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Are laptops under $500 worth it? These laptops answer that with a big 'yes'

The past few years have shown us how much we truly need a reliable laptop. Check out these laptops for under $500 before you make that big purchase.
Written by Josh Slate, Contributor on
Reviewed by Amy Lieu

With the ever-growing technology industry, more people are getting out of the office and participating in remote work or a hybrid work environment. But nowadays, people don't use computers just for work and school, college students like myself use laptops to stream their favorite shows, scroll around social media, and games.

Most premier laptops retail for well over $500 but that doesn't mean there isn't an abundance of laptops on the more affordable side of things. Check out this list of laptops under $500 that can suit all your needs.

Also: The best cheap laptops under $350

Pros & Cons
pros
  • 8GB DDR4 RAM
  • 15.6" touchscreen display
  • Incredibly thin
cons
  • No ethernet port
More Details

CPU Model: Intel Core i3 | RAM Memory: 8GB DDR4 | Hard Disk Drive: 256GB SSD | Screen Size: 15.6"

Having the ability to purchase this Asus VivoBook 15 for less than $500 should be a crime. This laptop does it all and more with 8GB of DDR4 RAM, an Intel Core i3-1115G4 processor, and 256GB of storage in its internal SSD.

A 15.6-inch touchscreen and a backlit keyboard are just two of the great features this laptop offers. This versatility of this laptop is rarely seen in laptops under $500. With 8GB of RAM, Intel UHD graphics, and a refresh rate of 60hz, you will be able to work and play your favorite games all on this laptop. 

Pros & Cons
pros
  • Easily portable
  • Built-in antivirus and malware defense
  • Camera on front and back
cons
  • "Real" keyboard isn't included
  • Only one USB port
More Details

CPU Model: Intel Pentium Gold 6500Y | RAM Memory: 4GB | Hard Disk Drive: 64GB eMMC | Screen Size: 10.5"

Laptops that double as a tablet are the future of the computer industry. This Microsoft Surface Go 3 is just that. Although this laptop only has a 10.5-inch screen, the capabilities of this laptop are off the chart for professional and academic work.

This Surface Go laptop features a battery life of 11 hours with fast-charging capabilities to make sure you stay in the loop during your busy days. While Microsoft 365 isn't included with the purchase of the Microsoft Surface Go 3, a 30-day free trial is included with this purchase to get access to all the popular Microsoft applications.

With quick loading speeds in part to the Intel Pentium Gold 6500Y processor, you will be able to search the web, complete homework assignments, and plan your vacation with the money you will save on this laptop.

Pros & Cons
pros
  • Two USB 3.0 ports
  • Large 17.3" screen
  • 256 GB SSD in budget laptop
cons
  • No USB-C port
More Details

CPU Model: Intel Core i3 | RAM Memory: 4GB DDR4 | Hard Disk Drive: 256 SSD | Screen Size: 17.3"

Powerful laptops at a low price are hard to find. Thankfully, this HP 17 laptop provides amazing capabilities for less than $400. At 17.3", this screen is one of the biggest you can have on a laptop, and with a 1600 x 900 HD Plus resolution, you can stream, game, and surf the web with pristine quality. 

An advanced, 256 GB PCIe NVMe M.2 SSD provides speed that's 15x faster than a traditional hard drive. Additionally, the 4GB of DDR4 RAM with a higher bandwidth provides a boost in performance to an already stellar laptop. 

Lastly, this HP 17 laptop features a battery with up to eight hours of life and HP Fast Charge capabilities that can charge the device from 0 to 50% charge in about 45 minutes. 

Pros & Cons
pros
  • Full HD LED display
  • ComfortView Low Blue Light software
  • Unique and stable design
cons
  • Wish it had an Intel i5 processor instead of i3
More Details

CPU Model: Intel Core i3 | RAM Memory: 8GB DDR4 | Hard Disk Drive: 256GB SSD | Screen Size: 15.6"

With Intel UHD Graphics, a 15.6-inch screen, and a Full HD LED display, I can't imagine a better way to surf the web than with this Dell Inspiron 15 laptop. This unit is powered by an Intel Core i3 processor and 8GB of RAM so there's no worrying about the speed and power.

