2018 Gift Guide: Our Favorite Laptops Under $500
Selecting our favorite budget laptops under $500 was a lot like walking a tightrope: on one side was mediocre quality and low prices, and on the other was terrible quality and even lower prices. Fortunately there are a handful of laptops at this price range that are keepers, and we present our picks below.
While the prices on these laptops are already low, expect them to go even lower on or around Black Friday, so keep visiting Ben’s, set up deal alerts and watch for some great deals this holiday season!
Lenovo IdeaPad 330S 15.6-inch Laptop (2018)
With powerful internals, plus an aluminum lid and relatively narrow bezels, the Lenovo IdeaPad 330s has a more premium look than what you would normally find in this price range, even if it lacks the pizazz of the $1000 laptops. If you opt for the AMD Ryzen processor, you can even find a Full HD configuration under $500.
Watch out… Don’t get it confused with the cheaper, beefier 330 model. You can definitely get an excellent deal on the better 330s (the “S” stands for slim). The 330s weighs around 4.1 lbs and is 0.8” thick, which is pretty good at this price point.
Microsoft Surface Go 10-inch Tablet with Type Cover (2018)
The base model comes equipped with the budget Intel Pentium processor, plus 4GB RAM and 64gb storage, just about the minimum you want for a Windows 10 PC. You also get 1800 x 1200 resolution and a USB-C port, which is quickly becoming the standard port for higher priced laptops. Plus, this diminutive Surface also wins style points, a rarity at this price point.
Watch out… The Surface Go ships with Windows 10 S preloaded, but nobody likes it because of its Microsoft Store-only apps restriction. Luckily it’s free and easy to switch it to standard Windows 10 Home.
Acer Aspire E 15 (E5-576) 15.6-inch Laptop (2018)
You can also opt for Solid State Drive (there’s a free M.2 SATA SSD slot compatible up to 512GB) and still keep the price well under $500. You can find one on Amazon with a 256GB SSD configuration for around $435. Getting a full HD laptop with SSD for under $500 is a great deal, and the big performance boost you get from SSD will pay dividends later.
Sure, the Aspire E 15 is relatively heavy (4.9 pounds) and thick (1.2 inches), and its styling is fairly bland and plastic, but its price-performance ratio is outstanding and continues to be a winning formula for Acer. Expect to see some great Black Friday discounts on Amazon, Newegg and Walmart.
ASUS Chromebook Flip C302CA 12.5-inch 2-in-1 Laptop (2017)
On the other hand, it’s rather expensive for a Chromebook, not counting the fancy Google PixelBook. If you are loyal to the Chrome OS ecosystem, though, it’s got much better build quality and functionality than what you’ll see from most Chromebooks.
Alternatively… The C302CA is also over a year old, so if you want something newer, the comparable 2018 Samsung Chromebook Plus V2 (from $499) has a built-in pen and 16:10 display that’s arguably better for productivity. No backlit keyboard, though, and there is some plastic (gasp).
Acer Chromebook 11 (CB311-8H) 11.6-inch Laptop (2018)
Some other nice touches include Android app (Google Play) support, 10 hours of battery life and an HDR webcam with 88° of wide field of view (FOV).
The form factor and price make this Chromebook a good laptop for kids or as a secondary computer you can take with you wherever and aren’t afraid to toss around a bit.