How to Buy the Best Laptop Under 500

Maybe this has been in the cards for some time, and you’re now ready to buy a new laptop. Or maybe, your current laptop just died, with no warning, and now you’re behind the eight ball. Perhaps you’ve been trying to get your kid to make do with your old laptop from 2006, but their screams of agony are just too loud now. Whatever the reason, you’re looking for a new laptop, and you’re hoping -- seriously hoping -- you can find a decent one for less than $500. Is it even possible? Didn’t that one you bought back in 2006, which wasn’t even that impressive, cost way more than that? Well, worry no more. There’s never been a better time to buy a new laptop, and we’re going to help you find a terrific one, without a going a dime over $500.

Let’s begin!

Yes, you can get a great laptop under $500

While you’ve been getting by with that old laptop, there’s been plenty of progress in the industry. The trend that Intel’s Gordon Moore noted years ago -- that every two years CPUs become twice as powerful -- (Moore’s Law) has continued apace, meaning that today’s laptops are more powerful than ever, and way more affordable, relatively speaking. For $500, depending on the model, you can expect a dual-core CPU, up to 8GB of RAM, integrated graphics, and a choice of screen sizes -- from 11-inches up to 17-inches. There’s also a wide variety of storage options, from ultrafast 128GB SSD drives, to 2TB HDDs, a perfect size if you like to take all of your files with you.

There’s no shortage of laptop designs, either. For under $500, you can pick from dozens of conventional models, plus Chromebooks, and highly flexible 2-in-1 designs that convert from a laptop into a tablet, with just a flip of the screen. There’s so much choice in this price range, your toughest job will be figuring out which model combines the features that matter most to you. There will be some compromises -- for under $500 you won’t get a 2-in-1, with a 17-inch screen that has a 2TB HDD -- but with a bit of research, you shouldn’t have an trouble finding one that will last you for many years to come.

Of course, we think that your next laptop should come from a reputable brand like Lenovo -- a company with a long history of designing computers that possess the latest technology, yet built with an unwavering commitment to quality. To get you started, here’s a roundup of some of our best laptops by category, all of which are priced below $500.

Best all around use laptop under $500

It’s almost like we read your mind. We took all of the features we knew you’d want in a laptop: High quality materials, top-notch components, power and speed in equal measures, and a screen that lets you do everything from intricate photo editing, to watching movies -- and we packed them into one set of products. The IdeaPad Flex Series is all of that, and more.

With their sleek and understated color scheme, IdeaPad Flex premium laptops are light and slender. They’re small enough to fit in the most confined spaces, yet big enough to let you work comfortably. Under the hood, they pair up to Intel® Core™ processors with fast DDR4 RAM, and integrated graphics. With this kind of power, you’ll be able to run all but the most demanding games, and make light work of your productivity tasks.

With plenty of storage on-board, there’s room for your photos, videos, music, and apps, and you’ll be able to see them even in bright daylight, thanks to the generous, up to 15-inch touchscreen.

Best business laptop under $500

If your laptop needs to pull its weight when it comes to getting work done, you simply won’t find a machine for under $500 that ticks all of the boxes like the ThinkPad L Series laptops. The all-business L Series has been tested for its roadworthiness, so you know it can handle the routine bumps and jolts of regular business travel. With up to 15.6-inch screens, these laptops not only offers tons of display real-estate, thanks to their available Full HD 1920 x 1080 resolution, but also plenty of physical real-estate too, with a full-size keyboard, and dedicated number pad on 15” models.

Powering these business laptop are the latest Intel® Core™ processors, plenty of DDR4 RAM, making the L Series the undisputed champ specs-wise at this price point. Being slowed down by your hardware isn’t an option when there’s a deadline to hit, and the Lenovo L Series won’t disappoint you. We also know that security is a top concern for business users, so we’ve equipped this laptop with TPM (Trusted Platform Module), which secures all of your data and passwords behind industry-standard encryption. A thief may get their hands on your laptop, but that’s all they’ll get. It’s physically secure too: The built-in webcam has a sliding privacy shutter, guaranteeing that prying eyes will have nothing to see.

Best student laptop under $500

Being a student means you’re a chameleon. You catch up with your favorite YouTubers in the morning, take notes in class during the day, collaborate with your peers in the afternoon, and then probably end up binging on too many Netflix episodes at night. Yeah, we know, it’s an addiction. We also know that you need a laptop that can follow you through your busy schedule without missing a beat.

Normal laptops favor storage over speed, but the IdeaPad Flex Series takes a different approach. With available solid state drives, you can boot up in seconds, and your favorite apps will load and run without any hesitation. It’s the perfect setup for when you’re making the mad dash between classes and can’t afford to wait for your laptop to catch up.

Better yet, IdeaPad Flex laptop batteries are good for hours of use, so a full charge in the morning can easily get you through a day at school.

Much, much more

These three laptops are just a taste of what you’ll be able to find for less than $500. If they aren’t quite right for you, we’ve got dozens more to choose from. Plus, all of our laptop models come in multiple configurations, so if you find one that’s almost perfect, make sure to scroll to the bottom of the product page for all of our current models. There you’ll find options that give you control over components like the processor, RAM, storage, and screen quality.

When you add a laptop to your cart, you’ll be offered a range of additional options, like extended warranties, pre-loaded software, and special discounts on accessories like wireless mice, and backpacks.

So take a look… we think you’ll find that the laptop you’ve been holding out for is there, and costs less than you think.