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Best laptops under $500: the best budget laptops around

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The best laptop under $500 strikes that perfect balance between price and performance. Even though most budget laptops are never going to deliver that level of performance to match that of many of the best laptops on the high-end, you can find a great affordable laptop out there that will meet your computing needs without burning a massive hole in your pocket.

As long as you don’t expect to do anything graphics-intensive or incredibly processor-hungry, the best laptop under $500 should more than suffice. And while finding one isn’t as easy as you might think, it’s hardly impossible. There’s quite a few options out there, if you know where to look, from the cheap laptop for the kids and some of the best Chromebooks to affordable gaming laptops and the best 2-in-1 laptops.

Still, your options are considerably less than they would be with a bigger budget. So, we found the best laptops under $500 for you. With one of these, you’re guaranteed to get your money’s worth without blowing your budget.

Best laptops under $500 at a glance

  1. Microsoft Surface Go
  2. Acer Switch 3
  3. Dell Inspiron Chromebook 11 2-in-1
  4. Acer Chromebook 15
  5. Acer Chromebook R11
  6. Acer Chromebook Spin 15
  7. Microsoft Surface Go 2

Microsoft Surface Go

(Image credit: Microsoft)

1. Microsoft Surface Go

The best laptop under $500 so far

CPU: Intel Pentium Gold 4415Y | Graphics: Intel HD Graphics 615 | RAM: 4GB - 8GB | Screen: 10.5-inch 1,800 x 1,200 PixelSense touch display | Storage: 64GB eMMC - 128GB SSD

Light and easy to hold 
Not as powerful as the iPad 
Type Cover not included

The Microsoft Surface Go may not be the traditional laptop we’re all used to, but it will more than meet your computing needs in its compact and portable package. Not only is this device one of the best Windows tablets out there, but it makes for an excellent laptop alternative if you’re looking for the best laptop under $500. With a Windows 10 S mode out of the box, you’re getting a proper operating system that lets you use such apps as the mobile versions of Microsoft Office and Adobe Photoshop. If you’re computer needs go as far as word processing, sending emails, video conferencing, some light gaming, light photo editing and streaming Netflix, this device has you covered.

Read the full review: Microsoft Surface Go

Acer Switch 3

(Image credit: Acer)

2. Acer Switch 3

A Surface Book 2 alternative at half the price

CPU: 1.10GHz Intel Pentium Quad Core N4200 - Intel Core i3 7100U | Graphics: Intel HD Graphics 505 | RAM: 4GB | Screen: 12.2-inch, 1,920 x 1,200 IPS LCD touchscreen | Storage: 64GB - 128GB eMMC

Excellent build quality
Superb value
Tricky hinged stand
Slower storage options

The Microsoft Surface Book 2 is fairly expensive, but the Acer Switch 3 is a great alternative for far less money, making it the best laptop under $500 for fans of Surface Book 2’s features. This tablet is designed around basically the same concept as the Surface Book 2, even though it's less adept because of its lower-power internals. For most tasks, however, it's a plucky little machine. What this 2-in-1 laptop has over Microsoft's 'Pro' and 'Go' models is that the keyboard is already included. Of course, the Acer Switch 3 comes in multiple configurations, with USB-C, 8GB of memory, an IPS touchscreen and an Intel Core i3 7100U processor coming with the more expensive option.

Read the full review: Acer Switch 3 

Dell Inspiron Chromebook 11 2-in-1

(Image credit: Dell)

3. Dell Inspiron Chromebook 11 2-in-1

The best cheap 2-in-1 Chromebook

CPU: Intel Celeron N3060 | Graphics: Intel HD Graphics 400 | RAM: 4GB | Screen: 11.6-inch, HD (1366 x 768) touchscreen | Storage: 32GB-64GB eMMC

Long battery life
Not very powerful
Slower SSD storage

Counted among the best Chromebooks is also a thrifty machine for anyone looking for the best laptop under $500. It's easy to see how the Dell Inspiron Chromebook 11 2-in-1 exceeds expectations. While it is far from the most powerful Chromebook available, it's exactly what people need it from it: budget-friendly, easy to use and able to hold up to abuse. The Dell Inspiron 11 2-in-1 is more than able to handle all your web browsing and document editing, and consider that it could be the best laptop under $500 which won’t shatter from a simple stumble.

