Is the budget for your next laptop less than $500? You can’t expect a machine in this budget range to run high-end games, perform machine learning, or create stunning 3D animations, but the notebooks in this range offer high value for money. Most of the machines in this range come with a decent hardware configuration which can perform a lot of daily tasks.
You don’t need a $500 laptop to play high-end games or to create stunning 3D animations on laptops. However, you can still expect thin and light devices that offer a great user experience and don’t interfere with your work, whether that involves working with Microsoft office apps such as MS Word, Excel, Powerpoint or even more powerful photo editing apps like Photoshop and Lightroom.
- Things to look in a sub-$500 laptop
- 9 Best Laptops Under $500 in 2021
- 1. Best Overall: ASUS VivoBook 15
- 2. Best Runner Up: Lenovo IdeaPad 3
- 3. Best for School/College Students: HP 14
- 4. Best for Business: Acer Aspire 5
- 5. Best for Home Use: Dell Inspiron 14
- 6. Best Battery Life: Acer Swift 1
- 7. Best Chromebook Under $500: Lenovo Flex 5
- 8. Best 2-in-1 Convertible: Microsoft Surface Go 2
- 9. Cheapest Option: Samsung Chromebook Plus V2
- Frequently Asked Questions
Things to look in a sub-$500 laptop
The sub-$500 laptops are a study in compromise, however, and before purchase, you need to settle on “what it is that you need most”.
- If you need to multitask or do a lot of research, we’d recommend you invest in a machine with at least 8GB of RAM, or at least one with an extra RAM slot that you can upgrade later.
- Storage is also something to consider seriously as most 500 dollar laptops don’t offer more than 128GB, and some Chromebooks even offer around 64GB SSD. If you’re working in the cloud, you don’t need much, but if you’re working locally, don’t accept anything less than 256GB of SSD-based storage.
- The one area that really doesn’t matter too much is the CPU. Most modern CPUs, even the low-power ones, are fast and powerful and quite adept at handling Windows and Microsoft Office apps. Just bear in mind that AMD’s Ryzen 3000 CPUs are great for raw power and that Intel’s 10th Gen Ice Lake chips will offer better battery life.
- Lastly, if all your work is on the cloud, you might want to consider ditching Windows altogether and going the Chromebook route. Chrome OS isn’t as bloated as WIndows, given that it’s basically a browser, so Chromebooks tend to be cheaper and better built than their Windows counterparts. The only aspects you lose out on support for local storage and desktop apps.
9 Best Laptops Under $500 in 2021
We’ve compiled a list of products ranging from workhorses to last-gen Ultrabooks, Chromebooks, and even a laptop/tablet hybrid for this list.
These devices have been carefully selected, keeping user experience and a modern, cloud-based workflow in mind. Whatever your requirements, you will find a device that matches them in this list.
1. Best Overall: ASUS VivoBook 15
The thing with budget laptops is that we sometimes regret our decisions later. At the time of purchase, we might have thought that 8GB RAM or 256GB of storage was enough, only to realize a few months later that we were so very wrong. This is where laptops like the VivoBook 15 come in. This versatile, easily upgradeable machine is just what you need when looking at long term value.
Powering this VivoBook is a 3rd Gen AMD Ryzen 3500U. This quad-core CPU is a little old, but it turbos to 3.7GHz and packs in a relatively powerful, Vega 8 integrated graphics chip. The CPU is powerful enough for home/office work and handling Windows 10 Home OS with ease. The GPU will allow for light gaming and also help accelerate photo editing tasks in apps like Photoshop.
This is combined with 8GB of RAM and 256GB of storage, which is a good minimum when speccing out a machine for long term use. Speaking of long term use, the VivoBook allows the user to upgrade RAM and storage by including a DIMM slot for a single RAM module and a 2.5-inch bay for an SSD or 2.5-inch HDD. Not to mention, that the included 256GB SSD is an M.2 drive, and if you wish to, you can replace that as well.
