The 8 Best Laptops under $500 in 2020 – Reviews and Comparison

By | November 12, 2020

These laptops could be considered budget devices, yet they are still decent options for under $500. Even at a price that is less than $500, you have options such as quad-core processors, fast SSD storage, and Full HD displays.

If you’re looking for a device to do the simplest of tasks like emailing, web browsing, and writing, then a dual-core processor should get the job done. If you’re going to be using multiple apps at the same time, gaming, doing graphical work, or programming, then a quad-core processor is the bare minimum.

Lenovo, Asus, Acer, Dell, and HP are reputable brands that manufacture reliable computers.

Here’s a list of 8 of the Best Laptops under $500. Please note that two different laptops at the same price range may each be better at different tasks, so read on to find out which laptop is best suited for your needs.

Top Picks for Laptops under $500

1. Acer Aspire 5 - Full HD, 15.6”, 1920x1080, AMD Ryzen 3 3200U Dual-Core Processor, 4GB DDR4 RAM, 128GB SSD, AMD Radeon Vega 3 Integrated Graphics, Windows 10 S, 3.97 lbs Check Price
2. ASUS VivoBook 15” - Full HD, 15.6”, 1920x1080, Intel i3-1005G1 Quad-Core Processor, 8GB DDR4 RAM, 128GB SSD, Intel UHD Integrated Graphics, Windows 10 S, 3.75 lbs Check Price
3. Lenovo IdeaPad 3 14” - Full HD, 14.0”, 1920x1080, AMD Ryzen 5 3500U Quad-Core Processor, 8GB DDR4 RAM, 256GB SSD, AMD Radeon Vega 8 Integrated Graphics, Windows 10, 3.30 lbs Check Price
4. ASUS L406 - HD, 14.0’’, 1366x768, Intel Celeron N4000 Dual-Core Processor, 4GB DDR4 RAM, 64GB eMMC flash storage, Intel UHD Integrated Graphics 600, Windows 10 S, 2.8 lbs Check Price
5. HP 14” Touchscreen Laptop - HD, 14” Touchscreen, 1366x768, AMD Ryzen 3 3200U Dual-Core Processor, 8GB DDR4 RAM, 256GB SSD, AMD Radeon Vega 3 Integrated Graphics, Windows 10 S, 3.25 lbs Check Price
6. Lenovo IdeaPad 3 15” - HD, 15.6”, 1366x768, AMD Ryzen 3 3250U Dual-Core Processor, 4GB DDR4 RAM, 128GB SSD, AMD Radeon Vega 3 Integrated Graphics, Windows 10 Home, 4.84 lbs Check Price
7. HP 14” Laptop - HD, 14”, 1366x768, AMD Athlon Silver 3050U Dual-Core Processor, 4GB DDR4 RAM, 128GB SSD, AMD Radeon Graphics, Windows 10 S, 4.41 lbs Check Price
8. DELL Inspiron 15.6” - HD, 15.6”, 1366x768, Intel Celeron 4205U Dual-Core Processor, 8GB DDR4 RAM, 128GB SSD, Intel UHD Integrated Graphics 610, Windows 10 Pro, 4.83 lbs Check Price

1. Acer Aspire 5 Slim Laptop

The Acer Aspire 5 is a capable budget laptop that can be upgraded while still being slim and portable at 3.97 lbs. This laptop packs a backlit keyboard and full HD IPS display that is bright and sharp: perfect for entertainment or getting work done.

Acer Aspire 5 Slim Laptop

Acer Aspire 5 Slim Laptop

Features

  • AMD Ryzen 3 3200U dual-core processor (Up to 3.5GHz)
  • 15.6” Full HD (1920 x 1080) Widescreen LED-backlit IPS Display
  • 4GB DDR4 RAM
  • 128GB SSD
  • AMD Radeon Vega 3 Mobile Integrated Graphics
  • 802.11ac Wi-Fi and Bluetooth 4.0
  • Windows 10 S
  • 3.97 lbs
  • 1x USB 3.1 port, 2x USB 2.0 ports, 1x HDMI port
  • 7.5 hours of battery life
  • Backlit keyboard

Review

The AMD Ryzen 3 3200U CPU is ideal for light multi-tasking. The Acer Aspire 5 features Vega 3 Integrated Graphics. While that’s not the best option if you’ll need high graphical performance, it is more than enough for viewing media and for less demanding graphical work.

