Best Laptops Under $500

Laptops are an essential fact of life for many people – myself included!

Although tablets have assumed a popular role in many people’s lives, they are a long way from taking the place of a laptop.

(And I suspect they never will.)

After many hours of extensive research and testing, We’ve compiled a list of best laptops under 500 dollars.

Let’s get right to it!

Best Laptops Under $500

LaptopWeightScreen SizeResolution
Asus F556UA-AB32
(Editor's Choice)
5.1 pounds15.6 inches1920 x 1080 pixels
ASUS 2-in-1 Transformer Ultrabook
(Editor's Choice)
3.6 pounds11.6 inches1366 x 768 pixels
Acer Aspire E5-575G-53VG
(Editor's Choice)
5.27 pounds15.6 inches 1920 x 1080 pixels

Acer Chromebook 15 CB5-571-58HF
4.85 pounds15.6 inches 1920 x 1080 pixels
Dell Inspiron i5378-2885GRY

3.44 pounds 13.3 inches 1920 x 1080 pixels
ASUS High Performance
4.41 pounds15.6 inches1366 x 768 pixels
HP 14-an013nr
3.86 pounds,14.0 inches 1920 x 1080 pixels

1. Asus F556UA-AB32 – The Best Laptop Under $500

 

If you’re looking for a powerful, economical laptop, this is absolutely one of the best values on the market. It is loaded with great hardware that offers both efficiency and speed at a price you can’t beat.

Let’s start with the CPU. The F556UA-AB32 is installed with a 6th-generation Intel i3 dual-core processor running at 2.3 GHz. Not only is the i3 fast, it’s a low-power processor, which improves the battery life of your computer.

The CPU is complimented with the latest in random access memory. The laptop is outfitted with 4 GB of DDR4 RAM, which runs at 2133 MHz instead of 1600 MHz, working with your processor to perform more operations faster than before.

The F556UA-AB32 doesn’t skimp on hard drive space either. Loaded up with a 1 TB drive, you will have more than enough room for all your music, movies, pictures and other files. There will also be plenty of room to run install video games. This computer won’t run any high-end gaming, but it will be adequate for older games or those with low graphics requirements.

Quality hardware is not the only thing that this laptop has going for it, either. For example, Asus Eye Care reduces the blue light emitted by the LED screen by 33%, significantly reducing glare and protecting your eyes.

This computer is also well-connected. In addition to standard USB ports, it has USB Type-C it has VGA and HDMI connections, an Ethernet port, a 3-in-1 card reader, and more.

Furthermore, the laptop is powered by an innovative lithium polymer battery that lasts two and a half times longer than a standard lithium ion battery. Not only is it rated for up to 700 battery charges, but is designed to retain more of its life even after the rated span is over, minimizing the battery’s deterioration.

What’s really surprising about this laptop is its size. The laptop is a mere one inch thick, which is absolutely incredible considering its performance. This computer is great. I have absolutely no complaints over its performance, and I feel absolutely no hesitation recommending this computer. You’d be hard-pressed to find a better computer for the price.

PROS

  • Super-fast DDR4 RAM
  • Surprisingly powerful dual-core processor
  • One full TB of storage
  • Amazing battery performance

CONS

  • I can’t think of a single reason not to recommend this computer

 

2. ASUS 2-in-1 Transformer Ultrabook – An Amazing 2-in-1 Laptop

 

If you’re looking for something to bridge the gap between your computer and your tablet, the Transformer Ultrabook is definitely something to have your eyes on. This hybrid 2-in-1 laptop features a number of things that recommend it.

The Ultrabook is powered by an Intel Atom processor. This CPU was specially designed by Intel for use in Netbooks and tablets. Although it is a quad-core processor, it is designed for low power usage consistent with tablet usage, so it won’t overheat in your hands while detached from the keyboard.

The computer sports a 64 GB MicroSD hard drive, but it supports an upgrade to a larger SSD. It has 2 GB of RAM, which is more than sufficient for running common apps and watching movies.

The screen is a fully functional touchscreen with HD resolution. The screen is only 11.6 inches long and the computer weighs just 3.6 pounds. That total includes the weight of the keyboard. The screen isn’t too bulky or cumbersome to be used as a tablet, but it’s also large enough to function as a laptop monitor.

