For many, gaming is a lifestyle – one that should begin with a good and dependable gaming setup. The best gaming laptop under $500 isn’t just a catchy title for a blog post, however: it’s a reality that we’re here to help you achieve.
While we’ll do most of the research and comparison for you, the ultimate decision is one of personal preference: what you’d think of as the “best gaming laptop” (under $500) might be completely different than everyone else in your circle of friends would consider, whether it’s an ASUS VivoBook you’re going for or the Dell i5575.
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How to Choose the Best Gaming Laptop Under $500
As you would expect with a budget of only $500, you cannot buy a powerhouse for the price. Instead, you will get a laptop that is good for light gaming and can help you scratch the itch while you are traveling.
With a budget as low as this, you should sacrifice as much build-quality as possible so as to get more processing power for your games. Of course, this does mean that you need to take greater care of your laptop, but you will also be able to play much better games than you would otherwise.
Usually, memory should be one of the top-most defining factors in your choice. Most modern gaming laptops allow you to upgrade your RAM, which is good for when you’re able to save up or get a pay raise and go from 4 to 16 gigs in a day.
Don’t go for a laptop with less than 6GB of RAM as that will massively slow down even basic tasks such as browsing (if you open too many tabs). As for the processor, you’d be hard-pressed to find a cheap laptop running an 8th Generation Core-i7 or having an i5, so Core-i3 or previous generation i5 chips are the way to go.
While cheap laptops will limit you in terms of screens (lower resolution), you can still choose from a decent selection of processors and other hardware. Let’s take a look at some of the best gaming laptops under $500.
6 Best Gaming Laptop Under $500
One of the Best Laptops Under $500 All Around, Let Down by Some Trademark Deficiencies
You won’t really find this one in shops, so it’s exclusivity perhaps makes its cult a bit bigger than the others on this list. Nonetheless, it’s the very definition of a cheap laptop, with DTS Studio Sound and an increasingly rare in-built DVD player and burner.
It’s known in the market for being a touch-enabled modeled with a large, full high-definition screen, as well as for its 1-terabyte storage space. You can go for more than half the night on a single charge thanks to its three-cell 2.8Ah battery, and the 8GB means that it’s definitely a strong contender for the best cheap gaming laptop title.
With a 2.50 GHz Intel Core i5 and visuals fueled by the Intel UHD Graphics 620, the HP 15 HD Touchscreen Premium Laptop is defining gaming laptops on a budget. As you expect, the integrated graphics chip can only get you so far when it comes to gaming, but what else do you expect for $500?
While the design isn’t the most aesthetically pleasing, it’s sturdily built, meaning you won’t have a constant tingling in the back of your head while lugging it around, which is always a big plus for a gaming laptop.
- Fine amount of processing power
- High-Speed RAM
- heavier than most models
- prone to overheating
- Slow HDD (6400 RPM)
- no backlit keyboard
Acer Aspire A315
Affordability That Doesn’t Come at Any Cost to Your Peace of Mind
This one is best known for its design – matte finish and sleek and beautiful finishing on the maintenance cover. The screen is fairly large for a cheap laptop, the image is clean and crisp, and it doesn’t use Pulse Width Modulation, meaning you won’t have to worry about eye strain.
What’s best about it is the connectivity, which is often the first thing that’s used to cut corners on any laptop under $500. There are three USB-A ports, an HDMI port, SD card reader, and even an Ethernet port for when Wi-Fi just isn’t cutting it in the speed department (something most gamers would relate to).
On the specifications side, it is almost exactly the same as the HP 15 apart from the RAM being downgraded to 6GB and the 2TB HDD being upgraded to a 256GB SSD. Games should load a little faster due to the SSD but you will still only be able to do basic gaming on this device.
One of the weirder drawbacks is the speakers being housed on the bottom of the laptop. This means your audio is muffled by whatever surface you place it on. A perplexing decision, but the sound is satisfactorily clear otherwise.
