What Are The Best Laptops Under $500 Right Now
Getting a decent laptop for under $500 can be a challenge, but our selection here is expanding slowly as more affordable machines come into the market and hybrid 2-in-1 tablet-meets-laptop devices become available for competitive prices.;
Our current pick for the best laptop under $500 you can buy is the Lenovo Chromebook Duet. Technically it’s a Chrome tablet, but since it comes with a detachable keyboard for no extra charge, it also doubles as a serviceable laptop. And with a sub-$300 price tag, it shouldn’t be too hard on your budget.
We also recommend the Microsoft Surface Go 2, a very strong successor to the original cheaper Microsoft hybrid device. While its specs wont set the computing world on fire, it still offers the power needed to get some work done on the move. And its design and keyboard cover are very impressive.;
And if you prefer Apple products, the iPad 2020 with its Smart Keyboard is a surprisingly usable budget laptop. Thats thanks to improvements Apple has made to iPadOS to make it a more laptop-like experience. Granted you wont be doing a huge range of tasks on such a device, but then you have access to one of the best and smartly curated app stores around.;
What To Look Out For In A Cheap Laptop
If you’re a student or just looking for a good value model, there are plenty of options out there, but we realise the specs can be a bit confusing at first glance. At the minimum, you’ll need a decent battery, a reasonably-sized display, and enough storage so you can keep hold of documents, pictures and apps. Below, we’ve rounded up the key things to look out for.
Weight and dimensions – Planning to bring your laptop with you away from your desk? It needs to be small and light enough to fit in a bag without weighing you down. The ones we’ve chosen on this list are all under 2kg, and will be a little bit bigger than an A4 piece of paper, so should fit in most rucksacks and medium-sized handbags.
RAM – This refers to your laptop’s short-term memory, and will aid with loading apps and keeping everything running smoothly. Having more RAM means you’ll be able to multitask a bit easier and you’ll be able to keep more tabs open without it slowing down. Anywhere between 4 to 8GB of RAM is pretty good for this price point.
Display – The display will be measured just like a TV screen, from corner to corner in inches. Our choices below are between 10 and 16 inches. All of them are also at least HD-ready quality, so watching Marvels What If? on Disney+ or playing a few games on Steam will look pretty clear.
Battery life – This is how many hours your laptop can last before needing a recharge. The options on this list can last between five and 13 hours.
A Comfortable Typing Experience
Lenovo, maker of the ThinkPad business laptops and their supremely comfortable keyboards, knows what goes into a decent typing experience. The IdeaPad 1 14s keyboard isnt quite as comfortable as what youll find on a ThinkPad, suffering a bit from wobbly key switches and the lack of a backlight. But the keys are well-spaced, the label font is easy to read, and theres very little flex in the keyboard deck when you type forcefully.
The laptops power button is part of the top row of function keys, which also includes a nifty button to disable the webcam. The camera lacks face recognition, and theres no fingerprint reader, which means the IdeaPad 1 14 doesnt support Windows Hello password-less logins. But at this price, we dont expect it to. The IdeaPad 1 14s touchpad is comfortable, with a generously sized clickable surface that is a bit stiff in the upper portion but tracks reasonably well.
Input and output ports on a budget laptop are frequently a grab bagyou never know quite what youre going to get, as the number and type of ports are constrained by whichever inexpensive motherboard design the laptop maker has sourced or concocted. For the IdeaPad 1 14, Lenovo has placed all but one of the ports on the left edge of the laptop. They include the connector for the barrel-style power adapter, two USB 3.1 Gen 1 Type-A ports, a full-size HDMI video output, and a microSD card slot.
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The Best Cheap Tablets And Hybrids: 2
Tablets rose in popularity throughout the 2010s, and though we have plenty of reviews of thoseâtake a look at our overall roundup of theÂ;best tablets, as well as our favorites running theÂ;Windows 10Â;andÂ;AndroidÂ;operating systemsâthey are sufficiently different from traditional clamshell-style laptops that they don’t always make good substitutes. Some come with detachable keyboards, but most of these are far less comfortable for typing on your lap than a conventional laptop.
Convertible 2-in-1s, however, do make a good substitute for traditional clamshells. These machines let you flip between a laptop and a tablet, by folding the keyboard out of the way. You should consider one of these convertible systems if you primarily want the typing capability of a laptop, but occasionally would appreciate the lie-back, passive-consumption convenience of a tablet.
See our guide to theÂ;best 2-in-1 convertible and hybrid laptopsÂ;for more information about this popular segment of the market. In part because of their added complexity compared with traditional clamshell designs, you won’t find quite as many affordable ones, but there are a few Windows 10 and Chrome OS-based models that cost $500 or below. They come in both permanently attached designs, and in detachable-keyboard designs.
