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Our Top 100 Budget Buys: Affordable, Tested Tech That's Actually Worth It

Our experts review more than 1,500 technology products each year. Our mega-guide, updated monthly, scopes out the very best cost-conscious products across 15 key categories.

Our Top 100 Budget Buys: Affordable, Tested Tech That's Actually Worth It (Credit: Bob Al-Greene)

The dictionary defines "testy" as easily annoyed or bad-tempered. But maybe it should refer to our reviewers?

Testing technology products is our whole schtick, after all. We do it at least 1,500 times a year, striving for the unbiased, lab-based results that make us the independent guide to technology. And we love the latest $5,400 mobile workstation, $5,000 8K TV, or the loaded $7,999 Apple Mac Studio. Why shouldn't we? Car magazines review Ferraris, after all.

Most folks, however, don't drive them. And most of us don't buy cost-no-object technology, especially in an age of inflation and supply-chain shortages. That's why we're particularly pleased when we find products that deliver performance and value, elegance and affordability, plus features and frugality. Telling you about our favorite bargains is the best part of our job.

The PCMag Cheap 100 is our ongoing recommendation list of outstanding values in 100-odd product categories from hardware to software, from home entertainment and health to PCs and smartphones. Our editors scoured our vast field of reviews to assemble this mega-guide of picks. And we update it regularly, as a cut-to-the-chase supplement to our many bargain-conscious buying guides. (Examples of those, among many, include The Best Cheap Printers, The Best Cheap Robot Vacuums, and The Best Cheap Gaming Laptops.) We hope this timely, curated list helps you keep a little more money in your wallet.

You can check out a quick, list-style summary of our current picks below. Note: It's scrollable, and searchable via the field up top...

...and further down, we've got blow-by-blow details on each winner, with links to full reviews of them all.

Have a budget buy you love? Let us know in the comments. Value hunters, unite!


Cheap Laptops

Microsoft Surface Laptop Go 2 Image

Best Cheap General-Use Laptop

Microsoft Surface Laptop Go 2


If you want our favorite all-around bargain among budget laptops we've tested, the Microsoft Surface Laptop Go 2 tops the list. While its 11th Gen Intel processor isn't the latest, the laptop still pumps out peppy performance, with a colorful design in a quality build. A comfortable keyboard and a reasonable starting price seal the deal. Also, Microsoft with this generation has incorporated a swappable SSD and chassis parts for longevity. Though equipped with a not-quite-1080p display and a basic 720p HD webcam, it’s a budget laptop that’s more stylish and better-made than most of its low-cost rivals.

Acer Aspire 5 (2022, A515-57-56UV) Image

Best Cheap General-Use Laptop (Alternate Pick)

Acer Aspire 5 (2022, A515-57-56UV)


If our favorite budget pick is out of stock, or you want something a little different, we suggest our second-favorite budget laptop of the moment: the Acer Aspire 5 (model A515-57-56UV). With decent performance from a 12th Gen Intel CPU and more than 11 hours of battery life, it's excellent for daily use. Throw in a comfortable keyboard and touchpad, reasonable memory and storage capacities, and an affordable price, and it's the easy pick as the understudy to our favorite budget laptop.

Lenovo IdeaPad Flex 5i 14-Inch (2022) Image

Best Cheap 2-in-1 Convertible

Lenovo IdeaPad Flex 5i 14-Inch (2022)


Lenovo’s IdeaPad Flex 5i 14-inch is a well-built, low-cost convertible laptop with a snappy keyboard and a bright screen. It offers decent performance for its price and includes both HDMI and USB Type-C ports. While the battery life and display aren’t front-line strengths, it is a solid option for general office work, internet browsing, and webcam sessions. If you want a modestly priced, versatile, and fairly portable convertible, this is our current low-cost favorite.

Lenovo IdeaPad Windows Duet 5i Image

Best Cheap Tablet Detachable

Lenovo IdeaPad Windows Duet 5i


When it comes to affordable Windows 2-in-1 laptops, the top cheap detachable 2-in-1 is Lenovo’s IdeaPad Duet 5i. With the option to use it as a slim, sturdy tablet, or a capable laptop with an included keyboard cover, it's ideal for grab-and-go use, whether it's for productivity or entertainment. Highlights include a sharp, 2.5K resolution display with vivid color, a surprisingly snappy Intel Core i3-1215U processor, and a day's worth of battery life. The end result: better value than most competitors, and a perfect alternative to more expensive 2-in-1 laptops.

Acer Chromebook 514 (2022, Kompanio 828) Image

Best Cheap Chromebook

Acer Chromebook 514 (2022, Kompanio 828)


Acer's ARM-based version of its Chromebook 514 is the best cheap Chromebook on the market, thanks to a perfect balance among style, performance, and affordability. It stands out for its capable ARM Kompanio CPU that outperforms most budget Intel models, and powers you throughout the day with an 11-hour battery. The laptop's solid and elegant construction are protected by an included padded carrying sleeve, making it convenient for commuting or traveling, but the most attractive element is surely the price. If you want the best budget Chromebook right now, this is it.

Lenovo  Legion 5i Gen 7 Image

Best Cheap Gaming Laptop

Lenovo Legion 5i Gen 7


If you want a standout value for a gaming machine, there's no ignoring the Lenovo Legion 5i Gen 7. Though it comes in above the $1,000 mark most budget shoppers hold to (models start in the mid-$1,200s), this rig is worth the investment for the exceptional performance. ("Cheap" gaming laptops have become less cheap over the last couple of years.) The combination of an Intel Core i7-12700H CPU and an Nvidia GeForce RTX 3060 GPU isn't unusual for affordable gaming, but it performs more like an RTX 3070. Pair that better-than-expected graphics performance with a 165Hz, 1440p display and ample connectivity, and it becomes a slam dunk for gamers who want to stretch their dollar without giving up gaming capability.

Cheap Phones & Tablets

Nokia 6300 4G Image

Best Cheap Voice Phone

Nokia 6300 4G


Candy-bar phones forever! Nokia's $50 model 6300 works on all U.S. 4G networks and is an ideal replacement for an older 3G phone. Its quasi-smartphone operating system also supports Whatsapp, which unlocks better texting capabilities than most other basic phones.

Motorola Moto G Power Image

Best Cheap Android Phone

Motorola Moto G Power


The 2022 Moto G Power is a good no-frills phone that won’t break the bank, starting at $199.99. It handles basic tasks with ease, doesn’t have bloatware, can easily get you through a day between charges, and sports a display with a 90Hz refresh rate. We also like its solid performance, and reasonably good camera.

Apple iPhone SE (2022) Image

Best Cheap iPhone

Apple iPhone SE (2022)


Apple's 2022 iPhone SE keeps the crowd-pleasing small design and Touch ID fingerprint sensor of the previous model. It also now has 5G, which gives it better reception than its predecessors, especially as T-Mobile and Verizon expand their 5G networks. Of course, if you can find a 2020 model of the SE around, you can get similar app performance for even less money.

Amazon Fire HD 8 (2022 Release) Image

Best Cheap Android Tablet

Amazon Fire HD 8 (2022 Release)


The $100 Amazon Fire HD 8 is a simple media consumption slate that costs less than most other 8-inch tablets. It won't wow you, but it doesn't need to.

