The PCMag Cheap 100: Affordable, Tested Tech Actually Worth Buying

The PCMag Cheap 100: Affordable, Tested Tech Actually Worth Buying

(Illustration: 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 2,000 times a year, striving for the unbiased, lab-based results that make us the independent guide to technology. And we love the latest $5,750 mobile workstation, $3,000 OLED 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. And now we’re doing it in a nifty new way.

Presenting The PCMag Cheap 100: Our recommendations 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 will be updating it monthly, 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

Lenovo IdeaPad 3 14 Image

Best Cheap General-Use Laptop

If you want our favorite all-around bargain among budget laptops we’ve tested, the Lenovo IdeaPad 3 14 is a knockout, packed with just about everything you’d want in a low-cost notebook. For around $500, you get a sturdy little 14-inch machine with a very peppy AMD Ryzen 5 5500U CPU, 8GB of RAM, and 256GB of solid-state storage. Plus, Lenovo packs in a few premium touches: a fingerprint reader built into the power button, a display that minimizes eyestrain, and a privacy shutter for when you’re not using your webcam. Sure, you could opt for a more expensive ultraportable, like the OLED-screened Samsung Galaxy Book Pro 13, but if you’re strapped, you’ll get a lot of punch from this pick.

MSRP $519.00

MSI Modern 14 Image

Best Cheap General-Use Laptop (Our Alternate Pick)

Sometimes one or the other of our favorite inexpensive laptops is out of stock, so we opted to include an extra pick here in this key category. The budget runner-up MSI Modern 14 is another 14-inch lightweight that sells for just under $500. With sturdy aluminum construction, a good selection of ports, and enough battery life to get you through an eight-hour workday, it’s as capable as it is affordable. Its smaller 128GB SSD leaves it a little short on storage, but its combination of portability and performance is still one of the best in its class.

MSRP $449.99

Lenovo IdeaPad Flex 5i 14 (2021) Image

Best Cheap 2-in-1 Convertible

Lenovo IdeaPad Flex 5i 14 (2021)

If you need something more than a standard laptop, the convertible Lenovo IdeaPad Flex 5i 14 (2021) is the 2-in-1 for you. This midsize hybrid machine gives you a tablet and a laptop in one, thanks to Lenovo’s 360-degree hinge design, with just the right size for both comfortable typing and natural note-taking with the included stylus. Spending more money for something like the HP Spectre x360 14 may give you a better screen and sleeker design, but you’ll pay double for those improvements. For shoppers on a budget, there’s no beating the thrifty Flex 5i 14, especially in its under-$600 base models.

Base Configuration Price $559.99

Microsoft Surface Go 3 Image

Best Cheap Tablet Detachable

Microsoft has set the standard for Windows tablets, and the Microsoft Surface Go 3 proves that it’s still true for Windows 11, even on a budget. The low starting price ($399.99 for the base model) belies the slate’s overall quality, with deluxe touches like a bright 3:2-aspect-ratio display, support for Wi-Fi 6, and well-engineered accessories (though you must pay extra for the colorful Type Cover keyboard). If you just need a great tablet, the Apple iPad (2021) is arguably a better deal, but for a Windows-compatible laptop alternative, you can’t do better for the cost.

Base Configuration Price $399.99

Lenovo Chromebook Duet Image

Best Cheap Chromebook

Chromebooks have become a staple of classrooms and homes alike, and the Lenovo Chromebook Duet delivers the Chrome OS experience in a detachable 2-in-1 tablet that leaves most laptop models behind. The $299.99 Duet delivers a slick three-piece design that melds tablet, kickstand, and keyboard into one sleek package that offers Android apps as well as browser-based productivity, making it a well-rounded tablet for work and play. It’s a remarkable value, and the superb battery life doesn’t hurt either. (Expect a nifty sequel to it later this year, too, for around $399, and also consider its bigger, OLED-screened Duet 5 step-up model starting at $429.99.)

MSRP $299.99

MSI Katana GF66 Image

Best Cheap Gaming Laptop

While the baseline prices of gaming laptops have risen with supply-chain issues and soaring  component costs, MSI’s Katana GF66 stands out as a better deal than the rest. It starts at just $799, and the $1,199-in-store Micro Center model we reviewed offers Nvidia GeForce RTX 3060 graphics, an Intel Core i7 CPU, a 1TB solid-state drive, and a 144Hz refresh rate screen. It’s a plenty-capable 1080p gaming rig for the price of a unit with a slower GPU or skimpy storage space. Our test configuration may cost around $100 more from an online retailer, but it’s a terrific value from either source.

