10 Best Laptops Under $500 2020
The best is now affordable
There is always something happening in the computer marketplace, from innovations in design to an upswing in processing power. One of the most cheerful proceedings is the availability of powerful laptops at pocket-friendly prices. While once it would have been unfathomable that great computing could be cheap, manufacturers like Acer, Asus, Dell, HP and Lenovo have made the dream come true. Today, you can not only purchase an best laptop under 500 dollars price, but you can also expect it to be a veritable mix of power and panache.
Part of this revolutionary trend of power becoming cheaper can be attributed to improving technologies. Modern-day laptops house CPUs that can be overclocked and are suitable for intensive pursuits like multimedia editing and wireless streaming.
But the cost of the components involved has come down. In the realm of display too, FHD and 4K OLED screens are now less expensive than they used to be. Designers have come together to brainstorm on the best-suited design for compact, sleek laptops.
The result is several line-ups of notebooks with thin-bezel design, larger screen-to-body ratios, and the ability to house audio-video components in compact chasses.
Besides the progressing technologies in construction and product build, the desire to appeal to new audiences has also grown.
With many competitors vying against each other to tap into segments like students, travelers, homemakers, young professionals, etc., cutting costs has emerged as a key differentiator.
In this comprehensive feature on the best laptops under $500 in 2020, we cover the aspects you should consider during shopping.
Making an informed decision is always helpful to allay fears and prevent purchase dissonance.
We have also put together a list of some of the most splendid laptops in this price range to fuel your personal and professional endeavors.
If you always believed that acquiring a competent laptop mandated an investment upwards of $1000, prepare for that theory to be debunked.
Not only can you purchase a perfectly good notebook for half the price, but you can also expect it to work excellently in school, at work, and even for some gaming.
- Our Picks: 10 Best Laptops Under $500 2020
- 1. Acer Aspire 5 A515-54-51DJ – Best Laptop 2020 Under $500
- 2. ASUS VivoBook 15 – Best 15-inch ASUS Laptop Under $500
- 3. Acer Aspire 5 A515-43-R19L – Best Ryzen Laptop Under $500
- 4. Lenovo Flex 14 – Best 2 in 1 Laptop Under $500
- 5. Dell Inspiron 15 5000 5593 – Best Dell Business Laptop Under $500
- 6. HP 15-dy1010nr – Best Touchscreen HP Laptop Under $500
- 7. Acer Aspire 5 A515-54-30BQ – Best Acer Laptop Under $500
- 8. Asus Chromebook C425 – Best Lightweight Laptop Under $500
- 9. Asus Chromebook Flip C434 – Best Chromebook Under $500
- 10. Lenovo Chromebook C340 – Best Lenovo Laptop Under $500
- What Can an Under-$500 Laptop Offer?
- Things to Remember Before Buying a Budget Laptop
- Best Budget Laptop Brands You Should Consider
- Final Words
Our Picks: 10 Best Laptops Under $500 2020
Here’s presenting the best of the budget space. These laptops belie their price and labor to adapt to modern lifestyles—a pursuit at which they largely succeed.
1. Acer Aspire 5 A515-54-51DJ – Best Laptop 2020 Under $500
Sample this: an Intel Core i5-8265U processor, an FHD display with IPS, a backlit keyboard, and even a fingerprint reader.
The RAM support and available storage are 8GB and 256GB (SSD), respectively.
This configuration is well-suited to standard computing pursuits at school or your workplace.
The new Acer Aspire 5 is also ideal for travel, thanks to the 9.5-hour battery backup and complete assortment of USB- and display ports. The build, too, is lightweight and mobile at 3.97lbs and 0.7”.
2. ASUS VivoBook 15 – Best 15-inch ASUS Laptop Under $500
This 15.6” laptop is driven by an Intel Core i3-8145U CPU, 8GB RAM, and a 128GB SSD.
The operating system—Windows 10 in S Mode—ensures good responsiveness. A highlight of this affordable and lightweight (3.5lbs) notebook is its engaging display with a superb screen-to-body ratio of 88%.
In additional features, this VivoBook offers a backlit keyboard with a fingerprint sensor and a hinge-based design for more comfortable typing.
Bonus: The quick-charging battery powers up to 60% in only 49 minutes. You can charge your device easily during flight layovers.
