2017 Gift Guide: Our Favorite Laptops Under $500
If you’re willing to settle for slow processors, cheap builds and low resolution on small screens, then it’s pretty easy to find laptops for under $500. But if you care about quality, that’s a bit trickier. The budget laptops on this year’s list find the right balance of compromise and performance and are products that you’ll like using day in and day out.
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!
Samsung Chromebook 3 11.6″ Laptop
The Samsung Chromebook 3 isn’t going to wow you with its specs, but at under $200, it’s an excellent value, especially for younger students who need portability and an everyday computer for surfing the web and writing papers. But stick with the 32GB model so you’ll get about 20GB of free space—the 16GB model just seems like too much of a tight squeeze.
Samsung’s maturing Chromebook line is popular among its users and is a good place to start if you’re thinking of trying out Google’s Chrome OS with little investment.
If you’re already a big fan of Chromebooks and are willing to spend another $300, the all-metal 2-in-1 Samsung Chromebook Pro ($499), with offline mode and 2400 x 1600 display, is also worth checking out.
Acer Switch 3 Pro 12.2″ Laptop/Tablet
For just under $500, the Acer Switch 3 Pro is a cheaper alternative to the Microsoft Surface Pro hybrid laptop/tablet. As a bonus, it already comes with the detachable keyboard and stylus, unlike the Surface. With a Pentium quad-core processor, 4GB RAM and 128GB flash storage plus Windows 10 Pro out of the box, you’ve got a machine that performs respectably.
You also get a keyboard that’s full-sized, good 1920 x 1200 IPS display and USB-C connector which is fast becoming standard, even on some budget models.
I recommend staying away from the non-Pro model which has only 64GB storage—you’l run out of room pretty fast.
Acer Aspire E 15 (E5-575-33BM) 15.6″ Laptop
At just under $350, the Acer Aspire E 15 is surprisingly robust with a full HD 15.6″ display, 7th generation Intel Core i3 processor, USB Type-C 3.1 port, tasteful design and good build quality. (Keep it mind it’s still plastic—let’s not get crazy here.)
Here’s a big plus for any laptop: the memory and storage are easily upgradeable, so you can spend less upfront and beef up the machine later as your needs warrant. SSD and memory prices have stayed high in 2017, but expect some decent sales around Black Friday and for overall prices to fall in 2018.
HP Pavilion x360 14t 14″ 2-in-1 Laptop
If you’re looking for a convertible laptop under $500, the HP Pavilion x360 14t offers some more expensive touches like a 360-degree rotating screen, stainless steel hinges and stylish all-metal unibody design with embossed HP logo on the lid. Other premium touches are the backlit keyboard, USB Type-C 3.1 port and Bang & Olufsen “tuned” audio.
Typical for HP, you can configure the Pavilion x360 six ways to Sunday and jack the price way above $500, if you so choose. (The base specs are nothing to write home about.)
ASUS VivoBook F510UA 15.6″ Laptop
The ASUS VivoBook F510UA is the most powerful PC on this list. It technically retails for $599, but at the time of publishing, the top-selling F510UA has been available for $499 on Amazon for several weeks.
For just $499, you get the latest 8th Generation Core i5-8250U processor and a thin and light form factor (0.8” thin, 3.7 lbs and 14” laptop footprint) that’s nearly unheard of in a budget-priced laptop. Additional goodies include a full HD display with narrow bezels, fingerprint sensor, 8GB DDR4 RAM and USB 3.1 Type-C (Gen 1) port. There are some compromises like plastic build and no optical drive, but you still get the most bang for your buck with this laptop.