Apple iPad (2021) Image

Best Cheap iPad

Apple iPad (2021)


The base-model iPad, starting at $329, is all the tablet most people need. Its A13 Bionic processor runs the latest iPad OS apps speedily, and its wide-angle front-facing camera is perfect for Zoom calls. It even works with the first-generation Apple Pencil.

Cheap Desktops, PC Components & Upgrades

Acer Aspire TC-895-UA91 Image

Best Cheap Tower-Style Desktop

Acer Aspire TC-895-UA91


In the world of no-fuss, plug-and-go desktop PCs that won't break your wallet, it's hard to beat the various models in Acer’s Aspire mini tower series. We last tested the Aspire TC-895-UA91, and its Intel Core i3 performance is snappy enough considering its price and intended use. It’s a perfectly affordable fit for everyday home and light office tasks, and its design is attractively compact. Sure, you can find cheaper alternatives, but many are hit-and-miss when it comes to supporting features, while the Aspire has it all: You get onboard Wi-Fi and Bluetooth, a USB-C port and an SD card slot, and even an optical drive if you want to kick it with old-school discs.

Lenovo IdeaCentre AIO 3i Image

Best Cheap All-in-One Desktop

Lenovo IdeaCentre AIO 3i


Affordable all-in-one (AIO) desktops continue to be a shrinking portion of the PC market, and really good ones are hard to find. In our recent tests, we found the Lenovo IdeaCentre AIO 3i to be one of the sleekest-looking budget AIOs of recent memory. For the money, the IdeaCentre delivers in the screen department, backed up by decent speakers for an all-around enjoyable multimedia experience in the low-cost category. With reliable day-to-day productivity performance in our test model, the IdeaCentre AIO 3i gets enough right to top this small class.

AMD Ryzen 5 4500 Image

Best Cheap CPU

AMD Ryzen 5 4500


Yes, AMD’s current desktop-CPU line is the Ryzen 7000 series, and the Ryzen 5000 series, still viable, preceded it. But almost all of the new chips in both lines have been high-end and midrange offerings, so don't ignore this budget option. At a highly affordable $129.99 MSRP (and cheaper at street price if you bargain-hunt), the Ryzen 5 4500, released to PC builders and upgraders in 2022, is a hard-to-ignore AM4-socket option when it comes to budget CPUs—if you already own a decent video card.

Its price is sufficiently low that it competes directly with AMD’s Ryzen 3 and Intel’s Core i3 processors, both of them quad-core lines. The Ryzen 5 4500 features six CPU cores that enable it to handily outperform that competition in most tests. You’ll need to pony up considerably more for any faster Ryzen 5 or Core i5 alternatives. Simply put, if you’re on a tight budget and can carry over a video card (the chip lacks built-in graphics), you can’t go wrong with it for the bucks.

ADATA XPG Valor Air Image

Best Cheap PC Case



Below $100 is deep into budget territory for a full-size PC case, and the XPG Valor Air deserves a medal for meritorious conduct at its $59.99 price. This chassis provides plenty of flexibility for air cooling, includes four fans already installed, and flaunts an attractive glass side panel and a striking front-face design. Plus, it can take slightly oversize motherboards that edge out past the ATX spec. The build quality is light and not especially rugged-feeling, but this ace of a case will take it easy on your budget.

ASRock B760 Pro RS Image

Best Cheap Motherboard

ASRock B760 Pro RS


Like with most other components, motherboard prices have trickled upward in recent years. But budget options with solid features still do exist. ASRock’s B760 Pro RS is the best budget Intel motherboard that we’ve reviewed recently. Based on Intel’s B760 chipset, this board features support for Intel 12th Gen “Alder Lake” and 13th Gen “Raptor Lake” processors, as well as DDR5 memory. And it has a solid feature set for just $179.99 MSRP, or as low at this writing as $139.99 on sale.

You don’t give up too much for that price, either. The B760 Pro RS can’t overclock, lacks 20Gbps USB support, and doesn’t have a Wi-Fi controller (the last, nothing that a cheap USB Wi-Fi adapter can’t fix if you need it). It’ll get you in on the ground floor of Intel’s latest desktop chips, with their dual Performance and Efficient core designs, for a fine price, and you won’t feel under-served.

Crucial P3 Image

Best Cheap Internal SSD

Crucial P3


The Crucial P3 may seem to be just a PCI Express 3.0 drive adrift in a world of 4.0 models. But plenty of PCs out there simply need an inexpensive 3.0-compatible M.2 drive for a quick-and-dirty upgrade from a small SSD or (heaven forbid!) a hard drive. The P3 uses economical QLC memory, so it isn’t designed for your video-editing workstation or web server, but it’s a fine value for your average PC and a cheap drop-in drive if you have an extra slot on your desktop to let you expand, say, your Steam game library. Plus, it performs well enough to squeeze the reasonable max out of the PCI Express 3.0 bus. And a 4TB top-end capacity means you can go huge for under a dime a gigabyte, if you have the need for that much space.

AMD Radeon RX 6500 XT Image

Best "Cheap" (MSRP) Graphics Card

AMD Radeon RX 6500 XT


When we reviewed AMD’s Radeon RX 6500 XT, we found it a bit lackluster, with underwhelming benchmark results. In today's graphics-card world, though, actual street price looms over everything, and some RX 6500 XT cards have fallen below Nvidia's suggested MSRP of $199.99. (This Eagle card we tested was around $180 from some sellers at this writing.) Not only does this make many RX 6500 XT cards as much as a hundred dollars cheaper than the competing Nvidia GeForce RTX 3050, but it also makes it a far more attractive option in terms of how much performance you get for your buck.

Cheap PC Peripherals & Networking Gear

Acer SB220Q Image

Best Cheap Productivity Monitor

Acer SB220Q


For home-office workers strapped for both space and cash, the Acer SB220Q is a basic but highly cost-effective monitor, with a consistently under-$100 selling price among major retailers. Its 21.5-inch IPS screen has FHD (1080p) resolution, is reasonably bright at 240 nits, and has excellent sRGB color coverage. The SB220Q’s design has a touch of elegance, with an ultra-thin, nearly bezel-less black frame. The stand, affixed to a circular base, is sturdy, with ergonomics limited to tilt control. But ports are conveniently outward-facing in back, and inputs include HDMI and VGA. For the price, take two to boost your daily productivity.

ADATA Elite SE880 External SSD Image

Best Cheap External SSD

ADATA Elite SE880 External SSD


We’ve been fans of ADATA’s Elite SE SSDs for a while; they’re rugged and compact, and get you lots of gigs on the cheap. (What more to want from a basic external SSD?) The thing about the SE880 is that it has a hidden bonus—support for the uncommon USB 3.2 Gen 2x2 spec—that promises excellent, Thunderbolt-like transfer speeds, but you likely won’t be able to leverage it. (Reason why? Gen 2x2 ports are rare.) Still, even at ordinary speeds, the SE880 is a good value, coming in at 13 to 15 cents per gigabyte at list price, and likely cheaper from resellers. As long as 500GB or 1TB is enough space for your needs, it’s a fine, economical pick—it even includes discrete cables for USB Type-A and Type-C system-side hookups.