The display is a roomy 15.6-inch FHD IPS LCD with a resolution of 1920 x 1080. You can get a more color-accurate panel if you spend a little more, but it’s a good panel for the price. Bezels are quite slim while still managing to accommodate a webcam.
The laptop is also wide enough to allow for a full-size keyboard with integrated Numpad, and it also has backlit support, which is a bonus if you’re a writer or a person who works at night. The trackpad houses a fingerprint reader in the top-left corner.
Port selection is generous and includes a USB-C 3.2 port, 2 x USB-A 3.2 ports, a single USB-A 2.0 port, HDMI, a microSD card slot, and a 3.5mm combo jack. The laptop charges via a proprietary charging port and given that this is an older Ryzen CPU, one can expect the battery to last 3 to 4 hours on a regular workday. The whole package weighs 3.53 pounds.
Overall, for something around $500, the VivoBook 15 is a great starting point that you can upgrade later as the need arises. If you don’t need the more powerful integrated GPU, you could opt for the cheaper variant with half the storage (128GB) and a newer, 10th Gen Intel CPU that promises better battery life and less heat.
- Good package
- Backlit keys
- Fast storage
- User-upgradeable RAM
- Spare 2.5-inch SSD/HDD slot
- Single RAM slot
- Slightly expensive
2. Best Runner Up: Lenovo IdeaPad 3
If you want the complete Windows 10 experience on a budget, the Lenovo IdeaPad 3 is a fantastic option. While not a very powerful machine, the IdeaPad 3 still manages to pack in powerful enough hardware to ensure that your Windows 10 experience is smooth and hassle-free.
The 1.2GHz Core i3–1005G1 is from Intel’s Ice Lake stock, a 10nm CPU that’s very power efficient compared to the cheaper 14nm Comet Lake or Ryzen 3000 series CPUs that you’ll find on some laptops. The one niggle here is the integrated graphics chip. While it’s powerful enough to handle multiple Chrome tabs and even Photoshop, it’s not a chip you can game on.
With 8GB of RAM and 256GB of storage, you’re guaranteed enough storage and RAM capacity for college work and regular productivity apps like Microsoft Teams, Chrome, Word, etc. It’ll be best to pick up an external SSD/HDD or OneDrive plan for backup, however.
Surprisingly, Lenovo chose to bundle Windows 10 S with the IdeaPad. Windows 10 S is a more secure operating mode for Windows 10 that doesn’t allow you to install third-party apps and limits you to the Windows Store. This is a good option to leave enabled if you’re buying this laptop for a kid or senior or someone who isn’t technologically savvy, but for everyone else, we’d recommend turning off the feature.
The HD resolution of 1366 x 768 on a 15.6-inch panel is a little lower than we’d like, but on the other hand, it’s enough for home users, and a lower resolution means better battery life. Lenovo’s displays also tend to be calibrated well. Oh, and the display supports touch input, which is nice.
The brushed metal finish of the device looks great and the bezels around the sides of the display are quite slim. There’s a bit of a chin and forehead, but the top bezel does house a very nice HD webcam which can be used for attending online classes. There’s room for a full-size keyboard, but do note that the keys are packed close together and that they’re not backlit.
The laptop weighs about 4 lbs and features 2 x USB-A USB 3.1 ports, 1x USB-A 2.0 port, an HDMI port, a 3.5mm combo jack, an SD card reader, and a proprietary charging port. We’d have loved to see a USB-C port as well, but this is a cheaper laptop and some compromises had to be made somewhere. Depending on your usage, you should expect between 2 and 5 hours of uptime per charge.
The Lenovo IdeaPad 3 doesn’t seem very special, and it doesn’t have to be. It’s a capable, functional Windows 10 machine at a very reasonable price, and it packs in a touchscreen. There’s really no need for more.
