Just over a decade ago, laptops were expensive, slow, and cumbersome. Today’s laptops are incredibly powerful, especially compared to the dinosaurs we used to use back in the day.
Rapidly developing technology has allowed manufacturers to cram more and more power into laptops, to the point that you can get a good gaming laptop for under a thousand bucks.
However, what do you when you want a plain laptop that will allow you to do all your basic computer tasks without giving you any trouble?
If you’re looking for a laptop that won’t burn a hole in your pocket but won’t have you banging your head against the wall in frustration every other day, you’ve come to the right place!
We’ve put together a list of the best laptops under $500 – all the better to help you make your choice as easy as possible! While they may be cheaper than higher-end laptops, each of these devices is incredible in its own right and won’t give you any trouble!
Top-Rated Affordable Laptops - Comparison Table
Reviews of the 5 Best Laptops Under $500
HP’s laptops are some of the best in the world, and they occupy almost every niche imaginable. From touchscreens to swivel laptops, you’ll get an HP laptop with any feature you want – as long as you’re willing to part with your money.
The Pavilion X360 is a 2-in-1 laptop that you’ll be able to use as a tablet or a laptop. It swivels 360 degrees, allowing you to turn it around and fold it flat so you can use the touchscreen and use it as a tablet.
The X360 can operate in 3 different modes: standard, tablet, and tent. We’ve already talked about tablet mode, and tent mode is where you swivel the screen around, and set the laptop up like a tent. This mode is ideal for watching movies or any activities where you won’t be interacting much with the laptop.
Its 13.3” touchscreen supports multi-touch and has a WLED backlight.
The laptop comes with a 6th generation i3 processor. It has 6GB of RAM and a 500GB hard disk. This may not be the highest specs, but you can’t expect to get the best at this price point, can you?
The Pavilion also has a built-in webcam with integrated microphones that will ensure all your communication is crystal-clear.
The laptop is extremely thin, lightweight, and portable. Weighing just 3.66lbs and just 0.8” thin, you can easily slip this laptop in your bag and not even notice the extra weight.
The Pavilion has 2 USB 3.0 ports, 2 USB 2.0 ports, a HDMI input, an RJ45 port for wired connections, and the standard headphone/microphone port.
Features at a Glance
- Swivel laptop
- 6th generation i3 processor
- 6GB RAM and 500GB hard disk space
- Extremely thin and lightweight
- Built-in webcam
Another HP product, this EliteBook is, as its name says, thin and light with a premium build. The G1 has many features that will quickly endear the laptop to you – if you buy it, you’ll soon start wondering how you managed to survive without it.
The G1 has a 14” LED-backlit screen with anti-glare properties that will allow you to continue working even when you’ve got the sun behind you.
Its Core i3 processor is fast enough for everyday tasks. The laptop has 4GB of DDR3 RAM and a 500GB hard drive – spacious enough for all your content.
The 720p webcam in the laptop will allow you to easily connect with your work and social circle when on the move.
The laptop comes with Windows 7 Professional 64-bit and a Windows 8 Pro downgrade. Of course, you may want to get Windows 10 if you’re a fan of being on the cutting edge.
The G1 is equipped with a 3-cell Li-ion battery that will give you up to 15 hours of battery life. While actual battery life may vary depending on several factors, 15 hours is a good approximation to keep in mind.
At 3.7lbs, this laptop is extremely light, and you’ll be able to carry it from place to place with no trouble at all.
Features at a Glance
- 14” backlit LED screen
- Core i3 processor
- 4GB of RAM and 500GB storage space
- Up to 15 hours of battery life
- Extremely light and portable
3. Acer Spin 5
Acer’s Spin 5 is a small, lightweight, and speedy laptop built primarily for mobility. It may not be able to handle very power-intensive operations, but isn’t that what desktops are made for?
The Spin 5 has a 13.3” touchscreen with multi-touch capabilities. The screen is an LED-backlit IPS display equipped with BlueLight technology, which filters out blue light to reduce eye strain during extended periods of screen usage.
The Spin 5’s screen has a 360-degree hinge, allowing you to put the laptop into one of four different usage modes. You can place the laptop in either laptop, display, tent, or tablet mode. Each mode has its advantages and disadvantages, so choose wisely depending on how you'll be using your laptop.
The Spin 5 has a backlit keyboard – meaning you won’t have to fumble around looking for specific keys even in the dark.
The HD webcam and dual Acer TrueHarmony speakers will allow you to communicate with the people you love in the utmost clarity.
The laptop comes in a few different variants with different specifications, but we’ll be looking at the core i3 version with 4GB of RAM and a 128GB SSD. In case you decide you need a more powerful variant of the Spin 5, Acer is happy to oblige you – they sell nearly a dozen variations of the laptop.
The built-in battery will give you up to 10 hours of battery life, allowing you to easily move around without being shackled to a power outlet.
Features at a Glance
- 13.3” swiveling touchscreen
- Backlit keyboard
- HD webcam
- Acer TrueHarmony speakers
- Windows 10 Home
- Core i3 processor
- 4GB of RAM and 128GB SSD
- Up to 10 hours of battery life
The 2017 Dell Inspiron 15 is a more traditional laptop, lacking the swiveling screens and smaller form factors present in most of the other laptops on our list.
The Inspiron has a 15.6” touchscreen with an LED backlight. You get Windows 10 pre-installed, allowing you to take advantage of the touchscreen with several fun features like Windows Ink and Cortana.
The screen is also much wider than most transforming laptops, so you know you’ll be getting the optimal laptop experience.