Brother MFC-J4335DW Image

Best Cheap Inkjet Printer (for Offices)

Brother MFC-J4335DW


The $159.99 Brother MFC-J4335DW offers paper handling suitable for a micro/home office or personal use and stands out for its speed and low cost per page (0.9 cent for monochrome pages, 4.7 cents for color ones). As a four-function all-in-one or multifunction printer, the MFC-J4335DW prints, copies, scans, and faxes. It offers a 150-sheet input tray, plus a single-sheet bypass feeder and has a 20-sheet ADF for copying or scanning multipage documents. It can connect to your computer via USB, Wi-Fi, or Wi-Fi Direct, and it prints from iOS and Android mobile devices using the Brother mobile app. (See more cheap printers.)

Epson Expression Home XP-5200 All-in-One Printer Image

Best Cheap Inkjet Printer (for Homes)

Epson Expression Home XP-5200 All-in-One Printer


This low-cost all-in-one inkjet model is suitable for both homes and home offices, so long as your emphasis is on the printing side of things, not scanning or copying multipage documents. (It has a flatbed scan surface, but no automatic document feeder.) You get impressive output quality for just a bit over $100, and the printer itself is compact for what it is. We’d opt for this model over some closely matched, similarly priced competitors if your print jobs tend to include some photos in the mix.

Pantum M7102DW Image

Best Cheap Laser Printer

Pantum M7102DW


Move over, Canon and HP! Pantum’s M7102DW mono laser all-in-one is compact enough to serve as a personal printer, but capable enough for a small office or workgroup, delivering fast output and solid text quality. It’s not a feature powerhouse, and you’ll want to reserve it for document printing, as opposed to graphics output.  But it’s competitively fast for its price range, and ideal if you want all the advantages of an AIO without paying a lot in cash or desk space.

Kodak Step Instant Mobile Photo Printer Image

Best Cheap Snapshot Printer

Kodak Step Instant Mobile Photo Printer


Kodak’s line of snapshot printers is a solid-value budget photo-printing option, and the Step Instant Mobile Photo Printer cranks out quick, high-quality snapshots using Zero Ink (Zink) paper, which uses crystals embedded in the surface to generate the image. Zink printers can't match the image quality of dye-sublimation models, but this Kodak is a small-format pocket photo printer that's easy to like primarily because of its extraordinary value, at just $70. Or, you can opt for a $120 starter bundle that includes a 20-pack of paper, a carrying case, a small photo album, markers, thousands of stickers for a host of occasions, and even an improvised clothesline for drying your creations. An optional battery lets you print on the go, too—it’s rated for up to 25 prints on a charge.

Monoprice Mini Delta V2 3D Printer Image

Best Cheap 3D Printer

Monoprice Mini Delta V2 3D Printer


The Monoprice Mini Delta V2 3D Printer costs a pittance for a full-size 3D printer (list price is $199.99, and we’ve seen it for less), yet it proved a cinch to set up and use—it requires no calibration and provided nearly misprint-free printing in our testing. The V2 uses the “delta 3D” printing architecture, which is quite different from the Cartesian architecture found in the vast majority of filament-based printers. It supports a variety of filament types, including PLA, ABS, and TPU. Its print size is small, and print quality is only average, but it's a great way for 3D printing newbies to dabble in the hobby on a budget. (See more cheap 3D printers.)

Epson Perfection V39

Best Cheap Photo Scanner

Epson Perfection V39


The Epson Perfection V39 has been on the market for a long time. This moderately priced ($99.99) flatbed scanner specializes in photographic prints; it outdoes the general-purpose scanners built into all-in-one printers when it comes to high-quality photo scanning. The V39 can also scan pages into searchable PDF and other formats, although its lack of a sheet feeder limits it to scanning short documents for non-photo work. One note: It can't handle film or negatives. (You'd need a pricier scanner for that.)

Vankyo Performance V700W Image

Best Cheap Home Projector

Vankyo Performance V700W


Vankyo's Performance V700W is a 1080p projector that’s designed for home entertainment. It delivers surprisingly robust audio and high brightness for its price class, plus good input lag for casual gaming. Plus, its use of a single LCD and a white-LED light source guarantees an image that’s free of rainbow artifacts, which will be a big deal for those users who are prone to seeing them. (Not everyone is.)

Kodak Luma 75 Portable Pocket Projector Image

Best Cheap Portable Projector

Kodak Luma 75 Portable Pocket Projector


The Kodak Luma 75, at around $180, is a tiny, finely crafted yet minimalist take-anywhere portable projector. Weighing just 5 ounces and measuring 0.8 by 3 by 3 inches, it easily slips into a coat pocket. Its native resolution is 640 by 480 pixels, though it can display 1080p input without introducing scaling artifacts. A built-in battery lets you project for 90 minutes between charges. This easily focused projector handles photo and video content well and can mirror PowerPoint presentations; its 1-watt speaker is adequate for a small room. Its rated 30 lumens of brightness limits your image size, but for such a tiny device it does a more than credible job.

Cherry Stream Wireless Keyboard Image

Best Cheap Keyboard

Cherry Stream Wireless Keyboard


The Stream Wireless is a branded, basic keyboard from Cherry. Now, Cherry is the most recognizable key-switch brand around when it comes to gaming and enthusiast productivity keyboards. But while the company's iconic mechanical key switches are second to none, how does Cherry's general-use, non-mechanical keyboards fare?

The answer: extremely well. The Stream Wireless works over a 2.4GHz connection protected by 128-bit AES encryption. Designed for everyday work and outfitted in sober style, it features a silent keystroke, and the comfortable SX scissor key switches deliver an immaculate typing feel. It may have limited support for macOS (keep it to Windows) and modest customization software, but it delivers the basics on an attractive low-profile platter that’ll run you just $50.

Microsoft Ocean Plastic Mouse Image

Best Cheap Mouse

Microsoft Ocean Plastic Mouse


The $24.99 Ocean Plastic Mouse represents Microsoft's continued sustainability effort. Made from 20% recycled ocean plastic and shipped in 100% recyclable packaging, this budget mouse delivers quality tracking for a mobile clicker and impressive battery life. The Ocean offers the basics, nothing more and nothing less, but it's easy to forgive its lack of extra features considering its attractive design and ease of use. That, and you can feel good knowing that you've made the earth a little bit greener—or should we say, bluer?

TP-Link Archer AX10 (AX1500) Wi-Fi 6 Router Image

Best Cheap Wi-Fi Router

TP-Link Archer AX10 (AX1500) Wi-Fi 6 Router


The Archer AX10 is a trifecta: For starters, it's about as inexpensive as Wi-Fi 6 routers get, with an MSRP of just $80 and often on sale for less. But the low price is only part of its appeal. Unlike other cheap routers, the AX10 actually delivers decent performance where you need it most, on the 5GHz band. And while you don't get the 160MHz channel bandwidth that's the hallmark of flagship routers, you do get almost everything else, from parental controls to easy web- or app-based setup.

