Best Gaming Laptops Under $500 (In 2020) Reviews

Jordan Noland Updated on June 23, 2020
gaming laptop under 500

As a solid in-between price point, notebooks in the $400 – $499 range start to feature higher end specs and extra features. Below we break down eight different models perfect for nearly any gamer.

For dedicated WoW or DOTA 2 players, you can get everything you need without emptying your bank account. These computers won’t let you play AAA shooters on high settings, but they will get most games up and running at a stable frame rate.

Ready to see what’s available? Let’s get started finding the best gaming laptop under 500 in 2020.

Recommendations for August 2020 

10 Best Gaming Laptops Under $500 In 2020

HP Pavilion 14  – NexiGo Wireless Mouse

HP Pavilion 14
Want power and performance for your games without emptying out your bank account? Right now, the latest HP Pavilion is our top pick for the best new gaming laptop under $500 available online.

When staying under $500, you won’t be able to find a high end graphics card. That means your focus should be on getting the best video quality possible with the other specs. However the HP Pavilion 14 comes with a Radeon Vega 3 Graphics which is powerful enough to run mid-end games.

Most laptops at this price range will offer sub-par displays with a low resolution. This option from HP breaks that trend, with an HD display at the full 1366 x 768 pixels resolution.

For gamers who want crystal clear images, that’s a huge bonus over the competition.

Between the lightweight design and Ethernet port, this is also a great choice if you like to take your laptop to LAN parties.

Any gamer will get great performance here though due to the AMD Ryzen 3 3200U Processor and 4 GB of DDR4 RAM.

Recommended configuration for HP Pavilion 14 

CPU: AMD Ryzen 3 3200U Processor | Graphics: Radeon Vega 3 Graphics| RAM: 4 GB | Screen: 14.0-inch diagonal HD SVA BrightView micro-edge WLED-backlit (1366 x 768) | Storage: 128 GB SSD | Operating System: Windows 10 S | Battery Life: 8 hours | Weight: 3.25 lbs

Acer Aspire E 15 – Amazing Value

Acer Aspire E 15
With excellent specs and a price tag that is hard to beat, the Acer Aspire E 15 is our best value pick with the powerful specs and amazing  storage space as well.

The Acer Aspire has a huge 1 TB of storage space which is great for all those massive games you’ll be playing on it. At 6 GB of memory, you’ll be sitting pretty with great game speeds all day.

Perhaps the most enticing feature of this laptop is its price. Well under the $500 mark at the time of writing, the Acer Aspire has impressive specs for such a small price. 

A great all day battery life of 13.5 hours will let you focus on playing your best game while not worrying about the battery life of your laptop.

The laptop is rather bulky at 5.27 pounds but this should be expected for a gaming laptop at this price. Slimmer gaming laptops can rack up to $1000 or more and gaming laptops need the extra bulk for all the hardware they require to run games.

Be sure to check the recommended specs of the games you’re planning on playing because the Aspire has a rather below average graphics card for a gaming laptop. It likely won’t be able to run graphics heavy games at high resolution because of this.

Recommended configuration for Acer Aspire E 15 

CPU: 8th Generation Intel Core i3 8130U Processor | Graphics: Intel HD Graphics 620| RAM: 6 GB RAM | Screen: 15.6 inches Full HD (1920 x 1080) widescreen LED lit Display | Storage: 1 TB HDD | Operating System: Windows 10 Home | Battery Life: 13. 5 hours| Weight:  5.27 lbs

HP 15 – 10th Gen Processor

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HP 15
Looking to run the latest games without spending too much money? Then get the latest processor! Having a low-end 10th gen processor is exactly what you need if you want a lot of power while spending as little money as possible. The HP 15 has that processor.

HP’s screen model features very similar specs to the flagship Dell Inspiron, and even has slightly better graphics. There’s a trade off to be made in exchange for that  Intel UHD Graphics chip, however.

You get a decent storage space of  a 126 GB  SSD with this machine, which reduces the  noise and reduces boot speed. If you want more storage space right off of the box though, then this is the way to go.