The Aspire 5 also scores points for longevity: the fast 128 GB SSD and 4GB of DDR4 Memory can be upgraded if you need a little performance boost down the road.

2. ASUS VivoBook 15 Thin and Light Laptop

The VivoBook 15 is a portable and thoughtfully designed laptop made for productivity that ticks almost all the boxes. This is a laptop for those who want to look good while getting work done.

ASUS VivoBook 15 Thin and Light Laptop

ASUS VivoBook 15 Thin and Light Laptop

Features

  • Intel i3-1005G1 3.4 GHz quad-core processor
  • 15.6” Full HD (1920x1080) 4-way NanoEdge bezel display
  • 8GB DDR4 RAM
  • 128GB SSD
  • Intel UHD Integrated Graphics
  • 802.11ac WiFi and Bluetooth 4.1
  • Windows 10 S
  • 3.75 lbs
  • USB 3.2 Type-C, USB 3.2 Type-A, USB 2.0, and HDMI port
  • Backlit keyboard
  • Ergolift Hinge
  • Fingerprint sensor

Review

One of the first things you’ll notice is the sleek brushed aluminum lid and the ultra-slim bezels that should make for a more immersive experience. However, the experience is let down somewhat by the poor viewing angles of the 15.6” Full HD screen.

It has an ErgoLift hinge that props up the back of the laptop to make typing more comfortable. You also get a fingerprint sensor for fast and secure login. The Asus VivoBook was designed for productivity and comes with a quad-core Intel i3-1005G1, a 256GB SSD, and 8GBs of DDR4 memory that provides solid performance for multi-tasking.

If display quality isn’t a dealbreaker for you, the Vivobook makes for snappy user experience in a nicely designed form factor.

3. Lenovo IdeaPad 3 14" Laptop

If you’re looking for more performance than what a dual-core CPU can offer, then consider the Lenovo IdeaPad 3 which features a quad-core processor. The Lenovo IdeaPad 3 also features a Full HD display in a small form factor (14”) for a sharp picture.

Lenovo IdeaPad 3 14" Laptop

Lenovo IdeaPad 3 14" Laptop

Features

  • AMD Ryzen 5 3500U 2.1 GHz quad-core processor
  • 14.0" Full HD (1920 x 1080) display
  • 8GB DDR4 RAM
  • 256GB SSD
  • AMD Radeon Vega 8 Integrated Graphics
  • Dolby Audio
  • 802.11ac WiFi and Bluetooth 4.1
  • Windows 10
  • 3.30 lbs
  • 2x USB 3.0 port, 1x USB 2.0 ports, 1x HDMI port

Review

The quad-core AMD Ryzen 5 3500U and AMD Radeon Vega 8 Integrated Graphics gives you a little more oomph for more intensive tasks like graphic design, light gaming on lower settings, or having multiple apps open. The Lenovo IdeaPad 3 also features a physical shutter for privacy that covers the webcam when not in use and Dolby Audio for better sound.

The IdeaPad 3 14” comes with Lenovo’s Q-Control, which allows you to quickly switch between “max mode” for a little more performance or “battery saving mode” when you need efficiency. Weighing at just 3.30 lbs it’s easy to get work done on the go using the comfortable keyboard.

4. ASUS L406 Thin and Light Laptop

Portability is where the Asus L406 really shines. At 2.87 lbs, the slim Asus L406 will last up to 12 hours on one charge and can charge to 60% in just 49 minutes.

ASUS L406 Thin and Light Laptop

ASUS L406 Thin and Light Laptop

Features

  • Intel Celeron N4000 dual-core processor (up to 2.6 GHz)
  • 14.0'' HD (1366x768) matte display with ASUS NanoEdge Bezel
  • 4GB DDR4 RAM
  • 64GB eMMC flash storage
  • Intel UHD Integrated Graphics 600
  • 802.11ac WiFi
  • Windows 10 S
  • 1-year Microsoft 365 personal subscription
  • 2.8 lbs
  • 2x USB 3.0 ports
  • 12 hours battery life

Review

The power-efficient dual-core Intel Celeron N4000 allows for an ultra-quiet fanless design and is ideal for basic tasks such as emails and web browsing. While 64GB of onboard storage might not seem like a lot, the ability to increase storage with an SD card is a welcome addition for those who like to store files locally.