Vilo Mesh Wi-Fi System Image

Best Cheap Wi-Fi Mesh System

Vilo Mesh Wi-Fi System


Yes, it's possible to cover your entire home in a blanket of Wi-Fi for less than $100. We know this because the Vilo Mesh Wi-Fi system can do it. This ensemble isn't the fastest mesh system on the market, but it significantly undercuts any other three-piece mesh network we've tested on price. The Vilo kit is sure to eliminate any dead spots a midsize house could have, and it's an unbeatable value as long as you're not looking to stream 4K video or download huge amounts of data. (See more budget routers and mesh systems.)

Asustor Drivestor 2 Image

Best Cheap NAS Drive

Asustor Drivestor 2


You might think there's no reason to splurge on a network-attached storage (NAS) device to build your own media collection, when you can get your favorite content from streaming services for a few bucks a month. You'd be right except for two things. First, not even remotely everything is available on streaming. Second, the Drivestor 2 is just $170, meaning even if it saves you just $10 a month in streaming costs it'll pay for itself in a year and a half.

And don't think you'll be missing out on cutting-edge features, either—it's not often you see multi-gig LAN ports or 4K video transcoding capabilities in this price category. Oh, and did we mention the maximum capacity of 36TB? Yes, like with most modern NAS units, you’ll have to supply your own hard drives. But good luck running out of things to watch. 

Cheap Cameras & Gear

Panasonic Lumix DMC-G7

Best Cheap Mirrorless Camera

Panasonic Lumix DMC-G7


You’re not going to find any ultra-affordable cameras these days, at least none worth buying—if that’s the type of camera you want, you’re better off with a smartphone. Swappable lens models are going strong, though, and there’s still value to be had in shopping for an older, but still available option, like the Panasonic Lumix DMC-G7. Its 16MP Micro Four Thirds sensor supports 4K video recording, is compatible with a wide array of lenses, and offers speedy 8fps burst capture. True, you miss out on some modern creature comforts—the sensor isn't stabilized—but it's hard to turn up your nose at the G7's current price of around $700 with a starter lens.


Best Cheap Full-Frame Camera

Canon EOS RP


With smartphone cameras as good as they are, there’s little reason for budding photographers to grab a compact. If you want to get started with a full-frame model, the same type of sensor format the pros use, we recommend starting with the Canon EOS RP. It’s the best way for beginners and price-sensitive shoppers to get started with a full-frame sensor, either for $999 as a body only or $1,299 with the RF 24-105mm STM kit lens. Additional lenses start at $199.99 if you want to expand your kit.

Canon RF 16mm F2.8 Image

Best Cheap Lens for Canon

Canon RF 16mm F2.8


Canon may have been initially slow to release affordable lenses for its EOS R mirrorless system, but it has done a good job playing catch-up. The $300 RF 16mm F2.8 is our favorite affordable lens for the EOS R. Its ultra-wide angle of view is perfect for interiors and landscapes, and it should be a hit with the vlogging crowd too.

Rokinon 35mm F2.8 AF Sony E

Best Cheap Lens for Sony

Rokinon 35mm F2.8 AF


Sony started with full-frame mirrorless cameras before anyone else, and as a result has the biggest library of lenses with robust support from third parties. The Rokinon 35mm F2.8 AF (also sold under the Samyang brand) is one of the low-cost superstars, available for around $200 in a favorite moderately wide focal length. What really wins us over are its featherweight build and sharp optics. 

Fujifilm Instax Mini 12 Image

Best Cheap Instant Camera

Fujifilm Instax Mini 12


Instant cameras are always a hit at parties, and a breath of fresh air from the smartphone photos that dominate our social feeds. The $80 Fujifilm Instax Mini 12 is the latest in a long-running series that prints glossy, high-quality instant photos on either color ($7.50 for a 10-shot pack) or black-and-white ($8.25 for a 10-shot pack) Instax film. It couldn’t be easier to use—there’s just one button and a nifty twisting lens collar for mode selection.

GoPro Hero8 Black

Best Cheap Action Cam

GoPro Hero8 Black


You can score the 2019 GoPro Hero8 Black for under $300. While there are cheaper action cams out there, none matches up with the video quality and sturdy build of this slightly older model, which includes excellent Hypersmooth digital stabilization for handheld recording, supports 4K60 and 1080p240 slow motion, and is waterproof without the need for an add-on case.

Cheap Smart Home Devices

Amazon Echo Dot With Clock (5th Gen, 2022 Release) Image

Best Cheap Smart Speaker

Amazon Echo Dot With Clock (5th Gen, 2022 Release)


The fifth-generation Amazon Echo Dot With Clock adds new visible information like song titles and weather conditions, making it an ever smarter speaker than the previous model for the same price.

Amazon Echo Show 5 (2nd Gen) Image

Best Cheap Smart Display

Amazon Echo Show 5 (2nd Gen)


Adding a screen to a smart speaker to make it a smart display lets you see more information and even watch videos on it. Of course, it can also make the device much pricier. The Amazon Echo Show 5 thankfully remains affordable at a starting price of $85, with sales often cutting it to as little as $55. It can do everything an Echo Dot can, plus it lets you watch movies on Amazon Prime Video and Netflix, check your Ring doorbell and home security cameras, and make video calls with friends. It works well as a bedside clock radio, too.

Wyze Bulb Color Image

Best Cheap Smart Light Bulb

Wyze Bulb Color


The Wyze Bulb Color is a refreshingly affordable smart light bulb you can control with your phone and voice. At $39.99 for a four-pack, it's a small investment that delivers a big impact, with the ability to display 16 million colors. It also supports device-triggered automations, schedules, sleep routines, and more.

Wyze Robot Vacuum Image

Best Cheap Robot Vacuum

Wyze Robot Vacuum


If you're looking for an affordable robot to clean your floors, the aptly named Wyze Robot Vacuum offers a lot to like for a reasonable $249.99, including 2,100Pa of suction power and a laser sensor for mapping your home (a feature typically reserved for more expensive models). It works quickly and methodically, effectively collecting debris and pet hair from hard floors and carpet. You can use an app to direct the vacuum to clean certain rooms and create virtual walls to cordon off areas you want it to avoid, making it one of the smartest robot vacuums in its price range.

Wyze Plug Image

Best Cheap Smart Plug

Wyze Plug


At $15 for a pack of two, the Wyze Plug is easily the most affordable smart plug we've tested, but that doesn't mean it skimps on features. With this little device, you can turn anything that plugs into a wall outlet into a connected gadget you can control from your phone. It has a built-in Wi-Fi radio, supports Alexa and Google voice commands, and works with other Wyze products and loads of third-party smart devices using the IFTTT protocol.

Wyze Cam V3 Pro Image

Best Cheap Home Security Camera

Wyze Cam V3 Pro


Improving your home security doesn't have to break the bank. The Wyze Cam V3 Pro is the latest model in the company's line of affordable security cameras. For the low price of $50, you get sharp 2K video, flexible storage options, a built-in spotlight and siren, intelligent alerts, and motion tracking. Aside from Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant voice support, it also works with IFTTT, which enables lots of third-party device interoperability. It's simply an exceptional value if you need to monitor the inside or outside of your home.

