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Best laptops under $500: the best budget laptops around

best laptop under $500
We have compiled a list of the top laptops under $500.
(Image credit: Future Publishing)

The best laptops under $500 are the best compromise when you need a solid laptop without having to break the bank. It’s true that budget laptops are never going to be the best or the most powerful portable computers. However, when times are tough and you need to find a laptop that will be light on your wallet while also delivering a good enough performance for your needs, then these laptops are a blessing.

You don’t need the best laptop for your general computing needs, especially if it’s going to set you back $1,000/£1,000 or more. There are many budget laptops on the market, especially this 2019, that are plenty powerful while boasting affordability. And, as long as you don’t require top-of-the-line internals for such things as video editing and 3D design, those laptops are certainly more than enough.

We scoured the market for the best laptops under $500, and put together a list for you. Whether it’s a 2-in-1 laptops you’re after or one of the best Chromebooks for simplicity and security, you’ll find something that suits you. After all, just because you’re on a budget, doesn’t mean you can’t still get the best.

Keep an eye out for deals as well. With Black Friday and Cyber Monday rolling in, there’s a lot of bargains to be had when it comes to laptops.

Best laptops under $500 at a glance

  1. Microsoft Surface Go
  2. Acer Switch 3
  3. Dell Inspiron Chromebook 11 2-in-1
  4. Acer Chromebook 15
  5. Acer Chromebook R11
  6. Acer Chromebook Spin 15

Microsoft Surface Go

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

The Microsoft Surface Go may not be the traditional laptop we’re all used to, but it will more than meet your computing needs in its compact and portable package. Not only is this device one of the best Windows tablets out there, but it makes for an excellent laptop alternative if you’re looking for the best laptop under $500. With a Windows 10 S mode out of the box, you’re getting a proper operating system that lets you use such apps as the mobile versions of Microsoft Office and Adobe Photoshop. If you’re computer needs go as far as word processing, sending emails, video conferencing, some light gaming, light photo editing and streaming Netflix, this device has you covered.

Read the full review: Microsoft Surface Go

Acer Switch 3

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 fairly expensive, but the Acer Switch 3 is a great alternative for far less money, making it the best laptop under $500 for fans of Surface Book 2’s features. This tablet is designed around basically the same concept as the Surface Book 2, even though it's less adept because of its lower-power internals. For most tasks, however, it's a plucky little machine. What this 2-in-1 laptop has over Microsoft's 'Pro' and 'Go' models is that the keyboard is already included. Of course, the Acer Switch 3 comes in multiple configurations, with USB-C, 8GB of memory, an IPS touchscreen and an Intel Core i3 7100U processor coming with the more expensive option.

Read the full review: Acer Switch 3 

Dell Inspiron Chromebook 11 2-in-1

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

Counted among the best Chromebooks is also a thrifty machine for anyone looking for the best laptop under $500. It's easy to see how the Dell Inspiron Chromebook 11 2-in-1 exceeds expectations. While it is far from the most powerful Chromebook available, it's exactly what people need it from it: budget-friendly, easy to use and able to hold up to abuse. The Dell Inspiron 11 2-in-1 is more than able to handle all your web browsing and document editing, and consider that it could be the best laptop under $500 which won’t shatter from a simple stumble.

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

Acer Chromebook 15

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 as gorgeous as the most recent MacBook, this beautiful, 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. But that’s not the end of it. It also has a few other aces up its sleeves, including its roominess, brilliant display and fast charging capability. Best of all, it’s the best laptop under $500 (you can find one under $200, in fact), so budget-minded shoppers will love the value.

Read the full review: Acer Chromebook 15

Acer Chromebook R11

Acer Chromebook R11 (Image credit: Acer)

5. Acer Chromebook R11

360-degree flips all day long

CPU: Intel Celeron N3150 – N3160 | Graphics: Intel HD Graphics 400 | RAM: 4GB | Screen: 11.6" HD (1366 x 768) 16:9 IPS | Storage: 32 GB Flash Memory or 32GB SSD

Convertible
Attractively minimalist
Good battery life
Terrible trackpad
HD-only screen

The Acer Chromebook R11’s design might not turn heads, but as far as the best laptops under $500 go, it’s chassis is still a minimalist beauty with its textured finish and an overall build that feels pretty solid. It’s got a few other aces as well – the battery life that lasts up to 10 hours, the vibrant touch display, the 2-in-1 design that lets you use it in tent and tablet mode, and those bright crispy speakers. That keyboard is endearing as well.

Read the full review: Acer Chromebook R11

Acer Chromebook Spin 15

Acer Chromebook Spin 15 (Image credit: Acer/Elgiganten)

6. Acer Chromebook Spin 15

The ultimate Chromebook for multitasking

CPU: Intel Pentium N4200 | Graphics: Intel HD Graphics 505 | RAM: 4GB | Screen: 15.6" Full HD (1920 x 1080) 16:9 IPS | Storage: up to 64 GB Flash Memory

Plenty of power
Extremely long battery life
Beautifully responsive touchscreen
Trackpad could be better
Second-rate speakers

Even if you’re used to powerful laptops that breeze through your photo and video editing demands, the Acer Chromebook Spin 15 will still impress you with its knack for multitasking without batting an eyelash. This lightweight laptop might not look like it could take on processor-hungry tasks at a time, but it does, making it great for relentless computer users who do more than their fair share of Internet browsing, mobile gaming and video streaming.

Read the full review: Acer Chromebook Spin 15