It comes with a 7th-generation Core i3 processor, a 1TB hard disc, and 6GB of RAM. If you’ve been looking at the specs of the other laptops on this list, you’ll easily be able to tell that the Inspiron has some of the most powerful specs.
It’s still not as powerful as beefier gaming laptops or a desktop, but its higher specs make it a solid contender for the title of the best laptop under $500.
The laptop has a DVD drive and a media card reader, two features that most newer laptops eschew in favor of a smaller form factor. If you know you’re going to be working with DVDs or SD cards, then this laptop will make it much easier for you to do so.
The built-in webcam will allow you to communicate with the people you need to easily.
MaxxAudio speaker technology will ensure you hear every second of whatever you’re listening to in the utmost clarity. Whether it’s the last seconds of a football match or the defining moment of an online deathmatch, you can rest assured that no sound’s going to slip your notice.
Features at a Glance
- 15.6” touchscreen
- 7th-generation Core i3 processor
- 6GB RAM and 1TB storage space
- Built-in DVD drive and media card reader
- MaxxAudio speakers
The Asus C100PA is the only Chromebook on our list, but that doesn’t make it any less incredible. Chromebooks may not be much like traditional laptops, but they’re much more lightweight and portable – regarding both software and hardware.
Chromebooks run on ChromeOS, the operating system equivalent of the Google Chrome browser. They’re extremely fast and take less than a minute to boot up. Chromebooks can do most basic things traditional laptops can do, but they can’t perform any power-intensive functions.
To begin with, the Asus Flip is a beautiful device. Its aluminum body and sleek form factor make it a pleasure to look at.
The Asus Flip comes with 10.1” LED-lit screen with multi-touch capabilities. That’s pretty small, and that makes the Chromebook very easy to carry around. The screen can be swiveled around and will default to the touchscreen for input when you flip it past 180 degrees.
The Asus Flip has 4GB of RAM and 32GB storage space. 32GB is pretty low, but luckily, you can upload information to Google Drive and access it later.
The Chromebook supports Play Store apps, giving you access to millions of apps. From productivity to document editing, you’ll find an app for almost everything from the Play Store.
And since you’ll be using a Google product, you’ll find your information and data synced across every device you’re logged in using your Google account. You’ll find this especially helpful if you’ve extensively used the Google ecosystem previously.
The built-in battery will give you up to 11 hours of continuous usage, with the exact amount of time fluctuating depending on exactly how you’re using your Chromebook.
Features at a Glance
- 10.1” LED-backlit screen
- 4GB RAM, 32GB storage space
- Play Store app support
- High-speed and lightweight software
- Up to 11 hours of battery life
And there you go! Those were our top 5 choices for the title of “the best laptop for your money.” Hopefully, they’ve given you enough information to make a choice and decide which is the best laptop under $500 for you.
However, we understand that some of you may not really know what you want. And there’s no shame in that – choosing a laptop can be daunting, especially if it’s just your first time and you don’t have a strong foundation in IT.
We’ve considered you too – below are some of the things you need to look at when buying yourself a new laptop. However, you need to understand that certain compromises will have to be made if you’re buying a budget laptop – you aren’t going to be getting top-shelf devices for less than $500.
Memory, also known as RAM, has gone down in price over the past few years. Any laptop that’s worth its salt today should have at least 3GB of RAM, with 4GB being preferable. Memory is what allows you to multi-task, so a low-memory computer will always be freezing up as you try to do different things.
Higher RAM will allow you to use your laptop smoothly and make everything feel quicker and more responsive.
Chromebooks are a different kettle of fish, and we’ll be discussing more on them later on.
Storage refers to the amount of data you can store on your laptop’s hard disk. Most laptops today come with 500GB of storage space, although you can find budget laptops with as much as 1TB of storage space.
SSD stands for Solid State Drive. An SSD is a special type of storage disk that loads extremely fast and significantly increases laptop speed. SSDs not only reduce boot times, but they also make normal usage much smoother.
Unfortunately, SSDs are expensive to produce, so you’ll typically find SSDs with 128GB or 256GB of space. More spacious SSDs do exist, but you’re unlikely to find one in a budget laptop.
If you can get a FullHD display, you'll find looking at it much more pleasing than standard screens. However, if you can’t get a 1080p display, however, any screen with a resolution of 1366x768 is decent and won’t disappoint you.
Remember that a touchscreen isn’t necessary to run Windows 10, although a touchscreen will make using the laptop much more enjoyable.
If you’ve decided on a Chromebook, then a touchscreen will make it much easier for you, since many Android apps are easier to use with a touchscreen as opposed to a mouse.
There was a time when Windows was the only operating system you could get on a sub-$500 laptop. You’ll find most budget laptops running Windows 7, 8, or 10, even today.
Ubuntu and other Linux variants are always an option, but you won’t find many non-techies using them.
However, the introduction and subsequent proliferation of Chromebooks has completely transformed the landscape.
Chromebooks are laptops that run on ChromeOS, a lightweight operating system based on the Google Chrome browser. They require minimal hardware to run and outsource most operations to the cloud. They’re also cheaper than traditional laptops.
However, Chromebooks cannot perform power-intensive tasks and aren’t suitable for certain specialized tasks like gaming, data processing, or simulations.
While you won’t be going entire days on a single charge on a budget laptop, you should be getting at least 6 hours of battery life from your notebook. Of course, the higher the battery life, the better for you, but you may not find many budget laptops with extended battery lives.
It’s not easy to select the best budget laptop for your needs, and we hope our list helps you make that decision.
While you may not like every laptop on our list, you can now go through our buying guide, pick out the features that you think are indispensable for you, and look for the laptop that matches those features the closest!
You may not get exactly what you require, but at least you'll get something close to that.