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Best Laptops Under $500 in 2020

Editor's Choice

Acer Aspire 5

3.5/5
Runner Up

Acer Aspire E15

/5
Runner Up

Asus Chromebook Flip C434

4/5

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The laptop market has come a long way in a few years, and now you can comfortably spend under $500 a get a great little workhorse, capable of doing the everyday jobs you need it for as well as using it for work or in your home office.

Equally, if you are not careful, you can easily pick up a right stinker that also fits into the same price bracket. As laptops go up in price, there is less and less chance of this happening, but in this cheap category, you are open to abuse and ending up with something which is borderline useless almost from the second you take it out the box.

True story: Last year the kid’s grandparents bought my two children a low-cost Windows S machine from HP each for Christmas. Forward on a few months, and not only do they not have enough inbuilt storage to install the latest Windows update, but I physically can’t delete anything else from the meager flash memory they come with to sort out the issue. They are barely worth their place in the house as doorstops anymore.

Let’s be careful out there and have a look at where your money can be much better spent.

Our Recommended Best Laptops Under $500 in 2020

Editor's Choice

Acer Aspire 5

3.5/5
Runner Up

Acer Aspire E15

/5
Runner Up

Asus Chromebook Flip C434

4/5

Dell Inspiron 2-in-1 14

4/5
Acer Swift

Acer Swift 7

4/5

How We Picked

The critical thing for us here was to find good quality machines that ticked a series of basic boxes for everyday use. Do they have enough storage, are they large enough to use comfortably for more than occasional use? How good is the CPU and so on?

We didn’t really concentrate on GPU for this round-up. If you want a laptop that is going to excel at the latest games, you might need to go up a price bracket or two.

You will be able to play the odd thing on these, but you aren’t playing Call of Duty to anywhere close to it’s potential and will probably spoil it for yourself.

Our Recommended

Best Laptops Under $500 in 2020

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Editor's Choice

Acer Aspire 5

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Pros

  • Good battery performance
  • 1080p display

Cons

  • Won’t survive many falls

Acer Aspire 5

Acer is a company that you will notice feature predominantly in this round-up of Best laptops under $500. While they aren’t considered an out and out budget brand, they have a series of machines that are very capable that come in under that number, and the Aspire 5 is probably the best of the bunch.

Packing an Intel 8th generation Core i3 brain gives this little machine a flying start and coupled with the nice, bright 1080p display, you soon get a feeling that you are actually getting quite a lot for a small amount of money here.

A big part of the high placing in this review is the nine-hour battery life. Battery standard is perhaps an easy area of manufacturers to shave some cost so it is nice to see Acer have packed in a battery that is actually useful and should get you through most of the day’s work without having to rejuice it.

It is quite small in the form-factor department and maybe suffers a little from the lack of an optical drive but you can always add one via a cheap USB edition if that is something you require regularly enough to justify the extra cost.

Obviously, the graphics level is average at best, but you would not expect much more at this price point. 

If there were one complaint, it would be around the sturdiness of the case or rather lack of it. We wouldn’t much fancy dropping it onto a cushion, let alone a hard surface without fearing for its life.

With all that said and done, it is unlikely you will find a better sub-$500 Windows PC than the Acer Aspire 5. It’s a strong purchase.

Runner Up

Pros

  • Great connectivity
  • Good performer
  • Again, good battery

Cons

  • Packaged bloatware
  • Bland design

Acer Aspire E15

To look at this laptop compared with the one above, you might be forgiven for thinking that they aren’t; ’t from the same stable. With it’s bigger, chunky, thicker bezel surrounding the 15.6-inch display, the Acer Aspire E15, perhaps looks more like the budget machine you were expecting to find here.

That said, looks can be deceiving and they are here. Coming in at under $400 generally, nobody is going to be fooled by the brushed metal effect on the plastic. Still, once you get past the looks, you find a laptop that is seriously going to challenge your expectations of what you can get for under $500.

6GB of onboard RAM and an 8th gen Intel Core i3 combined with the relatively large panel all make for a surprisingly decent experience. This one also comes with a DVD writer built-in and a USB-C port for a modern connectivity option.

It arrives with its OS filled with unnecessary Acer bundled programs so either half an hour uninstalling them all is necessary unless you go the whole hog and reinstall Windows to eradicate any trace of them, but most people won’t need to bother. It’s good to go right from the box, and you will be pleased where your money has gone.

