Last Updated on November 1, 2021 by ViCadia
The best laptops for $500 aren’t devices which will enable you to play latest PC games on medium or high settings, however, they are more than enough powerful to provide smooth and enjoyable user experience. Most of the laptops in this price segment offer great performance, good battery life, and come with various additional features such as touchscreen displays or high-definition webcams equipped with privacy shutters.
In our opinion, the best laptop for $500 in 2021 with a Windows 10 operating system is the Lenovo IdeaPad 3 13ADA05. This device features a powerful AMD Ryzen processor and 8GB of DDR4 memory, as well as plenty of hard drive space to store enough data. However, we also found the Microsoft’s Surface Go 2 to be an extremely interesting device due to its ability to work both as a tablet, as well as a notebook computer.
Many of the laptops featured in this review weren’t meant to run the latest video games, however, we found that those that featured AMD’s integrated Vega 8 graphics provided enough power to comfortably run even the latest PC video games such as Fortnite or Counter-Strike: Global Offensive in 1080P resolution on low settings. It is also worth to note that despite the fact that AMD’s Ryzen CPUs nowadays offer great performance in professional applications, we still think that laptops equipped with Intel’s quad core CPUs performed better in applications such as Adobe Photoshop or Illustrator.
Overall, almost all laptops that you can get for $500 offer very good specifications. Some of them feature display screens with IPS panel, and some of them with TN panel, however, all of them come with a support for Full HD resolution (1.920×1.080), which today is a must. Also, almost all of the laptops in this price segment come with 8 GB of DDR4 RAM, except for the Chromebooks and 2-in-1 devices which still don’t require such amount of working memory due to operating system optimizations. Amount of storage space differs a lot between devices in this price segment, however, we only reviewed laptops that featured at least 128 GB of SSD storage space, or at least 64 GB of eMMC memory if they were hybrids or Chromebooks. All devices that we reviewed here support latest Wi-Fi connectivity standards, so you shouldn’t worry if any of them will be able to provide high-speed Internet access.
Best for Home:
Best for Business:
Best Overall: Lenovo IdeaPad 3 14ADA05 (81W0003QUS)
CPU: AMD Ryzen 5 3500U | GPU: Integrated AMD Radeon Vega 8 Graphics | RAM: 8GB DDR4 (2.400 MHz) | Screen: 14″ TN FHD (1.920×1.080), 60 Hz | Storage: 256GB NVMe SSD | Battery: 45 Wh | Weight: 1,50 kg | Dimensions: 32.7 x 24.1 x 1.98 cm
- Fast performance
- Features latest AMD Ryzen 5 3500U processor
- Attractive design
- Webcam with privacy shutter
- Display screen features TN panel
- Noisy touchpad
If you are looking for an affordable and reliable notebook computer which you’ll use for daily computer tasks, streaming, video editing, and light gaming, then Lenovo IdeaPad 3 14ADA05 is the best device for you. Featuring new powerful AMD Ryzen 5 3500U processor, paired with 8GB of DDR4 RAM, and 256 GB solid state drive, this laptop will offer smooth and enjoyable user experience. The laptop is encased in a high-quality plastic housing, and features narrow bezels on both sides of the screen, which give this laptop a clean and modern look.
Besides packing latest hardware components, this laptop also comes with a Full HD resolution (1920×1080) 60 Hz display, and webcam featuring privacy shutter. Unfortunately, the laptop’s screen display is built upon TN panel, and not IPS panel, which means you won’t get the best image look from any viewing angle. We also don’t like the touchpad on this laptop as it’s rather clicky, and has a rough plastic feel, but in terms of functionality, it is completely reliable.
Speaking of gaming, this laptop can run Fortnite, League of Legends, Warface and Counter-Strike: Global Offensive on low settings without a problem, which is great for a laptop in $500 price segment. Provided that you use this laptop only for productivity and web surfing, it’s battery can last up to 8 hours, which we find quite impressive. Overall, the Lenovo IdeaPad 3 is a perfect device for general purposes, as well as for business or study purposes.
Best for Home: ASUS VivoBook 15 2020
CPU: AMD Ryzen 3 3200U | GPU: Integrated AMD Radeon Vega 3 Graphics | RAM: 8GB DDR4 (2.400 MHz) | Screen: 15.6″ IPS FHD (1.920×1.080), 60 Hz | Storage: 128GB SATA SSD | Battery: 37 Wh | Weight: 1,70 kg | Dimensions: 35.7 x 23.1 x 1.99 cm
- High-quality build
- Full HD IPS display screen
- Sleek design
- Only 128GB SSD
- Weak sound speakers
VivoBook is a well-known ASUS’ line of mid-range notebook computers. Compared to the last year’s model, the new 2020 VivoBook 15 offers some slight improvements, both in terms performance and design. The new model comes with an 15.6″ Full HD IPS screen, which provides great pleasure while watching videos and other multimedia content. It is also worth to note that screen now features thin bezels, which we find to be a great addition. Compared to the 2019’s model, the new 2020 model also comes with a slightly thicker lower part of the case, which now ensures bigger flow of air through case, thus preventing component overheating.
