The Best Laptop Under $500 for 2023
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Photo: Rozette Rago
After a new round of testing, we’ve updated this guide with new picks for Windows laptops under $500.
Lots of laptops cost less than $500, but it’s hard to find a cheap one that doesn’t totally suck. We’ve researched and tested hundreds of cheap Windows laptops and Chromebooks over the years to find decent models, and we also have advice to help you shop smart when prices change and our picks go out of stock.
Choosing a budget laptop is tricky because you can find dozens—even hundreds—of options at a given time. Their prices fluctuate constantly, too, and companies release and discontinue models with no warning. We have picks for Chromebooks and Windows laptops under $500, and some other good options if those picks are unavailable. If you can’t find our picks anywhere, check out our tips on how to shop for a budget laptop, or consider a used laptop instead.
- Choosing a cheap Chromebook vs. a cheap Windows laptop
- Best Windows laptops under $500
- Best Chromebooks under $500
- What about an iPad?
- Other good laptops under $500
- How to shop for a cheap laptop
- How we picked
- How we tested
- What to look forward to
- The competition
Choosing a cheap Chromebook vs. a cheap Windows laptop
Our picks are for anyone who doesn’t want to or can’t spend more than $500 on a laptop. These models are good for anyone who just wants to browse the web, students who don’t need special software, and people who work at home only occasionally. If you need a more powerful laptop, take a look at our guide to the best laptops.
At this price, Chromebooks are better than Windows laptops because they’re faster at the things most people use a laptop for. They also tend to have better build quality, longer battery life, and superior screens, keyboards, and trackpads. Chromebooks don’t need antivirus software and don’t come with bloatware (unnecessary, manufacturer-loaded software that clutters the computer and slows it down). If you spend your computing time in a browser—checking email, using Google Docs, watching Netflix, or making Zoom calls—Chrome OS is all you need. But if you need specialized software for work or school, if you want to play Windows-specific games, or if you need to be able to work offline, you’re better off with Windows.
A great Windows laptop under $500 can handle web browsing, video calls, and media consumption, but they’re rare—many cheap Windows laptops buckle under the load of running more than a couple apps at a time. And buying a bad laptop may cost you more in the long term: Compared with a $700 laptop, it will feel worse in everyday use in two years, and you’ll need to replace it sooner. Even $550, if you can swing it, will more reliably buy you a faster computer that will last longer.
If you don’t need Windows, if you prefer Apple’s platforms, or if you mostly watch videos and play games, consider an iPad with a keyboard. Compared with a cheap Windows laptop, this combo is snappier when you’re banging out emails, watching movies, or taking notes, and whereas a Chromebook forces you to rely on web apps and Android apps designed for phones, you can find thousands of iPad-optimized apps and games. But an iPad-and-keyboard combo is not a complete replacement for a laptop.
Best Windows laptops under $500
Acer Aspire 3 Spin 14 (A3SP14-31PT)
Unlike most cheap Windows laptops, the Aspire 3 Spin 14 is fast, compact, and light, and it has a decent 1080p touchscreen and good battery life.
|Processor:||Intel Core i3-N305||Screen:||14-inch 1920×1200 touch|
|Memory:||8 GB||Weight:||3.3 pounds|
|Storage:||128 GB or 256 GB SSD||Tested battery life:||8.5 hours|
Why we like this one: If you need to run Windows apps or games, or if you prefer to work offline, we recommend the Acer Aspire 3 Spin 14 (A3SP14-31PT) in any of the following configurations: 37NV, 38YA, or 32M6. The Aspire 3 Spin 14 is fast enough to meet most people’s computing needs for years to come. Many cheap Windows laptops have less memory or terrible processors that limit them to running only a couple apps and a handful of browser tabs at a time.
The Aspire 3 Spin 14 is one of the more portable cheap Windows laptops we’ve tested. It’s more compact than common Windows devices in this price range, and its battery life lasted 8 hours and 30 minutes in our tests—long enough to make it through a full day of work or classes. Unlike cheap laptops with unpleasant keyboards and trackpads that flex and rattle, the Aspire 3 Spin 14’s keyboard and trackpad are accurate and reliable.
Our pick’s 14-inch 1920×1200 touchscreen has a tall aspect ratio that feels spacious and is particularly convenient for web browsing. The glossy touchscreen is reflective, but it’s much better than many laptop displays in this price range—most have lower-resolution screens that look pixelated, or horrendous TN panels that look blown out and have poor viewing angles. Our pick also has a 360-degree hinge that allows you to flip the display all the way around to use the device as a tablet (or in any intermediate position), though it’s a bit heavy to do so easily.
Where it falls short: The Aspire 3 Spin 14 ships with Windows 11 S mode, which only allows apps from the Microsoft Store and limits you to Microsoft Edge for web browsing. But you can switch it to Windows 11 Home for free to install any program you need.
Like many inexpensive Windows laptops, our pick comes with a ton of unnecessary bloatware that takes up space and slows down performance. Follow these steps to remove those programs and make your laptop feel faster and be more secure.
The Aspire 3 Spin 14 also lacks a fingerprint reader, has a mediocre webcam, and it can’t be opened with a single hand.
Lenovo IdeaPad Slim 3 (82X7001VUS)
If you want a 15-inch screen, the best option is the Lenovo IdeaPad Slim 3. This model is fast, plus it has a 1080p touchscreen and a fingerprint reader.
$350* from Staples
*At the time of publishing, the price was $380.
|Processor:||Intel Core i3-1315U||Screen:||15-inch 1920×1080 touch|
|Memory:||8 GB||Weight:||3. 6 pounds|
|Storage:||256 GB SSD||Tested battery life:||7 hours|
Why we like this one: If you want a Windows laptop with a large 15-inch screen, we recommend the Lenovo IdeaPad Slim 3. With our recommended specs, it’ll be fast enough for most people’s computing needs for years to come.
The IdeaPad Slim 3’s 15-inch 1920×1080 display is bright, and the matte touchscreen is convenient and not overly reflective. (The 82X7001VUS configuration we recommend has a touchscreen; the 82X70005US is largely identical, but lacks touch.) Its colors look a bit cool and washed out compared to more expensive Windows laptops, but the Slim 3’s IPS display is leagues better than the horrendous TN panel in its sibling, the IdeaPad 1.
