Best laptops under $500: the best budget laptops around

You would be surprised at the capability of the best laptops under $500. Getting quality performance and even build quality is not necessar...

You would be surprised at the capability of the best laptops under $500. Getting quality performance and even build quality is not necessarily out of reach at this price. These budget portables will be able to deliver for most users while saving them quite a bit of their hard earned cash.

Will they go head-to-head with the best laptops? Probably not but not everyone needs an expensive flagship laptop to get them through the day. The best laptop under $500 will still offer enough power for most but just do it at a price that’s a bit more reasonable. If you’re not intending to do anything particularly computer-intensive, like gaming or video editing, then these devices are worth a serious look.

Since there are so many options out there, especially in the more budget-friendly range, we’ve put together our list of the best laptops under $500 for you here. You’ll find a laptop for the kids, the best Chromebook, an affordable, casual gaming laptop and even an excellent 2-in-1 laptop here to choose from.

Best laptop under $500 on Black Friday and Cyber Monday

Much like last year, a few of the best budget laptops of 2020 are bound to get even cheaper on Black Friday and Cyber Monday. So, you’ll definitely find one of the best laptops under $500 on this list for much less, saving you more money to use for something else.

Whether you’re buying one of the best budget laptops for you or as a gift for someone, it would be wise to wait until the major deal event of the year. Luckily, Black Friday and Cyber Monday roll around at the end of November, so you won’t have to wait for long.

Best laptops under $500 at a glance

  1. Microsoft Surface Go
  2. Lenovo IdeaPad Duet Chromebook
  3. HP Chromebook 14 
  4. Acer Chromebook 314 
  5. Acer Chromebook 311
  6. Microsoft Surface Go 2
  7. Dell Inspiron Chromebook 11 2-in-1

Microsoft Surface Go

(Image credit: Microsoft)

1. Microsoft Surface Go

The best laptop under $500 so far

CPU: Intel Pentium Gold 4415Y | Graphics: Intel HD Graphics 615 | RAM: 4GB - 8GB | Screen: 10.5-inch 1,800 x 1,200 PixelSense touch display | Storage: 64GB eMMC - 128GB SSD

Light and easy to hold 
Not as powerful as the iPad 
Type Cover not included

The Microsoft Surface Go may not be the traditional laptop we’re all used to, but it will more than meet your computing needs in its compact and portable package. Not only is this device one of the best Windows tablets out there, but it makes for an excellent laptop alternative if you’re looking for the best laptop under $500. With a Windows 10 S mode out of the box, you’re getting a proper operating system that lets you use such apps as the mobile versions of Microsoft Office and Adobe Photoshop. If you’re computer needs go as far as word processing, sending emails, video conferencing, some light gaming, light photo editing and streaming Netflix, this device has you covered.

Read the full review: Microsoft Surface Go

Lenovo Ideapad Duet Chromebook

(Image credit: Lenovo)

2. Lenovo IdeaPad Duet Chromebook

A tablet and a Chromebook!

CPU: MediaTek Helio P60T Processor | Graphics: ARM G72 MP3 800GHz | RAM: 4GB LPDDR4X | Screen: 10.1" FHD (1920 x 1200) IPS, glossy, touchscreen, 400 nits | Storage: 64GB eMMC

Lightweight and portable
Long battery life
Very affordable
Design can be a faff

Using a hybrid tablet/snap-on keyboard design, the Lenovo IdeaPad Duet Chromebook is the best budget laptop for the classroom and students. After all, it combines the tablet mode for research, reading and easy Netflix watching when you’re kickback at home, with a traditional laptop form for when you need a keyboard. With a powerful ARM processor that goes for 21 hours (yes you read that right), it’s an awesome computer package. The keyboard and trackpad let it down somewhat, but then you get that delicious Full HD+ display. Best of all, it all comes in at a price that’s as low as you could hope for, making this one of the best laptops under $500.

Read the full review: Lenovo IdeaPad Duet Chromebook

HP Chromebook 14

(Image credit: HP)

3. HP Chromebook 14

Striking optimal balance between value and design

CPU: Intel Celeron N2840 – N2940 | Graphics: Intel HD Graphics | RAM: 2GB – 4GB | Screen: 14-inch, HD (1,366 x 768) BrightView | Storage: 16GB – 32GB eMMC

Excellent keyboard, trackpad
Crisp, vivid screen
Slower than some rivals
Average battery life

Complemented by a bright blue finish and a screen made to astound, the HP Chromebook 14 offers the best value of any Chromebook out there. Even if the battery life and performance are average, it’s impressive how slim and light this Chromebook is. It’s a great device for anyone who wants a laptop that they can comfortably carry around with them or work on while lounging on a sofa. Unlike some other Chromebooks, the HP Chromebook 14 comes with plenty of ports, including HDMI-out, USB 3.0 and a microSD card slot, making this a brilliantly versatile budget laptop and among the best laptops under $500 in 2020.

