5 Best Laptops Under 500$ – (Cheapest Fastest) Nov 2020

Before we get to the gist of this post lets make a few things clear about the best laptops under 500.

First of all, 500$ is plenty of cash to land a capable and powerful machine for pretty much every task out there.

Sure there might be some lag but…

Only if you step into high graphics applications like 3D gaming and 3D modeling.

Outside of that, you should be running applications faster than a cheetah on ‘roids.

That’s because we are in 2020….

And well the processors and hard drives made today are x30 faster than they were 10 years ago.

So as long as you land something made within the past 2 years or so there’s no reason for you to wait for loading screens.

Recommended Specs For Laptops Under 500$

It’s not just about speed though, Im sure all of you want to get the best bang for our buck too.

So before I list the current best laptops under 500$.

I want to make a few thing clear about the specs you MUST  get under 500$. You can use this info to venture into other websites or if you want to buy a laptop from your local computer store.

CPU
If you got anything from 350$-500$, there’s no reason to settle for slow CPUs and miss out on any of the latest ones. You should settle for nothing less than the following if you want to run the full version of Windows 10:

Core i3 10300G, Core i8-10300U, Core i8-8130U AMD Ryzen 3 or something similar. See table at the end

If your budget is below 350$, then you it is very unlikely you’ll get any of the CPUs above. It is okay to grab anything with the Celeron, Pentium or MediaTek Chips. Just beware that you should not use Windows 10 with any of them but rather use Chrome OS/WIndows 10 S or even Linux.

RAM
4GB is the standard for laptops around 300-500$. You’ll be very lucky to find one with 8GB. We did find one though.

You should NEVER settle for anything less than 4GB even if your budget is beloww 300$ unless you don’t mind using Chrome OS/Windows 10 S Mode.

Storage
It can be very enticing to get 500GB or even 1TB of storage. But that comes with the drawback of having to settle for an HDD which can make your laptop very slow even if you have a good CPU.

Try to grab any laptop with an SSD, capacity is really secondary you can store everything in the cloud these days.

Display
The size of the screen doesn’t matter as much as having good resolution. Most laptops below 500$ come with HD or HD+ resolution but if you look around carefully, you may find a FHD and this will give you a lot more workspace area than a bigger screen.

If you need more details or you were not able to follow the guideline head over to the bottom section of this page

Top 5 Best Laptops Under 500

This list only includes laptops with a modern Intel or AMD Ryzen Processor. All capable of running the full version of Windows 10 and therefore  they can all run pretty much any software out there. However, save for two of them, you may have to buy the full version of Windows separately and install on your own.

I’ve excluded ChromeBooks and any laptop with 2GB for now. So the prices will range from 350 to 500$. However, if you are interested in checking out what the best ChromeBooks or Laptops under 300$ are, check my other post.


1. Lenovo Ideapad 3

The Best Laptop Under 500$ 

  AMD Ryzen 5 3500U

  8GB DDR4

   Radeon Vega 8

  256GB SSD SATA III

  14” FHD TN Display, 200 nits

  3.97 lbs

  7 hours

    802.11 AC BlueTooth 4.0

  10/100/1000 Gigabit Ethernet LAN (RJ-45 port),  HD Webcam (1280 x 720), 1 – USB 3.1 Gen 1 Port, 2 – USB 2.0 Ports, 1 – HDMI Port with HDCP support

If you look for laptops on your own, it’s not going to be difficult to find models with 8GB RAM and  a 256GB and even a 10th generation Core i3 processors. Which are the specs you need to run everything at full speed and still have plenty of room to run a lot of programs simultaneously

Operating System:

The problem is going to be finding a laptop under 500 with those specs and with the full version of Windows 10 Home.

Ever since the release of Windows 10 in S mode, manufacturers have tried to cut down production prices by installing Windows 10 S instead of the full version of Windows 10.

The Windows 10 S version will not let you install third party software so if you are looking to do a bit more than just gaming and office work/web browsing, you may need this laptop or any laptop with Windows 10 on it.

There aren’t many options to list so this will be the only laptop with Windows 10 on it.