For a notebook at this low a price, you also don’t get any bloatware, which is a serious anomaly. Most laptops under $500 will come laden with “trial” software you don’t need or startup programs that cause slow downs.

While they love the features available at this price, buyers often bring up the lack of a power indicator light. It’s an odd oversight in the design, as many users end up pressing the power button repeatedly thinking it hasn’t started booting up.

Recommended configuration for HP 15

CPU: 10th Gen Intel Core i3-1005G1 | Graphics: Intel UHD Graphics| RAM: 4 GB RAM | Screen: 15.6″ diagonal HD SVA BrightView micro-edge WLED-backlit, 220 nits, 45% NTSC (1366 x 768)| Storage: 128GB SSD | Operating System: Windows 10 Home | Battery Life: 6 hours | Weight: 3.7 pounds

HP Chromebook – Touchscreen Display

HP Chromebook
Need a lightweight device that can do more than just gaming? This touchscreen model is the best multipurpose laptop that can work as your gaming rig or as your family’s main web surfing machine.

For the family that does more than just gaming (or that shares a single computer), this should be one of your top picks.

With a touch screen and very nice overall specs, you get a little bit of everything here.It also has an FHD display which makes it really convenient for gamers who have eye strain.

The solid state drive offers up faster speeds than the 128 GB SSD options in our list, although you get less overall storage space for installing games.

To get the most use out of this model, make sure to find a large online storage site to keep your data and photos saved.

When possible, be sure to also store your save game data in the cloud through programs like Steam or GOG.

Recommended configuration for HP chromebook

CPU: Intel Core i3-8130U | Graphics: Intel UHD Graphics 620| RAM: 4 GB RAM | Screen:  15.6-inch diagonal FHD IPS micro-edge WLED-backlit touchscreen (1920 x 1080) | Storage: 128 GB SSD | Operating System: Chrome OS | Battery Life: 10 hours | Weight: 5.64 lbs

Lenovo IdeaPad 3 – Q-Control

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Lenovo IdeaPad 3
Want to start with more RAM instead of needing to upgrade the memory later? This should be your pick for the best cheap gaming laptop! It also features the Q-Control which quickly allows you to shift between battery saving  mode and high-power mode.

Although similar in price to the other machines listed here, the IdeaPad has vastly different specs and design. With the change in hardware, this laptop may be more useful for your needs.

Another standard screen model without touch functionality, this Lenovo model starts with more RAM out of the box. When dealing with integrated graphics that draw on the system memory, that’s a boon for gamers that offers better performance.

Like with most of the other contenders in our roundup, you’d expect to  get the slower HDD design here  but it’s different this time.  It comes with a 256 GB SSD which makes it really convenient for playing some mid-end games.

That may not hurt the bank account as much as you’d expect. This notebook typically goes for a good deal less than the full $449 price, and frequently goes on sale.

Buyers most frequently mention the increased RAM for this price range and the addition of the full numeric keypad. There is an odd design choice to keep in mind, however, that could be a deal breaker.

And it’s real kick is its Q-Control which allows the user to switch between battery saving mode and power mode with a single button. Don’t like the noisy fans? Q-Control’s got your back. Just press a button and voila! The noise is gone. 

The IdeaPad features internal Bluetooth for wireless devices though, so that’s not a problem if you want to use an external mouse.

Recommended configuration for Lenovo IdeaPad 3 

CPU: AMD Ryzen 5 3500U Mobile Processor | Graphics: AMD Radeon Vega 8 Graphics | RAM: 8 GB RAM | Screen: 14.0″ FHD (1920 x 1080) Display | Storage: 256 GB SSD | Operating System: Windows 10 | Battery Life: 8 hours | Weight: 3.3 lbs

Dell Inspiron 14 – Business Laptop

Dell Inspiron 14
If you are able to splurge a little more and stretch your budget to just above $500, this Dell Inspiron is definitely one to check out. With a touchscreen feature and lots of memory and storage, this laptop will definitely get you through a large variety of games with ease.