Base Configuration Price $799.00

Cheap Phones & Tablets

Nokia 6300 4G Image

Best Cheap Voice Phone

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.

MSRP $69.99

Motorola Moto G Pure Image

Best Cheap Android Phone

At around $159.99 MSRP, the Moto G Pure hits all the basics, with a large, bright display, good battery life, and solid app performance. It works on all the U.S. carriers, too. While it’s certainly a no-frills smartphone, it’s clear that Motorola focused on delivering the core features most people feel they need.

MSRP $159.99

Apple iPhone SE (2022) Image

Best Cheap iPhone

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.

MSRP $429.00

Walmart Onn-01

Best Cheap Android Tablet

Walmart’s under-$100 Android tablet has a big advantage over Amazon’s Fire tablet lineup in that it works out of the box with Google Play and gives you access to far more apps than you’ll find in the Amazon app store. For streaming, casual games, and basic web browsing, this affordable slate fits the bill perfectly. (See more budget tablets.)

MSRP $83.00

Apple iPad (2021) Image

Best Cheap iPad

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

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.

Price as Tested $429.99

Asus M241 Image

Best Cheap All-in-One Desktop

Affordable all-in-one desktops are a bit thin on the ground in today’s market; good ones, even more so. So believe us when we say the Asus M241 is one the best mixes of price, design, and performance out there today in its price range. Its gold-tone chassis and 24-inch screen are stylish yet compact, while offering HDMI-in and -out ports plus built-in speakers with good sound quality—far from a given with AIOs and monitors. Its AMD Ryzen 3 processor is more than peppy enough for everyday use, too. PC costs fluctuate, but this Asus was just $639 during our review and is still available for roughly that figure.

MSRP $639.00

Intel Pentium Gold G6400 Image

Best Cheap CPU

Since 2017, AMD’s Ryzen chips have revitalized the company’s prospects in the CPU market and spurred renewed competition with Intel. This has resulted in core counts shooting up alongside performance. That said, most of AMD’s top-value desktop chips require a graphics card to use, and new cards are scarce and expensive these days.

One of the best severely budget-friendly processors you can buy today with built-in graphics is Intel’s Pentium Gold G6400. Though it has just two CPU cores rather than being a quad-core or higher design, it offers surprising performance for just $64. Clocked at 4.0GHz with Hyper-Threading support, the Pentium Gold G6400 is essentially what a Core i3 chip would have been just a few generations ago. Its Intel UHD 610 integrated graphics are no option for gaming, but they negate the need to buy a graphics card for everyday use. For a basic, low-end PC build, it’s a solid budget CPU pick given that it’s tough to find AMD’s Ryzen chips with integrated graphics for anything near their MSRPs.

MSRP $64.00

Be Quiet Pure Base 500 (Built Front Diagonal)

Best Cheap PC Case

The Pure Base 500 may be plain-looking, with a somewhat industrial feel, but its steel gray exterior exudes sturdiness and quality of build. Its tempered-glass side panel will showcase your PC components as well as any RGB LEDs you place inside. The case’s minimalist exterior design follows through to the interior, with everything cleanly laid out to make building a system inside easy. With a little creativity, this $85-or-less case can help make your finished build look rather attractive, too.

MSRP $84.90

MSI MAG B550 Tomahawk Image

Best Cheap Motherboard

Like many PC components, desktop motherboards have been climbing in price in recent years, which is why our budget pick carries an MSRP of $179.99. That’s not dirt-cheap, but it gets you a feature-rich platform for late-model Ryzen chips (themselves fine values) at a relative bargain price. MSI’s MAG B550 Tomahawk is compatible with AMD Ryzen 3000, 4000, and 5000 series processors and has a PCI Express 4.0 x16 slot for modern graphics cards. The board also has a 2.5Gbps Ethernet port for connecting to the internet and two 10Gbps USB 3.2 Gen 2 ports for high-speed external devices.

