The best laptops in the market cost much more, but for the average consumer, anything under $500 is still OK. When shopping for a laptop in this price range, you might have to make a few compromises, so it matters that you prioritize features that are important to you.
- Very affordable
- Best value for the components
- Some boast good sleek designs
- May not suffice for gaming
You don’t have to feel like you’re settling for less when shopping for the best laptop under $500. Currently, there are tons of pint-priced notebooks that boast the best of features, some with full-HD displays, others with solid performance, and long battery life, plus a useful set of ports you need. If you’re buying on a budget, here are the best laptops under $500 that you can buy today. If not on a tight budget, you can check out the best laptops overall for 2021.
If you look around, you can even get a 2-in-1 with a touchscreen at this price, though it may not be running Windows OS or maybe on the smaller side.
In the past years, we’ve reviewed value-priced laptops, the most well-rounded Windows laptops under $500 remains to be the 15-inch Acer Aspire E15. Our favorite pocket-friendly Chromebook is the Samsung Chromebook 3. But we have plenty of units to recommend for anyone on a budget.
Choosing a Budget Laptop
The best laptops in the market cost much more, but for the average consumer, laptops under $500 are still OK. When shopping for a laptop in this price range, you might have to make a few compromises, so it matters that you prioritize features that are important to you and get as many of them as you can, without crossing your budget.
In our list, we have listed some of our favorites, and we will keep updating the list so you can always check back. Still, when evaluating the best laptop at this price, some of the features to consider include:
Full-HD (1920 x 1080) Screen: In as much as you’re shopping on a budget, you don’t have to settle with a mediocre resolution, especially for a notebook. However, it is OK for a Chromebook to have a low-res, 1366 x 768 display as it allows you to fit a lot of text on the screen at once.
Still, if you can find one with a 1920 x 1080 resolution, that will be a bonus as you can easily view your favorite web pages, emails, social media feeds, and documents without scrolling. You’ll also benefit from much sharper images and videos.
SSD or eMMC Memory: At this price range, expect most laptops to use mechanical hard drives, but if you can bump into one with a solid-state drive or eMMC storage, grab it! It will speed up your boot and application load times, if you don’t get one, go with one with the highest capacity of hard drive storage.
Build Quality: Definitely, you’re looking for a laptop that you can lug around to college or work, for that good build quality is great. As you shop around if you find one with an aluminum lid on any of its surfaces –deck and lid– that points to a good design. Most likely, at this price range, you might have to settle for plastic.
Get the right CPU: For sub-$500, a Core i3 processor is perhaps the best you can get. Intel Pentium and Celeron CPUs dominate this category, they are serviceable, though not particularly speedy. Plus, a Chromebook generally requires less processing power than a Windows machine, so the choice of CPU matters a lot.
Here’s a list of our top picks.
1. Acer Aspire E5-576-392H
Good value, Strong Performance
Key Specs: CPU: 8th-Gen Intel Core i3 | RAM: 6GB | Storage: 1TB hard drive (5,400-rpm) | Screen: 15.6 inches (1920 x 1080) | Battery Life: 8:48 (hrs:min) | Weight: 5 pounds
For just under $500, the Acer Aspire E15 can rock your campus or office world with a powerful 8th Gen core i3 plenty, a useful set of ports, and a chic aesthetic, that is more premium than anything else in this category.
In fact, it is an upgraded version of our Editors’ Choice Acer Aspire E 15 (E5-575-33BM) from last year. It is the first laptop in our Best Laptops under $500 list and brings along more power than its predecessor, and a battery that lasts a bit longer than last year’s model that delivers just under 9 hours. The newer version of the Aspire E 15 is outfitted with a beefier 6GB of RAM, keeps the DVD writer, and includes a USB-C port.
The Keyboard is comfortable to type on for long sessions, thanks to new springy and well-lined keys. What the Aspire E 15 is more computer than you’re paying for. It is the best laptop to get if you’re shopping on a sub-$500 budget.
Read full review: Acer Aspire E15 Review
2. ASUS VivoBook F510UA-AH51
Perfect candidate for the office
Key Specs: CPU: 8th-Gen Intel Core i5 | RAM: 8GB | Storage: 1TB hard drive (5,400-rpm) | Screen: 15.6 inches (1920 x 1080) | Battery Life: 5:42 (hrs:min) | Weight: 3.7 pounds
The ASUS VivoBook F510UA leads from the top with a price that is just over $500, but it nevertheless gets a top spot in this list. It packs all the latest hardware specs you’d expect in a future-proof laptop, including an 8th Gen. Intel Core i5-8250U Quad-Core processor, 8GB memory, and 1TB of storage.
