Tablets stole the spotlight from laptops when they first burst onto the scene, but ultrabooks and hybrids have helped turn the tide in recent years. Cheap laptops are also a popular alternative, and there are plenty of options on the table if you’re looking for the best laptop under $500.
Things to Consider When Choosing the Laptop Under $500
When you’re shopping in the budget range, there are some things you just won’t get when dipping down below $500. Want a UHD display or 16GB of RAM? You won’t find a laptop with those specifications in this class, but you may be surprised by how many affordable 15.6-inch machines are available.
Before we get to the areas, you should consider, take a few minutes and think about your needs. If you’re a student, you’ll want a laptop with great battery life and reliable connectivity while gamers will want to go straight for the PC with the most RAM and largest processor.
While you may think you’re stuck choosing between machines with large bezels at this range, you’d be mistaken. There are actually two styles you can choose from although both have their drawbacks.
The Classic Laptop – Any laptop we refer to as a “classic” has a normal form factor with a clamshell design. While the shell can be made from aluminum, you generally have to deal with a lot of plastic.
Hybrids – A hybrid laptop is any machine that’s considered a 2-in-1 or convertible. These PCs have hinges which allow you to use the computer in “tablet” mode or set it up like a tent. Typically, these hybrids range from 11 to 13-inches in size and some even allow you to detach the display entirely.
RAM is arguably the most important factor when choosing a budget-friendly laptop, but only if the machine isn’t easy to upgrade. Thankfully, modern technology allows us to upgrade RAM on certain laptops which makes a huge difference when you can quickly go from to 16GB without breaking the bank.
In other cases, you’re stuck with what you get out of the box. Every PC on our list has a minimum of 4GB of RAM, but you’ll be hard pressed to find a laptop with more than 8GB for under $500. If you plan to run high-end programs, be sure to check out the system requirements beforehand or you may be in for a rude surprise.
Storage & Speed
Speed or horsepower is where things get tricky with budget laptops as you won’t find any running a Core-i7 and only a handful will have an i5 processor. AMD chips and Core-i3 chips are the most popular options. While on the lower end of the power spectrum, most will still provide enough pop to handle applications as long as you have enough RAM. The generation of the chip makes a huge difference as well, so go for the newest model if given the option.
As for storage, thankfully things are quite simple with cheap laptops. Solid-state drives have come down in price so if you need speed, opt for a PC with an SSD. You won’t get as much space but can expand through the usual means. HDD’s will provide you with more storage initially but are considerably slower than their solid-state counterparts.
1. Microsoft Surface Go (4GB RAM, 128GB)
Whether you’re a student looking for a device that does more than a tablet or you’re a professional who travels a lot, the Surface Go can help you out.
With a stellar configuration for a device its size, the Surface Go is a beautiful tablet with impressive features that put it amongst the most well-performing machines under $500! As such, under the gorgeous chassis and high-res 10” PixelSense Display you’ll find a powerful processor paired with 4GB of RAM memory and 128 GB storage memory.
This allows the device to react fast to your actions be it browsing, viewing documents or media files, playing games, or using the pen to draw or sketch. The cool thing is that the tablet can be used in combination with other stylish accessories such as the keyboard, mouse, and Pen (sold separately).
The Surface Go is also considered to be the lightest in the series, at just 1.15 lbs. and it packs a powerful battery that will hold for up to 9 hours. The tablet is equipped with a multi-tasking USB-C port, fast charging Surface connect and supports both WiFi and Bluetooth 4.1 connectivity.
Finally, users will have the chance to use Windows 10 in S mode right out of the box, with features such as Microsoft-verified security, Windows Defender, and parental controls.
- Gorgeous design
- Lots of available accessories
- Powerful configuration
- Good battery life
- Comes with Windows 10
- Amazing display
- Accessories are expensive
- It overheats when running demanding apps
- It may freeze sometimes
2. Acer Chromebook 14
The Chromebook 14 from Acer is a piece of jewelry in both design and configuration!
Starting with the design, users love the metallic-silver aluminum case that gives the laptop a stylish look but also protects it from any accidental bumps. Even more, the ultra-thin frame and the fact that it comes with its own carrying case make it highly portable and easy to slip in any bag or backpack.