Wyze Video Doorbell Pro Image

Best Cheap Video Doorbell

Wyze Video Doorbell Pro


When we reviewed the standard Wyze Video Doorbell, we gave it high marks for its affordable price, numerous integrations, and free cloud storage, but lamented the device's missing support for voice commands, wired setup, and subscription-locked features. The Wyze Video Doorbell Pro hits those same high marks and introduces improvements such as a wireless design, a higher-resolution camera, and support for Alexa and Google Assistant voice control. You still have to pay a small fee for intelligent alerts, but that's not enough to prevent the Wyze Video Doorbell Pro from being our top pick for affordable smart doorbells.

Cheap TVs & Media Streamers

Hisense 65U6H Image

Best Cheap TV

Hisense 65U6H


The Hisense U6H proves that you can get superb panel performance while still spending relatively little money. This budget-priced TV features incredible color, covering almost the entire DCI-P3 digital cinema color space with strong accuracy out of the box. It also has the feature-filled Google TV smart TV platform with hands-free Google Assistant, and both Google Cast and Apple AirPlay for streaming from your Android or iOS device. It makes some concessions in contrast, but considering the 65-inch model is list-priced at $900 and we've seen it available for far less than that, that's a small trade-off for an excellent value.

Chromecast With Google TV Image

Best Cheap Media Streamer

Chromecast With Google TV


The Chromecast With Google TV finally adds a remote and on-screen interface with a new and simple menu system to the popular media streamer.

Roku Streambar Image

Best Cheap Soundbar

Roku Streambar


The Roku Streambar isn't the biggest or most powerful soundbar, but it's one of the most affordable, at $130 (and often on sale for $100). The Streambar almost certainly offers better, louder sound than your TV's speaker, and its built-in Roku interface supports most major streaming services and even Apple AirPlay 2 in a compact size that's easy to fit into just about any home theater setup.

Cheap Health & Fitness Gear

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Best Cheap Smart Bathroom Scale

Wyze Scale


For a couple of bucks more than a generic, non-connected bathroom scale, the $20 Wyze Scale offers unbeatable value, with the ability to read a lot more than just your weight. It measures 12 metrics including your body mass index, body fat percentage, body water percentage, heart rate, muscle mass, protein level, and weight (up to 400 pounds), then syncs your data to the Wyze app via Bluetooth so you can monitor your stats over time. It automatically recognizes up to eight users and even offers a mode for those who are pregnant or wearing a pacemaker, an extra typically found only on more expensive models.

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Best Cheap Fitness Tracker

Amazon Halo View


If you need some motivation to get active, but don't want to spend big bucks on a fitness tracker you're not sure you'll stick with, consider Amazon's $79.99 Halo View. The Halo View measures your activity, blood oxygen saturation (SpO2), heart rate, sleep, and skin temperature, while its companion app offers tons of features to help you improve your results, including a library of workout videos, audio meditations, and healthy recipes. 

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Best Cheap Fitness Machine

Peloton Guide


Smart fitness machines can easily run you $1,000 or more. The Peloton Guide, by contrast, is a relatively affordable camera that connects to your TV and lets you see yourself on the screen, alongside the instructor, so you can check your form in real time. The Guide uses computer vision to track your strength training movements, gives you credit for staying active throughout each set, and gamifies the experience by awarding achievement badges based on your performance. It also keeps track of your workouts and offers personalized class recommendations to help you hit all of your major muscle groups each week.

Cheap Headphones & Audio

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Best Cheap True Wireless Earphones

Monoprice Horizon ANC


Monoprice’s Horizon ANC earphones offer a rich, detailed audio signature and surprisingly competent active noise cancellation (ANC) for just $60. On top of that, they work with both the AAC and AptX Adaptive codecs, a rarity in this segment. Decent battery life and a slightly-better-than average IPX5 rating are also highlights, though they would benefit from more reliable controls and a companion app. Still, if you want good sound and the most possible features for the least amount of money, you can’t go wrong with these earbuds.

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Best Cheap Headphones for Kids

Puro Sound Labs JuniorJams


The Puro Sound Labs JuniorJams hit a number of sweet spots for kid-friendly headphones. Sonically, they feature a volume-limited wireless experience that still delivers solid bass depth, so that their relatively low volume doesn’t feel like a punishment to your child. There’s also a cable included for wired listening, and it too limits volume levels. At $69.99, the price is slightly high for this category, but the JuniorJams offer the best value for the price.

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Best Cheap Speaker

Anker Soundcore Mini 3


The $40 Anker Soundcore Mini 3 offers solid audio in a tiny, waterproof package. It sounds far better than its size should allow (even if it doesn't pump out much bass), and it pairs with an app that provides access to an adjustable EQ. The Soundcore Mini also has built-in microphones, so you can use it as a speakerphone.

Cheap Gaming Gear & Games

Nintendo Switch Lite-01

Best Cheap Console

Nintendo Switch Lite


Five years in, the Nintendo Switch remains an amazing game system that features excellent exclusives and a massive library of classic and indie games. The Switch Lite is the handheld-only version of the system that removes the dockable option and cuts the price by a third, to just $199.99. It's an ideal device for playing games on the go, or even just kicking back on the couch.

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Best Cheap Gaming Keyboard

IOGear Kaliber Gaming Hver Stealth Keyboard


Budget-priced mechanical gaming keyboards are hard to come by and often aren't worth your time, but IOGear scraped together a solid mechanical model with some snap. The Kaliber Gaming Hver Stealth may lack some of the features found on higher-priced keyboards, but its key switches, a crossbreed type that falls somewhere between linear and tactile switch designs, deliver a sensitive key press that’s ideal for first-person shooters and similar twitchy titles. And given that the Hver is just $50, you’d be hard-pressed to find a better deal on some seriously solid gear.

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Best Cheap Gaming Mouse

HyperX Pulsefire Haste Gaming Mouse


Our reigning esports champ also happens to be one of the best gaming mice out now—and one of the cheapest, too. The Haste is extremely lightweight, with a terrific sensor for the price that guarantees precision when playing fast-paced action games. The honeycomb chassis is easy on the eyes and keeps the design simple, with just two additional buttons and one profile available for onboard storage. But that hardly detracts from the awesome value on offer here, more than enough mouse to satisfy both experienced gamers and newcomers alike.

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Best Cheap Gaming Monitor

NZXT Canvas 32Q Curved


Curved monitors are an excellent way to immerse yourself in whatever you’re watching or whatever you’re playing, and today, the barrier of entry has never been lower. Enter the NZXT Canvas 32Q Curved Gaming Monitor, the first monitor release from boutique PC vendor NZXT. The curved monitor impressed us with its bold, clean design, good color range, and low input lag. It straddles the line of affordability, coming in at $339.99 with a stand and $289.99 without. This affordable curved panel does mandate some concessions, such as built-in speakers and tolerating a shaky HDR implementation. But the 165Hz refresh rate and wide, swooping panel makes up for it. If you’re looking to save some cash while maintaining high-frame-rate performance, the Canvas 32Q Curved Gaming Monitor is a worthy choice.

