Finding the best laptop under $500 can be painful because there are so many configurations on the market that fall under that specific price cap. This “bargain” umbrella is littered with refurbished units, laptops with highly-outdated components and cheaply-made solutions from unknown manufacturers. If you’re currently hunting down the best laptop under $500, we’ve taken the investigative headache out of your hunt with a dose of a freshly-baked list just for you.
Unfortunately, you’re simply not going to find top-of-the-line components in laptops under $500, screens bigger than 15.6 inches or Thunderbolt 3-based connectivity. You’ll be lucky to find processors with more than two cores and screen resolutions greater than 1,366 x 768 (aka HD). You typically won’t find discrete, stand-alone graphics for gaming either.
Our list of the best laptops under $500 include solutions from Acer, Asus, Dell, HP, Lenovo and Microsoft. This isn’t a definitive list, as there are laptops on the market that undoubtedly fell under the radar. If anything, try to find products with decent storage, 8GB of system memory and a recent processor. Screens measuring 15.6 inches are ideal although finding a Full HD resolution will feel like finding a needle in a haystack.
Asus VivoBook Flip 14 (TP401CA-DHMT4)
This awesome 2-in-1 PC just took a $100 price hit, but don’t let that reduced cost fool you: There’s lots to love with the VivoBook Flip 14. As the name indicates, it sports a 360-degree metal hinge enabling Laptop, Tent, Stand and Tablet modes. It even comes with the Asus Stylus Pen for drawing and taking notes directly on the screen and a fingerprint reader for password-free entry into Windows 10.
According to Asus, it managed to cram a 14-inch screen into a 13-inch frame although the viewing area isn’t exactly edge-to-edge (but close). Packing a 1,920 x 1,080 resolution, this screen is backed by Intel’s seventh-generation Core m3-7Y30 two-core processor and integrated graphics (HD Graphics 615), 4GB of LPDDR3 system memory clocked at 1,866MHz and 64GB of storage.
On a whole, the VivoBook Flip 14 weighs a mere 3.3 pounds and measures just 0.6 inches thick. That slim form factor means Asus had to cut back on the ports, providing one USB-C port (5Gbps), one Micro USB port (480Mbps), one Micro HDMI port, an audio jack and an SD card reader. The battery provides around eight hours of normal use, which is backed by the company’s Battery Health Charging technology to prevent overcharging that can reduce the battery’s overall lifespan.
Acer Aspire E (E5-576-392H)
There’s a lot of bang for your buck in Acer’s Aspire E laptop. It packs a 15.6-inch screen with a 1,920 x 1,080 resolution powered by Intel’s eighth-generation Core i3-8130U two-core processor and integrated graphics (UHD Graphics 620). It’s not exactly thin and lightweight, measuring 0.94 inches thick and weighing 5.27 pounds, but it’s still rather portable without sacrificing the decently-sized screen.
Acer’s Aspire E includes two slots supporting DDR3L system memory, but it ships with a weird 6GB configuration (1x 4GB, 1x 2GB) to keep the overall cost low. The reduced price also stems from the use of a typical hard drive versus a speedier SSD, but the trade-off is a hefty 1TB of storage. You even get an old-school DVD writer just in case you still possess optical discs.
Other notable features packed into Acer’s budget-friendly laptop include an SD card reader, an Ethernet port, Wireless AC connectivity, old-school VGA output, HDMI output, three USB-A ports, one USB-C port and a Precision Touchpad. It’s all powered by a 2,800 mAh battery and a 65-watt power supply.
Dell Inspiron i3567
For fans of Team Dell, the company provides the Inspiron i3567 packing a 15.6-inch display with a 1,366 x 768 resolution. That’s a little low by today’s standards, but Dell makes up for the lackluster resolution by tossing in 8GB of DDR4 system memory clocked at a decent 2,133MHz and 1TB of storage on a 5,400 RPM hard drive. We’d prefer an SSD, but you can’t beat that storage amount for the laptop’s highly affordable price.
The Inspiron i3567 is powered by Intel’s seventh-generation Core i3-7130U two-core processor and integrated graphics (HD Graphics 620). It includes an audio combo jack, three USB-A ports (1x 480Mbps, 2x 5Gbps), HDMI output, an older non-gigabit Ethernet port, old-school Wireless N and Bluetooth connectivity, and a built-in webcam. You’ll find an SD card reader too, expanding the laptop’s storage limit given it doesn’t include an optical drive.
