Top 7 Best Laptops Under $500 Consumer Reports 2020
There are many laptop brands out there with different features. Some are quite expensive, whereas some of the brands make budget-friendly systems for those who can’t afford expensive machines.
Consumer report labs test laptops on a variety of measures such as performance, display quality, battery life, price, and more. Their ratings and reviews help the members and other buyers to get the best machines.
So, if you are looking for the best budget-friendly laptop but don’t know which of the brands to consider, then there is no need to worry. To make things easier for you, we have included a list of seven best laptops by consumer reports that are available under $500. Also, we have a buying guide that will help you in every step of your purchase.
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Best Laptops Under $500 Reviews
1. Apple MacBook Air MD711LL/B HD Laptop – Overall Best Under $500
Screen Size and Resolution: This Apple MacBook Air is one of the best laptops available under $500 by consumer reports. It is featured with 11.6-inch HD (1366 x 768) LED-backlit display, although its display is not up to the mark but still good enough according to the price.
Graphics: Intel HD Graphics 5000 processor powers the MacBook.
Processor: If we talk about its processor, then it has an Intel Dual-Core i5-4260U, 4th generation processor with a base clock speed of 1.4 GHz that can boost up to 2.7 GHz.
RAM: With 4GB DDR3 SDRAM, you will be able to do basic multitasking. The read and write operations will not be too fast, but a decent performance is expected.
Storage: It has the fastest Solid State Drive that is PCle with a storage capacity of 128GB.
Keyboard: A full-size backlit keyboard with comfortable keys is the part of this MacBook. The 78 keys also include four arrow keys and 12 function keys.
Weight: This Apple MacBook Air weighs only 2.4 pounds.
Battery Life: A fully charged battery will work up to 9 hours.
Ports: There are two USB 3 ports, one Thunderbolt port, a MagSafe 2 power port, and a headphone and microphone port.
Networking: 802.11ac Wi-Fi and Bluetooth 4.0.
Other Features: 720p FaceTime HD camera, stereo speakers, dual microphones, and multi-touch trackpad.
2. ASUS C302CA-DHM4 Touchscreen Convertible Chromebook – Best Convertible Chromebook under $500
Screen Size and Resolution: The ASUS C302CA-DHM4is a convertible laptop that transforms into a tablet, thanks to its flexible 360-degree hinge. It has a 12.5-inch touchscreen that offers a Full HD (1920 x 1080) display.
Storage: It is powered by eMMC (Embedded Multimedia Card) with 64GB of storage capacity.
RAM: If we focus on its RAM, then it features 4GB DDR3 SDRAM. It is sufficient for basic multitasking.
Processor: The laptop is featured with a 0.99 GHz Intel Dual Core M3-6Y30 processor. It’s base clock frequency can boost up to 2.2 GHz.
Graphics: It comes with Intel HD Graphics 515 processor with an integrated 4GB RAM.
Keyboard: There is a bright backlit illuminated keyboard that is quite comfortable to use. The 1.4mm of key travel will enhance your typing experience.
Weight: It has a sleek aluminium metal body with a weight of 2.65 pounds.
Battery Life: It has an amazing battery life of up to 10 hours.
Ports: There are two USB 3.1 Type-C ports, a micro SD card reader, and a headphone/microphone combo jack.
Networking: 802.11 ac Wi-Fi and Bluetooth 4.0
Other Features: Built-in security features, corning gorilla glass, HD web camera, and android apps.
3. Samsung Chromebook Plus V2 2-in-1 Laptop – Features 13MP World Facing Camera
Screen Size and Resolution: If you love Samsung products, then this Chromebook plus V2 is the best machine for you, available under $500. It is also a convertible system like the ASUS Chromebook. It comes with a 12.2-inch Full HD (1920 x 1200) LED touchscreen display. You also have a built-in pen to draw and write anything on the screen.
Processor: It has an Intel Celeron 3965Y processor with 1.5 GHz clock frequency.
Graphics: It is equipped with an integrated Intel HD Graphics 615 GPU.
Weight: The weight of this Chromebook is around 3 pounds that makes it slightly heavier than ASUS Chromebook.
Storage: 64GB eMMC is also part of this Samsung product.
