The 5 Best Laptops Under $500 in 2017
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You can get a good laptop without racking up a large number on your credit card. For less than $500, you could get a desktop replacement, a long-battery ultrabook What Is the Difference Between a Netbook, Notebook, Ultrabook, Laptop, and Palmtop? What Is the Difference Between a Netbook, Notebook, Ultrabook, Laptop, and Palmtop? The term "laptop" encompasses so many different types of laptops these days. Here are the important differences between them all. Read More , a 2-in-1, or even a gaming notebook.

You need realistic expectations though. When you’re buying budget laptops, you’ll get middling performance. You can play games, but not at max video resolutions. A desktop replacement will do everything that your current old desktop does, but not what a modern desktop today can do.

That said, $500 isn’t a small amount, and the machine will do the basics of the task you buy it for.

Best Desktop Replacement: Asus X555 DA AS11

ASUS X555DA-AS11 15 inch Full-HD AMD Quad Core Laptop with Windows 10, Black & Silver ASUS X555DA-AS11 15 inch Full-HD AMD Quad Core Laptop with Windows 10, Black & Silver 8GB RAM/ 256GB SSD with DL DVD±RW/CD-RW. Windows 10 operating system Buy Now At Amazon $499.99

If you aren’t a gamer or someone who needs tons of horsepower from their computer, stop using a desktop PC. It’s time to upgrade to a “desktop replacement” notebook. These do everything that the average user needs while offering a laptop’s portability and energy efficiency.

asus x555 da

The Asus X555 DA is a stunning notebook with a 15.6-inch Full HD screen with an anti-glare matte finish. It has all the ports you might need for connectivity. On the downside, it’s missing an Ethernet port, but who cares when there’s Wi-Fi 802.11ac support. There’s even a DVD writer, which you don’t often find on laptops anymore. All in all, this is an ideal laptop for college students Buying a Laptop For School? 4 Killer Laptops for Students Buying a Laptop For School? 4 Killer Laptops for Students It's a good time to buy a laptop for school -- there are plenty of great choices out there these days. But as a student, there are a few things to keep in mind. Read More .

The X555 DA is powered by a quad-core AMD A10 processor and 8GB of RAM. I’d recommend sticking with the 256GB SSD for faster performance, but you can opt for a 1TB HDD at a $50 discount.

Spend a Little More: Acer Aspire E15 E5-575G-57D4

Acer Aspire E 15 E5-575G-57D4 15.6-Inches Full HD Notebook (7th Gen Intel Core i5-7200U, GeForce 940MX, 8GB DDR4 SDRAM, 256GB SSD, Windows 10 Home), Obsidian Black Acer Aspire E 15 E5-575G-57D4 15.6-Inches Full HD Notebook (7th Gen Intel Core i5-7200U, GeForce 940MX, 8GB DDR4 SDRAM, 256GB SSD, Windows 10 Home), Obsidian Black 7th Generation Intel Core i5-7200U Processor (Up to 3.1GHz) Buy Now At Amazon $549.99

In case your budget lets you add $80, forget about the Asus and get the Acer Aspire E15. It’s a far superior laptop, and worth much more than the extra 80 bucks it costs.

acer aspire e15 i5

Upgrades include a 7th-generation Intel Core i5 processor, a dedicated Nvidia GeForce 940MX graphics card, and significantly higher battery life.

I’d highly recommend you borrow or save up an extra $80 and get this one over the X555 DA.

Best Battery and Lightest: Lenovo ThinkPad 13

Lenovo ThinkPad 13 Chromebook - Celeron 3855U, 4GB RAM, 16GB eMMC, Chrome Lenovo ThinkPad 13 Chromebook - Celeron 3855U, 4GB RAM, 16GB eMMC, Chrome Intel Celeron 3855U 1.60GH, 2MB. 13.3" HD (1366 x 768); 720p HD Camera. 4GB Soldered DDR3 RAM; 1x16GB EMMC Hard Drive. Integrated Intel HD Graphics 510. Operating System: Chrome OS Buy Now At Amazon $319.80

A laptop with a dead battery is nothing more than an oversized brick. If you need long battery life and portability, the Lenovo ThinkPad 13 is perfect, even if it’s $10 above the budget.

lenovo thinkpad 13

ThinkPads are renowned for their durability and toughness, so it will withstand all the bumps and drops of regular life. And it has that delectable ThinkPad keyboard with the trackball, along with an excellent trackpad.