- Power-efficient CPU
- Good value
- Fast storage
- Good battery life
- Touchscreen display
- HD resolution
- The keyboard isn’t backlit
3. Best for School/College Students: HP 14
HP always seems to have something for everyone, and in this case, if you’re looking for a small, lightweight, inexpensive laptop for study or work, they have the HP 14.
The specs of this machine include an Intel Core i3-1005G1 CPU paired with a single stick of 8GB DDR4 RAM and a 256GB NVMe SSD. The 10nm Ice Lake CPU isn’t very powerful, but it isn’t meant to be powerful, to begin with. 10nm means it’s built on a smaller manufacturing process, and that 1.2GHz base clock means it just sips power when idling. And anyway, the two cores can clock up to 3.4GHz when required.
Dual-channel memory would have been nice to have, but in a low-power machine like this, single-channel will do. 256GB of storage is also just enough for Windows 10 and essential apps.
Speaking of Windows 10, the HP 14 comes with the locked-down Windows 10 S which restricts users to Microsoft Store apps. This is good from a security standpoint, but the limited app selection on the store means that you’ll likely need the full-fat Windows 10 Home install. Thankfully, unlocking Windows 10 isn’t very hard.
At 250 nits, the 14-inch FHD screen is bright enough for indoor use, and with a color gamut of 45% NTSC and a good contrast ratio, it’s great for work and light entertainment. For photo editing and a more immersive movie-watching experience, you might want to invest in a better display.
The laptop is finished in a brushed, glossy, silvery-white and is quite well equipped. You get a backlit keyboard, an HD webcam, a proper SD card slot, 1 x USB-C 3.1 port, 2 x USB-A 3.1 ports, an HDMI port, and a 3.5mm combo jack. The laptop only weighs 3.21 pounds, which is great for a 14-inch laptop.
The HP 14 is a great all-rounder for working from home. It is powerful enough to not hold you back or slow you down, and the 5 hours of battery life mean that getting through a workday shouldn’t prove to be too challenging.
- Backlit keyboard
- Ice Lake CPU
- Compact form factor
- 2×2 Wi-Fi
- Excellent I/O options
- Windows 10 S mode enabled by default
- Display quality
4. Best for Business: Acer Aspire 5
Acer has packed in the bare essentials into the Aspire 5 to allow for a functional Windows 10 experience in a bid to keep the price down and has succeeded. Despite that, Acer also didn’t scrimp on quality, delivering a fantastic screen, an upgradeable design, and great speakers.
AMD’s U series Ryzen CPUs are not as popular as Intel’s Core series of laptop CPUs, but don’t let the lack of reputation fool you. These are powerful chips and will easily run rings around Intel’s best if given the chance. Take the Ryzen 3 3200U APU in this Aspire 5, for instance. This dual-core CPU clocks from 2.6–3.5GHz and includes Vega 3 graphics chips that will knock the socks of Intel’s UHD and low-end Iris Plus graphics.
As cheap and bare-bones as the Aspire 5 is, it is quite powerful in its class.
RAM and storage are limited to 4GB and 128GB respectively. Any lower and it’d be hard to recommend this laptop for any kind of work. 4GB is the bare minimum you need for a lag-free Windows 10 experience, and while it’s enough for Office apps and a few Chrome tabs, you’ll want to upgrade at the earliest. 128GB storage leaves no room for anything but the most essential of apps and files.
However, rather than leave you locked into this config, Acer’s designed the Aspire 5 to be user upgradeable. There’s an additional DIMM slot for RAM, as well as a 2.5-inch slot for an SSD or HDD. You can also swap out the existing RAM module and M.2 drive for one of your own.
As with most laptops in this price range, Acer has chosen to bundle Windows 10 S with the laptop. The security-focused S mode locks you into the Microsoft Store and limits the usefulness of the device, but unlocking the full version of Windows 10 Home is easy, and free.
The 15.6-inch FHD display is surprisingly sharp and contrasty. Surprising because laptops in this price range generally offer poor displays to cut down on price. The speakers are also pretty good for music listening, and that keyboard is backlit.