Choosing A Cheap Chromebook Vs A Cheap Windows Laptop
Our picks are for anyone who doesnt want to or cant spend more than $500 on a laptop. These models are good for anyone who just wants to browse the web, students who dont need special software, and people who work at home only occasionally. If you need a more powerful laptop, take a look at our guide to the best laptops.
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How We Test Laptops
We know that buying a new laptop can be a huge investment, so every laptop in this list has been extensively tested by us. When we test laptops, we use them in our day-to-day lives to see who they perform. We look at their design, including how stylish they are, or if they are thin and light enough to carry around with, and how comfortable they are to work on.
When it comes to performance, we use a mix of real-world tests and synthetic benchmarks to see how powerful these laptops are. This means using Windows 10 and running various apps and seeing how fast they load, noting down any problems.
These days, the webcam and microphone in a laptop is also incredibly important, so we take time to test out these as well. When it comes to gaming laptops, well run more benchmark tests, as well as fire up games to play on them as well
Battery lives are also important, so well keep track on how long we can use the laptop without needing to charge. We also run our own battery life benchmark that plays a looped 1080p movie until the battery dies. We also run the PC Mark 10 battery life benchmark, which replicates real-world usage, such as web browsing and document creation. These tests give us an excellent idea of how long the batteries in these laptops last.
We then take everything weve learned about the laptop and compare it to its price, to see if it offers the best value to customers.
Dell Inspiron 15 3000
Reasons to avoid
Its not the most inspiring of laptops despite its name sounding similar to such a description, but the Dell Inspiron 15 3000 is a cheap and practical laptop for a price that starts at $380. For that reasonably small wad of cash you can get a 10th Gen Core i3-1005G1 CPU, 4GB of RAM, and 128GB of PCIe NVMe storage.;
Its all packed up in a relatively unassuming chassis offering a decent selection of ports and a 15.6-inch display with a resolution of 1366 x 768. Weve not reviewed the laptop ourselves but user reviews are reasonably positive, with the laptop getting an average score of 3.8 stars out of 5. And as this is a Dell machine its likely to be fairly reliable and unlikely to let you down — though its not going to amaze you either. ;
Reasons to avoid
Acers Spin 311 is exactly what many people expect of a Chromebook: Small, inexpensive, and capable enough to handle work and light play every day. The keyboard is excellent for a Chromebook of this size and price; the battery life is solid, too, and although performance isnt great, its enough to handle light, day-to-day tasks.;
For students, children, or anyone looking for an extremely portable machine that gets the essentials right, the Spin 311 is one of the;best Chromebooks for kids;that can also compete with some of the;best Chromebooks;of comparable price. It’s so good it won a recommendation for best budget laptop in our Tom’s Guide Awards 2021.
Reasons to avoid
Reasons to avoid
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Components And Connectivity: What To Know
The good news is that you’ll have to accept fewer compromises with the budget laptops of today than you did in the past. Intel’s Celeron and Pentium processors have evolved to the point that they can support most of your web browsing and basic productivity needs without feeling sluggish. That said, the $400-to-$700 Windows laptop market is mostly populated by systems based on the much peppier Core i3, Core i5, Ryzen 3, and Ryzen 5 families of processors. Opt for these CPU lines if you need more than just the basics.
Best Laptop Under $500
If this particular model of the Acer Aspire 5 looks familiar, its probably because its been sitting atop Amazons laptop bestseller list for months. Its easy to understand why. This AMD Ryzen 3-powered Aspire 5 packs some enticing features for the price, including a Full-HD 15.6-inch display, a slim-and-trim chassis, and solid performance on everyday computing tasks.
That said, a Windows 10 laptop this inexpensive has its compromises. In this case, were talking a scant 4GB of RAM and a cramped 128GB solid-state drive, while battery life falls significantly short compared to similar Aspire 5 models that dont cost much more. Read our full review.
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Looking For A Budget Laptop That Doesn’t Cost The Earth These Are The Best Cheap Laptops On The Market Today
Believe it or not, the best cheap laptop can hold its own against far more expensive competition. There’s no reason to spend a fortune on a new portable PC: many of the best budget laptops now offer impressive specifications without the wallet-busting price tag.
As a result, you no longer need to limit your search for a budget workstation to the realm of and and better yet, there’s no need to trawl second-hand resellers to find a Windows 10 laptop within your price range. Not that there’s anything wrong with purchasing a second-hand laptop: if that’s your bag, you may want to check out our detailed guide to buying refurbished.
This article, however, will help you avoid that unnecessary hassle. After all, buying the best cheap laptop has never been simpler, provided you know where to look and what to avoid.
Below, you’ll find our definitive list of the best cheap laptops you can buy. Each entry on the list has been put through its paces by one of our experts, with tests designed to assess its CPU, GPU and display performance in addition to battery life and other key metrics. You can find detailed results of those tests in the full reviews of the specific products.
Before we jump into the list of the, we’ve included a quick breakdown of the entries and a comprehensive guide to buying the best cheap laptop for you. If you can’t tell an Intel Core i5 from a Ryzen 3, or you’d like to know the difference between a Chromebook and a laptop, read on.
