For many, gaming is a lifestyle – one that should begin with a good and dependable gaming setup. The best gaming laptop under $500 isn’t just a catchy title for a blog post, however: it’s a reality that we’re here to help you achieve.
While we’ll do most of the research and comparison for you, the ultimate decision is one of personal preference: what you’d think of as the “best gaming laptop” (under $500) might be completely different than everyone else in your circle of friends would consider, whether it’s an ASUS VivoBook you’re going for or the Dell i5575.
How to Choose the Best Gaming Laptop Under $500
As you would expect with a budget of only $500, you cannot buy a powerhouse for the price. Instead, you will get a laptop that is good for light gaming and can help you scratch the itch while you are traveling.
With a budget as low as this, you should sacrifice as much build-quality as possible so as to get more processing power for your games. Of course, this does mean that you need to take greater care of your laptop, but you will also be able to play much better games than you would otherwise.
Usually, memory should be one of the top-most defining factors in your choice. Most modern gaming laptops allow you to upgrade your RAM, which is good for when you’re able to save up or get a pay raise and go from 4 to 16 gigs in a day.
Don’t go for a laptop with less than 6GB of RAM as that will massively slow down even basic tasks such as browsing (if you open too many tabs). As for the processor, you’d be hard-pressed to find a cheap laptop running an 8th Generation Core-i7 or having an i5, so Core-i3 or previous generation i5 chips are the way to go.
While cheap laptops will limit you in terms of screens (lower resolution), you can still choose from a decent selection of processors and other hardware. Let’s take a look at some of the best gaming laptops under $500.
1. Acer Aspire E 15
The Acer Aspire E 15 might be listed last here, but it is certainly not the least qualified to be here. In fact, the price tag is more than a little surprising, since you’d spring for this one just on the merit of its qualities alone. The Acer Aspire E 15 shows the power of cost management and the dedication towards quality of that can make a company as big as they are.
One of the things we most appreciated in many laptops on this list was the ability to upgrade, and the Acer Aspire E 15 has that covered and, in fact, it makes it easy.
The 62-watt-hour battery goes with the 8th-gen Intel Core processor to make for stellar battery life: it can go the good part of half a day if recharged just once. As far as gaming is concerned, expect similar performance to the HP Pavilion x360 15.
It’s an intensely affordable, surprisingly competent laptop with amazing connectivity, smooth-running CPU and GPU, and a purchase akin to paying for peace of mind, even on a budget.
- strong graphics rendering
- top-of-the-line battery
- good performance
- USB-C and USB-A port
- no SSD
- DDR3 RAM
- not the best build quality
2. HP Pavilion X360 15
Probably the most smartly built laptop on this list. The HP Pavilion X360 15 takes away the looks and uses this cost reduction to provide powerful hardware.
Yes, the keyboard is stiff, but it’s rigidly built, compactly packed, cooled as it goes (for all you know, since its operating temperatures are surprisingly low), and works amazingly for a cheap gaming laptop.
In fact, it might be the one on this list that’s great for entry-level laptops and entry-level gamers, as it’s a reliable option with even more reliable battery life and dual-storage configuration that no other laptop in this range would offer.
The competitor next in line after this one is roughly more expensive by upwards of a full one hundred dollars, meaning it’s in another range completely. The performance-to-price ratio is stunning, as is the notebook-style high-feature display, and backlit keyboard.
There’s also something about the HP Pavilion X360 15 that makes us realize how overlooked this feature is in most laptops: a slim power adapter.
At this price, it’s a no-brainer: the storage is manually upgradable, there’s an IPS screen, 8th Gen Intel Core i3 processor, and a spectacular 15-inch display.
- impressive native speakers and sound quality
- backlit keyboard
- 8th gen processor
- touchpad lags
- only 4GB of RAM
- no SSD
3. Dell Inspiron I3567
For those used to the look of a Dell laptop, this one is easily identifiable as it bears the signature Dell design. Unfortunately, this also means that it’s rather bulky, but it is otherwise a fine pick for a laptop that you can keep with you for the same power as a desktop PC.
