The 10 Best Laptops for Under $500 in 2019

Find the best touchscreen, design, portable laptop and more

Our editors independently research, test, and recommend the best products; you can learn more about our review process here. We may receive commissions on purchases made from our chosen links.

The Rundown

Our Top Picks

Most Popular: Acer Aspire E 15

3.9

Another computer offering an excellent balance of modern hardware, performance headroom, features, and price is the Acer Aspire E 15 (E5-576-392H). Though hitting its budget price means there’s a lot of plastic to be found, some of it has been given a metallic appearance for a classier look.

Inside, the machine delivers an Intel Core i3-8130U processor. Given its low price, it’s nice to see such a modern CPU. That processor is paired with 6GB of dual-channel DDR4 memory and a 1TB hard drive. Both the memory and hard drive are stored inside an easily accessible compartment, so if you want to upgrade them, you can. There’s even a DVD-RW drive included.

Continuing to surprise us at this price point is the Acer Aspire's 15.6" display (hitting Full HD resolution) and the inclusion of 802.11ac Wi-Fi along with an all-day battery, a USB 3.1 Type-C, two USB 3.0 ports, and an SD card reader.

Best Overall: ASUS Chromebook C202SA-YS02 11.6"

3.7

Dropping hundreds of dollars on a laptop that’s bound to be dropped itself might seem a bit stressful, but a rugged laptop like this ASUS Chromebook will surely put your nightmares to rest. It houses an Intel Celeron N3060 Processor with 2M Cache, up to 2.48 GHz, plus 16GB of flash storage. (You’ll also get 100GB of free Google Drive storage for the first two years.) Its 11.6-inch, 1,366 x 768 anti-glare display tilts back 180 degrees for viewing at all angles.

Being a Chromebook, it’s not as powerful as other machines on this list, but what it lacks in brains it makes up for in brawn. It has 3 millimeters of reinforced rubber around its edges, which passes the 3.9 feet drop test, and a spill-resistant keyboard that can endure about a quarter-cup spill. On top of that, its durable and modular design makes it easy to swap in and out parts, should it need repair.

Check out our other reviews of the best ASUS laptops available on the market today.

Best for College Students: 2018 Lenovo ideapad 320 15.6"

3.6

Lenovo delivers an excellent everyday laptop at a value price point, combining the latest generation of Intel processing with a high-definition 15.6-inch screen. The computer is powered by an Intel Celeron N3350 dual-core processor with 4GB RAM and a 1TB hard drive. The computer also includes a DVD drive, a 4-in-1 memory card reader for easy transfer of files, as well as Bluetooth 4.1 and USB 3.0 port. Expect fast streaming, thanks to the latest 802.11ac wireless internet. The computer is also great for college students looking to watch movies in their dorm room, with a 15-inch anti-glare screen that looks great from every angle.

Interested in reading more reviews? Take a look at our selection of the best Lenovo laptops

Best Touchscreen: HP - 15.6" Touch-Screen Laptop

HP - 15.6" Touch-Screen Laptop
Courtesy BestBuy.com
4

If you are a tactile learner, a touchscreen computer can come in handy. This entry-level touchscreen from HP is an amazing value at just under $500. It has an Intel Core i5 processor, 8GB of RAM and a 1 TB hard drive. The BrightView glossy 15.6-inch screen is powered by WLED backlight and shows movies and photos in 1366 x 768 HD. The 2 SuperSpeed USB 3.1 ports make transferring media a breeze, while built-in Bluetooth makes it easy to sync with mobile devices. Finally, an Intel HD Graphics 620 card can handle photo editing and even some basic gaming.

Check out our guide to the best touchscreen laptops you can buy today. 

Best Budget: HP Notebook 15

HP Notebook 15
Courtesy of Amazon.com
3

The latest edition of the HP Notebook 15 is a surprising Windows 10 laptop that packs a lot of features into a sub-$300 machine. This laptop may not impress power-hungry users, but it will do the job for casual users that need to accomplish basic tasks in a timely fashion.