Configuration wise, this Chromebook packs a Celeron N3160 processor, 4GB LPDDR3 RAM, and 16GB eMMC SSD. While the storage space may look a bit slim, you also get 100GB of Google Drive space which helps balance things out.
The 14″ Full HD IPS display features a resolution of 1920 x 1080 pixels, which is great for lots of activities such as browsing, working or even watching a movie or YouTube videos. Not to mention, the powerful battery will hold up for about 12 hours, which is quite impressive for a laptop this size!
- Lightweight & portable
- Solid build
- Gorgeous design
- Runs Chrome OS
- Access to apps from Google Play
- Good connectivity settings
- Great for browsing & light activities
- The keyboard is a bit small
- Not for video/photo editing
- Some Google Play apps don’t work
3. HP 14-CF0014DX
HP 14-CF0014DX comes with 14” display with standard 1366 x 768 resolution and Bright View glossy picture, which will always give you colorful photos and allow you to enjoy videos.
As for the performance, it is equipped with Intel Core i3-7100U mobile CPU of Intel’s 7th generation processors, with smart dual-core, 4-way processing, which makes HD-quality computing possible.
Next to that, there are 8GB of RAM, which, along with a pretty good i3 processor, can allow you to perform multiple tasks at the same time.
When we talk about the storage, this model features a flash-based 128GB SSD, which allows much faster start-up and loading times.
- A good amount of system memory
- Pretty decent CPU
- Nice amount of storage for basic tasks
- Very good battery
- Doesn’t support Full HD resolution (1920 x 1080p)
4. Samsung Chromebook Plus (XE520QAB-K02US)
Equipped with a built-in pen, two cameras, and a complete Google experience, the Chromebook designed by Samsung is perfect for tackling those final touches on the go.
Whether you want to remain in touch with the members of your team while you’re traveling for business or you’re looking for the perfect device to support your school efforts, this 2-in-1 laptop is a great choice. At just under 3 pounds, the device folds into three main positions (laptop, tablet, or sketchbook).
Moreover, the Samsung Chromebook Plus features a powerful battery, an Intel Core m3 processor, 4GB RAM memory and 64GB of built-in storage memory. The built-in pen is amazing for various fine-tuning activities from sketching to drawing and more. Also, the 12.2″ FHD (1920 x 1200) screen delivers a vivid visual experience.
Finally, the device can be used for video conferences (with the front camera) or for snapping those great pictures (using the 13MP rear camera).
- Portable, 2-in-1 design
- Impressive configuration
- Two cameras for chats and pics
- Access to Google Play
- Runs Chrome OS
- Easy-to-use keyboard
- Long battery life
- Perfect for browsing and communications
- Plastic case
- Not for advanced projects
5. Lenovo Chromebook C330
With a 2-in-1 design, the Lenovo Chromebook C330 can be a tablet or a laptop, depending on your needs. Moreover, the 360° hinge is perfect for using the laptop in locations where you don’t have access to a desk or a table, as it offers a wide range of positions.
The MediaTek MT8173C processor combines nicely with the 4 GB LPDDR3 RAM and 64 GB eMMC storage memory. Moreover, the combination is ideal for Chrome OS, a system that offers access to a plethora of mobile apps and other easy-to-use software.
C330 is ideal for people who like to carry their work wherever they go since it’s less than one inch thin, weighs 2.6 lbs, and the 11-inch FHD IPS Touch Display is perfect for day-to-day computing. Even more, the device is equipped with all the necessary ports for connectivity: 1xUSB-C, 1xSD and 1xUSB 3.0.
- Thing & portable
- Easy-to-use keyboard
- Impressive display
- 360° hinge for all sorts of positions
- Perfect for working on the commute
- Not all Google Play apps are compatible
- Not for advanced work
6. Asus Chromebook Flip C434
Chromebook Flip C434 comes with FHD14” 4-way NanoEdge Display, which means that its bezels are very narrow, only 5mm thin. That is useful because it makes it possible for 14” display to fit in a 13” body.
Display hinge can be rotated for 360 degrees, thus allowing you to use a tent, stand and even tablet mode, which, along with the touchscreen feature is pretty useful for business users.
Apart from that, C434 features Intel Core m3-8100y CPU with 4M cache and can work on up to 3.4GHz.