With a base frequency that goes from 2.5GHz to 3.1 GHz, the dual-core Dell Inspiron I3567 is backed by a 7th generation Intel Core i5-7200U processor, and you can add another 8GB of RAM to the original 8 through the main board, meaning that what other laptops offer for a couple more hundred dollars, this one gives you for way less.
Ultimately, this is a laptop that takes its part whether you are at the office working or at your home trying to get some gaming done. As far as $500 laptops go, this is as powerful as one can get.
- 256GB SSD
- decent all-around performance
- great build quality
- upgradeable RAM
- dull display
- fairly bulky
- average sound quality
4. Lenovo Ideapad A12
Integrated AMD Radeon graphics mean GPU scaling of the highest order, the 802.11 a/c WiFi means three times faster Internet than you’d be used to, surprisingly sharp stereo sound, and AMD A12 with a full terabyte of disk space and 8 GB DDR4 RAM.
There are even a 4-in-1 card reader and an Ethernet port, which are some really nice bonus features. However, the processor is quite problematic as it is much less powerful than others on this list. Hence, it is best to avoid this laptop if you are planning to play CPU-intensive games (FPS, RPGs, etc.). However, this laptop should be great for GPU intensive games (Racing, Sports, etc.)
Some people have expressed dissatisfaction with the display, but these can be easily remedied with custom display profiles readily available online. However, given that the Lenovo Ideapad is way cheaper than any of those it’s in direct competition with, it’s a solid choice for a cheap gaming laptop.
- good keyboard
- upgradeable RAM
- AMD GPU performs better than Intel UHD 620
- unviewable unless at a specific angle
- low-power processor
- DDR3 RAM
5. Acer Aspire A315
This one is best known for its design – matte finish and sleek and beautiful finishing on the maintenance cover. The screen is fairly large for a cheap laptop, the image is clean and crisp, and it doesn’t use Pulse Width Modulation, meaning you won’t have to worry about eye strain.
What’s best about it is the connectivity, which is often the first thing that’s used to cut corners on any laptop under $500. There are three USB-A ports, an HDMI port, SD card reader, and even an Ethernet port for when Wi-Fi just isn’t cutting it in the speed department (something most gamers would relate to).
On the specifications side, it is almost exactly the same as the HP 15 apart from the RAM being downgraded to 6GB and the 2TB HDD being upgraded to a 256GB SSD. Games should load a little faster due to the SSD but you will still only be able to do basic gaming on this device.
One of the weirder drawbacks is the speakers being housed on the bottom of the laptop. This means your audio is muffled by whatever surface you place it on. A perplexing decision, but the sound is satisfactorily clear otherwise.
- noiseless running
- comfortable and intuitive design
- SSD for storage
- lots of ports
- low contrast dim display
- short battery life
- terrible speaker placement
- 6GB RAM may not cut it for some users
6. HP 15 HD Touchscreen Premium Laptop
You won’t really find this one in shops, so it’s exclusivity perhaps makes its cult a bit bigger than the others on this list. Nonetheless, it’s the very definition of a cheap laptop, with DTS Studio Sound and an increasingly rare in-built DVD player and burner.
It’s known in the market for being a touch-enabled modeled with a large, full high-definition screen, as well as for its 1-terabyte storage space. You can go for more than half the night on a single charge thanks to its three-cell 2.8Ah battery, and the 8GB means that it’s definitely a strong contender for the best cheap gaming laptop title.
With a 2.50 GHz Intel Core i5 and visuals fueled by the Intel UHD Graphics 620, the HP 15 HD Touchscreen Premium Laptop is defining gaming laptops on a budget. As you expect, the integrated graphics chip can only get you so far when it comes to gaming, but what else do you expect for $500?
While the design isn’t the most aesthetically pleasing, it’s sturdily built, meaning you won’t have a constant tingling in the back of your head while lugging it around, which is always a big plus for a gaming laptop.
- Fine amount of processing power
- High-Speed RAM
- heavier than most models
- prone to overheating
- Slow HDD (6400 RPM)
- no backlit keyboard