The best laptops under $500
Buying a laptop doesn’t need to break the bank. Believe it or not, it’s possible to find a decent laptop for $500 or less—without sacrificing features like powerful processing speed, large memory storage, and long-lasting battery life. “With the rapid evolution of computer technology and large-scale manufacturing, it is now possible to enjoy a quality, affordable laptop without making many compromises,” says Alan Zilberman at LaptopMD+, an IT repair company. “Whether you spend your day on Excel, answering emails, video editing with Adobe Premiere Pro, programming, or working on a graphic design project, there is an affordable laptop out there for you.” And if you buy at the right time, like during a stellar Labor Day or back-to-school sale, you might even be able to score more of a deal.
There are some trade-offs to searching for budget-friendly laptops, though. “Finding ones worth buying is no easy task,” says Tom Brant, senior hardware analyst at PCMag. “COVID-related challenges have made it even harder, with shuttered factories and skyrocketing demand from people who need a reliable work-from-home platform.”
Luckily, we can make your search a little easier. Just add one of these laptops to your shopping cart and you’ll be all set! Once you check off this must-have on your back-to-school checklist, get a laptop backpack to go with it and, if you have a college student, these dorm room essentials, too.
How we chose the laptops on this list
Our recommendations are based on a combination of expert reviews, user testimony, and online ratings. We spoke with experts at tech review website PCMag and IT repair company LaptopMD+ about which laptops they recommend, what features to look for, and why. We also scoured online articles and reviews to find out which models are getting the most buzz. Read on for the best affordable laptops in every category, from processing speed to portability.
Best overall: Dell Chromebook 11
This “sturdy, inexpensive” laptop tops the list of the best affordable laptops, according to Brant. “If your budget and needs are extremely modest, a Chromebook is probably the best bet,” he says. With its compact design, spill-resistant keyboard, and multiple USB ports, this $250 Chromebook 11 is a great option for young students who need a laptop for homework and other online tasks. Of course, spilled liquids aren’t the only reason you should be cleaning your laptop frequently.
- Four USB ports: two USB-C ports and two USB Type-A ports
- Four years of damage coverage for just $60
- Keyboard can withstand up to 12 ounces of spilled liquid