Last updated on January 14th, 2020
With so many different brands of laptops to choose from and hundreds of models that are available, deciding on a laptop to buy for under $500 can be quite daunting. We’re here to help you narrow down your options so that you can find a good laptop that you will love for years to come. We’re going to show you our picks for the top 5 best laptops under $500.
We spent over 40 hours (cumulatively) researching and testing various laptops that are all priced under $500. Our top 5 list is based on many different factors ranging from hardware, ease of use, mobility, popularity, battery life, durability, and many other factors as well.
Instead of you having to spend your time scouring the web for different laptops that you’re not sure about, we did all the heavy lifting for you, so you can decide on a laptop with ease.
We’re not like most product review businesses, most don’t actually “test” the products they’re reviewing. We care about our readers and the buying decisions that they make so we only want to give you the best and most relevant information when we recommend various products to you.
Below you will find a table of contents so you can see what kind of information you will be getting from us today.
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Topics Covered In This Product Review
- What To Look For In A Laptop
- Laptop Buying Tips
- Top 5 Best Laptops Under $500
- Wrap Up
What To Look For When Buying A Laptop
There are a few major things you want to look for when buying a new laptop. They aren’t absolutely necessary but if you want to be sure that you’ll have enough power and speed to handle what you will need, you’ll want a laptop with components that will do the job.
The biggest thing you want to look for is a good processor or CPU. (If you don’t know what a processor or CPU is, you can read about them here.) Most people buy laptops with either an i5 or an i7 processor. However, since your budget isn’t very high, you likely won’t be able to find an i7 or even an i5 for under $500. There are a few available, but they’re not manufactured by trusted brands.
Next, you will want to look to see if the laptop has a solid-state drive or SSD. (You can learn more about solid-state drives here.) Basically, a solid-state drive takes place of your traditional HDD or hard drive. The solid-state drive is much more efficient and handles instructions from your computer much faster than a traditional hard drive would. What this means is that your laptop will run even faster, and smoother as well. Laptops #2 and #3 on our list have a solid-state drive.
- When you’re spending less than $500 for a laptop, it’s okay to get a laptop without a solid-state drive too. We’re just saying that a solid-state drive makes your laptop run smoother in general. But a traditional hard-drive or HDD will work just fine.
Lastly, look for a laptop with a good amount of RAM. (Learn more about RAM here.) RAM is basically a form of computer data storage that stores data and machine code that is currently being used by your laptop in real-time. As far as how much RAM you will need, most laptops under $500 are equipped with 4-6GB of RAM.
Laptop Buying Tips
You could just walk into Best Buy or some other electronics store and buy a laptop blindly, but with these laptop buying tips, you’ll be able to zero-in on exactly what you want. Choosing a new laptop can be quite daunting with so many choices on the market.
In addition, the sales guys in the electronics store are only going to show you the most expensive stuff and not even care about “what you need”. Here are some tips so you can figure out exactly what you’re looking for.
Pick Your Platform
When you’re buying a laptop, you really only have 3 platforms to choose from. You can either pick Windows, macOS, or ChromeOS. Mac and Windows are clearly the most popular and for a laptop, I’d personally stick with these two platforms as well. Mac will obviously be all of your MacBooks etc.
Windows laptops will likely be running on any of these brands: ASUS, Microsoft, Huawei, HP, and pretty much any other brand that isn’t a MacBook, to be honest.
It’s really up to you and what you prefer. Most people prefer MacOS because, well … it’s Apple! However, since your budget is only $500, your only option will be a Windows laptop. That is unless you want to find a used MacBook on Craigslist or something but we don’t recommend doing that.
We personally prefer Windows because it’s adaptable to any software available and works seamlessly with just about any add-on you buy for it. As a wireless mouse, for example, they’re pretty much all universal for Windows. Whereas you’d need a “special” wireless mouse for an Apple.
Detachable? Or All-In-One?
Again, with so many options available it’s tough to decide what you really want. Lately, I’ve seen a lot of people using the detachable’s simply because they’re easier to carry around. But a detachable will be hard to find in your price range.
A detachable is basically a laptop where the screen comes off and you can use it as a tablet. An all-in-one is like your traditional laptop where the screen stays put and does not detach from the keyboard at all. Again this is all personal preference.
Decide On A Screen Size
Before you think about pricing or looking at all the features of a laptop, you want to figure out what size screen you want. The bigger the screen, the less portable the laptop will be. Below are the typical screen sizes you’ll see in most laptops under $500.
- 11 to 13 inches: These laptops are great for lightweight use around the house or on vacation.
- 13 to 14 inches: The most lightweight laptops, these typically detach into a tablet as well. Easiest to carry around.
- 15 inches: These are very popular as well and typically weigh anywhere from 4.5 – 5.5 lbs. These laptops are easy to fit inside of a backpack as well.
Get Good Battery Life!
I’ve seen this far too often! People will buy a laptop based on aesthetics such as how good it looks or how good the picture is, without even looking to see what the battery life is.