3. Acer Aspire 5 A515-43-R19L – Best Ryzen Laptop Under $500
If you are looking for an AMD Ryzen laptop in this price range, you should check out the Acer Aspire 5 A515-43-R19L.
This 15.6″ notebook is driven by an AMD Ryzen 3 3200U processor, 7.5 hours of battery backup, Vega 3 Graphics, and an FHD display with IPS.
It uses Windows 10 in S Mode to deliver an ever-ready, efficient response. Note that the RAM and storage are only 4GB and 128GB (SSD), respectively, so you won’t be able to use this device for intensive operations.
On the portability front, Acer fares very well. This laptop weighs only 3.97lbs and has a backlit keyboard to let you work from anywhere.
4. Lenovo Flex 14 – Best 2 in 1 Laptop Under $500
The Lenovo Flex 14 with its Intel Core i3-8145U CPU, 4GB RAM, 128GB SSD, and Intel UHD Graphics 620 is a reasonably sound candidate for budget watchers.
It can run unplugged for about eight hours, also charging rapidly. Since this laptop weighs only 3.52lbs and is about 0.7” thick, it is easy to carry along on a busy day.
The HD display offers the comfort of 10-point touch. Note that the stylus is sold separately.
Bonus: Lenovo has added an intuitive privacy shutter to the webcam to lend you peace of mind during/after video calls.
5. Dell Inspiron 15 5000 5593 – Best Dell Business Laptop Under $500
The new Inspiron 15 5000 5593 is a terrific choice of a budget laptop, providing good performance and entertainment options.
Inside the processing chamber is an Intel Core i3-1005G1 CPU, 4GB RAM, and a 128GB SSD. The FHD screen comes fitted with an anti-glare panel. It also boasts of a narrow-border monitor.
This laptop packs in some handy features to optimize access and security. For instance, the speakers utilize Waves MaxxAudio Pro technology for brilliant sound output. A 10-key numeric pad simplifies data entry and number crunching. You can also opt for a fingerprint reader with Windows Hello and a backlit keyboard.
6. HP 15-dy1010nr – Best Touchscreen HP Laptop Under $500
This 3.85lbs laptop is fueled by an Intel Core i3-1005G1 CPU, 4GB RAM, and a 128GB SSD.
The HD touchscreen has a screen to body ratio of 81%, thanks to the narrow bezel (0.25” or 6.5mm).
This machine is equipped with the power of Bios recovery and protection that protects your system from unauthorized access, data theft, etc. The battery can last on one charge for a stupendous 12.5 hours. What’s more, it can even charge back up in a jiffy: up to 50% in 45 minutes only.
7. Acer Aspire 5 A515-54-30BQ – Best Acer Laptop Under $500
It has a battery life of 9.5 hours, fine sound enhanced by Acer TrueHarmony, and a backlit keyboard that allows you to work in dimly lit environments.
Run by an Intel Core i3-8145U processor, 4GB RAM, and a 128GB, this notebook can be a handy companion for day-to-day life.
The narrow-bezel design makes the display eye-catching, while a blue light filter keeps your eyes protected. This laptop is very light and travel-friendly, weighing just about 3.97lbs and measuring 0.7” in thickness.
8. Asus Chromebook C425 – Best Lightweight Laptop Under $500
This nifty laptop is powered by an Intel Core M3-8100Y CPU, 8GB RAM, 64GB of storage, and the response Chrome OS.
With this operating system, you get inbuilt virus protection as well as automatic updates. Asus has also thrown in free 100GB storage for a year.
A clamshell laptop, this one comes with a compact FHD screen that allows the chassis to fit into a 13” size. The 180-degree hinge further aids the flexibility of use. Plus, since this machine weighs only 2.8lbs, traveling is a breeze.
9. Asus Chromebook Flip C434 – Best Chromebook Under $500
The processing chamber houses an Intel Core M3-8100Y processor, 4GB RAM, and 64GB of storage.
The FHD monitor is complemented by the full-metal body to lend this device an inside-out beauty.
So narrow is the bezel (5mm or 0.19”) that the chassis fits into a 13” size, just like #8. This Chromebook also comes with a backlit keyboard.
A 360-degree hinge is the standout feature of this Chromebook, permitting you to use it in multiple modes like tablet, tent and stand.
