The Best Laptops Under $500 In 2021: Lenovo, Acer, More

Laptops Under $500: 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 laptops under $500 at a glance:

Lenovo Chromebook Flex 5

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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 much 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.

The Best Budget Laptops for 2021

It should be no surprise that it’s a Chromebook that occupies this category, and the Chromebook Flex 5 is a lot of computers for a little bit of money.

Read our in-depth Lenovo Chromebook Flex 5 review

Acer Aspire 5

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Why you should buy this: It’s the best Windows 10 laptop available for less than $500.

Who it’s for: Anyone who wants a Windows 10 laptop that won’t break the bank.

Why we picked the Acer Aspire 5:

Acer’s Aspire 5 has improved significantly in its recent update, bringing better performance, build quality, and battery life. The latest model is priced slightly higher right now. But it often comes in at under $500 with a 10th-generation Core i3-1005G1U CPU, 4GB of RAM, a 128GB SSD, and a 15.6-inch Full HD display.

That’s a lot of computers for not a lot of money. Better yet, this is a well-built budget laptop that inspires confidence in hand, and its keyboard and touchpad punch way above its class. Battery life is also a plus, with the Aspire 5 competing with laptops costing far more money.

The 15-inch 1080p display on the Acer Aspire 5 is very good for the price as well, though you’ll have to jump just outside the $500 budget to add touch-screen functionality. Since this isn’t a 2-in-1, that is less of a concern for this sort of money.

Read our in-depth Acer Aspire 5 review

Dell Inspiron 14

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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.

Microsoft Surface Go 2

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Luke Larsen /