Read the full review: Dell Inspiron Chromebook 11 2-in-1

Acer Chromebook 15

(Image credit: Acer)

4. Acer Chromebook 15

Proof that 15-inches can be affordable, too

CPU: Intel Pentium N4200 | Graphics: Intel HD Graphics 505 | RAM: 4GB | Screen: 15.6-inch, FHD (1,920 x 1,080) | Storage: 32GB eMMC

Unbelievable battery life
Attractive, fanless design
Trackpad feels clunky
Easy to weigh down with tabs

With a shiny chassis as gorgeous as the most recent MacBook, this beautiful, 15-inch Chromebook makes an amazing impression with its battery life, lasting nearly 17 hours in our battery test. That's crazy for a 15-inch laptop – Chromebook or not. But that’s not the end of it. It also has a few other aces up its sleeves, including its roominess, brilliant display and fast charging capability. Best of all, it’s the best laptop under $500 (you can find one under $200, in fact), so budget-minded shoppers will love the value.

Read the full review: Acer Chromebook 15

Acer Chromebook R11

Acer Chromebook R11’s design might not turn heads. (Image credit: Acer)

5. Acer Chromebook R11

360-degree flips all day long

CPU: Intel Celeron N3150 – N3160 | Graphics: Intel HD Graphics 400 | RAM: 4GB | Screen: 11.6" HD (1366 x 768) 16:9 IPS | Storage: 32 GB Flash Memory or 32GB SSD

Attractively minimalist
Good battery life
Terrible trackpad
HD-only screen

The Acer Chromebook R11’s design might not turn heads, but as far as the best laptops under $500 go, it’s chassis is still a minimalist beauty with its textured finish and an overall build that feels pretty solid. It’s got a few other aces as well – the battery life that lasts up to 10 hours, the vibrant touch display, the 2-in-1 design that lets you use it in tent and tablet mode, and those bright crispy speakers. That keyboard is endearing as well.

Read the full review: Acer Chromebook R11

Acer Chromebook Spin 15

Acer Chromebook Spin 15 will still impress you with its knack for multitasking without batting an eyelash. (Image credit: Acer/Elgiganten)

6. Acer Chromebook Spin 15

The ultimate Chromebook for multitasking

CPU: Intel Pentium N4200 | Graphics: Intel HD Graphics 505 | RAM: 4GB | Screen: 15.6" Full HD (1920 x 1080) 16:9 IPS | Storage: up to 64 GB Flash Memory

Plenty of power
Extremely long battery life
Beautifully responsive touchscreen
Trackpad could be better
Second-rate speakers

Even if you’re used to powerful laptops that breeze through your photo and video editing demands, the Acer Chromebook Spin 15 will still impress you with its knack for multitasking without batting an eyelash. This lightweight laptop might not look like it could take on processor-hungry tasks at a time, but it does, making it great for relentless computer users who do more than their fair share of Internet browsing, mobile gaming and video streaming.

Read the full review: Acer Chromebook Spin 15

Microsoft Surface Go 2

(Image credit: Microsoft)

7. Microsoft Surface Go 2

Premium design, more affordable price

CPU: 8th Gen Intel Core m3 – Intel Pentium Gold Processor 4425Y | Graphics: Intel UHD Graphics 615 | RAM: 4GB – 8GB | Storage: 64GB eMMC – 128GB SSD

Premium design
Can run full Windows 10
No Touch Cover or stylus included
Base model's specs are weak

The Surface Go line proves popular with the more budget-conscious crowd, and its follow up, Surface Go 2, continues that tradition with its reasonable price and premium design. It also runs the full Windows 10 operating system, so it’s even more capable than other laptops or laptop alternatives out there as far as what applications you can use on it. Finally, it offers a slight bump in performance over its predecessor, giving users a sensible reason to upgrade if they’ve got the money. All those features combined with its portability make the Microsoft Surface Go 2 among the best laptops under $500.

Read the full review: Microsoft Surface Go 2


06 Aug 2020



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