Best Laptops Under $500 (2020 Guide & Reviews)

Ty Arthur Updated on April 26, 2020
Best Laptop Under 500 dollar

With dozens of brands and hundreds of different models available at any given time, picking the best laptops under $500 in 2020 can be a monumental task.

Rather than wasting your time comparing all the options across the web, we’ve done all the heavy lifting for you already!

Each of contenders are intended as multi-use options for students, educators, employees, or just regular users who don’t intend to do any heavy gaming. No matter what size or style you prefer, we’ve got a laptop pick that will work for you.

The Lineup At A Glance

Contenders for the best Budget laptop under 500 2020

1. New Dell Premium Flagship Inspiron – Most powerful choice

2019 New Dell Premium Flagship Inspiron
  • Great processor and RAM for the price
  • Solid state drive
  • Lower display resolution
  • No optical drive

Do you need the most speed and best power for the least amount of money? Dell’s Inspiron is our pick for the top high performance laptop under $500 on the market.

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Key features & details

Looking for the best of the best? We’re starting with our top-of-the-line pick that offers a ton of power under the hood for a very affordable price.

With Dell’s Inspiron, you get the quality of a more expensive model with the cost of a budget device.

Besides the fast i5 processor, unquestionably the biggest draw to this pick is the 256GB solid state drive.

While that offers less overall storage than the typical 1TB hard disk drives standard for this price range, trust us that speed boost is well worth the trade off.

8GB of RAM is the best you can expect while staying under $500, but there’s a big upside here you might not have considered.

This model has room to expand to 16GB by adding in another 8GB stick down the line when you’ve got extra spending money available.

Dell even managed to put a touch screen on this Inspiron model, making it one of the top overall choices for any kind of buyer.

This model doesn’t include an optical drive, however.  If you need a DVD-RW drive (or just want to save a little extra money), the HP Pavilion listed below is another solid touch screen option.

Hardware specifications for New Dell Premium Flagship Inspiron

Processor Intel Core i5-7200U CPU  2.5 GHz – 3.1GHz) RAM 8GB DDR4 Storage 256GB SSD Graphics Intel HD Graphics 620 Display 15.6″ touch screen, 1366 x 768 pixels resolution Operating System Windows 10 Home Battery Life 6 hours Weight 5.07 lbs Other Features Touch screen

2. Apple MacBook Pro MD313LL – 13 inch pick

Apple MacBook Pro MD313LL
  • Solid state drive
  • Backlit keyboard
  • No retina display
  • Previously owned

Need a laptop that’s sleek and easier to carry around? If you prefer a smaller form factor, this refurbished MacBook is our top pick for the best best 13 inch laptop under $500 right now.

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Key features & details

At the under $500 price point, you will often find your options are quite limited for options like 13 inch or touch screen models.

For buyers who want a small, light machine that still packs a punch, you may want to consider going refurbished.

This version of an older MacBook Pro model has been restored to factory specs and repaired to still work as well as new.

For much less money than a newer MacBook, you get solid overall specs and some great extra features like a backlit keyboard and DVD burning drive.

While you won’t get the retina level display at this price range, you still get a hard working machine in a tiny, portable package.

Prefer a different operating system besides Mac? Our convertible 2-in-1 Asus machine has a similar size but offers the Chrome OS instead.

Hardware specifications for Apple MacBook Pro MD313LL

Processor Intel Core i5-2435M (2.4GHz) RAM 4GB DDR3 Storage 128GB SSD Graphics Intel HD Graphics 3000 Display 13.3” display, 1280 x 800 pixels resolution Operating System Mac OS Battery Life 7 hours Weight 4.5 lbs Other Features Backlit keyboard, optical drive

3. Acer Aspire E 15 – HD Display Option

2019 Acer Aspire E 15
  • Excellent display quality
  • Optical drive
  • No solid state drive
  • Less RAM than other models

Looking for the best possible display on the lowest possible budget? If you need full 1080p streaming, we recommend the Acer Aspire as the best HD display laptop under $500.

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Key features & details

One area where laptop manufacturers cut corners to lower costs is on the display quality. Most portable devices at this price range will feature lower resolution screens.

You can buck that unfortunate trend with the Acer Aspire E, which offers a full HD 1920 x 1080 resolution for under $500.

Why does that matter?

This higher resolution lets you stream full HD quality video without any loss in quality. If you primarily watch movies or browse YouTube on your laptop, this is the machine to pick.

Best of all?

This model sports a low power 8th gen processor. That means you get huge battery life for binge watching your favorite Netflix or HBO shows all day long.

While it won’t beat out our other models in terms of raw performance, this is the best option in our list of contenders if you need crystal clear visuals.

Hardware specifications for Acer Aspire E 15

Processor Intel Core i3-8130U CPU (2.2GHz to 3.4GHz) RAM 6GB DDR4 Storage 1TB HDD Graphics Intel HD Graphics 620 Display 15.6″ full HD display, 1920 x 1080 pixels resolution Operating System Windows 10 Home Battery Life 13.5 hours Weight 5.27 lbs Other Features Wireless mouse included

4. ASUS C302CA-DHM4 Chromebook Flip – Convertible pick

ASUS C302CA-DHM4 Chromebook Flip
  • Lightweight 2-in-1 design
  • Excellent screen resolution
  • Smaller display size
  • Very small storage capacity

Looking for a sleek and light laptop that can convert into tablet mode easily? Asus has our top pick for the best convertible laptop under $500, especially if you prefer the Chrome OS!