I know someone who bought a Lenovo laptop with this mentality and when he took it to work for the first time, he was upset because the battery only lasted 4 hours and he didn’t bring the charger!
First and foremost, after you decide on screen size, you want to figure out how much battery life you’re going to need. Some don’t last very long, while others can last up to a full day! Check the battery life specs on all laptops that you look at!
Top 5 Best Laptops Under $500
Before you start looking at these laptops we just want to say that this first one, the HP Convertible Touchscreen performed the best overall. In addition, it is extremely attractive and you can fold it back to use as a tablet as well. This isn’t to say that the rest of the laptops are bad or anything, we just liked this first HP the most out of the other four that are on our list. If we had to choose a second-best, we would have chosen the Lenovo at #3.
1. HP Pavilion Convertible Touchscreen Laptop
With the latest technology and an ultra-thin and light design, this powerful PC is the one device for everything you’re into. Work. Write. Play. Naturally. A durable 360-degree geared hinge gets you in the perfect position to work, write, watch, and play. This laptop is one of the best laptops under $500 that you can find on the market right now!
Easily convert to tablet for note-taking and drawing that feels as natural as pen on paper with HP Digital Pen included. Sleek and slender: A narrow bezel design allows a 15-inch diagonal screen to fit in a 14-inch chassis for a small footprint everywhere you go.
A truly powerful audio experience: Dual HP speakers, HP Audio Boost, and tuning by B PLAY deliver a rich, authentic audio experience.
- Full-size island-style backlit keyboard with numeric keypad, HP Digital Pen in natural silver included.
- 15.6-inch diagonal FHD IPS Bright View micro-edge WLED-backlit touchscreen (1920 x 1080).
- 8th Generation Intel Dual-Core i3-8130U base clock 2.2GHz, turbo to 3.4GHz.
- 4 GB DDR4-2400 SDRAM and 16GB Intel Octane memory, total 20GB memory.
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2. Acer Aspire 5 Slim Laptop
- AMD Ryzen 3 3200U Dual-Core Processor; 4GB Memory; 128GB SSD.
- 15.6 inches Full HD (1920 x 1080) Widescreen LED-backlit IPS Display; AMD Radeon Vega 3 Mobile Graphics.
- 1 USB 3.1 Gen 1 Port, 2 USB 2.0 Ports & 1 HDMI Port with HDCP support.
- 802.11ac Wi-Fi; Backlit Keyboard; Up to 7.5 Hours Battery Life.
- Windows 10 in S mode.
- Maximum Power Supply Wattage 65 W.
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3. HP 15.6-Inch HD Touchscreen Laptop
This stylish laptop offers reliable performance and long-lasting battery life so you can easily surf, stream, and stay in touch with what matters most.
- 15.6″ HD LEDTouchscreen Display (1366 x 768), 10-finger multi-touch support.
- Intel Quad-Core Pentium Silver Processor.
- 4GB Memory; 1TB HDD Hard Drive.
- Intel UHD Graphics 605, HDMI, HD Webcam, DTS Studio Sound, Intel HD Graphics 620.
- Win 10 Home 64-bits, No DVD Optical Drive.
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4. Dell Inspiron 15.6” Touch Screen
- Intel Core i3-7130U Dual-Core Processor/ 8 GB Memory/ 128GB Solid State Drive.
- 15 6″ Hd 1366×768 touch screen Display/ Intel Integrated HD 620 Graphics.
- Keyboard with numeric keypad/ 802 11B/g/n wireless and Bluetooth/ webcam with integrated microphone.
- 2 x USB 3 1 1 x USB 2 0 HDMI/ 4-cell Li-Ion Battery/ black finish/ Windows 10 Home.
- Multi-format SD media card Reader/ no DVD.
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5. Lenovo IdeaPad 15.6″ HD High-Performance Laptop
Enjoy productivity anywhere with this 15.6-inch Lenovo Ideapad laptop. Its 128GB SSD results in faster start-up times and data access, no noise, and reduced heat production and power draw on the battery. Its built-in optical drive lets you read and write digital files. The dual-core AMD A9 processor and 4GB of RAM let this Lenovo Ideapad laptop run Windows 10 smoothly.
- AMD A9-9425 Dual-Core accelerated processor 3.1 GHz (up to 3.7 GHz); AMD Radeon R5.
- 4GB DDR4 RAM; 128GB SSD; DVD-RW.
- 15.6″ 1366 x 768 HD display & Energy-efficient LED backlight.
- 1 x HDMI, 10/100 Ethernet, 2 x USB 3.0, 1 x Combo Headphone/Mic Jack.
- Operating System: Windows 10 64-bit.
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Overall we hope we were able to help you in the decision-making process when it comes to deciding on which laptop to buy for under $500. The HP Pavilion at number 1 will be more than enough for what you would need it for. Especially if all you need is a machine to surf the web, use social media, and writing papers.