Since the chassis weighs only 3lbs, all these usage modes are super convenient, even when you are on the move.
10. Lenovo Chromebook C340 – Best Lenovo Laptop Under $500
The Chrome OS brings speed, responsiveness and connectivity to this laptop, letting you stay synced with your Android devices.
The FHD display, with its resolution of 1920 x 1080, is suitable for different kinds of content, from movies to documents. Plus, the screen has a narrow-bezel design and support for IPS to enhance your viewing pleasure.
Bonus: You get a numeric pad with the keyboard for easier data entry. The trackpad is also more spacious for comfort.
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What Can an Under-$500 Laptop Offer?
These notebooks can double up as campus buddies as well as business gadgets, entertainment stations and travel companions. Most of them are highly portable and deliver satisfactory performance and display, despite the low prices.
So, here is the important question: what kind of specs and features can you expect a cheap laptop to deliver? Interestingly, just because a computer is affordable does not mean you have to make peace with a below-par configuration. You might be surprised by the kind of power some budget laptops yield!
- Processor, RAM and storage: If you are looking at an under-$500 laptop, you probably need it to perform everyday pursuits like working on documents, browsing through pictures, accessing the internet, and playing movies.
For needs like these, you can expect to be satisfied with an Intel Core i3 or i5 processor.
This should be supported by at least 4GB RAM, although some laptops offer 8GB.
What about the operating system? You will find options like Windows 10 in S mode, Chrome OS, etc. Windows 10 in S mode gets brownie points for giving laptops an instant-on, forever-ready response. Chrome OS packs in useful perks like automatic updates and protection against viruses.
The amount of storage space is also important, especially because you are likely to use these notebooks on the go and want your essentials to be stocked. Look for a solid-state drive (SSD) of 128GB or above. (You can find budget laptops that offer 256GB SSDs also.)
It is quite a blessing that even cheap laptops now come fitted with SSDs; the fillip over the traditional HDDs or hard disk drives is phenomenal. In fact, if acquiring an SSD requires you to pay a slight premium, it still makes complete financial sense just for the difference you will notice in all computing operations. SSDs also tend to be long-lasting and produce less noise and heat.
Some notebooks provide space on Google Drive or other cloud-based storage. This can come in handy when you are on the go. It is an effective solution for maximizing the available memory without beefing up the computer. Of course, connecting to external drives or using an SD card is always an option for those who demand even more storage.
- Battery backup: Getting a good amount of unplugged usage is important if you wish to take your laptop along on travels and vacations. Many users of budget laptops prioritize battery backup so that they can work while un-tethered to power stations. Look for battery life to the tune of seven hours or more.
Some computers can actually provide a battery backup of 12+ hours. It is also helpful to find a quick-charging battery that powers up in a few minutes. That way, you can fire things up while waiting at the airport or whenever you have access to a charging station.
- Quality of the display: Even cheap laptops now come with FHD displays with optimal screen resolutions of 1920 x 1080. (Steer clear of low-end displays with a resolution of 1366 × 768 unless you are prepared to compromise on content quality.)
With a display like this, you can enjoy both work and entertainment without feeling shortchanged.
Additionally, look for an IPS (In-Plane Switching) panel to view the screen from multiple angles without any distortion.
Some laptops are fitted with anti-glare panels to minimize eye strain. If you are a workaholic or a night owl, you can majorly benefit from this. Another display feature you can seek is a blue light filter that prevents harmful radiation from affecting your eyes.
Part of the beauty of the display lies in the amount of real estate you get. Aim to buy a laptop that has a narrow-bezel design to limit external interference. Some computers do such a stellar job of this that you can get a screen-to-body ratio upwards of 80%. This permits you to maximize the available real estate and realize engaging multimedia experiences.
Finally, you need to decide whether or not to get a touch display. If working on the go is your usual interaction with your laptop, a touchscreen can probably come in handy. You can quickly issue commands and get things done without the hassle of typing in or working a mouse/trackpad. Make sure you check the responsiveness of the display (10-point multi-touch is a good standard to aspire for). Also, the stylus may not be included with the purchase, so you should factor that in toward the overall costs.
- Sound output: Don’t be misled into believing that cheap laptops have terrible sound. Although many budget laptops are also compact, they utilize innovative sound technologies like Waves MaxxAudio Pro and Acer TrueHarmony.
