Any cheap laptop suggestions for a beginner?

I am a complete beginner who is currently trying to do tasks on an iPad mini. I know I need something more if I want to take this programming seriously, I just don’t have a lot of capital to put forth… Any suggestions? I know it sounds crazy but my budget is about $200. I was looking into an Acer Chromebook and using Crouton to run Ubuntu. Would that work? Are there better options? Should I hold out for Black Friday/Cyber Monday to see if I can score a deal on something?

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Essentially all you need is a text editor like Atom or Sublime, maybe a photo editing app like Gimp or Photoshop if you’re heavily into design, and Linux.

Pretty much any cheap laptop nowadays should be able to handle that.


I haven’t run into any blocks yet with my 6 year old laptop running Ubuntu. (I have done a good deal of react and express/node already)
So any recent machine should be fine. You even could look into slightly used options to be able to afford a larger screen size and/or external mouse/keyboard.

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You can definitely use a cheapo laptop. My one warning about doing so is to try to get a decent screen size. When you’re programming you will very often want to have two windows open at the same time.


I don’t think I particularly recommend a Chromebook - having to install a custom linux distro on it kind of defeats the purpose of getting it. OEM’s get Windows licenses for dirt cheap, so you aren’t saving much if any money by getting a PC that doesn’t have Windows on it.

If you can find a way to increase your budget, I would seriously consider an Acer Aspire E15 (I bought the Intel flavor for $350 in January, and love it - - of course you can also get the HP Stream, which I have zero experience with (

I like the Acer because it has a 1080p resolution, so I can fit more code onto the screen at once, and the battery life is quite good - I can get 6-8 hours of battery life, easy. And I was able to partition the 1TB hard drive and install Elementary OS onto it as well (my favorite Linux distro)

But, if you can’t swing it, then you can’t swing it. Chromebooks are great for what they are, just IMHO I just don’t think they are powerful enough to be worth all the tinkering you’ll have to do to get it to be a webdev laptop (presumably in addition to being a Chromebook).

Large hard drives, and a decent processor will allow you to do basic image editing and allow you to store large amounts of assets without worrying about storage capacity.

And FWIW I’m a huge fan of VS Code as my text editor. I prefer it over both Sublime and Atom (probably because they have plugins that give you the same color scheme, Monokai, and the same shortcuts). But best of luck in your development adventure!


The solution to your problem from me in several steps:

  1. Ask Google for “200$ laptop”;

  2. Your laptop must have 15.6 inches MATTE screen ONLY, 4GB of RAM, low-cost modern model (2017 year) CPU platform Intel or AMD with integrated video and audio systems (never mind what exactly), small SSD (Samsung or Intel) 60~120GB (but NOT HDD), HDMI port, 2~3 USB ports, SD card reader, stereo audio speakers; all other features are almost the same for different models from different producers.

  3. When you have chosen the laptop model, go to:
    find your laptop model and find out its POSITIVE and NEGATIVE sides.

  4. Most of the low-cost modern laptops (2016, 2017 years of production) are OS Windows 10 based ONLY!
    It will be a PAIN (or it may be impossible) to install and configure other non-Windows 10 OS. For example, some drivers for Linux OS don’t even exist at all. Keep that in mind!

  5. Buy laptops with SSD (Samsung or Intel) ONLY!
    It’s better to buy a more cheap laptop with SSD (Samsung or Intel) than more expensive with HDD.
    SSD increases laptop performance greatly.

  6. Feel free to ask me any question, anytime. I’ll try to help You.


Dell refurbished from $229.

Depending where you’re based you should be able to get an older Lenovo Thinkpad for less than $200. The T410 or X210 should be pretty cheap from a refurb with an i5, 8GB and even an SSD if you shop around.

Downsides are that it’s pretty much at the lowest end of acceptable performance but they’re well supported by Linux distros so just run a lightweight OS. Also there can be issues around the battery and cosmetics with some refurb outlets. Just grab a cheap used LCD monitor along with it and you’re good to go.

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Its totally depends on you what configuration you require. Keep clear your mind what you need then choose best laptop for you.

Isn’t the standard advice to get a used thinkpad? With a high a screen resolution as you can afford.

I just got this recently. I upgraded from a DELL XPS 12, which was great but had only 4gb ram. This thing is fantastic for the price. Twice your base SSD memory, 8gb ram is great for browser tabs and open programs/windows. Great display, convertible, and great finish.

Oh and 1080 resolution too. I got mine in the upper $500, so it’s a bit more now and lower stock.