The Best Cheap Laptops
The best cheap laptop deals are often to be found on lower priced machines that edge their way into the mid-range category with higher specs further up the scale. It’s in this pocket of budget laptop shopping that you’ll find some of the most compelling offers, bringing 8GB RAM / i5 processor / 256GB SSD configurations down to entry level prices during sales seasons.;
With a 12 hour battery life, bright 14-inch display and tactile keyboard, the Acer Chromebook 314 offers everything you could ask for in a cheap laptop. While this model doesn’t quite stretch to 64GB, storage is easily expanded using a portable hard drive and there’s a full array of ports to take advantage of as well . What’s more, this is one of those rare cheap laptops that look and feel far more expensive than they actually are. Thin, light, and sturdy, this is an excellent machine to throw in a backpack and expect it to last all day.
Read the full Acer Chromebook 314 review.
The Asus Vivobook 15 can usually be found from £399 upwards, offering baseline specs that vastly outperform many of the Chromebooks usually found at this price point and ranging all the way up to incredibly powerful configurations should you need them. With an expansive Nano-Edge display, you’re even getting a full 15.6-inch sized laptop here, coming in at just 1.6kg, a fingerprint sensor and options for speedy Intel Optane memory as well.;
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Hp Business 156 Touchscreen Laptop For Music Production With Large Storage Space
The HP Business 15.6 Touchscreen laptop is definitely one of the best budget laptops out there. HP is a brand that has been trusted by many music producers and computer users in general and I personally have found HPs computers to be the most reliable and well built.
The HP Business laptop features a 3.6GHz Quad-Core AMD CPU, 8GB of RAM, a 1 TB hard drive, a webcam, HDMI, and Radeon R7 graphics. Its a lightning fast laptop that will be able to handle a heavy workload filled with tons of plugins in your favorite DAW.
With a 1 TB hard drive, youll have plenty of storage for project files and music software. 8GB of RAM is plenty to run plugins without slowing your computer down. If you have graphics-heavy plugins, that shouldnt be an issue either due to the Radeon R7 graphics card. The laptop runs on Windows 10.
Of course the most defining feature is the touchscreen, which is one of the reasons why Im ranking this laptop so high. Having a laptop with a touch screen makes your workflow much more efficient as you get a chance to break away from using a mouse.
The touch screen makes using faders and knobs in your DAWs and plugins so much easier and therefore expedites mixing and mastering.
One of the main gripes people have with this laptop is that it slows down once it has so many programs and files on it. This can be remedied by switching out the hard drive with a solid state drive.
The Flex 5s Screen Could Be Brighter
Other than the rather heavy chassis, the Flex 5s only other noteworthy flaw is its screen, which suffers from a relatively dim backlight rated for just 250 nits of brightness. I had to turn the screen brightness up to the maximum level to view in a daylight-lit living room. The display is fine for darker homes, but any brightly lit environmentsincluding officesmight reduce its visibility.
The panel is a full HD IPS touch screen, which supports inputs from the Lenovo Digital Pen. The pen, an optional extra, offers 4,096 levels of pressure sensitivity and includes two customizable buttons. This makes it a full-fledged digital stylus, unlike the integrated digital pens included with premium 2-in-1s like the Lenovo Yoga C940 and the Samsung Galaxy Book Flex. Integrated pens are much smaller and less comfortable for long sketching sessions, but they’re much less likely to be misplaced since theyre stored and recharged in a slot that’s built into the notebook.
The backlit keyboard offers remarkably stable key switches, making for a comfortable and satisfying typing experience. It’s derived from Lenovo’s flagship ThinkPad keyboards, with a few subtle differences. The Ctrl key is located to the left of the Fn key in the lower left corner, instead of the other way around. The up and down arrow keys are half-height, while the left and right arrow keys are full-height. The touchpad is a bit stiff for my liking, but it still tracks accurately.
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Limitations You Can Live With
Naturally, a budget laptop is one thats more affordable than cutting-edge machines, and in the majority of cases, a lower price means less-powerful internal hardware. Thats not a bad thing. For example, if you spend most of your computer time browsing the web or watching movies, chances are you dont need the latest-generation processor or an ultra-powerful video card. You can save a lot of money by finding a budget laptop that makes reasonable compromises.
As youre shopping for budget laptops, consider the most common hardware compromises youll encounter.;
- Video hardware: Most budget laptops either use underpowered graphics processing units , or they power their video by sharing resources with the main processor . In these cases, video on the laptop will be adequate, but thats about it. Watching Netflix will be fine, but your laptop will struggle with more intense video tasks such as playing video games and editing videos.
“If youre thinking about buying a budget laptop with an 11-inch screen, make sure the diminutive size isnt too small for your hands. Some users complain that there isnt enough room to comfortably type on the corresponding keyboard. “