MSRP $179.99

ADATA XPG Atom 50 Image

Best Cheap Internal SSD

Samsung makes great SSDs, but the budget battle in this market is often waged among makers such as ADATA, Crucial, and WD. The XPG Atom 50 is a PCI Express 4.0 NVMe internal solid-state drive that proved its mettle in our benchmark tests, acing several of our program- and game-loading tests and producing above-average results nearly across the board. It’s also easy on the wallet, with the 1TB model coming in at just 12 cents per gigabyte. Easily fitting into the tightest laptop M.2 slot (or Sony’s PlayStation 5 expansion slot), the Atom 50 even slightly exceeded its rated sequential read speed of 5,000Mbps in our testing. The ADATA drive’s AES 256-bit hardware-based encryption is the gold standard among consumer-oriented SSDs.

MSRP $119.99

Nvidia GeForce RTX 3050 Image

Best Cheap Graphics Card (on MSRP, at Least!)

While finding the words “cheap” and “graphics card” in the same sentence has been almost as impossible lately as finding a GPU you want actually in stock, we’ll give it our best shot by choosing Nvidia’s GeForce RTX 3050. When we reviewed EVGA’s version of the card earlier this year, we lauded it for its peppy performance in supply-constrained times. While the RTX 3050 is far from the fastest card in Nvidia’s 30 Series stack, it’s one of the first to provide a more reasonable uplift from the GeForce RTX 20 Series that tracks in line with the list price. If you can find one at MSRP (that is, around $250), it’s the best “budget” deal (we’ll use quotation marks in this case) available among discrete GPUs today. 

MSRP $249.00

Cheap PC Peripherals & Networking Gear

Dell SE2419HR Image

Best Cheap Productivity Monitor

Simple yet handsome, the Dell SE2419HR is a basic 24-inch monitor for business or home use. It makes some sacrifices in resolution, port selection, and ergonomics, and its color coverage in our testing wasn’t stellar, but it’s a solid workaday display that should appeal to either businesses or consumers on a tight budget in need of one or a bunch of basic panels. (Dell currently sells it for just $79.) This 1080p IPS panel has a good onscreen display (OSD) menu system, although its control buttons are on the small side. The SE2419HR’s video inputs are HDMI and VGA; the latter makes it a good match for venerable laptops and legacy fleet desktops that support only older display connections.

MSRP $149.99

Kingston XS2000 Portable SSD Image

Best Cheap External SSD/HDD

Kingston XS2000 Portable SSD

Geared to creative professionals, Kingston’s petite but powerful KS2000 external solid-state drive offers the speed of a USB 3.2 Gen 2×2 interface, a 20Gbps interface supported by some recent laptops. This tiny, silver-hued SSD gets points for durability thanks to a removable rubber sheath that provides some security against sand and rain (or even pressurized water jets). The KS2000 turned in solid results in our performance tests, and it sells for less than many comparable drives on a cost-per-gigabyte basis.

Starts at $99.99

Brother MFC-J4335DW Image

Best Cheap Inkjet Printer (for Offices)

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.)

MSRP $159.99

Epson Expression Home XP-4100 Small-in-One Printer Image

Best Cheap Inkjet Printer (for Homes)

Epson Expression Home XP-4100 Small-in-One Printer

The Epson Expression Home XP-4100 Small-in-One prints, copies, and scans, with good photo and text output quality, serving well its niche as a cheap-and-cheerful family and home-office multifunction printer. High points include an easy-to-use control panel and color display, as well as a trim footprint. While operating costs are a bit on the high side, the initial cost for the XP-4100 is low, and the whole package is well suited to light-printing homes that will keep output to under 100 or 150 pages a month.

MSRP $99.00

HP Neverstop Laser 1001nw Printer Image

Best Cheap Laser Printer

HP Neverstop Laser 1001nw Printer

The first entry-level, cartridge-free monochrome laser, HP’s Neverstop 1001nw prints for a fraction of the cost of its closest competitors, making it a terrific choice for producing up to a couple of thousand pages per month. This single-function printer is compact and lightweight. It’s the laser equivalent of a bulk-ink or tank-based inkjet—users refill the HP’s toner reservoir using a sort of giant toner syringe. Text output quality is superb, and the Neverstop’s running cost of 0.3 cent per page is remarkable for an entry-level laser.