The backlit keyboard feels snappy and the large trackpad is reliable and accurate. The IdeaPad Slim 3 also has a reliable fingerprint reader on the power button and a handy webcam cover. It’s possible to partially open the laptop with one hand, though it’s difficult to fully open the lid without additional leverage.
Where it falls short: The IdeaPad Slim 3 lasted about 7 hours in our battery test—not quite long enough for a full day of work or classes, but about average for this category. And like most inexpensive Windows laptops, this model is bulky and heavy, and its webcam is mediocre. We also recommend following these instructions when you get the laptop to remove unnecessary preinstalled programs.
Best Chromebooks under $500
Lenovo Flex 5i Chromebook (13″)
The cheaper Flex 5i is a serviceable Chromebook, but its battery won’t last a full day, and it will stop receiving OS updates one year sooner than our top pick.
$385* from Amazon
*At the time of publishing, the price was $374.
|Processor:||Intel Core i3-1115G4||Screen:||13.3-inch 1920×1080 touch|
|Memory:||8 GB||Weight:||2.97 pounds|
|Storage:||64 GB eMMC or 128 GB SSD||Tested battery life:||6.5 hours|
Why we like this one: The Lenovo Flex 5i Chromebook (13″) is a great Chromebook for its budget price. It’s fast, it has an excellent keyboard and trackpad, it’s compact and light, and it has a 1080p touchscreen. This Chromebook is faster than Windows laptops at the tasks most people use laptops for, including browsing the web (even with a ton of tabs open), making video calls, working in documents and spreadsheets, and watching movies. The Flex 5i is much more portable than cheap Windows options, too, and it’s free of the bloatware that slows them down.
Photo: Michael Murtaugh
Where it falls short: In addition to the limitations of ChromeOS outlined above, the Flex 5i has disappointing battery life; this model likely won’t make it through a full day of work or classes without needing to be plugged in. Compared with the display on the more expensive Acer Chromebook Spin 513 (CP513-2H-K62Y), our top Chromebook pick, the Flex 5i’s screen doesn’t get as bright, and this Chromebook will cease receiving OS updates one year sooner. I also needed two hands to open the Flex 5i.
Lenovo IdeaPad Gaming Chromebook 16″ (82V80009UX)
This model has a spacious 16-inch screen with a high refresh rate and an RGB keyboard with a built-in number pad, but it’s too bulky to travel with frequently.
$429* from Walmart
*At the time of publishing, the price was $430.
|Processor:||Intel Core i3-1215U||Screen:||16-inch 2560×1600 non-touch, 120 Hz|
|Memory:||8 GB||Weight:||4.01 pounds|
|Storage:||128 GB eMMC||Tested battery life:||9.5 hours*|
*We tested the Core i5 model; we expect the Core i3 model to have slightly better battery life.
Why we like this one: If you want a larger screen and a number pad, we recommend the fast, inexpensive Lenovo IdeaPad Gaming Chromebook 16″. Its 16-inch display provides more room to get work done or to enjoy media; its colors are vibrant, the matte display doesn’t throw distracting reflections, and the 120 Hz high refresh rate makes scrolling and other actions look extra smooth. The RGB-backlit keyboard also has a number pad, which can be useful if you do a lot of data entry. But even though this model will last a long time away from an outlet, it’s too large and heavy to carry around.
Photo: Michael Hession
Where it falls short: The 16-inch display makes this Lenovo model heavier and bulkier, so it’s much less portable than our other Chromebook picks—we don’t recommend it if you need a laptop to take to work, to class, or even to a coffee shop. I also consistently needed both hands to open this laptop.
What about an iPad?
Apple iPad (9th generation)
If you favor portability over screen size, the iPad works for browsing the web and doing light note taking or writing. It’s not good for more complicated tasks, though.
Why we like it: Depending on how you use a computer, you might not need a laptop at all. An Apple iPad (9th generation) with a Bluetooth keyboard or a keyboard case makes for a lighter and more portable system than any of our picks. If you primarily browse the web, make video calls, write, and take notes, an iPad provides a smoother, less painful experience than the Windows options in this price category.
Photo: Sarah Kobos
Where it falls short: An iPad can’t run traditional desktop apps and offers only limited multitasking support, so it’s not a direct replacement for a laptop. If you need to run more than two apps at once, work with specialty software, or want a large screen, an iPad won’t work for you.
You can read more about the iPad in our guide to the best tablets.
Other good laptops under $500
If our top pick is unavailable: The next best option is the Acer Aspire 3 A314-23P-R3QA and A314-36P-360X. Compared with the Acer Aspire 3 Spin 14 model we recommend, these models have duller-looking non-touch displays with a shorter aspect ratio that isn’t as convenient for browsing the web. But both models have fast-enough performance, reliable keyboards and trackpads, and the R3QA model we tested had long battery life, at 12 hours and 11 minutes in our tests.
If our 15-inch pick is unavailable: We recommend the 15-inch Acer Aspire 3 instead. These ones are available with a lot of different model numbers: A315-24P-R7VH, A315-24P-R2SC, A315-24PT-R08Z, A315-24PT-R90Z, and A315-510P-3905. Compared with our 15-inch pick, the R7VH model we tested had a dim, washed-out, non-touch display and a large trackpad with poor palm rejection. It’s also quite heavy, at around 4 pounds, and its battery lasted for 7 hours and 31 minutes.
The models with “24PT” in the name have touchscreens that we haven’t tested, and the model with “510P” has an Intel processor instead of an AMD one. And some models come with Windows 11 in S mode while others are already upgraded to Windows 11 Home. Otherwise, all of these models are identical—they’re all passable laptops that are fast enough for everyday tasks.
If you can spend a little more for the best Chromebook: Our top Chromebook pick, the Acer Chromebook Spin 513 (CP513-2H-K62Y), is slim, light, and blessed with long battery life, and it has a tall, vivid touchscreen. It typically costs around $550, but it has gone on sale for less than $500.