This laptop is just over the $300 mark at the time of writing which makes it an amazing business and gaming laptop.It will definitely be worth it in the long run. This laptop is a true beast of a budget gaming laptop. 

It has a huge storage capacity at 128 GB SSD and spectacular memory at 4 GB RAM. Its processor is a core i53and is customizable depending on the speed of processing you would like. All these amazing specs are going to run your games like a dream especially since it comes so cheap.

The laptop is also very portable as well, weighing only about 2.9 lbs which makes it a truly great laptop for business meetings or for travelling.

With all these specs, you’ll also be able to run your day to day activities with no trouble at all. No need to worry about large file sizes, here. It also has ports galore including a media card reader.

Recommended configuration for Dell Inspiron 14

CPU: 8th Generation Intel Core i3-8145u Processor | Graphics: Intel UHD Graphics 620 | RAM: | Screen: 14.0-Inch HD (1366 x 768) LED-backlit Touch Display | Storage: 128 GB SSD | Operating System: Windows 10 Home | Battery Life: 8.5 houes | Weight: 2.9 pounds

Acer 15 – 512 GB SSD

Acer 15
The Acer 15.6” Laptop has decent specs for its price and will give you a good experience on low end games that don’t require a lot of graphics power.

This Acer is not to be confused with the other Acer Aspire on this list. While it is still a great budget option, it does lack some of the key gaming features the other Acer offers. 

It will still play low end games with ease but, as always, be sure to check the recommended specs of the games that you want to play before considering this option.

It has a huge amount of storage with its 512 GB SSD and  8 GB RAM to play games. Its graphics card is integrated and is an Intel HD Graphics card so it will not be able to play graphics heavy games. However, do not be discouraged, it will still definitely be able to play a large variety of games on the market.

Its battery life is a pretty standard (at least for a gaming laptop) at 5-6 hours. For the games you’ll likely be able to play on this laptop, you may be able to squeeze 2-3 hours out of it off the charge while playing.

Recommended configuration for Acer 15

CPU: Intel Pentium N3710 Quad Core ProCessor | Graphics: Intel HD Graphics| RAM: 8 GB RAM | Screen: | Storage:  512 GB SSD| Operating System: Windows 10 Pro | Battery Life: 5 hours | Weight: 5.27 lbs

ASUS VivoBook 15 – Backlit Keyboard

ASUS VivoBook 15
Want to get a great overall laptop at a low price but still have room to expand in the future when money is available? This is our top pick for the best easy to upgrade gaming laptop under $500. It also comes with a backlit keyboard which enhances your gaming experience.

Asus knows how to put out a quality thin laptop with a solid build, and it really shows with models like the VivoBook.

For the gamers, you get great specs for the price, but there are two major factors here that might make this your top pick:

An ultra thin bezel for more viewing area (even though the overall size remains the same as other laptops)

It’s extremely easy to upgrade this model with an M.2 slot, swapping out that 128 GB  SSD with a 1 TB SSD for more storage space.  

You can also bump up the RAM up  to 16GB if 8 GB is too little for you. It’s ideal to do this when your programs start slowing down, so this machine can be future proofed with a little effort.

Lastly, the ASUS VivoBook 15 comes with a backlit keyboard which easily enhances your gaming experience allowing you to press the right keys at the right moment. 

Recommended configuration for ASUS VivoBook 15

CPU:  Intel i3-1005G1 CPU | Graphics Intel UHD Graphics:| RAM: 8 GB RAM| Screen: 15.6 inch Full HD (1920×1080) 4-way NanoEdge bezel display with a stunning 88% screen-to-body ratio| Storage: 128 GB SSD | Operating System: Windows 10 Home | Battery Life: 8.5 hours | Weight: 3.75 lbs

Lenovo 100E Chromebook – Extremely Cheap

Lenovo 100E Chromebook
The Lenovo 100E Chromebook is one of the cheapest laptops on this list. Despite having lower specs, it's one of the cheapest laptops that can run Fortnite with little problem. The laptop is also very portable as well, weighing only about 2.66 lbs and it has a long battery life of 10 hours. So  if you’re short on cash and you’re looking for something affordable, portable, and reliable, then the Lenovo 100E Chromebook is an amazing option for you to try out.