The Asus L406 is not the most feature-packed laptop out there, but it gets the basics right for those who need the basics done in an ultra-portable design.

5. HP 14-inch Touchscreen Laptop

If you’ve used a computer then you are most likely comfortable using a mouse, but there are times when a touchscreen is preferred. A touch screen can be beneficial for those who do graphic designing or simply for those that find a touchscreen more natural to use.

HP 14-inch Touchscreen Laptop

HP 14-inch Touchscreen Laptop

Features

  • Processor: AMD Ryzen 3 3200U dual-core processor 2.6 GHz (up to 3.5 GHz)
  • 14” HD touchscreen (1366 x 768) display
  • 8GB DDR4 RAM
  • 256GB SSD
  • AMD Radeon Vega 3 integrated graphics
  • 802.11ac WiFi and Bluetooth 4.2
  • Windows 10 S
  • 3.25 lbs
  • 2x USB 3.1, 1x USB 3.1 Type-C, and 1 HDMI port
  • 8-hour battery life

Review

The HP Touchscreen Laptop won’t disappoint those who prefer touch input, featuring a 14” HD display with minimal side bezels. Sporting an AMD Ryzen 3 3200U and 8GBs of RAM, this HP laptop is suited for less intensive graphic processing and light multitasking.

If you need to bring your work on the go, the HP Touchscreen Laptop can get you up to 8 hours of battery life with HP’s Fast Charge.

6. Lenovo IdeaPad 3 15" Laptop

The Lenovo IdeaPad 3 15” features a numeric keypad which is handy if you’re working with lots of numbers. The IdeaPad 3 with 4GB of DDR4 RAM should be able to handle multiple spreadsheets and light multitasking.

Lenovo IdeaPad 3 15" Laptop

Lenovo IdeaPad 3 15" Laptop

Features

  • AMD Ryzen 3 3250U dual-core processor
  • 15.6" HD (1366 x 768) display
  • 4GB DDR4 RAM
  • 128GB SSD
  • AMD Radeon Vega 3 Integrated Graphics
  • Dolby Audio
  • 802.11ac WiFi and Bluetooth 4.1
  • Windows 10 Home
  • 4.84 lbs
  • 3x USB ports and 1 HDMI port
  • SD card reader
  • 6 hours of battery life
  • Physical webcam shutter

Review

With the numeric keypad, the IdeaPad 3 does come with a little more weight but that’s not to say it isn’t portable at 4.84 lbs. The IdeaPad 3 comes with Lenovo’s Q-Control, which allows you to quickly switch between “max mode” for a little more performance or “battery saving mode” when you need longer battery life.

Even though numeric keypads on laptops are aimed at productivity, the IdeaPad was also designed with media consumption in mind: the laptop features Dolby Audio for a more immersive sound when watching movies or listening to music. All in all, this is a solid option for work, everyday tasks, and entertainment.

7. HP 14" High Performance Business Laptop

The HP 14” Laptop sports an AMD Athlon Silver 3050U dual-core processor, and while not the most powerful laptop in this list, it is still a decent option for web browsing, basic entertainment, and light productivity.

HP 14" High Performance Business Laptop

HP 14" High Performance Business Laptop

Features

  • AMD Athlon Silver 3050U dual-core processor (up to 3.2GHz)
  • 14" HD (1366 x 768) SVA anti-glare micro-edge WLED-backlit display
  • 4GB DDR4 RAM
  • 128GB SSD
  • AMD Radeon Graphics
  • 802.11ac WiFi and Bluetooth 4.2
  • Windows 10 S
  • 4.41 lbs
  • 1x USB 3.0 Type C Port, 2x USB 3.0 Type A Ports, and HDMI port
  • SD card reader

Review

The HP 14” Laptop features an anti-glare display for easy viewing and 802.11ac WiFi which is absolutely essential to stay connected while on the go. Sometimes all we need is a device to get the simple tasks done with ease and the HP 14” Laptop could very well be that device.

8. DELL Inspiron 15.6" HD Business Laptop

The Dell Inspiron is the only laptop on this list with a disc drive and that deserves a mention. While most people can get away without one, disc drives are still important for a number of users to read and write data.

