Finest laptop computer beneath $500 of 2020 in inventory from HP, Lenovo, Acer and extra

Searching for the perfect laptop computer beneath $500 for Home windows or Chrome OS (aka a Chromebook)? The provision of low-cost notebooks dried up when it hit dad and mom that their youngsters weren’t going again to high school, however now we’re previous that hump it appears like provides and costs have as soon as once more settled because the top of the preliminary coronavirus-induced work-from-home rush, when PC and accent gross sales spiked. However the grim actuality of unprecedented job losses retains the demand for a finances laptop computer and different ultracheap {hardware} sturdy. 

Here is an inventory of laptops obtainable for beneath $500 that ought to ship inside not less than 10 days. I am going to attempt to maintain this listing present, however please do not hate me if it will get outdated. Some on-line purchasing websites make it not possible to determine what’s in inventory and what’s not — not only for tech, however for every part — in addition to what might be shipped to you in an inexpensive period of time. Bear in mind, although, that availability and transport occasions might rely on the place you reside. I reside in New York, so my suggestions could also be based mostly on a best- (or worst) case state of affairs. 

Suppose long-term

As a rule of thumb, resist shopping for out of desperation — do not spend $500 on a laptop computer as a result of there aren’t any cheaper ones obtainable, for instance. Shopping for a need-it-now laptop computer might be like meals purchasing whilst you’re hungry. Even for a laptop computer, $500 might be some huge cash, and you will probably be holding onto it for not less than three years, if the statistics Intel and PC producers hurl at us are appropriate. You may also attempt to make your present laptop computer final slightly longer. If you happen to simply want one thing to tide you over for a couple of months, dig into doable locations to purchase refurbished, and discover nonprofit or academic reductions when you’re eligible. Additionally, if there’s one thing you really need in a laptop computer, like a contact display screen, backlit keyboard, HDMI port or another {hardware} specification, search for one thing with that function. You will remorse it when you do not.

If you happen to suspect you may be holding onto your new laptop computer some time, although, see when you can stretch your finances to purchase a barely dearer laptop computer to accommodate slightly extra reminiscence or a processor with extra cores than you had been in any other case contemplating. If you have not considered it, take a look at AMD Ryzen processors as alternate options to Intel Core.

Even higher, when you’re snug with it, take into consideration an inexpensive laptop computer with a replaceable battery, upgradable reminiscence, graphics card and storage or the entire above. Moreover, you (hopefully) will not be caught at house without end. Bear in mind to think about whether or not you may need one thing extra transportable (howdy, light-weight laptop computer), with respectable battery life, sooner or later.

Learn extra: Finest screens beneath $200 you may get proper now

You will at all times be capable of add an exterior drive or two (or 5, when you’re me) in some unspecified time in the future down the street. But when your inner storage is a slow-spinning arduous drive that is available in a number of low-cost laptops, even quick exterior storage is unlikely to assist pace up loading Home windows or purposes. (You possibly can regularly set a system as well from a quick exterior solid-state drive if vital.)

You might even see references to “Intel Optane” along with sluggish (5,400rpm) spinning arduous drives; Optane is quick solid-state reminiscence that acts as a brief space for storing for regularly accessed recordsdata on the arduous drive to hurry issues up. It helps, however not as a lot as an SSD drive.

And at last, when you’re changing an previous Home windows laptop computer that is simply less than operating Home windows anymore, contemplate turning it right into a Chromebook.

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So long as you handle your expectations relating to choices and specs, you possibly can nonetheless get fairly a bit with a finances mannequin, together with good battery life and a fairly light-weight physique. 

A brilliant spot is you do not have to accept a conventional clamshell laptop computer with a set show and keyboard. You may also get a convertible laptop computer (in any other case often called a two-in-one), which has a display screen that flips round to show the display screen right into a pill, to place it for snug streaming or to do a presentation. Remember that all convertibles have a contact display screen, which is a prerequisite for pill operation, and lots of help styluses (aka “pens”) for handwritten and sketched enter. Do not assume a stylus is included with it, although.

One factor you will not discover: a MacBook or another Apple laptop computer. Even an iPad Air pill will run you greater than $500 as soon as you purchase the non-obligatory keyboard (although when you search for gross sales on the pill or keyboard it’d work out to much less), which is above our finances right here. A base-model iPad with a reasonable Bluetooth keyboard and low-cost stand for the iPad may suffice, although.

