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The 4 Best Laptops Under $500 - Fall 2022 Reviews

Best Laptops Under $500

If you're shopping for a laptop on a budget, you can find some great options for under $500. Many laptops in this price range are available with the same CPUs that we see in more premium models, but they compromise on a few features to bring the price down. The recommendations in this article consist mainly of productivity and media consumption devices like Chromebooks and Windows laptops because gaming laptops and Apple MacBooks are typically much more expensive. The list is short for now, but it'll grow as we review more laptops.

We've tested more than 50 laptops; below you'll find our recommendations for the best laptops you can get for under $500. See our recommendations for the best laptops under $300, and the best laptops under $400, or you can check out all our laptop reviews.

  1. Best Laptop Under $500

    The best laptop under $500 we've tested is the Lenovo IdeaPad 3 15 (2021). It's a portable Windows laptop with good build quality and a battery that lasts over nine hours of light use. Its 15.6-inch screen gives you plenty of space for multitasking, gets bright enough for use in most settings, and it's flicker-free, which helps reduce eye strain on long school or workdays. The keyboard is reasonably spacious and includes a Numpad on the right side, though it feels a bit tiring to type on for extended periods as the keys require a fair amount of force to actuate.

    Its AMD Ryzen CPU is more than powerful enough to handle general productivity tasks like web browsing, video playback, text formatting, and spreadsheets. Its port selection includes two USB-As, a full-size HDMI, and a USB-C port, although you can't use the latter for video output or charge the laptop. It has a fingerprint sensor built into the power button so you can log into Windows quickly.

    See our review

  2. Best Chromebook Under $500

    If you can perform all your tasks through a Chrome browser or Android apps, it might be better to get a Chromebook instead of a Windows device. Chrome OS is a lighter operating system, so it usually feels smoother and more responsive than Windows on similar hardware, meaning you can generally get better performance at lower price points. This model has a 15.6-inch screen, a comfortable keyboard, and a small but responsive touchpad. It's a 2-in-1 convertible with a 360-degree hinge, meaning you can flip the screen around and use it as a tablet.

    It's available with an Intel Pentium Gold or Core i3 processor, both of which are fast enough for general productivity tasks like web browsing and text formatting, although you'll have to keep an eye on the number of apps you run simultaneously as you can only get 4GB of memory. The battery life is amazing; it lasts around 12 hours of light use or eight hours of video playback.

    See our review

  3. Best Multimedia Laptop Under $500

    For media consumption, we recommend the Lenovo Chromebook Duet 5 (2021). It's a Chrome OS tablet with a kickstand built into the back cover and a detachable keyboard. The ability to detach the keyboard makes the device easier to hold as a tablet, and you can simply snap it back on when you need to type something. It isn't the most comfortable keyboard to type on, but it's fine for typing a couple of emails on the go. What makes the Duet 5 stand out as a multimedia device is its 13-inch OLED panel. It displays saturated, vibrant colors, and like all OLEDs, it produces deep, inky blacks, making it a fantastic option for dark room viewing.

    The speakers are just okay; they get reasonably loud but sound slightly unnatural and lack bass. If you want to use headphones, know that it doesn't have a 3.5mm headphone jack, so it's best to go wireless. The battery lasts a little less than eight hours of video playback, plenty of time to get through a couple of movies.

    See our review

  4. Best Compact Laptop Under $500

    If you're looking for something compact that you can use for media consumption or web browsing on the go, get the Microsoft Surface Go 3 (2021). It's essentially a mini Microsoft Surface Pro, a 2-in-1 Windows tablet with a built-in kickstand and a detachable type cover keyboard. You have to buy the keyboard separately, but it's worth it as it's a pretty good keyboard, and it helps protect the display from scratches. The display is a 10.5-inch IPS panel that looks very sharp and gets bright enough for use in most settings. The thick bezels around it look outdated; however, they provide a place to hold the device when using it as a tablet and house an excellent 1080p webcam. There's also an IR camera, meaning you can log in via Windows Hello.

    The Intel Pentium Gold model with 4GB of memory is fine for simple web browsing, emails, and video playback, but don't expect to edit a 4k video or play AAA games. The battery lasts about seven hours of light productivity or a little over three hours of video playback, so you'll likely need to keep the charger close by.

    See our review

Notable Mentions

  • Lenovo IdeaPad Flex 5 14 (2020): The Lenovo IdeaPad Flex 5 14 (2020) has a better keyboard and longer battery life than the Lenovo IdeaPad 3 15 (2021). However, it has a smaller and dimmer screen, and its webcam's video quality is much worse. It's also typically more expensive, and the only configuration below $500 has 4GB of memory, which is severely limiting on Windows. See our review
  • Acer Aspire 5 15 (2020): The Acer Aspire 5 15 (2020) is a decent productivity laptop, but it has short battery life, and configurations under $500 have only 4GB of memory. It's also an older model that may be harder to find. See our review
  • Dell Inspiron 15 3000 (2020): The Dell Inspiron 15 3000 (2020) is a decent alternative to the Lenovo IdeaPad 3 15 (2021). However, it has shorter battery life, its display doesn't get as bright to combat glare, and its keyboard isn't as comfortable to type on. See our review
  • Lenovo Chromebook Duet (2020): The Lenovo Chromebook Duet (2020) is a smaller and cheaper alternative to the Lenovo Chromebook Duet 5 (2021). It has a very sharp display but can't produce deep blacks like the Duet 5 because it uses an IPS panel. Also, its smaller size makes the keyboard feel more cramped and harder to type on. See our review
  • Microsoft Surface Go 2 (2020): The Microsoft Surface Go 2 (2020) is nearly identical to the Microsoft Surface Go 3 (2021). It's an older model you can find for cheaper, but its CPU doesn't perform as well. It isn't much of an issue if you only use it for media consumption, but it isn't ideal if you need to get some work done or multitask. See our review

Recent Updates

  1. Aug 30, 2022: Replaced the Acer Chromebook Spin 713 (2020) with the Lenovo Chromebook C340 15 (2020) because the Acer is discontinued and hard to find.

  2. Jun 10, 2022: Minor structure change; no change in recommendations.

  3. May 13, 2022: Verified accuracy of picks; no change in recommendations.

  4. Apr 15, 2022: Minor change to structure and categories. Added Microsoft Surface Go 3 (2021) as 'Best Mini Laptop Under $500'. Moved Microsoft Surface Go 2 (2020) to Notable Mentions.

  5. Mar 25, 2022: Verified accuracy of picks; no change in recommendations. Changed 'Alternative With Better Speakers' category to 'More Compact Alternative'.

All Reviews

Our recommendations above are what we think are currently the best laptops you can get for under $500. We factor in the price (a cheaper laptop wins over a pricier one if the difference isn't worth it), feedback from our visitors, and availability (no laptops that are difficult to find or almost out of stock everywhere).

If you prefer to make your own decision, here’s the list of all the laptops we've tested under $500, sorted by price from low to high. Keep in mind that most laptops are available in various configurations, and the table only shows the results of the model we tested, so it’s best to see the full review for information about other variants.