If you can spend around $700: Our budget ultrabook pick, the Asus Zenbook 14 OLED (UM3402YA-WS51T)—or the UM3402YA-WS74T version with more memory—costs a few hundred dollars more, but it has the build quality to last at least five years and the battery life to run all day. Its predecessor was frequently on sale for $550; if you see this model on sale for that price, it’s an unbeatable value.
If you want a tablet with a bigger screen: The iPad is plenty powerful for most people, but if you want a bigger screen on your tablet for multitasking and a faster processor, consider the iPad Air. But it starts at $600, and you have to spend more on a keyboard and a case to go with it.
How to shop for a cheap laptop
For laptops under $500, inconsistent pricing, disappearing inventory, and retailer-exclusive deals make shopping difficult. But even if you aren’t familiar with computer specifications, you can still find a decent Windows laptop by looking for these features:
- Processor: We recommend an 11th, 12th, or 13th-generation Intel Core i3 or i5 processor or a 7000-series AMD Ryzen 3 or 5 processor. Avoid AMD processors such as the dual-core A9, as well as Intel Pentium or Celeron processors.
- Storage: Choose a 128 GB or larger solid-state drive (SSD) and avoid hard drives (abbreviated as “HDD” on some product pages).
- Memory: Get 8 GB of memory (which can also be listed as “RAM”). In a pinch, 4 GB will do, but with that smaller amount you won’t be able to run many programs at the same time.
- Screen: Look for a display with 1080p resolution, listed as 1920×1080 or “FHD” by many sellers. A computer that hits the other requirements but has a standard HD display (1366×768) will do for basic tasks.
(Chromebooks have different requirements to run well—they run better than Windows laptops with 4 GB of memory and can get away with certain slower processors. You can learn more in our guide to Chromebooks.)
When shopping for a cheap laptop, stick to major retailers with good return policies, such as Amazon, Best Buy, Walmart, or the manufacturer itself. Avoid sites with deals too good to be true, like BuyDig. Buying a refurbished model is another excellent way to save money. When you’re shopping for a refurbished laptop, buy from the original manufacturer or an authorized dealer and avoid seller-refurbished models from places like Amazon.
As soon as your laptop arrives, open the box carefully, keep all the parts and accessories, and give the computer a thorough test drive. Check for a clunky trackpad, mushy and unresponsive keys, or a dim, washed-out screen, and if you spot anything you don’t like, return the laptop as soon as possible. Wait too long, and you’ll be stuck with it—some manufacturers give you only a two-week return window.
If you don’t need a laptop right this second, you can find a great deal on a good laptop with some patience—prices fluctuate, and a $700 laptop can temporarily dive below $500. Wirecutter Deals editor Nathan Burrow told us that the best deals on laptops come around the holiday season, starting in November and running through Christmas.
How we picked
You can’t get a perfect laptop for less than $500—if it were perfect, it wouldn’t be cheap. At this price you make serious trade-offs, so it’s worth knowing how the system’s components affect your experience:
- Storage: Some cheap Windows laptops still have spinning hard drives or hybrid drives that feel unbearably slow—booting the laptop, launching apps, and browsing files take so long that you have time to sip coffee and stretch before you can do anything. We found that having flash storage (ideally an SSD, but an eMMC or UFS drive will do in a pinch) instead of a traditional hard drive dramatically improved everyday performance, even more than a faster processor or more memory. But avoid Windows laptops with less than 64 GB of flash storage—you can’t even run Windows updates on them without an external drive.
- Processor: We recommend an 11th, 12th, or 13th generation Intel Core i3 or Core i5 processor or a 7000-series AMD Ryzen 3 or Ryzen 5 processor. The Core i3 and Ryzen 3 processors are fine for casual use and basic schoolwork but aren’t the best for multitasking; the Core i5 and Ryzen 5 are faster and better at multitasking but rare in this price range. Avoid AMD processors like the dual-core A9 and steer clear of Intel Pentium and Celeron processors like the N4200 and N5000. We found these processors to be unusable with more than a single open app.
- Memory: For less than $500, it’s uncommon (but possible) to find more than 4 GB of memory without sacrificing other important specs. But 8 GB will allow you to more smoothly run multiple programs and browser tabs, and is a much better choice for a computer you’ll be using years from now.
- Screen: Models with a 1080p display (a resolution of 1920×1080) offer a clear image and more screen real estate than cheap 1366×768 screens. We recommend IPS (in-plane switching) screens because they have more accurate color and better viewing angles than TN (twisted nematic) panels.
- Keyboard and trackpad: The keyboard and trackpad should be tolerable and responsive, and neither input device should annoy you so much that you seek out an external keyboard and mouse. Backlit keyboards are a bonus but rare in this price range.
- Build quality: No budget laptop is a paragon of industrial design, but a computer shouldn’t feel like it’s going to break. Many laptops in this price range are massive 15-inch beasts with cheap plastic cases, loose keys, and rattly trackpads. A decent laptop should be sturdy, shouldn’t flex beneath your fingers when you type, and shouldn’t creak every time you click the trackpad or tap the spacebar.
- Bloatware: Cheap Windows laptops come with a ton of bloatware, and it’s especially problematic on these laptops with slower processors, less memory, and limited storage. We recommend getting rid of useless applications by following these steps as soon as you unpack the laptop to speed up boot time, sew up potential security holes, and eliminate annoying notifications. We experienced mild performance bumps after removing bloatware.
For $500, you don’t get much control over features we consider when evaluating more expensive laptops, such as size, battery life, or ports, so although such details are nice to know, they didn’t make or break any of our picks. In this category, we just wanted to find usable laptops.
How we tested
We tested the Windows laptops and Chromebooks that met our criteria by using each for at least a day of ordinary work and video calls to get a feel for their performance, screens, keyboards, and trackpads. For Chromebooks, we had at least 20 browser tabs open, including Google Docs, Google Sheets, streaming music, Slack, and a variety of other sites. For Windows, we had five to 10 tabs open at a time, as well as the Spotify and Slack applications. We also tested the laptops by opening large Excel spreadsheets, 100-page Word documents, and 200-page PDF files.
What to look forward to
We’re planning to test the Asus Vivobook Go 14″ (E1404FA-BB33) and the HP Laptop 15 (15-fc0039wm) for our next update.