Along with that comes 4GB of LPDDR3 system memory, which is enough for performing daily basic tasks.
When it comes to available storage space, we could say that it is not the stronger side of this Chromebook, since there is only 64GB eMMC.
C434 model comes with a pre-installed Chrome OS and all Google apps that come alongside it, so you can expect to have all apps needed for basic use.
Another great thing about C434 is that it is very lightweight since it weighs only 3 lbs, which is pretty handy if you need to go on business trips often.
- Great Nano Edge design
- Touchscreen 360 degrees flip-and-fold display
- Pre-installed OS and basic applications
- Solid performance
- Virus protection included
- Low amount of storage space
7. Acer Aspire 5 A515-43-R19L
Aspire 5 A515-43-R19L from Acer comes with pretty good Dual Core AMD Ryzen 3 3200U CPU, which is capable of reaching a maximum of 3.5GHz.
Accompanying that, there are 4GB of DDR4 system memory, which will allow you to perform all basic tasks without losing performance.
When it comes to storage, this model comes with 128GB PCIe NVMe SSD, which will speed up your loading times a lot.
Aspire 5 features standard 15.6” FHD Widescreen IPS Display with LED-backlit support. To make screen even better, there is AMD Radeon Vega 3 Mobile Graphics.
When we talk about the connectivity, this laptop comes with 1 USB 3.1 generation 1, 2 USB 2.0 and HDMI port with HDCP support. As for its internet connection, it supports standard 802.11ac Wi-Fi connection.
Battery life is solid, and it will last for around 7.5 hours of constant use, which is enough for performing some daily tasks. Maximum Power Supply is 65W.
This model comes with pre-installed Windows 10 in S mode, so you won’t have to worry about installing the operating system by yourself.
- Pretty good performance for basic tasks
- SSD for faster loading times and increased performance
- Decent screen quality
- Solid battery life
- Includes operating system
- It can be a bit tricky to switch to Windows 10 Home
8. Dell Inspiron Chromebook 14 C7486
This nice little Chromebook features 14” Full HD (1920 x 1080p) TrueLife IPS Display with LED Backlight Touch option, as well as support for EMR Pen.
When it comes to its processing capabilities, C7486 comes with Intel Core i3-8130U CPU.
With that comes 4GB of RAM, making this Chromebook a pretty good choice for performing basic computer tasks in your home or job.
As for the storage space, C7486 comes with a total of 128GB eMMC flash memory, which is enough for basic business users.
The best thing about this Chromebook is that it has a 360 degrees flip-and-fold design, as well as Ultra HD integrated Graphics 620 and integrated webcam, making it an excellent choice for business users.
It comes with Google Chrome Operating System and doesn’t include DVD/CD-ROM, as well as a Stylus pen, so you will have to get that by yourself.
As for other connection options, it has Bluetooth 4.0, HDMI and Next-Gen Intel Wireless AC (2×2, 867 Mbps).
- Touch IPS Display
- Supports EMR Pen
- 360 degrees Flip-and-Fold design
- Stylus Pen not included
9. ASUS VivoBook 15 F512FA-AB34
This ASUS VivaBook 15 model comes with Full HD 15.6” 4-Way bezel display with excellent NanoEdge design, meaning that screen is 88% size of the body.
It features pretty good Intel Core i3-8145U CPU, with 4M cache and ability to work up to 3.9GHz, which is enough for conducting every-day activities.
Along with that comes a total of 8GB RAM memory, to make sure everything works smoothly and without any stutter.
As for storage, there is 128GB M.2 SSD, with Windows 10 S, with the option to switch to Windows 10 Home.
Where this laptop shines is in its exceptional Ergolift design, which allows you to enjoy long typing sessions, making it excellent choice for bloggers and writers.
When it comes to connectivity, there are 1 USB 3.1 Type-C, 1 USB 3.1 Type-A, and 1 USB2.0 port, as well as HDMI port. As for internet connection, it has standard Gigabit Wi-Fi 5 with 802.11ac.
- Nice amount of RAM memory
- Pretty good processor
- Pre-installed Windows 10S OS
- Excellent design and comfort
- It comes with SSD storage
- No extra slots for upgrading storage and RAM