Dell constructs this computer with a lift hinge to raise the device to an angle that is more comfortable for the user to type on. Additionally, through the use of rubber feet and bumpers on the hinge, this computer will be stable even if the surface you sit it on isn't. 

Worried your eyes will be strained after staring at the beautiful display all day? Think again. Dell incorporates ComfortView Low Blue Light software that helps reduce the blue light emissions from the screen to optimize eye comfort. What can't this product do?

Pros & Cons
pros
  • 256GB of storage in internal SSD
  • Full HD LED-backlit IPS display
  • Thin design makes it easily portable
cons
  • 15.6" screen is a little small for gaming
  • Most expensive laptop on this list
More Details

CPU Model: AMD Ryzen 5 5500U | RAM Memory: 8GB DDR4 | Hard Disk Drive: 256GB NVMe SSD | Screen Size: 15.6"

You often look at Twitch streamers gaming with their enormous PC towers, RGB lights, and advanced keyboards. But, you don't need to pump thousands of dollars into your setup to get a high-quality gaming experience. This Acer Aspire 5 laptop is an incredible gaming laptop powered by an AMD Ryzen 5 5500U processor.

With a 15.6" Full HD LED-backlit IPS display, the colors will look more vivid when you play your favorite games. While the games you play will look great, they will also run just as well due to the 8GB of DDR4 RAM within this laptop.

But, this laptop can do more than just run your favorite games -- it's also a great laptop for school and professional work as well. With two built-in microphones and an HD webcam, you can get your meetings done in high quality. Additionally, you can plug in all your accessories with three USB ports, an HDMI port, an ethernet port, and a USB-C port.

What is the best laptop under $500?

As the technology world advances, the need for a powerful laptop becomes more important. But, you don't have to break the bank on laptops anymore with so many great laptops selling for less than $500. 

Screen size and RAM storage are just a few of the key factors explored when purchasing laptops. So, here is how the five laptops in this list stack up when it comes to those two factors.

Laptop

Price

Screen size

RAM

Asus VivoBook 15

$399

15.6"

8GB DDR4

Microsoft Surface Go 3

$394

10.5"

4GB

HP 17 Laptop

$380

17.3"

4GB DDR4

Dell Inspiron 15 3511

$397

15.6"

8GB DDR4

Acer Aspire 5 

$450

15.6"

8GB DDR4

Which is the right laptop under $500 for you?

We know that buyers weigh a lot of factors into which laptop they end up purchasing. But, with so many different uses for laptops today, finding the perfect one for you can be hard to find.

Consider this table before selecting which laptop under $500 you want to buy.

Choose this laptop under $500…

If you want…

Asus VivoBook 15

The best laptop under $500 that can handle anything you need to do

Microsoft Surface Go 3

An advanced tablet/laptop combination

HP 17 Laptop

A laptop that won't break your bank account

Dell Inspiron 15 3511

A great laptop for college students to stream your favorite shows

Acer Aspire 5

A cheap gaming laptop that provides great specs

How did we choose these laptops under $500?

As a computer gamer myself, I'm very picky about which computers I use, and more importantly, purchase. That being said, I chose these laptops based on what I think are the best laptops for each category after extensive research through the tech specs and product reviews. 

After I chose which units were the best laptops within this price range, I took the five and categorized them based on which would be the best for the following categories: best overall, for picture quality, for gaming, for work and school, and of course, the price.

What is the best 2-in-1 laptop under $500?

The best 2-in-1 laptop under $500 is the Microsoft Surface Go 3. Although the accessories to make it a laptop are typically sold separate, this still remains the best one for the price.

Are laptops under $500 worth it?

As with everything else, you get what you pay for. If you want a laptop with all the bells and whistles and advanced specs, you will likely have to pay at least $700. But there are plenty of laptops that are incredibly capable of doing anything you need it to do for less than that price. 

Who makes the best laptops under $500?

With so many tech companies able to produce entry-level laptops like this at a relatively low cost, there is a lot of competition. You can't go wrong with the established brands like Microsoft, HP, and Dell; but give the other brands a try as they offer great product at such a low price.

Are there alternative laptops under $500 worth considering?

Like I mentioned above, at such a low price for laptops there is an abundance of competition so narrowing this list down to just five was tough.

Here are a few honorable mentions that just missed the cut to the top five.

Editorial standards

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