Best laptops under $500: the best budget laptops around
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
CPU: Intel Celeron N3150 â 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
Good battery life
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.
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
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.
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.
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