It’s essential to be sensible about your selections when shopping for a sub-$500 laptop computer, since, realistically, you’ll need to make some compromises. That doesn’t imply you possibly can’t nonetheless get an incredible laptop computer on a funds. And consider it or not, there are literally upsides to less-expensive laptops—their low-powered processors imply you possibly can anticipate good battery life, and Chromebooks are sometimes much less weak to malware.

Inside this funds vary, Home windows machines with Intel Core i3 or i5 processors or entry-level Chromebooks are the way in which to go. Now we have examined quite a few cheap laptops and each has its professionals and cons, however people who stood out are included on this listing. When you’re on the lookout for one thing apart from the usual clamshell design, we’ve included our favourite cheap pill with a removable keyboard in addition to a convertible with a beautiful OLED show.

When you can handle to stretch your funds a little bit bit additional, take a look at our greatest laptops roundup for extra recommendations. Alternatively, see our roundups of the very best Chromebooks or finest gaming laptops for extra picks in these areas.

With only some weeks left of the back-to-school season it’s time to make the most of excellent offers on laptops, MacBooks, tablets, and extra. We’ll be highlighting the very best bargains in our back-to-school offers.

Acer Aspire 5 – Greatest sub-$500 laptop computer total


Inexpensive worth

Rugged construct

Nice keyboard

Good number of ports


Subpar webcam

Annoying bloatware comes pre-installed

Touchpad is a little bit laborious to make use of


$369 (base mannequin) $499 (as reviewed)

With its reasonably priced worth level, respectable efficiency, and strong construct, the Acer Aspire 5 is a wonderful sub-$500 possibility. The Intel Core i5 processor retains issues comparatively zippy, and efficiency is quick sufficient for general-use duties like writing emails and looking the net.

The 14-inch LCD 1080p show within reason sharp and vibrant, which is nice for engaged on paperwork or streaming video. This machine additionally comes with 8GB of RAM, which is loads for rapidly firing up functions. The keyboard is slightly good, too.

In our assessment, the tester was pleasantly shocked by the keyboard’s “sturdy really feel.” It has a spacious structure, which is ideal for longer typing periods. Though the keyboard lacks backlighting (not stunning given the value) and the touchpad is a bit troublesome to make use of, we really feel the professionals far outweigh the cons right here.

When you’re purchasing round for a strong on a regular basis laptop computer that gained’t break the financial institution, the Aspire 5 is certainly price a glance.

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Acer Aspire 5 assessment

Lenovo Chromebook Flex 5 – Greatest sub-$500 Chromebook


Enticing design


Punchy audio

Glorious keyboard


Mediocre efficiency

Subpar battery life

Between its affordable worth and excellent keyboard, the Lenovo Chromebook Flex 5 is good all-arounder. Due to the Intel Pentium Gold 7505 processor, this Chromebook is provided to deal with net looking, modifying paperwork, and different easy duties. Nonetheless, in line with our assessment, it could “really feel taxed by demanding duties.” For instance when the tester opened up a number of tabs, he observed some lag in efficiency.

The port choice is a pleasant mixture of previous and new: It has two USB-C ports, a single USB-A port, a 3.5mm combo audio jack, and a microSD card reader. The 13.3-inch 1080p IPS touchscreen is an enormous perk at this worth level, too.

Relating to the keyboard, our tester preferred the “crisp and taut” really feel of the keys. It’s pretty comfy, making it appropriate for marathon typing periods. Though this laptop computer is a 2-in-1—which means the display can fold again to make it operate extra like a pill—it weighs nearly 3 kilos, which is on the heavier facet for a convertible.

It might not be essentially the most transportable laptop computer on the planet, however that flexibility can nonetheless be good for functions that favor a pill type issue. General, the Flex 5 has lots going for it.

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Lenovo Chromebook Flex 5 assessment

HP Chromebook x2 11 da0023dx – Greatest folio-style Chromebook


Attractive 2K touchscreen

Stable efficiency

Glorious battery life

Strong design


Trackpad is simply too delicate at instances

Gentle on ports

Sure, one other Chromebook—however the HP Chromebook x2 11 is without doubt one of the finest 2-in-1 machines you should purchase, contemplating its low cost worth. Whereas some could discover the detachable-keyboard design a ache to take care of, our reviewer actually preferred this one. The pill’s aluminum chassis feels rugged and prefer it’ll final fairly some time. The removable keyboard took some getting used to, however ended up being fantastic for lengthy typing periods.

The rear plate, which transforms right into a kickstand that holds up the pill for hands-free use, connects to the again of the pill by way of magnets. The reviewer discovered the connection to be each clear and robust. As for the efficiency, it’s about what you’d anticipate out of a Chromebook: zippy sufficient for on a regular basis duties like looking the net and so forth.

The x2 11 is powered by a Snapdragon 7c processor, which is best than the MediaTek chips you’ll discover in most Chromebooks. That mentioned, the Intel Core i3 in Home windows machines is solely extra highly effective by default. This HP additionally packs 8GB of RAM, which helps with net browser efficiency, amongst different duties.