Display:

While you may find laptops with Windows 10 on it and these same specs, please note that his laptop also has a FHD resolution. As far as we aware it is currently the perfect laptop under 500.

If it runs out of stock anytime soon, we’ll make sure to update this post and add links to alternative machines.


2. Acer Aspire E5

Budget Laptop Under 500$ 

  AMD Ryzen 3 3200U

  4GB DDR4

   Radeon Vega 3

  128GB SSD

  15” full HD IPS

  3.97 lbs

  7 hours

    802.11 AC BlueTooh 4.0

  10/100/1000 Gigabit Ethernet LAN (RJ-45 port),  HD Webcam (1280 x 720), 1 – USB 3.1 Gen 1 Port, 2 – USB 2.0 Ports, 1 – HDMI Port with HDCP support

This is the best selling budget laptop on Amazon. It’s got almost the same specs as the Lenovo we listed costing you ~350$ but there are two things to watch out for and maybe update in the future:

4GB RAM:

4GB RAM is plenty to multitask with Skype,Zoom, MS Office, Web Browsing, Youtube and so on. You can even play games at low settings and throw some serious programming.

However, 4GB is not enough if you want to do edit video and photos fast and play games with high graphics.

Operating System:

Upgrading the RAM to 8GB in the future if the need ever rises isn’t going be expensive nor difficult, even a 10 year old can do it. It’s very easy to do on modern laptops.

The problem is the OS, it’s Windows 10 S. So you’ll be limited to applications that are listed on the Windows App store in other words applications made by Microsoft like Office. Zoom, Skype, Excel, Word, are all available in the App Store.

But you won’t be able to install third party software for video/photo editing and the desktop version of games.

Updating it to Windows 10 Home Edition will cost you ~130$ and you’ll be basically be spending as much money as you would with the Lenovo listed above.

Who is this laptop for?

The limiting factor on this laptop is Windows 10 S and this means you’ll only have software for actual work. No gaming and probably not a lot of photo/video editing.

A student or someone trying to get work done with Office/Zoom/Web browsing should not even have to upgrade the RAM nor the OS.

 


3. ASUS ImagineBook

Best Looking Laptop Under 500

  Intel Core M3-8100Y

  4GB DDR4

   Intel UHD Graphics 615

  128GB SSD

  14″ FHD (1920 x 1080) LED-backlight Display

  3.55 lbs

  9 hours

    802.11 AC BlueTooh 4.0

  10/100/1000 Gigabit Ethernet LAN (RJ-45 port),  HD Webcam (1280 x 720), 1 – USB 3.1 Gen 1 Port, 2 – USB 2.0 Ports, 1 – HDMI Port with HDCP support

This third option is nor weaker nor more powerful than the laptops listed above. It’s kind of in the middle ground.

The Core i3 “Y” processor is designed for portability more than performance. That’s not to say this is going to be a slow laptop, in fact, it has about the same speed as the AMD Ryzen

This is just a big sign that this laptop is supposed to be more portable than your average laptop and in fact it is.

It’s not ultra portable like the MacBook Pros but it quite lightweight for a 14” laptop which by the way still has a FHD resolution. On the other hand, it does have a quite stylish look to it, it’s painted all white all the way to the keyboard.

Performance:

Well you can do all the things you can do with the 2nd laptop on this list: Web browsing, youtube, Zoom, MS Office and so on. You will still be limited to applications that are available on the Windows App store though.


4. ASUS VivoBook 15

Best 15” Laptop Under 500

  Intel i3-1005G1

  8GB DDR4

   Intel UHD Graphics

  128GB PCIe NVMe SSD

  15” full HD TN

  3.75 lb

  6 hours

    802.11 AC BlueTooh 4.0

  10/100/1000 Gigabit Ethernet LAN (RJ-45 port),  HD Webcam (1280 x 720), 1 – USB 3.1 Gen 1 Port, 2 – USB 2.0 Ports, 1 – HDMI Port with HDCP support

This is another laptop with the same processor as the first one on the list. It also comes with 8GB and 128GB with a FHD screen, pretty standard for a laptop under 500.

