2019 Gift Guide: Our 10 Favorite Laptops Under $500

By on November 11, 2019

The humble budget laptop is one of our favorite and most popular product categories on Ben’s. While it’s still the rule that laptops under $500 are meant for light work and casual web use and not heavy gaming, Photoshop or huge spreadsheets, some things have improved in this space over the years. All of the budget laptops on this year’s list have full HD (or better) display resolution, and all have flash storage rather than the traditional hard disk drive. You won’t see any chunky cheap machines here, either: all of these laptops measure at or under 0.8-inches thin and weigh at or under 4 lbs.

Because manufacturers are managing to squeeze more premium features into budget laptops every year, only 2 laptops from 2018 made this list. The rest were released in 2019.

It still remains true that choosing an AMD processor (vs. Intel) and/or Chrome OS (vs. Windows) saves you money. AMD’s Ryzen chips have received a lot of praise in the last couple years, and Chrome OS has gotten better with age. AMD processors and Chromebooks are definitely your best options to get the most bang for your buck.

Most of the Windows laptops on this list are running the streamlined Windows 10 Home in S Mode, which only allows you to use apps from the Microsoft Store. That sounds annoying and inconvenient, but it’s free and fairly easy to switch to standard Windows 10 Home (details here).

Now let’s take a look at our top ten favorite laptops under $500 for 2019. Watch for price drops and deals on Ben’s in the coming weeks (set deal alerts here)!

Windows Laptops

Acer Aspire 5 (A515-43-R19L) 15.6-inch Laptop

Specs: 1920 x 1080 Full HD IPS display,  AMD Ryzen 3 3200U processor, 4GB memory, 128GB PCle NVMe SSD storage, 802.11ac Wi-Fi, Windows 10 (S mode).

Weight/size: 4.19 lbs. / 0.7″ thick.

Release year: 2019

Pros: Top-selling laptop on Amazon. Great price point for Windows laptop. Always popular backlit keyboard, hard to find in budget laptops. IPS display. Aluminum exterior.

Cons: No USB-C port. No touchscreen. Bare minimum specs best suited for light use.

$310 | Amazon Check Deals on Ben’s

ASUS VivoBook 15 (F512FA-AB34) 15.6-inch Laptop

Specs: 1920 x 1080 Full HD IPS display,  8th Gen Core i3 processor, 8GB memory, 128GB M.2 SSD storage, USB-C, 802.11ac Wi-Fi, Windows 10 (S mode).

Weight/size: 3.5 lbs. / 0.78″ thick.

Release year: 2019

Pros: Feature-rich and slim with narrow 5.7mm bezels (88% screen-to-body ratio). Fingerprint sensor. “ErgoLift” hinge cleverly lifts laptop for typing. Backlit chiclet keyboard.

Cons: Plastic chassis. Battery is OK, but not great with 5 to 6 hours on light use and half that for heavy use, but turning off keyboard backlight and dimming display will add a couple more hours on top of that.

$400 | Amazon Check Deals on Ben’s

Acer Aspire 5 (A514-52-78MD) 14-inch Laptop

Specs: 1920 x 1080 Full HD IPS display,  8th Gen Core i7 Quad-Core processor, 8GB memory, 512GB PCle NVMe SSD storage, USB-C, 802.11ac Wi-Fi, Windows 10 Home.

Weight/size: 3.75 lbs. / 0.7″ thick.

Release year: 2019

Pros: Excellent, robust specs for the price range (currently selling for just a hair under $500). Aluminum lid. You can also find cheaper configurations for under $400 or less. Lightweight and thin for this price point.

Cons: No touchscreen, which has become very commonplace, even for budget laptops. No backlit keyboard. Webcam (720p) and trackpad not that great.

$499 | Walmart Check Deals on Ben’s

ASUS VivoBook Flip TP412FA-OS31T 14-inch 2-in-1 Laptop

Specs: 1920 x 1080 full HD touchscreen, 8th gen Intel Core i3, 4GB memory, 128GB SSD storage, 3 x USB 3.1, 802.11ac Wi-Fi, Windows 10 (S mode).

Weight/size: 3.3 lbs. / 0.69″ thick.

Release year: 2019

Pros: Good build quality. Backlit keyboard. Windows 2-in-1 under $500.

Cons: Windows 10 S installed. No USB Type-C ports. Bloatware. Battery life.