To the list of niceties, add a NanoEdge display –one of the best in the segment– with very tiny bezels and excellent color reproduction as well as a fingerprint scanner. Plus, it weighs just 3.7 pounds, a great choice if you need something you can easily tote around.
If you don’t have the time to sift through many budget laptops, the VivoBook FF510UA is a straightaway buy, that is versatile enough to meet the needs of all types of users.
Read full review: ASUS VivoBook F510UA Review
3. Samsung Chromebook 3
Portable, with a bright screen
Key Specs: CPU: Intel Celeron N3060 processor | RAM: 4GB | Storage: 16GB SSD | Screen: 11.6 HD Anti-reflective display (1366 x 768) | Battery Life: 9:48 (hrs:min) | Weight: 3.65 pounds
The Samsung Chromebook 3 is a budget system that offers the brightest 11.6-inch display in its class, strong performance with 4GB memory, and almost 10 hours of battery life. For the price, it offers value that’s simply hard to beat in the budget Chromebooks category.
If you really need Windows and Microsoft Office, then, the notebooks in this list offer better value. But if you don’t mind Chrome OS and need something practical at a low price, this compact Samsung laptop is a solid choice, especially for college students and anyone who primarily surfs the web.
Read full review: Samsung Chromebook 3 Review
4. Lenovo Ideapad 330
A touch of class
Key Specs: CPU: Intel Celeron Quad-Core N4100/ Intel Core i3-8130U/Intel i5-8250U | RAM: 4GB/8GB | Storage: 16GB/256GB/512GB/1TB SSD | Screen: 15.6 HD Anti-reflective display (1366 x 768) | Battery Life: 4:38 (hrs:min) | Weight: 4.85 pounds
The Lenovo IdeaPad 330 is part of our Best Laptops under $500 listing and denotes a range of affordable notebooks that offer a wide range of configuration options, which is something you rarely see in mainstream budget notebooks. It’s one of the few notebooks that offer the possibility of diverse configurations while remaining affordable and maintaining a stylish design.
This must be what you have in mind when defining a top-value laptop, offering impeccable features and good components at a low price. And, it is very configurable so you get to choose your specs before ordering.
Read full review: Lenovo Ideapad 330 Review
5. Acer Chromebook 11
An excellent Chromebook
Key Specs: CPU: Intel Celeron Dual-Core N3060 | RAM: 4GB | Storage: 16GB eMMC | Screen: 11.6 HD (1366 x 768) | Battery Life: 10:26 (hrs:min) | Weight: 2.43 pounds
The Acer Chromebook 11 CB3-132-C4VV is a sturdy, affordable, Chromebook that is a perfect choice for cloud computing. It bears a stylish design, a bright IPS display, and a reasonably low price tag.
This 11-inch laptop fuses a non-convertible design with all the features you’d need in a Chromebook, and nothing extra. By all features, we mean a long-lasting battery, a svelte and light design, stable performance, and an insanely low price tag.
It’s ideal for anyone in the market for an attractive yet decent Chromebook for work, college, and entertainment.
Read full review: Acer Chromebook 11 Review
6. Acer Aspire 1
Windows 10 in a chromebook
Key Specs: CPU: Intel Celeron N4000 Dual-Core| RAM: 4GB | Storage: 64GB eMMC | Screen: 14 HD (1920 x 1080) | Battery Life: 6:38 (hrs:min) | Weight: 2.43 pounds
The 14-inch Acer Aspire 1 A114-32-C1YA makes it to the Best Laptops under $500 list as the best choice for bargain hunters looking for an affordable, stylish and lightweight laptop for daily productivity, and one that offers the flexibility of Windows 10, something Chromebooks lack.
With the latest Aspire 1, Acer is offering a budget laptop with a stylish design that is both slim and lightweight, with a 1080p display that’s sharper than what rivals offer for the same price.
It scores well as a media consumption device, that will allow you to stream movies, watch videos, web browsing and handle basic office tasks.
Read full review: Acer Aspire 1 A114-32-C1YA Review
The Bottom Line
That said, your buying decision comes down to whether you need a full-fledged Windows PC, or can do with the simplicity of a Chromebook. A Windows 10-based machine will suffice if you have apps you depend on, such as Microsoft Office suite apps, or Adobe for media creation.
On the other hand, Chrome OS machines can run the Android versions of these apps with Google Play emulation, but they offer the very basic when it comes to features. In our best laptops under 500 list we’ve covered the best machines you can buy for the price.
Chromebooks will be the best if you mostly use the Chrome browser, and are interested in a system that can take care of itself. With a Chromebook, you may never need an antivirus, software updates are automatic, though, they are mostly online-dependent, as offline modes are still not widely available.