Now a days it’s basically a requirement to have a laptop. Especially if you’re a student or you have a job that requires you to sometimes work at home or on the go. Unfortunately, despite a lot of advances in technology since their inception, getting a decent laptop can be a costly endeavor. The key is to be realistic about what it is you want your laptop to do, and striking a good compromise between quality and budget. If the only thing you need a laptop for is to check your e-mails and browse the web there’s no reason to drop thousands of dollars on a high end gaming laptop. These are the best laptops under $500 that will appeal to the needs of most consumers. First, ask yourself what you want to do with your laptop?
- I need a laptop for school that can last all day for my classes.
- I need a laptop that let’s me play high end games.
- I need a laptop for watching movies and doing work or school tasks at home.
- I need a laptop with a long battery life for work travel or writing away from home.
The first step to choosing a laptop is being realistic about your goals for that machine. While a netbook might be a great deal it will be useless to you if you buy it expecting it to play the newest games on max settings. It’s just not going to work. Once you identify which type of laptop you’re looking for, read on for my recommendations for gamers, tablet combos and everyday use! These are some of the highest rated laptops for less than $500. What do you expect your computer to do on a daily basis?
ASUS Touchscreen Chromebook Flip Laptop/Tablet Combo
Do you need the functionality of a laptop, but you want all the fun that comes with a tablet? The Asus Chromebook flip could be an awesome choice. This little laptop weighs just 2.65 lbs, perfect for the person on the go that needs to stay connected to the rest of the world. You’ll also enjoy 10 hours of battery life which is common with Chromebooks, and my favorite thing about them. If you’re not familiar with Chromebooks you should understand exactly what this is before purchasing. This is not a windows platform machine. You can not install windows software on it.
Anything you can do from your web browser you can do from a Chromebook. If you need to use specific software for work that needs to be installed or you’re looking for a gaming machine this is not it. I purchased a Chromebook, because I wanted something with a battery that would last more than 5 minutes so I could write away from home at the park or the beach. For this, the Chromebook is fantastic. It’s fast, efficient, light weight, has a long lasting battery, and you can easily access your writing or project files from cloud apps. For this application it excels. A Chromebook is good for people who:
- Use primarily web based applications like e-mail or web browsing
- Do a lot of writing or business correspondence on the go
- Need something with a long battery life
- Want the functionality of both a touchscreen tablet and a laptop
- Use a lot of streaming services (Netflix, Spotify, ect.)
- Like playing browser/phone app style games
A Chromebook is NOT for people who:
- Want to play installed Windows games like World of Warcraft or Guild Wars 2
- Need installed Windows software for work or school (Like photoshop or Ableton)
If you have to spend a lot of time in airports or on the road between charges whilst answering e-mails or doing Skype chats this is a great laptop for you. Are you a writer that wants to sit at the beach all day and bust out your latest novel without worrying about charging? This is awesome. Do you want to quickly swap from working on business e-mails or website issues to playing games on a touch screen tablet? This is a great choice. Do you need to use Photoshop for heavy photo editing, get in a raid on World of Warcraft on the go, or use proprietary software for work? This will not work out for you.
I honestly love my Chromebook, but you should be realistic about your needs before purchasing one. This was not meant to deter you, but simply to explain what this machine does or does not do since many people seem to be confused about what they can do with a Chromebook.
I much prefer a Chromebook for a lower budget computer over a windows system. Why? Windows 10 is just too bulky to perform on a system with 2-4GB of RAM. I also have a very disappointing HP netbook with Windows 10 that is painfully slow and even crashes during normal everyday operations like browsing the web! In contrast, the Chromebook handles everyday tasks beautifully with less hardware and more efficiency. If you don’t need any windows software it’s a great option.
- The flexible 360 degree hinge and 12.5” Full-HD touchscreen lets you use the C302 in tablet or laptop mode.
- Extremely lightweight at 2.65 pounds with the protection of a sleek aluminum metal body.
- Unlock the power of Chromebooks with access to your favorite Chrome Web Store apps like Google Docs and it is Google Play Store/Android app ready.
- Starts up in seconds and lasts all day, thanks to a long battery life rated up to 10 hours*.
- Intel Core Processor with 64GB storage and 4GB RAM for fast and efficient performance.
Best Laptop/Tablet Combo for busy people on the go that use online applications.