The Notebook 15 has a 15.6-inch screen with 1366-by-768 resolution, a 500 GB hard drive, an SD media card reader, a DVD/CD burner, as well as a VGA webcam with a digital microphone. For ports, there’s one Ethernet, one HDMI, two USB 2.0, one USB 3.0 and a headphone/microphone combo jack. One of the standout features of this model is its 4GB of RAM, which is incredibly important for keeping your machine running smoothly and not something we often see on models in this price range. (Usually, you’ll see models with a paltry 2GB of RAM, which is often not enough to keep things running at a fast clip.)

This machine measures 10 x 15.1 x .9 inches and is a little heavy at 4.74 pounds, so it’s probably not one you’ll want to carry around everywhere. It would make sense as a home or work laptop that’s mostly used in one place. Thankfully, it does offer 5.5-hour battery life, so if you do need to take it anywhere, it shouldn’t be a problem.

Best 2-in-1: Microsoft Surface Go

4

It’s hard to argue against the success of Microsoft’s Surface lineup, and the Go is no exception. When in tablet mode, the 10-inch PixelSense touchscreen display is ideal for reading, writing, and games. With 1800 x 1200 resolution, text is crisp and clear. Add one of the available Microsoft Type Covers and the Go instantly becomes a highly capable desktop-like computer. Running Windows 10 S, the Go has complete access to Microsoft’s Marketplace for downloading thousands of applications. For business users, Microsoft’s entire suite of Office products runs superbly.

Weighing a mere 1.3 pounds, the Go is easily the most portable Surface yet. Its diminutive size doesn’t mean scant battery life either as it provides up to nine hours of daily use. Whether it’s a business or personal device, the Go has plenty of protection built in. Microsoft Defender protects against malware attacks while parental controls offer parents peace of mind. With Microsoft stores popping up in malls all over the country, you also have the option of bringing the Go right into a brick-and-mortar location for tech support.

Best Value: HP Pavilion 15z

If you're looking for speed, capacity, design, features, and price, HP’s Pavilion 15z Touch pretty much delivers on all counts. The design is sleek, with a simple yet polished look complemented by an all-metal finish. Plus, at it's regular price point, there's enough wiggle room in your under-$500 budget to fit in a few upgrades where needed.

The base model includes a 15.6" HD touch display, an AMD Ryzen 3 2200U processor with Vega 3 Graphics, 8GB of DDR4 memory, and 1TB of storage on a hard drive. For a budget computer, these specs are quite impressive. Just keep in mind that as such, the price of this laptop can fluctuate, so keep an eye out for sales to get the best price.

Starting with the base model, you could still stay under $500 while upgrading to a quad-core Ryzen 3 2300U, upgrading to a Full HD IPS display, or adding backlighting to the keyboard. There’s plenty of room for even greater upgrades to the storage, memory, and processor, but expect those to push it past the $500 mark, so choose wisely if you choose to go this route.

Runner-Up, Best Value: Dell Inspiron 15 3000

Dell Inspiron 15

 Dell.com

Dell’s Inspiron 15 3000 is a solid, dependable laptop with decent specs for a device under $500. Running with a 7th-gen Intel i3-7020U processor — Intel’s mid-range chip — and 8GB of RAM, you’ll definitely have enough power for multitasking and day-to-day computing tasks on Windows 10. There’s even enough capacity for 16GB of RAM.

It’s heavier than other budget laptops at 4.95 pounds, so it isn’t the most portable. But if you value a sturdy build, a touchscreen, plenty of ports, and a DVD drive, the extra weight is worth it. Ports include two USB 2.0 ports and one USB 3.0 port, an HDMI port, an SD card slot reader, and a headphone jack. The DVD drive is optional.

The downsides: a less-than-stellar display, mid-range processing power, and no backlit keyboard. But for a budget laptop, the Dell Inspiron 15 3000is more than suitable for basic everyday use. 

Best for Business: ASUS X540UA-DB31

Business users can get good mileage out of the Asus X540UA-DB31, even if the model name isn’t so user-friendly. The machine offers an excellent balance of performance and price, and it's exceptionally easy to work with. That’s because it has a 15.6" display with a Full HD resolution and matte finish for reduced glare, which is to say your eyes shouldn't be too strained after a long day at work.

The Asus X540UA-DB31 has a modern Intel Core i3-8130U processor, so you don’t have to worry about the budget price meaning old components. It also comes with 4GB of DDR4 memory, which will get you started with no issue but may be worth upgrading later on. One component that really demonstrates the machine's perfect blend of price and performance is the FireCuda SSHD, which combines an 8GB SSD with a hard drive for expansive storage accelerated by SSD speed.

