Flagship electronics seem to be released almost daily now, but sometimes you don’t always need the shiniest new device to get the job done.
When it comes to laptops specifically, it’s easy to get carried away and end up with features you’ll never use and don’t need, especially depending on what you plan to use it for.
If you look carefully though, you can get a quality laptop and stay under 500 dollars without breaking a sweat.
- HP Pavilion 17″: Offering the most connections, 1TB of storage space, and plenty of screen real estate, the Pavillion is most likely to be able to replace a desktop computer.
- Acer Swift 13.3″: A compact, highly portable laptop with a variety of ports, this computer is best for someone who mostly plans on browsing the web and won’t be installing much.
- Acer Aspire 5 15″: A great all-around option, offering a speedy SSD, good battery life, and an 8th generation Intel processor. It balances size and power.
Who Should Get This?
What kind of laptop you get is heavily dependent on what you plan to use it for. Someone who plans to spend their time editing 4K video is going to need a lot more power than someone else who just wants to watch Netflix and type the occasional Word document.
The suggestions in this review would be good choices for those who need something for schoolwork, browsing the internet, or other standard programs like Microsoft Office. They would be poor fits for someone who plans to play intensive video games or work in graphics & editing.
Best Laptop under $500: What to Consider?
There are several things you should take into consideration before picking a laptop.
The easiest way to narrow your search is by deciding what size laptop you’re comfortable with. The usual sizes are 13″, 15″, and 17″, but you may find some less common variations. Obviously, a larger screen may be more comfortable for viewing, but the extra weight will quickly become noticeable if you plan to regularly take it to and from work or school.
Your processor is the core of your computer, responsible for executing your every click and command. Processors have a speed rating in Hz. Higher Hz indicates a faster processor. Intel and AMD are the main processor brands. The former tends to be more popular while the latter is cheaper, but they are fairly equal in terms of quality.
Random Access Memory or RAM is where your computer stores things it needs to reference quickly. If you want your laptop to be future-proof, 8GB is a good amount of RAM to get. Anything less will soon become obsolete, and anything more is probably an overkill if you don’t have a high-level processor to make use of it.
HDD vs SSD Storage
How much storage will you need? If its a lot, you’ll probably want to look at traditional HDD drives (spinning disks), since these are cheaper per GB of space. However, if you don’t plan on installing, downloading, or storing much on your computer, a more modern SSD will give you a boost in speed at the cost of space.
Unless your laptop will always live at your desk connected to its power cord, you’re going to want a good battery that will get you through the day. Keep in mind that real battery life is almost always less than what’s advertised, and is affected by things like how bright your screen is, use of Bluetooth, and which applications are running.
It’s becoming more and more common for laptops to come with limited ports. While USB-C is definitely the future of ports, not everyone has had the chance to catch up yet. If you still regularly use equipment that requires older ports, have a lot of peripherals, or need a disk drive, you’ll need to keep this in mind when picking a laptop.
Best Laptops under $500: Our Picks
This Pavillion laptop is one in a long line of trustworthy Pavillion computers from HP. It has a 17-inch screen, plenty of connectivity, and 1 terabyte of storage so you’ll have plenty of space for applications, images, documents, and more. Rather than an intel processor, it includes an AMD A10 and integrated Radeon R5 graphics. The silver body uses HP’s special hinge that lifts the laptop slightly off the table for better ventilation.
- Most connectivity of any laptop here, including ports for Ethernet, HDMI, a disk reader, and an SD card reader in addition to 1 USB C port and 2 USB 3.1 Gen 1 ports.
- 1 TB hard drive is plenty of space and won’t fill up quickly, and 8GB of RAM will make getting things done efficiently a breeze.
- A large screen with a 1080p resolution is great for those who need lots of space and a clear image.
- Since the screen is 17″ and the laptop weighs around 6 lbs, it’s not super portable and will probably spend most of its life on your desk.
- It doesn’t use an SSD, so boot up times will be longer than competing laptops.
If you want a smaller laptop, then the Acer Swift may be a good choice for you. Despite the small size, it offers an HD screen and ports such as HDMI and SD card in addition to the standard USBs. However, packing modern features into a 13″ laptop is extremely difficult, so it’s understandable that the Swift has lower specs than some of its competitors. It only has 4GB of RAM and 64GB of storage, so this laptop is best for light users who plan to do most of their work on the web.
- A small, portable design is great for everyday travel. The laptop weighs less than 3lbs.
- Includes the classic USB ports as well as the more modern USB C.
- Good variety of additional connections like HDMI and SD cards.
- Limited RAM and storage space will force you to either rely on cloud storage or an external storage drive.
This laptop from Acer combines a lot of the best things you can get in a laptop. The 15″ screen strikes a good balance between screen real estate and portability and offers 1080p resolution. It uses an 8th generation i5 processor and comes with 8GB of RAM. The Aspire 5 boasts up to 9.5 hours of battery life, which will definitely get you through the day.
- Screen size and resolution are ideal, should be clear and sharp.
- Includes two standard USB ports and one USB C port. All of these are 3.1 Gen 1, which means they support higher data transfer speeds than 2.0 or 3.0.
- One additional USB 2.0 port, along with ethernet and HDMI.
- 256GB of SSD storage.
- Air vent is located on the bottom of the computer, which may hinder cooling and cause fans to run loudly.
Getting a new laptop is always exciting, and you’ll want to make sure it stays in good condition for as long as possible! You can find some basic tips on how to care for your computer in this article from PCWorld.
In conclusion, there are quite a few laptops under 500 US Dollars that can meet your needs without draining your wallet. Whether you need it for work, school, or leisure, these laptops are sure to meet your needs. Let us know how you make your laptop for you.
Influenced by the startup culture in the Silicon Valley, Jessica loves building things from zero to one and is keen on following news related to the Big Five tech giants and many SaaS startups.