 256GB SSD (compared to the 512GB SSD in the more expensive version).

Pros

  • Solid performance thanks to a 6-core AMD Ryzen 5 4600U processor
  • 8GB of RAM
  • 256GB SSD
  • Windows Hello fingerprint sensor
  • Crisp keyboard with good travel that is also quite stealthy in terms of noise
  • Large trackpad
  • Thin bezel FHD IPS display
  • Extremely thin and light design
  • Good battery life
  • Lots of ports

Cons

  • 256GB SSD
  • Fingerprint sensor not integrated into power button
  • Speakers sound hollow

You might be thinking- “why buy this ASUS laptop for the same price as the Acer Swift 3 even though it has a weaker processor?” And you would be perfectly justified, except the VivoBook is a more premium product. Specifications and processor model names aren’t everything in a laptop. You need everything else to come together in order to create a machine that you will love using all day.

The keyboard for instance, which is executed better on this ASUS compared to the Swift 3. Keycaps are nice and large with easily readable font. And there is ample spacing, so it doesn’t feel cramped even if you have larger hands. Plus this is a 15.6” laptop, so it is physically larger than the Swift 3 but also has more screen real estate. And the screen itself is on par with that of the Acer Swift 3, both are IPS panels with good colors and brightness. It is a much heavier laptop though, at 3.75lbs vs 2.65lbs on the Swift 3 (still very light).

Pros

  • Intel Ice Lake quad core i5 processor
  • 8GB of RAM
  • 512GB NVMe SSD
  • ErgoLift hinge angles the rear of the laptop for comfortable typing
  • Good key travel, ample spacing, and crisp feeling full sized backlit keyboard
  • Large and responsive trackpad
  • Superb build quality
  • 15.6” FHD IPS display with really thin bezels
  • Fingerprint reader with Windows Hello support
  • Three Type A ports (a 3.1 and two 2.0s), a Type C, HDMI out, micro SD card reader, and a 3.5mm combo jack

Cons

  • No Type C charging
  • Webcam could have been better

There is a certain set of features you should look for in any laptop at this price range. USB Type C ports are a must, at least one (preferably two). Charging over Type C or some form of fast charging is also highly desirable. You also want an IPS display, unless it is a gaming focused laptop in which case a high-refresh rate (120Hz) TN panel is fine.

In terms of memory, you need at least 8GB of DDR4/ LPDDR4. And a minimum of 256GB in the storage department. No spinning disk drives, only go for laptops with SSDs (NVMe or SATA III, although the former is faster). And as far as processors are concerned, the only way to get a high core count chip at this price is if you go with AMD’s Ryzen series.

Frequently Asked Questions

Q. What is the difference between 10th generation Intel processors and AMD Ryzen 4000 series processors?

A. Intel 10th generation processors come in two types- Comet Lake, and Ice Lake. The latter is a newer microarchitecture and has superior built-in graphics, it is also built on a newer process node (10nm vs 14nm for Comet Lake). Ice Lake chips are designed for high efficiency and have good IPC, although Ryzen 4000 series processors such as the Ryzen 5 4600U and Ryzen 7 4700U match Ice Lake Core i5s and i7s in terms of single threaded performance.

Ryzen offers more cores at a similar price and has the same, or higher power efficiency. So we recommend you go with whatever suits your needs, if you find a laptop with the feature set that you want but it has only Intel Ice Lake models, go for it. The performance difference between a 10th gen Core i5 and Ryzen 4000 series chip won’t be very large, it mostly comes down to multithreaded performance and availability.

Q. What is charging over Type C?

A. Older versions of USB do support charging, but they can’t deliver the amount of power that USB Type C does. And with Type C ports becoming standard issue on all laptops and phones these days, it makes sense to have one common interface for charging and sharing data between everything. Charging over Type C is just super convenient as you don’t need to carry a bulky adapter around with you at all times. And you can charge your phone off the laptop.

Q. What is the difference between 802.11ac and 802.11ax Wi-Fi? Which is faster and by how much?

A. 802.11ac is 5th gen Wi-Fi, while 802.11ax is 6th gen Wi-Fi. Most Intel 10th generation Ice Lake chips have integrated Wi-Fi 6 support, although you can install an aftermarket Wi-Fi 6 adapter in your laptop. Such as this Intel AX 200, which slots into the laptop motherboard (only if your laptop has a removable Wi-Fi module).

Wi-Fi 6 has around 37 to 40 percent higher single-user peak data rate compared to Wi-Fi 5, but that’s not its main strength. Its primary advantage over the previous generation is in crowded environments where a bunch of Wi-Fi devices are active at the same time. In such situations, Wi-Fi 6 offers around 4 times the throughput per user. It is also more power efficient, so you get more battery life from your device (laptop or mobile).

Finally, Wi-Fi 6 has more effective network security over previous generations since it uses WPA 3 instead of WPA 2 (WPA or Wireless Protected Access is a form of data encryption over public and private networks).

Q. Are narrow bezels just a marketing ploy or do they have any actual benefit?

A. If you like big, thick bezels, then by all means go for it. But narrower bezels look cleaner, keep the overall profile of the laptop smaller for the same screen area, and are just better overall. It becomes easier to focus on what you’re doing without bezels getting in the way, and viewing angles are slightly improved as well.

Q. What is the difference between SATA and NVMe SSDs?

A. When you purchase a modern laptop, you’re likely to find an SSD inside. Now, SSDs are not all created equal. Some use the SATA interface, while others use PCIe which supports exponentially higher data transfer rates and has lower latency. And if a drive uses the PCIe bus, it is 100 percent an NVMe drive.

SATA drives use the older AHCI (Advanced Host Controller Interface) data transfer protocol which struggles to keep up with modern flash memory speeds. That’s because it was originally optimized for HDDs (way back in 2004). The new NVMe software interface allows modern SSDs to fully utilize their potential speed and the capabilities of the PCIe data bus.

In short, a PCIe NVMe SSD can be around 6 to 7 times faster than a SATA III based SSD using the AHCI protocol. But here’s the catch- M.2 SSDs come in both SATA and NVMe flavors (the former is much slower and cheaper). So when you buy a laptop, make sure to check whether it uses a SATA or NVMe SSD. Either one is fine for daily use, most stuff like games and office software won’t benefit from the excessive speeds of a NVMe drive. But if you work with photos, videos, datasets, etc. on a professional basis, an NVMe drive will help boost your workflow significantly.

Conclusion

We chose the Acer Swift 3 as our winner since it’s a complete package for under 700 bucks. Excellent processor, excellent FHD IPS display, good build quality, slim and light design, Wi-Fi 6, fingerprint reader, backlit keyboard, etc. The Swift 3 even supports DisplayPort over Type C and USB Charging, so you can easily charge your phone or connect an external display using this laptop.

And the large trackpad makes it very easy to work on this machine, whether you’re browsing the web or doing stuff in MS Word. Its thin bezels and sleek angular design with rounded edges look very futuristic. But perhaps you want the maximum portability possible at this price. In that case, check out the Microsoft Surface Laptop Go, a 12.4” touchscreen laptop which weighs just 2.44lbs and boasts all-day battery life.

About the author 

Saurav Rath

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