One of the best things about technology is the fact that most devices tend to get cheaper as time goes on, while also slowly improving. Think about it for a moment: A laptop that was $1,500 back in 2002 would be considered obsolete now, and would probably be around $100 if it came out with the same hardware today.
Computers are more affordable than ever, especially when it comes to laptops. Once considered a luxury, or even secondary, laptops are now the main computer for most consumers. And the best part? You don’t have to spend much to get one. In fact, some of the best laptops under $500 are equipped to be your main computer.
While it’s true that more expensive laptops can provide incredibly fast performance while handling a load of different tasks at one time, cheaper laptops are not inept. Many of them share some of the same hardware as their more expensive counterparts, and can sometimes operate just as fast.
Listed below are 5 of the best laptops you can get when spending under $500. They each have their own unique advantages, and all are more than capable of getting basic tasks done, while also providing a few extra perks as well.
Before we get to that, however, let’s first determine if one of these laptops is right for you, and what characteristics and factors you should be aware of before deciding to purchase one.
Do I Need An Expensive Laptop?
The most important part about buying a laptop is ensuring that you get one that can meet your specific needs. For most, these needs don’t really go beyond basic tasks such as web browsing, watching videos, listening to music, and utilizing some basic applications and programs such as a word processor, or perhaps light video editing software for casual use.
You are certainly more than welcome to buy a $5,000 laptop if you’d like, but doing so can be a bit silly if you don’t have a need for all of its capabilities. This is the equivalent to buying a racetrack-ready Ferrari, only to drive it slowly through residential neighborhoods all the time.
The number one thing everyone wants out of a laptop is speed, followed by storage space. A computer’s speed is dependent on more than one factor, which we’ll get to shortly. If you intend on using a laptop for basic use, odds are you can find one fast enough without having to shell out a ton of money.
So, unless you are a professional that needs a fast computer for memory-intensive tasks such as running large multimedia software, or a hardcore gamer that needs the latest graphics and processing hardware to ensure fast and smooth gameplay, you’ll be just fine with a much cheaper computer.
The bottom line is this: If you know what to look for, and you know some basic terminology, you can easily find a great laptop for under $500 that can do everything you need it to, while still having adequate speed, and containing enough space to store all of your important data and files.
Determine What’s Important To You
You’d be surprised at the number of budget laptops that contain their own uniques designs and features catered to certain consumers.
Some laptops may contain little storage space on a hard drive but come with a large amount of free cloud storage space instead. Other laptops may forgo hardware such as a DVD drive and multiple ports in favor of a slimmer, lightweight design that’s easier to take with you.
You’ve probably seen plenty of hybrid laptops on the market as well. These laptops are part tablet, part computer, and can easily operate as both. While you get increased versatility, this often comes at the expense of storage space and RAM amounts.
So, before deciding on a particular laptop, make sure it lines up with your own preferences and needs, as they can vary greatly within the same price range. While there are plenty of well-rounded models available, many will favor certain features at the expense of others.
The Most Important Factors And Features To Consider Beforehand
It’s crucial to be as informed as possible when making the decision on a new laptop. Here are the most important things to check out first, before coming to a buying decision.
For many, the actual size of the laptop is one of the core aspects to decide on. We live in a time where we want things to be as light and compact as possible, and the same can be said for laptops, as they are intended to be mobile.
Gone are the days of heavy, bulky laptops that required their own specific carrying bag or case. Many laptops today are slim, light, and small enough to fit into the average backpack, shoulder bag, or briefcase, without taking up much space at all.
There are plenty of budget laptops that make size and weight a priority, resulting in a computer that is very easy to carry around. Keep in mind that this is often due to shaving off some hardware capabilities, however.
A computer’s memory amount has a direct effect on how much of a load it can handle. If you’ve ever experienced the frustration that comes with a slow computer, you are already well aware of this. Slow computers have low memory and are not equipped to handle more than a few small tasks at one time.
4GB of RAM is widely considered to be the bare minimum needed to ensure decent operation speed when using your laptop in a normal way. This should be enough to run a browser with a few open tabs, a music application, and a word processor, all without any noticeable lag.
The higher the RAM, the faster your computer is, and the more it can handle at once. 8GB of RAM is even better, and some models may have even more.
Storage amount is very important if you are hoping to use your laptop to store your photos, documents, videos, and of course your digital music collection. You’ll also need space for software and applications.
256GB is usually the bare minimum that’s acceptable, and some budget laptops even go as high as 1TB. Smaller, lighter laptops that are intended for light web browsing and word processing may have as little as 32GB but often come with cloud storage to help offset this.
If you want a laptop that can be used to back up all of your important stuff, try to find one with at least 500GB, especially if you have a large music collection you’d like to keep on hand. While most budget laptops have a hard disc drive (HDD,) there are a few that have a much faster solid-state drive (SSD.)
Everyone can appreciate clear, vibrant graphics on a computer, but the quality fluctuates greatly depending on the laptop. 15 inches is about average for a laptop monitor size, although compact models can be around 12 or 13 inches. Larger laptops more geared for media usage can often be around 17 inches.
