Being on a budget is all about being wise with your money. If you’re in the market for a new laptop, for instance, you don’t need to splurge just to treat yourself to something good.
In this buying guide, we show you the best laptops under $500 and what to expect from each. As a plus, we also explain what features you should keep in mind before buying a laptop for only half a grand.
Let’s get to it!
Table of Contents
- Top 7 Reviews for Laptops Under $500
- Best Laptop Overall: Acer Aspire 5
- Best Value for Money Laptop: Asus Vivobook 15
- Best Performing Laptop: DELL Inspiron 15
- Best Laptop for Business and School: Lenovo Ideapad 3
- Best Laptop Quality: Microsoft Surface Go 2
- Best Budget-Friendly Laptop: HP Stream 14
- Best Alternative Laptop: Samsung Chromebook 4
- 3 Factors to Consider before Buying a Laptop under $500
- Final Say
Top 7 Reviews for Laptops Under $500
Below, we take you through our top seven reviews for laptops under $500. By exploring the highlights, demerits, and main features of each, we help you reach a decision on which laptop is more suited for your needs.
Best Laptop Overall: Acer Aspire 5
If you’re looking for overall great performance and a laptop that checks off most minimal requirements, then the Acer Aspire 5 makes for an ideal first choice. In addition to it being budget-friendly, this product also has a lot to offer.
For starters, it has a wide 15.6″ screen best for those with poor eyesight or who spend much time in front of their laptops. This model is a popular buy because not only is it lightweight, but it also features an AMD Ryzen 3 4300U core processor. It’s the only variant of Aspire 5 that has it, which in turn allows the laptop to operate smoother than most.
Another perk that makes Acer Aspire 5 stand out is the backlit keyboard. If you spend many nights with your laptop, working, Acer’s got your back. With a 1080p screen resolution and 128GB SSD memory, you can store as many files as you need.
On the other hand, Acer Aspire 5 has a limited RAM of 4GB. Unlike the DELL Inspiron 14 which has double the amount of memory, this Aspire model may not be suitable for those who need to run multiple programs at once. Additionally, Acer Aspire 5 is known for its short battery life too.
Not just that, but Acer Aspire 5 isn’t manufactured from durable material, meaning, its build quality is questionable. Plus, its resolution may be high, but due to its poor RAM, the graphics may not be the best.
- All the basic requirements of a functioning laptop at a reasonable price
- Features the sought-after AMD Ryzen 3 4300U Quad-Core processor
- Has a backlit keyboard and uses Windows 10 as an OS
- A wide, blue-filtered screen that won’t hurt your eyes
- Small memory leads to slow performance in the long-term
- A short battery life that lasts only five to six hours
Best Value for Money Laptop: Asus Vivobook 15
While Acer Aspire 5 meets the standard needs of any laptop user, Asus Vivobook 15 offers the same and more—with the price still being under $500. Among the few features that both models share are the wide 15.6″ screen, the backlit keyboard, and the 128GB SSD memory.
Yet what makes Asus better is the fact that it operates using Windows 11; a feature that’s hard to find in budget-friendly laptops. Additionally, the Vivobook 15 is powered by Intel Core i3-1115G4. This is a suitable processor for finishing basic business, school, and work assignments.
Asus Vivobook 15 is also one of the few inexpensive products that are lightweight and have a compact design, without having to sacrifice much of its features. Due to its 85% body-to-screen ratio and nano-edge display, Asus is ideal to carry with you anywhere.
Unfortunately, both Asus Vivobook 15 and Acer Aspire 5 have the short battery life feature in common. So, on one hand, you’ll end up with a sleek laptop, but on the other, Asus won’t be high or fast-performing.
Keep in mind too that this Asus model has a limited RAM of 8GB. This makes the product good for menial tasks and low-processing games, but it’ll take a lot of steam to operate any memory-consuming programs.
- Offers the best value for money a below $500 laptop can give
- Operates with Windows 11 and an 8GB RAM to match it
- 15″ screen, plus a backlit keyboard that is perfect for late-night tasks
- Easy to carry and won’t take up much space
- A deteriorating battery that won’t stand the test of time
- Can’t run demanding programs, such as CAD and editing applications
Best Performing Laptop: DELL Inspiron 15
Finding a laptop that’s under $500 and performs just as well as other expensive models on the market can be difficult. Luckily, the DELL Inspiron 15 is a great choice for those seeking a high-functioning laptop at a reasonable price.
Similar to the two previous models, DELL also has a 15″-wide FHD screen that’s suitable for consumers who spend most of their day in front of a laptop. Additionally, the Inspiron model owes its chic appearance to the three-sided narrow bezels and its flexible, lightweight design.