The Lenovo 100E Chromebook is one of the newer laptops on this list and it’s also the cheapest. Being very cheap, you might think that this laptop is no good for gaming however, what you don’t know is that you can run fortnine with this laptop.

Now granted, Fortnine has very low system requirements, it’s still able to run a very popular AAA game with little to no problem.

As for its specs it sports a Mediatek MT8173c which is pretty good for a chromebook and a Imagination PowerVR GX6250 GPU which can render games at a decent rate. If it can render fortnite at low settings, it can handle other games.

The only issue we have with it is its 16 GB  SSD storage which is really small. However, considering it’s an SSD, it will be able to load games faster than some laptops on this list.

Recommended configuration for Lenovo 100E Chromebook

CPU: Mediatek MT8173c | Graphics: Imagination PowerVR GX6250| RAM: 4 GB| Screen: 11.6”, HD (1366 x 768), TN| Storage: 16 GB SSD | Operating System: Chrome OS| Battery Life: 10 hours | Weight: 2.66 lbs

Acer Aspire 5 – FHD Display

Acer Aspire 5
The Acer Aspire 5  is one of the most popular budget laptops out in the market. And it happens to fall in the under $500 category as well. The laptop sports decently reliable specs with the AMD Ryzen 3-3200U processors and a AMD Radeon Vega 3 graphics card. However its biggest selling point is that it has a FHD display which helps immerses you in the game that you’re playing.

Being one of the most established budget laptops on this list, the Acer Aspire 5  is known to be reliable and useful.

It has decently good specs for its price like a powerful  AMD Ryzen 3-3200U that can handle most day to day tasks as well as handling some lower end games out there. Its AMD Radeon Vega 3 graphics card is one of the better lower end graphics cards out there and it will allow you to play some mid-end games out there that aren’t heavy on graphics.

It also got a decent 4 GB RAM, a 128 GB SSD as well as a battery life of 7.5 hours which really isn’t’ bad at all when you consider its price. However the biggest selling point of the laptop is undeniably its FHD display.  

This laptop gives you 1920 x 1080 of resolution which makes it really good for gaming as well as for watching movies. 

Recommended configuration for Acer Aspire 5
CPU: AMD Ryzen 3-3200U| Graphics: AMD Radeon Vega 3| RAM: 4GB RAM | Screen: 15.6-inch Full HD IPS display| Storage: 128 GB SSD| Operating System: Windows 10| Battery Life: up to 7.5 hours | Weight: 3.97 lbs

Picking The Best Gaming Laptop Under 500 Dollars In 2020

As a solid in-between price point, notebooks in the $400 – $499 range start to feature higher end specs and extra features. Below we break down eight different models perfect for nearly any gamer.

For dedicated WoW or DOTA 2 players, you can get everything you need without emptying your bank account. These computers won’t let you play AAA shooters on high settings, but they will get most games up and running at a stable frame rate.

The main draw of going to this price range is avoiding the need to pick a refurbished model. You can find great machines for work / school or casual gaming without having to buy something that was previously used.

A portable computer with 8GB of RAM and a 1TB HDD will be pretty standard when staying in the $400 – $499 range. The major differences between models will be in processor speed, screen types, number of ports, and keyboard layout.

Do you prefer a touch screen over a standard display? Want a laptop with an off-center touchpad instead of directly beneath the keyboard? Need an HDMI port for an external monitor?

These questions will help you narrow down the contenders to find your perfect gaming laptop. What’s perfect for a Sims player may not be as helpful for someone who prefers graphics-intensive RTS games, for instance.