Because it includes a fully functional keyboard, you fill find it has several connection ports, including three USB ports and an HDMI connection, allowing you to connect your computer to a monitor, external hard drive or other USB-enabled device.

The laptop features both a webcam and a 5 megapixel camera, so you can video chat with friends and family and also use the computer to take pictures like any tablet. Thanks to the lithium polymer battery, it also enjoys about ten hours of battery life, which is pretty great.

The Ultrabook ships with Windows 8.1, the operating system especially designed by Microsoft for use on tablets and 2-in-1 computers. I am personally not a fan of Windows 8, but that’s because I’m so accustomed to the traditional Windows UI. The computer can support the Windows 10, however, which makes me wonder why the later OS isn’t already installed in the first place.

PROS

  • Can function without the keyboard as a tablet
  • Very light and portable
  • MicroSD drive boots very quickly

CONS

  • Windows 8 can be frustrating to use
  • Doesn’t have sufficient processing power

 

3. Acer Aspire E5-575G – Gaming, Video Editing and More

 

If you’re looking for a computer capable of doing some heavy lifting at a reasonable price, this is definitely one to check out. Unless you’re looking for a state-of-the-art gaming or video processing computer, you’re going to love this.

This computer is a workhorse. It starts with a 2.3 GHz sixth generation dual-core Intel i5 processor. While not the most powerful processor on the market, it is steady and capable, and combines with the rest of the hardware for a brilliant performance.

Let’s move on to the RAM. Acer does not skimp on this regard, providing 8 GB of the latest DDR4 RAM. This additional memory goes a long way towards improving the processor’s performance, boosted even further by improved memory speeds.

Because of the abundant RAM, this computer is great for music, photo and video editing. If you’ve ever tried to engage in any form of extensive video editing with 4 GB of RAM, you know that you’re not going to get very far. With double the memory, you’ll find this computer is quite adroit at handling a variety of tasks.

The E5-575G is also equipped with a dedicated Nvidia GTX 940M with 2 GB VRAM. While this isn’t powerful enough to run the latest games on Ultra or even High graphics, it’s more than enough to play a lot of recent titles. In addition the 2 GB VRAM helps tremendously with your video editing.

Now let’s talk about storage space. Thanks to its 256 GB SSD, Windows boots up really fast, and you’ll notice right away a quieter, cooler, smoother performance. On the other hand, 256 GB isn’t a terribly large amount of room. My music collection alone takes up a quarter of my storage so you’ll likely need to augment this with cloud storage, an external hard drive or install a larger SSD.

PROS

  • Large amount of RAM helpful for video and music editing
  • Boots up very quickly
  • GTX 940M boosts performance tremendously
  • Great battery life

CONS

  • 256 GB is very limiting for storing video files
  • Processor could be a little faster

 

4 Acer Chromebook 15 CB5-571-58HF – A Superior Chromebook

 

I have a confession to make. I am not particularly fond of the Google Chromebook. I don’t like the limited storage capacity. I don’t like using Cloud Space (or having to pay Google for additional Cloud Space). And I especially dislike apps.

Having said that, this Chromebook isn’t half-bad. And when you use it for what it was designed for, it’s actually pretty powerful.

Powered by the Chrome OS, it utilizes Google programs such as G-mail and Google Docs for e-mail and word processing. Aside from these programs, there are not a lot of native apps installed, so for most other tasks you will have to access an app off the internet.

Google Docs is a pretty powerful tool, every bit as capable as Microsoft Office. Although you have to be online to access any web-based apps, you can draft e-mails and work on Google Docs even if you are in an area that does not have internet reception.

To be honest, I was pleasantly surprised by the hardware built into this computer. The fifth-generation Intel i5 dual-core processor ran at 2.2 GHz and was surprisingly capable. It doesn’t match the CPUs of newer laptops, but it wasn’t sluggish either. Moreover, the laptop was outfitted with 4 GB of RAM, which is more than I’ve seen in most Chromebooks.

