Laptop Computers

Best Laptops Under $500 for 2018: In Depth Reviews & Buyers Guide

Best Laptops Under 500
The best laptops under $500 are a mix of Chromebooks and laptops. Take your pick.

Finding the best laptop under $500 doesn’t sound so hard, right? You would think it’s just a matter of hitting the “under $500” filter on your shopping selection, locating the best looking laptop at the top of the list, and clicking buy to finish the deed.

But knowing how to pick the right one with the perfect set of specs can often mean the difference between using a laptop that lasts for years, and owning an expensive paperweight a few weeks after you checkout. Find the best laptops 2018 with cd drive under 600 here.


But fear not.  As you’ve come to the right place to learn about the best laptops under $500 in 2018, and discover everything you need to know such that you can pick up a reliable and stylish notebook on the cheap!

Best Laptops Under $500 in 2018

 toshiba-chromebook-2ideapad-s100ASUS F555LA-EH1Dell Inspiron 11 3000HP 17z-p100
Toshiba
Chromebook 2
Lenovo Ideapad 100SASUS F555LA-EH1Dell Inspiron 11 3000HP 17z-p100
Rank#1 - Editor's Choice#2 - Best
Price
#3 - Best Specs/Most Power#4 - Best 2-in-1 Convertible#5 - Best Media Viewer
Amazon Rating4andhalf-stars4stars-new4stars-new3.5stars-21054stars-new
Processor Type/Speed2.1GHz Intel
Core i3-5015U
Processor
Intel Atom processor Z3735F (2MB Cache 1.33GHz, turbo boost to 1.8 GHz)
5th-gen Intel Core i5-5200U 2.2GHz (Turbo up to 2.7GHz)Intel Pentium N3540 2.16 GHz ProcessorAMD A8-7050 3.0GHz
Available RAM/Speed4GB/
1833MHz
2GB/
1600MHz
8GB/
1600MHz
4GB/
1600MHz
6GB/
1600MHz
Storage 16GB32GB Flash1GB HDD500GB HDD750GB HDD
Weight2.95lbs2.2lbs6.5lbs3.1lbs6.2lbs
Screen Size/Resolution13.3" (1920 x 1080)11.6"
(1366 x 768)
15.6" (1366 x 768)11.6" (1366 x 768)17.6"
(1600x 900)
Battery Life (hrs:min at load)10:059:485:446:424:30
Price (as configured)$341.86$167.11$559.99$351.93$449.99
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#1 Pick  Toshiba Chromebook 2

 

Toshiba Chromebook 2 - best laptops under 300

The Toshiba Chromebook is the perfect laptop for under $500…if you can stand Chrome OS.

Price: $341.86 | Features: 1920 x 1080 IPS LED screen, Intel Core i3 CPU, 4GB DDR3 RAM

WHY IT’S A TOP PICK: The Toshiba’s screen is downright gorgeous (and cheap!). 


When we reviewed the Toshiba Chromebook 2 this year, we crowned it as not just one of the best Chromebooks of 2018, but one of the best laptops of the past few years period. It’s fast, light on the arm, well-designed, and best of all comes with a jaw-droppingly gorgeous 1920 x 1080 IPS LED screen. Sounds like the complete package, right?

Read: Toshiba Chromebook 2 Hands On Review

Of course, there’s one huge, glaring, undeniable 800-pound operating system in the room that we haven’t mentioned yet: Chrome OS. Google is able to subsidize so much premium hardware in the Toshiba Chromebook 2 is because the company makes that revenue back later once you are roped into using Chrome as your main web browser. Google scrapes data from how you use the laptop and the websites you visit to sell back to advertisers, which could be an invasion of privacy to some people, or just a cost-cutting measure for others. Add this to Chrome OS’s extremely locked-down app ecosystem, and you get a laptop that’s just as divisive as it is inexpensive.

Either way, there’s no denying that the Toshiba Chromebook 2 is hands down the fastest, prettiest laptop you’ll get for under $500 today.

View on Amazon


#2 Pick  Lenovo IdeaPad 100S

 

Lenovo IdeaPad 100S Under $500

The Lenovo IdeaPad 100S is as cheap as they come – but it doesn’t act like it.

