This article was last updated on October 2, 2020 by Digital Trends Reviewer Mark Coppock.
The best laptop under $ 500 is this. Laptops at this price point often have significant tradeoffs, whether it’s performance, screen quality, or battery life. However, the Lenovo Chromebook Flex 5 has almost everything you’d expect in a modern laptop at an impressive discount. That is – as long as you are okay with a Chromebook.
Additionally, we’ve made picks for the best Windows laptop under $ 500, the best 2-in-1
The Best Laptops Under $ 500 At A Glance:
The best laptop under $ 500: Lenovo Chromebook Flex 5 Review
Finding a 13-inch laptop for under $ 500 is almost impossible. That’s a shame as it’s the most popular size for a laptop. But it is not indeed Impossible thanks to Chrome OS, and the Lenovo Chromebook Flex 5 costs less than $ 500 and offers impressive performance, 2-in-1 flexibility, and great value. This puts this Chromebook at the top of our list.
What is impressive is that there is a 10th generation Intel Core i3-10110U CPU inside, which is very fast for Chrome OS. The 4GB of RAM is enough for good performance and moderate multitasking skills, and 64GB of storage is enough if you make good use of the cloud.
It’s no surprise that this is a Chromebook that tops this category, and the Chromebook Flex 5 is a ton of computers for a bit of money.
Read our detailed review of the Lenovo Chromebook Flex 5
Best Windows laptop under $ 500: Acer Aspire 5
Acer’s Aspire 5 has improved significantly in its last update, offering better performance, build quality, and battery life. The latest model is a bit more expensive right now, but often costs less than $ 500 with a 10th Generation Core i3-1005G1U CPU, 4GB of RAM, a 128GB SSD, and a 15.6-inch Full HD Display.
That’s a lot of computers for not a lot of money. Better still, this is a well-built, affordable laptop that gives confidence in the hand, and its keyboard and touchpad are way above its class. Battery life is also an advantage as the Aspire 5 competes with laptops that cost far more money.
The 15-inch 1080p display is very good for the price, too, though you’ll have to jump just outside the $ 500 budget to add touchscreen capabilities. However, since this laptop is not a 2-in-1 device, it matters less for this type of money.
Read our in-depth review of Acer Aspire 5
The best 2-in-1 under $ 500: Microsoft Surface Go 2
Microsoft’s Surface Go 2, now in its second generation, is the baby of the Surface lineup – but that doesn’t mean it’s not a powerful little machine. At prices well below our $ 500 limit, you might think this is a little on the cheap, even for what we’re looking at, but you would be wrong. The Surface Go 2 is a rugged, well-built, detachable 2-in-1 device that works just as well in tablet mode as it does as a laptop, and takes on many of the great features of its more expensive siblings like the Surface Pro 7.
You have to pay a little more for the type cover and pen if you want the full laptop and Tablet experience but that leaves you with the option to upgrade later if you want to spread your costs. And while the screen isn’t quite as detailed as it is on a dedicated tablet like the iPad, at this price point it’s still one of the best we’ve seen for a convertible laptop.
The Surface Go 2 isn’t the fastest device in the world either, but the tablet has decent battery life and at this price point you won’t find a Windows 2-in-1 that can improve it.
Read our in-depth Surface Go 2 review
The best laptop under $ 300: Lenovo Chromebook Duet
If you are on a budget and want a detachable tablet that meets your internet surfing and low productivity needs, Lenovo’s Chromebook Duet is for you. It’s an inexpensive tablet at $ 279 ($ 299 with 128GB of storage) and the best part is that it includes a kickstand cover with a great keyboard with a touchpad.
That makes the Chromebook Duet one of the best values we’ve seen. It costs hundreds of dollars less than competing tablets if you spend the money on a keyboard cover. The performance is mediocre, but fast enough for the tasks you need to do, and the display is surprisingly good for the money. It will run your favorite Android apps and offer one of the best browsing experiences on a tablet.
Read our in-depth review of the Lenovo Chromebook Duet
The best 15-inch laptop under $ 500: Samsung Chromebook 4+
Laptops under $ 500 don’t often look good – and hey, can you blame them? With prices this low, you better pay for better performance and configurations than for aesthetics. However, the Samsung Chromebook 4+ doesn’t let you make a choice.
It has a unibody aluminum design that resembles a MacBook Pro and a larger 15-inch screen if you need extra screen space. This makes it a good option for college students and home workers who may not have access to a secondary display.
The specs won’t blow your socks off, but with a 1080p screen and 4GB of RAM it will do the job.
Research and buying tips
Are Laptops Under $ 500 Good?
You can be, although it’s hard to find one that won’t compromise on several areas. Avoid laptops with a screen resolution below 1080p, Windows 10 laptops with Pentium processors, or laptops without a solid-state drive. There are always exceptions, but these types of components make all the difference to your laptop experience.
Whichever one you choose, you shouldn’t expect your $ 500 laptop to do complicated tasks like video editing or gaming. These are used for basic arithmetic, word processing and surfing the Internet.
Should i buy a Chromebook?
Chromebooks don’t offer Windows, which can be a blessing or a curse depending on your opinion on Microsoft’s operating system. Over time, Chromebooks have become viable alternatives to Windows PCs, especially in the lower price range. Because Chrome OS is a lighter operating system with fewer features, Chromebooks are widely used feeling faster and offer better battery life than their Windows counterparts (at a certain price).
They even support Android apps through the Google Play Store, which gives you access to a huge portfolio of mobile apps and games. However, the Android app experience leaves a lot to be desired that it should not be relied on.
The downside is that you can’t just go online and install an application. In fact, anything that is beyond the capabilities of a web browser is prohibited.
Can You Buy a Gaming Laptop for Under $ 500?
For the most part no. The cheapest gaming laptops. These laptops are already pretty weak for modern gaming. However, if you’re playing lighter games and are ready to play on low settings, they’ll be fine.
Neither of the laptops on this list are good choices for 3D gaming.
What’s Missing on $ 500 Laptops?
Most $ 500 laptops are made of plastic, as opposed to aluminum and other high-quality materials used in expensive laptops. These more expensive laptops also offer faster performance. Quad-core processors and 8GB of RAM are the norm on mid-range laptops, while most of the options on this list offer less.
Expensive laptops often specialize in either battery life or graphics performance. The Dell XPS 13 gives you all day battery life, while the Razer Blade lets you play modern games at high frame rates. If you’re shopping under $ 500, expect a bare laptop. It can handle most everyday tasks with ease, but gaming, photo / video editing, and other more demanding tasks may all require a higher budget.