In LaptopMag’s reliable tests, the ThinkPad 13 lasted for 9 hours of continuous web browsing, which is quite impressive. Lenovo improves on that with a USB Type-C port to charge it, as long as you have the right power bank for laptops 6 Of The Best Backup Battery Packs To Extend Your Phone's Uptime 6 Of The Best Backup Battery Packs To Extend Your Phone's Uptime A battery pack is one of the best ways to charge your phone in an emergency. Here are a few portable power banks that might be just what you need. Read More .

The company claims to have solved all of the security reasons to avoid Lenovo 4 Security Reasons That Explain Why You Should Avoid Lenovo PCs 4 Security Reasons That Explain Why You Should Avoid Lenovo PCs Read More , but familiarize yourself with them nonetheless. And be on your guard.

Note: The Lenovo ThinkPad 13’s price has fluctuated a few times. It debuted at $650, dropped to $510, and went up to $550 again. It’s still a good deal at $550, but if you don’t want to spend that much, wait for it to drop again.

Best 2-in-1 Hybrid or Convertible: Asus Transformer Book T300 Chi

ASUS Transformer Book Chi 12.5-Inch T300CHI-F1-DB Slim All-Aluminum 2 in 1 Detachable Touchscreen Laptop, Core M, 4 GB RAM, 128 GB SSD ASUS Transformer Book Chi 12.5-Inch T300CHI-F1-DB Slim All-Aluminum 2 in 1 Detachable Touchscreen Laptop, Core M, 4 GB RAM, 128 GB SSD 12.5" ASUS TruVivid Display with IPS technology, 1920-by-1080 resolution. Corning Concore Glass. Buy Now At Amazon $413.93

When we looked at the best $500 laptops in 2016, I said that the Asus Transformer Book T300 Chi was an exceptional deal. And it continues to be the best budget choice for 2-in-1 hybrid or convertible laptops Best Mini PC Tablet or Convertible Hybrid Best Mini PC Tablet or Convertible Hybrid Tablet sales have been declining. However, one category of tablet continues growing: tablets that transform into laptops when coupled with a keyboard. We call these 2-in-1 tablets. We rounded up the best convertibles around. Read More .

The specs are perfect: a 12.5-inch Full HD IPS touchscreen, an Intel Core M processor, 4GB RAM, and 128GB SSD. And there’s all the bells and whistles you expect, like a micro USB port, Wi-Fi and Bluetooth, and so on.

asus transformer t300 chi

The T300 Chi “transforms” from a regular laptop into a tablet by detaching the screen. And Windows 10 is primed to work with touchscreens anyway. Connect the two pieces back together and you’ll get over eight hours of battery life. What’s not to like here?

Best Chromebook: Asus Chromebook Flip C302CA

ASUS Chromebook Flip C302 with Intel Core m3, 12.5-Inch Touchscreen, 64GB storage and 4GB RAM ASUS Chromebook Flip C302 with Intel Core m3, 12.5-Inch Touchscreen, 64GB storage and 4GB RAM The flexible 360 degree hinge and 12.5" Full-HD touchscreen lets you use the C302 in tablet or laptop mode. Buy Now At Amazon $449.00

The Chromebook has gotten better and better with age. When you’re ready to ditch Windows, don’t even think twice and get the Asus Chromebook Flip C302CA. You’ll never look back.

asus chromebook flip

The Chromebook Flip does not skimp on the hardware, unlike most other Chrome-based laptops. It has a fantastic 12.5-inch Full HD screen, an Intel Core M processor, 4G RAM, and 64GB SSD. And hey, you get a USB Type-C port too. All put together, this is a well-performing machine that will feel fast and powerful on its Chrome OS.

One of the things to keep in mind when buying a Chromebook is Android support. Some current and all future Chromebooks will support Android apps All New Chromebooks Will Run Android Apps All New Chromebooks Will Run Android Apps Any new Chromebooks launched in 2017 and beyond will ship with access to the Google Play Store included as standard without the need for an update. Read More , which makes them far more useful than ever before. Asus has also confirmed that the Chromebook Flip C302CA will work with Android. Since it has an excellent touchscreen and the ability to flip the screen back, you get two devices for the price of one.

