Best Cheap Laptop For Mobile and Portable Ops

The best cheap laptop I could find for mobile and portable operations! Just this week I picked up a cheap HP Stream 11 laptop for mobile and portable operation. I’m tired of lugging my 6 lb. laptop back and forth between the house, camper, vehicle and outdoors. I can leave this new one in the camper. The HP Stream 11 is a small 11″ notebook with great battery life and it only weighs 2.5 lbs. It came with Windows 10 Home (I replaced with fresh install of Windows 10). See my other cheap laptop choice below.

cheap laptops

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My Cheap Laptop – HP Stream 11

On Ebay they run anywhere between $50 used and $175 new. On Amazon $175 (used & new from $111). At Walmart $109 refurbished (where I got mine). The newer models have 4 GB of RAM and most come with a 32 GB eMMC hard drive. There is a more expensive 64 GB model.

The older models come with just 2 GB of RAM and the 32 GB hard drive.

There are complaints about the 32 GB hard drive because it doesn’t have enough free space to do the Windows updates. (I remember people complaining because they were forced to install Windows updates. Maybe this is the solution 🙂  ).

To resolve that I used the Windows Media Creation Tool and installed a fresh copy of Windows 10 which ended up taking less HD space. There’s no HP bloatware!

Inserting a micro SD Card will increase storage, but the SD Card cannot be used to update Windows (crazy).

Linux loads on it! I tried Linux Mint and the only issue was the WIFI. I am sure there is a solution to it. So as a Linux notebook it should work great.

HP Stream 11 Specs:

  • 11.6″ display
    LED Backlight, HD Anti-Glare Display
  • Intel Celeron N3060 dual-core processor
    1.60GHz (with Max Turbo Speed of 2.48GHz)
  • 4GB DDR3L SDRAM system memory
  • 32GB eMMC drive
  • 10 hours of battery life
  • Intel HD Graphics 400
  • Weight: 2.57 lbs
    Thin design you can easily take on the road
  • 802.11ac Wireless LAN
  • microSD card reader
  • Bluetooth
  • 1 x USB 3.1 port, 1 x USB 2.0 port, 1 x HDMI port, 1 x headphone/microphone jack

HP Stream Likes and Dislikes

Likes: I like the screen, touchpad, battery life and weight. It is fast enough for the basics and it has 2 USB ports!

Dislike: Color and cheap plastic feel. It’s growing on me though. Small hard drive.

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Just the Basic Ham Software

I just have some basic software on it now, N3FJP AC Contact Log, N1MM Logger+, Fldigi and Elecrafts KX2 Utility. These are small programs and run very well on the HP Stream. I’ll try HRD and DXLab Suite at some point.

You’ll be seeing more of it in my YouTube videos!

Cheap Laptop and Other Choices

There are lots of other ones out there and some less expensive than the HP Stream. I read reviews and decided on the Stream because I know HP will stand behind their warranty. I’ve used it before  😉 HP is a reliable brand name.

Video Update 10-21-2018

Thank you!

A big thanks to subscribers and everyone who posts questions and comments with ideas and suggestions. I sincerely appreciate it and hope this website helps Ham operators.

If you have a question or suggestion, please comment below. I will do my best to answer it and your experience will help others as well.

Do you have a dedicated laptop for portable use and if so what make is it?


Rich, K0PIR

P.S. If you are on Instagram, you can follow me there. See

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I'm an Amateur Radio enthusiast. I love the hobby and experimenting with radios, antennas and software. On my YouTube channel I upload videos on the Icom 7300 and Icom 7610 along with Ham radio software programs. I hope to inspire people to try new things in Amateur Radio.

10 Responses

  1. cy stanway k2cys says:

    Hi Rich. Question. I’m helping a friend set up a 7300 and I do not operate digital on my 7300. So I do not use the USB cable. To operate digital, do I merely download the USB drivers plug in the USB cable to the back of the radio and then into the computer? Is it really that easy?

  2. Marc says:

    Hi Rich,

    thank you, that comes at the right time, since I’m currently looking for a cheap Win10 based laptop/ tablet myself. I’d love to see, how the HP behaves with HRD, WSJT-X and FT8Call? A review/ Video on this subject, would be highly appreciated.


    • K0PIR says:

      Hi Marc,

      It’s nice to hear from you and hank you for commenting.

      I hope to be camping again this weekend and I’ll be using it. If not I’ll just have to try something at home.

      Best wishes and 73,

      Rich, K0PIR

      • Marc says:

        Hi Rich,
        just wanted to check, if you had a chance to test the new laptop a little bit more? I would be particulary interested to see how its working in combination with the KX2, and using WSJT-X and/or JS8Call while being portable?

  3. Phil Brown, ZL1PB says:

    Hi Rich, I have just purchased a 7300 and have a MacBook pro, I have downloaded WSJT-X ver 2 Beta and I am unable to transmit, I have followed your videos even downloaded the Sil labs USB driver but no go. I receive FT8 ok, I do not want to purchase another windows laptop, what am i missing? very frustrating.


    • K0PIR says:

      Hi Phil,

      Nice to hear from you and thank you for commenting.

      Do you get PTT? Does it key the radio, but just doesn’t TX?

      You could check the Soundcard settings is WSJT-X. Specifically the output.

      Also, I had some trouble with one of my iMacs and it not transmitting after 3 transmissions. It would stop and send out the speakers. I had to change my soundcard. Use the Mac’s Audio MIDI Setup utility to configure your sound card for 48000 Hz, two-channel, 16-bit format. That worked for me.


      Rich, K0PIR

  4. K0PIR says:

    Hi Marc,

    Nice to hear from you and I have not used it with the radio. I’ve got software installed and working just haven’t made contacts yet.

    I have the KX2 utility, DX Labs Suite and N1MM Logger on it now. I was using the Elecraft USB cable and loading memories into the KX2. That same cable will also work for CW in Winwarbler, RX and TX. I have not gotten any further with WinWarbler.

    I hope to be able to use it this weekend.

    I have been using the HP Stream on and off. I like it and the battery life is excellent.

    Thanks and nice to hear from you.

    Rich, K0PIR

    For WSJT-X I will have to connect to either my Icom 7610 or 7300. That’s a good idea and the 7610 is in the house!

  5. Joy says:

    I have the 7300 and have been fiddling with waterfall displays. Any chance you can share how you have your waterfall set up?


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