Learn extra: Laptop computer vs. Chromebook: Which transportable pc is greatest in 2020 

You will see a number of low-cost laptops listed as coming with Home windows 10 S, a stripped-down and locked-down model of the working system supposed to be used by colleges — it solely lets you set up purposes from the Home windows Retailer, forces you to make use of Microsoft’s Edge browser and features a subset of the executive instruments in Home windows 10 Professional. You possibly can improve to the total model without spending a dime, although.  

It is simpler to seek out cheap Chromebooks than Home windows laptops, making it one of the crucial well-liked classes of finances laptops in the marketplace, although we’re additionally seeing much more Chromebooks within the $500 to $1,000 vary. That is as a result of Google’s Chrome OS is not almost as power-hungry as Home windows (test the specs), so you may get by with a lower-end processor, slower storage and fewer display screen decision or reminiscence — just some of the parts that make a laptop computer costly. 

Learn extra: Finest Chromebooks for 2020  

However the flip facet is that whereas Chrome OS is not as energy hungry as Home windows, Chrome and Google apps are sadly extra of a reminiscence hog than you’d count on, and when you go too low with the processor or skimp on reminiscence, the system will nonetheless really feel sluggish. Chrome OS can also be a a lot completely different expertise than Home windows; make sure that the purposes you want have a Chrome app earlier than making the leap.

Since they’re cloud-first gadgets, nonetheless, you do not want a number of storage in-built. That additionally means when you spend most of your time roaming the net, writing, streaming video or taking part in Android video games, they seem to be a good match. If you happen to hope to play Android video games, ensure you get a mannequin with a touchscreen.

Learn extra: Finest low-cost gaming laptop computer beneath $1,000 to get in 2020   

For an inexpensive gaming laptop computer, although, you may nonetheless have to interrupt the $500 finances for efficiency. The least costly finances laptops appropriate for a stable gaming efficiency expertise — these with even reasonably highly effective discrete graphics processors, will run you nearer to $700. Listed here are our suggestions when you’re searching for the perfect gaming laptop computer

Though, when you prefer to reside on the bleeding edge, cloud gaming companies similar to Google Stadia will allow you to play video games on laptops with specs that hit the under-$500 mark.

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Specs to bear in mind

Whereas Chromebooks can run Chrome OS-specific and Android apps, some folks want the total Home windows working system to run heftier purposes, similar to video enhancing suites. With that comes a necessity for a quicker processor with extra cores, extra reminiscence — 8GB is the naked minimal — and extra storage for purposes and the working system itself. Loads of these have 4GB or 6GB, which along with a spinning arduous disk could make for a frustratingly sluggish Home windows expertise as properly. 

  • I am seeing much more Home windows laptops on this vary use AMD Athlon and lower-end A collection and Intel Celeron processors to hit the cheaper price. I do not actually suggest going with an Athlon as a substitute of a Ryzen or a Celeron as a substitute of a Core. Home windows is simply too heavy for them and along with the 4GB reminiscence a number of them have, it’s possible you’ll discover them abysmally sluggish.
  • Due to their low costs, 11-inch Chromebooks are enticing. However we do not suggest that dimension for all however the youngest college students. And for distant studying, if you are going to be their display screen regularly, 11 inches can get actually cramped.
  • Stable-state drives could make an enormous distinction in how briskly Home windows efficiency feels in contrast with a spinning arduous disk, however additionally they push the value up. So in case your finances can stretch slightly and also you need extra storage, it’s possible you’ll need to contemplate stepping up from base storage choices to a 128GB SSD. 
  • Within the finances worth vary you must be careful for display screen terminology relating to specs: This is the reason an “HD” display screen might not at all times imply a really high-definition display screen. HD, which has a decision of 1,920×1,080 pixels, is usually known as “Full HD” so entrepreneurs might maintain promoting you lesser-resolution shows (1,280×720) as “HD.” In Chromebooks, “HD” often refers to a display screen with a decision of 1,366×768 pixels. One other frequent criticism I see is about “washed-out” wanting shows with poor viewing angles. Sadly, that is one of many trade-offs you have to reside with; a number of these use TN (twisted nematic) display screen expertise, which is affordable however meh.
  • Take note of networking. Cheap fashions with older chipsets might solely help Wi-Fi 3 (or 802.11b/g/n). Wi-Fi Three is proscribed to 2.4GHz channels; these are slower than more moderen chipsets with Wi-Fi 4 (aka 802.11ac) that add a 5GHz channel as properly. The specs aren’t at all times appropriate on the purchasing websites, so when you see a mannequin which does not appear to have Wi-Fi 4, double test on the producer’s web site earlier than ruling it out. Bear in mind, Chromebooks are designed to work predominantly over the web, so Wi-Fi pace and stability is essential. 

