It’s important to be smart and deliberate about your choices when shopping for a laptop in the best laptop under-$500 range, since, realistically you’ll need to make some compromises. That doesn’t mean you can’t still get a great notebook on a budget.
And believe it or not, there are some benefits of less-expensive laptops – particularly, their low-powered processors mean you can expect solid battery life, and Chromebooks are often less vulnerable to malware compared to Windows laptops.
Within this budget, you’re likely to get Windows machines with Intel Core i3 or i5 processors, and if you don’t mind Chrome OS, entry-level Chromebooks are the way to go. We’ve reviewed tens and tens of inexpensive laptops and each one has its pros and cons, but those that stood out are included in this list.
If you’re looking forward to something unique outside the standard clamshell design, we’ve included our favorite inexpensive tablet with a detachable keyboard as well as a convertible with a fantastic OLED display.
If you can manage to stretch your budget a little bit further for something that can run modern games, check out our best gaming laptops roundup for more suggestions. Alternatively, see our roundups of the best laptops for students or the best laptops for under $1000 for more picks in those areas.
To be honest, in the under-$500 category, you won’t get the cutting-edge performance or sleek designs on most of these machines. But you can be sure to buy yourself a reliable laptop for getting work done on the go, or a solid device you can give to your children with the knowledge that they won’t have destroyed anything terribly expensive.
And as students prepare for the back-to-school season, it’s time to take advantage of outstanding deals on laptops, MacBooks, tablets, and more. We’ll be curating the best bargains in our best back-to-school deals.
The best laptops under $500 to buy today
1. Lenovo Duet 5 Chromebook
Best sub-$500 Chromebook for OLED fans
- Class-leading battery life
- Stylish 2-in-1 design
- Bright, vivid OLED display
- Includes keyboard and cover
- Stylus not included
The Lenovo Duet 5 Chromebook is a major upgrade over the original Chromebook Duet. While it isn’t the most affordable Chromebook around, the extra money you spend is justified by the considerable hardware upgrades, that make this 2-in-1 just as compelling.
Like its predecessor, the new Duet still features a fabric rear case and keyboard cover, but it now features a bright 13.3-inch OLED display that will make you want to confirm that sub-$500 price again. The changes run deeper than just with the improved Qualcomm Snapdragon 7c Gen 2 processor, to include over 13 hours of battery life on a single charge.
While it may not the ultimate champ that the original Chromebook Duet was, the refreshed Duet 5 has added some muscle and is ready to take on some heavyweight competition, and that makes it our best laptop under $500.
2. Acer Aspire 5 (2022)
The best Windows laptop under $500
- CPU: AMD Ryzen 3 3350U
- RAM: 4GB DDR4
- Screen: 15.6-inch FHD (1,920 x 1,080), IPS
- Storage: 128GB SSD
- Connectivity: Wi-Fi 6/Bluetooth 5
- Weight: 5.49 pounds
- Size: 14.31 x 9.39 x 0.7 inches
- Full keyboard layout
- Upgradeable hardware
- Ample port selection
- Poor battery life
- Slippery trackpad
The Acer Aspire 5 is a full laptop for under $500, and it’s a great little machine as you don’t intend to use it for complex tasks. It boasts a decent array of ports, a nice 15.6-inch 1080p display, and a full-size keyboard that’s comfortable to type on. However, it still gets the same battery life as its predecessor, lasting just under 7 hours, and it can even get less than that in real-world conditions.
If you need a new laptop for little money, this is a good deal, but some of its quirks may be hard to ignore – especially that battery life. That being said, it checks almost all the boxes for your basic computing needs, increasing reliable performance and a wealth of ports.
Read the full Acer Aspire 5 Review
3. Acer Chromebook Spin 311
A beautiful durable Chromebook
- Solid battery life
- Exceptional keyboard
- Tough Gorilla Glass screen
- Dim, low-resolution screen
- No USB 3.0 Type-A port
Acer’s Chromebook Spin 311 is the exact definition of a Chromebook: Small, inexpensive, and capable enough to handle work and light play every day. The keyboard is spectacular for a Chromebook this size and price; its battery life is great, too, and although its performance isn’t incredible, it’s enough to handle light, day-to-day tasks.
The Spin 11 is a perfect choice for students, children, or anyone looking for an incredibly portable machine that gets the essentials right. The Spin 311 is one of the best Chromebooks for kids and it can easily compete with some of the best Chromebooks of comparable price.