Most Windows laptops under $500 are horrendous, and very few with our recommended specs even exist—we combed through hundreds of models on manufacturer and retailer websites and found only a handful of promising options. (And if you’re curious about the Chromebook competition, head over to our Chromebook guide.)
The Asus VivoBook 15 (F515EA-Ah44) was one of our previous picks, thanks to its fast-enough specs, decent screen, backlit keyboard, reliable trackpad, and handy fingerprint reader. But it has short battery life, it’s large and heavy, and we recommend removing the included bloatware. Our current picks have newer, faster processors for a similar price.
The Acer Aspire 5 (A515-45-R74Z) was another of our previous picks thanks to its fast-enough performance, vivid and bright display, and long battery life. But it’s also large and heavy, and it comes with a ton of unnecessary bloatware. It also lacks a fingerprint reader, and its keyboard is mediocre.
The Lenovo IdeaPad 1 (82VG00BJUS) is very similar to our 15-inch pick, the Lenovo IdeaPad Slim 3 (82X7001VUS), but this model has a horrendous TN display with terrible viewing angles and an unseemly blue cast.
The Gateway 14.1″ Ultra Slim Notebook (GWTN141) has only 4 GB of memory, which means it struggles with more than a couple of apps open, and it won’t perform as well for as many years as our picks. It also has poor build quality and terrible speakers.
Brian Westover, How much RAM do I need?, Laptop Mag, June 22, 2018
Avram Piltch, Help Me, LAPTOP! Will an SSD Improve My Budget Laptop?, Laptop Mag, May 21, 2017
Cale Hunt, eMMC vs. SSD storage: What’s the difference?, Windows Central, February 26, 2019
Meet your guide
Kimber Streams is a senior staff writer and has been covering laptops, gaming gear, keyboards, storage, and more for Wirecutter since 2014. In that time they’ve tested hundreds of laptops and thousands of peripherals, and built way too many mechanical keyboards for their personal collection.
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Best Laptops To Buy In 2023 For Under $500
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Table of Contents_
- Best Laptops Under $500
- #1 Acer Aspire 5 Laptop
- #2 ASUS VivoBook L203MA
- #3 Dell Inspiron 15.6″ Laptop
- #4 Lenovo IdeaPad 15.6
- Key Factors to a Good Laptop Under $500
- Common Mistakes to Avoid
- Features to Look For
- So Which Laptop Under $500 is Right For You?
To determine the best laptops under $500, so you can buy one that doesn’t break the bank, we researched over 60 laptops online to see if we could narrow down the options to the top 15 computers. We then read customer reviews and looked at the on-paper specifications to start thinning out the list. Once we finalized our list of 15, we researched them all so we could put them through our extensive and thorough research.
Acer Aspire 5 Slim Laptop, 15.6 inches Full HD…
ASUS VivoBook L203MA Ultra-Thin Laptop, Intel…
Dell Inspiron 15.6” Touch Screen Intel Core i3…
During our research, we typed, ran programs, streamed media online and even played some video games to get a good grasp on which options performed the best. And because of this extensive research, we found the Acer Aspire 5 to be the best laptop under $500 in 2019. With an impressive and beautiful IPS display and super fast processor, the Aspire 5 blew our expectations out of the water. Keep reading to learn more about the Acer Aspire and other great laptops in our buyer’s guide below.
Best Laptops Under $500
#1 Acer Aspire 5 Laptop
Our #1 Pick is the Acer Aspire 5 Laptop
Features: 15. 6″ 1920 x 1080 IPS FHD touch screen, 3.5 GHz AMD Ryzen 3 3200U processor, 4GB DDR4 RAM, 128GB SSD
WHY IT’S A TOP PICK: The Acer’s screen is downright gorgeous (and cheap!).
When we researched the Acer Aspire 5, we were so surprised by its top-of-the-line performance, especially considering its low price. It’s fast, light on the arm, well-designed, and comes with a jaw-droppingly gorgeous 1920 x 1080 IPS touch screen. Sounds like the complete package, right?
Read: Toshiba Chromebook 2 Hands On Review
Of course, we can’t forget how thin this laptop is. Measuring in at just 0.7 inches thick and just under 4 pounds in weight, this laptop is incredibly portable and perfect for travel. Unfortunately, the Acer Aspire’s processor isn’t an Intel Pentium or any other Intel processor, but the AMD Ryzen still performs well, all things considered. Its battery life is above average, being at 8 hours and 51 minutes, but there are other laptops with long battery life if that’s what you need. Still though, this laptop is much cheaper and in general better than the Acer Swift.
Related: Take a quick look at the best laptops for college students.
Either way, there’s no denying that the Acer Aspires 5 is hands down the fastest, prettiest laptop you’ll get for under $500 today. You can compare it to the best Apple laptops and you’ll see why it is such a good deal.
#2 ASUS VivoBook L203MA
Our #2 Pick is the ASUS VivoBook L203MA
Features: Extremely cheap price, solid build quality and attractive design
WHY IT’S A TOP PICK: The VivoBook comes in at a “see to believe” pricetag.
The ASUS VivoBook L203MA isn’t necessarily the most powerful laptop around, but oh man is it cheap. Ridiculously cheap, unbelievably cheap, make you hit the refresh button twice, cheap. At just $199.99, the VivoBook comes in at the bottom-tier of price points, while still offering enough basic functionality and features to make it to #2 on our list. With a 2.6GHz Intel Celeron N4000 processor, Intel UHD Graphics 600 coprocessor, 4GB of LPDDR4 RAM, and a 64GB flash hard drive, the ASUS VivoBook somehow manages to pack in enough specs to handle most web browsing tasks and video formats, all in a shell that actually looks pretty good considering the cost.
Related: Check the best netbooks you can buy today.
The screen does leave a bit to be desired as far as color replication and overall brightness are concerned, but a price point this low, is there really any room to complain? The best chromebook is also worth a look if you prefer those over other laptops.
#3 Dell Inspiron 15.6″ Laptop
Our #3 Pick is the Dell Inspiron 15.6
Features: Core i3 CPU is a powerhouse to be reckoned with, design is great
WHY IT’S A TOP PICK: Cheap laptops don’t have to be powerful, but the Dell still is.