The result is optimized, loud and clear sound that does justice to your content. While buying a laptop, check the quality of the speakers, the playback during travel, and the acoustics during work and play.
- USB ports: To keep you connected to your USB devices and paraphernalia like keyboards and mice, the laptop should be fitted with an array of USB ports. A Type-C or Thunderbolt port can be particularly useful as it allows you to conduct rapid data transfer and charge your devices at top speed.
Note: Besides USB ports, you should also look for display ports, HDMI and SD card readers. The display ports will permit you to connect to external displays for larger audiences, such as during meetings or movie nights.
- Internet connectivity: Most laptops in this bucket come with upgraded Wi-Fi connectivity. Look for a Wi-Fi standard like 802.11ac that can deliver a consistent, speedy signal. Plus, if you also have access to Ethernet and LAN, that’s your connectivity situation wonderfully sorted.
- Keyboard features: A sturdy, well-designed, full-purpose keyboard is what you need. Nothing is more miserable than a poorly designed keyboard with ill-fitting, loose buttons and a tiny trackpad that cramps your fingers.
Fortunately, many under-$500 laptops are equipped with the right keyboard standards. Some even throw in backlighting to the mix, which is a Godsend when you are out and about and need to work in dimly lit environments. Backlighting can also be a welcome addition if you plan to use your computer for some light gaming. Double check that the key-travel distance is comfortable for your typing habits.
A few laptop brands offer keyboards with dedicated number pads. If your profession involves considerable number crunching or you need to enter lots of data for your school projects, this feature can simplify things considerably.
- Build and construction: A well-built laptop is typically one that resists damage and lasts longer. Since it is probable that your computer will see the world with you, aim to get one weighing 2–5lbs.
This weight range is comfortable for your back and shoulders. Also, the thickness of the profile is an important metric since it determines whether or not you can slide your laptop into backpacks. Anything below 1” is ideal; a sleek laptop looks attractive too and adds to the overall appeal for many users.
On the design frontier, you should also survey the form factors and types of laptops available.
A convertible might suit a user who demands a 2-in-1 to switch between work meetings and video calls on a rickety bus. But for a student busily trying to manage multiple classes in a day, a clamshell design or a flip-based notebook might be a better fit.
A few laptops utilize a hinge-based design for construction to give the users multiple modes of usage, like tent and tablet. You can opt for 180-degree or 360-degree hinges if you plan on using the laptop as a media device, a travel companion, or a full-purpose laptop. Ergonomically designed hinges can also improve the overall typing experience and, in some cases, the audio quality.
- Security: In the present times, working in shared environments has become increasingly common.
You might collaborate with peers and colleagues on assignments and projects. While working on your laptop in shared environments, keeping your data secure and confidential becomes critical.
Budget laptops understand this dynamic, with many of them offering provisions to up the security. For example, you can find in-built security such as Bios recovery and protection in HP laptops. You can also use fingerprint readers to sign in to your computer without needing to enter a password. Some notebooks offer privacy shutters for webcams to assure you that no one knows the truth about how much work you are getting done from home.
Things to Remember Before Buying a Budget Laptop
Now that we reviewed the features one can expect in an under-$500 laptop, it is time for a word of caution. These laptops have certain limitations, as does pretty much everything in the computing landscape. Before diving into this world, ensure that you are prepared to live with these shortcomings:
- Few laptops will be able to offer RAM upwards of 8GB; RAM support of 4GB is more common. This can suffice for everyday pursuits but is unlikely to achieve much by way of multitasking, working on several spreadsheets at once, or gaming at high settings.
- In the same vein, most of these laptops also have less storage, up to a max of 256GB. This will be inadequate if you wish to store lots of bulky videos or other multimedia content. (You can, however, utilize cloud-based storage options or plug into external USB drives.)
- You cannot expect too many premium features in this segment like per-key backlighting, combination storage (SSD and HDD), or in-built security chips. These laptops are more committed to getting the job done at low costs, even though that may mean cutting some corners in the fancy department.
- While many cheap laptops have impressive displays, an FHD screen is usually the limit. If you want the visual grandeur of a 4K OLED monitor or high refresh rates of 240Hz, you will be disappointed.