DELL Inspiron 15.6" HD Business Laptop

DELL Inspiron 15.6" HD Business Laptop

Features

  • Intel Celeron 4205U dual-core processor
  • 15.6” HD (1366 x 768) anti-glare LED-Backlit display
  • 8GB DDR4 RAM
  • 128GB SSD
  • Intel UHD Integrated Graphics 610
  • DVD Drive
  • 802.11ac WiFi and Bluetooth 4.1
  • KKE Mousepad
  • Windows 10 Pro
  • 4.83 lbs
  • 2x USB 3.1 ports, 1x USB 2.0 port, 1x HDMI port
  • SD card reader

Review

The DELL Inspiron is also the only laptop here to feature Windows 10 Pro. Windows 10 Pro offers a range of business-focused features including BitLocker which helps to secure sensitive data.

The 8GBs of DDR4 memory will help with multitasking and the Intel Celeron 4205U dual-core processor is enough for your basic business needs such as creating documents, spreadsheets and emailing.

Laptop Buying Guide

When choosing a laptop you need to have an idea of how you’ll be using it, so here are some important things to consider:

  1. Portability
  2. Larger laptops tend to have larger batteries and therefore longer battery life but will also be heavier. For good portability in terms of weight, look for something between 2-5 lbs. If you know you’ll be away from an electrical outlet for prolonged periods, then consider a laptop with at least 8+ hours of battery life.

  3. Performance
  4. Do you need pure performance for intensive tasks or do you need just the basics? Dual-core processors are designed for basic tasks like emailing, web browsing, and creating documents; while quad-core (and up) are designed for more demanding tasks such as multi-tasking, gaming, and working with graphics.

    More system memory means better performance in multitasking. In terms of system memory, 4GB should be considered the minimum for basic tasks and 8GB (and up) for more advanced tasks. Keep in mind that the type of performance you choose can also affect the laptop’s portability: more powerful laptops tend to be larger and heavier.

  5. Display
  6. Common laptop displays range in size from 13” to 17”. The larger the display, the less portable but keep in mind that larger laptops have more powerful specs. A 13” to 15” display may be ideal for everyday tasks like emailing, browsing, and writing, while being very portable. For extended use, more intensive tasks, or graphical work, a 15”+ may be better suited, while being less portable.

    Resolution is also important. A Full HD (1920 x 1080) screen displays more detail than a non Full HD screen of the same size and is ideal for those working with graphics and images. HD (1366 x 768) displays provide less detail but are more than enough for most tasks.

    Pixel density is another factor to keep in mind. A smaller display size such as 14” with a resolution of 1366 x 768 will still display an image that is sharp. Larger displays need a higher resolution (e.g. 1920 x 1080) to maintain sharpness.

  7. Storage
  8. All the laptops in this review feature SSDs for storage. SSDs are much faster and provide better performance than conventional hard disk drives and are less prone to failure. 128GB to 256GB of storage is standard in this price range.

    More storage comes at a premium but there is the option of cloud storage if you’ll always have an internet connection.

*Please note that some of the laptops in this review feature Windows 10 S. In short, Windows 10 S was designed for simplicity and only allows for apps in the Microsoft Store to be installed. However, if you need more flexibility you can still upgrade to a full version of Windows.

Conclusion

Being on a budget doesn’t mean you have to sacrifice performance. There are many great options with decent specs and you can narrow them down by knowing what kind of tasks you’ll be doing.

Keep in mind though that even if you’re on a budget, just because one device is cheaper than the other doesn't make it the best option. Sometimes by spending a little more now, on a laptop with stronger specs (e.g. quad-core), you’ll get a laptop that lasts a few more years and actually saves you more money in the long run.

A laptop that can easily be upgraded means that you can spend a little money every few years to extend your laptop’s life, instead of shelling out on a new device too soon.

Whether you’ll be doing basic everyday tasks, viewing entertainment, or doing business, or even a combination, there should be a laptop for you on this list.

About Silver Moon

A Tech Enthusiast, Blogger, Linux Fan and a Software Developer. Writes about Computer hardware, Linux and Open Source software and coding in Python, Php and Javascript. He can be reached at [email protected].

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