Performance

When it comes to gaming laptops or for laptops you intend to play video games with, performance is very important. There are 3 aspects of performance that you need to look into. These being: The processor, the RAM, and the Graphics.

The processor is one of the most important parts of a computer and it determines how fast and how smoothly it will be able to handle applications. Generally speaking, you want a processor to be as recent as possible. 

A good example of this is with Intel Core processors, a 10 generation i7 processor will alway outdo an 8th generation i7 one. So try to find a processor that’s new or close to new as possible.  

But since we’re dealing with budget laptops, you’ll usually want to get a 10th gen core i3 processor or a 8 or 9th gen processor for core i5 (10th gen core i5 laptops are usually above $500).

For Ryzen processors a Ryzen 3 3200G or better will do.

When it comes to RAM it’s very simple. Anything 4 GB and above will do. The higher the RAM, the better the gaming laptop will be. But since these are laptops under $500, the best you can probably get is 8 GB of RAM.

Lastly, we have the graphics card which determines how well your laptop will be able to render the games assets. Generally speaking, integrated graphics cards won’t be able to render high-end games. 

Dedicated graphics cards are out of the question because a laptop that has them is definitely above $500 in price. The best you can do is settle for an Intel UHD graphics or Radeon Vega graphic which are the closest GPU you can get to a dedicated one.

Storage

Storage for budget gaming laptops are very simple. Choose an SSD over an HDD if you want to get the best possible performance.

Some of the laptops on this list have HDDs which usually allows them over 1 TB of storage space. Compare that to the other laptops on this list who have SSDs who generally have a storage space of 128 GB to 512 GB.

But if HDDs have better storage, then why choose an SSD over an HDD then?

The answer is simple. It’s loading time. HDDs have slower loading times than SSDs because they have a lot of movable parts which slows down file retrievals significantly.

SSD’s on the other hand are more compact and they’ve sacrificed storage space for better loading time.

Ever had a game load for minutes? Well you have that problem if you’re running a laptop with an SSD.

Display

Another thing to take note of when choosing a laptop for gaming is the display. Your laptop’s display will determine how visually stunning the game you are playing.

So you’d want a laptop with a fairly large display as well as pretty good resolution. The ideal would be an FHD resolution since that is the best you can do with a budget of $500. 4 K resolutions are out of the question so you better stick with an FHD.

Of course a resolution of 1366 x 768 is still acceptable but you probably won’t fully appreciate the graphics. But then again, your laptop won’t be able to play the game on high anyway, so there’s no loss there.

Price

One of the most important things to look for in a budget gaming laptop is the price. Now the price might have been narrowed down to less than $500 but the price range is still very diverse.

We have laptops as cheap as around $200  with very subpar but still usable features and specs. While some laptops are nearing the $500 mark like a  $499 laptop with their advertising of saving you a dollar or more. Laptops within this range have amazingly good specs since they usually have amazing hardware for the price. 

There’s also those in the middle as well  which has the cheapness of $200 laptops but the usability of laptops nearing $500

Sadly, they will never be as good as laptops above $500, especially since most of their processors and graphics cards are behind. Some of the laptops on this list are renewed meaning they have older specs.

They can’t play heavy or hardcore AAA games which requires a really powerful processor or graphics but $500 laptops are more than enough to play some mid-end games as well as indie games that don’t require a dedicated graphics card.

In the end, the best $500 you can get is playing mid-end games or high-end games  on very low settings. Still you get to play your favorite games without spending a fortune.  So we advise you buy laptops as close to the $500 mark as possible if you want to play mid-end games.

Upgradability

Last but not the least we have upgradability. You may only have a budget of $500 now but that doesn’t mean that you can spend additional cash to make your laptop better.

You’d generally want laptops with the potential for upgrade. The best way to know this is to search or ask how much space they have for upgrades. Generally speaking you can upgrade most RAMs of low-end laptops up to 16 GB which is 4 times the average RAM of the laptops on this list.

