Laptops that cost under $500 often make significant compromises, whether in performance, screen quality, or battery life. There are exceptions, though — machines that manage to have almost everything you’d want in one of the best laptops at an impressive price discount.
Below, we’ve made selections for good budget laptops under $500, the best 2-in-1 under $500, the best laptop under $300, and more.
The best Windows 10 laptop for under $500
The best large 2-in-1 for under $500
The best 15-inch laptop for under $500
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Lenovo Chromebook Flex 5 The best laptop for under $500
- Responsive keyboard
- Impressive performance
- Great value
- Under three pounds
- Bad touchpad
- Mediocre display
Why you should buy this: It’s the best laptop you can find for under $500.
Who it’s for: Anyone who needs a well-built and well-performing laptop but doesn’t have a lot of cash.
Why we picked the Lenovo Chromebook Flex 5:
Finding a 13-inch laptop for under $500 is nearly impossible. That’s a shame, as it’s the most popular size for a laptop. But it’s not actually impossible thanks to Chrome OS, and the Lenovo Chromebook Flex 5 manages to come in under $500 and provide impressive performance, 2-in-1 flexibility, and great value. That places this good Chromebook at the top of our list.
Impressively, there’s a 10th-gen Intel Core i3-10110U CPU inside, which is plenty fast for Chrome OS. The 4GB of RAM is enough for good performance and moderate multitasking prowess, and 64GB of storage is sufficient if you make good use of the cloud.
It should be no surprise that it’s a Chromebook that occupies this category, and the Chromebook Flex 5 is a lot of computer for a little bit of money.
The best laptop for under $500
Dell Inspiron 14 The best 14-inch laptop under $500
- All-metal chassis
- Good productivity performance
- Thin and light
- Small bezels
- Display limited to Full HD
- No Thunderbolt 4 support
Why you should buy this: It’s the best 14-inch laptop for under $500.
Who it’s for: Anyone who wants a slightly smaller than 15-inch laptop for not a lot of money.
Why we picked the Dell Inspiron 14:
It’s not often that you can pick up a laptop with an all-metal chassis for $500 or less, not to mention an 11th-gen Intel Tiger Lake Core i3-1154G4 CPU, 8GB of RAM, and a 256GB SSD. Those are specs that typically cost hundreds more. Toss in a Full HD 14-inch IPS display and you’re good to go.
The Inspiron 14 is also a nicely sized laptop, at 0.66-0.70 inches thick and 3.15 pounds. It even offers relatively small bezels, making for a smaller chassis than your typical budget 14-inch laptop. Connectivity is also strong, with a USB-C 3.2 port (no Thunderbolt support, unfortunately), two USB-A 3.2 ports, and a full-size HDMI 1.4 port. Wireless connectivity is up to date with Wi-Fi 6 and Bluetooth 5.1
If you’re not looking for a larger budget laptop but don’t want to go too small, either, then the Inspiron 14 is a great choice that comes in at just under $500.
The best 14-inch laptop under $500
Mark Coppock/Digital TrendsMicrosoft Surface Go 3 The best 2-in-1 for under $500
- Excellent build quality
- Superior display for a budget machine
- Great Active Pen support
- Small and light
- Surprisingly good real-world performance
- Can get expensive
- Mediocre battery life
- Keyboard and touchpad are cramped
Why you should buy this: It’s the best 2-in-1 for under $500.
Who it’s for: Anyone who wants a 2-in-1 on a budget.
Why we picked the Microsoft Surface Go 3:
Microsoft’s Surface Go 3, now in its second generation, is the baby of the Surface range — but that doesn’t mean it’s not a capable little machine. Starting at a price well under our $500 limit, you might think that this is a little too cheap even for what we’re looking at, but you’d be mistaken. Borrowing many of the excellent features from its more costly siblings like the Surface Pro 8, the Surface Go 3 is a sturdy, well-built detachable 2-in-1 that works just as well in tablet mode as it does as a laptop.
You will need to shell out a little extra for the Type Cover and pen if you want the full laptop and tablet experience, but that does leave you with the option of upgrading later if you want to spread out your costs. And, although its screen isn’t quite as detailed as something you’d find on a dedicated tablet like the iPad, it’s still one of the best we’ve ever seen for a convertible laptop at this price point.
The Surface Go 3 isn’t the fastest device in the world either, but the tablet packs a decent battery life and at this price point, you aren’t going to find a Windows 2-in-1 laptop that can better it.
The best 2-in-1 for under $500
Mark Coppock/Digital TrendsLenovo Chromebook Duet 3 The best laptop under $300
- Good enough productivity performance
- Excellent battery life
- Surprisingly good display
- Folio kickstand and keyboard included
- Strong value
- Keyboard is too cramped
- Limited to Wi-Fi 5
Why you should buy this: It’s the best laptop under $300.
Who it’s for: Anyone with a need for a flexible computer but has very little to spend.
Why we picked the Lenovo Chromebook Duet:
If you’re on a budget and want a detachable tablet that can meet your web browsing and light productivity needs, look no further than Lenovo’s Chromebook Duet 3. It’s an attractively priced tablet at $299, and best of all it includes a kickstand cover with a usable keyboard and touchpad.
That makes the Chromebook Duet 3 one of the best value buys we’ve seen, coming in at hundreds of dollars less than competitive tablets once you spend the money on a keyboard cover. Performance is