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Best laptop under $500 in 2023

A list of the best laptops for under $500 currently available, plus what you should consider when looking to buy one
Last Updated on May 16, 2023

If you’re looking for the best laptop under $500 in 2023 then look no further. We’ve used all of our experience in the laptop market to find you the best picks available across the multitude of online retailers, covering a variety of sizes and different use cases. You’re sure to like one of them!

Around the $500 mark is where things start to get interesting for laptops. These are still budget machines but are at the upper end of the budget price range (for general use laptops that is – gaming ones tend to cost considerably more). This means you actually start seeing laptops with sufficient RAM and storage options for most casual users (such as with our 14-inch pick, the Lenovo IdeaPad), and even the odd dedicated graphics card if that’s something you’re looking for (such as in our gaming pick, the MSI GF63 Thin).

Products at a Glance

Our Recommended

Best laptop under $500 in 2023

  • Nvidia GTX 1650 dedicated graphics card
  • Reasonably powerful Intel Core i7-9750H CPU
  • Only 256GB SSD
  • Only 8GB DDR4 RAM

The MSI GF63 Thin is only really our top pick if you’re looking for a budget gaming laptop, in which case it offers great value. For everyone else though, you’re much better picking up one of the other picks on this page, as they have superior RAM and storage options for the money, plus they’re lighter and with better battery life.

With this option you’re limited to 8GB of DDR4 RAM and a 256GB SSD – at least at this price point. You can always upgrade these yourself at a later date though.

This laptop comes with an Intel Core i7-9750H CPU, a strong performer, plus an Nvidia GeForce GTX 1650 graphics card – the most important component when it comes to gaming. This pairing won’t generate good FPS on anything but old, non-demanding games, however it still makes it the most powerful gaming laptop you’ll likely find for the money (though admittedly it’s a bit out of the price range of this guide at the current non-discounted price).

Although like most choices here, you’ll be limited to a 60Hz display, the reality is you’ll struggle to play newer games above a 60 average FPS anyway, so it’s not too much of a downside.

  • Ample storage and RAM options
  • Light, slimline & portable
  • Respectable brightness
  • Respectable build quality for the price
  • Battery life could be better

This Intel Quad Core i5-1135G7 powered 14-inch Lenovo IdeaPad, comes with plentiful amounts of RAM and storage, and you can either load it out with 12GB of DDR4 RAM and a 512GB SSD for a price point within the range of this guide, or spend a bit more and get a 1TB SSD and either 20GB or a huge 36GB of RAM (though we’d avoid this latter option as it’s complete overkill).

The battery life isn’t as good as on Ryzen models – managing around 7 hours with battery saving settings enabled, however this still isn’t terrible. The peak brightness is pretty respectable (for a budget laptop that is) peaking at around 300 nits.

‎The laptop is light, weighing in at 3.1lbs, plus it is slimline, making it quite portable, and the overall build quality of the device is pretty decent for a budget machine.

  • Fairly powerful CPU for the price
  • Ample storage and RAM options
  • Decent peak brightness for the price
  • Respectable battery duration
  • SD card reader
  • Keyboard is sub-par

Another Lenovo pick, this 17-inch Lenovo IdeaPad 3 comes with a fairly potent (for a budget machine) AMD Ryzen 5 5625U processor. The RAM and storage options within the price range of this guide (at the time of writing) are limited to 12GB and 512GB respectively, but this is ample for most peoples’ needs, and you can increase both all the way up to 40GB/2TB if you don’t mind spending more money.

Thanks to the power efficiencies of the Ryzen CPU, the battery life is above average, lasting around 9 hours of general usage in battery saving mode.

The display has a peak brightness of around 345nits, which is pretty good for this price point as it’s normally a feature that’s lacking in most budget laptops.

The overall build quality isn’t quite as good as the 2023 14-inch model we’ve also selected on this page, but is fairly standard for this price point. The quality of the keyboard however is a bit lacking – with an uneven feel across the keys. It does however have the benefit of a numpad and fingerprint scanner). The port coverage is however solid, and includes an SD card reader and HDMI port.

  • Respectable budget CPU performance
  • Ample storage and RAM options
  • Ample ports (including HDMI 2.0)
  • Respectable battery duration
  • Dim display
  • Keyboard is sub-par

This Acer Aspire 5 Slim Laptop (2023 model) is a decent budget performer. Though it’s not the most powerful CPU on this page, the Ryzen 5 5500U is a pretty decent performer for a budget processor. Once again, the Ryzen CPU affords it a longer battery lifespan than you’d likely get with an Intel model – coming in at around 9 hours, which isn’t bad.

You get a lot of SSD and RAM options, which you can upgrade to ridiculous levels if you wish, though within the limits of the $500 budget you’ll be restricted to a 512GB SSD and 8GB of DDR4 RAM. The three different USB-A ports and one USB-C port, plus HDMI 2.0 socket are all welcome too.

Unfortunately the display lags behind other laptops on this page in terms of brightness. Although we don’t have the exact nits of the peak brightness to hand, we’re talking about a 40% reduction. Additionally the keyboard doesn’t feel particularly well made or satisfying to type on. Still, if these aren’t big drawbacks for you, this is an otherwise very capable laptop.

What to think about when shopping for a laptop under $500

RAM & storage options

The very minimum amount of RAM you should accept on a laptop in this price range is 8GB, though for non-gaming laptops you should be able to get 12GB+, which is plenty for most general purpose machines browsing the web and using Excel and the like.

It’s a similar story with the storage options: 512GB is common on the picks we’ve selected here and 1TB options are even available, which is a lot of SSD space for storing video media on and the like (besides this, it’s probably more than you’ll need unless you’re installing games).

Limitations on outdoor use with $500 laptops

Around the $500 mark is when the peak brightness of laptop models starts to get reasonable for indoor use in brightly lit spaces. Any cheaper than this and most laptop displays tend to be disappointingly dim.

However, for this amount of money you’re still very unlikely to find laptops with a nits value high enough to use outdoors in the day, without the reflections from the ambient light making it very difficult to read content on your screen. If you want better brightness, you’ll have to stump up more cash.

Best laptop under $500 2023 FAQs

Are laptops under $500 worth buying?

If you’re after an affordable general use laptop for work or at home, but want something that won’t limit your ability to open a load of tabs in your web browser, or grind to a halt when you’ve got multiple programs open, then laptops for $500 are a good choice – they’re budget, but not too budget.

Alternatively, if you’re after the cheapest gaming laptops available on the market, to play some undemanding games on the lowest settings, then the $500 mark is basically the very bottom rung.

What is the best Windows laptop for $500?

We’ve got four different picks for best Windows laptop for $500, depending on the size you’re after and what you want to do with it. These include MSI GF63 Thin, Lenovo IdeaPad 3, Acer Aspire 5 Slim, and Lenovo IdeaPad 14-inch models – read within for the specific SKUs and why we’ve picked them.

Our Verdict

The Lenovo IdeaPad 14 is our top overall pick for the best laptop under $500 in 2023 at the present time, though if you’re after something a bit bigger or with budget gaming capability then do have a read through our mini-reviews of the other products in this guide to help you find the right option for you.