You don't have to feel like you're settling when looking for the best laptop under $500. There are value-priced notebooks that include full-HD displays, solid performance and long battery life, plus all the ports you need. You can even get one of the best 2-in-1 laptops with a touch screen in this price range, though it will be on the smaller side. Some of these even made it on our best laptops page.
After reviewing dozens of value-priced systems, the most well-rounded Windows laptops under $500 are the 15-inch Acer Aspire E 15 and the Acer Aspire 5 (watch them face off). Our best Chromebook for a low cost is the 11-inch Samsung Chromebook 3. We saw quite a few solid budget laptops at CES 2020, like the Lenovo IdeaPad Duet Chromebook.
Here are the best laptops under $500
The best overall laptop under $500 you can buy
CPU: Intel Core i3-8145U | GPU: Intel UHD 620 | RAM: 4GB | Storage: 128GB SSD | Display: 15.6-inch, 1920 x 1080 | Size: 14.3 x 9.9 x 0.7 inches | Weight: 3.76 pounds
The Acer Aspire 5 earns its place at the top spot due to its strong 8th Gen Core i3 performance, bright 1080p display and long battery life, all for an affordable price. Although the Aspire 5 is much thinner than its sibling, the Aspire E 15, the Aspire 5 boasts enough room for a battery that lasts nearly 9 hours on a charge. It doesn’t feature a DVD writer, but it still has a decent number of ports. The display emits an impressive 276 nits of brightness, which gives the screen some decent contrast. It even has an aluminum hood. The Aspire 5 is the best sub-$500 laptop currently available.
See our full Acer Aspire 5 review.
The laptop with the most ports
CPU: Intel Core i3-8130U | GPU: Intel UHD 620 | RAM: 6GB | Storage: 1TB 5,400-rpm HDD | Display: 15.6-inch, 1920 x 1080 | Size: 15 x 10.2 x 1.2 inches | Weight: 5 pounds
For just under $400, the Acer Aspire E 15 can rock your world with a powerful 8th Gen Core i3 processor, plenty of ports and a subtle premium aesthetic. Despite the upgrade in power, the battery life actually lasts a bit longer than last year’s model at just under 9 hours. The 2018 Aspire E 15 is outfitted with a beefier 6GB of RAM, and still retains its DVD writer and USB Type-C port. The keyboard is comfortable to type on due to how springy, and well-spaced, the keys are. For what you get, the Aspire E 15 is as premium as a sub-$500 laptop can get.
See our full Acer Aspire E 15 review.
The cheapest Windows laptop you can buy
CPU: Intel Celeron N4000 | GPU: Intel UHD 600 | RAM: 4GB | Storage: 32GB eMMC | Display: 11-inch, 1366 x 768 | Size: 11.8 x 8.1 x 0.7 inches | Weight: 2.5 pounds
For under $200, you won’t find a better Windows laptop than the HP Stream 11. The Stream boasts a portable, 11-inch chassis, weighing in at 2.5 pounds and measuring just 0.7 inches thick. The system is packed with all-day battery life and relatively strong performance. While its keyboard can be a little cramped, it offers decent key travel. If you’re on a tight budget, the HP Stream 11 is the one laptop to go with.
See our full HP Stream 11 (2018) review.
The best 2-in-1 laptop
CPU: Intel Core m3-7Y30 | GPU: Intel HD 615 | RAM: 4GB | Storage: 32GB eMMC | Display: 12.3-inch, 2400 x 1600 | Size: 11.5 x 8.3 x 0.3 inches | Weight: 3.1 pounds
Previously, the HP Chromebook x2 wouldn’t be anywhere near this page, but the detachable Chromebook has since landed below the $500 price range. The HP Chromebook x2 offers quite a few things that other budget laptops don’t, such as a colorful 2400 x 1600 display and a solid pair of speakers. Additionally, the Chromebook x2 offers a comfortable keyboard and a battery that lasts nearly 9 hours on a single charge. But the cherry on top is that it comes included with HP's Active Pen, which kept up with even our fastest drawings. The HP Chromebook x2 is one of the best Chromebooks around for the price.
See our full HP Chromebook x2 review.
The best lightweight laptop
CPU: Intel Pentium Silver N5000 | GPU: Intel UHD 605 | RAM: 4GB | Storage: 64GB eMMC | Display: 14-inch, 1920 x 1080 | Size: 12.7 x 9.0 x 0.6 inches | Weight: 2.9 pounds
The Acer Swift 1 is a sleek and lightweight 14-inch laptop with a full aluminum chassis featuring a healthy amount of ports all for less than $400. Now combine that great price with a battery that can last 10 hours and 14 minutes on a charge and a 14-inch display that ditches the mediocre 768p resolution for a full 1080p. The Acer Swift 1 is packed with Intel Pentium Silver N5000, 4GB and 64GB of eMMC storage, which is strong enough to let you manage at least 10 Google Chrome tabs before succumbing to the usual slowdown. The Swift 1 also comes with a decent 720p webcam, which is surprising for a laptop this cheap. Overall, the Acer Swift 1 is a solid choice for a lightweight sub-$500 laptop.
See our full Acer Swift 1 review.
The best Chromebook
CPU: Intel Core i3-8130U | GPU: Intel UHD 620 | RAM: 4GB | Storage: 128GB eMMC | Display: 15.6-inch, 1920 x 1080 | Size: 14.11 x 9.69 x 0.7 inches | Weight: 4 pounds
If you're itching for a chromebook with a bigger, sharper display for an affordable price, then your best best is the HP Chromebook 15. For just $469, you get a chromebook with Core i3 performance and a comfortable keyboard packed into a refreshing design. On top of that, you get a battery life that'll last you for 9 hours and 51 minutes. It also packs a decent number of ports as well, including two USB Type-C ports, a USB Type-A port and a microSD card slot. While the display isn't that colorful, it offers great real-estate, it's sharp and relatively bright as well.
See our full HP Chromebook 15 review.
The laptop with the best battery life
CPU: Intel Celeron 3000N | GPU: Intel UHD 600 | RAM: 4GB | Storage: 32GB eMMC | Display: 11.6-inch, 1366 x 768 | Size: 11.33 x 7.96 x 0.66 inches | Weight: 2.6 pounds
If you're looking for a ridiculously cheap Chromebook, you won't find anything better than the Samsung Chromebook 4 ($229). It survived a whole 10 hours and 36 minutes against our battery test, making it the best laptop under $500 with the longest battery life. This machine is best for people who really only need to use a laptop to type, especially because it has a good keyboard, but also, the screen and audio aren't up to par. But thanks to how light it is, and its decent performance, it's a solid ultraportable laptop.
See our full Samsung Chromebook 4 review.