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Best Cheap Gaming Headset

Razer Barracuda X


The Razer Barracuda X offers wireless game audio for the PC, Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 4 and 5, and even many Android phones with its USB-C transmitter (plus wired connectivity for everything with a headphone jack). It feels and sounds good, with a clear microphone for voice chat, recording, and streaming. It's a lot of gaming headset for $99.99, and we've seen it on sale for way less.

Razer Enki X Image

Best Cheap Gaming Chair

Razer Enki X


Now, cheap is relative here. We've seen cheaper chairs than the $299.99 Razer Enki X, but none built well enough for us to recommend. The Enki X feels like a premium gaming chair, with an attractive design and good materials such as diamond-quilted faux leather. The chair is as comfortable as more expensive seats, and its back reclines—a nice touch. On the negative side, it sacrifices a full-chair tilt mechanism to hit its wallet-friendly price. But it's still a commendable value.

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Best Cheap Action Game

Trek to Yomi


Developers Flying Wild Hog and Leonard Menchiari blend Japanese history, mysticism, black-and-white visuals, and fantastic sound design to create a highly cinematic game that pays homage to classic samurai films from the 1950s and 1960s. However, Trek to Yomi's simple, satisfying sword-based combat is what drives you through its five-hour runtime. This $9.99 indie game isn't particularly difficult or complex, but it’s hard not to recommend this stylish budget title to anyone looking for a short, fulfilling actioner. (See our roundup of favorite PC games.)

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Best Cheap Action RPG Game

Vampire Survivors (for PC)


Vampire Survivor has all the hallmarks of a cheap Steam shovelware title that's worth no one's attention outside of YouTube mockery. However, this survival game's $3 price, early-access status, and suspiciously familiar sprites hide an amazingly addictive retro-shooter that's similar to Robotron. It's filled with surprising strategic depth and lots of unlockables, plus it receives regular updates that add more characters and weapons.

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Best Cheap Sports Game

Windjammers 2


Imagine a fast and frantic one-on-one sports game that features potent special moves, unique playable athletes, and tight defensive options. Now imagine said sports game as a weirdly addicting cross between Pong, flying disc, and volleyball. That's Windjammers 2. The $19.99 sequel to the classic Neo Geo arcade sports title has all of the original game's intense action, plus new mechanics and near-flawless rollback netcode. If you're tired of Madden NFL's stale annual releases, give this thrilling alternative a try.

Yakuza 0 Disco Dancing

Best Cheap Beat-'Em-Up Game

Yakuza 0


Witness the origins of the Kazuma Kiryu, the Dragon of Dojima, with Yakuza 0 ($19.99). Come for the thrilling, melee-brawling action, but stay for the engrossing story, hilariously quirky side characters, and wacky mini-games. There are mundane activities to explore, such as buying Japanese snacks from convenience stores or hitting up the batting range. Conversely, the more involved side quests see you recruit real estate agents or manage a cabaret club for massive profits. Yakuza is a story about beating up gangsters, but it's also a hyperbolic slice of Japanese life.

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Best First-Person Shooter

Postal: Brain Damaged (for PC)


Retro first-person shooters (aka “boomer shooters”) are all the rage right now, but perhaps the most surprising to emerge from the heap of '90s and '00s nostalgia is none other than Postal, the infamous shooter that brought ultra-violence and some serious off-color attitude to the masses. While the first game didn’t set the world on fire, its sequel, Postal 2, shocked the gaming world, earning ire from critics and a cult following. Postal: Brain Damaged, while being a spin-off of the main series, shies away from the controversies of previous games and ends up being a surprisingly great callback to old-school FPS, complete with the trappings of just about every classic game from the era—along with, for better or worse, Postal’s trademark lowbrow humor.

Cheap Antivirus & Security

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Best Cheap Antivirus

K7 Antivirus Premium


Antivirus protection is a must in this modern world of ransomware, data-stealing Trojans, and collateral damage from cyber attacks. Dozens of companies vie for your dollars, most asking roughly $40 per year to protect one PC. K7 Antivirus Premium bucks that trend, listing for $15 per year and currently discounted to $9. It gets good scores from the independent testing labs that have examined it. Offering firewall protection, a vulnerability scan, and control over USB drive security, it goes well beyond the basics.

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Best Cheap Entry-Level Security Suite

K7 Total Security


When you graduate to a full security suite, you get much more than basic antivirus protection. In addition to the firewall, vulnerability scan, and other bonus features found in K7 Antivirus, K7 Total Security adds spam filtering, parental control, system tuneup, ransomware protection, and more. Listing for $27 per year, it costs considerably less than most competitors. Its features don't all perform on par with the best, but if its strengths match your needs, it can be a good choice.

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Best Cheap Top-Tier Security Suite

K7 Ultimate Security


Like the company's antivirus and entry-level security suite, K7 Ultimate Security costs a good bit less—in some cases a whole lot less—than competing products. Its usual price of $38 per year was discounted to $21 at this writing, while rivals cost anywhere from $60 to over $100. This security mega-suite is loaded with features and extends security protection to macOS, Android, and iOS as well as Windows devices. Besides enhancing the system tuneup and parental control components found in the entry-level suite, it adds a full local-only backup system.

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Best Cheap Antivirus (for 10 Licenses)

Sophos Home Premium


At $60 per year, Sophos Home Premium doesn't sound like a cheap antivirus solution—until you realize that that subscription lets you install and manage protection on up to 10 PCs or Macs. That brings the price per device down to $6, undercutting even K7 Antivirus Premium's discounted price. Only one of the testing labs we follow includes Sophos in its regular reports, but that lab awards it AAA certification. And the program earned an excellent score in our own hands-on malware protection test. Best of all, you can manage your installations remotely, even from your smartphone. No more driving across town to sort out an aging relative's antivirus woes.

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Best Cheap Security Suite (for 10 Licenses)

Avast Premium Security


When you purchase a security mega-suite, especially one that covers Windows, macOS, Android, and iOS devices, you're not looking for a single license. Rather, you want enough to protect all your gear. Avast Premium Security gives you 10 licenses for $89.99 per year, which is less than $10 per device. All the antivirus labs we follow consider Avast important enough to test, and it routinely earns perfect or near-perfect scores. It also performs well in our hands-on tests. On Windows, you get a full-fledged suite with antivirus, firewall, secure deletion, ransomware protection, and more. Avast also boasts a rich feature set on Android, though it doesn't do as much to protect your macOS and iOS devices.

Data443 Ransomware Recovery Manager Image

Best Cheap Ransomware Protection

Data443 Ransomware Recovery Manager


A movie director who doesn’t like how a scene is playing out can yell “Cut!” and roll back to the beginning. Likewise, if Data443 Ransomware Recovery Manager detects ransomware activity, it can roll back your system to before the attack. Every time you reboot, it restores your PC to a previous malware-free state, wiping out any changes except your own documents, pictures, and so on. The tool can’t claw back any data that malware has already exfiltrated from your system—it only reverts your PC, not the outside world. In testing, it detected and disabled all our real-world ransomware samples, though its file recovery wasn’t always perfect.

Cheap VPNs & Streaming Services

IVPN Image

Best Cheap VPN for Flexible Pricing



With a VPN, your ISP can't see what you're up to online, and it's harder to track your movements across the web. IVPN is one of two VPNs we know that use a special account system that builds in privacy while doing away with cumbersome passwords. If you want to use it truly anonymously, you can pay for it in cash by sending your dollars to IVPN's headquarters. 