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Key features & details

You may have noticed we haven’t listed a Chromebook yet in our roundup. That’s because devices at this price point are typically full laptops with Windows 10.

Unfortunately, the 2-in-1 Windows options aren’t fabulous if you plan to stick under the $500 threshold.

Do you prefer to stick with the sleeker, more streamlined Chrome OS? That’s a much better option in the price range with this Asus model.

As a full hybrid flip model, the C302CA is extremely thin and lightweight. When you need portability and do more web browsing than using Windows programs, this can be a great option.

The main downside to keep in mind here is the storage space of 64GB. With Chrome that isn’t a huge problem though, as most of your data will be stored in the cloud anyway.

If you want to stick with Android apps and the speed of the Chrome OS but need more space, you can always just use a USB hard drive or SD card for extra storage.

Hardware specifications for ASUS C302CA-DHM4 Chromebook Flip

Processor Intel Core m3-6Y30 (2.2GHz) RAM 4GB DDR3 RAM Storage 64GB eMMC Graphics Intel HD Graphics 515 Display 12.5-inch touch screen display,  1920 x 1080 pixels resolution Operating System Chrome OS Battery Life 10 hours Weight 2.65 lbs Other Features Convertible 2-in-1 rotating hinge

5. HP Pavilion Newest Premium 15.6 Inch – Best touch screen choice

HP Pavilion 2019 Newest Premium 15.6 Inch
  • Touch screen
  • Thin and light
  • No solid state drive
  • No keyboard backlighting

Ready to make the leap into the latest tech with a fancy touch screen? If you need to stick to a budget, HP has the best touch screen laptop under $500 right now, with a wide array of extra features as well!

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Key features & details

If you’ve spent any time browsing new laptops, you probably know your options for touch screens in the budget price ranges are limited.

You’ll have to be ready to make some big trade offs to get a full Windows 10 laptop with a touch screen while staying under $500.

Most notably, to include the touch screen feature this model sports a lower end processor and doesn’t come standard with a solid state drive. You also won’t get other hot new features like keyboard backlighting.

That being said, there’s still plenty of reason to pick this model over our other contenders.

Aside from the responsive touch screen display, you get a little bit of everything here that combines the best features of newer and older tech.

Despite having an overall thin and lightweight design, you still get a DVD-RW drive. For some buyers, that’s a must-have feature.

Note that if you don’t need Windows 10 and want faster booting and data transfer, you may be better served going with a touch screen Chromebook at this price range. The Asus listed above in particular is a great option.

Hardware specifications for HP Pavilion Newest Premium 15.6 Inch
ProcessorIntel Core i3-7100U (2.40 GHz, 3MB Cache)
Storage1TB HDD
GraphicsIntegrated Intel HD Graphics 620
Display15.6 in touch screen display, 1366 x 768 pixels resolution
Operating SystemWindows 10 Home
Battery Life7 hours
Weight4.51 lbs
Other FeaturesTouch screen, DVD-RW optical drive

6. HP Pavilion x360 – Lightweight option

HP Pavilion x360
  • Very light
  • 2-in-1 design with stylus included
  • Highest price
  • Very low storage space

Looking for a device that focuses on portability but won’t break your bank account? HP’s x360 model in the Pavilion line is one of the best light weight laptops under $500 available online today.

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Key features & details

Laptops comes in a huge array of sizes and weights, and some are better for transporting to different locations than others.

With a 2-in-1 hinge and weighing in at well under 4 pounds, the x360 is our top pick for a lightweight, portable device at this price range.

By shedding an inch off the display size and dropping down to a smaller solid state drive, you get an extremely light machine that’s easy to carry around.

If you like to switch between laptop and tablet mode, this model also has a stylus included, so you won’t need to buy one separately.

Just keep in mind the higher price tag here — this model is only a few pennies shy of the full $500, so you pay a premium for the thin ultrabook design.

Hardware specifications for HP Pavilion x360
Processor8th Gen Intel Core i3-8130U (2.2GHz)
Storage128GB SSD
GraphicsIntel UHD Graphics 620
Display14″ touch screen display, 1366 x 768 pixels resolution
Operating SystemWindows 10 Home
Battery Life8 hours
Weight3.75 lbs
Other Features2-in-1 design, touch screen, stylus included

7. Acer Swift 3 – Top business choice

Acer Swift 3 SF314-52
  • Fingerprint reader
  • Excellent cost to specs ratio
  • Refurbished
  • No touch screen

Need extra security and enough speed to keep your clients happy? To stick to a budget, we recommend the Acer Swift 3 as the best best business laptop under $500 right now.

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Key features & details

Business buyers don’t have much wiggle room to lose out on features, but not all small businesses can afford top of the line machines.