MSRP $279.99

Kodak Mini 3 Retro (3x3) Portable Printer Image

Best Cheap Snapshot Printer

Kodak Mini 3 Retro (3×3) Portable Printer

The Kodak Mini 3 Retro’s sole mission is to churn out bordered or borderless 3-by-3-inch prints from your smartphone. (It works with both iPhones and Androids via Bluetooth.) The “retro” part of its name comes from the look of the bordered prints, which (like borderless ones) look terrific thanks to its superior-quality dye sublimation rather than Zink printing technology. Its onboard rechargeable battery juices up in about 90 minutes and lasts long enough for 25 prints. Although its base model’s sticker price is typical (we tested the upgrade kit, which comes with ink and paper for 68 prints, at a bit over $150 MSRP), its running cost of 30 cents per print is the lowest among snapshot printers we’ve tested.

MSRP $156.99

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.)

MSRP $199.99

Epson Perfection V39

Best Cheap Photo Scanner

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.)

MSRP $99.99

RFV Milano Image

Best Cheap Home Projector

The RFV Milano, which frequently can be found for a smidge above or below $100, is a bright spot amid a slew of cheap projectors you’ll find on Amazon from brands you’ve probably never heard of. Its minimalist design leaves out a lot of features, but it delivers enough brightness to give you a highly watchable 50-inch image in dim lighting—making it ideal for a backyard movie night—and adds surprisingly robust audio for such a small projector. It supports wired screen mirroring of phones or tablets. This 720p projector has an HDMI port, a USB Type-A port for flash drives (but not for streaming sticks), and an AV port for its included AV adapter, which adds composite video along with left and right stereo inputs.

MSRP $119.99

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.

MSRP $189.99

Microsoft Ergonomic Keyboard Image

Best Cheap Keyboard

Microsoft Ergonomic Keyboard

Whether you’re working from home or commuting to an office, long hours on a keyboard are sure to put stress on your wrists. That’s where the Microsoft Ergonomic Keyboard comes in. This full-size keyboard ($59.99 list price, but available at times for under $50) sports a classy design meant to provide maximum support for your hands. Combine that with a comfortable wrist rest, tons of shortcuts, and easy-on-the-fingers rubber-dome key switches, and you’ve got just about everything you’d want in a low-end keyboard. It doesn’t pretend to be ideal for gaming, but for general applications the Ergonomic Keyboard is a clear winner.

MSRP $59.99

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?

MSRP $24.99

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.

MSRP $79.99

Vilo Mesh Wi-Fi System Image

Best Cheap Wi-Fi Mesh System

Yes, it’s possible to cover your entire home in a blanket of Wi-Fi for less than $60. 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 at $20 per node it significantly undercuts any other three-piece mesh network we’ve tested. 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.)

MSRP $59.99

Asustor Drivestor 2 Image

Best Cheap NAS Drive

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. 

MSRP $169.99

Cheap Cameras & Gear

Panasonic Lumix DMC-G7

Best Cheap Mirrorless Camera

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.

MSRP $799.99


Best Cheap Full-Frame Camera

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.

MSRP $1,299.00

Canon RF 16mm F2.8 Image

Best Cheap Lens for Canon

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.

MSRP $299.99

Rokinon 35mm F2.8 AF Sony E

Best Cheap Lens for Sony

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. 

MSRP $399.00

Fujifilm Instax Mini 11 Image

Best Cheap Instant Camera

Instant cameras are always a hit at parties, and a breath of fresh air from the smartphone photos that dominate our social feeds. The $70 Fujifilm Instax Mini 11 is the latest in a long-running series. It prints glossy instant photos on real film, and it couldn’t be easier to use—there’s just one button. You still have to buy film, though—budget around $6.50 for a 10-shot pack.

MSRP $69.95

GoPro Hero8 Black

Best Cheap Action Cam

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

MSRP $399.00

Cheap Smart Home Devices

Amazon Echo Dot (4th Gen) Image

Best Cheap Smart Speaker

Amazon Echo Dot (4th Gen)

If you want the music-playing, question-answering, and smart-home-controlling convenience of a voice assistant without spending a fortune, the $50 Amazon Echo Dot is an ideal choice. It lets you use Amazon’s famous Alexa voice assistant, which enables hands-free control and playback for Amazon Music, Apple Music, SiriusXM, and Spotify, and it supports all major smart home devices such as lights, locks, and plugs. (See more smart speakers.)

MSRP $49.99

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.

MSRP $84.99

Wyze Bulb Color Image

Best Cheap Smart Light Bulb

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.