The most appealing feature however is the screen size, it’s a 15” FHD laptop.  This is as big as it’s going to get for laptops under 500$. Unless you opt to buy renewed ones then it can go as high 17”.

Since we are still dealing with the pandemia a 15-17” laptop may not be such a bad purchase. I mean most people reading this are still stuck working from home so there’s no need to worry about the size or the weight.

A 15”-17” display with a FHD resolutions opens up a huge amount of space to do tons of things without having to switch back between windows such as having excel and typing a document and watching a video at the same time.

As you can see by what I’m doing here:

The only downside with this model is the fact that it has Windows 10 S in it. But that’s really the only way to get these specs and speed along with an awesome screen under 500.

If you have a few more bucks and don’t mind a Ryzen Processor (they’re plenty fast for most people), you can get the exact same model with the full Home version of Windows 10. I suggest  you do because Windows 10 Home on its own can cost up 130$.


5. ASUS VivoBook L203MA

Cheapest Laptop Under 500

  Intel Celeron N4000 2.4GHz

  4GB DDR4

   Intel UHD Graphics 605

  64 GB eMMC

  11” HD TN 

  2.2lb

  8 hours

    802.11 AC BlueTooth 4.0

  10/100/1000 Gigabit Ethernet LAN (RJ-45 port),  HD Webcam (1280 x 720), 1 – USB 3.1 Gen 1 Port, 2 – USB 2.0 Ports, 1 – HDMI Port with HDCP support

Lastly the smallest of the fries but the biggest of its kind.

What I mean is that this laptop is for sure quite small and ultra portable only weighing 2.2lb and with a 11′ screen but it was one of the most popular models back in 2017.

The problem back then with this model was that the CPU was quite (and still is) obselete and slow.

However, with the release of Windows 10 S mode which doesn’t consume much computer power, this model has made a comeback as one of the most ultralightweight laptops under 500, probably the lightest and cheapest one out there.

I know I said that you should avoid 2GB RAM and processors like this one but if you’re only going to use Windows 10 S mode on it, this is plenty and in fact more cost efficient to have because it is very unlikely you’ll need more processing power unless you want to install Windows 10 Home.


How To Buy a Laptop Under 500$

Like I said, 500 dollars is plenty of money to have a decent laptop capable of video/photo editing and even gaming. If any of those things are not important to you, then you may not need to even spend 350$ to have a fast and decent machine.

In this section, we’ll go over the hardware you’ll find under 500 and everything to you need to know to get the best bang for your buck.

If you’ve got a budget between 350-500$ and with the proper research you can get a pretty powerful laptop with a beautiful display

Be sure to come back to this section when you are shopping if you want to get the best bang for your buck.

CPU

The first thing you should be looking at is your CPU.

Windows 10 Home

You have to be very very careful because if you pair up the wrong CPU with Windows 10 Home (not Windows 10S), it will run extremely extremely slow and you’ll have to give away your laptop and get another one.

Windows 10 S

On the other hand, if you don’t mind using Windows 10 S, then you should be okay with most CPUs.

Linux
Lastly, if you have a computer geek on your house and you can only manage to buy laptop under 300$ and would rather not have either a ChromeBook or Windows 10 S, you can install Linux on it and still make it run fast enough.

Processors vs Operating System

You can use this table to check what OS will run optimally with the CPUs you’ll find under 500$. If you are like 99% of the people out there and will run nothing less than Windows 10 Home edition then just look at the blue CPUs.

The following table shows a list of processors you’ll find in the 200-350$ range. Most of them are too slow to handle the full version of Windows 10 Home, so if that’s all you got then make sure you use either Windows 10 S or Chrome OS.