I would suggest you to get used laptop from ebay with i5 2nd or 3rd gen processor that will do the work for you,…

There is a great article about choosing a laptop:

There’s a lot of decent advice here about models, but here’s a tip that I learned while I was facing the same problem. A lot of times you’ll see a significant price difference in 4GB vs 8GB of RAM. If you find a computer that you like and that fits your budget, but has lower memory than you need, it’s fairly cheap (and easy) to buy some and install it yourself.

I’m not coming at this as someone with a background in hardware, just to be clear. Taking the panel off your computer for the first time can be scary, but replacing RAM is just a matter of sliding out one “stick” and replacing it with another.

Depends how comfortable you are with your ability to follow instructions and how willing you are to try something new. I was able to up my memory to 8GB for $20, rather than pay an extra ~$60 to the manufacturer, by doing it myself. Just something to keep in mind while you shop around!

TL;DR: Get up and running with a Linux / Windows laptop. Save up for a used Macbook Air 2012 while you learn and switch to OSX ASAP.

You’re in a tough spot. I know because I was you in Spring 2016.

The first question you need to ask is yourself is “what’s my end game?.” If your end game is to become a developer that writes ASP.NET OR C# apps - buy a cheap Windows machine. For everything else, keep reading.

I would suggest picking up a cheap Linux PC. If it’s just for learning how to code, you don’t need much in terms of performance. You could use a Windows PC, but you’re probably much better off using a Linux machine. Why Linux? Because if you’re serious about becoming a professional developer, at some point, you will have to learn how to use a terminal. Bash is the terminal that ships with both Linux AND OSX. When you land your first job, chances are they are going to give you a MacBook Pro. Chances are everyone around you is going to be using a MacBook Pro, too. If you can already use a Mac and Bash you will be one step ahead.

If you decide to roll with Windows, that can work too. You just need to install a Cygwin and a terminal emulator. Cygwin combined with a terminal emulator will allow you to use most of the native Bash commands in a Windows environment. For the record, that’s how I got my start. I was running Windows on a Lenovo laptop. I used a terminal emulator named Babun. The great thing about Babun is that comes with Cygwin installed. So you can avoid the headache of installing and configuring Cygwin. Just install Babun and you’re ready to rock.

While you’re learning via Windows or Linux, try and save up for used Macbook Air 2012. As soon as you can, switch to Mac.

Some people will probably disagree with my me because they hate Apple. I used to hate Apple, too, until I started teaching myself web development. But I learned quickly that Mac is more or less the defacto OS for web development outside of the ASP.NET community. In the vast majority of web development tutorials, especially frontend tutorials, the lecturers are running OSX. Following along using a Linux machine is doable, I suppose. I know from experience that following along using a Windows PC is either difficult or impossible.

Furthermore, with respect to frontend development practically every popular tool supports OSX out of the box. Some can be configured to work with Windows or Linux, but in many cases, there is no support. You’re even handicapped working with designers if you’re on a Windows / Linux machine because of the rise of Sketch.

So, final words, get started with whatever you can and switch to Mac ASAP unless you specifically want to develop for .NET.


Regarding Chromebooks. It’s probably the worst option because you’re locked into the Google ecosystem and Chromebooks simply are not designed for software development. However, you could still get pretty far using a Chromebook and a cloud IDE that comes with a prepackaged development environment. If you end up going that route, I recommend Cloud9. It’s free and you spin up a fully-functioning development environment in minutes.

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you should get at least a 14inch laptop. should be more easy to read.

Git Bash for Windows is actually quite good. The combination of VS Code and Git Bash in the built-in terminal has been great. I also run portable versions of both, and the portability has come in hand with a 16 GB thumb drive I carry around with me.

Overall, I do agree getting familiar with the command line is essential, but so long as you get on Bash in some way, that would be great.

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Good point regarding Git Bash. I totally forgot about it. I’ve never used it, but I imagine it would be a sufficient alternative to Babun.

Some people will probably disagree with my me because they hate Apple. I used to hate Apple, too, until I started teaching myself web development. But I learned quickly that Mac is more or less the defacto OS for web development outside of the ASP.NET community.

Sounds like Apple gave the entire web dev community Stockholm Syndrome. Is it currently beneficial to work on a Mac? I guess. Should it be? The fact that we’re giving advice like “learn on your Windows/Linux machine, keep saving money and downgrade to a used 6 years old Macbook Air as soon as you can” strongly suggests it shouldn’t.

Do they even sell those outside of first world countries? It’s a ridiculous barrier to entry, and a community like fcc should not be promoting dependency on overpriced equipment. If this is the unavoidable reality of web development then maybe .NET isn’t all that bad, with all its faults Microsoft still isn’t restricting its OS to mediocre 1000+ dollar laptops with $100 dongles

How can Your post help for a person who has about 200$ for his laptop only?