For the best cost to price ratio, we recommend picking a refurbished Acer Swift 3 if you need to stay under $500.

You get an excellent 8th gen i5 CPU, a full 8GB of RAM, and a solid state drive for far less money than if you picked a new device.

Best of all?

This model comes standard with a fingerprint scanner, which is a critical security feature for nearly any kind of business.

With a Corning Gorilla Glass screen, you also get a sturdy, high quality display that can withstand regular daily use.

Hardware specifications for Acer Swift 3
ProcessorIntel Core i5-8250U (6MB Cache, 1.6 GHz to 3.4 GHz)
Storage256GB SSD
GraphicsIntel UHD Graphics 620
Display14″ IPS Corning Gorilla Glass display, 1920 x 1080 pixels resolution
Operating SystemWindows 10 Home
Battery Life10 hours
Weight5.2 lbs
Other FeaturesFingerprint reader

8. Lenovo 320 IdeaPad – best laptops for college students under 500

2019 Lenovo 320 IdeaPad
  • Solid state drive
  • Card reader and DVD-RW drive
  • Less internal storage space
  • No touch screen

Need to save money because all your spare cash is tied up in books and tuition? If you want lightweight power, the best laptop for college students under $500 is easily the Lenovo 320.

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Key features & details

Students tend to need a little bit of everything in their mobile computer, but they usually don’t have a ton of spare money.

For the budget-conscious students, we highly recommend considering Lenovo’s IdeaPad line.

Although you don’t get a touch screen or any fancy bells and whistles, this lightweight model is under an inch thick when the clamshell design is closed. That’s very helpful if you need to take your device between classes.

There’s a surprising amount of power hidden in this light device as well, with a fast booting solid state drive and full 8GB of RAM.

With both a card reader and  DVD-RW drive, you aren’t lacking in features for extra storage or installing programs you may need to use in your classes either.

Hardware specifications for Lenovo 320 IdeaPad
ProcessorAMD A12-9720P Quad-Core CPU (2.7GHz)
Storage256GB SSD
GraphicsAMD Radeon R7 Integrated Graphics
Display15.6” display, 1366 x 768 pixels resolution
Operating SystemWindows 10 Home
Battery Life6 hours
Weight4.85 lbs
Other FeaturesDVD-RW

Picking The Best Budget Laptop Under 500 2020

1. Design

Even when picking the budget laptop, you have many options available in terms of high end designs to get the best possible mobile experience.

We recommend spending some time to decide which specific design features you want before looking at the hardware specs.

Do you prefer a laptop to be ultra portable with a tiny screen for easy carrying? Are you keen to pick up a bigger machine to serve as a desktop replacements?

Don’t forget that 2-in-1 models are also available in this price range that can be used as a laptop or a tablet.

Finally, be sure to take into account the types of ports and drives available, as sleeker designs don’t always have room for a DVD-RW or card reader.

2. Features

While overall hardware specs are often similar between models, you should pay close attention to the extra features that set each contender apart.

While there aren’t many models at this price range with IPS panels, you can still find high end displays if you carefully compare your options.

Don’t forget to take into account the budding touch screen technology. Full size laptops are available with touch screens, or you can pick a hybrid unit that flips over like a tablet.

We also recommend picking an option with a fingerprint reader whenever possible, as well as any model with keyboard backlighting.

3. Overall Performance

When picking a cheap laptop, you may find the specs often aren’t as high end as more expensive models, which is why you need to always be on the lookout for specific hardware thresholds.

In the vast majority of cases, we strongly recommend picking a model with 8GB of RAM and an i5 CPU in this price range.

There’s some wiggle room there if you are trading off for other features, like a higher resolution screen or a 2-in-1 touch display.

In terms of drive types, we always recommend going with a solid state drive. While these drives have less storage space, the boot up and data transfer speeds are significantly faster than with hard disk drives.

4. Battery

Your specific battery needs may vary depending on how often you are away from an outlet, but there are some general guidelines to follow to get the most out of your mobile computer.

All other specs being equal, we generally recommend a laptop that lists at least a 7 – 8 hour battery life.

While the battery may drain faster than that based on your specific usage, it’s usually a better idea to have as much battery life as possible in case you can’t get to a wall plug.

Be on the lookout for high battery capacity models with 13 hour ratings, as these are the most likely to make it through a full work or school day without needing to recharge.

5. Gaming Potential

At this price range, laptops aren’t meant for heavy duty gaming, but you can still do some light gaming if you pick the right options.

Unfortunately you won’t find any dedicated graphics cards in this price range, but that doesn’t completely negate gaming opportunities.

Without a dedicated GPU, instead look for the most RAM and most powerful 8th gen CPUs if you intend to play games. A solid state drive is also highly recommended, as you’ll get much faster load times.

Finally, a full 1920 x 1080 resolution screen is preferable for gaming, so you get the best possible visuals.

Ty Arthur
Article by:
After more than a decade of searching for the perfect gaming rig, Ty knows a thing or two about picking the right hardware. He'd like to share that knowledge with all of you through his work at, whether you need a business machine, college laptop, or killer gaming computer.

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