Starts at $20.99

Wyze Robot Vacuum Image

Best Cheap 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.

MSRP $249.99

Wyze Plug Image

Best Cheap Smart 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.

MSRP $14.99

Wyze Cam V3 Image

Best Cheap Home Security Camera

Improving your home security doesn’t have to break the bank. The Wyze Cam V3 is the latest model in the company’s line of affordable home security cameras, and like its predecessors it offers a wealth of features for a low price (about $35). In addition to sharp 1080p video, free cloud storage, local storage, and compatibility with Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant voice commands, this new version adds support for IFTTT, color night vision, intelligent motion detection, a faster frame rate, and more. It’s an exceptional camera for monitoring the inside or outside of your home, and its affordability makes it easy to recommend.

MSRP $35.98

Ezviz DB1C Wi-Fi Video Doorbell Image

Best Cheap Video Doorbell

Ezviz DB1C Wi-Fi Video Doorbell

Any worthwhile video doorbell lets you see who’s at the door before you open it, but you usually have to pay a premium for extra features such as intelligent alerts, third-party integrations, and a high-resolution camera. That isn’t the case with the Ezviz DB1C, a smart doorbell that offers Ultra HD video, dual-band Wi-Fi, cloud and local video storage, voice controls, and plenty of third-party support for just $99.

MSRP $99.99

Cheap TVs & Media Streamers

Amazon Fire TV Omni Image

Best Cheap TV

You have to make some concessions when buying a cheap TV, such as contrast and color range, but you don’t have to compromise on connectivity or color accuracy. The Amazon Fire TV Omni doesn’t have the brightest screen we’ve seen, but its colors are well-balanced, and it offers loads of features, including hands-free Amazon Alexa. We reviewed the 43-inch version, but the 65-inch model is also a steal at $600 (and we’ve seen that one on sale for as low as $500).

MSRP $409.99

Amazon Fire TV Stick Lite Image

Best Cheap Media Streamer

Amazon Fire TV Stick Lite

If your TV doesn’t already offer streaming services or if you don’t like its interface, a separate media streamer is a good upgrade. Amazon’s Fire TV Stick Lite is one of the most affordable, at around $30 (sometimes on sale for $20), and it provides access to all major streaming services, plus Amazon Alexa through the microphone on its remote. It’s limited to 1080p output, however; you’ll have to pay $10 to $20 more for 4K streaming with the Fire TV Stick 4K.

MSRP $29.99

Roku Streambar Image

Best Cheap Soundbar

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.

MSRP $129.99

Cheap Health & Fitness Gear

Wyze Scale Image

Best Cheap Smart Bathroom 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.

MSRP $19.99

Amazon Halo View Image

Best Cheap Fitness Tracker

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. 

Brrrn Board Image

Best Cheap Fitness Machine

Smart fitness machines can easily run you $1,000 or more. If you’re searching for a more affordable option, consider the $229 Brrrn Board. Popular among professional sports teams like the Atlanta Braves, slide boards are low-impact training tools that can help improve your balance, cardiovascular fitness, endurance, and strength. The company designed the Brrrn Board for use with its home workout streaming service ($9.99 per month or $79.99 per year), which offers a library of fun and effective trainer-led classes to guide your slide. It leaves you feeling the burn and eager to work out day after day.

MSRP $299.00

Cheap Headphones & Audio

Tribit FlyBuds 3 Image

Best Cheap True Wireless Earphones

True wireless earphones used to be expensive and unreliable, but those days are gone. Now you can get comfortable earbuds with good sound and long battery life for just $40 with the Tribit FlyBuds 3. They produce plenty of bass, fit securely, and even sport an IPX7 waterproof rating, which is more than you can say for many more costly models.

MSRP $35.99

JLab JBuddies Pro Wireless Image

Best Cheap Headphones for Kids

JLab JBuddies Pro Wireless

Kids can hear a wider range of frequencies than adults, but that means their hearing is even more vulnerable to long-term damage. The JLab JBuddies Pro Wireless headphones are designed for children, with a volume limiter switch that ensures things won’t get too loud. The JBuddies offer the wireless convenience of Bluetooth for just $35 in a low-key design that doesn’t look too childish, so they can grow along with your young’un.

MSRP $35.00

Anker Soundcore Mini 3 Image

Best Cheap Speaker

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.

