Best Laptops Under $500

Mark Spoonauer ·
Editor in Chief

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 a 2-in-1 laptop with a touch screen in this price range, though it will be on the smaller side. Luckily, with upcoming Amazon Prime Day discounts, these affordable laptops should be available for even less.

After reviewing dozens of value-priced systems, the most well-rounded Windows laptop under $500 is the 15-inch Acer Aspire E 15. Our favorite low-cost Chromebook is the 11-inch Samsung Chromebook 3. HP recently announced its $449 Chromebook 15, which boasts razor-thin bezels and all-day battery life, and Google actually recently confirmed at its I/O developer conference that a virtual desktop feature is coming to Chrome OS. If you're still running Windows 7 on your sub-$500 laptop, read our current guide about how to deal with the inevitable end of the OS.

You can currently get the Acer Aspire E 15 for $361 ($19 off). If you're looking for even cheaper laptops, take a look at our selection of the Best Laptops Under $300. We recently reviewed the Lenovo IdeaPad 320 and the HP Chromebook 14, but didn't like them very much. However, the Acer Chromebook Spin 15, the HP Chromebook 14 (Intel) and the HP 14 Laptop get honorable mentions, and we really liked the 2018 HP Stream 11, but we also have plenty of other recommendations. Here are the best laptops under $500 you can buy now.


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.

Key Specs: CPU: 8th-Gen Intel Core i3 | RAM: 6GB | Storage: 1TB hard drive (5,400-rpm) | Screen: 15.6 inches (1920 x 1080) | Battery Life: 8:48 (hrs:min) | Weight: 5 pounds

  • Strong performance
  • Lots of ports
  • Good battery life
  • Very affordable
  • Bulky design
  • Filled with bloatware
$405.99Walmart Marketplace
Read the full review

Acer Swift 1

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. Key Specs: CPU: Intel Pentium Silver N5000 | RAM: 4GB | Storage: 64GB eMMC | Screen: 14 inches (1920 x 1080) | Battery Life: 10:14 (hrs:min) | Weight: 2.9 pounds


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 delivers a brighter display than most budget laptops and solid audio quality for the money. 

Despite having a somewhat shallow 1.2mm of travel, the keyboard proved comfortable in our testing; the buttonless touchpad is plenty roomy, too. Regarding performance, this Celeron-powered system proved responsive even with several tabs open in Chrome. On our web surfing battery test, the IdeaPad 120S lasted a pretty good 7.5 hours on a charge, which should get you through most of the day. Just don't expect a sharp webcam.

Key Specs: CPU: Intel Celeron | RAM: 4GB| Storage: 64GB | Screen: 14 inches (1366 x 768) | Battery Life: 7:43 (hrs:min) | Weight: 3.2 pounds

  • Stylish design
  • USB Type-C charging
  • Solid performance
  • Washed-out screen
  • Poor webcam
Read the full review

The best lightweight laptop you can get in this price range, Asus' VivoBook E403NA has a sharp, 1080p screen and an aluminum lid, 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 14-inch notebook can go anywhere while you leave its plug at home. A fingerprint reader helps you log into Windows 10 without entering a password. In our testing, the Pentium processor juggled multiple open tabs in Chrome with ease. With 1.4mm of travel, the keyboard provides speedy typing with no flex. This Asus has all the ports you need, including USB Type-C, two USB 3.0 ports, HDMI and an SD Card reader.

Key Specs: CPU: Intel Pentium | RAM: 4GB | Storage: 128GB | Screen: 14 inches (1920 x 1080) | Battery Life: 8:04 (hrs:min) | Weight: 3.13 pounds

  • Lightweight design with aluminum lid
  • Good port selection
  • Sharp 1080p display
  • Slippery touchpad
  • Low-res webcam
Read the full review

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 that 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. Powered by a Celeron CPU and 4GB of RAM, the Spin 1 proved fairly swift in everyday use. The only real drawback? The battery life on this 2-in-1 could be better, as it didn't quite last 7 hours on our web-surfing test.

Key Specs: CPU: Intel Celeron N3350 | RAM: 4GB | Storage: 32GB | Screen:11.6 inches (1920 x 1080) | Battery Life: 6:44 (hrs:min) | Weight: 2.65 pounds

  • Sharp, colorful display
  • Attractive metal chassis
  • Comfortable keyboard
  • Below-average battery life
  • Small storage drive
Read the full review

Lenovo’s Flex 6 11 offers strong performance packed in a slim 0.7-inch chassis. This 11-inch 2-in-1 can last more than 9 hours on a charge, perfect for getting you through your workday and then some.

For $329, you get a quality Windows 10 laptop with a solid Intel Celeron processor and a modest 64GB of eMMC storage all built into a sleek two-tone black design with silver accents. The Flex 6 offers a comfortable keyboard with lovely shield-shaped keys as well as a touch screen capable of tracking your finger accurately. The Flex 6 also provides a solid amount of ports including USB Type-C, HDMI and 4-in-1 card reader.

  • Great battery life
  • Sleek design
  • Solid performance
  • Solid keyboard
  • Poor display
  • Harsh audio
Read the full review

How to Choose a Budget Laptop

Although 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 with a solid-state drive or eMMC storage, another form of solid-state memory, you'll speed up your  boot 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'll likely have to settle for plastic.

  • Pick the right CPU: A Core i3 processor is pretty good for this price range. Intel Pentium and Celeron CPUs are serviceable, but not particularly speedy. A Chromebook generally requires less processing power than a Windows machine.

  • Optical Media: If you need to use CDs or DVDs, we've even found a couple of laptops with DVD drives that won't break the bank.

Your buying decision may come down to whether you need a full-fledged PC, or would prefer the simplicity of a Chromebook.

You'll want a Windows 10-based machine if there are applications  you depend upon, such as Adobe or Microsoft's suites of apps. Yes, Chrome OS machines can run the Android versions of those apps with Google Play emulation, but those apps are often incomplete, and give you a bare minimum when it comes to features.

Chromebooks will be best, though, if you live inside the Chrome browser, and prefer a system that takes care of itself. With a Chromebook, you'll never need antivirus software, and system updates are automatically performed. Chromebooks are also more web-dependent, as offline modes are still not as widely available.