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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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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. However, if you are going to use the laptop for one main reason, you should make sure it will perform that task optimally. For example, if you are looking for a laptop to play games, you will want to make sure it runs smoothly, like with our list of laptops to play Roblox or laptops that are great for WoW.
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.
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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