The best laptops under $500 for 2020

Mark Coppock on August 5, 2020.” data-reactid=”12″>This article was last updated by Digital Trends reviewer Mark Coppock on August 5, 2020.

The best laptop under $500 is the

Acer Aspire 5” data-reactid=”14″>Acer Aspire 5

. Laptops at this price point often have significant compromises, whether that’s in performance, the screen quality, or battery life. The Aspire 5, though, manages to have almost everything you’d want in a modern laptop at an impressive price discount.

best Chromebook under $500, best 13-inch laptop under $500, and even the best laptop under $200.” data-reactid=”20″>Beyond that, we’ve also made selections for best Chromebook under $500, best 13-inch laptop under $500, and even the best laptop under $200.

The best laptops under $500 at a glance:

The best laptop under $500: Acer Aspire 5

Mark Coppock/Digital Trends” data-reactid=”45″>

Mark Coppock/Digital Trends

$478 from Amazon” data-reactid=”49″>$478 from Amazon

Acer’s Aspire 5 has improved significantly in its recent update, bringing better performance, build quality, and battery life. The latest model is priced slightly higher right now, but it often comes in at under $500 with a 10th-generation Core i3-1005G1U CPU, 4GB of RAM, a 128GB SSD, and a 15.6-inch Full HD display.

That’s a lot of computer for not a lot of money. Better yet, this is a well-built budget laptop that inspires confidence in hand, and its keyboard and touchpad punch way above its class. Battery life is also a plus, with the Aspire 5 competing with laptops costing far more money.

The 15-inch 1080p display is very good for the price as well, though you’ll have to jump just outside the $500 budget to add touch-screen functionality. Since this laptop isn’t a 2-in-1 though, that is less of a concern for this sort of money.

Acer Aspire 5 review” data-reactid=”53″>Read our in-depth Acer Aspire 5 review

The best 13-inch laptop under $500: Lenovo Chromebook Flex 5

Impressively, there’s a 1oth-gen Intel Core i3-10110U CPU inside, which is plenty fast for Chrome OS. The 4GB of RAM is enough for good performance and moderate multitasking prowess, and 64GB of storage is sufficient if you make good use of the cloud.

It should be no surprise that it’s a Chromebook that occupies this category, and the Chromebook Flex 5 is a lot of computer for a little bit of money.

Lenovo Chromebook Flex 5 review” data-reactid=”78″>Read our in-depth Lenovo Chromebook Flex 5 review

The best 2-in-1 under $500: Microsoft Surface Go 2

Luke Larsen / Digital Trends” data-reactid=”96″>

Luke Larsen / Digital Trends

$550 from Microsoft” data-reactid=”100″>$550 from Microsoft

the Surface range — but that doesn’t mean it’s not a capable little machine. Starting at a price well under our $500 limit, you might think that this is a little too cheap, even for what we’re looking at, but you’d be mistaken. Borrowing many of the excellent features from its more costly siblings like the Surface Pro 7, the Surface Go 2 is a sturdy, well-built detachable 2-in-1 that works just as well in tablet mode as it does as a laptop.” data-reactid=”101″>Microsoft’s Surface Go 2, now in its second generation, is the baby of the Surface range — but that doesn’t mean it’s not a capable little machine. Starting at a price well under our $500 limit, you might think that this is a little too cheap, even for what we’re looking at, but you’d be mistaken. Borrowing many of the excellent features from its more costly siblings like the Surface Pro 7, the Surface Go 2 is a sturdy, well-built detachable 2-in-1 that works just as well in tablet mode as it does as a laptop.

The Surface Go 2 isn’t the fastest device in the world either, but the tablet packs a decent battery life and at this price point, you aren’t going to find a Windows 2-in-1 that can better it.

Surface Go 2 review” data-reactid=”104″>Read our in-depth Surface Go 2 review

The best Chromebook under $500: Lenovo IdeaPad Duet

$299 from Best Buy” data-reactid=”114″>$299 from Best Buy

If you’re on a budget and want a detachable tablet that can meet your web browsing and light productivity needs, look no further than Lenovo’s IdeaPad Duet. It’s an attractively priced tablet at $279 ($299 with 128GB of storage), and best of all it includes a kickstand cover with a great keyboard with touchpad.

Lenovo IdeaPad Duet review” data-reactid=”117″>Read our Lenovo IdeaPad Duet review

The best laptop under $200: Lenovo Chromebook S340

The Samsung Chromebook 4+ might be prettier, but the Lenovo Chromebook S340 sells for an unbelievable price. Despite having the same components as Samsung’s (Intel Celeron N4000, 4GB of RAM, 32GB of storage), the S340 is a whopping $300 cheaper. The S340 even has a touchscreen to boot.

$292 from Walmart” data-reactid=”136″>$292 from Walmart

Its one significant compromise is the screen. It measures at a solid 14 inches, but is only a 1,366 x 768 screen resolution with a max of 220 nits. That’s not all that impressive or sharp, but for a $200 Chromebook, it’ll get you by. You’d be hard-pressed to find a laptop with more value than the Lenovo Chromebook S340.

Research and buying tips

Are laptops under $500 good?

They can be, though finding one that doesn’t make compromises in multiple areas is difficult. Try to avoid laptops with a screen resolution under 1080p, Windows 10 laptops with a Pentium processor, or laptops without a solid-state drive. There are always exceptions, but those are the types of components that make a significant difference to your experience with a laptop.

Regardless of which you choose, you shouldn’t expect your $500 laptop to do complicated tasks like video editing or gaming. These are for basic computing, word processing, and web browsing.

Should I buy a Chromebook?

They even support Android apps through the Google Play Store, which gives you access to a huge portfolio of mobile apps and games. That said, the Android app experience can leave much to be desired, so you shouldn’t count on it.

The downside is that you can’t just go online and install any application. In fact, anything outside of what you can do in a web browser is off-limits.

Can you buy a gaming laptop for under $500?

For the most part, no. The cheapest gaming laptops

bottom out around $600 or $650” data-reactid=”153″>bottom out around $600 or $650

. Those laptops are already fairly underpowered for modern games, though if you play lighter games and are willing to play at low settings, they’ll get by.

None of the laptops on this list are a good choice for 3D gaming.

What is missing from $500 laptops?

Most $500 laptops are made out of plastic, unlike aluminum and other premium materials used in expensive laptops. You’ll also find faster performance in these more expensive laptops. Quad-core processors and 8GB of RAM are the norm in mid-range laptops, while most of the options on this list have less.

Expensive laptops often specialize in either battery life or graphics performance. The Dell XPS 13 will provide you all-day battery life, while the Razer Blade will let you play modern games at high frame rates. When you’re shopping under $500, you should expect a bare-bones laptop. It can handle most day to day tasks with ease, but gaming, photo/video editing, and other more demanding tasks may require a higher budget.

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