Resolution is equally important. Low-resolution screens will display a more grainy image, which may hinder your video and movie watching. Higher-resolution screens avoid this, while also being able to display more text on a screen at one time, limiting the amount of scrolling needed.
1366 x 768p is considered the minimum resolution you should settle for, while 1920 x 1080 and above will offer a much better visual experience.
Laptops are mobile after all, so that means you’ll want one that doesn’t need to be around an electrical outlet just to keep things running. Battery life can vary greatly between cheaper laptops, which may or may not be a big deal to you.
If you want a laptop you can bring with you on a commute, or take to work with you for the day without having to worry about plugging it in mid-day, opt for a model that offers at least 7-8 hours of battery life on a full charge.
Unique Or Emphasized Features
This is where budget laptops can vary the most. In order to make up for lower processing speeds, smaller storage, and smaller screens, many laptops offer a variety of unique features that make them more appealing.
This can include laptops with a more superior audio setup, better graphics and screen resolution, smaller, more compact sizes, and of course hybrids that feature a detachable keyboard and full tablet touchscreen.
There are very good reasons for favoring a laptop with any of these features, but make sure to check its specifications to ensure it can perform to your daily standards and preferences before you buy it.
While cheaper laptops are not generally expected to offer the same high-end features and compatibility as more expensive models, you can still find plenty that is able to connect to a variety of other devices.
Many cheaper laptops don’t come with a DVD/CD drive, so look for models that have multiple USB ports to accommodate things like a mouse, keyboard, game controller, external disc drive, or external storage. If you can find one with ultra-fast USB 3.0 ports, all the better.
HDMI and serial ports can come in handy as well, especially if you want to connect your laptop to another monitor, or even your television.
The Best Laptops Under $500
The following products are among the best budget laptops you can buy, and each has its own unique characteristics and advantages that cater to certain consumers. Be sure to refer to the above criteria to ensure you’re getting the best possible product for your needs.
Acer Aspire E5-575G-53VG
- RAM: 8GB
- Storage: 256GB (SSD)
- Screen Size/Resolution: 15.6-Inch 1920 x 1080
- Battery Life: 12 Hours
Acer’s Aspire series aims to cram as much performance as possible into a budget laptop, and the E5-575G is a prime example of their success. Many of the specs on this laptop come close to rivaling computers that are three times its price. Speed, storage, and graphics — it’s all there.
The E5-575G utilizes an Intel 6th generation i5 processor, giving it all the brains needed to handle numerous processes and tasks with ease. The processor is the perfect complement to the 8GB of available RAM, allowing the E5-575G to run smoothly with several programs open at once time.
The graphics on the E5-575G are among the best you’ll find in this price range. With its NVIDIA GeForce 940MX GPU, the E5-575G shows off an incredibly high frame rate, with stunning clarity and vibrant colors, all on a 15.6-inch screen with full 1920 x 1080 HD resolution.
Storage space is adequate thanks to a 256GB SSD drive, which further enhances the E5-575G’s already high operating speed. If you need a bit more storage, simply purchase a high capacity USB flash drive.
Battery life is very long for what this laptop offers. At just around 12 hours, you can use the E5-575G away from outlets for most of the day before needing a recharge. This is probably one of its more underappreciated features.
And if that’s not enough, the E5-575G can also support 802.11ac wireless signals and comes with an HDMI port, a Type-C port, and two USB 3.0 ports.
If you’re willing to spend close to the $500 limit and want the most you can get, the Acer Aspire E5-575G is your best bet for a budget laptop that doesn’t operate like one.
Acer Aspire E15 E5-575-33BM
- RAM: 4GB
- Storage: 1TB (HDD)
- Screen Size/Resolution: 15.6-Inch 1920 x 1080 Full-HD
- Battery Life: 12 Hours
Acer’s Aspire E15 E5-575-33BM is one of the best-selling budget laptops on the market, and it’s easy to see why. The E15 E5-575-33BM combines a very affordable price point with fast performance and an HD display, all in an attractive body design that weighs under 5 lbs.
The E15 E5-575-33BM has a leg up on most budget laptops thanks to its use of a 7th generation Intel Quad-Core processor. This gives it a noticeable boost in speed, which helps to offset the lower-end 4GB of RAM. 8GB would’ve been appreciated, but again, this computer is less than $400.
A full terabyte of hard drive disc storage allows you to store pretty much anything you have, whether it’s thousands of songs, videos, pictures, documents — anything. You aren’t likely to run out of space anytime soon.
The screen is the standard 15.6-inch size, and has a full resolution of 1920 x 1080, and supports full HD. Acer’s proprietary ColorBlast technology improves screen color even more.
As is the case with most Acer laptops, the battery life is unparalleled. At just around 12 hours, you can always rely on the E15 E5-575-33BM to make it a full workday of use in between charges, and more.
