Best Laptops under $500 Consumer Reports – [2023 Reviewed]

Do you have a budget of less than $500 for your next laptop? This budget range of notebooks won’t be able to play high-end games, perform deep machine learning, or produce 3D animation, but they are extremely affordable.

There is a decent amount of hardware in most of the computers in this range, so they will be capable of performing a lot of daily tasks.

Laptops can play high-end games and create stunning 3D animations without requiring a $500 price tag.

Despite the upcoming changes, you can still expect thin and light devices that provide great user experiences and don’t interfere with your work, whether you’re using Microsoft Office apps such as Word, Excel, Powerpoint, or even more powerful photo editing apps such as Photoshop and Lightroom.

The following are our recommendations for the best laptops under $500.

ASUS VivoBook 15 Thin and Light Laptop
Acer Swift 1, 14″ Full HD Notebook
Acer Aspire 5 Slim Laptop
Samsung Chromebook Plus V2
HP 14″ Core i3 1005G1

1. ASUS VivoBook 15 Thin and Light Laptop

ASUS VivoBook 15 Thin and Light Laptop

When it comes to budget laptops, we sometimes regret our purchases later. We might have assumed that 4GB of RAM and 128GB of storage was enough when purchasing only to realize a few months later how terribly wrong we were.

The VivoBook 15 provides a solution for this problem. When it comes to long-term value, this versatile, easily upgradeable machine is the solution.

Intel’s Core i3-1005G1 is powering this VivoBook. Though this duo-core CPU is a little old, it can turbo-charge to 3.4GHz and incorporates an integrated Intel UHD graphics chip which is quite powerful. Windows 10 Home OS will run smoothly on this CPU. It is powerful enough for home/office work. The GPU will boost photo editing tasks in programs like Photoshop and allow for light gaming.

Combining this with 256GB of storage and 8GB of RAM is a reasonable minimum when speccing a machine for long-term use. In terms of long-term use, the VivoBook allows users to upgrade RAM and storage through its DIMM slot for a single RAM module and 2.5-inch bay for an SSD or 2.5-inch HDD. Furthermore, the 128GB SSD included is an M.2 drive, which you may replace as well.

This laptop has a large 15.6-inch Full HD IPS LCD screen with a resolution of 1920 x 1080. The panel is not as color-accurate as more expensive panels, but it does the job for the price. Even though the bezels are slim, a webcam can still be incorporated.

A full-size keyboard and numeric keypad are also included, and the laptop has backlighting options, which is useful if you’re writing or working late at night. The trackpad features a fingerprint reader on the left side, which you can use to sign in.

There are a variety of ports including a USB-C 3.2 port, 2 x USB-A 3.2 ports, 1 x USB-A 2.0 port, an HDMI output, a microSD card slot, and a 3.5mm combo jack. Due to the older Ryzen CPU in this laptop, the battery can last from 3 to 4 hours on a normal workday when charged through the proprietary charging port.

2. Acer Swift 1, 14″ Full HD Notebook

Acer Swift 1, 14 Full HD Notebook

Featuring an all-day battery life, the Acer Swift 1 is the perfect ultraportable email machine for people looking to do little more than entertain themselves or do some light work on the go.

Intel’s Pentium Silver N5000 CPU is rather underwhelming in comparison with Intel’s Core series. A quad-core CPU with no hyper-threading, UHD 605 integrated graphics, and clock speeds between 1.1GHz and 2.7GHz make it a good fit for gaming. Although wimpy, the battery life is excellent. The CPU draws only 5W of power – three times as little as a 10th Gen Core i3.

When coupled with 4GB RAM and a 64GB SSD, this processor is powerful enough for running Windows and browsing the web. The laptop won’t break any records when it comes to performance, but it also won’t get too hot, so it can be thin and won’t require heavy cooling.

The limitation of this machine is its limited onboard storage and the use of Windows 10 Home in S mode. In spite of the fact that getting out of the restrictive S mode is straightforward, that operating system easily consumes 30+ GB of storage, leaving little space for essential apps or documents.

