The 5 Best (and Most Affordable) Laptop Antivirus Programs for 2020

Sophie Anderson
Published on: December 24, 2019
The 5 Best (and Most Affordable) Laptop Antivirus Programs for 2020

Not all antivirus programs work well with laptops, but we’re going to tell you which ones do. Our experts have tried and tested the 47 antivirus products on the market, including AVG, Norton and McAfee, and examined their ability to detect and remove viruses and malware while still having a low impact on laptop performance.

Contrary to popular belief, keeping your laptop safe doesn’t have to cost an arm and a leg – an inexpensive yet solid antivirus can keep your laptop just as safe from viruses and hackers as pricier ones. 

An antivirus that uses too much processing power will slow your machine right down and reduce its battery life. Instead, try one of these five fantastic antivirus programs that will have minimal impact on the performance of your laptop’s CPU, RAM, hard drive, and network:

Quick List: 5 Best (And Most Affordable) Antivirus Programs for Laptops

  1. Panda Cloud Antivirus
  2. Malwarebytes
  3. Avira Antivirus
  4. F-Secure Safe
  5. Avast Antivirus

1. Panda Cloud AntivirusPanda Cloud Antivirus

What sets Panda Antivirus (see user reviews) apart from the rest is that it does all of its processing in the cloud so your laptop itself has to do a lot less work. In fact, you won’t even notice it’s there! Panda Antivirus is perfect for beginners because you can set it up and forget about it – letting the software scan your laptop from the cloud.

Why is it Ideal for Laptops?

  • Uses minimal memory (only 9.8 MB)
  • Cloud processing means your laptop doesn’t have to execute software updates or scanning itself which means minimal interference and more speed!

Features Worth a Mention

  • Strong malware detection. It caught 100% of all known viruses 
  • Free up-to-the-minute updates done automatically on the cloud
  • Compatible with Windows (Windows 10, Windows 8/8.1, Windows 7, Windows Vista and Windows XP), Mac OS X (Sierra, High Sierra and Mojave), and Linux (Fedora, Debian and CentOS, Ubuntu and Red Hat).
  • Process monitor for checking active processes and connection security
  • USB drive scanner
  • Parental controls
  • Location services for tracking lost devices

What are the Drawbacks?

  • Slow scanning at 16.4 MB/s
  • Cloud is dependent on an internet connection so you won’t be protected when you’re offline
  • The risk of hackers getting access to other user data hosted and stored on the same server

This trusted antivirus consistently receives some of the best marks, including receiving the Gold award from major antivirus testing labs.

See Panda Deals >>>

2. MalwarebytesMalwarebytes

Malwarebytes (see user reviews) it’s simple and easy to use but very powerful. It has evolved over the years to offer more advanced multi-layered real time protection, which is why its been voted within the top ten of the 47 antivirus companies on the market.

For those who like to try before they buy, there’s a free two week trial version that’s in our opinion, better than most other free antivirus programs out there, plus an optional paid subscription option for when you’re ready to commit, as we believe you will.

When you upgrade to the paid version, you get amazing features you don’t want to be without, such as scheduled scanning and real time protection.

Why is it Ideal for Laptops?

  • Fast scanning and three scan depths to choose from
  • Very light on system resources

Features Worth a Mention

  • Excellent protection against malware and other threats
  • Strong online URL blocking
  • Ransomware protection that observes a program’s behavior to see whether its attempting to hijack your computer’s most vital system files. They’ll usually encrypt your data into an indecipherable code that they’ll charge you ransom money to unlock
  • You have to upgrade to the paid version to unlock important features like scheduled scanning and real time protection

What are the Drawbacks?

  • Free version only tackles aggressive threats
  • No quick scan option
  • No email protection

While we’d strongly recommend upgrading to the premium subscription for best results, you can also combine the free antivirus with your standard antivirus, as it detects additional threats a normal antivirus may miss.

See Malwarebytes Deals >>>

Avira Antivirus Pro

Avira Antivirus Pro
Coming in at a strong sixth place out of the 47 antivirus programs available today, Avira Antivirus (see user reviews) is definitely one of the best free antivirus programs we’ve tried and tested, catching up to 98% of all threats.  Avira isn’t bad for a free antivirus, but with all those annoying pop-up ads, you’re not going to want to use it as a long-term solution.