Speaking of performance, the VivoBook 15 comes with a dual-core AMD Ryzen 3 3200 CPU, which features four threads, and a slightly reduced maximum speed of 3.5 GHz. Integrated Vega 3 graphics module does a great job in providing enough performance for watching high-definition videos, as well as playing games like League of Legends. There are, however, two things we didn’t like about this laptop. Firstly, this particular model comes with only 128GB SSD which is barely big enough to accommodate Windows 10 operating system, and other essential applications. Room for storing other data, such as video or photos, is quite small, so we recommend buying an additional external hard drive for such purposes. Second major caveat of this laptop are its quite weak sound speakers. Even at maximum settings, they produce quite weak sound output, which didn’t impress us at all. Nevertheless, the ASUS VivoBook 15 is a solid laptop featuring high-quality build materials, which we’ll be most appealing to casual users.
Best for Business: Acer Aspire 3 A315-56-594W
CPU: Intel Core i5-1035G1 | GPU: Integrated Intel UHD Graphics | RAM: 8GB DDR4 (2.400 MHz) | Screen: 15.6″ TN FHD (1.920×1.080), 60 Hz | Storage: 256GB NVMe SSD | Battery: 45 Wh | Weight: 1,90 kg | Dimensions: 36.34 x 24.75 x 1.99 cm
- Powerful processor
- Great performance
- Expandable RAM slots
- Decent battery capacity
- Display screen built upon TN matrix
- Bland design
Acer Aspire 3 A315 is a solid notebook computer designed for users how value performance over looks. From the outside, this laptop looks very generic. In fact, it looks so bland that it resembles an office typewriter. The in-built TN display screen makes matters worse, however, under the hood lies a quite capable machine. Acer Aspire 3 features a powerful 4-core and 8-thread Intel Core i5-1035G1 processor which features boost speed of up to 3.6 GHz. The integrated graphics solution is more than enough to run 2D games, however, for running sophisticated 3D applications you’ll want to find a better laptop.
For work environment, this laptop is splendid. In Adobe Photoshop you can easily interact with large amount of shapes and elements, without fear of encountering serious system hiccups. This applies to both photo and video editing, as well as drawing. Although the TN screen panel isn’t the best solution for content creators, the system administrators, programmers and office workers will find the quality of display screen quite satisfying. The 8 gigabytes of DDR4-2400 RAM can easily be expanded to 16 gigabytes, and included 256GB NVMe SSD provides great performance levels for a such mid-range laptop. The battery features decent capacity of 45 Wh, and the whole laptop weighs only 1,90 kg. Overall, this is a fine device, however, some users might not find TN panel very satisfying.
Best Hybrid: Microsoft Surface Go 2
CPU: Intel Pentium Gold 4425Y | GPU: Integrated Intel HD Graphics 615 | RAM: 4GB DDR4 | Screen: 10.5″ IPS FHD (1.920×1.080) | Storage: 64GB eMMC SSD | Battery: Unspecified | Weight: 0,54 kg | Dimensions: 24.5 x 17.5 x 0.83 cm
- Works well both as a tablet and a laptop
- Features amazing screen with vibrant color reproduction
- Very good battery life
- High-definition webcam
- Performance could be better
- Price is a bit too high
Microsoft Surface Go 2 is a weird device on our list of best laptops for $500, as it’s technically not a laptop computer, but a tablet device. However, due to its powerful specifications, it also can’t be considered as a tablet, so we tend to classify it as a hybrid computer device. From the outside, the Surface Go 2 doesn’t look much different compared to its predecessor. The new variant, however, features very thin bezels on its 10.5-inch display which we find very appealing. Its IPS screen is able to deliver exceptionally vibrant and bright colors, which is great if you decide to use this portable computer outside on a sunny day. The Surface Go 2 also features a very good battery life, as well as incredible high-resolution webcam that is ideal for performing video calls.
Microsoft Surface Go 2 also comes with a basic optional cover keyboard, which helps to transform this powerful table into a notebook computer. The device features a rather weak Intel Pentium Gold CPU which is more than enough for doing basic productivity tasks and playing simple games, however, don’t expect from this device to smoothly run high-end applications. Overall, Microsoft Surface Go 2 is a fine portable computer for users who want to have both a laptop and a tablet in a one device. It is also great for watching movies on long trips, as well as using it as an educational device for schoolchildren or students.
Best for Chrome OS: Lenovo Chromebook Flex 5 (13″)
CPU: Intel Core i3-10110U | GPU: Integrated Intel UHD Graphics | RAM: 4GB DDR4 | Screen: 13.3″ IPS FHD (1.920×1.080), 60 Hz | Storage: 64GB eMMC SSD | Battery: 52 Wh | Weight: 1,35 kg | Dimensions: 31.0 x 21.4 x 1.70 cm
- Fast and snappy performance
- Multi-touch touchscreen
- Very good backlit keyboard
- Sleek design
- Great battery life
- Only 4GB of RAM
- Tends to run hot
- Screen lid can be tricky to open
Lenovo Chromebook Flex 5 is very pleasant laptop for use. Unlike many other underpowered laptops which feature Chrome OS, the Lenovo Chromebook Flex 5 packs enough hardware power to provide smooth and enjoyable user experience. Along with the fast performance, this laptop offers very good keyboard, and a precise touchpad. Being very compact and lightweight, this laptop is easy to carry around, and its 1080P IPS display screen offers touchscreen capabilities, for is amazing for the price it asks.