HP Probook High Performance Laptop
Looking for something with a little more fire under the hood? The HP Probook is a high performance laptop for the gamer on a budget. If you’re wanting to do some gaming on the go, but you’ve only got $500 to spend this could be the right choice. This laptop features an AMD 10 1.8ghz quad core processor, 16GB of ram, a 1TB HD and Radeon R6 graphics. You can expect to play many newer titles in their full glory on medium settings, which is more than enough for reliable game play. If you want to see every shadow and texture I’m afraid you might need to spend more than $500. While this is an excellent value computer it just doesn’t have that kind of rendering power. You’ll need to add another digit to the front of your budget for that type of performance on a laptop.
This computer is about twice as heavy as our last entry, and due to the hardware upgrade the battery life greatly suffers. While the manufacturer claims 6 hours of battery life I imagine it’s closer to 4 hours under a full load. If you plan to be travelling it would be advisable to bring an extra battery or two or be on the look out for charging locations. You will however get a solid performance from this little beauty if that’s what you’re after. I’m partial to AMD hardware, and I’ve never had any regrets purchasing their products. Some customers claim that this laptop runs a little hot so you might want to invest in a laptop cooling pad to keep your gaming sessions on ice, and to keep the heat from effecting your laptop’s performance. While you won’t be playing anything on max settings it’s a great price smart compromise. Especially if you’re supposed to be buying a computer for school, but hoping to get double duty and use it for a gaming machine as well. Don’t worry, I won’t tell your mom.
- AMD A10-8700 APU, 1.8 GHz (up to 3.2 GHz, 2 MB cache, 4 cores), RadeonTM R6 Graphics
- 16GB DDR3L 1600MHz RAM, 1TB SATA Hard Drive SuperMulti DL; DVD-ROM
- 15.6-inch High-Definition Anti-glare LED Backlit Display (1366 x 768), HD Webcam, HDMI, VGA
- 802.11b/g/n Wifi, 1x USB 3.0 Port, 2x USB 2.0 Ports, 1x RJ-45 Port Ethernet, SD card reader, Bluetooth
- Windows 10; 4-Cell Lithium-ion with up to 6 hrs Battery Life
Best Laptop for gaming or applications that need a lot of memory.
Dell Inspiron 15 Laptop
Dell has been making home computers for years, but they seem to have been pushed into the background lately. Despite that they still have some solid offerings like their Inspiron laptops. These value laptops can pack a real punch under the hood, and this one comes with a high quality HD touch screen. If you’d like to watch movies in HD quality, and you enjoy touch screen games/apps this is a great choice. Inside you can find 8GB of ram and a 2.20 ghz intel processor. This is great for the average person’s usage, and even for using some higher end applications that demand more processing power.
It’s also got a 1TB hard drive which offers lots of storage for all your movies, music and applications. The touch screen also features multi-finger support. Cheaper touch screens often only feature one point of contact for accepting commands. These screen are typically less responsive, and more of a pain than a feature. A multi-touch screen on the other hand will allow you to touch with more than one finger. This allows for actions like zooming, and other useful functionalities for using apps or playing touchscreen games. It also has a back lit keyboard if you’re finding yourself typing in low light conditions. This laptop, like the last one has a 6 hour battery life. This is of course dependent on what you do with the hardware. If you put more strain on it then it will consume more power, and the battery life will be shorter. You can conserve the battery life by doing things like dimming the screen or turning off background features that are meant to be stylish, but serve no real purpose. Windows 10 has a pretty good power saving mode you can take advantage of for this.
This computer also has some other features like a DVD burner that is becoming a novelty in today’s computers. The weight is a little heavy for me at over 5 lbs, but this laptop is certainly a good value for the money. It has a lot of functionality for the price, and would be a solid family computer or one to do school work on.
- 4th generation Intel Core i5-4210u 2.20 GHz with Turbo Boost Technology up to 2.70 GHz ; Studio-quality sound with Waves MaxxAudio
- Brilliant TrueLife display: 15.6 in HD LED-backlit touchscreen with TrueLife (1920 x 1080), 10-finger multi-touch support ; Backlit keyboard
- 1TB 5400 RPM SATA Hard Drive; 8GB DDR3L 1600 MHz Memory for multitasking power ; Windows 10, the latest operating system
- Media card reader ; Intel HD Graphics 4400 with shared graphics memory ; Bluetooth
- Wireless: 802.11ac/a/b/g/n (Miracast enabled) ; Ports: 1 USB 3.0 ; 2 USB 2.0 ; HDMI ; Headphone output/Microphone input combo ; LAN (10/100) ; Security lock port
Best overall laptop for everyday use.