If you need a work machine, this is a good option. And, thanks to its size, it offers a full keyboard. This will be especially handy if you often work with numbers since the number row is not nearly as easy to use as the number pad.

Best Visuals: Lenovo IdeaPad 330s

The Lenovo IdeaPad 330s doesn’t come in at the bottom of the budget barrel, but it hits a sweet spot between price and solid specs. With this model, you’ll be getting a decently sized 15.6" display while the laptop itself stays slim thanks to reduced bezels around the screen. Plus, the display is a Full HD IPS panel, offering clear visuals and great viewing angles.

Inside, the IdeaPad 330s packs a modern Intel Core i3-8130U dual-core processor paired with 6GB of DDR4 memory and a large 1TB hard drive. You should expect decent performance out of this despite its budget price. As a bonus, this laptop will be good for interfacing with external hardware as well.

As for connectivity, 801.11ac Wi-Fi is a good, recent protocol for connecting to wireless networks, and you’ll get Bluetooth 4.1. For fast USB connections, the IdeaPad 330s offers USB 3.1 and USB-C ports. And, if you’re doing work with any media, the 4-in-1 media card reader will come in handy.

Tested by

Our Process

Our writers spent ten hours researching the most popular laptops under $500. Before making their final recommendations, they considered 60 different laptops, screened options from 11 different brands and manufacturers, and read over 100 user reviews (both positive and negative). 

We then bought six of those laptops under $500 and our reviewers spent more than 100 hours testing them. We asked our testers to consider the most important factors when using these laptops, from their price to their special features. We've outlined the major takeaways here so that you, too, know what to look for when shopping.

What to Look for in a Laptop Under $500

Form factor - Laptops have become so versatile that it’s almost hard to classify them. There are laptops, Chromebooks, netbooks, and 2-in-1s that convert into tablets. Laptops are standard clamshell computers, while Chromebooks are often a bit smaller and only run the Chrome OS and cloud-based apps. A netbook is even more portable, while a 2-in-1 is a laptop that transforms into a tablet. If you’re looking for a device to power your professional work, a laptop will probably do the trick. However, if you’re a student that will be taking a lot of notes, a detachable screen plus a tablet pen can double as a digital notepad.

Operating system - Some people are simply Apple people through and through and that’s perfectly fine. However, they’ll wind up paying a premium for all their products. If you’re not dead set on buying a Mac, and are happy with Windows, the price comes down while the number of your options goes up. Plus Windows has some amazing features for business users that will blow the Mac OS out of the water.

Screen quality - Whether you’re watching movies or just working in Excel, a high-quality screen still makes all the difference. The more pixels, the more content you can fit on-screen, and the sharper it will look. Many budget devices offer a standard 1366 x 768 screen, but if you can afford it, try to buy something with at least a 1920 x 1080 resolution, also known as Full HD.

Test Results: Acer Aspire E 15 E5-576-392H (Most Popular)

3.9

What We Like

  • High-quality display

  • Good audio

  • Great battery life

What We Don't Like

  • Some internet connectivity problems

  • Too much pre-loaded software

Acer Aspire E 15 E5-576-392H
Acer Aspire E 15 Laptop
Acer Aspire E 15
Acer Aspire E 15 E5-576-392H Laptop
Acer Aspire E 15 E5-576-392H

This laptop came highly recommended by our testers in terms of overall quality, processor capabilities, battery life, and price. Calling the speed “more than adequate,” one of our reviewers said, “I had no trouble browsing the internet, downloading average-sized files, and completing standard work/school tasks.” One of our testers mentioned that the laptop would disconnect from the internet periodically (“sometimes reconnecting on its own and sometimes requiring manual reconnection”) and also didn’t like all of the pre-loaded software. However, our reviewers felt the value outweighed the negatives. Bottom line: “It’s hard to compare this laptop to a powerful $2000 MacBook, but for such a fantastically low price, this laptop is an excellent choice,” declared one of our testers.