Port selection on this budget laptop is limited to 1 x USB-A 3.1 port, 2 x USB-A 2.0 ports, and one port each for HDMI, ethernet, and 3.5mm audio. Battery life is rated at a whopping 7.5 hours.
At first glance, the Acer Aspire 5 doesn’t seem like much of a laptop. It’s when you look a little closer than its strengths shine through. With its upgradeable chassis, excellent display, great speakers and superb battery life, the Aspire 5 is an excellent starter laptop to build on later.
- Battery life
- Vega 3 graphics
- Backlit keyboard
- Display contrast
- Upgradeable RAM and storage
- 4GB RAM is borderline acceptable
- 128GB storage leaves no room for heavy apps
5. Best for Home Use: Dell Inspiron 14
Dell has updated its entire Inspiron lineup with newer 11th Gen CPUs, but to be honest, you really don’t need 11th Gen features in a laptop that’s suitable for grad school students and light work. What you’re getting here, instead, is a basic, perfectly functional laptop that can be had for next to nothing during sales.
This Inspiron model is powered by an Intel Ice Lake i3 chip that’s clocked at 1.2GHz and paired with 4GB RAM and a 128GB NVMe SSD. Coupled with the onboard UHD graphics, don’t expect to be blown away by the performance of this machine. That being said, you don’t expect to be disappointed either.
Yes, the specs are at the very edge of acceptability, but they are acceptable. Windows 10, Office apps, and Edge will fly, and you could even manage some mild research in Chrome without upgrading the RAM. One thing you will need for sure is additional storage as 128GB is simply not going to be enough for anyone.
Included with the device are Windows 10 Home in S mode and an Office 365 trial. Given the limited storage, it’s worth taking a full Office 365 subscription just for the additional cloud storage benefits. Also, Windows 10’s restrictive S mode is good if this is a laptop for a student and you’re worried about their ability to not fall for scams and other malware. If you don’t like it, disabling Windows 10 S is straightforward.
The 14-inch HD IPS display is alright for indoor use, and while we’d have liked to see a higher resolution than 1366×768, it’s actually fine for a machine of this caliber. Fewer pixels to push results in less strain on the system and should also translate to better battery life. Speaking of, users report up to 6 hours of life when indulging in coding, accounting, financial modeling, podcasting, and movie-watching.
The design of the laptop is plain and functional, as expected from a device selling at this price. Bezels are thick and there’s a lot of plastic in use. The keyboard and trackpad are also simple and comfortable to use. Port selection on this 3.7 pounds laptop includes 2 x USB-A 3.1 ports, 1 x USB-A 2.0 port, an HDMI port, an ethernet jack, and a 3.5mm combo audio jack. Oh, and there’s a full-size SD card slot included, which is nice to have.
The Dell Inspiron 14 isn’t a particularly exciting laptop, but it is a cheap and functional one. It’s designed to help you get work done, and to that end, it is properly designed and specced out.
- Dirt cheap, if you know where to look
- Ice Lake CPU
- NVMe SSD at this price
- SD card slot
- Battery life
- HD display
- Chunky bezels
6. Best Battery Life: Acer Swift 1
The Acer Swift 1 is an ultraportable email machine that’s perfect for those who’re looking for all-day battery life and don’t expect to do more than entertain themselves or indulge in some light work.
The Intel Pentium Silver N5000 CPU is positively wimpy in comparison to Intel Core lineup. It’s a quad-core CPU with no hyper-threading, integrated UHD 605 graphics, and a clock speed that ranges from 1.1GHz to 2.7GHz. That wimpiness is a huge plus when it comes to battery life, however. Rated at 5W, this CPU sips power – three times less than a 10th Gen Core i3, in fact.
Paired with 4GB RAM and a 64GB SSD, this is a CPU that is just powerful enough to run Windows and browse the web. It won’t set any performance records but it also won’t get hot, allowing for a slim laptop that doesn’t need a beefy cooling setup.