The 11-inch 1440p touchscreen is on the smaller facet, however that simply means it’s lighter and extra transportable than greater show choices. Plus, the 1440p decision is actually lovely. In accordance with the tester, colours had been wealthy and shadows had been fairly darkish.

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HP Chromebook x2 11 assessment

Lenovo IdeaPad Chromebook Duet 5 – Greatest sub-$500 Chromebook for OLED followers


Attractive display 

Superb battery life 

Good worth


Awkward facet ratio

No fingerprint or face scanning

The Lenovo IdeaPad Chromebook Duet 5, a Chrome OS pill that doubles as a laptop computer, has a strong keyboard and drop-dead attractive 1080p OLED show that produces colourful photographs. Though the display’s 16:9 facet ratio would possibly really feel awkward for some, it could be good for watching films.

Lenovo’s keys have an honest journey distance of 1.3mm and the removable keyboard as an entire doesn’t really feel too cramped. There’s additionally a kickstand that may be adjusted as much as 135 levels. The one tradeoff is that the USI-compatible pen prices further.

Let’s take a peek beneath the hood. For starters, this Chromebook is armed with a Snapdragon SC7180 processor. Once more, it’s extra highly effective than the MediaTek chips. In terms of opening up functions and net pages, the 8GB of reminiscence presents a pleasant increase in velocity.

There’s 128GB of storage, however that’s not majorly essential, as you’ll retailer most issues within the cloud. However the star of the present right here is the 1080p OLED panel, which makes each little pixel actually pop. When you’re after a beautiful OLED display with superb distinction and colour, the Duet 5 will hit the spot.

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Lenovo IdeaPad Chromebook Duet 5 assessment

How we examined

The PCWorld staff places every Home windows laptop computer by a collection of benchmarks that take a look at GPU and CPU efficiency, battery life, and so forth. The thought is to push the laptop computer to its limits after which evaluate it towards others we’ve examined.

Chromebooks, however, undergo a collection of web-based exams. It wouldn’t be honest or potential to run the identical sorts of exams on a Chromebook, as they’re Chrome OS-based machines. Beneath, you’ll discover a breakdown of every take a look at and the the reason why we run them.

Home windows laptops

PCMark 10: PCMark 10 is how we decide how nicely the laptop computer handles lighter duties like net looking, phrase processing, spreadsheets, and so forth.HandBrake: HandBrake is extra intensive than PCMark 10. It mainly measures how lengthy a laptop computer’s CPU takes to encode a beefy 30GB file. Cinebench: Cinebench is a short stress take a look at of the CPU cores. It does this by rendering a 2D scene over a brief time period.3DMark: 3DMark checks if 3D efficiency stays constant over time by working graphic-intensive clips. Video rundown take a look at: To gauge battery life, we loop a 4K video utilizing Home windows 10’s Motion pictures & TV app till the laptop computer dies.Chromebooks

CrXPRT 2: The CrXPRT 2 benchmark exams a Chromebook’s battery life. Speedometer 2.0: This take a look at determines a Chromebook’s net browser efficiency. It simulates this by including, finishing, and eradicating a to-do listing.Basemark Internet 3.0: This benchmark gauges how nicely a Chromebook can deal with web-based functions. Kraken 1.1: Kraken 1.1 is a JavaScript efficiency benchmark. Jetstream 2: Jetstream 2 is a mixture of WebAssembly and JavaScript benchmarks. This can be a strategy to gauge how nicely a Chromebook runs superior workloads.What sort of laptop computer do you have to get?

Ah, right here we’re on the billion greenback query. Do you spring for a primary Chromebook or go for a Home windows laptop computer with extra options? Nicely, it actually relies on your way of life and your expectations of a sub-$500 machine. At this worth level, you’re not going to discover a highly effective workhorse. Nonetheless, there are many reasonably priced laptops on the market for individuals who want the fundamentals.

Chromebooks, for instance, are an incredible low-cost possibility and provide phenomenal battery life. I exploit a Chromebook as my major work laptop computer, because it has the whole lot I would like for each modifying and writing. When you journey for work, it’s most likely a good suggestion to spend money on a laptop computer that weighs lower than three kilos. When you’re nonetheless not sure, don’t sweat it. I’ve put collectively an inventory of fast shopping for suggestions under.