MSRP $39.99

Cheap Gaming Gear & PC Games

Nintendo Switch Lite-01

Best Cheap Console

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.

MSRP $199.99

Razer Ornata V2 Image

Best Cheap Gaming Keyboard

2017’s Razer Ornata Chrome found a loyal following among gaming keyboard fans, thanks in part to its unique “mecha-membrane” key switches, Razer’s hybrid invention that combined membrane and mechanical keys. It was followed three years later by the Razer Ornata V2, a keyboard that adds a few tweaks and quality-of-life changes that improve the overall experience. It’s no longer groundbreaking, but the Ornata V2 still offers great quality and comfortable key switches. We wouldn’t have called it “cheap” at its $99 debut, but now it can be found at a much discounted price, in places near half that.

MSRP $99.99

Cooler Master MM720 Image

Best Cheap Gaming Mouse

The Cooler Master MM720 comes with everything you want from a good gaming mouse—a lightweight, durable chassis, an ultralight cable, RGB lighting, and even a finger rest. Cooler Master’s ambidextrous mouse is a joy to use for almost anyone, but its “claw grip” design will especially appeal to esports and first-person shooter fans who’ll appreciate the mouse’s diminutive size and weight. And for under $50, it’s hard to say no to the MM720.

MSRP $49.99

Dell 24 (S2421HGF) Image

Best Cheap Gaming Monitor

The Dell 24 S2421HGF strips away every extra bell, whistle, and frill to give you just the basics—but that’s not always a bad thing in the world of gaming monitors. At just $199.99, this 24-inch display outperforms some monitors twice its price in AAA and multiplayer game testing, and while players who want gaming-specific features of any sort might want to look elsewhere, those on the hunt for a budget panel that will keep them at the top of the leaderboards should keep this Dell at the top of their shopping lists.

MSRP $199.99

Razer Barracuda X Image

Best Cheap Gaming Headset

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 even less.

MSRP $99.99

Razer Enki X Image

Best Cheap Gaming Chair

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.

MSRP $299.99

Puzzle Quest: The Legend Returns Image

Best Cheap Puzzle Game

Puzzle Quest: The Legend Returns

Puzzle Quest: Challenge of the Warlords came out in 2007, combining match-three puzzles with RPG elements for a compelling and addictive experience. That game, along with its DLC and some additional content, has been ported to the Nintendo Switch as Puzzle Quest: The Legend Returns. It’s still fun enough to occupy hours and hours, and it’s just $14.99—with no microtransactions like its recent sequel. (See our roundup of favorite PC games.)

MSRP $14.99

Windjammers 2 Image

Best Cheap Sports Game

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.

MSRP $19.99

Yakuza 0 Disco Dancing

Best Cheap Beat-‘Em-Up Game

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.

MSRP $19.99

The King of Fighters ‘98 Ultimate Match Final Edition Image

Best Cheap Fighting Game

The King of Fighters ‘98 Ultimate Match Final Edition

The King of Fighters is a legendary franchise that’s delighted fighting game fans since 1994. King of Fighters ’98, one of the series’ best-loved entries, has been updated several times since its original release, but the $14.99 Ultimate Match Final Edition is about as definitive an experience as you can get. Code Mystics, working in tandem alongside SNK, blessed this classic game with fantastic netcode, multiplayer lobbies, and a spectator mode. If you’re looking for a fighting game but don’t want to spend $60 on Guilty Gear Strive, this is an excellent alternative.

MSRP $14.99

Cheap Antivirus & Security

K7 Antivirus Premium Image

Best Cheap Antivirus

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.

Per Year, Starts at $15.00

K7 Total Security Image

Best Cheap Entry-Level Security Suite

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.

Per Year, Starts at $27.00

K7 Ultimate Security Image

Best Cheap Top-Tier Security Suite

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.

Per Year, Starts at $38.00

Sophos Home Premium Image

Best Cheap Antivirus (for 10 Licenses)

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.

Per Year, Starts at $60.00

Avast Premium Security Image

Best Cheap Security Suite (for 10 Licenses)

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.