- noiseless running
- comfortable and intuitive design
- SSD for storage
- lots of ports
- low contrast dim display
- short battery life
- terrible speaker placement
- 6GB RAM may not cut it for some users
Lenovo Flex 14.0″ (i3-8145U)
An Absolute Economic Unit
Lenovo proves itself as more than a reliable provider of high-quality products even for the low-end economic market. Lenovo Flex series is there to satisfy not just all of your basic needs, but also offers a bit more oomph than usual when it comes to this price range.
This 14” fella is powered by the powerful Intel i3-8145U processor, with its 2.1 GHz upgradable to 3.9 GHz, and with 4 MB of cache. It comes with 4 GB of RAM, which is about an average for this price range, and a pretty neat 128 SSD.
Battery life is pretty good as well: you’ll be able to work for 8 full hours before it’s depleted, and due to its super-fast charging technology, the recharge rate is simply amazing.
- Control over what your camera sees with Webcam Shutter
- Excellent processing capabilities
- High-quality screen resolution
- Supported Thunderbolt technology
- Small storage capabilities
Dell Inspiron I3567
A Powerhouse in the Performance Department, Plus Fast and Portable
For those used to the look of a Dell laptop, this one is easily identifiable as it bears the signature Dell design. Unfortunately, this also means that it’s rather bulky, but it is otherwise a fine pick for a laptop that you can keep with you for the same power as a desktop PC.
With a base frequency that goes from 2.5GHz to 3.1 GHz, the dual-core Dell Inspiron I3567 is backed by a 7th generation Intel Core i5-7200U processor, and you can add another 8GB of RAM to the original 8 through the main board, meaning that what other laptops offer for a couple more hundred dollars, this one gives you for way less.
Ultimately, this is a laptop that takes its part whether you are at the office working or at your home trying to get some gaming done. As far as $500 laptops go, this is as powerful as one can get.
- 256GB SSD
- decent all-around performance
- great build quality
- upgradeable RAM
- dull display
- fairly bulky
- average sound quality
ASUS VivoBook 15 F512FA-AB34
Light Weight, but Not a Lightweight!
Asus once again proves how worthy of a competitor they are to all other big-name companies in all price ranges. VivoBook series definitely prove their worth, and even in this price range, VivoBook 15 shows it can pack a heck of a punch.
Just like Lenovo, Asus chose the great i3-8145U processor, which, again, is simply a great choice. VivoBook and Flex share the relatively low storage capacity of 128 GB, but VivoBook has twice as much RAM: 8 GB of DDR4 RAM are great both for business and for pleasure!
What really sets this model apart is the ergonomic backlit keyboard, which not only makes your work more efficient, it is also aesthetically pleasing as well!
And we simply must give extra points for safety. VivoBook 15 is additionally protected by the in-built fingerprint sensor, which can be activated by using the Windows Hello app.
- Elegant design
- Backlit ergonomic keyboard
- High-quality integrated graphics
- Ergolift design for improved typing
- Super-light construction
- Storage could be bigger
Acer Aspire 5 Slim Laptop (A515-54-30BQ)
The Real Slim Shady
Acer is yet another renowned laptop company, with an array of high-quality goodies for every price range. Once again, they provide: Acer Aspire 5 Slim is an excellent choice for the “under 500$” price range!
Comparatively speaking, Slim is closest to Lenovo’s Flex. They both use the same processor type, the reliable Intel i3-8145U processor, and both have 4 GB of RAM and a 128 GB SSD. However, Slim is twice as faster: 8 GB of RAM are nothing to scoff at!
Much like VivoBook 15, Slim is also equipped with an elegant backlit keyboard, and 9.5 hours of battery life allow for prolonged use, both for business and for pleasure. Thin aluminum chassis is both light and durable, so transporting it is not an issue at all!
- Elegant design
- Long battery life
- Full HD Display
- High sound quality
- Backlit, easy-to-use keyboard
- SSD could be bigger storage-wise