Acer was also sure to include all of the latest ports in the E15 E5-575-33BM, including USB 3.0, Type-C, HDMI, and a standard serial port. It also has 802.11ac wireless signal support for blazing wireless speeds. You can even upgrade your RAM and hard drive with easy thanks to a handy slot panel on the underside.
For the money, it’s hard to beat what the Acer Aspire E15 E5-575-33BM has to offer. If you want a functional laptop that is more than affordable, this is it.
ASUS F555LA-AB31 15.6-Inch Laptop
- RAM: 4GB
- Storage: 500GB (HDD)
- Screen Size/Resolution: 15.6-Inch 1920 x 1080 Full-HD
- Battery Life: 5 Hours
The ASUS F555LA-AB31 provides a lot of value and performance for its price range and stands out as a true all-around laptop that is engineered to handle plenty of tasks all at once. It also includes a few extra features that make its operation even more convenient.
The F555LA-AB31 is powered by a 5th generation Intel Core processor. Not as good as the later 6th and 7th generation versions, but still adequate for seamless and smooth operation during normal use.
The 4GB of RAM is slightly underwhelming when compared to other models near its price range, but it’s still enough to run multiple tasks without much lagging if any at all. Just don’t expect to run a bunch of memory-heavy programs all at once.
With 500GB available storage space on an HDD, you’ve got lots of room to store all of your files and programs, with plenty more to spare. While not an SSD, the F555LA-AB31’s HDD operates at a very fast 5400RPM.
The display is one of the more vibrant and clear ones you’ll see in this price range, thanks to a 15.6-inch screen that hosts a 1920 x 1080 full HD resolution, perfect for movies, videos, and some games.
The F555LA-AB31 does quite well in the looks department as well, combining a silver and black style with an attractive matte finish. The ergonomically designed keyboard uses IceCool technology to prevent your hands from getting hot during long periods of use. USB 3.0 and 802.11ac support are included too.
If graphics and comfort are your biggest requirements in a budget laptop, the ASUS F555LA-AB31 warrants a strong look.
ASUS X55DA-AS11 15-Inch Full-HD AMD
- RAM: 8GB
- Storage: 256GB (SSD)
- Screen Size/Resolution: 15.6-Inch 1920 x 1080 Matte Finish
- Battery Life: 8 Hours
The X55DA-AS11 from ASUS is the perfect laptop for anyone prioritizing speed above all else. This stylish laptop is very fast indeed, but also includes a slew of features and capabilities that makes it a perfect everyday main computer.
The X55DA-AS11 breaks from the standard Intel processor that most laptops in this range have, and instead utilizes an AMD Quad-Core processor that is every bit as fast. Throw in a very capable 8GB of RAM and you’ve got yourself a fast laptop that can juggle multiple tasks.
If that’s not enough, the 256GB hard drive is an SSD and can power on in two seconds from a full sleep mode. The 256GB may not be enough for some, so you may want to get a USB flash drive to use with it as well.
Graphics aren’t the X55DA-AS11’s forte, but its 15.6-inch screen with a 1366 x 768 resolution is still perfectly fine. An LED backlight helps reduce glare and adds a bit of vibrancy to the screen too.
The audio quality of the X55DA-AS11 is better than most, thanks to its SonicMaster enhanced audio system. As with most ASUS laptops, Ice Cool technology keeps your hands comfortable on the ergonomic keypad during extended use.
The X55DA-AS11 is among the fastest computers in this price range, so if you prefer speed over graphics and storage space, you’ll love this laptop.
HP Notebook 15-ay011nr
- RAM: 8GB
- Storage: 1TB (HDD)
- Screen Size/Resolution: 15.6-Inch 1920 x 1080 HD
- Battery Life: 7 Hours
The HP Notebook 15-ay011nr is one of the more well-rounded budget laptops out there, mixing in a high level of speed and performance with some impressive multimedia features as well. At just under $500, the 15-ay011nr has much to offer and good longevity.
The HP Notebook 15-ay011nr is powered by an Intel Core i5 6th generation processor, which is fairly standard for mid and high-range laptops. It’s just enough speed and power to complement the 8GB of RAM included, making the 15-ay011nr one of the faster laptops on this list.
If you need a lot of storage space, you’ll find the 1TB HDD very useful. This allows you to store basically any digital content and data without worrying about running out of space or bogging the laptop down.
The screen of the 15-ay011nr is your basic 15.6-inch, 1920 x 1080 resolution display, which also supports full HD. This complements the included DVD drive that you can use to watch movies in full HD.
The DVD drive is also rewritable, so you have the option of creating your own cd’s. The 15-ay011nr includes USB 3.0 and 2.0 ports, an HDMI port, and a RI-45 input, giving you numerous connectivity options.
The 15-ay011nr succeeds in offering a versatile, rounded laptop that provides users with solid all-around performance on every level.
Well, there you have it. It’s hard to go wrong with any of these five budget laptops, and each has its unique strong points that cater to different tastes and needs. Each of these five laptops provides you with reliable and capable performance without having to spend too much money.
Do you have a laptop you’d recommend? Have you used any of these yourself? Let us know in the comments below!