- Few laptops in this price range are specialized. For instance, you may not be able to find the perfect machine for multimedia editing (which is anyhow a stretch, considering the limited processing prowess). Instead, most options are multipurpose and versatile, adapting to standard needs but doing little by way of differentiation.
- That said, acquiring one of these machines makes complete sense if you are on a tight budget, don’t want to shell out a fortune for a premium laptop, but still want to bring home a performer. These computers are also smart choices for anyone who has an aging laptop. Sometimes, upgrading can be crazily expensive; it might be wise to get an affordable notebook to tide you through until you have the budget for something grander.
Best Budget Laptop Brands You Should Consider
Here are the leading laptop manufacturers in this segment, offering great products for the price. Plus, these makers also possess ample brand equity, thereby guaranteeing you peace of mind while making the investment.
One of the most popular laptop brands today, Acer is an expert at offering tons of features at affordable prices.
You can find processors as powerful as Intel Core i5, security features like fingerprint readers, and lightweight build to support portability.
Some Acer laptops also offer blue light filters to protect your eyes from strain after working for long hours.
Although these notebooks are available at under $500, you can expect backlit keyboards and good-quality sound. There is a reason Acer rules the roost when it comes to terrific laptops that don’t need you to rob a bank.
The VivoBook is an excellent line-up by Asus, designed for busy lifestyles involving considerable travel.
Asus laptops are light and portable. They also excel on the display front, with some notebooks offering screen-to-body ratios as high as 88%.
If unplugged usage is important to you, then you can find Asus laptops that support quick charging. Another bonus of getting an Asus computer is the flexibility of design.
With hinges (180-degree or 360-degree) built to support multiple usage modes, you can work on the go more comfortably.
Dell has continued to dominate the laptop market with its commitment to dependable, reliable design and high performance. Even in the budget segment, Dell has an edge with its Inspiron series.
At a cost-effective price point, you can get a veritable mix of entertainment options, superior sound, and good performance for all day-to-day activities. This line-up proves to be useful for various kinds of audiences, including students and business professionals.
Here is another trustworthy laptop brand that outdoes expectations, even in the under-$500 segment. You can find HP computers that deliver good performance and have terrific battery backup to the tune of 12 hours and more.
Talk about the dependability of HP coming to the fore! Some computers also support quick charging, which lets you quickly power up from anywhere, thereby contributing to your overall mobility and ease of travel.
HP has committed to all-round performance, and this includes the display. Many laptops in HP’s budget range boast of an immersive, vivid display.
Lenovo has made it to this list of the best budget laptops for good reason. With Chromebooks convertibles that come equipped with privacy webcam shutters and touch displays, Lenovo is a force to reckon with.
You can avail of laptops that allow you to work in multiple usage modes, depending on the need of the hour. Many of these notebooks also offer impressive displays with plenty of screen real estate.
As time goes on, it looks probable that Lenovo will add further innovations to its line-ups, eager to match up to the dynamics of this space.
Is there more? You can also check out brands like Samsung that deliver on the performance and budget fronts, even though they may skimp on the premium feel. Samsung, for instance, has Chromebooks that are fueled by Intel Celeron processors and do a reasonably fair job of handling your average day. Ultimately, what is important is striking the right balance between what you invest and what you get. Cheap, after all, should never mean shoddy.
Acquiring a competent laptop under $500 is not an impossible dream anymore, thanks to the multitude of manufacturers who have jumped onto the budget bandwagon.
Budget laptops are a testimony to the fact that great things are not always expensive. The right combination of form, function and innovation can maximize user satisfaction but bring costs down.
Today, you can find computers that don’t drill a hole in your pocket but go the extra mile by packing in features like backlit keyboards, all-day battery life, and dedicated numeric pads.
While choosing a laptop, it is critical to zero down on a list of priorities.
For instance, if you covet a lightweight laptop that can accompany you on your travels, you can check out the Asus Chromebook C425 Clamshell (#8) or the Acer Aspire 5 A515-43-R19L (#3).
Likewise, if it is unplugged usage that you seek, laptops like the Acer Aspire 5 A515-54-30BQ (#7) or the Lenovo Flex 14 2-in-1 (#4) can hold you in good stead.
Your considerations can range from device connectivity to display, keyboard backlighting to acoustics, internet connectivity to overall build and construction. Chances are that there will be something to suit your taste.