Read the full review: HP Chromebook 14

Acer Chromebook 314

(Image credit: Acer)

4. Acer Chromebook 314

A tremendous Chromebook

CPU: Intel Celeron N4000 | Graphics: Intel UHD Graphics 600 | RAM: 4GB | Screen: 14-inch LED (1366 x 768) high definition | Storage: 32GB eMMC

Excellent battery life and performance
Bright, crisp screen
No touchscreen
No fingerprint reader

If you’re looking for a budget laptop that really gives you excellent value for money, then the Acer Chromebook 314 is the best laptop under $500 for you. It’s easy to use, reliable, and has a wonderful screen and battery life (up to 12 hours) combo. That 14-inch crisp and bright display gives you more screen real estate for your productivity needs. Plus, its keyboard is both satisfying and a joy to use. More importantly, it strikes a great balance between design, usability, features, battery life and performance, while being comfortable with its own limitations. 

Read the full review: Acer Chromebook 314

Acer Chromebook Spin 311

(Image credit: Acer)

5. Acer Chromebook Spin 311

Versatile and fun little Chromebook for work and play

CPU: Intel Celeron N4000 | Graphics: Intel UHD Graphics 600 | RAM: 4GB | Screen: 11.6" HD (1366 x 768) 16:9 IPS touchscreen | Storage: 64GB Flash Memory

Great design and build
Lovely size
Excellent touch screen and flip mechanism
Dim screen
Massive bezels drastically reduce actual screen size

If versatility is a top priority, then look no further than the Acer Chromebook Spin 311. This all-rounder has all the makings of a great Chromebook, from its good battery life to its robust build and solid usability. But then, it takes it further with its impressive levels of versatility, thanks to its abundance of ports considering its size, 2-in-1 design, portable size and excellent touchscreen display. It also boasts a keyboard and a touchpad that are not only reliable, but also satisfying to use. Plus, its small size means it's really easy to carry around with you, so if you're looking for the best laptop under $500 to travel with, this is it. 

Read the full review: Acer Chromebook Spin 311 

Microsoft Surface Go 2

(Image credit: Microsoft)

6. Microsoft Surface Go 2

Premium design, more affordable price

CPU: 8th Gen Intel Core m3 – Intel Pentium Gold Processor 4425Y | Graphics: Intel UHD Graphics 615 | RAM: 4GB – 8GB | Storage: 64GB eMMC – 128GB SSD

Premium design
Can run full Windows 10
No Touch Cover or stylus included
Base model's specs are weak

The Surface Go line proves popular with the more budget-conscious crowd, and its follow up, Surface Go 2, continues that tradition with its reasonable price and premium design. It also runs the full Windows 10 operating system, so it’s even more capable than other laptops or laptop alternatives out there as far as what applications you can use on it. Finally, it offers a slight bump in performance over its predecessor, giving users a sensible reason to upgrade if they’ve got the money. All those features combined with its portability make the Microsoft Surface Go 2 among the best laptops under $500.

Read the full review: Microsoft Surface Go 2

Dell Inspiron Chromebook 11 2-in-1

(Image credit: Dell)

7. Dell Inspiron Chromebook 11 2-in-1

The best cheap 2-in-1 Chromebook

CPU: Intel Celeron N3060 | Graphics: Intel HD Graphics 400 | RAM: 4GB | Screen: 11.6-inch, HD (1366 x 768) touchscreen | Storage: 32GB-64GB eMMC

Long battery life
Not very powerful
Slower SSD storage

Counted among the best Chromebooks is also a thrifty machine for anyone looking for the best laptop under $500. It's easy to see how the Dell Inspiron Chromebook 11 2-in-1 exceeds expectations. While it is far from the most powerful Chromebook available, it's exactly what people need it from it: budget-friendly, easy to use and able to hold up to abuse. The Dell Inspiron 11 2-in-1 is more than able to handle all your web browsing and document editing, and consider that it could be the best laptop under $500 which won’t shatter from a simple stumble.

Read the full review: Dell Inspiron Chromebook 11 2-in-1

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