At $347.88, the Dell Inspiron barely inches in under the mark we set out with on this list, but once you see how much power it’s able to carry around at that price you won’t even remember what the word “budget” means.
With an Intel Core i3-7130U 2.7GHz onboard CPU, an Intel HD Graphics 620 chip, 8GB of DDR4 RAM and 128GB of available solid state drive space, the Dell Inspiron is just as zippy and capable as other laptops twice its cost. The smooth finish on the case and paintjob on the keyboard and trackpad are both design choices that pay off handsomely, and the Inspiron also has a great number of available ports for a budget machine. Overall this is a solid machine, containing a set of specs that could run a number of current and older games without a flinch. You’ll also want the best laptop bags to protect your device.
#4 Lenovo IdeaPad 15.6
Our #5 Pick is the ASUS Chromebook C202SA-YS02
Features: Super rugged design and spill resistant keyboard
WHY IT’S A TOP PICK: This ASUS Chromebook is the toughest of the bunch.
As always, a list of budget laptops wouldn’t be complete without an appearance from the king of cheap laptops: the Chromebook. These ultra-portable laptops made a bang when they were first released, but their heavy and awkward Chrome OS operating system was a bit of a flop. Since their release, things have gotten a little better, though, as is apparent in this ASUS Chromebook .
Chromebooks are known for having a long battery life. This laptop is not any different. It is one of the best in this regard, with a battery life of more than 10 hours.
Besides the computer’s overall decent performance, with an Intel Celeron N3060 processor and 4GB of DDR3 RAM, the best thing you’ll get here is an incredibly rugged design. It also comes with a backlit keyboard, something that is not standard for all Chromebooks, such as for Samsung Chromebook laptops. With rubber-reinforced edges, spill-resistant keyboard and 180-degree display hinge, this Chromebook can take a beating without flinching. If you’re looking for a budget laptop that won’t break on you, this is the Chromebook for you.
Key Factors to a Good Laptop Under $500
When we’re talking about budget computing, the key to everything is compromise. Some laptops on this list have great screens, but poor performance, while others have great specs and lackluster design.
No laptop under $500 is going to be the best of the best out there today, but as long as you keep a keen eye on the exact features you want and are willing to compromise for the rest, it doesn’t have to be all bad just because you’re not dropping an arm and a leg on your next mobile computer. However, if you are going to use the laptop for one main reason, you should make sure it will perform that task optimally. For example, if you are looking for a laptop to play games, you will want to make sure it runs smoothly, like with our list of laptops to play Roblox or laptops that are great for WoW.
Common Mistakes to Avoid
When shopping for a budget laptop, it can be easy to fall into the trap of picking the one that has the best specifications on paper, only to find out the performance still drags in person. The picks on this list are powerful, but their speed is also balanced by solid design and sturdy keyboards which is why they’re able to beat out the huge number of competitors that flood the budget space at the beginning of every year. Don’t think that just because a laptop is cheap on the wallet automatically means it has to feel cheap in the hand as a result.
Features to Look For
- Although AMD may own the budget-tier of CPUs when it comes to building your next desktop computer, in laptops, Intel still has plenty of skin in the game.
- Intel processors can still be competitive on budget laptops, thanks to the many improvements the company has made recently with its efficiency-centric line of CPUs. Look for the Intel UHD graphics unit on your laptop.
- Anything in the Core i family is a solid pick (even going down to i3), and AMD processors from the A8-7000 lineup are always a solid choice for product longevity and power.
- All the laptops listed here come with at least 2GB of DDR3 RAM, which is plenty to handle most multi-tasking days or multiple tabs open at a time.
- 8GB is ideal for DDR3, however 4GB of DDR3L is just as good given the efficiency savings you’ll get with the newer RAM technology.
- In the case of cheap laptops, never automatically assume it’s going to have enough storage space to handle a few programs and a movie or two.
- SSDs are too expensive to include at this price tier, which is why almost all of the models here run on a regular HDD instead.
- If speed is the name of your game, you’re better off springing an extra $100 for a model that has an SSD, preferably 128GB or above.
- The amount of pixels necessary to create a full HD 1920 x 1080 screen don’t come cheap, which is why the Toshiba Chromebook 2 is the only laptop here that gets to claim the honor.
- This in mind, 1366 x 1768 resolution isn’t all that terrible if the technology behind it is solid.
- In general, keep an eye out for anything that carries an IPS LED screen, although in certain cases LCD can get the job done just as well.
- This is where you have to be the most careful when looking for your next budget laptop.
- Manufacturers are notorious for making laptops under $500 with the cheapest, flimsiest plastic possible that will crack or even break completely when dropped from heights less than three feet.
- Almost all of the laptops we’ve listed here made the list not only for their specs, but also because they managed to walk the fine line between “cheap” and “cheaply made” in the best way possible.
So Which Laptop Under $500 is Right For You?
Sure, these aren’t laptops that are going to blow anyone away at first sight, and only one entry on this list even has the privilege of being able to call itself “full-HD”. Their keyboards could be better and their storage capacities could be bigger, their RAM could be faster and their graphics beefier…but that’s not what a budget laptop is for.
When deciding to buy a laptop on a budget various factors decide what is the best buy. It can be a graphics card, personal preference (windows laptops or MacBook laptops), or long battery life.
Budget laptops can be a good pick for any member of your family, whether it’s their first mobile device or your high-school graduate needs something cheap they can beat up at college. They’re versatile all-rounders that do a lot of different jobs as well as they need to get done, and for under $500 you couldn’t really ask for anything more than that. All the laptops in this list are a part of that pedigree, and most exceed the expectations set by their retail stickers while barely breaking a sweat.
Which HP laptop is right for you?
By Kirill Sokolov Reading 12 min Views 140 Published
HP is the world’s largest computer retailer, accounting for 1 in 5 computers sold. The company offers a huge selection of laptops for every budget and use case, from sub-$200 Chromebooks to high-performance workstations and mobile gaming devices. So, if you decide that you need an HP laptop, you need to choose not only the model that you need, but also which line.