Read the full Acer Chromebook Spin 311 Review
4. HP Chromebook 11a
A durable, affordable Chromebook
- Very inexpensive
- Beautiful design
- Long battery life
- Limited port selection
When shopping for a laptop on a tight budget, options like the HP Chromebook 11a will often pop up – and for a good reason. Chromebooks were designed to offer an affordable solution for folks who are majorly reliant on the internet and online services at a very affordable price, but we’ve seen some get so powerful recently and demand higher prices as well. With the 11a-na0021nrb, HP sticks to the original premise of Chromebooks – simple, affordable, and functional.
Rather than running Windows 11 OS like mainstream laptops, the HP Chromebook 11a like all other Chromebooks arrives with Chrome OS, which runs all of its applications through the Chrome web browser, but integrates some robust offline modes for those instances you can’t get online. To be honest, at its price, it’s an attractive option for most people, especially those who just need to get online and nothing else
5. Asus L510MA-DH21
The most affordable Windows laptop
- Processor: Intel Celeron N5030 (1.1 GHz)
- RAM (as Tested): 4 GB
- Storage: eMMC Flash Memory 128 GB
- Display: 15.6 inches (1,920 by 1,080)
- Graphics Processor: Intel UHD Graphics 600
- Wireless Networking: 802.11ac, Bluetooth
- Sturdy build quality for the price
- Good battery life
- Backlit keyboard and number pad
- Useful connectivity selection
- Middling display quality
- Sluggish performance for non-basic tasks
The Asus L510MA-DH21 is one of the truly affordable Windows 10 laptops, that easily rivals the most affordable Chromebooks in pricing. We usually consider laptops that cost under $500 to be affordable, and the Asus L510MA is just half that. Only a select few Windows 10 notebooks like the HP 14-fq0050nr cost any less, and for this price, you’re getting a functional Windows 10 system with a sturdy build, robust ports, and decent battery life.
However, considering how affordable the Asus L510MA-DH21 is, it will only suffice for students and anyone looking for a basic everyday laptop, and nothing else. Think of a nice-looking laptop for writing emails, surfing the internet, reading and editing documents, or using social media.
How to choose the best laptop under $500 for you
The best laptops in the market cost much more, but for the average consumer, laptops under 500 are still OK. When shopping for a laptop in this price range, you might have to make a few compromises, so it matters that you prioritize features – like good battery life- that are important to you and get as many of them as you can, without crossing your budget.
In our list, we have listed some of our favorites, and we will keep updating the list so you can always check back. Still, when evaluating the best laptop at this price, some of the features to consider include:
Full-HD (1920 x 1080) Screen: In as much as you’re shopping on a budget, you don’t have to settle for a mediocre resolution, especially for a notebook. However, it is OK for a Chromebook to have a low-res, 1366 x 768 display as it allows you to fit a lot of text on the screen at once. However, don’t expect a high-resolution touchscreen at this price range.
Still, if you can find one with a 1920 x 1080 resolution, that will be a bonus as you can easily view your favorite web pages, emails, social media feeds, and documents without scrolling. You’ll also benefit from much sharper images and videos.
SSD or eMMC Memory: At this price range, expect most laptops to use mechanical hard drives and 4GB of RAM, but if you can bump into one with a solid-state drive or eMMC storage, grab it! It will speed up your boot and application load times, if you don’t get one, go with one with the highest capacity of hard drive storage.
Acer Aspire 5 A515-56-53S3 Laptop | 15.6" Full HD IPS Display | 11th Gen Intel Core i5-1135G7 | Intel Iris Xe Graphics | 8GB DDR4 | 256GB SSD | WiFi 6 | Fingerprint Reader | BL Keyboard | Windows 11
$474.50 in stock
2 used from $439.00
Build Quality: Definitely, you’re looking for a laptop that you can lug around to college or work, and for that good build quality is great. As you shop around if you find one with an aluminum lid on any of its surfaces –deck and lid– that points to a good design. Most likely, at this price range, you might have to settle for plastic.
Get the right CPU: For sub-$500, a Core i3 processor is perhaps the best you can get. Intel Pentium and Celeron CPUs dominate this category, they are serviceable, though not particularly speedy. Plus, a Chromebook generally requires less processing power than a Windows machine, so the choice of CPU matters a lot.