Best Laptops Under $500

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Best Overall

Acer Aspire E 15 (E5-575-33BM)

Editor's Choice

Just how much laptop can you get for under $350? Acer's Aspire E 15 (E5-575-33BM) offers a colorful 1080p display, strong build quality and solid Core i3-powered performance. The laptop lasts for over 8 hours on a charge, impressive endurance for any 15-inch laptop, let alone one at this price point. The Aspire E 15 (E5-575-33BM) also comes equipped with 4GB of RAM, a 1TB hard drive, a DVD writer and just about every port you could possibly want, including a USB Type-C connector.

Acer Aspire E 15 (E5-575-33BM) Review

Best Laptops Under $500
Product: Use Case: Rating:
Acer Aspire E 15 (E5-575-33BM) Best Overall 4 out of 5
Acer Spin 1 Best 2-in-1 4 out of 5
Asus VivoBook E403NA Best 14-inch Laptop 4 out of 5
HP Stream 11 Best Sub-$200 Laptop 4 out of 5
Samsung Chromebook 3 Best Sub-$200 Chromebook 4 out of 5
Lenovo IdeaPad 120S (14-inch) Best Sub-$300 Laptop 4 out of 5
Samsung Chromebook Plus Best Chromebook 4 out of 5
  • Best 2-in-1

    Acer Spin 1

    Editor's Choice

    At first glance, you might mistake the Acer Spin 1 for a much more expensive laptop. This 11.6-inch convertible sports a premium, all-aluminum chassis and one of the brightest and most colorful screens you'll find on any system, even those which cost over $1,000. For good measure, the Spin 1 also includes an active stylus, something that costs extra on many 2-in-1s, so you can draw on the screen using 1,024 levels of pressure. 

    Acer Spin 1 Review

  • Best 14-inch Laptop

    Asus VivoBook E403NA

    Editor's Choice

    The best lightweight laptop you can get in this price range, Asus's 14-inch VivoBook E403NA has a sharp, 1080p screen and a partially-metal chassis, two premium features you rarely find on laptop that costs less than $400. At 3.1 pounds and with over 8 hours of battery life, this notebook can go anywhere while you leave its plug at home. A fingerprint reader helps you log into Windows 10 without entering a password.

    Asus VivoBook E403NA Review

  • Best Sub-$200 Laptop

    HP Stream 11

    Editor's Choice

    The Stream 11 is a great choice for kids or adults who need a lightweight, secondary PC that can last over 8 hours on a charge. Available in colorful blue or purple shades, the Stream offers solid performance thanks to a Celeron CPU and 4GB of RAM, double the amount of memory you find on most Windows 10 laptops in this price range. Even better, the Stream 11 comes with a free, one-year subscription to Office 365. 

    HP Stream 11 Review

  • Best Sub-$200 Chromebook

    Samsung Chromebook 3

    If you prefer Google's browser-centric operating system to Windows 10, Samsung's Chromebook 3 is your best choice for under $200. This 11.6-inch system lasts nearly 10 hours on a charge, weighs just 2.5 pounds and provides snappy performance and multitasking.

    Samsung Chromebook 3 Review

  • Best Sub-$300 Laptop

    Lenovo IdeaPad 120S (14-inch)

    For under $300, the IdeaPad 120S offers an attractive design, good performance and the ability to charge over USB Type-C. This 14-inch system also offers solid battery life and audio output for the money.

    Lenovo IdeaPad 120S Review

  • Best Chromebook

    Samsung Chromebook Plus

    The Samsung Chromebook Plus is a laptop built on premieres. It's one of the first Chromebooks that can run Android apps out the box and has an embedded stylus -- adding loads of functionality to Google's otherwise scant operating system. Powered by an ARM processor, the laptop is an able multitasker and looks good while doing it thanks to its sleek sliver aluminum chassis. 

    Samsung Chromebook Pro/Plus Review

How to Choose a Budget Laptop

While the best laptops cost much more, the average consumer spends under $500 for a new notebook. When shopping for a laptop in this price range, you have to make some compromises, so it's important to prioritize the features that matter most and get as many of them as you can, without breaking your budget.

We've listed several high-quality budget laptops on this page for you to consider. When evaluating a laptop, consider these factors in this order of importance:

  • Full HD (1920 x 1080) Screen: Most budget laptops are saddled with low-res, 1366 x 768 displays that allow you to fit a lot of text on the screen at once. If you can find a laptop with a screen that has a 1920 x 1080 resolution, you'll be able to see more of your favorite web pages, emails, social media feeds and documents, without scrolling. You'll also get much sharper images and videos.
  • SSD or eMMC Memory: Most sub-$500 laptops use mechanical hard drives, but if you can get one a Solid State Drive or eMMC storage, another form of solid state memory, you'll have faster boot times and application open times.
  • Good build quality: If you see a laptop with a soft-touch finish or real aluminum on any of its surfaces -- especially the deck and lid -- that's a sign of good design. However, in this price range, you may have to settle for shiny plastic.
  • Core i5 CPU: One area where you may need to compromise is on processor speed. If you can find a system with an Intel Core i5 CPU that also has the other three features above, you're in great shape. If you have to settle for a Core i3 processor, that's still pretty good. Intel Pentium and Celeron CPUs are serviceable, but not particularly speedy.

A good laptop that costs over $800 should have all of these features, but if you can find a system that has one or more of these for under $500, you're ahead of the game.