Best laptops under $500: the best budget laptops around

best laptop under $500
Image Credit: Future Publishing
(Image credit: Future Publishing)

Are you on the market for best laptop under $500? We get it; times are hard and replacing your aging laptop hardware won’t be easy on your wallet. We put together a list of the best laptops under $500, featuring great quality devices that are worth the plastic and silicon they were printed on.

We’ve rounded up the most impressive ones that we’ve tested since 2018, each one worthy of the best laptop under $500 accolade. Our list includes 2-in-1 laptops, cheap Chromebooks and incredibly affordable laptops that will get the job done for minimal impact to your bottom line.

Each of the products below scored at least four stars in one of our in-depth reviews, making them worthy of inclusion in a TechRadar buying guide. With that, you can buy the best laptop under $500 for you with confidence as it has been thoroughly tested and critiqued by our expert editors.

Microsoft Surface Go

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

Affordable 
Light and easy to hold 
Not as powerful as the iPad 
Type Cover not included

An economical Surface device has been in demand since the first Surface Pro came out, and the wait is over. Microsoft's Surface Go is not only the best Windows tablet for ultra-mobility, but also among the best budget laptops around. Thin, feathery, mobile and elegant, but without the high cost, Microsoft has packed in everything they could in the best laptop under $500. If you’re a student, or just looking to spend less than a grand on a laptop, the Microsoft Surface Go is a winner for both work and play.

Read the full review: Microsoft Surface Go

Acer Switch 3

2. Acer Switch 3

A Surface Book 2 alternative at half the price

CPU: 1.10GHz Intel Pentium Quad Core N4200 - Intel Core i3 7100U | Graphics: Intel HD Graphics 505 | RAM: 4GB | Screen: 12.2-inch, 1,920 x 1,200 IPS LCD touchscreen | Storage: 64GB - 128GB eMMC

Excellent build quality
Superb value
Tricky hinged stand
Slower storage options

The Microsoft Surface Book 2 is plenty pricey, but the Acer Switch 3 is a fine alternative for far less cash, making it the best laptop under $500 for fans of Surface Book 2’s features. This tablet is designed around largely the same idea as the Surface Book 2, even though it's less capable because of its lower-power components. For most tasks, however, it's a plucky little computer. What this 2-in-1 laptop holds over Microsoft's 'Pro' and 'Go' models is that it comes with the keyboard included. Of course, the Acer Switch 3 comes in several configurations, with USB-C, 8GB of memory, an IPS touchscreen and an Intel Core i3 7100U processor coming with the pricier option.

Read the full review: Acer Switch 3 

Dell Inspiron Chromebook 11 2-in-1

3. Dell Inspiron Chromebook 11 2-in-1

The best cheap 2-in-1 Chromebook

CPU: Intel Celeron N3060 | Graphics: Intel HD Graphics 400 | RAM: 4GB | Screen: 11.6-inch, HD (1366 x 768) touchscreen | Storage: 32GB-64GB eMMC

Durable
Long battery life
Not very powerful
Slower SSD storage

One of the best Chromebooks is also an affordable product for anyone looking for the best laptop under $500. It's easy to see how the Dell Inspiron Chromebook 11 2-in-1 cuts the mustard – while it isn’t the strongest Chromebook out there, it's exactly what people need it to be: budget-friendly, easy to use and able to take a beating. The Dell Inspiron 11 2-in-1 is ready to handle all your web browsing and document editing, and for that it's one of the best cheap laptops, as it won’t shatter from a simple stumble.

Read the full review: Dell Inspiron Chromebook 11 2-in-1

Acer Chromebook 15

4. Acer Chromebook 15

Proof that 15-inches can be affordable, too

CPU: Intel Pentium N4200 | Graphics: Intel HD Graphics 505 | RAM: 4GB | Screen: 15.6-inch, FHD (1,920 x 1,080) | Storage: 32GB eMMC

Unbelievable battery life
Attractive, fanless design
Trackpad feels clunky
Easy to weigh down with tabs

With a shiny chassis that rivals the most recent MacBook, this gorgeous, 15-inch Chromebook makes an amazing impression with its battery life, lasting nearly 17 hours in our battery test. That's crazy for a 15-inch laptop – Chromebook or not. Yet, it’s got a few more aces up its sleeves, including its roominess, bright display and fast charging ability. Best of all, it’s the best laptop under $500 (you’ll find one for less than $200, in fact), so budget buyers will love the value.

Read the full review: Acer Chromebook 15