It also has incredibly flexible pricing: Standard plans start at $2 per week and top out at $140 every three years, with numerous levels in between. The IVPN Pro tier, which adds port-forwarding and multi-hop connections, is more expensive but still very affordable, starting at $4 weekly and going up to $220 for three years.

Per Month, Starts at $6.00
IVPN Review
Mullvad VPN Image

Best Cheap VPN for Privacy Hawks

Mullvad VPN


All VPNs do essentially the same thing: They encrypt your web traffic so your ISP can't see what you're up to, and they make it harder for snoops to track you as you move around the web. Mullvad(Opens in a new window) is no different. It uses a privacy-protecting account system and accepts cash deliveries if you don't want to use an online payment method. Mullvad also takes a strong stance on privacy and transparency. This VPN service stands apart with its flat, cheap pricing: Five euros per month ($5.48 USD at this writing) gets you access to all the service's features, including multi-hop connections. It's close to half the price of what most competitors charge while offering most, if not all, of the same functionality.

Per Month, Starts at €5.00
Mullvad VPN Review
Peacock Image

Best Cheap Video Streaming Service



With Peacock, you can watch a Bel Air reboot featuring a sinister Carlton reimagining that must be seen to be believed. Or you can just rewatch The Office. NBC's video streaming service ditched its previously excellent free tier, but now has one of the best low-cost tiers we've tested. The $4.99-per-month Premium plan lets you watch many entertaining, ad-supported TV shows and movies. Upgrading to the $9.99-per-month Premium Plus tier kicks the ads to the curb.

Cheap Content Creation Software & Services

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Best Cheap Video Editing Software

Movavi Video Editor Plus


You'll get a surprising number of impressive video effects in a clear, easy-to-understand interface for a very reasonable $59.95 one-time price with Movavi. That's saying a lot in today's world of subscription-based media-creation software. With Movavi, you can perform chroma-keying, change the speed, easily add a wide selection of transitions, and even track an object's motion in your video to add effects, text, or stickers. The package also includes one of the better Instant Movie features we've tested. It's not the fastest at rendering video projects, but it's far from the slowest video editor, and it's an unbeatable bargain.

Skylum Luminar

Best Cheap Photo Editing Software

Skylum Luminar Neo


You could pay Adobe $10 a month for the rest of your life for Lightroom or Photoshop, or you could get this slick $79 software from Ukraine-based developer Skylum as an inexpensive one-time purchase. Skylum Luminar does all the photo editing stuff you expect from today's top-end software, and it adds a few special and unique AI-based features. As the company name suggests, it's fantastic for improving the look of the sky in your pictures, but it also offers content-aware editing such as automagically removing power lines from city shots.

Cockos Reaper

Best Cheap Audio Editing Software

Cockos Reaper


Digital audio workstations (DAWs), which let you record, edit, mix, and master music, tend to cost hundreds of dollars. And although Apple's GarageBand is free, it works only on Macs, and it lacks a proper mixing board (among other things). Enter Cockos Reaper, a full-blown, cross-platform DAW with multichannel recording, mixing, music notation, scoring for video, plenty of customization options, and other facilities normally associated with software that costs much more than its paltry $60. For that price, Reaper offers nearly all of the features and flexibility, if not the ease of use or visual appeal, of powerhouse digital audio workstations like Avid Pro Tools and Apple Logic Pro X.

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Best Cheap Graphic Design Software

Serif Affinity Designer


The $54.99 Affinity Designer from Serif costs just a little more than you'd pay for a single month's use of Adobe's Creative Cloud suite. Sure, it's not the industry standard that Illustrator is, but it's a full-featured vector image editor with a familiar-feeling interface that's snappy to use. You do lose some pattern-making ability, and you don't get perfect compatibility with non-Serif software document formats. But for basic and intermediate use, you’ll find a tremendous amount of value here among graphic design packages.

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Best Cheap Screenwriting Software

Fade In


If you write movie and TV scripts, you need a writing app that can help you appropriately format your work. The screenwriter's fave Final Draft is the one you'll hear mentioned most often, but Fade In's $79.95 is a lot more palatable than that app's $249 (even if Final Draft is often discounted to around $200). Despite its bargain price, Fade In is a competitive screenwriting package that helps scriptwriters work efficiently and in an organized fashion. It helps you keep track of all the details of your scripts, such as locations, character names, and scene numbers. Fade In is available for macOS, Windows, and Linux, and you can use the same license to install the software on as many personal desktops as you own. Once you pay for the software, you get free upgrades to any new versions. And you can add the mobile apps for just $4.99.

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Best Cheap Cloud Storage



IDrive is one of the fastest and most full-featured online backup players around. It's also among the cheapest. Clear interfaces in the IDrive apps for all major platforms let you store, sync, and share cloud files easily. You also get a significantly higher storage quota than any major competitor, with plans starting at 5TB for under $80 per year (and that's frequently discounted). IDrive also offers full disk-cloning software and remote web-based backup management.

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Best Cheap Web Hosting

AccuWeb Hosting


You don’t needn't spend a lot of money to get high-quality web hosting. AccuWeb Hosting offers thriftier clients a fantastic selection of low-cost hosting options, particularly its shared and WordPress plans. The longer you commit to a plan (12, 24, or 36 months), the cheaper the rate. You can even select plans for the Linux or Windows operating systems, which is a great option depending on your project.

So Cheap, It's Free! (Games)

Brawlhalla Image

Best Free Fighting Game



Brawlhalla proves that Super Smash Bros. doesn't have a monopoly on fun and frantic platformer fighters. You choose from a cast of colorful characters and try to smack them off the stage using your fists or wacky weapons—as they do the same to you. As a free-to-play game, Brawlhalla tempts you to spend real money to quickly unlock everything, but it costs nothing to start throwing some hands, unlike Super Smash Bros. Ultimate.

Counter-Strike: Global Offensive

Best Free Shooter

Counter-Strike: Global Offensive (for PC)


Counter-Strike began as a humble Half-Life mod, but has become a foundational text for tactical, multiplayer shooters. Since 2012, Counter-Strike: Global Offensive has continued the legacy as one of Valve's most vibrant team esports titles. Other shooters come and go, but Counter-Strike's finely tuned counter-terrorism firefights are forever—and free!

League of Legends (for PC)

Best Free MOBA

League of Legends


The free League of Legends combines role-playing stat progression, tower defense, and real-time strategy to produce one of the most revered games in the genre. Every playable champion is rich and varied, and new ones get added regularly to shake up the meta. To top it off, the League's competitive ranking system is perfectly designed to fire up your tier-climbing addiction.

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Best Free MMO

Lost Ark


Featuring fantastic combat, great visuals, and expansive endgame content, Lost Ark will fuel your loot-grinding obsession for months to come. The game launched in other regions in 2019, so the Western release comes with two years' worth of polish, content updates, and balance adjustments. The game uses a top-down, Diablo-esque camera perspective that's different from other MMO titles, but once you get used to the look, there's no shortage of brawl-heavy gameplay. And it's free, unlike the $9.99 Black Desert Online.

