Best Laptops Under $500 for 2022: In Depth Reviews & Buyers Guide

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Updated June 27, 2022

To determine the best laptops under $500, so you can buy one that doesn’t break the bank, we researched over 60 laptops online to see if we could narrow down the options to the top 15 computers. We then read customer reviews and looked at the on-paper specifications to start thinning out the list. Once we finalized our list of 15, we bought them all so we could put them through our extensive and thorough tests.

During our testing, we typed, ran programs, streamed media online and even played some video games to get a good grasp on which options performed the best. And because of this extensive testing, we found the Acer Aspire 5 to be the best laptop under $500 in 2019. With an impressive and beautiful IPS display and super fast processor, the Aspire 5 blew our expectations out of the water. Keep reading to learn more about the Acer Aspire and other great laptops in our buyer’s guide below.

Best Laptops Under $500

 #1  Acer Aspire 5 Laptop

Features: 15.6″ 1920 x 1080 IPS FHD touch screen, 3.5 GHz AMD Ryzen 3 3200U processor, 4GB DDR4 RAM, 128GB SSD

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

When we tested the Acer Aspire 5, we were so surprised by its top-of-the-line performance, especially considering its low price. It’s fast, light on the arm, well-designed, and comes with a jaw-droppingly gorgeous 1920 x 1080 IPS touch screen. Sounds like the complete package, right?

Read: Toshiba Chromebook 2 Hands On Review

Of course, we can’t forget how thin this laptop is. Measuring in at just 0.7 inches thick and just under 4 pounds in weight, this laptop is incredibly portable and perfect for travel. Unfortunately, the Acer Aspire’s processor isn’t an Intel Pentium or any other Intel processor, but the AMD Ryzen still performs well, all things considered. Its battery life is above average, being at 8 hours and 51 minutes, but there are other laptops with long battery life if that’s what you need. Still though, this laptop is much cheaper and in general better than the Acer Swift.

Related: Take a quick look at the best laptops for college students.

Either way, there’s no denying that the Acer Aspires 5 is hands down the fastest, prettiest laptop you’ll get for under $500 today. You can compare it to the best Apple laptops and you’ll see why it is such a good deal.

 #2  ASUS VivoBook L203MA

Features: Extremely cheap price, solid build quality and attractive design

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

The ASUS VivoBook L203MA 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 $199.99, the VivoBook 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 2.6GHz Intel Celeron N4000 processor, Intel UHD Graphics 600 coprocessor, 4GB of LPDDR4 RAM, and a 64GB flash hard drive, the ASUS VivoBook 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.

Related: Check the best netbooks you can buy today.

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? The best chromebook is also worth a look if you prefer those over other laptops.

 #3  Dell Inspiron 15.6″ Laptop

Features: Core i3 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 Dell still is.

At $347.88, the Dell Inspiron 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 i3-7130U 2.7GHz onboard CPU, an Intel HD Graphics 620 chip, 8GB of DDR4 RAM and 128GB of available solid state drive space, the Dell Inspiron 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 Inspiron also has a great number of available ports for a budget machine. Overall this is a solid machine, containing a set of specs that could run a number of current and older games without a flinch. You’ll also want the best laptop bags to protect your device.

 #4  Lenovo IdeaPad 15.6

Features: Super rugged design and spill resistant keyboard

WHY IT’S A TOP PICK: This ASUS Chromebook is the toughest of the bunch.

As always, a list of budget laptops wouldn’t be complete without an appearance from the king of cheap laptops: the Chromebook. These ultra-portable laptops made a bang when they were first released, but their heavy and awkward Chrome OS operating system was a bit of a flop. Since their release, things have gotten a little better, though, as is apparent in this ASUS Chromebook .

Chromebooks are known for having a long battery life. This laptop is not any different. It is one of the best in this regard, with a battery life of more than 10 hours.

Besides the computer’s overall decent performance, with an Intel Celeron N3060 processor and 4GB of DDR3 RAM, the best thing you’ll get here is an incredibly rugged design. It also comes with a backlit keyboard, something that is not standard for all Chromebooks, such as for Samsung Chromebook laptops. With rubber-reinforced edges, spill-resistant keyboard and 180-degree display hinge, this Chromebook can take a beating without flinching. If you’re looking for a budget laptop that won’t break on you, this is the Chromebook for you.

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. Look for the Intel UHD graphics unit on your laptop.
  • 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.

When deciding to buy a laptop on a budget various factors decide what is the best buy. It can be a graphics card, personal preference (windows laptops or MacBook laptops), or long battery life.

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.

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