Unfortunatelt, the computer falls short when it comes to storage space. Even with the 15 GB of free cloud storage provided by Google, there isn’t enough room to hold my music collection. This is a major shortcoming. Flash drives can be easily lost, and I believe a computer should be large enough to back up your personal data.

The lack of hard drive space is enough of a drawback that I wouldn’t consider using a Chromebook for my personal use. Nevertheless, this computer is great for word and data processing, browsing the internet or streaming music and videos. As long as you are mindful of its limitations, it can be a very effective computer.

PROS

  • Capable dual-core processor
  • 4 GB of RAM is more than most Chromebooks provide
  • Lightening-fast boot up and internet

CONS

  • Insufficient storage space for large amounts of data
  • Lack of native apps force a reliance on web-based applications

 

5. Dell Inspiron i5378-2885GRY – 13.3 Inches of Full HD

 

Despite its touchscreen capabilities, the Inspiron i53780 is more of a laptop than a tablet. And its a pretty powerful laptop at that.

This particular Dell model is a convertible 2-in-1 laptop; a 360 degree hinge allows the screen to be turned away from the keyboard to a variety of positions, but it cannot detach from the keyboard properly. While this prohibits its being used as a true tablet, it enables it to be quite effective as a laptop.

The first thing that surprised me about this 2-in-1 was its weight. I had heard that convertible 2-in-1s tend to be heavy, but laptop weighs less than three and a half pounds. While that’s still a bit cumbersome for a tablet, it’s really pretty light considering the hardware.

This laptop is powered by a 7th generation Intel i5-7200U dual-core processor running at an impressive 3.1 GHz, this computer is built to run. Even more amazing is the 8 GB of 2400 MHz DDR4 RAM. Coupling a speedy processor with a crazy amount of RAM, this computer is more than capable of multi-tasking even fairly demanding tasks, and is well-suited for both music and video editing.

The laptop doesn’t skimp on storage space either, offering a full TB HDD that will last you for years.

What impressed me about this laptop was its durability in spite of its diminutive size. Dell tested this laptop extensively, ensuring its ability to withstand both hot and cold temperatures. In addition, the screen hinge is guaranteed for at least 2500 turns, which practically guarantees it for life.

PROS

  • Powerful 3.1 GHz processor
  • 8 GB DDR4 RAM improves system performance tremendously
  • 1 TB HDD offers a massive amount of storage space

CONS

  • Computer’s thin size doesn’t leave room for an optical drive
  • Battery life could be better

 

6. ASUS 15.6 High Performance Premium HD – A Balance of Performance and Economy

 

I can still remember when the Pentium II processors were released in the late 90s. When we upgraded our outdated 486-powered computer with a brand new Pentium II processor, my father was excited about the new capabilities of what was at the time a state-of-the-art CPU.

Technology has changed dramatically since 1997, and the Pentium processor powering this computer is a long way from being a top-of-the-line CPU it once was, but this laptop does a good job of balancing performance with budget, and is several notches ahead of its Intel Celeron counterpart.

The Pentium processor runs at a mere 1.6 GHz, but it makes up for it by running four cores for more simultaneous multi-tasking.

The computer features a fairly standard 4 GB of RAM and 500 GB of hard drive space, exactly what you would expect from a mid-range computer.

This laptop features a 15.6” screen capable of up to 1366 x 768 high definition resolution, offering lots of viewing space for movies and entertainment. The laptop sports plenty of inputs, including USB 2.0, USB 3.0, VGA and HDMI connectivity, audio inputs and an HD webcam with built-in microphone. The inclusion of an optical drive makes it easy to play your favorite CDs and music, and Bluetooth connectivity allow you to wirelessly connect with Bluetooth-capable speakers.

While this laptop is good for casual use or as a family computer, the Pentium processor is no longer the powerhouse it once was. This computer is fine for multimedia entertainment and word processing, but if you have need of other, more serious tasks, this laptop is going to fall short.

PROS

  • Adequate RAM and HDD for general use
  • Built-in Webcam and microphone
  • Very budget-friendly

CONS

  • Mid-grade processor isn’t very powerful

 

7. HP 14-an013nr 14-Inch Notebook – The Perfect Budget Laptop

 

This 14-inch Notebook from Hewlett Packard is a little different from the other computers I’ve reviewed. For one, it isn’t powered by Intel or Google, but rather by an AMD processor, the primary competitor to Intel. For another, it utilizes a different type of storage bay than the other laptops. So let’s discuss what sets this laptop apart from the others.