Shipping in Black only, Dell’s laptop measures 0.9 inches thick and weighs 5.07 pounds. It’s not exactly thin and light but it’s a decent size for a 15.6-inch notebook. You can find a different configuration here on Amazon for a heftier $485 packing Intel’s seventh-generation Core i5-7200U two-core processor and a DVD writer. The screen resolution, memory amount and storage capacity remain the same.
HP Pavilion 15
Starting price: $499
Hitting our budget cap, the HP Pavilion 15 is similar to Dell’s offering packing a 15.6-inch screen with a meager 1,366 x 768 display. The selling point is Intel’s eighth-generation Core i3-8130U two-core processor released in early 2018 and its integrated graphics component (UHD Graphics 620). The CPU is backed by a default 4GB of system memory and 128GB of storage on an SSD.
If you need more system memory and storage, your final configuration will blow through our $500 budget. Additional memory options include 8GB ($60), 12GB ($120) and 16GB ($180) while your added storage options include 256GB ($60), 512GB ($120) and 1TB ($300). You can throw in a second SSD as well: 1TB for $60 or 2TB for $90.
For ports, the Pavilion 15 provides three USB-A ports (1x 480Mbps, 2x 5Gbps), HDMI output, an audio combo jack, an SD card reader and a gigabit Ethernet port while wireless connectivity is handled by Wireless N and Bluetooth components. Rounding out this package is a 720p webcam, two HP Audio speakers and touch-based input on the display. The Pavilion 15 measures 0.9 inches thick and weighs 4.52 pounds.
Lenovo IdeaPad 120s (14-inch)
Starting price: $229
It may be the cheapest laptop on our list, but the IdeaPad 120s definitely isn’t a cheaply-made device. It’s a beautiful laptop sporting a 14-inch anti-glare screen with a 1,366 x 768 resolution that’s backed by Intel’s Celeron N3350 two-core processor and integrated graphics. It ships in a Mineral Grey finish complemented by rubber detailing on the bottom and a somewhat thin frame running along the display’s sides.
For the current price, you’ll only get 4GB of LPDDR4 system memory and 64GB of “ample” storage, the latter of which is rather low given the loads of space consumed by Windows 10. That means you’ll definitely heavily rely on the included Micro SD card slot with this model. Other ingredients include Wireless AC (433Mbps) and Bluetooth 4.0 connectivity, one USB-A port (5Gbps), one USB-C port (5Gbps), HDMI output, a 0.3MP webcam and two one-watt speakers.
Powering this laptop is a battery promising up to eight hours on a single charge. It measures a mere 0.73 inches thick and weighs 3.17 pounds, making it a great solution for students and working out of the home office. It doesn’t ship with any bloatware save for McAfee LiveSafe and Microsoft Office but does include Lenovo App Explorer so you can download and install all the bloatware you want directly from Lenovo.
Microsoft Surface Go
Starting price: $399
Microsoft introduced the Surface Go earlier this year, the company’s smallest and lightest Surface-branded product to date weighing 1.15 pounds and measuring just 0.33 inches thick. That high portability stems from a 10-inch display with a 1,800 x 1,200 resolution, which admittingly may be considered too small for many customers. But it’s a solid build from Microsoft at that price, packing features such as facial recognition, 10-point touch input, USB-C connectivity and more.
For starters, the Surface Go relies on Intel’s seventh-generation Pentium Gold 4415Y dual-core processor and integrated Intel HD 615 graphics. This chip is backed by 4GB or 8GB of system memory and 64GB or 128GB of storage. Those two memory and storage options are the only configurable aspects to the Surface Go, with the 8GB / 128GB model breaking through our budget with a $549 price tag.
For connectivity, the Surface Go includes one USB-C port (5Gbps), one headphone jack, one Surface Connect port, a Surface Type Cover port, a Micro SD card slot, Wireless AC and Bluetooth 4.1. Joining the front-facing face authentication camera is a 5MP camera supporting 1080p video and an 8MP rear-facing camera supporting 1080p video as well. Unfortunately, the Type Cover is an additional cost, but the Surface Go works with any Bluetooth-enabled keyboard.