To augment the onboard storage, there is a full-size SD card slot where you can insert a highly efficient, fast, half-height SD card. This machine is lightweight and designed to be online 24 hours a day, 7 days a week given these limitations.

Despite its slimness and lightweight, the Acer Swift 1 has plenty of space for cooling hardware. There is almost no bezel around the 14-inch FHD display. It has a simple keyboard and trackpad that are functional and get the job done.

A major selling point of this laptop is its form factor and weight. The device is extremely slim, weighing just 2.9 pounds, which means you’ll forget you have it on you when you travel. The slim profile does not compromise port selection.

In addition to an SD card slot and two USB-A 2.0 ports, you’ll also find a USB-C 3.1 port, an HDMI port, and a 3.5mm combo jack.

The CPU might be old and the storage may be inadequate, but this internet-first machine has a battery life of 14 hours in a chassis that is lightweight and portable. It’s hard to find a machine that’s more portable than the Swift 1, if you’re not a heavy user and are comfortable using Microsoft’s ecosystem of apps.

3. Acer Aspire 5 Slim Laptop

Acer Aspire 5 Slim Laptop

In order to keep the price low, Acer packed in just the bare essentials into the Aspire 5 in order to create a functional Windows 10 experience. The company didn’t skimp on quality, either, providing a great screen, a designer design that can be upgraded, and excellent speakers.

It is true that AMD’s Ryzen U series CPUs are less popular than Intel’s Core series of laptop processors, but don’t be fooled. It is easy to imagine these chips running rings around Intel’s best if they were given the opportunity.

This Aspire 5 uses Ryzen 3 3200U APU. It features a dual-core CPU clocked at 2.6 to 3.5GHz and Vega graphics chips that are far superior to Intel’s UHD and Iris Plus graphics.

The Aspire 5 is a powerful computer for its class, despite being cheap and bare-bones.

The RAM and storage capacity are limited to 4GB and 128GB. It would be hard to recommend this laptop for any kind of work if it was any lower than that.

For lag-free Windows 10 experience, you’ll need a minimum of 4GB, and while it’s enough for Office apps and a few Chrome tabs, you’ll want to upgrade as soon as possible. There is no room for anything other than the most essential of apps and files with 128GB of storage.

Rather than lock you into this configuration, Acer has designed the Aspire 5 so that it can be upgraded by the user. It has an additional DIMM slot, as well as a slot for a 2.5-inch SSD or HDD. Alternately, you can replace the existing RAM module and M.2 drive with your own.

Despite its size, the 15.6-inch FHD display is surprisingly sharp and contrasty. The displays are usually poor on laptops in this price range to save money. Additionally, the speakers are great for listening to music, and the keyboard is backlit.

There is one USB-A 3.1 port, two USB-A 2.0 ports, one HDMI port, one Ethernet port, and one 3.5mm audio port on this budget laptop. It has an impressive battery life of 7.5 hours.

It’s not clear from the look of the Acer Aspire 5 how much of a laptop it is. Its strengths are evident when you examine it closer. The Aspire 5 is an excellent starter laptop to build on later thanks to its upgradeable chassis, excellent display, great speakers, and long battery life.

4. Samsung Chromebook Plus V2

Samsung Chromebook Plus V2

A Chromebook with no frills, the Samsung Chromebook Plus V2 offers an attractive design, a stylus, and just enough power to get the job done.

Based on Intel’s 7th generation Core architecture – we are currently on Intel’s 11th generation – the Intel Celeron 3976Y is considered vintage hardware. There is only 4GB of RAM, and 32GB of storage, and the HD graphics 615 GPU is equally old.

There’s just one problem, it’s a Google Chromebook running Google’s Linux-based ChromeOS. ChromeOS runs on browsers and doesn’t require fancy hardware or tons of RAM, and that’s why this Samsung Chromebook works.

The device has limited storage, but it’s not a big deal on a device like this because it is designed to run on a cloud-based OS. Using a Chromebook, it is expected that everything will be stored on Google Drive. Memory is expected to be the same. This OS has only 4GB of RAM, but it is nothing more than a glorified Chrome browser. When you don’t need an entire desktop operating system, 4GB is more than enough.