Runner Up

Asus Chromebook Flip C434

Easily one of the best Chromebooks on the market. This is cheaper than many traditional laptops, but doesn’t sacrifice on display quality or design. Great for browsing the web, running Android apps, and using in either laptop or tablet configuration.

Pros

  • Looks great for the price
  • Decent CPU and graphics for Chromebook related tasks

Cons

  • Slightly skinny storage
  • Not very strong plastic casing

Asus Chromebook Flip

Moving away from Acer for a while and indeed Windows, our next pick is the lovely looking Chromebook Flip. 

This model is a wildly popular Chromebook, and that all starts with its sleek look and silver finish, which quite possibly makes it the best-looking laptop at this range, never mind Chromebook.

The screen looks great at full HD, and the whole package could easily pass for something a lot more premium than this. We all love narrow bezels, so you are in for a treat with this. The 14-inch display looks so much more prominent because of the lack of surrounding plastic.

The basic model is the one that drops in under budget for us and arrives with an Intel Core m3-8100Y and 65GB of eMMC storage, which, while not being lots, doesn’t have to contend with 30GB of a Windows installation gobbling it all up.

Inevitable corners have been shaved with the build quality. It looks great but suffers slightly from a tendency to scratch if you are not careful. It’s also not the sturdiest of cases and probably won’t survive too much abuse, but if you are looking for a machine, especially a Chromebook, then your search could stop right here.

Dell Inspiron 2-in-1 14

Cheap and cheerful mid-range Chromebook, this is a great little laptop for browsing the web and running android apps. With a high resolution touch screen, and the ability to be used in Laptop or Tablet configuration, it’s a nice simple machine for many basic tasks. It’s not going to blow anyone away in terms of performance, but it’s a well put together machine.

Pros

  • Able in the specs department
  • Lots of ports

Cons

  • Not as nice as the other 2 in 1 machine here

Dell Inspiron 2-in-1 14

Another Chromebook makes the list here, and another 2 in 1 flip offering this time from Dell might just pique your interest if you are looking for a laptop that you can present on as you can flip the screen around and show off your products that way.

An Intel Core i7 sits inside along with an Intel UHD Graphics 620. Plenty of ports and a useful webcam all come on board, but the decision to mount the speakers underneath facing downwards was clearly made bt somebody never intending to listen to anything through it. Useful information – the desk will muffle the sound.

USB Type C sits nicely alongside regular vanilla USB, and there’s an HDMI out if you want to push out the display to a bigger screen when presenting.

The 14-inch display does an adequate job, and overall you have to say this is a presentable little device that is worth the money it will cost to get hold of one.

Acer Swift

Acer Swift 7

If you’re looking for a laptop for using on the go, this is a very lightweight machine, so it’s highly portable. It’s got a stylish design, and capable if unremarkable performance, but a few neat features like combined power button/fingerprint sensor, and very thin bezels help it stand out from the crowd.

Pros

  • Larger SSD
  • Impossibly light and thin
  • Good performance

Cons

  • Have to wait for sale

Acer Swift 7

Finally, we head back to Acer for a machine that to fit under budget you will have to wait for it to go on sale as generally it sits above that price range, but can be snapped up every now and then if you keep your eyes peeled.

The Swift 7 is a lightweight, go-anywhere type of machine that seems impossibly thin. Acer classes the Swift as an Ultrabook, and it certainly looks the part when sat next to the other devices in this line-up. 

It actually started out at a price range considerably higher when first released a year or so again, but this has dropped like a stone rapidly to bring it in line with other offerings out there.

It has a Core i7 under the hood and a relatively healthy Intel UHD Graphics 615 packed alongside 8GB of Ram.

A 512GB SSD and a raft of ports take this out in front of many, but as we say, you will have to hang around for a price drop.

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Our Verdict

Acer Aspire 5

3.5/5

Acer Aspire 5

3.5/5

Acer Aspire 5

3.5/5

Man, this was a tough category. Who would have thought you could get such competition at the low end of the spectrum without including any chaff. In truth, all five machines here are worth your consideration, and it may well come down to your personal preference between a Windows machine or a Chromebook.

For Windows, we would heartily recommend the Aspire 5 from Acer. It just has too much going for it to hold off the competition. It’s a lot of machine for $500, and we wouldn’t imagine you will be looking to upgrade for the near future.

Both Chromebooks here are good machines, but the Asus Chromebook Flip gets our nod because, well, it is a lovely looking machine that packs decent hardware and will get you through your working day.

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