Best laptops under $500: Budget laptops from HP, Acer

If you purchase an independently reviewed product or service through a link on our website, Rolling Stone may receive an affiliate commission.

A new laptop that has all the bells and whistles is usually going to be expensive. But not all of us want to spend over $500 on a good, functional laptop. Luckily for you, it’s possible to get sleek, high-performance laptops well under $500 that can easily keep you going for a day at the office, a secondary device when you’re traveling, or a device for a college student on a budget.

Since there are so many options for laptops under $500, it can be difficult to weed out decent laptops from other poor performers. To make it easier for you, we’ve listed our top recommendations for laptops under $500 below, as well as what to look for when buying one.

Best laptops under $500 buying guide: What to look for

Filter: Screen size may be important to you if you plan to stream or game on your new budget laptop. We’ve recommended laptops under $500 with a wide range of screen sizes, from 10 inches to 15 inches.

When it comes to screen resolution, every laptop we recommend has at least an HD display. This means that whether you’re working or streaming, your visuals will be clear and vibrant. Some of these laptops even have a touchscreen, allowing you to take notes or create on the go.

RAM: Simply put, RAM is what determines your laptop’s ability to multi-task or how many apps you can have open at once without your laptop lagging or freezing. Every gadget we recommended comes with 4GB of RAM. This means you can open multiple browser tabs while you work and you can still use other light apps like your email or any note-taking app. You may also be able to play casually. For hardcore gamers or creators who need to use demanding applications like Adobe Photoshop, higher RAM is recommended. That said, for everyday use, 4 GB is more than enough.

Operating system: Every budget laptop we recommend runs a Windows or Chrome operating system, and each operating system runs its own set of apps for productivity purposes. That said, both of these operating systems can run your generic day-to-day applications such as Microsoft Office or Adobe applications.

Storage: These sub-$500 laptops have at least 64GB of storage, which is enough to download all your basic apps, emails, and documents. While you can’t store tons of games or movies on your new laptop, it should easily suffice for your productivity needs.

Battery life: You want a laptop that can last an entire workday, which means around eight hours of battery life on a single charge. Luckily for you, these budget laptops all offer that aspect, with some options even featuring extended battery life of up to 15 hours.

Additional features: Other features you might want to look for are the number of available ports and whether or not your laptop has a webcam for video conferencing. As a rule of thumb, as long as a budget laptop has a set of USB-like ports, a headphone jack, and an HDMI port, you’re good to go.

As for webcams, we recommend equipping your new laptop with at least one HD webcam for clear images during your meetings.

1. Lenovo Ideapad Duet 5 Chromebook

If you’re looking for a Chromebook that packs the punch, choose the Lenovo Ideapad Duet 5 Chromebook – one of the best value options on our list.

It features a 13.3-inch Full HD OLED display coupled with 400 nits of brightness for bright, balanced and vibrant visuals. There’s also a 1080p front camera for work meetings or video calls and an 8MP rear camera if you’re looking to take photos.

The Chromebook’s operating system comes installed with 4GB of RAM for productivity purposes. Battery life lasts 15 hours, depending on the brand, which means it’ll last you a whole day – and more – without any issues.

Additional features include laptop-to-tablet functionality (you’ll get a keyboard and case included) and a blue light-reducing screen to reduce eye strain.

Amazon

To buy:
Lenovo Ideapad Duet 5 Chromebook
to
$379.99

2.Microsoft Surface Go 3.

For a convertible 2-in-1 laptop designed for people on the go, choose the Microsoft Surface Go 3.

This budget 2-in-1 laptop features a 10.5-inch touchscreen with 1920 x 1280 resolution. It has 64GB of storage and 4GB of RAM, so you can download all apps productivity essentials you need and run them without lag.

Battery life is around 11 hours, depending on the brand, and there are also fast charging features if you’re in a hurry.

It’s also super lightweight, weighing only about a pound, ideal for travel. Just be sure to buy the Surface Go Type keyboard separately to get all the features from laptop to tablet. Even with the keyboard included, your total cost should still be under $500.

microsoft-surface-go-3

Amazon

To buy:
Microsoft Surface Go 3.
to
$386.00

3. HP Chromebook x360

For fans of Chromebooks, this one from HP is worth it.

It features a 14-inch HD (1366 x 768) display and Intel UHD graphics so all your movies, TV shows, and presentations look stunning in any light. There’s also 4GB of RAM, plus the Chromebook’s operating system so you can download and use all the apps you need.
Battery life is just over 13 hours, which means you can use this laptop all day without having to recharge. There’s also an HD camera and dual array microphones, which helps you look good and lets you hear your colleagues clearly.

hp chromebook

Amazon

To buy:
HP Chromebook x360
to
$318.00

4.Acer Aspire 5

The Acer Aspire 5 has the widest display of any of our recommended budget laptops at 15.6-inches – showing all your work-related videos and presentations in brilliant clarity.

You’ll get a Full HD LED-backlit display paired with Acer’s BlueLightShield allowing you to seamlessly transition from work to play. You’ll also get Windows 10 pre-installed and 4GB of RAM, which means you’ll be able to easily multitask on apps productivity tools like mail and Microsoft Word.

As far as ports go, you get both USB and HDMI ports so you can add this laptop to your already existing home setup. Battery life is its only real downside, running for around 7.5 hours on a single charge. That said, this is the only budget laptop under $500 on this list that offers 128GB of storage. Plus, it also comes with built-in Alexa for hands-free control.

acer aspire 5

Amazon

To buy:
Acer Aspire 5
to
$377.14

Comments are closed.