The AMD E2 processor is a mid-range processor very similar in capability to the Intel Pentium. The E2 is a quad-core CPU that runs at 1.8 GHz, making it ideal for word processing, multimedia and light casual gaming.

Like most halfway decent laptops, the 14-an013nr is backed with 4 GB of RAM, which is all but required for more than the most basic processes today.

However, this HP Notebook once again breaks from the crowd by utilizing a 32 GB eMMC drive. I’ve previously reviewed computers with HHD, SSD and even microSD, but this is a little different. Basically, eMMC drives run on the same principle as SSDs, but they are a closer equivalent to an SD chip than anything else.

That said, you know how I feel about the importance of storage space. 32 GB can support an unlimited number of word documents and spreadsheets and thousands of pictures or songs. On the other hand, this computer is not suited for gaming, editing or running large amounts of large software. This would be an ideal computer for a student but a poor one for a professional.

That said, this computer boots up very quickly and runs smoothly. Despite its 14-inch screen, this laptop offers Full HD resolution for an awesome video experience. At less than four pounds, it’s also light and compact, making it more convenient for travel.

Perhaps best of all, this computer is very affordable, priced to compete with most Chromebooks. As a matter of fact, this computer resembles a Chromebook in many ways, and it will likely find its niche with a similar audience that prefers the familiar Windows interface.

PROS

  • Low price makes it very affordable
  • Has enough RAM to perform important tasks
  • Full HD resolution

CONS

  • The performance of eMMC drives is inferior to SSDs
  • Very limited storage space

 

8. ASUS T100 – A Great 10” 2-in-1

 

If you’re looking for an affordable laptop that can double as a tablet, you’ve come to the right place. This 10 inch hybrid 2-in-1 laptop features a mobile-friendly Intel Bay Trail quad-core processor, is loaded with Windows 8.1 and comes with a one-year subscription to Microsoft Office.

If you need a powerhouse, this laptop is not going to be the right fit, but for casual usage, the 1.46 GHz processor will do just fine. Specially designed for low power output and heat emissions, the CPU won’t overheat when detaching the screen, making it safe to use it as a tablet.

With only 2 GB of memory, this laptop is not cut out for a lot of multi-tasking. However, it is perfectly capable of performing any basic functions you throw at it. Whether you need an inexpensive working computer for when you’re traveling or an affordable entertainment computer for your kids, this is a great go-to choice.

However, you may find yourself limited by its 64 GB eMMC drive. While it is larger than some of the drives for budget computers I’ve reviewed, it is still insufficient for storing movies or large amounts of multimedia files, so keep that in mind before purchasing.

There are other nice features to this laptop: Bluetooth connectivity, a large number of connection ports, a long lasting battery. At a mere 2.4 pounds, it’s also very light.

However, I feel that you could probably find a more capable laptop for the same price as this or even a little less. If you really want a 2-in-1 laptop, this is a good choice, but make sure that’s what you really want.

PROS

  • Hybrid design is convenient
  • Very light and portable

CONS

  • Limited memory hampers performance
  • 64 GB may not be enough storage space

 

9. Signature Edition Lenovo High Performance Business and Gaming Laptop – A Great Budget Gaming Computer

 

Gaming is a big deal to me. So when I saw this computer at such a competitive price, I knew I had to test it out.

Right off the bat, I noticed it was fronted by a relatively powerful AMD FX-7500 quad-core CPU with 2.1 GHz, with turbo boost up to 3.3 GHz. I personally prefer AMD to Intel, and I used an AMD build when I built my own desktop gaming tower.

The processor runs great. It’s fast and efficient and doesn’t draw too much power.

What might be the most impressive feature of this laptop is a whopping 16 GB of DDR3 RAM. Even running at 1600 MHz, the RAM is crazy fast, and makes running processes, transferring files and video editing a cinch.