Best “Get Things Done” Laptop: Acer Aspire E15 E5-575-33BM

Acer Aspire E 15 E5-575-33BM 15.6-Inch FHD Notebook (Intel Core i3-7100U 7th Generation , 4GB DDR4, 1TB 5400RPM HD, Intel HD Graphics 620, Windows 10 Home), Obsidian Black Acer Aspire E 15 E5-575-33BM 15.6-Inch FHD Notebook (Intel Core i3-7100U 7th Generation , 4GB DDR4, 1TB 5400RPM HD, Intel HD Graphics 620, Windows 10 Home), Obsidian Black 7th Generation Intel Core i3-7100U Processor (2.4GHz, 3MB L3 cache) Buy Now At Amazon $314.99

Just because your budget is $500 does not mean you need to spend the whole amount. If you can get things done and save a few bucks, why shouldn’t you? The Acer Aspire E15 E5-575-33BM is the top choice on Amazon, as well as the recommended notebook from several reviewers.

acer aspire e15 i3

It meets the minimum requirements of a “good enough” laptop, with 4GB RAM and a 7th-generation Intel Core i3 processor Intel Core i3 vs. i5 vs. i7: Which One Do You Really Need? Intel Core i3 vs. i5 vs. i7: Which One Do You Really Need? Shopping for a new computer but confused by whether to get an Intel Core i3, i5, or i7 processor? Here's everything you need to know in layman's terms. Read More . There’s even a USB Type-C port to charge the device, and a DVD writer to make it a decent desktop replacement.

In short, it lets you be productive without spending a bomb. The Aspire E15 E5-575-33BM is ideal for web browsing, Office work, and basic multimedia.

An Untested Gem: ASUS F402BA-EB94

ASUS VivoBook 14 Thin, Lightweight and Portable Laptop, AMD A9 CPU, Radeon-R5 Graphics, 8GB RAM, 256GB SSD, USB-C, Windows 10 ASUS VivoBook 14 Thin, Lightweight and Portable Laptop, AMD A9 CPU, Radeon-R5 Graphics, 8GB RAM, 256GB SSD, USB-C, Windows 10 14-Inch Full HD 1080p Display, Windows 10 Signature Edition Pre-Installed Buy Now At Amazon

We try not to judge a device by its specifications alone, since those can overpromise and under-deliver. That’s why I’m not comfortable recommending the ASUS F402BA right now, but it’s worth keeping an eye on.

asus f402ba

The hardware on this device is unbelievable for $500, including a 14-inch Full HD screen, an AMD A9 processor, 256GB SSD, and 8GB RAM. There’s a USB Type C port too. And even with all that, it weighs under 4 pounds and is less than an inch thick.

Perhaps the best part is that the Asus F402BA is preloaded with Windows 10 Signature Edition. This is a “pure Windows” version with no bloatware to get rid of How to Easily Remove Bloatware From Windows 10 How to Easily Remove Bloatware From Windows 10 Windows 10 comes with several pre-installed apps that take up space on your device and aren't easy to remove. Sounds like bloatware, doesn't it? We show you how to remove these apps. Read More .

The Asus F402BA hasn’t been tested by reliable sources, and there aren’t any Amazon product reviews you can trust How to Know If You Can Trust an Amazon Product's Reviews How to Know If You Can Trust an Amazon Product's Reviews Amazon product reviews are hit or miss. Sometimes they're helpful, sometimes they're fake. Here's a tool you can use to check the integrity of a given product's reviews. Read More . But if it delivers what it promises, this is a killer machine for $500.

Can You Go Cheaper?

Chromebooks and Intel’s new line of low-cost processors have made it possible to go even cheaper than $500. In fact, we have an entire guide on the best laptops under $300 Best Laptops Under $300: Everything You Need to Know Best Laptops Under $300: Everything You Need to Know Finding a good laptop for less than $300 is almost impossible these days, but can be done if you know what to look for. Here's everything you need to know to make a purchase you... Read More , including which processors to get and avoid.

Do you think $500 is necessary to get a good laptop these days or would you go even cheaper? What’s your pick for the best budget laptop?

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  1. Tee
    August 17, 2017 at 6:51 am

    What a coinkydink. I have that very same Acer Aspire E5 model, and would like to add that the GeForce 940MX is also not the DDR3 model, but the GDDR5 model, reviews of which I have seen absolutely _nowhere_. I've had some luck playing non-AAA games (MechWarrior Online, Secret World Legends) at native resolution without bumping down detail pretty much at all.

    It also has an interesting RAM access port on the bottom, in that you don't have to take the entire thing apart to add a second 8 Gb stick for dual-channel goodness (yes, it runs single-channel, but yes, it has two slots). Just a few screws, and you're in.

  2. Bhagwanmike
    August 17, 2017 at 5:19 am

    To paraphrase Inigo Montoya, "That word... You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means."

  3. Doc
    August 17, 2017 at 12:12 am

    "Best “Get Things Done” Laptop: Acer Aspire E15 E5-575-33BM ($350)"

    I got one of these when it was a "Kinja Deals" deal-of-the-day (I'm using it right now). Very nice...the backlit keyboard is a nice touch, and the HD screen isn't too bad. Not the fastest - but light and powerful enough for work.