The two limitations of this machine are Windows 10 Home in S mode and the 64GB of onboard storage. While getting out of the restrictive S mode is simple, that OS will easily eat up 30+ GB of storage, leaving almost no buffer for essential apps and documents. Thankfully, there is a full-size SD card slot, so you could toss in a high capacity, fast, half-height SD card to augment the onboard storage. Given these limitations, we’d say that this is a lightweight machine designed to be online 24×7.
Since space doesn’t have to be wasted on cooling hardware, the Acer Swift 1 is slim and very light. The 14-inch FHD display is set in a nearly bezel-less frame. The keyboard and trackpad are simple, functional, and get the job done.
Where this laptop really shines is in the form factor and weight department. It’s super slim and weighs just 2.9 pounds, which ensures that you’ll all but forget you’re carrying it when you travel. That slimness doesn’t mean port selection has been compromised, however. You get 1 x USB-A 2.0 port, 2 x USB-A 3.1 ports, a USB-C 3.1 port, HDMI, and a 3.5mm combo jack as well as an SD card slot.
The CPU might be old and storage limited, but this internet-first machine does offer 14 hours of battery life in a chassis that weighs next to nothing. If you’re not a heavy user and are comfortable working within Microsoft’s ecosystem of apps, you’ll be hard-pressed to find a machine that’s more portable than the Swift 1.
- Superb battery life
- Extremely light
- Port selection
- Good ergonomics
- Display resolution
- Limited storage
7. Best Chromebook Under $500: Lenovo Flex 5
It’s 2021. Chances are that Google Chrome is already the most important app you use, and if it is, maybe you’ve already considered switching to a Chromebook as your primary machine. If you have, Lenovo’s Chromebook Flex 5 is a great place to start.
Chromebook’s run Chrome OS, a modified version of Linux that’s designed around Google Chrome as the primary UI. It’s a fast, custom-built OS that doesn’t carry the bloat that Windows has to, and it’s beautifully optimized for a web-only lifestyle.
Given the optimizations, Chrome OS doesn’t require beefy hardware to run, which is why a Comet Lake i3–10110U from Intel and 4GB RAM is actually enough for this system. One is also expected to work in the cloud – i.e. Google Drive – so the limited 64GB of eMMC storage isn’t really a problem.
Since money doesn’t have to be spent on a Windows 10 license and expensive components, Lenovo’s spent the money on the design and ergonomics of the laptop. The Flex 5 features a sharp, 13-inch FHD display that supports multi-touch as well as a stylus (bought separately). The hinge rotates by 360° and the device can be used as a tablet.
Another standout feature is the keyboard. Lenovo’s always made amazing keyboards and the one in the Flex 5 is easily among its best. These low profile, backlit keys are a joy to type on.
The design is simple and elegant, and the chassis uses a lot more metal and incorporates a better finish than do most budget laptops in this category. What we’re saying is that this laptop looks cool and feels great to use. A rarity in the sub-$500 class.
At just under 3lbs, the laptop is also not too heavy, and it features enough I/O to keep everyone happy. This includes 2 x USB-C 3.1 ports — both of which support power delivery for charging, a single USB-A port so you don’t have to mess around with dongles and a 3.5mm combo audio jack. Battery life is rated at 10 hours.
Given the low requirements of ChromeOS, Chromebooks tend to be cheaply built in an attempt to cater to the budget-conscious buyer. However, the Lenovo Chromebook Flex 5 is the antithesis of that argument. It’s a smart, sleek ultrabook type device that won’t look out of place in a modern office or college setting and a great choice for those who’re comfortable ditching Windows.
- Great battery life
- Display quality
- Touchscreen support
- Elegant design
- WiFi 6 support
- Limited storage
- Stylus not included
8. Best 2-in-1 Convertible: Microsoft Surface Go 2
Look, it’s a tablet! It’s a laptop! No, it’s the Microsoft Surface Go 2.
