We know that times are hard for almost everyone out there, and that doesn’t make replacing your aging laptop hardware any easier. Luckily, the list of the best laptops under $500 is slowly growing with truly quality devices that are worth the plastic and silicon they were printed on.
While it’s still a small gathering of worthy laptops under $500, we’ve rounded up the most impressive that we’ve reviewed within the past year. Our list includes both forms of 2-in-1 laptops and incredibly affordable Chromebooks that will get the job done for minimal impact to your bottom line.
Each of the products below scored at least four stars in one of our in-depth reviews, making them worthy of inclusion in a TechRadar buying guide. With that, you can buy one of these laptops with confidence that it has been thoroughly tested and critiqued by our expert editors.
Microsoft Surface Go
The best laptop under $500 so far
CPU: Intel Pentium Gold 4415Y | Graphics: Intel HD Graphics 615 | RAM: 4GB – 8GB | Screen: 10.5-inch 1,800 x 1,200 PixelSense touch display | Storage: 64GB eMMC – 128GB SSD
Light and easy to hold
Not as powerful as the iPad
Type Cover not included
An affordable Surface device has been in demand since the first Surface Pro, but the wait has ended at last. Microsoft’s Surface Go is not only the best Windows tablet for ultra-mobility, but the best cheap laptop around. Thin, feathery, mobile and elegant, but without the high cost, Microsoft has packed in everything they could in a Surface for under 500 bucks. If you’re a student, or just looking to spend less than a grand on a laptop, the Microsoft Surface Go is a winner for both work and play.
Read the full review: Microsoft Surface Go
Acer Switch 3
A Surface Book 2 alternative at half the price
CPU: 1.10GHz Intel Pentium Quad Core N4200 – Intel Core i3 7100U | Graphics: Intel HD Graphics 505 | RAM: 4GB | Screen: 12.2-inch, 1,920 x 1,200 IPS LCD touchscreen | Storage: 64GB – 128GB eMMC
Excellent build quality
Tricky hinged stand
Slower storage options
The Microsoft Surface Book 2 is plenty pricey, but the Acer Switch 3 is a fine alternative for far less cash. This tablet is designed around largely the same idea as the Surface Book 2, but it’s clearly less capable, thanks to lower-power components. However, for most tasks it’s a plucky little computer. What this 2-in-1 laptop holds over Microsoft’s ‘Pro’ and ‘Go’ models is that it comes with the keyboard included. Of course, the Acer Switch 3 comes in several configurations, with USB-C, 8GB of memory, an IPS touchscreen and an Intel Core i3 7100U processor coming with the pricier option.
Read the full review: Acer Switch 3
Dell Inspiron Chromebook 11 2-in-1
The best cheap 2-in-1 Chromebook
CPU: Intel Celeron N3060 | Graphics: Intel HD Graphics 400 | RAM: 4GB | Screen: 11.6-inch, HD (1366 x 768) touchscreen | Storage: 32GB-64GB eMMC
Long battery life
Not very powerful
Slower SSD storage
The top Chromebook is an affordable product that anyone can approach. And, in that vein, it’s easy to see how the Dell Inspiron Chromebook 11 2-in-1 cuts the mustard. This isn’t the strongest Chromebook out there – rather, it’s exactly what people need it to be: budget-friendly, easy to use and able to take a beating. The Dell Inspiron 11 2-in-1 is ready to handle all your web browsing and document editing, and for that it’s one of the best cheap laptops, as it won’t shatter from a simple stumble.
Read the full review: Dell Inspiron Chromebook 11 2-in-1
Acer Chromebook 15
Proof that 15-inches can be affordable, too
CPU: Intel Pentium N4200 | Graphics: Intel HD Graphics 505 | RAM: 4GB | Screen: 15.6-inch, FHD (1,920 x 1,080) | Storage: 32GB eMMC
Unbelievable battery life
Attractive, fanless design
Trackpad feels clunky
Easy to weigh down with tabs
With a shiny chassis that rivals the most recent MacBook, it’s easier to forgive the fact that the Acer Chromebook 15 is the only straight-laced laptop on this list. Every other laptop on this list is fully convertible, leaving the Acer Chromebook 15 having to prove itself with more than stylish looks. This gorgeous, 15-inch Chromebook makes an amazing impression with its battery life, too, lasting nearly 17 hours in our battery test. That’s crazy for a 15-inch laptop – Chromebook or not.
Read the full review: Acer Chromebook 15