Last Updated: March 29th 2015
A well-performing laptop is not a luxury reserved for a few like it was in the past. With the right choice, you can get a great laptop offering good performance without having to pay more than $500. Of course, there are some sacrifices to be made when buying a laptop in this price margin. Build quality is not a big problem as it was before, since most manufacturers have done away with weak and brittle parts even on their entry-level laptops.
The biggest sacrifice to be made is in terms of the extra bit of performance. For under $500, most laptops come with an Intel Core i3 processor, which is powerful on its own but sits at the lowest end of Intel’s range of CPU processors. The new third-generation Ivy Bridge processors by the company are also not likely to be available under the $500 line, but that does not make these laptops poor performers. All you need to do is be careful about the configurations so that you do not end up with a slow system. To make your search a lot easier, here is a look at the best five laptops in the price range.
Our best laptops for under $500: Top Picks
Acer Aspire TimelineX
Acer is known for its value-packed Aspire series, so it comes as no surprise to see at least one entry from the Taiwan-based electronics corporation. The Acer Aspire TimelineX 4820T model is available for around $450, and it offers a great combination of performance, battery life, and build quality. The Aspire has a 14-inch screen, which falls right between desktop replacement and ultraportable screen specifications. In terms of dimensions, the Aspire 4820T is larger than a regular ultraportable, but lacks the size of a desktop replacement.
The Acer Aspire TimelineX 4820T gets a first-generation Intel Core i3 processor. Even though the processor lacks Intel’s Sandy Bridge architecture, it is still fairly powerful. The laptop also has 4GB of RAM available, giving the system ample speed as well.
Notable features of this laptop include:
- Pre-Sandy Bridge i3 processor
- 4GB of memory
- 500GB hard drive
- DVD rewriter
- Good battery life
Lenovo Essential G570
The Lenovo Essential G570 is bigger than the Acer Aspire with a 15.6-inch screen, but it has a bland and boring exterior design. Except for the bright Lenovo badge on the corner, the laptop looks very dull. However, beneath the dull exterior is a very capable rig. Priced at around $400, the Lenovo Essential G570 is fitted with a 2.1 GHz dual-core Intel Core i3 2310M processor, 500 GB hard drive, and 4 GB of RAM.
The notable features of this laptop include:
- Three USB 2.0 ports
- HDMI output and VGA port
- Combined eSATA/USB socket
- Well-designed keyboard and trackpad
- Decent performance
Acer Aspire 5749
Two entries down, and we have already reached the next Acer Aspire model. The 5749 is priced at around $450, which is the same as the previously mentioned Aspire. As usual, the Aspire offers good build quality and performance, but the 5749 has been designed quite well. With a thickness of 32 mm and weight of 2.4 kg, the Acer Aspire 5749 is not a light or thin machine, but it is still quite portable. Unlike other budget laptops that get plain grey or black plastic, the 5749 has an interesting crisscross design. The lid is plain, but the texture adds an interesting feel to it.
Here are the most notable features of this laptop:
- Intel Core i3 2330M processor clocked at 2.20 GHz
- 4GB of Ram
- Integrated Intel graphics card
- Nice texture on the outside of the laptop
- HDMI connection, VGA port, and three USB 2.0 ports
Asus is known for building some pretty powerful but costly laptops, but the K35E shows that the company pays attention to its low-budget models as well. Priced at around $440, the Asus K53E is the only laptop in this list to get an Intel Core i5 processor. The exterior of the laptop is not eye-catching, but that is to be expected from a laptop in this range. The lid has the same old plain black color, but the lined texture makes it look slightly different from other competing laptop models.
On the other hand, the Asus K53E does suffer from a poorer build quality than others in this list. While the laptop is not fragile in any way, its plastic feels a lot less strong and durable when compared to those used in other laptops in the same price range.
Here are some of the notable features of this laptop:
- Intel Core i5 2410M processor clocked at 2.3 GHz
- 4GB of DDR3 RAM
- Decent performance for the price
- HDMI and three USB 2.0 ports
HP Pavilion DV6-7051sa
Priced at around $499, the HP Pavilion DV6 comes at just under the £500 mark. It is the only laptop in the list to get a high definition screen, and the addition of Beats speakers adds extra points for its audio quality as well. This combination of a bright HD screen and good quality speakers make the HP Pavilion DV6 a great choice for those who want to play a lot of movies on their laptop.
The HP Pavilion DV6 offers decent performance that is just about at par with other entries in this list. It gets a 500 GB hard drive and an Intel Core i3 2350M processor, making it fast enough for most normal operations. Like other laptops available from HP, the Pavilion DV6 is a well-built and good-looking machine with its textured lid, glowing touchpad bezel, and silver-effect trim.
The most notable features of the HP Pavilion DV6 include the following:
- Intel Core i3 2350M processor
- 500 GB hard drive
- Seven hours of battery life with light usage