12 Best Laptops Under $500 in 2017
Laptops are a dime a dozen these days, and you do not have to look hard to find one at any particular price point. In this case, we went on a search for the best laptops under $500, which included a few thousand products and a couple of dozen brands.
We narrowed the field for you by choosing the top laptops in this class, and have included something for everyone with 2-in-1’s and traditional laptops. As you already know your price range, let’s take a quick look at our Top 12.
Top 12 Laptops Under $500 Comparison Table
|Design||Name||Style||Operating System||Rating (1-5)|
|1. HP Notebook 15.6 Inch Touchscreen Premium Laptop PC||Traditional||Windows 10||4.4|
|2. ASUS Chromebook Flip C302CA-DHM4||2-in-1||Chrome||4.4|
|3. Acer Spin 5, 13.3″ Full HD Touch||2-in-1||Windows 10||4.3|
|4. HP – Pavilion x360 2-in-1 13.3″ Touch-Screen Laptop||2-in-1||Windows 10||4.1|
|5. Samsung Chromebook Plus Convertible Touch Laptop||2-in-1||Chrome||4.0|
|6. Acer Swift 3, 14″ Full HD, 7th Gen Intel Core i3-7100U||Traditional||Windows 10||4.0|
|7. ASUS 13.3″ HD Touchscreen 2 in 1 Laptop Computer||2-in-1||Windows 10||4.0|
|8. Dell Inspiron 15.6” Touch-Screen HD I3558-10000BLK Laptop||Traditional||Windows 10||3.9|
|9. ASUS P-Series P2540UA-AB51 business standard Laptop||Traditional||Windows 10||3.9|
|10. Dell Inspiron 15 5000 15.6″ FHD Touchscreen Laptop||Traditional||Windows 10||3.8|
|11. Toshiba Satellite C55-B5270 Laptop PC||Traditional||Windows 8||3.7|
|12. ASUS X555DA-AS11 15 inch Full-HD AMD Quad Core Laptop||Traditional||Windows 10||3.7|
Budget Laptop Buying Tips
When you drop down under a certain price, finding a great laptop can be tricky. That means there are several areas you’ll need to consider that you might have not on higher-priced models.
Type of Laptop
Once upon a time, laptops were heavy objects that were slower than desktops across the board. Things have changed over the past 20 years, and now you can pick up a beastly machine under 4 pounds that can hang with the big boys. There are also different styles of laptops, and we will discuss the most popular two styles below.
- Traditional – These laptops are what we refer to as “old-school” although made with modern components and generally lightweight. They are traditional in the sense that they don’t transform or have screens pop loose so you can use them as tablets.
- 2-in-1 Laptops – Any machine on our best laptops under $500 list with the 2-in-1 tag is a convertible in some sense. These either have displays that flip all the way backward or in some cases detach altogether. They can be underpowered compared to regular laptops, but that isn’t always the case.
Generally, when it comes to laptops, consumers can go four ways with Windows, Mac, Linux or Chrome. Linux is still far from mainstream, and you won’t find it on our list, and the same can be said for MacBooks. That’s not because they aren’t popular enough, it’s due to their price as they are out of our range this time around. That means you will be dealing with the Chrome OS or Windows.
There’s not much to say about Windows-based PC’s as you can run anything you’d like on them as long as there is enough power under the hood. Chromebooks are nice, but underpowered in most cases when compared to Windows laptops. You will probably hit a compatibility issue as well with certain programs as Chromebooks are best suited for surfing the web and light, general use.
Display & Horsepower
What type of programs do you plan on running? That’s what you’ll need to ask yourself before looking into the processor and RAM. If you intend on running things like Photoshop, you will need plenty of RAM and at least an i5 processor. A good baseline to shoot for is 8GB, but you can still run plenty with 4GB although high-end games are out.
As for the display, if you plan on watching a lot of media you may want to opt for a laptop with an FHD or Full HD display at a minimum. The next step up would be 2K or QHD while 4K is top of the line. The size of the screen and graphics card is important as well. If you plan to do any hardcore gaming, look for a laptop with a dedicated graphics card and stay away from any integrated chips.
Top 5 Best Laptops Under $500 Reviews
First up on our list of the best laptops under $500 is a traditional style PC from the folks at HP. This is a 15.6” machine with a touchscreen display, so you’ll be able to play some interesting games or doodle with a digit or stylus. Want to rip a CD or watch a DVD? That won’t be an issue with the HP Premium Laptop as it’s one of the few to sport an optical drive.