This diminutive tablet PC Microsoft Surface Go 2 is powered by an ultra-low-power Intel Pentium Gold 4425Y CPU with a base clock of 1.7GHz and UHD 615 graphics. Its 8th Gen CPU is designed with power efficiency in mind rather than raw power, which is very helpful when you’re looking for an x86 CPU to toss into the Go 2’s fan-less, tablet-like chassis.
RAM and storage options are also not very generous, with 4GB and 64GB being the baseline, both of which can only be topped out at 8GB and 128GB if you spend a few hundred dollars more. Given its use-case, though, this makes sense for the Go 2.
This Windows 10-powered machine isn’t meant to be a workhorse. It’s a lightweight machine that’s primarily meant for travelers who are always on the move. It also serves best to the journalists, teachers, doctors, and students studying in the fields like business, medical, nursing, art, and law school. The hardware isn’t powerful, but it’s powerful enough for Windows 10, web browsing, and even light image editing work in Photoshop.
Since Go 2 is primarily a tablet PC, the display is important, and Microsoft has taken note of that. This device features a gorgeous almost 11-inch display with touch support in a 3:2 aspect ratio with a resolution of 1920 x 1280. 3:2 — as opposed to the far more common 16:9 — makes for a display that’s exceedingly comfortable for work and for reading.
Sure, it’s not the best aspect ratio for movies, but if all you intend to do with this device is watch movies, get an iPad or Chromebook.Ray Klinton, Freedom 251
The keyboard/trackpad and stylus are optional extras. While we would highly recommend investing in the Surface Type Cover, that cover is expensive and might push your budget far higher than you’d like.
Companies like Inateck make some good keyboard alternatives for the Go 2, you can checkout our favorite keyboard, and you could also pick up any number of cheap Bluetooth keyboards to pair with this tablet.
Windows 10, while a great OS, isn’t well optimized for touchscreen use and lacks the iPad’s touch-friendly app library. For this reason alone, it’s worth investing in a keyboard cover for the Go 2. Like Apple’s iPads, the Go 2 is exceptionally built and feels like a sturdy, premium device. The hinge is especially solid and seems like it can handle any number of open/close cycles without much wear.
At 1 lbs the iPad is lighter, but the Go 2 at 1.2 lbs isn’t that much heavier. You also get a FaceID-like Windows Hello webcam for fast unlock.
Ports and expansion slots are very limited, with only a high-speed USB-C port and a 3.5mm audio jack on offer. There’s also a proprietary Surface Connect port for charging (you can also ditch the connector and charge via USB-C) and a microSD card slot for expansion. The keyboard covers connect via a special connector on one side of the tablet.
As an ultra-light, portable Windows tablet, the Surface Go 2 just can’t be beaten. It promises a battery life of 10 hours and is powerful enough for students and for light office work. For most people, this is more than enough, and when you’re getting all this in an impeccably engineered package with a fantastic display and great speakers, it’s hard to say “no”.
- Can be used as a tablet
- Superb display
- Negligible weight
- Industrial design
- Battery life
- Keyboard and stylus sold separately
- Needs more USB ports
9. Cheapest Option: Samsung Chromebook Plus V2
The Samsung Chromebook Plus V2 is a simple, no-frills Chromebook that offers a simple, portable design, a stylus, and just enough power to get work done.
The Intel Celeron 3976Y is based on Intel’s 7th generation Core architecture — we’re currently on Gen 11 — and by any measure, that’s vintage hardware. The HD graphics 615 GPU is equally old, and RAM and storage are limited to just 4GB and 32GB respectively. But here’s the thing, this is a Chromebook running Google’s Linux-based ChromeOS. It’s a lightweight, browser-based operating system that doesn’t need fancy hardware or tons of RAM, and that’s why this Samsung Chromebook works.