Price: $167.11 | Features: Extremely cheap price, solid build quality and attractive design

WHY IT’S A TOP PICK: The IdeaPad comes in at a “see to believe” pricetag. 

The Lenovo IdeaPad 100S isn’t necessarily the most powerful laptop around, but oh man is it cheap. Ridiculously cheap, unbelievably cheap, make you hit the refresh button twice, cheap. At just $189, the Lenovo 100S comes in at the bottom-tier of price points, while still offering enough basic functionality and features to make it to #2 on our list. With a 1.8GHz Intel Atom CPU, 2GB of DDR3L RAM, and a 32GB flash hard drive, the Lenovo IdeaPad 100S somehow manages to pack in enough specs to handle most web browsing tasks and video formats, all in a shell that actually looks pretty good considering the cost.

The screen does leave a bit to be desired as far as color replication and overall brightness are concerned, but a price point this low, is there really any room to complain?

View on Amazon


#3 Pick ASUS F555LA-EH1

ASUS F555LA EH1 Under $500 - best laptop under 1000

The ASUS F555 is pretty to look at on the outside, with serious performance under the hood to back it up.

Price: $559.99 | Features: Core i5 CPU is a powerhouse to be reckoned with, design is great

WHY IT’S A TOP PICK: Cheap laptops don’t have to be powerful, but the ASUS still is. 

At $499, the ASUS F555LA-EH1 barely inches in under the mark we set out with on this list, but once you see how much power it’s able to carry around at that price you won’t even remember what the word “budget” means.

With an Intel Core i5-5200U 2.2GHz onboard CPU, an Intel HD Graphics 5500 chip, 8GB of DDR RAM and 1TB of available hard drive space, the Asus is just as zippy and capable as other laptops twice its cost. The smooth finish on the case and paintjob on the keyboard and trackpad are both design choices that pay off handsomely, and the F5555 also has the most available ports of any other model in this roundup. Overall this is a solid machine, containing a set of specs that could run a number of current and older games without a flinch.

View on Amazon


#4 Pick  Dell Inspiron 11 3000

Dell Inspiron 11 3000

This convertible 2-in-1 laptop is great for students who want a tablet on the road and a laptop at home.

Price: $351.93 | Features: 1920 x 1080 IPS LED screen, Intel Core i5 CPU, 4GB DDR3 RAM

WHY IT’S A TOP PICK: A convertible with all the trimmings? Yes please.

If you’ve been keeping up with the kid’s trends these days, you’d already know that laptops are like “totally out”, while tablets and convertibles are the next big thing in mobile computing for their generation. College students in particular love a “college laptop” that can quickly detach from its keyboard for an all-screen, all-mobile experience, which is why the Dell Inspiron 11 3000 is on our list.

Convertibles can be a pretty hit or miss affair at times, but luckily the Inspiron hits way more often than it misses. The design puts it head and shoulders above the rest of laptops in this price tier, and the flexibility you get from a laptop and a tablet in one – for under $500, no less – simply can’t be overstated.

View on Amazon


#5 Pick  HP 17z-P100

HP Pavilion 17z P100

The 17z’s huge screen makes up for its unsurprising design.

Price: $449.99  | Features: Huge 17’6″ screen, 6GB of DDR3L ultra-efficient RAM

WHY IT’S A TOP PICK: The HP has a stellar design and solid spec list. 

As always, a list of budget laptops wouldn’t be complete without an appearance from the king of cheap laptops: HP. The company has been struggling lately to retain its former glory, but if there’s one thing they know over there it’s how to make a good laptop that does what you need it to for not a whole lot of money.

The HP 17z-P100 is a big laptop that offers plenty of screen real estate for professionals who need to run multiple windows at a time, or if you just want to kick back on the weekend for a Netflix marathon. The onboard speakers perform admirably, and the keyboard and trackpad felt pretty great to the touch once they were both a bit more broken in. The 17z is a great way to catch up on all kinds of media without spending a ton, and offers reasonable gaming power to boot.

View on Amazon


Key Factors to a Good Laptop Under $500

When we’re talking about budget computing, the key to everything is compromise. Some laptops on this list have great screens, but poor performance, while others have great specs and lackluster design.