The computer was also outfitted with a dedicated graphics card, an AMD Radeon R7. I benchmarked the GPU and it’s definitely not at the top of the food chain. Still, it could play some of my more graphically intense games (think Skyrim) on Medium and even High settings. That’s pretty good for a computer of this caliber.

The laptop doesn’t stiff on storage space either. With a 1 TB HDD, there is more than enough room for everything you need. I couldn’t help but think that an SSD would have improved the performance somewhat, but at the price this computer was going for, that’s a pretty small complaint.

One thing that I did notice is that this laptop does not support Full HD. It does have an HDMI port that can connect to a 1080p monitor, but that is one extra step I don’t want to deal with. It was a little weird seeing a gaming/video editing laptop without Full HD, but considering the price I guess I can’t be too surprised.

The laptop even included a DVD drive, which most budget gaming laptops omit. I liked that a lot.

Despite a few shortcomings, this is a pretty solid laptop. It won’t be powerful enough for hardcore gamers, but with 16 GB of RAM, it’s more than enough to handle even the toughest video editing software.

PROS

  • 16 GB of RAM is amazingly fast
  • AMD processor runs like a charm
  • Graphics card is surprisingly capable
  • The value is unbeatable

CONS

  • It’s not Full HD, which was a little disappointing
  • Could have used a small SSD
  •  

    10. Nextbook Flexx – Your Best Bet for An Inexpensive Laptop

     

    Not everyone has a large budget to afford a computer. If you don’t have a lot of money to drop on a laptop, but you want something with a little more gravitas than a tablet, the Nextbook Flexx is gravy.

    The first thing I noticed was that the Nextbook was small, only 8.9 inches. This is the perfect size for a tablet, but it is a bit small when using it as a laptop. Still, for its budget price, that’s not much of a complaint.

    At 2.6 pounds (keyboard included), it’s pretty lightweight, which is good for when you’re using it as a tablet. It uses a low-powered Intel 1.8 GHz quad-core processor based off the Intel Atom, which doesn’t overheat when pushed. The processor is actually more powerful than some more expensive hybrid 2-in-1 laptops, but don’t expect it to perform any miracles.

    Memory is a concern for this laptop, however. It only has 1 GB of RAM. While that is pretty standard for a tablet, it is abysmally low for a laptop. That means that, despite running Windows 10 and theoretically supporting any compatible software, you’re going to find that this laptop isn’t going to be able to run any memory-intensive programs. Even gaming will be limited to basic casual games.

    Besides memory, storage is also limited. Of course, that is to be expected from a computer of this price. Although it comes with 32 GB native, that can be upgraded to a 64 GB microSD. I’ve explained time and again how limited storage space is constraining, so I’m not going to rehash it again. I do like that the tablet can upgrade the storage space, however.

    As you might expect, the laptop is Bluetooth-enabled. It also comes with Microsoft Word, Excel and PowerPoint already insta1lled, which is very convenient.

    All in all, this is a fairly effective budget computer tablet. As long as you have realistic expectations of its capabilities, you shouldn’t be disappointed.

    PROS

    • Very affordable budget computer
    • Storage is upgradeable
    • Comes with several MS Office programs pre-installed

    CONS

    • Very limited memory
    • RAM cannot be upgraded
    • Keyboard is small and limiting

     

    What You Should Know

    Before you commit to buying anything, you need to consider your individual needs and what you plan on using your laptop for. As you may have noticed from the list of computers, there are several different types of laptops that are currently popular.

    Probably the most common are still your traditional laptops, but both Chromebooks and 2-in-1 laptops are rapidly growing in popularity.

    Unfortunately, some people go in buying Chromebooks or 2-in-1s without really understanding how they differ from a traditional laptop, and find themselves dissatisfied with their purchase. On the other hand, some people who buy regular laptops don’t necessarily utilize all of its advantages and may be better off with a different machine.

    To help you make an educated decision, I am going to explain the differences between these electronic devices. In doing so, I hope to make it easier for you to buy the computer you deserve!

    Traditional Laptops

    I don’t think I need to say too much about the standard laptop. Most people are familiar with them and their capabilities. Nevertheless, I feel I should briefly describe the principle elements that make a laptop function.