On top of that, this DELL product features the biggest size memory our list has to offer. With 256GB SSD memory, plus, 8GB of RAM, you’re guaranteed a high-speed performance. In other words, you face fewer chances of the laptop lagging, unlike with the Acer Aspire 5.
Since the DELL Inspiron 15 uses the latest 11th Generation Intel Core i3-1115G4 as its main processor—just like the aforementioned Asus model, its purposes are limited. While the product will do well for everyday tasks, it won’t handle programs that’ll consume its battery fast.
Not only that, but DELL Inspiron has no USB-C, meaning, you won’t be able to transfer data as quickly as the other laptops. Issues with screen brightness and swift keyboard typing are among Inspiron’s disadvantages too.
- A steady-performing laptop due to its high RAM and big storage size
- Features latest technologies despite being inexpensive
- Lightweight, inspiring design that uses Windows 11 as its OS
- Has an Intel UHD Graphics card that enhances its functionality
- Uses are limited to low-processing projects and work
- The screen has a weak glare which may lead to eye strain
Best Laptop for Business and School: Lenovo Ideapad 3
The Lenovo Ideapad 3 model offers multiple features that all play a huge role in helping businessmen and high school students to smoothly finish their tasks. You won’t face performance issues, lagging screens, or insufficient memory with the Lenovo Ideapad.
Although this product has a 14″ screen, it’s one of the few flexible laptops you can get at an affordable price. Due to its compact design, the narrow bezels allow for a better body-to-screen ratio—similar to that of the Asus Vivobook 15. Plus, Lenovo features an upgraded AMD Ryzen 5 that’s better than the OS that the Acer Aspire 5 uses.
The 256GB of SSD memory and the 12-hour battery life will last you through the night and for a good number of years. This product has 8GB of RAM in common with the DELL Inspiron 15, yet stands out with its touchscreen and Q-control switching mode.
One of the main disadvantages you may face with the Lenovo Ideapad 3, however, is that it has a stiff touchpad. Not only can it be difficult to navigate from one app to another, but the mediocre display may be hard to stare at for too long.
In other words, both the Lenovo Ideapad 3 and the DELL Inspiron 15 have issues with brightness. Lenovo’s video quality isn’t the best either—unless you’re willing to sacrifice it for your Zoom meetings.
- Perfect choice for start-up entrepreneurs and fresh high school graduates
- Convertible, 14″-wide, blue-filtered screen with a beautiful design
- Enough storage space and memory to support multitasking
- Q-control helps switch to battery-saving mode during travels
- The cramped keyboard may be hard to type on smoothly
- Low-quality screen and video camera
Best Laptop Quality: Microsoft Surface Go 2
Microsoft is renowned for manufacturing optimal laptops with materials of the highest quality. Among the wide variety of budget-friendly products they have to offer, Microsoft Surface Go 2 stands out the most.
One of the perks this Microsoft model has to offer is its excellent build quality. Because of its HD display, compact design, and versatile hardware package, Microsoft Surface has an ideal real-world performance.
Additionally, this product has the smallest screen this list has to offer (10.5″), making it a good choice for frequent travelers. The Microsoft Go 2 may be compact, but with an internal memory of 128GB and 4GB of RAM, it’s more than equipped to handle your day-to-day tasks.
Although the Microsoft Surface Go 2 can be easily carried around, it comes at a price. For instance, its core processor is an eighth-generation Intel core. This often leads to the CPU not performing as well as the other aforementioned products.
Similar to the Asus and Acer models, the Microsoft Go’s battery life is quite short. It may be an affordable 2-in-1 laptop, yet both its touchpad and keyboard are small, to keep the design minimal—just like the Lenovo Ideapad 3.
- A solid choice for those seeking a long-lasting laptop
- Durable material at a reasonable price
- Lightweight, 2-in-1 design that’s hard to come by
- 128GB of storage space that’s perfect for multitaskers
- Good quality at the expense of poor performance
- An outdated and unappealing design
Best Budget-Friendly Laptop: HP Stream 14
Much like the previous Microsoft product, HP offers a great product that meets the basic needs of a consumer on a budget. Not only that, but it’s the one option here that’s incredibly cheap yet works just fine.
At $245 (that’s less than half the budget we set here!), the HP Stream model is lightweight (2.5 pounds) with a thin, stylish frame, making the laptop travel-friendly. It’s perfect for on-the-go work and its Intel Celeron N4020 CPU can handle simple tasks, including research.