Laptop computer sort: There are lots of totally different laptop computer sorts that fall within the sub-$500 class: clamshells, 2-in-1’s, Chromebooks, and far more. The shows on convertible laptops (aka 2-in-1’s), for instance, can swing round 360 levels. This lets you use the laptop computer like a pill. They can be propped up like a tent for viewing films or taking part in video calls. Chromebooks are available in numerous sizes and styles, and solely run Google’s web-focused Chrome OS. With a Chromebook, all you want is a Gmail account and, increase, you’re in. CPU: In terms of the sub-$500 Home windows laptops, you possibly can look forward to finding Intel Core i3 or i5 processors. An i5 processor clearly offers a little bit extra oomph. That mentioned, primary workplace and net work does simply fantastic on a Core i3. As for AMD choices, the Ryzen 3 is nice for primary productiveness and net looking, whereas Ryzen 5 chips rival Intel’s Core i5 as strong all-arounders. For Chromebooks, Snapdragon and Pentium processors are extra highly effective than MediaTek chips. Graphics: At this worth vary, you most likely gained’t discover a laptop computer with a robust discrete graphics card. As a substitute, you’ll encounter laptops with built-in graphics, that are built-in with the CPU and use much less energy consequently. That is completely fantastic for on a regular basis duties, particularly in case you’re not doing something that’s graphics-intensive—like 3D gaming.RAM: At all times go for 8GB of RAM. That’s loads sufficient for firing up functions and loading net pages. Most Chromebooks are geared up with 4GB of RAM, which is the naked minimal. You want an honest quantity of reminiscence on these machines, as they’re primarily web-based. If there’s an 8GB RAM possibility, I’d advocate springing for that. Show dimension: When you’re a video editor or somebody who does loads of multimedia work, you’ll need a show that’s anyplace from 15- to 17-inches (however these machines normally price excess of $500). The candy spot for funds laptops is actually anyplace from 13- to 14-inches. The larger the show, the heavier your laptop computer goes to be. A 13- or 14-inch show is the very best when it comes to portability and worth.Decision: I wouldn’t go for something lower than 1080p, as there’s nothing extra annoying than a barely fuzzy picture. 1080p produces an image that’s sharp sufficient for watching Netflix or working in Excel. At this worth vary, you gained’t actually discover many (if any) laptops with 1440p decision or increased.Battery life: When you plan on taking your laptop computer anyplace with you, intention for one thing that may final 10 to 12 hours on a single cost. That’s greater than a full work day, so it ought to theoretically get you thru lengthy flights or a day of lessons. Clearly, extra is at all times higher. Simply know that the larger the battery, the heavier the laptop computer.Value: The worth actually relies on your funds. When you’re strapped for money (been there, belief me), go for a Chromebook or an entry-level enterprise laptop computer. These laptops are a sensible choice for college kids or younger professionals. When you store sensible, you possibly can even discover 2-in-1’s within the $500 vary. Ports: A wide selection of ports is at all times a plus, because it eliminates the necessity for an adapter. I’d advocate a laptop computer that has each USB-C and USB-A. An HDMI port is nice, too. That is particularly helpful for hooking as much as an exterior monitor. FAQ 1.
What’s the distinction between an everyday laptop computer and a Chromebook?

When folks speak about common laptops they normally imply a PC or Mac. A Chromebook continues to be a laptop computer, however it differentiates itself from both of these two through the use of a novel working system referred to as ChromeOS, which was created by Google. Consider it like this: All Chromebooks are laptops, however not all laptops are Chromebooks.

Not like different working methods corresponding to Home windows or macOS, ChromeOS are optimized to run Google apps corresponding to Google Drive, Google Docs, YouTube, and different Google companies. As a result of most Google apps are on-line, Chromebooks typically require an web connection to make use of most of their essential options.

Lastly, Chromebooks have traditionally been designed with portability, ease of use, and affordability in thoughts slightly than prime efficiency. They usually forego the sooner high-end {hardware} that PCs or Macs use for a extra minimalist, light-weight strategy to computing.

Can you employ built-in graphics for gaming?

Sure, among the newest processors with built-in graphics can run fashionable PC video games at respectable sufficient settings. For instance, we discovered that in our exams, Intel’s newest Iris Xe line of processors with built-in graphics can run among the newest video games at 1080p and 30fps. Sadly this isn’t the case for all built-in graphics and your mileage could fluctuate drastically with older tech.

Intel and AMD’s built-in graphics have made large leaps lately with regard to gaming efficiency. When you’re on a funds or on the lookout for an ultra-thin laptop computer with built-in graphics you needn’t fear, you possibly can nonetheless recreation on. We advocate testing Intel’s Core Twelfth-gen Iris Xe or AMD’s model new Ryzen 6000 RDNA 2.

What’s the distinction between a funds laptop computer and a pill?

Increasingly more the road between what’s a laptop computer and what’s a pill blurs as firms combine the options of each into their newest units. However there are nonetheless a couple of key distinctions between the 2. Laptops typically are bigger, include extra storage, have higher efficiency and productiveness options, and should or could not function a contact show. Tablets however are smaller and extra transportable, have longer battery life, function a contact show, and are normally a bit extra reasonably priced.

When selecting between a funds laptop computer and a pill you need to first ask your self what the first use of the system might be. Do you want one thing for productiveness with numerous storage? Then a laptop computer—even a funds mannequin—will most likely be the way in which to go. Or do you want one thing that’s small, travels nicely, and has an extended battery life? Then you definately would possibly think about a pill.

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