Test Results: ASUS Chromebook C202SA-YS02 11.6" (Best Overall)

3.7

What We Like

  • Very portable

  • Great value

  • Impressive battery life

What We Don’t Like

  • Limited features

  • Screen on the smaller side

ASUS Chromebook C202SA-YS02
ASUS Chromebook C202SA-YS02
ASUS Chromebook C202SA-YS02

The ASUS Chromebook C202SA-YS02 11.6" received good ratings from our testers because it’s a no-nonsense laptop that you can depend on. “This is a great option for everything you need: online access, writing accessibility, and some extras,” one person said. Another tester described this model as “basic” but noted that she thought that was a good thing: “This is not a sleek, stylish Mac,” she said. “It’s no frills and gets the job done.” The battery also gets an A from our testers with one reviewer commenting, “For school, I'm positive this computer would last a full day and likely still have time for homework back at home.” Testers also say you’ll notice the laptop’s durability as soon as you hold it in your hands.

Test Results: 2018 Lenovo ideapad 320 15.6" (Best for College Students)

Lenovo ideapad 320 15.6
3.6

What We Like

  • Large size

  • Good video quality

  • Extremely fast and responsive

What We Don’t Like

  • Cheap build

  • Subpar audio quality

2018 Lenovo ideapad
2018 Lenovo ideapad
2018 Lenovo ideapad
2018 Lenovo ideapad
2018 Lenovo ideapad

“I think it's the perfect computer to use when curled in bed watching Netflix or a DVD,” one of our reviewers said about her experience with the Lenovo ideapad. “I could see my teenage cousin enjoying it — it's attractive, has a 'cool factor,' and his laptop needs are relatively limited.” The low price is felt in the quality of the build, according to one Lifewire tester, who thought like the screen and the keys definitely felt “budget.” She did add, however, “From a processing perspective, it runs similarly to a more expensive model.”

Test Results: HP - 15.6” Touch-Screen Laptop (Best Touchscreen)

4

What We Like

  • Useful touchscreen

  • Tons of storage

  • Customization options

What We Don’t Like

  • Poor battery life

  • Touchpad lacks quality

HP Touch-Screen Laptop
HP Touch-Screen Laptop
HP Touch-Screen Laptop
HP Touch-Screen Laptop
HP Touch-Screen Laptop

One Lifewire reviewer summed up his experience with the laptop by saying, “In its price range, it’s much better than the products I’ve used before.” He thought this model had great value for the price. Our testers also appreciated this laptop’s storage capacity — 1 TB. You can certainly store a lot of photos, videos, or music with that amount of space. The only downsides? One person felt that the laptop was a little “heavy” and he said the touchpad doesn’t work as smoothly as a Mac’s.

Test Results: HP Notebook 15 (Best Budget)

3

What We Like

  • Solid screen quality

  • Lightweight

  • Great speed

What We Don’t Like

  • Inexpensive-feeling build

  • Long setup

  • Pop-ups for software trials

HP Notebook 15
HP Notebook 15
HP Notebook 15

“It has a nice 15-inch display, the processor is decent, and it has a fair amount of RAM for an under-$500 laptop,” one of our testers said about the HP Notebook 15. Our reviewers thought this laptop performed well, but they deducted most of their points for the setup process. One person was irked that she had to sign up for an outlook.com email address during the process. Fortunately, she went on to say, “Once it was set up, it seems pretty responsive and browsing the Web is fine.” Another reviewer remarked on the physical feel of the laptop, describing it as “plastic-y” compared to other models. Overall, our testers noticed that laptops that fell into the budget category — like this one — had cheaper-feeling builds, but that it didn’t affect performance.

Test Results: Microsoft Surface Go (Best 2-in-1)

4

What We Like

  • Very portable

  • Durable

  • Good battery life

What We Don't Like

  • Slower speed

  • No keyboard included

One of our reviewers loved traveling with this device: “There were times when I completely forgot it was in my bag,” she declared. “Even with the Keyboard Type Cover attached (which is sold separately), the Surface Go remains light and svelte.” Our testers also loved its long battery life, and one reviewer thought it “felt sturdy and strong” and that it “could survive some bumps and scrapes.” In terms of downsides, one of our reviewers said its performance was “sluggish,” even when performing more basic tasks. One tester also wished that it came with a keyboard included: “While you can totally use the Surface Go as a tablet, I believe the best experience is achieved when using it in conjunction with the keyboard,” she said.