Marvel Snap Image

Best Free Card Battle

Marvel Snap


A free mobile multiplayer card game based on Marvel superheroes sounds like something most serious gamers can safely ignore. However, the designers behind Hearthstone turned Marvel Snap into a deckbuilding masterpiece thanks to sublime strategy mechanics. Once you annihilate your opponent with Hulk or ruin their day with Hobgoblin, you’ll be ready to dive into another matchup. You can battle for free and unlock cards at a steady clip, too. Of course, you can turbocharge the experience by purchasing a battle pass that lets you quickly receive cards and bonus goodies.

So Cheap, It's Free! (Software & Services)

Proton VPN Image

Best Free VPN

Proton VPN


We love Proton VPN so much that it made this list twice. Not only is it our top pick for best cheap VPN for everyone, it's also the best free VPN you'll find. Flexible pricing and low overall cost make it a great choice for cash-strapped shoppers. Proton VPN also boasts a great set of privacy tools, including multi-hop connections and access to Tor via VPN. Its free subscription tier is really impressive: While you can only access 75 servers across three countries and connect just one device at a time, unlike most free VPNs, Proton VPN places no limit on how much data you can use. That alone is worth the price of admission (which is zero).

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Best Free Antivirus

Avast One Essential


For many years, Avast has been a mainstay of free antivirus protection. With Avast One Essential, you get Avast's powerful antivirus protection along with some elements of the Avast One security suite. All of the testing labs we follow test Avast, and it regularly posts perfect or near-perfect scores. This free tool extends protection to macOS, Android, and iOS devices, though not at the same level as its Windows protection. It earns excellent scores in our own hands-on tests, and its features include ransomware protection, a simple firewall, and a bandwidth-limited VPN. 

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Best Free Email Encryption



Sending a message using traditional email is about as private as sending a postcard or thumb-tacking it to a community bulletin board. Even when your email travels over HTTPS channels, it's still exposed to the email provider. With PreVeil, you get full-scale, business-grade email encryption at a cost of exactly zero. You don't have to spin up a new email address, and the service integrates automatically with Apple Mail, Gmail, and Outlook. Forgot your all-important encryption password? A unique and sophisticated key recovery system lets you get it back with a little help from your friends.

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Best Free Password Manager

Bitwarden Free


Bitwarden is an open-source password manager with a generous free tier and inexpensive premium plans. Under the free personal plan, you can store an unlimited number of passwords and sync them across all your devices. Bitwarden offers native apps for Windows (including a Microsoft Store app), macOS, Linux, Android, and iOS. Bitwarden's browser extension supports Chrome, Edge, Firefox, Opera, and Safari, as well as the less common Vivaldi, Brave, and Tor browsers. The free version also lets you enable multi-factor authentication via an authenticator app.

Bitwarden Review

Best Free Audio Editing Software



It's hard to beat free, and if you're looking to start a podcast or record music, or just need a tool to assemble and convert some audio samples, Audacity is your program. Now owned by Muse Group, this venerable software started life as an open-source, two-channel stereo editor, but it has grown and expanded to include multitrack recording, many effects, and spectral and spectrogram views for sample-level editing. Despite unlimited undos and redos and a new clip editor, Audacity is destructive at heart, with no support for VSTs or other real-time plug-ins. But if you're careful with your edits, Audacity will get you where you need to go with no money down—or ever, in fact.

GNU Image Manipulation Program (GIMP) Image

Best Free Photo Editing Software

GNU Image Manipulation Program (GIMP)


When you need Photoshop but you don't have Photoshop, you turn to GIMP. GNU Image Manipulation Program (GIMP) is the longtime open-source photo editing alternative to Adobe Photoshop. It's not nearly as slick or powerful as Photoshop, but it's free. GIMP includes many of the same tools, features, and functionality as Photoshop, like layers, plug-ins, painting, text, filters, selection, and masking. It's often slow and a little clunky, but if you need Photoshop but can't afford it, use GIMP.

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Best Free Online Learning Site for University Courses



Coursera is one of the best online learning sites, and it excels at giving you access to real courses from prestigious institutions such as Yale University, National University of Singapore, Sciences Po, Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México, and others—all at no cost. In other words, you can get all the lectures and reading materials from a real class at, say, Princeton University without paying a dime. Coursera partners with private companies, too, to offer free classes for personal enrichment. You can also pay for courses that result in a professional certificate or bachelor's or master's degree. If there's something you want to learn about, from arts and sciences to programming, but you don't have the funds, Coursera may make it possible.

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Best Free Online Learning Site for Academic Learning

Khan Academy


Where can you go to learn the basics of something from school you've since forgotten? For most academic subjects, the best place is Khan Academy. Khan Academy is a free online learning service with course material covering math, science, art history, and other subjects. The lessons contain videos, readings, and interactive components, which are sequenced so you can start from square one with any subject and slowly build your knowledge. The site focuses on kindergarten through early college courses, making it an ideal help source for students. Given what it offers and the fact that it's entirely free to use, Khan Academy is the best learning site for academic subjects.

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Best Free Language Learning Software



Duolingo(Opens in a new window) is one of the best apps for learning a language, and it just happens to be free. You're unlikely to become fluent using only Duolingo, but it's an excellent way to learn the ins and outs of a language that's new to you or to improve your grasp of a language you've studied before through practice and exposure. Because it offers close to 40 languages, there's a good chance it includes the one you want to learn. It's appropriate for adults and children alike, with mobile apps and a web app that works more like a short video game than what you might expect of a language app.

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Best Free To-Do List App



Considering that to-do list apps are a dime a dozen, it's downright shocking that so few of them are truly helpful, well designed, and affordable. Todoist, however, is all that. Whether you use the wonderful free version or pay to upgrade to an inexpensive Premium account, Todoist is clearly the best to-do list app on the market. It works on all your devices, tracks your productivity, and lets you geek out on organizing and analyzing your life. If you need an app to organize your tasks, either by yourself or in collaboration with others, you need Todoist.

Tinder logo

Best Free Dating App



A dating app like Tinder, which prioritizes fast hook-ups over drawn-out relationship analysis, needs to have as many users as possible. That's why it costs you nothing to sign up and instantly start swiping to let people know whether you find them hot or not. If you want to pay money for perks such as profile boosts and Super Likes, you can do that, too. Still, free Tinder promises plenty of potential romantic rewards, unlike eHarmony's no-cost tier.

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Best Free Website Builder

Wix Website Builder


Wix is an excellent website builder—and unlike many of its competitors such as Gator or Squarespace, you can use it for free. You won't get a custom domain, and you'll need to be okay with ads appearing on your site, but in return you'll enjoy powerful tools for building fantastic desktop and mobile sites. Besides, there's nothing stopping you from upgrading later on.

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Best Free Streaming Music



Spotify is king of the streaming music service hill. Sure, it faces steep competition from the feature-rich Apple Music, but Spotify's deep catalog, early-access albums, collaborative playlists, video, and renowned podcasts are second to none. Even better, Spotify offers ad-supported accounts with limited skips, which is something that Apple Music lacks once you exhaust that service's free 30-day trial.

Per Month, Starts at $9.99