Contemplating all specs and choices — from battery life to space for storing, display screen decision, display screen dimension, core processor efficiency and common machine and battery efficiency — these are a couple of of our prime picks for 2020’s greatest Home windows laptops and Chromebooks beneath the $500 finances, together with their professionals and cons.

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That is basically a Chrome model of the primary Microsoft Floor Go. Just like the Go, the Duet is a 10-inch pill with a removable keyboard and touchpad. In contrast to Microsoft, although, Lenovo consists of the keyboard. It additionally prices a lot lower than the Go (together with the brand new Go 2), beginning at $290 for a 64GB model or $299 for one with 128GB of storage. It is basically a smaller, albeit much less highly effective, Pixel Slate that makes extra sense for extra folks with a worth that is extra consistent with what folks count on a Chromebook to price.    

It’s a small display screen, nonetheless, so when you’re recurrently utilizing it at a desk, we suggest attaching an exterior monitor to its USB-C port. You will in all probability need to join a wi-fi keyboard and mouse, too. 

This goes out and in of inventory, so when you see it at an uninflated worth (round $300) and also you need it, do not wait. Eventually test it was in inventory at Amazon for $400 however out all over the place else, so nonetheless is perhaps value contemplating. I’ve left the Lenovo hyperlink so you possibly can test again there periodically; in the intervening time it says “this product is briefly unavailable.”

Sarah Tew/CNET

The 2019 Aspire 5 15-inch clamshell consists of the most recent technology AMD Ryzen Three processor, the 3200U, with its trendy Vega graphics processing. Its 4GB RAM and 128GB solid-state drive storage do not enable for utilizing many applications or plenty of browser tabs open concurrently, however this 15-inch display screen mannequin weighs lower than Four kilos. 

The 2020 fashions have changed it, with AMD-equipped variations simply squeaking in beneath our finances at $499 and Intel variations slightly cheaper. It is a actually well-liked mannequin, so it tends to play now-you-see-it-now-you-don’t relating to availability. We’ve not but reviewed it, however we’re fairly sure it needs to be very related because it’s the identical configuration.

Learn our Acer Aspire 5 (2019) overview.


It is a fairly easy 15-inch Chromebook outfitted with a Celeron N4000, 4GB RAM, 32GB Storage (plus an additional 32GB by way of an SD card). There are cheaper variations on the identical hyperlink beginning at $390, however they’re all 11-inch fashions, so except it is for a small child or small area, I might assume twice about these.


The IdeaPad Three is available in 14- and 15-inch fashions; the 15-inch Core i3-1005G1 and 256GB storage runs lower than $400. The draw back for each is the low-resolution display screen, which is only one,366×768 pixels. 


Usually I might say $480is rather a lot to pay for HP’s barebones 14-inch laptop computer, however these aren’t regular occasions. It does have an Intel Core processor (i3-1005G1), 8GB RAM, a 256GB SSD and a Full HD display screen, which lifts it a step up from most of the the alternate options. 


This 15-inch Chromebook has a full HD touchscreen, Celeron N3350, 4GB RAM, and 32GB storage (plus one other 32GB by way of an SD card). That is the 2020 mannequin; you can even get the 2019 mannequin for $459 with 32GB, which is perhaps a greater deal, since that further 32GB prices lower than $30 when you purchase it individually. It isn’t my main advice right here solely as a result of there appears like a discrepancy on the Wi-Fi specs, so I can not inform if it is Wi-Fi 5 (802.11ac, good) or Wi-Fi 4 (Wi-Fi b/g/n, unhealthy).


This one goes out and in of inventory quickly. Finest Purchase had it in silver with a Ryzen 5, 8GB reminiscence and a 512GB SSD for $500, nevertheless it’s presently out of inventory; Amazon presently presents a Core i3 8GB mannequin for $489. Do not confuse it with the thinner, lighter, dearer VivoBook S15.


You possibly can’t discover the 15-inch mannequin anymore, which is a disgrace, however for littler youngsters an 11-inch mannequin outfitted with a Celeron N4000, 4GB RAM and 32GB SSD for round $360 may serve.

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