Do you want a value-oriented pavilion, a stylish and productive Specter or a super-slim Envy? If you are buying for business, do you know the difference between EliteBook and ProBook? We’ll explore each HP sub-brand below to help you make your decision.
|HP Consumer Notebooks|
|Line||Suitable for||Price range||General characteristics|
|Specter||Consumers who can afford the sleekest and lightest laptops||$999-1550||CNC aluminum; SSD high resolution displays; Thunderbolt 3|
|Envy||Consumers who want high-end laptops but also want to spend less or get more ports than the Specter||729-$1,200||Aluminum extrusion; SSD IR cameras|
|Pavilion||Families and key consumers||$369-$950||Colored chassis; IR cameras; wide range of CPU and storage options|
|HP (no name)||Budget Conscious Consumers||$279-$700||DVD drives; mostly plastic; wide range of configurations|
|Omen||Gamers||$950-1899||Discrete graphics; H-series processors|
|Chromebooks||Children, Chrome fans||$179-$350||Celeron processors; touch or non-touch screens|
|Stream||Children, adults who need a second PC||$199-$249||Celeron processors; bright chassis|
- Specter: High performance consumer notebooks
- Envy: Stylish, powerful, but less expensive than the Specter
- Pavilion: General consumer
- Laptop HP Keys (Untitled): Consumers on a Budget
- Chromebook: Built for Kids and Chrome Fans
- Stream: Complementary Computers
- Omen: Built for Gamers
- EliteBook: A premium product for large businesses
- ProBook: Built for small businesses
- HP 200 Series: Affordable business notebooks
- ZBook: Mobile workstations
- Notebook manual
high performance consumer notebooks
HP’s most premium laptops typically cost over $1,000, but they’re light, great-looking, and have beautiful displays. If you can afford the premium, then these are HP’s top-of-the-line laptops for consumers or business users who don’t need IT management features like vPro. Some Specters even have an optional Sure View privacy screen that limits viewing angles so the person next to you on the plane can’t see your work.
A step above the Envy line, the Specter is typically machined from CNC-machined aluminum, giving it a more refined and solid look than other laptops. All Specter Laptops have SSDs and it’s unlikely you’ll see them with low specs like a Core i3 processor or a sub-1080p display.
General Specter features include:
- Silver or Ash CNC aluminum housing
- High performance processors (example: Kaby Lake G)
- SSDs only
- Optional 4K Displays, Sure View Privacy Screens
- Thunderbolt 3 ports
- Specter x360 ( 13″) : Buy this model if you want the best combination of portability, versatility and style and can afford to spend less than 1249dollars. This gorgeous 2-in-1 has an ultra-thin design, fast keyboard and long battery life. (Buy Now)
- Specter 13 : If you don’t need a 2-in-1 but want a powerful and stylish system, the Specter 13 is for you. But beware of its short battery life. The Envy 13 offers a much longer lifespan and a fantastic keyboard for $300 or $400 less. (Buy Now)
- Specter x360 (15″) : If you’re after style and size, this convertible has a 15″ touchscreen so you can take advantage of Windows 10’s tablet mode. The next version of this laptop will have a new Intel Kaby processor Lake G, combining high-speed AMD Radeon graphics with a 45-watt quad-core Intel processor. main processor. (Buy now)
Envy: stylish, powerful, but less expensive than the Specter
HP Envy notebooks are slim, beautifully designed machines with an all-metal chassis and high-quality components such as high-resolution SSDs. screens and discrete graphics. Envys is slightly cheaper than Specter and sometimes even cheaper. However, on some models, you may see lower-end components such as mechanical hard drives. The metal is usually extruded aluminum rather than the higher quality precision milled metal on the Specter line.
General Envy features include:
- Metal body
- Optional IR camera
- latest generation CPU
- USB Type-C ports
- Hard drive or SSD
Standout models include:
- Envy 13t : Our favorite HP laptop and one of the best technology in the world, Envy 13t has a wide range of ports, a fantastic keyboard and long battery life. It starts from 9$00 and is the best choice for students or those who want a premium clamshell laptop under $1000.. (Buy Now)
- HP Envy x360 15t : This 2-in-1 starts at $700, making it a much more affordable option than the Specter x360. (15 inches). It’s also one of the few laptops with an AMD Ryzen mobile processor. However, this laptop is heavier than the Specter and has a shorter battery life. (Buy Now)
The HP Pavilion line includes a wide selection of notebooks at basic prices. There are pavilions with a metal body, but plastic is often found. Some laptops also come in bright colors.
You can find low cost laptops like the Pavilion x360 (11-inch) for under $400 or more powerful systems like the Pavilion Power for over $900. If you can’t spend more than $700 or $800, consider a pavilion.
- Hard disk or solid state drive
- Additional IR cameras
- Additional discrete graphics
Standout models include:
- HP Pavilion x360 (11″) : This compact 2-in-1 costs less than $400 and provides pen support, but also has short battery life and a display with low resolution. (Buy now)
- HP Pavilion Power 15t : Built for budget gamers, the Power 15t features an Nvidia GTX 1050 discrete graphics card, a 45-watt Intel H-series processor, and a choice of Full-HD or 4K display. (Buy Now)
HP laptops (no name): consumers on a budget
HP’s least expensive laptops don’t have an official sub-brand like “Pavilion” or “Envy”. They are simply referred to as the HP+ model number. These inexpensive systems come in a variety of colors and sizes. Prices range from 279dollars low to $700 high, but most are below $600.
HP laptops launch with entry-level, Pentium and Celeron processors, but you can also find models with Intel 8th generation Core processors inside. You can also purchase these HP laptops with optical drives, a feature you won’t find on higher-end models.
Key features of HP Notebooks include:
- Many colors and materials
- Start with Celeron but upgrade to Intel Core i5/i7
- Hard drives and solid state drives
Here are some standout HP laptops:
- HP 15-BS015DX: This 15-inch laptop costs less than $500 and comes with a Core i5 processor, 8GB of RAM and a 1TB hard drive. It has a low-res 1366 x 768 display, but it’s a touchscreen laptop. (Buy now)
- HP 15-BW011DX: One of the cheapest 15-inch laptops you can buy, this model only costs $279. It comes with an AMD A6 processor, 500 GB hard drive, and 4 GB of RAM. (Buy Now)
Chromebooks: Made for Kids and Chrome Fans
Though HP Doesn’t Many Chromebooks, like Asus or Acer, make a great line of laptops based on Google’s browser-centric operating system.