Storage is very limited, yes, but in a device that’s designed around a cloud-based OS, this isn’t such a big deal. One is expected to have everything stored on Google Drive when one is using a Chromebook. The same goes for the RAM as well. 4GB is low, but this OS is basically a glorified Chrome browser. Without the overhead of a full-fledged desktop OS, 4GB is plenty for getting things done.
The display is a 16:10 12.2-inch FHD panel that is reasonably bright and color accurate. The display can rotate by a full 360° for a tablet-like experience. External displays are supported over USB-C but don’t expect stellar performance given the low-power CPU and GPU embedded in this Chromebook.
The integrated trackpad and keyboard get the job done, but what’s more exciting is the bundled stylus. With 4,096 levels of sensitivity and tilt recognition, this is a great tool for sketching, and it’s nice of Samsung to bundle it with the device. The stylus is especially useful when you consider the Chromebook’s tablet mode.
At just under 3lb, the Chromebook Plus V2 is light enough. The port selection includes a single USB-A 3.1 port, 2 USB-C 3.1 ports, a microSD card reader, and a 3.5mm combo jack. You also get a front-facing 1MP camera and a 13MP camera in the keyboard, which you can use as a rear camera in tablet mode. Battery life is rated at 10 hours.
The Samsung Chromebook Plus V2 can best be described as adequate. Its hardware is old and storage is limited, but it’s just powerful enough to run the OS and let you browse in peace. You might struggle a bit with heavier Android apps and games like Asphalt 9, but for using Docs and Sheets, and browsing YouTube, the device is powerful enough. The stylus is an added bonus.
- Battery life
- Display resolution
- Lightweight design
- Bundled stylus
- Support for high-capacity microSD cards
- Vintage CPU
- Negligible storage
Frequently Asked Questions
The smallest laptop you can currently get is probably the Microsoft Surface Go 2. It is just powerful enough to run Windows 10 and some apps, and storage is very limited, but it is small (the screen is only 10.5 inches), almost as light as an iPad, and comes with a fantastic screen. And even with a keyboard cover, it’s smaller and lighter than most laptops.
This is a tricky one, and the decision ultimately depends on how you work. If there’s even one local app that you need for your work, don’t get a Chromebook. If your entire workflow is online, a Chromebook makes a lot more sense. Also, a Chromebook tends to offer a better build and a snappier OS than a Windows-powered laptop at the same price. However, the Windows-powered laptop will be a lot more flexible when it comes to workflow and app selection.
For everyday use, the Lenovo IdeaPad 3 is an easy choice. It’s powered by a 10th Gen Intel Ice Lake chip, has enough RAM and storage, offers great battery life, and even includes a touchscreen. The screen resolution is a bit lower than we’d like, but since we’re getting better battery life as a trade-off, it’s not such a bad deal. Whether you’re interested in work or entertainment, the IdeaPad 3 will deliver.
If you’re intent on gaming and on not spending over $500, you’re mostly out of luck, unless you’re fine with scouring the used laptop market that is. The best we can recommend from this list is the ASUS Vivobook 15. Its integrated Vega 8 GPU is powerful enough for esports titles like Counter Strike Global Offensive, and even Fortnite, but don’t expect to be too competitive.
With the advent of ChromeOS and cloud-based storage and computing, it’s become much easier to live with low-power laptops that don’t cost anything. It also makes one wonder why we need to spend more on hot, heavy, power-hungry computers to begin with.
- This list sees a surprising variety of devices, all of which cater to specific niches. For power and upgradeability, we’d highly recommend the Asus Vivobook 15 and the Acer Aspire 5.
- For something more portable, the HP 14 and Microsoft Surface Go 2 are fantastic choices.
- The latter is a great option for kids as well. If you’re comfortable with an online-only workflow, there’s really nothing that can challenge the beautifully crafted Lenovo Chromebook Flex 5.
Whatever your needs, you can rest assured that there is a laptop for you, even with a budget of under $500.