When it comes to power, it’s a mixed bag. There is an ample amount of RAM with 8GB, but the processor is only a Core i3-7100U although it is far from slow. The graphics are handled by an integrated chip in the Intel HD 620 while that large display only has a resolution of HD at 1,366 x 768. On the flipside, there is a full array of connectivity options including HDMI out, a USB 3.0 port, Bluetooth, and an HP TrueVision webcam. It’s solid the storage department as well with a 1TB hard disk drive.
There are a few negatives with this model, but the positives far outweigh those as long as you don’t need a laptop with top-tier chip or FHD panel. The PC will arrive at your doorstep running the 64-bit version of Windows 10 and has an average battery life of around 5-7 hours.
Initially, Chromebooks looked like a fad that might quickly fade away. While they are not going to replace Windows-based PCs, they have made their presence felt, and ASUS has had a hand in that. The ASUS Chromebook Flip is our top choice from the company, and it’s the first 2-in-1 laptop to make our list due to a unique hinge.
The Chromebook Flip lives up to its name as you can turn the display backward use it as a tablet. You can also put it in “tent” mode if you want to watch a flick or play a game with a friend. The touchscreen display opens the doors to new possibilities in that department when you factor in the many Android games available through the Chrome OS. The 12.5” panel has a resolution of 1,920 x 1,080, so it’s Full HD and is of the LED variety. Unfortunately, those were the highlights when it comes to specifications.
This Chromebook is a bit underwhelming under the hood with an Intel Core M processor, 4GB of RAM and only 64GB of flash storage. You can expand the latter through a USB 3.0 or Type-C port, but there is nothing you can do about the RAM or processor. In other words, this laptop is best for consumers that need a light duty machine and don’t need to run many Windows-based programs.
Our second 2-in-1 comes from Acer and is another laptop that can magically transform into a tablet or be used in tent mode for gaming or media. While it has the same FHD resolution as the Chromebook, the display is slightly larger at 13.3” but still has 10 finger multi-touch capabilities. You’ll also get a bit more to work on the inside.
The Core i3-7100U is back in action for the Acer Spin 5 and is accompanied by 4GB of RAM. Things get better in the storage department however with a 128GB solid state drive which offers up quick access to files and instant boot times. The sound system is slick on this one as well with a TrueHarmony High-Performance setup featuring two stereo speakers and a built-in digital microphone. Connectivity options include HDMI out, USB 2.0 x2, USB 3.0, Bluetooth, and Dual-Band Wi-Fi with Mu-MIMO tech.
Like many laptops in this class, you aren’t going to get too much power for the price although this one should handle more than most. It’s a good looking laptop as well with a backlit keyboard and fantastic battery life at around 10 hours depending on your usage.
In the budget-friendly class, some names ring out more than others including HP. The HP Pavilion lineup has been around for decades, and their newest models come with 360-degree hinges in case you want to shake things up. You can do just that with the HP Pavilion x360, another laptop with 2-in-1 sensibilities.
This little laptop has a 13.3” touchscreen display with a resolution of 1,920 x 1,080. The popular Core i3 and 4GB of RAM combo are present on this one as well although the processor is a little older as it’s the 4th Gen i3-4030U. The hard drive is more than sufficient at 500GB while an Intel HD 4400 Graphics chip takes care of your media and gaming needs. The usual bells & whistles are present in the connectivity department along with HDMI out.
The HP Pavilion X360 is in the middle of the pack when it comes to power but has a few negatives we should point out. It’s hefty despite its size at 5.5 pounds and only runs Windows 8 out of the box, so you’ll need to do a lengthy upgrade to Windows 10.
Samsung’s Chromebook Plus shares a lot of similarities with other Chrome-based laptops on our list. Whether that’s a good thing or not depends on your needs although we feel this one brings plenty to the table in other areas. Size would be one of them as the Plus only weighs under 2.5 pounds and is razor thin at 0.55”. Needless to say, the display is not the largest.
You will only get a 12.3” panel on this particular laptop, but don’t let that throw you off. The resolution is QHD at 2,400 x 1,600 which will blister your eyeballs given the size of the display. The pixels will not be “stretched”, and it is a touchscreen laptop to boot. When you factor in the 360-degree hinge, Samsung’s custom software and the fact it comes with a stylus, you may be able to overlook some important specifications including 4GB of RAM and 32GB of flash storage.
This laptop is built for those that enjoy creating digital art or need a convertible laptop for taking notes or school work. It’s extremely portable, just make sure you have a flash drive or two handy considering it has less storage than most smartphones. The cloud is an option as well, and Google generally kicks some nice freebies with their cloud-based services.