No laptop under $500 is going to be the best of the best out there today, but as long as you keep a keen eye on the exact features you want and are willing to compromise for the rest, it doesn’t have to be all bad just because you’re not dropping an arm and a leg on your next mobile computer.

Common Mistakes to Avoid

When shopping for a budget laptop, it can be easy to fall into the trap of picking the one that has the best specifications on paper, only to find out the performance still drags in person. The picks on this list are powerful, but their speed is also balanced by solid design and sturdy keyboards which is why they’re able to beat out the huge number of competitors that flood the budget space at the beginning of every year. Don’t think that just because a laptop is cheap on the wallet automatically means it has to feel cheap in the hand as a result.

Features to Look For

Processor

  • Although AMD may own the budget-tier of CPUs when it comes to building your next desktop computer, in laptops, Intel still has plenty of skin in the game.
  • Intel processors can still be competitive on budget laptops, thanks to the many improvements the company has made recently with its efficiency-centric line of CPUs.
  • Anything in the Core i family is a solid pick (even going down to i3), and AMD processors from the A8-7000 lineup are always a solid choice for product longevity and power.

RAM


  • All the laptops listed here come with at least 2GB of DDR3 RAM, which is plenty to handle most multi-tasking days or multiple tabs open at a time.
  • 8GB is ideal for DDR3, however 4GB of DDR3L is just as good given the efficiency savings you’ll get with the newer RAM technology.

Storage

  • In the case of cheap laptops, never automatically assume it’s going to have enough storage space to handle a few programs and a movie or two.
  • SSDs are too expensive to include at this price tier, which is why almost all of the models here run on a regular HDD instead.
  • If speed is the name of your game, you’re better off springing an extra $100 for a model that has an SSD, preferably 128GB or above.

Screen

  • The amount of pixels necessary to create a full HD 1920 x 1080 screen don’t come cheap, which is why the Toshiba Chromebook 2 is the only laptop here that gets to claim the honor.
  • This in mind, 1366 x 1768 resolution isn’t all that terrible if the technology behind it is solid.
  • In general, keep an eye out for anything that carries an IPS LED screen, although in certain cases LCD can get the job done just as well.

Build Quality

  • This is where you have to be the most careful when looking for your next budget laptop.
  • Manufacturers are notorious for making laptops under $500 with the cheapest, flimsiest plastic possible that will crack or even break completely when dropped from heights less than three feet.
  • Almost all of the laptops we’ve listed here made the list not only for their specs, but also because they managed to walk the fine line between “cheap” and “cheaply made” in the best way possible.

So Which Laptop Under $500 is Right For You?

Sure, these aren’t laptops that are going to blow anyone away at first sight, and only one entry on this list even has the privilege of being able to call itself “full-HD”. Their keyboards could be better and their storage capacities could be bigger, their RAM could be faster and their graphics beefier…but that’s not what a budget laptop is for.

Budget laptops can be a good pick for any member of your family, whether it’s their first mobile device or your high-school graduate needs something cheap they can beat up at college. They’re versatile all-rounders that do a lot of different jobs as well as they need to get done, and for under $500 you couldn’t really ask for anything more than that. All the laptops in this list are a part of that pedigree, and most exceed the expectations set by their retail stickers while barely breaking a sweat.


Best Laptops Under $500 for 2018: In Depth Reviews & Buyers Guide
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Chris Stobing

Chris Stobing is a writer and blogger from the heart of Silicon Valley. Raised around tech from birth, he's had an interest in PC hardware and networking technology for years, and has come to Gadget Review to contribute his knowledge on both. You can follow him on Twitter here.

1 Comment to Best Laptops Under $500 for 2018: In Depth Reviews & Buyers Guide

  1. Mike Johnson

    I love the asus f555la from this list. Even there’s acer gaming notebook which is also good but it’s slightly costlier than $500. It’s price is $549 which I think is totally value for money deal because it comes with 6th gen i5, 8GB RAM and dedicated nvidia 940m graphics. All this at $549! I would rather increase my budget by 50 dollars more than getting a laptop with integrated graphics. What do you think ?

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