Cheap Laptops Abound

By Martin Jansen, Owner of Jansen-PCINFO

In the face of chip shortages computer manufacturers are building cheap laptops with substandard components.  While the price seems reasonable, the memory and chipsets sold are not good or long lasting.   We will look at one model of laptop and point out it’s deficiencies, but all computer manufacturers are doing this to consumers.  Buyer beware.

Let’s take a look at an Asus 14 inch laptop model number Model L410MA-TB02.  The laptop ships with 4GB ram and 64GB of storage with a Celeron® N4020 Processor.  The operating system is Windows 10 S, which means that only Microsoft approved apps can run on the computer.  There is a one time option to upgrade to Windows 10 home if other software is desired.  The price for this computer is an appealing $250.

What is wrong with this laptop?  The specs on this computer are no better than a modern Chromebook.  Windows will run on this computer, but just barely.  While ChromeOS runs great on 4 GB, Windows 10 and 11 does much better on 8 GB and best on 16 to 32 of ram.

Windows will eat up a large portion of the 64GB eMMC drive in the computer.  Storage will be at a premium for files and applications.  Better to save files locally on a microSD card or in the cloud.

The processor is pretty weak, don’t expect to run any but the most light weight games.  The Celeron processor runs at 1.1 Ghz which will be quite sluggish when compared to an i3 processor.

This display is also unimpressive, appearing washed out compared to IPS screens.

Upgrade options are nil.  Memory and storage are soldered to the motherboard – don’t bother to open the case.

In short, this and other laptops of its kind are short term use computers that are limited to browsing the internet and word processing.  Don’t open too many tabs in the browser either or the system will lag.

Some of the other computers in this class are: Acer Aspire 1 A114-32-C1YA,  Dell Inspiron 15 3000 Laptop and HP Stream 11.6-inch HD Laptop (2021).

My recommendation is to buy none of these laptops for they will certainly disappoint over time.  If you want a cheap laptop, you are much better off getting a Chromebook.  The ChromeOS, a variant of Linux, runs very efficiently on 4 GB ram.

For $100 more a laptop with an i3 processor can be purchased with 128 GB storage, but it still has only 4 GB ram.  Pay an extra $50 to get 8 GB ram.  This Dell website demonstrates the components and prices.

Bottom line, if you want a new laptop that runs Windows decently, you will have to pay at least $400.  Otherwise buy a Chromebook.