Highlights of HP Chromebooks include:
- HP Chromebook 11 : This 11-inch laptop starts at $179 and provides 4GB of RAM and 16GB of storage. (Buy now)
- HP Chromebook x360: This 11-inch convertible usually costs $299 and comes with a Celeron processor, 4GB of RAM, and 16GB of storage. (Buy now)
- HP Chromebook 14 G4: This 14-inch Chromebook has an optional 1080p display. (Buy now)
Stream: Additional PCs
Whether you prefer Windows to Chrome OS and are looking for an affordable secondary PC or the first Notebook for kids, the HP Stream Series is for you. These sub-$250 PCs come in vibrant colors like purple and blue and feature flash-based Celeron processors.
HP Streams standouts include:
- HP Stream 11 : This $240 11-inch laptop weighs just 2.5 pounds and features a Celeron processor, 32GB of memory and 4 GB of RAM. (Buy now)
- HP Stream 14 : The larger Stream has a 14-inch 1366 x 768 screen but the same specs as its little brother and only costs $199. (Buy now)
Omen: built for gamers
If you’re a serious PC gamer, the HP Omen line is made for you. These laptops have attractive carbon fiber covers with the old Voodoo logo (HP acquired Voodoo about 10 years ago), as well as high-quality graphics cards and processors.
HP Omens include:
- HP Omen 17 : This 17-inch beast is available with a GTX 1070 graphics card and a Core i7 series processor H. It offers an attractive design, bright screen and high performance. (Buy now)
- HP Omen 15 : The smaller Omen has a bright display, great sound and an equally attractive design. like its larger counterpart. It starts at $1,000 and comes with an Nvidia GTX 1060 Max-Q GPU.. (Buy Now)
|HP Business Notebooks|
|Line||Suitable for||Price range||General characteristics|
|EliteBook 1000||High class business users||$1,000 or more||CNC aluminum; easy; SSD high resolution displays; enterprise-grade security and manageability|
|EliteBook 700/800||Ordinary business users||$800 +|| Aluminum case; high resolution displays; SSD Sure View 9 privacy screens0019|
|ProBook 600||Businesses with a limited budget who still need businesses – security enhancements||$599 and up||Intel vPro Management; self-healing BIOS|
|ProBook 400||Business users with small needs to medium-sized companies||$499 and up||USB Type-C ports; Intel or AMD processors; optional IR camera|
|HP 200||Business users with a very limited budget||$359 and up||Optical drives; low specification|
|Zbook||Professionals who want||$1,000 and up||Additional Xeon processors; Nvidia Quadro graphics; 4K displays|
EliteBook: a premium product for large businesses
The HP EliteBook line is designed for large businesses, offering a combination of security and reliability. These notebooks are equipped with biometric login options and built-in security software such as self-healing BIOSes and rugged MIL-SPEC compliant chassis. These machines also provide vPro manageability so IT can update and monitor their fleet remotely. If you settle on this line, be sure to check out our top 5 accessories for EliteBooks.
EliteBooks are divided into two series:
- EliteBook 1000 Series: HP’s high-end business notebooks use premium materials and finished components. These products cost over $1,000. Common specs include a CNC-machined aluminum chassis, pen input, Thunderbolt 3 ports, and 2-in-1 form factors. Standout models include the EliteBook x360 G2 and EliteBook 1020 G2.
- EliteBook 700/800 Series: Designed for everyday professionals, these laptops are still equipped with the latest components. . Common specs include an aluminum chassis, solid state drives, Full-HD screens, and various docking options. All EliteBook 820, 830 and 840 G5 models feature innovative rear-mounted microphones that can be used for better conference calls..
ProBook: Designed for small businesses
HP ProBooks, designed for small and medium businesses that don’t necessarily have large IT departments. Cheaper than the EliteBook but still built to help you get the job done. Some ProBooks also have old legacy ports such as VGA connectors.
ProBooks are divided into two series:
- ProBook 600 Series: These laptops are secure enough for large businesses on a budget and feature Intel vPro. handling, flexible docking options and some very thin models. These laptops start at $599.
- ProBook 400 Series: Designed for small businesses, this mid-range computer lineup offers a USB Type-C docking station and a choice of Intel or AMD processors. These computers are available in 14″, 15″ and 17″ sizes. These laptops start at $500.
HP 200 Series: Affordable Business Notebooks
These are the cheapest business notebooks of all, and the only ones. choice for users who need optical disc drives. For example, the HP 255 costs just $359 and comes with an AMD processor, 4GB of RAM, and a 500GB hard drive.
ZBook: Mobile Workstations
Video editors, architects, and creative professionals who need workstation-level processing power but can’t be squeezed to one desk should try HP’s ZBook. These workstation-class laptops are available with the most powerful mobile processors and graphics, including the Intel Xeon chip and Nvidia Quadro graphics.
ZBook standouts include:
- HP ZBook 17 G4 : One of our favorite mobile workstations with a stunning 4K display, rugged design and best in class performance. (Buy now)
- HP ZBook 15 G4 : This 15″ workstation has a stunning display and great performance. and many ports. (Buy)
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Best laptops of 2021 under $500
The best laptop under $500 is the Lenovo Chromebook Flex 5. When choosing a laptop in this price range, you often have to compromise on performance, screen quality, or battery life. The Lenovo Chromebook Flex 5, however, manages to pack in just about everything you could want in a modern laptop while keeping the price impressively low. Of course, if you have nothing against the Chromebook operating system.
Other than that, we’ve also picked the best Windows laptop, the best 2-in-1 laptop, and even the best laptop under $300.
A quick look at the best laptops under $500:
Best laptop under $500: Lenovo Chromebook Flex 5
Best Windows laptop under $500: Acer Aspire 5
Best 2-in-1 laptop under $500: Microsoft Surface Go 2
Best laptop under $300: Lenovo Chromebook Duet
Best 15-inch laptop under $500: Samsung Chromebook 4+
Best laptop review under $500: Lenovo Chromebook Flex 5
Finding a good 13-inch laptop under $500 is hard, but Chrome OS comes to the rescue.