You can also change or swap out your slow HDD with a compact and reliable SSD when you have the extra cash to spare. A decent 256 GB SSD is ideal for playing games if you’re still short on cash but you can opt out for a 1 TB SSD if you really feel like doing it. 

Heads up though, upgrading to 16 GB of RAM and 1 TB SSD might be more costly than the laptop itself so keep this in mind when deciding to upgrade your laptop.

Our suggestion would be to go for the middle ground. Upgrade the laptop just a little bit. It will save you a lot of money for specs that you might not necessarily need.  Most mid-end games don’t have a lot of storage space anyways so you’re 1 TB SSD might be a waste.

RAM on the other hand is always good, the more RAM you have the better! But going straight to 16 GB from 4 GB is still expensive so why not just add another 4 GB stick to your laptop to make it 8?

Frequently Asked Questions

What Are The Downsides To Laptops In This Price Range?

When you go above $400, you are no longer scraping the bottom of the laptop barrel. You don’t need to sacrifice nearly as much on the hardware specs to save extra money.

That being said, manufacturers are still going to cut corners in some ways here. For the absolute cutting edge of hardware, you need to look at a higher price bracket.

While you can find a decent gaming rig at this price, you can’t expect to get all the features of more expensive notebooks.

Most notably, you generally won’t find backlit keyboards or any extra bells and whistles aimed at the gaming crowd. The multi-quadrant RGB lighting typical of gaming machines just aren’t available without increasing the price.

Don’t expect to get much in the way of overclocking support or high end speaker sound quality, either.

This is also the upper limit of the price range where you will see laptops without 1920 x 1080 screen resolutions. If you want the best HD visuals for streaming videos or playing games, you may need to bump up to a higher price tier.

What Sort Of Graphics Card Should I Expect For Under $500?

All of the contenders listed here have respectable offerings in terms of RAM and processor speeds. Unfortunately, laptops at this price will still suffer on the graphics front.

You will have to deal with integrated motherboard graphics if you aren’t willing to go any higher on the price tag. Dedicated laptop graphics cards like the 940MX and MX150 won’t typically show up in this price range at all.

Because the graphics cards are on the lower end, it’s important to get the best you possibly can while staying within budget.

Unless you get something in return like an SSD, anything beneath the Intel HD 620 or Radeon R7 should be out of the running. The Radeon R4 or Intel 500 series just aren’t up to snuff for this price range.

You won’t be able to run newer games at high settings with laptops in this price range. With an HD 620 and 8GB of RAM you can expect to play CS:GO, GTA V, and League Of Legends, however.

Can I Save Even More Money And Still Get A Gaming Laptop?

We scoured the web to find the best deals available and cover every possible range of specs in this price range. It is possible to get even lower prices if you are willing to play the waiting game.

In particular, be on the lookout for clearance models while browsing Amazon or manufacturer websites.

Previous year’s models tend to drop in price as new machines come out, so you can end up with higher specs for the same price. Previous year editions don’t stay at that price for long, but you can save a bundle if you keep an eye out for a deal.

That isn’t the only way to lower the price, either. In some cases you can save yourself $100 and still get the exact same specs by going with a refurbished model.

Are these laptops upgradeable?

Some of them have upgradeability but most are customizable from the start. The difference being: an upgradeable laptop is one you buy and add new parts to later; a customizable laptop allows you to customize the hardware to your liking before purchase, so you don’t have to upgrade as soon. Upgradeability normally comes in the form of memory and storage and sometimes graphics cards but normally not processing. Future friendly laptops are normally a little more expensive because of that feature.

Conclusion

What did you think of our picks for the absolute best gaming laptops under $500? Let us know which of these machines you intend on buying!

Be sure to also drop a line if you find any other killer deals on gaming rigs we need to know about.

Jordan Noland
Article by:
Jordan is a tech wiz with several years of hands on experience researching and testing new products. Whether it’s a killer new gaming rig, a college laptop sure to last you your whole degree, or a sleek new tablet, Jordan has the know-how to get you started on your way to new and exciting tech adventures.

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