Per Year, Starts at $89.99

Cheap VPNs & Streaming Services


Best Cheap VPN for Everyone

A virtual private network (VPN) makes your online life a little more secure by blinding your ISP to your online activities and making you harder to track online. ProtonVPN is our highest-rated VPN in no small part because it does a lot for a little money. Just $4 monthly gets you access to ProtonVPN’s Basic tier, while upgrading to the Plus tier ($8 per month) lets you use all the servers and tools ProtonVPN provides. These include multi-hop connections and access to the Tor network via VPN. ProtonVPN also boasts a strong reputation for privacy and security. Bonus: While ProtonVPN has bargain-basement prices, its free version is also the best no-cost VPN subscription we’ve seen. (See more cheap VPNs.)


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

Mullvad VPN Image

Best Cheap VPN for Privacy Hawks

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 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

Paramount+ Image

Best Cheap Video Streaming Service

Formerly known as CBS All Access, Paramount+ lets you stream everything from Nickelodeon cartoons to live sports to all things Star Trek. In fact, the long-awaited Halo live-action show is a Paramount+ exclusive that you won’t find on Netflix. Starting at $4.99 per month, it costs little to get in on the ground floor of an increasingly high-profile service. Just note that premium features like offline downloads and 4K streaming cost extra. (See more of our favorite streaming services.)

Per Month, Starts at $4.99

Cheap Content Creation Software & Services

Movavi Video Editor Plus Image

Best Cheap Video Editing Software

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.

MSRP $69.95

Skylum Luminar

Best Cheap Photo Editing Software

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.

MSRP $79.00

Cockos Reaper

Best Cheap Audio Editing Software

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.

MSRP $60.00

Serif Affinity Designer Image

Best Cheap Graphic Design Software

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.

MSRP $54.99

Fade In Image

Best Cheap Screenwriting Software

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.

MSRP $79.95

IDrive Image

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.

Per Year, Starts at $79.50

iPower Image

Best Cheap Web Hosting

If you’re looking to build a website without breaking the bank, check out iPower. The low-cost web hosting service offers dependable uptime, effective site-building tools, and helpful customer service. iPower’s shared, VPS, Dedicated, and WordPress hosting plans may lack the muscle of DreamHost’s or HostGator’s offerings, but its smaller-scale plans are more wallet-friendly options for people on tight budgets.

MSRP $3.99

So Cheap, It’s Free! (PC 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

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

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.


Lost Ark Image

Best Free MMO

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.


Genshin Impact Image

Best Free Action-RPG

Genshin Impact is a massive, open-world RPG that features hours of relaxing exploration, dynamic party-based combat, and numerous special events. It’s a Gacha game, so the core gameplay is free, but new party units cost valuable Primogems. Fortunately, Genshin Impact rewards you with Primogems as you play, though you can buy more outright. Genshin Impact also features multiplayer action, so you can run around the world with friends to complete dungeons or scour the land for loot. There’s a sizable amount of content to enjoy, which makes the zero-dollar price tag pretty sweet.

Collect and Construct (Screen TK)

Best Free Battle Royale

Do we really have to explain Fortnite? PUBG may have innovated the battle royale genre, but Fortnite spread it across the globe. The fact that it’s free definitely helped. Every second, hundreds of players parachute onto the island, scrounging for weapons and building structures, until only one person in a Black Manta costume is left standing. Even if you ignore the paid dances and battle passes, Fortnite’s free battle royale is so fun that you’ll understand why it dominates the culture.

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


Best Free VPN

We love ProtonVPN 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. ProtonVPN 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, ProtonVPN places no limit on how much data you can use. That alone is worth the price of admission (which is zero).


Avast One Essential Image

Best Free Antivirus

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. 


PreVeil Image

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.


Bitwarden Free Image

Best Free Password Manager

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.



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.


Coursera Image

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.


Khan Academy Image

Best Free Online Learning Site for Academic Learning

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.


Duolingo Logo

Best Free Language Learning Software

Duolingo 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.



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.

Per Month, Starts at $4.00

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.

Per Month, Starts at $19.99

Wix Image

Best Free 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.

Per Month, Starts at $13.00

Spotify logo

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

Peacock Image

Best Free Streaming Video

Peacock’s Bel Air reboot features a sinister Carlton reimagining that must be seen to be believed. Fortunately, NBC’s video streaming service has one of the best free tiers we’ve encountered. You can watch more than enough ad-supported shows, movies, channels, and sports to keep you entertained. And when you’re ready to unlock the full library (or just watch more of The Office), paid tiers start at a reasonable $4.99 per month.


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