Best laptops under $500: the best budget laptops around

Choosing one of the best laptops under $500 might make more sense to you if you aren’t looking for something particularly powerful. You’d b...

Choosing one of the best laptops under $500 might make more sense to you if you aren’t looking for something particularly powerful. You’d be surprised at how competent these affordable laptops are, touting great performance, robust build, and a good amount of features without burning a hole in your wallet.

Of course, this depends on your daily needs. If you don’t expect to tackle processor- or graphics-intensive tasks like video editing or high-resolution gaming, it makes more economical sense to get a laptop under $500. More expensive machines might be packed with a ton of power and features such as the Dell XPS 15, but if you don’t need a maxed-out portable or a flagship status symbol, they’re not worth that extra cash. And, you could be spending that money you’re saving on peripherals like a reliable mouse and a comfortable chair.

Whether you’re looking for an office notebook, a portable for school, or just something for home use, a laptop under $500 might be the ideal option for you. That’s especially because many of them can even go toe-to-toe in terms of substance and style with some of the best laptops. Peruse our list below and check out our price comparison tool while you’re at it. Who knows? You might even score a great deal on a budget laptop.

Microsoft Surface Go at an angle on a white background

(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 at an angle on a white background

(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 from the front on a white background

(Image credit: HP / BestBuy)

3. HP Chromebook 14

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

The best laptops under $500 balance a bargain price and capability – and the HP Chromebook 14 is the perfect example of that. While it’s similar to the Acer Chromebook 15 in a lot of ways, this 14-inch Chromebook is a tad more compact and looks slightly better. 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. 

We are particularly impressed with how slim and light it is, a great device for anyone who wants a long-lasting laptop that they can comfortably carry around with them. If you want a laptop to work on while lounging on a sofa, this is a great choice as well. Also, unlike some other Chromebooks, it comes with plenty of ports, including HDMI-out, USB 3.0 and a microSD card slot, making it a brilliantly versatile laptop for the price.

Read the full review: HP Chromebook 14

Acer Chromebook 314 at an angle on a white background

(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 in stand mode at an angle on a white background

(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 at an angle on a white background

(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

HP Chromebook x360 at an angle on a white background

(Image credit: HP)

7. HP Chromebook x360

Affordable 2-in-1 for Chromebook fans

CPU: Intel Celeron – Intel Pentium Gold | Graphics: Intel UHD Graphics 600 – 605 | RAM: 4GB - 8GB | Screen: up to 14" diagonal, FHD (1920 x 1080), touch, IPS, micro-edge, anti-glare display | Storage: 64GB eMMC

Hybrid form factor with touch screen
Decent integrated graphics
Higher configurations are pricey for the specs

Designed for the education market, the HP Chromebook x360 range is tougher than it might at first look, it’s also aimed at students on a budget. So this won’t eat into your pencil fund too much either. Costs are kept low with the affordable but dependable 1.1GHz Intel N4000 processor and 4GB of RAM. The balance extends to the 12-inch touchscreen that makes it portable, light but still perfectly usable. 

The main downside here is the HD-level 1366x921 resolution, but that’s offset interestingly with a 3:2 ratio that makes browsing and writing a more relaxed experience. It folds back into a tablet, offers a good range of ports and includes as an extra a dedicated stylus. While at this price still manages to look pretty funky.

Read the full review: HP Chromebook x360

Dell Inspiron 15 3000 at an angle on a white background

(Image credit: Dell)

8. Dell Inspiron 15 3000

Affordable laptop with new specs

CPU : up to 11th-gen Intel Core i5-1135G7 | Graphics: Intel Iris Xe Graphics | RAM: up to 12GB DDR4 2666MHz | Screen: 15.6-inch FHD (1920 x 1080) Anti-glare LED Backlight Non-Touch Narrow Border WVA Display | Storage: 256GB M.2 PCIe NVMe SSD

New specs
1080p display
Lightweight for the price
Higher configurations above $500

The fact that the Intel Dell Inspiron 15 3000 models weigh just as much as the more premium offerings out there only adds to its value. Of course, its specs are less powerful, but its under-$500 configurations still come with the latest specs, from 11th-generation Intel Core chips to DDR4 RAM that runs at 2666MHz. You probably should expect any mind-blowing features or design, but there’s already a lot going for it for a laptop that costs less than half the price of many of the best laptops in 2021.

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