    Like all computers, laptops are powered bya processor, or CPU. Files and software are stored on a hard drive (HDD) or now, sometimes, on a solid-state drive (SSD). Memory sticks, or RAM, are used to facilitate the transfer of information from the hard drive to the processor.

    All of these components are connected to the motherboard, which is analogous to the central nervous system of the human body. The motherboard allows communication between the processor, memory and hard drive, as well as supporting the computer’s on-board graphics, external connections such as USB and performs a host of other functions.

    Laptops, like desktops, are especially suited for multi-tasking, gaming and advanced photo, music and video editing. While they are all capable of more routine tasks such as browsing the internet, creating web documents and watching movies, they are no better at performing those tasks than any other computer.

    In other words, if your professional or recreational usage requires your computer to perform any serious tasks such as recording music or playing video games, you need a standard laptop.

    Chromebooks

    Chromebooks are a specialized laptop developed by Google than runs on the Chrome operating system (OS). They were designed partially to bridge the gap between the functionality of tablets and laptops, and partially as a low cost alternative to Windows-based laptops.

    Bucking the trend of modern computers that feature ever-larger hard drive capacities, Chromebooks average a mere 16 GB of hard drive space, although some of them have 32 GB SSDs. In addition, Google provides 15 GB of cloud storage to each Chromebook user.

    You see, the Chromebook was designed to operate in close conjunction not only with the internet, but with cloud technology. By saving your word documents, photos and other documents to cloud storage rather than a physical disk, you can access your documents whenever and wherever you might have internet, be it on a library computer, a friend’s laptop or your mobile smartphone.

    Chromebooks bridge the gap between laptops and tablets in other ways as well. For example, rather than running on executable files such as Windows, new programs are accessible through apps. However, usage of these apps is limited to when you are connected to a network. While you can still carry out a variety of tasks, such as word processing, while disconnected from the network, the vast majority of apps are tied into an online connection. Because these apps are not software, they cannot be accessed independently of the internet.

    The other major shortcoming of the Chromebook is its power. Chromebooks are generally powered by basic processors and have relatively limited memory (typically 2 GB). As a result, Chromebooks are not great at multi-tasking and are not usable for any serious music or video editing, as well as any serious amount of gaming.

    While it is possible to play video games with low graphic requirements, the limited storage space of the Chromebook would quickly prove to be a major limitation. Nevertheless, for professionals who want an inexpensive computer to handle e-mails and word documents or students who need a basic machine to do web research and write papers, the Chromebook is an economical and reliable choice.

    Two-in-One Laptops

    It’s a little misleading to speak of 2-in-1 laptops as a single entity, as there are actually two different takes on the 2-in-1 laptop. Both of them are powered by Windows, however.

    When most people think of a 2-in-1 laptop, they probably think of the tablet that can attach and detach from a keyboard at will. This is known as a hybrid, which is to say a hybrid between a tablet and a laptop.

    In the case of hybrid 2-in-1s, the screen can be detached from the keyboard and function independently as a tablet, while the keyboard retains the same functionality you expect from a laptop keyboard, including audio and USB ports and its own battery.

    Most likely, you’ve seen the other type of 2-in-1 as well. They are called convertible 2-in-1 laptops. The screen can swivel over and away from the keyboard, but does not actually detach.

    There are pros and cons to each approach. The hybrid 2-in-1 is lighter and more convenient in some ways. Outfitted with Windows 10, the tablet benefits from an established operating system, and its ability to operate independently of the keyboard can be a nice convenience. This dual functionality nevertheless limits the performance of the laptop, as it requires a mobile-friendly processor that simply cannot do a lot of heavy lifting.

    The convertible 2-in-1 does not suffer from a limited processor. Because the screen never detaches from the keyboard, the laptop hardware can be outfitted with computer-grade processors, making them better suited for multi-tasking, photo editing and other tasks. Unfortunately, because they utilize laptop hardware, they are pretty heavy for a tablet, while still not able to perform all the tasks you might expect from a laptop.

    Now that you have a clearer understanding of the nuances between these three separate laptop computer technologies, you are in a better position to decide which of the best laptops under 500 dollars is the right fit for your life.

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