Name Cores Threads Base Speed (GHz) Boost Speed
(GHz)
Cache  Recommended OS
Celeron N4000 2 2 1.1 2.6 4MB Windows 10S
MediaTek MT8173C 4 4 1.6 2 2MB  Chrome OS
Celeron N4100 4 4 1.1 2.4 4MB  Chrome OS
Celeron N3350 2 2 1.1 2.4 2MB  Windows 10S
Celeron N4200 4 4 1.1 2.5 2MB  Windows 10S
Celeron N3060 2 2 1.6 2.48 2mb  Windows 10S
Atom x5 E8000  4 4 1.1 2mb  Chrome OS
AMD A9-9420e 2 2 1.8 2.7 2MB  Windows 10S
AMD Athlon 3050U 2 2 2.3 3.2 1mb(l2)  Chrome OS
AMD E2-6110 4 4 1.5 1.5 2mb(l2)  Chrome OS
AMD A6-9220e 2 2 1.6 2.4 1mb(l2)  Windows 10S
M-5Y31 2 4 0.9 2.4 4mb  Windows 10S
Pentium 4405U  2 4 2.1 2mb  Windows 10S
AMD A4-9120C 2 2 1.6 2.4 1mb  Windows 10S

The following processors can be found in the 350-500$. These are the ones you should be aiming for if you want to do heavy stuff like gaming, video editing, music produciton, photo editing, etc and use the full version of Windows 10, aka, a desktop-like laptop

CPU Base Turbo Cores
M3-8100Y 1.1 3.4 2
Pentium Gold  4425Y 1.7 1.7 2
i3 10050G1  1.2GHz 3.4GHz   2
i3 8130U  2.2GHz 3.4Ghz   2
 i3 8145U  2.1GHz 3.9GHz  2
 i3 10100U  2.1GHz 4.1GHz   2
AMD Ryzen 5 3500U 2.1 3.7 4
AMD Ryzen 3 3300U 2.1 3.5 4

RAM

RAM might be just as important as a CPU if you want a laptop under 500 that can soar through the sky.
Ideally you’d want 8GB regardless of how much you are paying for a laptop but that can’t easily be found under 500$.

Luckily, you can have 4GB and even 2GB if you pair it up with the right operating system.

Windows 10 Home Edition: you’re going to need 8GB for Windows 10 Home edition. Otherwise, you’re going to be lagging specially if you start doing some gaming, video editing, photo editing or even sketching. You can use 4GB but you’ll be limited into how much you can multitask. Luckily, you can always upgrade RAM and see for yourself if you need the upgrade.

Windows 10S: 4GB is nice but not necessary. The more RAM you have the more apps you’ll be able to launch simultaneously. Definitely no need to get 8GB.

Chrome OS: Chrome OS is second lightest OS. I’ve been doing fine with 2GB and was still able to have +20 tabs open.

Linux: Depending on the flavor of Linux you install, you can be fine even with 0.5GB (512MB). You can use Linux if whatever you buy is way too slow and you don’t feel like returning it. I’ve written a guide on how to install Linux on a laptop and the flavor of Linux I recommend depending on your resources.

RAM OS
8GB Windows 10 H
4GB Windows 10 S
2GB Chrome OS
<2GB Linux

Storage

As of 2020, you should be getting the fastest storage device regardless of your budget (unless you step into 250$ territory and still want a Windows 10S/10 Home laptop), the fastest is a Solid State Drive.

There are two types of SSDs though: Sata III and PCIe NVMe. I think either would be fine unless you want need every bit of speed for heavy tasks like photo/video editing.

However, if you want to get the best bang for your buck, you should be getting a PCIe NVMe. Finding a laptop with a Sata III SSD is not wrong but it should at least have something to make up for it in another department, maybe a better display, more storage space, etc.

This table is not meant to tell you what kind of storage you should get under 500$, as long as you don’t have an “HDD” your laptop will be plenty fast for pretty much everything. Just use it as a reference on what you’re supposed to be getting according to your budget.

Storage Price Range
eMMC Flash/HDD <300$
128 PCIe NVMe 350-500$
256 PCie NVme 400-500$
512 GB Sata III 450-500$

GPU

This section can be entirely ignored, GPUs don’t play a big role on laptops under 500$

Integrated vs Dedicated GPUs

Integrated GPUs  are virtually found on all laptops under 500$. They’re good enough for most applications including gaming, photo and video editing but they’ll have to run the heaviest ones (those just mentioned) under low settings(gaming) or by taking more time between operations (photo video editing).