Additionally, HP Stream features 4GB of memory and an Intel UHD Graphics 600 graphic processor. These aren’t the only characteristics that make HP Stream stand out from the rest, however. This laptop also comes in two versions—a 14″ and an 11″ one that’s cheaper by $50.
In other words, HP Stream is a great choice for those on a pretty tight budget for a laptop. While the product can handle word processing and web browsing functions with ease, it has basement-level performance. Similar to the Asus and Acer models, HP Stream has a short battery life as well.
On one hand, HP Stream has a scoring 64GB of storage space, but it does feature an additional 1TB of cloud storage to help with your needs. This does come at a cost, however, considering how low-res the laptop’s screen is and how poor the quality of the webcam is too. HP Stream isn’t ideal for running demanding apps either and only has a Windows 10 S operating system.
- Perfect for scholars who frequently travel or college students on a budget
- Features two USB ports, a Type C port, and an HDMI port
- Has an SD card slot option for extra storage space
- Comes with a one-year subscription to Microsoft Office and Store
- The resolution, graphics, and colors of the screen are dull
- Low-quality webcam and audio speakers
Best Alternative Laptop: Samsung Chromebook 4
Samsung laptops may not be up there with other renowned brand names, such as DELL and HP, but their products are known for their high performance. Plus, Samsung only uses materials of the best quality and rarely sacrifices efficiency for aesthetics.
That said, however, the fourth generation of the Samsung Chromebook model is a popular choice with those shopping for a laptop under $500. The unibody design, framed with aluminum casting makes for an incredibly stylish product. This makes the item easy to carry around and its battery life can last up to ten hours.
Similar to the Asus model, the Samsung Chromebook comes at 15″. It may not have a back-lit keyboard like Asus, but the keypad is pretty silent and guarantees you a smooth typing experience.
Unlike HP Stream, Samsung Chromebook does feature a better quality webcam with speakers that don’t crackle in the background. Unfortunately, both models share a dull colored and blurry screen, meaning, this Samsung product isn’t great for streaming movies or watching videos.
The washed-out display isn’t the only issue with the Samsung Chromebook, though. It has limited RAM of 4GB and an Intel Celeron CPU that won’t handle high-processing tasks beyond standard ones.
- A sleek, silver design that’s both compact and budget-friendly
- Performs silently for late-nighters with a long-lasting battery too
- Features a high-performing Intel Core Processor
- A power-efficient 15″ display
- Features just one USB port which can be limiting
- Users can’t upgrade the product’s memory or storage capacity
3 Factors to Consider before Buying a Laptop under $500
In this section, we explain in detail the three important factors you should keep in mind while you choose a laptop under $500 that’ll best suit your needs.
The main features of any laptop typically include the following: processor type, screen size, resolution, graphic card, and hard drive. What you choose for each will rely mostly on how you intend to use the product and how often you’ll be on it.
For instance, you decide the kind of processor you want based on how many tasks you plan to run in your laptop’s background. A strong CPU won’t lag as much. The quality of the model’s graphic card, on the other hand, determines what programs will run smoothly on it.
When it comes to the other factors, most laptops under $500 range from 10″ to 15″ and offer great resolution up to 1080p. If you’re using it to play games, stream videos, and edit, you need to go for the best the market has to offer.
RAM and Storage
How big the RAM and storage space is, is one of the most necessary features to keep in mind when buying any kind of laptop. An affordable one comes with limited options which is why we recommend choosing wisely.
4GB of RAM will help expedite many computing processes. It’ll operate the CPU smoothly. It’s the go-to choice for those using their laptops for simple tasks. Graphic designing, video editing, and gaming may require a model with RAM of 8GB or higher, though.
That said, a budget-friendly laptop normally has a minimum storage space of 320GB. Depending on how much data you need to be stored or downloaded, your choice of storage will differ.
Kind of Operating System
The operating system (OS) you prefer will limit your laptop choices. The standard OS most people go for is Windows. There are many available variations of the latter in the market nowadays, but the most ideal are Windows 10 and 11.
MAC operating systems, comparatively, operate only on Apple Macbooks. Not many are sold at under $500, though. So, you may find the right model for you, but find it too expensive.
The one thing to remember is that often affordable laptops come with pre-installed DOS systems, meaning, you end up having to buy and install an OS on your own. Many experts don’t recommend doing this since it may lead to complications with performance.
In our buying guide, we reviewed our favorite and best laptops under $500. Who says you need to break the bank trying to buy a new laptop!
With that said, we recommend getting the Acer Aspire 5 since it offers a variety of features and covers most consumers’ basic needs. If storage and memory are important to you, however, then go for the DELL Inspiron 15 instead. Its screen may be dim, but it operates faster and smoother than most.
Enjoy your new purchase!