Although many mainstream users are still unfamiliar with the Chrome OS, it is worth to say that this operating system runs flawlessly on Flex 5. Not only that, but it also runs much quicker than Windows 10 OS, which means browsing the Internet, making video calls, and performing everyday office tasks feels much more enjoyable and snappier. Besides being much cheaper then the equivalently fast Windows laptops, this device is also free of unnecessary bloatware applications which are usually pre-installed by many other laptop manufacturers. The battery life of this device is splendid, as it will last for the whole day, and its simplicity of the design is something that most laptops today lack. Overall, the Flex 5 has no real pitfalls, except maybe the fact that it comes with only 4GB of RAM, and that it tends to run a bit too hot.
Best Compact: Dell Inspiron 14 5000
CPU: AMD Ryzen 5 3500U | GPU: Integrated AMD Vega 8 Graphics | RAM: 8GB DDR4 (2.400 MHz) | Screen: 14″ IPS FHD (1.920×1.080), 60 Hz | Storage: 256GB NVMe SSD | Battery: 40 Wh | Weight: 1,40 kg | Dimensions: 21.6 x 32.1 x 1.79 cm
- Amazing performance
- Compact dimensions
- Very good keyboard
- Good price
- Pre-installed bloatware
- Dull looks
- Battery life
Dell Inspiron 14 5000 is the best compact laptop under $500 that comes with Windows 10 operating system. Weighing only 1,40 kilograms, this laptop features a very good keyboard and touchpad, and comes with a very solid 14-inch Full HD IPS screen. Under the hood, the Inspiron 14 5000 packs a punch, as it stores powerful AMD’s Ryzen 3500U quad-core processor and eight gigabytes of DDR4 memory. The integrated Vega 8 graphics solution offers enough power to comfortably play even the latest PC games such as Battlefield V or Fortnite, while the 256 GB NVMe SSD offers enough space to store your documents, as well as essential applications and a couple of high-definition movies.
Being light and powerful, Dell Inspiron 14 5000 is a great compact laptop that will offer smooth and enjoyable user experience. If 8 GB of RAM is not enough for you, you can always add more, since this laptop comes with two memory slots which can be accessed easily. Although it might look like this device doesn’t have any flaws, there are a couple of things worth complaining about. Firstly, this laptop is filled with pre-installed bloatware applications which we don’t like seeing on new machines as they usually hamper down the performance. Secondly, although minimalistic and clean, the design of this laptop is quite dull, but that is only a subjective opinion. Lastly, the included battery could have had more capacity, however, it’s still enough to keep this laptop running efficiently for up to 4 hours.
Best Barebone: HP 14 (14-dq1043cl)
CPU: Intel Core i3-1005G1 | GPU: Integrated Intel UHD Graphics | RAM: 8GB DDR4 (2.666 MHz) | Screen: 14″ IPS FHD (1.920x1x080), 60 Hz | Storage: 256GB NVMe SSD | Battery: 41 Wh | Weight: 1,46 kg | Dimensions: 32.4 x 22.5 x 1.79 cm
- Solid performance
- Fast memory modules
- 256 GB NVMe SSD
- Simple and bare bone
- CPU is a bit weak
- Mediocre display screen
- Ships with Windows 10 Home S
Just like its name, the HP 14 is a super-simple bare bone laptop computer which will be the most appealing to users who don’t want to bother with any additional cosmetic or functional features. This ultra-light and compact laptop features a somewhat weak dual-core Intel Core i3-1005G1 processor, and it comes with 8 GB of RAM working on a frequency of 2.666 MHz. The 14-inch IPS screen panel offers solid color reproduction and image brightness, while the 256 GB NVMe SSD offers enough room to store files and additional applications. At the top of the screen you can find HP’s TrueVision HD camera whose image quality is quite satisfactory.
Overall, the HP 14 is quite a good bare bone computer made by a well-known laptop manufacturer. The laptop comes with pre-installed Windows 10 Home operating system, as well as with McAfee LiveSafe software utility. Other than that, this device features no additional bloatware, which has become rather rare to see. The included battery provides enough power to keep the dual-core Intel CPU running for hours, and onboard Realtek Wi-Fi module grants you the access to 2.4 and 5 GHz networks.
The best laptop computers for $500 that you can get in 2021 offer very good system specifications and real-life performance. Some of them feature powerful quad-core processor which provide more than enough power to run latest video games on low settings, while some of them even come with touchscreen displays. Depending on your needs and preferences, we are sure that there are devices in our review that will certainly suit your needs. We hope our buying guide helped you in search for the information you were looking for. If you still feel confused, and need advice about buying, feel free to post comment below. We will try to help you.