Dedicated GPUs are a must if you plan on using a laptop merely for high-end applications like modeling,video,photo editing and gaming but they can only be found on laptops above 650$.

Integrated GPUs under 500$

You’ll find an amazing number of different integrated GPUs under 500$. Some can process graphics faster than others but for general purposes they’ll all give you the same performance.

If you still want to be nitty picky and get the best “integrated GPU”. Here’s a table outlining the properties and their performance (from weakest to strongest).

*Note that integrated GPUs can only be found next to certain processors, for example, you can only find Intel HD 620 on 10th gen Core i3/Core i5 processors and not on other types of processors.

AMD Radeon Vega 3/Ryzen 3 3200

UHD Graphics 600/ Intel Celeron N4000

AMD Radeon Vega 8 Graphics / AMD Ryzen 5 3500U

Intel UHD Graphics 600/ Intel Celeron N4000

Intel UHD Graphics / Core i3-1005G1

Intel UHD Gaphics 605/ Pentium Silver N5000

Display

The prices of good display have gone down tremendously over the past few years. What could only be found on 700+$ laptops is now standard on 350-400$ laptops.

The point is having a low budget 350-500$ should not prevent you from getting an awesome display.

250-350$: HD or HD+ TN displays are common here. They’re not bad actually I use a HD+ TN display myself however getting a FHD display makes a huge difference not only on image quality but it actually increases your workspace area.

350-450$:  FHD or 1080p (they both mean the same thing) are standard now and you should NOT be getting anything lower than that in this range.

An IPS FHD display (instead of an TN display) can also be found on this price range but it’s not something you should really be demanding out of the manufacturer. IPS display will simply give you better viewing angles and better image reproduction, it’s just aesthetics, won’t slow down your work.

450-500$: Again you should be getting a FHD display and settle for nothing else. IPS panels are more common here so your chances to get the best display on laptops are pretty high. You should still focus on getting a really good processors so you can use any Operating System and launch any program you’d like FIRST.

Battery Life

If you’re one of those lucky people that are able to go outside now, then battery life may be just as important as anything else. What’s the point of buying a laptop and not be able to use it right?

But if you’re still staying at home or will have an outlet near you at your school/workplace, then you can just skip this section.

What makes a laptop have a great battery life?

It really comes down to the processors and the graphics card. If you’ve got an integrated GPU and a really weak processors, then chances are your battery will last you at least 6-8 hours.

That’s not to say you should get the weakest processor though.  All the processors we just listed can hold enough power to last 8 hours….the weakest ones on that list will probably even give you 10 hours.

The processor doesn’t tell the whole story though, if your laptop is thick and big that just means it can hold a much better battery.

If you’ve got a fancy IPS FHD display that just means more energy consumption.

If you’ve got a dedicated GPU that will reduce the battery life significantly, luckily this is not the case for laptops under 500$.

A spinning disk drive, an HDD, will also consume a lot more battery so getting a PCIe NVMe SSD or SATA III SSD is paramount to increase battery life.

The recipe to get the best battery life out of a laptop under 500 is then:

Weak processor+integrated GPU+ non-FHD display+ SSD storage+ thick laptop

The more you add up specs to your laptop, the more is going to hurt your battery life.

Wait, what about the battery life that the manufacturers claim?

They can be used for reference but they aren’t always true because they measure the battery life with video playback (very little processing going on here) and low brightness levels and maybe even with no audio (or headphones).

Use this table to give you an idea of the battery life you can expect on a laptop:

OS Display Size Battery Life
Chrome OS HD 11” 13 hours
Chrome OS HD 13” 11 hours
Chrome OS FHD 11-13” 10 hours
Windows 10 Home HD+ 11” 9 hours
Windows 10 Home HD+ 13 8 hours
Windows 10 Home FHD 13 7 hours
Windows 10 Home FHD 15 6 hours
MacBook Air HD+ 11-13” 13 hours
MacBook Air Retina 13-15” 10 hours

 

CPU Energy Consumption