Why is it Ideal for Laptops?

  • Doesn’t use up a lot of memory so it has a low impact on your computer’s performance while it runs
  • Very fast scanning

Features Worth a Mention

  • One of the best malware detection rates in the industry
  • Real-time protection
  • Additional services include a VPN, a personal firewall and system vulnerability detection that monitors any weak spots, such as outdated software, that hackers can target
  • Includes a dedicated password manager and support for multiple devices

What are the Drawbacks?

  • Full scans are slow (a few hours long) as they don’t skip verified files like other antivirus programs
  • Limited browser protection (only works with Firefox and Chrome)
  • Unable to prevent users from whitelisting unknown USB drives

There’s a free version of this antivirus too but it comes with plenty of pop-ups that slow your computer down, making it not the best choice for long term use.

See Avira Pro Deals >>>

F-Secure Safe

F-Secure Safe
F-Secure Safe (see user reviews) is perfect for family use as it keeps younger users safe when they browse online. Because it only comes with the essentials, such as better-than-most parental controls and secure banking, it manages to be fairly light on your laptop’s resources.

Rated within the top 20 of the 47 antivirus programs on the market, it was also awarded a 100% detection and removal score in antivirus tests.

Why is it Ideal for Laptops?

  • Low impact on system performance
  • Comparatively quick scanning (about 15 minutes)

Features Worth a Mention

  • Top-notch cross platform parental controls (‘Family Rules’ to set bedtimes, time limits, content filtering etc.)
  • Location services for finding lost devices
  • Protection for up to three devices with a single license
  • Secure banking protection and ability to submit links for checking
  • Real time protection against ransomware, Trojans, and viruses
  • Ability to set to scan when computer is idle

What are the Drawbacks?

  • Minimal features
  • No option to scan USB drives
  • A bit more expensive than similar products

As F-Secure has minimal features, it’s also a great choice for people who prefer to use it alongside their current URL blockers and firewalls. However, beginners may need to look at something like Panda for complete install-and-go protection.

See F-Secure Deals >>>

Avast Antivirus

Avast Antivirus
Avast Antivirus (see user reviews) is currently the most popular antivirus with the largest user base (that’s over 435 million active users every month). Ranked in the top five of the 47 best antivirus programs available, it’s one of the few antivirus programs that don’t try and encourage you to upgrade to the paid version.

Why is it Ideal for Laptops?

  • Lowest memory usage (6.6 MB of RAM)
  • Moderately fast scanning speed at 20 MB/s
  • Customizable installation lets you choose the features you want
  • Its low profile allows it to run on lower-end laptops, both Mac and Windows

Features Worth a Mention

  • Real-time protection
  • Browser plugin for blocking trackers and warnings about dangerous links in search engine results
  • Dedicated gaming mode for stalling updates, scans, and notifications during game play
  • Password manager for syncing credentials on multiple devices

What are the Drawbacks?

  • A few ads and pop ups in the free version
  • Slow scanning speed and affects computer’s performance while its running
  • Certain features can be complicated for beginners

The Avast free version is perfect for gamers looking to suspend certain functions as they play. For those looking for a more powerful antivirus, the paid version comes with extra perks like a firewall, spam filter, even more ransomware protection, a secure DNS system and a sandbox for running apps safely.

See Avast Deals >>>

You Want an Antivirus with Minimal Impact on your Laptop’s Performance

You’ll be in good hands with any of these antivirus programs but if you haven’t quite found what you’re looking for, check out our full list of tried and tested antivirus programs. Remember, you want an antivirus that runs discreetly in the background, won’t pop up at inopportune times, but still completely protects your system.

If you just want to perform a single scan, a free antivirus might be a good temporary solution – but you shouldn’t rely on one long term, because they can slow down your computer, won’t protect against the very latest threats and you’ll miss out on premium features like advanced parental control features and location tracking services.

About the Author

Sophie Anderson
Sophie Anderson
Cybersecurity researcher and tech journalist

About the Author

Sophie Anderson has spent the last 10 years working as a software engineer for some of the biggest tech companies in Silicon Valley. She now works as a cybersecurity consultant and tech journalist, helping everyday netizens understand how to stay safe and protected in an online world.
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