Finding a good 13-inch laptop under $500 is next to impossible. It’s a pity, since this laptop size is the most popular. But it’s actually not entirely impossible thanks to Chrome OS, and the Lenovo Chromebook Flex 5 manages to deliver impressive performance, 2-in-1 flexibility, and great value for money at under $500.
This puts the Chromebook at the top of our list.
Impressively, there is a 10th generation Intel Core i3-10110U processor inside, which is fast enough for Chrome OS. 4GB of RAM is enough for good performance and moderate multitasking, while 64GB of external storage is enough if you use cloud storage wisely.
Not surprisingly, it is Chromebook that occupies this category. The Chromebook Flex 5 is good value for money.
Best laptop under $500 with Windows: Acer Aspire 5
The 2019 Acer Aspire 5 is a $480 laptop with much more real value.
The Acer Aspire 5 has been greatly improved in its latest update, getting better performance, build quality and battery life. The latest model is a little more expensive now, but there’s still a chance to find one for under $500. The laptop has a 10th generation Core i3-1005G1U processor, 4GB of RAM, 128GB of external storage, and a 15.6-inch Full HD screen.
It’s great stuff for the money, a well-made budget laptop that inspires confidence in its quality when you hold it in your hand, and its keyboard and touchpad are well above their class. Battery life is also a big plus – the Aspire 5 can compete with much more expensive laptops here.
The 15-inch 1080p display on the Acer Aspire 5 is also very good considering its price, but to add touchscreen functionality you’ll have to spend more than $500. Since this is not a 2-in-1 laptop after all, for the money it’s not that important.
Best 2-in-1 laptop under $500: Microsoft Surface Go 2
Affordable, compact and powerful, the Surface Go 2 is a great laptop option for under $500.
The second-generation Microsoft Surface Go 2 is the baby of the Surface lineup, but that doesn’t mean it’s a weak little machine. Starting at such a low price, you might think it’s too cheap even for what we’re looking at, but you’re wrong. Packing many of the great features of its more expensive siblings like the Surface Pro 7, the Surface Go 2 is a solid, well-built 2-in-1 convertible machine that works equally well in tablet or laptop mode.
You’ll have to spend a little more money for a keyboard cover and pen if you want a complete laptop and tablet, but you can do that later if your spending is limited for now. And while its screen isn’t as good as a dedicated tablet like the iPad, it’s still one of the best value-for-money convertibles we’ve ever seen.
The Surface Go 2 isn’t fast, but the tablet has decent battery life, and you won’t find a better 2-in-1 Windows laptop at this price point.
Best laptop under $300: Lenovo Chromebook Duet
Chromebook at an incredibly low price.
If you’re on a budget and looking for a convertible tablet that’s good enough for web browsing and light tasks that don’t require a lot of performance, look no further than the Lenovo Chromebook Duet. This tablet is priced at $279 ($299 with 128GB) and best of all, it has a flip-top lid with a large touchpad keyboard.
This makes the Chromebook Duet one of the best value for money. You will receive a full-fledged transformer tablet costing several hundred dollars below the competition. Performance is average, but fast enough for everyday tasks, and the display is surprisingly good for the money. It will work with your favorite Android apps and offers one of the best web browsing experiences on a tablet.
Best 15-inch laptop under $500: Samsung Chromebook 4+
Need a bigger screen? This beautiful Chromebook is what you need!
Laptops under $500 don’t often grab attention for their looks, but can they be blamed? At these low prices, it’s better to pay for performance and configuration than aesthetics. However, the Samsung Chromebook 4+ won’t force you to compromise.
It has a unibody, aluminum body design reminiscent of a MacBook Pro, complete with a large 15-inch screen. This makes it a good option for students and freelancers who might not have an extra monitor.
Its specs don’t blow the roof, but with a 1080p screen and 4GB of RAM, the Samsung Chromebook 4+ does the trick.
Selection and Buying Tips
- Should you buy a laptop under $500?
- Should I buy a Chromebook?
- Can you find a gaming laptop under $500?
- What’s missing in laptops under $500?
Should you buy a laptop under $500?
It is possible to find a good laptop that won’t force you to compromise, although it will be difficult.
We recommend that you do not select laptops with screen resolutions below 1080p, Windows 10 laptops with a Pentium processor, or laptops without an SSD. Of course, there will always be exceptions, but these parameters significantly affect the impression of the work.
Whichever choice you make, don’t expect a laptop to handle complex tasks like editing videos or playing games. They are suitable for everyday computing work, working with text files and web surfing.
Should you buy a Chromebook?
Chromebooks don’t offer Windows, which may or may not be good for you, depending on how you feel about Microsoft’s OS. As it has evolved, the Chromebook has become a viable alternative to Windows, especially in the lower price range. Because Chrome is a lighter OS with fewer features, Chromebooks are often faster and offer better battery life than their Windows counterparts (in a given price range).
They even support Android apps through the Google Play Store, which gives you access to a huge range of mobile apps and games. However, the Android app experience leaves a lot to be desired, so don’t count on it too much. The downside is that you can’t just go online and install any app. In fact, all actions in the web browser are prohibited.
Is it possible to find a gaming laptop under $500?
More likely no than yes. The cheapest gaming laptops start at $600-$650. These laptops are no longer powerful enough for today’s games, although if you play lighter games and are willing to play at low settings, they will manage.
None of the laptops on this list are suitable for 3D gaming.
What’s missing from laptops under $500?
Most $500 laptops are made of plastic, as opposed to aluminum and other materials used in premium laptops. You will also find better performance in expensive laptops. Quad-core processors and 8GB of RAM are the norm for mid-range laptops, while most options on this list have less.
Expensive laptops often specialize in either battery life or graphics performance. The Dell XPS 13 gives you all-day battery life, while the Razer Blade lets you play modern games at high frame rates. If you want to spend less than $500, you should expect a laptop with the most minimal features. It can handle most everyday tasks with ease, but gaming, photo/video editing, and other more advanced tasks may require a larger budget.