There is a color-accurate 16.10 12.2-inch Full HD panel on the display. You can rotate the display 360° for a tablet-like experience. Due to the low-power CPU and GPU embedded in this Chromebook, external displays can be attached via USB-C, but don’t expect stellar performance.

A trackpad and keyboard are integrated, but what really makes this tablet stand out is the included stylus. This is a great sketching tool with 4,096 levels of sensitivity and tilt recognition, and I appreciate Samsung bundling it with the device. Considering the Chromebook’s tablet mode, a stylus comes in especially handy.

It weighs just under three pounds, so it’s light enough. The tablet is equipped with one USB-A 3.1 port, two USB-C 3.1 ports, a microSD card reader, and a 3.5mm combo jack. The keyboard also features a 1MP front-facing camera, as well as a 13MP camera that can be used as a rear camera when in tablet mode. It offers an estimated battery life of ten hours.

This makes the Samsung Chromebook Plus V2 an acceptable device. Despite its old hardware and limited storage, it’s just powerful enough to run the OS and let you browse without worry. If you use the device for browsing YouTube and Docs and Sheets, you will not have any problems. While you may struggle with heavier Android apps and games, like Asphalt 9, it is still powerful enough.

5. HP 14″ Core i3 1005G1

HP 14 Core i3 1005G1

There’s always something HP has for everyone, and if you’re looking for a small, lightweight, affordable laptop for study or work, they have the HP 14.

A 10nm Ice Lake CPU isn’t that powerful, but it wasn’t intended to be very powerful from the start. This machine sports a Core i3-1005G1 processor, 8GB of DDR4 RAM, and 256GB of NVMe SSD. Because it’s made on a smaller manufacturing process, and it runs at 1.2GHz, it only consumes a small amount of energy while idle. In any case, both cores can be clocked at 3.4GHz if necessary.

Regarding Windows 10, the HP 14 ships with Windows 10 S, a stripped-down version that restricts users to Microsoft Store apps only. In terms of security, this is excellent, but you’ll likely need a full-fat Windows 10 Home installation due to the limited app selection on the store. Fortunately, Windows 10 can be unlocked pretty easily.

The 14-inch FHD monitor’s brightness is 250 nits, which is bright enough for indoor use. Additionally, with a color gamut of 45% NTSC and a good contrast ratio, the monitor is suitable for work and light entertainment. Investing in a better display for photo editing and movie watching might be a good idea.

Silvery-white brushed, glossy, and quite well-equipped, this laptop has a brushed finish. The laptop includes a backlit keyboard, an HD webcam, an SD card slot, 1 x USB-C 3.0 port, 2 x USB-A 3.0 ports, and an HDMI port. Weighing only 3.21 pounds, the laptop is a great size for a 14-inch laptop.

Working from home is made easier with HP 14. There is enough power in this laptop to not slow you down, and the five hours of battery life will allow you to get through a typical workday without difficulty.

Things to Consider

When you’re shopping within a specific price range, such as we are here, buying a new laptop can seem overwhelming. Although lower prices often indicate less powerful components, it doesn’t mean that you should settle for a cheap, throwaway product.

Moreover, affordable laptops are now offering more powerful specs because very decent components are dropping in price. You won’t be able to play real-time games or play media on it, but you’ll be able to surf the Internet, edit documents, and stream videos.

MacBooks are not an option at these prices, but Windows 10 actually runs very well indeed on less expensive hardware. Additionally, we’ve picked out some of our favorite Chromebooks (just remember that Chrome OS is all about the web).

You can expect prices at this end of the market to fluctuate regularly, and retailers will often offer new deals to tempt buyers, so don’t be surprised if some of these prices change from time to time – compare prices to find the best deal for you.

Our affordable laptops won’t be the most powerful or feature-rich on the market, but we know you’ll be pleasantly surprised with what you can get for a reasonable price.

Whether it’s vibrant displays or surprisingly powerful CPUs, our list of the best laptops under $500 offers plenty of choices for buyers with limited budgets. The designs and builds are improving as well.

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