$470 |  Amazon Check Deals on Ben’s

Acer Swift 3 (SF313-51-57EQ) 13.3-inch Laptop

Specs: 1920 x 1080 Full HD IPS display, 8th Gen Core i5 Quad-Core processor, 8GB memory, 256GB PCle SSD storage, USB-C, 802.11ac Wi-Fi, Windows 10 Home.

Weight/size: 2.87 lbs. / 0.63″ thick.

Release year: 2019

Pros: Thin, lightweight aluminum chassis. Narrow bezels with IPS panel. Long battery life—over 10 hours in real world conditions.

Cons: Keyboard, trackpad and speakers are so-so. No touchscreen, and display is just OK.

$499 | B&H Photo Video Check Deals on Ben’s

Microsoft Surface Go 10-inch Tablet with Type Cover

Specs: 1800 x 1200 touchscreen display, Intel Pentium Gold 4415Y processor, 4GB memory, 64GB eMMC storage, USB-C, 802.11ac Wi-Fi, Windows 10 Home (S mode).

Weight/size (with keyboard): 2.45 lbs. / 0.69″ thick.

Release year: 2018

Pros: Stylish appearance for price point. USB-C. High resolution display.

Cons: Timing is an issue: buy it or wait? The Surface Go 2 is waiting in the wings but delayed till 2020 at the earliest. Windows 10 S installed. Price hasn’t changed in a year.

$429 (64GB + type cover) | Microsoft Check Deals on Ben’s

Chromebook Laptops

HP Chromebook 15 (15-de0010nr) 15.6-inch Laptop

Specs: 1920 x 1080 Full HD IPS touchscreen display, Intel Pentium Gold 4417U processor, 4GB memory, 64GB eMMC storage, USB-C, 802.11ac Wi-Fi, Chrome OS.

Weight/size: 3.99 lbs. / 0.7″ thick.

Release year: 2019

Pros: Up to 10 real-world hours of battery life. Elegant, metal design with narrow bezels. Backlit keyboard. Full numeric keypad. Touchscreen display.

Cons: 720p webcam is not good.

$369 | Amazon Check Deals on Ben’s

HP Chromebook X2 12.3-inch Detachable Laptop / Tablet

Specs: 2400 x 1600 IPS touchscreen display, 7th gen Intel Core m3 processor, 4GB memory, 32GB eMMC storage, 2 x USB-C, 802.11ac Wi-Fi, keyboard & stylus, Chrome OS.

Weight/size (with keyboard): 3.06 lbs. / 0.6″ thick.

Release year: 2018

Pros: First in class detachable Chromebook. Full-sized keyboard and big trackpad. Battery life projected around 12.5 hours.

Cons: Bang & Olufsen speakers sound just OK. Limited storage.

$476 | Amazon Check Deals on Ben’s

Lenovo Chromebook S340 (81TB000DUS) 14-inch Laptop

Specs: 1920 x 1080 Full HD IPS display, Intel Celeron N4000 processor, 4GB memory, 64GB eMMC storage, 2 x USB-C, 802.11ac Wi-Fi, Chrome OS.

Weight/size: 3.02 lbs. / 0.74″ thick.

Release year: 2019

Pros: Follows the popular S330 with a trimmer, more updated look. 180-degree hinge. Battery life rated at up to 10 hours.

Cons: Just released, so no price drops yet. (Update: Costco now has it for $200—see below.) Bare minimum specs. No touchscreen. Plastic shell.

$200 | Costco Check Deals on Ben’s

ASUS Chromebook Flip C434TA-DSM4T 14-inch 2-in-1 Laptop

Specs: 1920 x 1080 Full HD touchscreen display,  8th Gen Core m3 processor, 4GB memory, 64GB eMMC storage, USB-C, 802.11ac Wi-Fi, Chrome OS.

Weight/size: 3.3 lbs. / 0.6″ thick.

Release year: 2019

Pros: Stylish 14-inch laptop in svelte 13-inch laptop footprint, thanks to super narrow bezels. 360-degree hinge. All-aluminum build. Up to 9 hours of battery life. Backlit keyboard.

Cons: We’re cheating a bit since it’s still selling a bit above $500, but we’ve seen it for $520 after coupon at Staples, and it should hit $500 or below around Black Friday.

$520 w/ code 14408 | Staples Check Deals on Ben’s

About Joe Warner

I'm the senior editor of The CheckOut. I am an aficionado of shiny gadgets and classic Hollywood movies and can also tell you the names of the late '80s Swedish Davis Cup team members.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Scroll Up