RAM: 4GB LPDDR3 memory helps you in basic multitasking.
Battery Life: You can work for up to 10 hours without a need for charging.
Keyboard: An island-style keyboard with excellent tactile feedback.
Ports: A micro SD card reader, an audio combo jack, one USB 3.0 port, and two USB-C ports.
Networking: Bluetooth 4.0 and 802.11 ac Wi-Fi (2×2)
Other Features: There are two cameras, Google Play store and two built-in stereo speakers.
4. Acer Aspire E 15, 15.6-inch FHD – Longest Battery Life
Processor: The best laptop from Acer that is available under $500 is the Aspire E 15. It is powered by 2.2 GHz, 8th generation Intel Dual Core i3-8130U processor. The base frequency can climb up to 3.2 GHz.
Its turbo boost frequency is higher than what Apple MacBook Air can reach up to.
Screen Size and Resolution: It has a 15.6-inch widescreen with Full HD (1920 x 1080) LED-backlit display. Its screen size is bigger than Apple MacBook Air and ASUS Chromebook.
Storage: There is no SSD, but 1TB HDD is enough for storage. It will not improve or match the performance of SSD, but its storage capacity will allow you to store games, videos, software, and documents as much as possible.
RAM: The laptop comes with a 6GB dual-channel memory. This dual-channel memory is better than a single-channel memory.
Graphics: It is equipped with an integrated Intel UHD Graphics 620 with a 2GB graphics card RAM size.
Battery Life: The system offers up to 13.5 hours of battery life.
Keyboard: It has a decent keyboard with a lack of backlighting. There is also a 10-key numeric keypad along with funky design navigational arrow keys.
Weight: As compared to the laptops mentioned above, it is quite heavy, with a weight of 5.27 pounds.
Ports: There are two USB 3.0 ports, one USB 3.1 Type C Gen 1 port, one USB 2.0 port, a VGA port, a combo audio jack, and an HDMI.
Networking: Bluetooth 4.1 and 802.11ac (Dual-Band) Wi-Fi.
Other Features: Acer TrueHarmony, HD Webcam, and easy to upgrade.
5. HP Pavilion 17-ar050wm Full HD Notebook – Largest Screen Size
Screen Size and Resolution: This Pavilion 17 notebook is the best machine from HP that comes under $500. It has a 17.3-inch diagonal FHD (1920x 1080) WLED-backlit screen with IPS and anti-glare panel.
Processor: It is powered by 2.5 GHz AMD Quad-Core A10-9620P APU. Its base frequency can burst up to 3.4 GHz.
Storage: The laptop comes with a 1TB integrated hard drive.
RAM: An 8GB DDR4 SDRAM is the best inclusion.
Ports: There are two USB 3.1 ports, one USB 3.1 Type-C port, an HDMI, RJ-45, an SD card reader, and a microphone/headphone combo jack.
Networking: 802.11 b/g/n/ac Wi-Fi (1×1) and Bluetooth 4.2 combo
Graphics: AMD Radeon R5 graphics video card is the part of this HP Pavilion.
Keyboard: There is a full-size island-style keyboard with a number pad.
Weight: Its weight is 6 pounds that make it slightly heavier than Acer Aspire E15.
Battery Life: If we talk about its battery life, then it is up to 8 hours.
Other Features: Built-in DVD writer, dual speakers, B&O Play, and HP TrueVision HD camera.
6. Lenovo Flex 11 Chromebook – Features Water-resistant Keyboard
Screen Size and Resolution: Another 2-in-1 machine in our list is the Lenovo Flex 11 Chromebook. It has an 11.6-inch touchscreen with HD (1366 x 768) display featuring IPS technology. Its touchscreen has 10-point multi-touch support.
Processor: There is a Dual-Core MediaTek MTK 8173C processor with a base clock speed of 1.7 GHz that can boost up to 2.1 GHz.
RAM: Lenovo Flex 11 is available with 4GB LPDDR3 RAM.
Storage: It is also powered by eMMC drive, but its storage capacity is 32GB.
Graphics: An integrated PowerVR GX6250 graphics card is the part of this Lenovo Flex 11.
Keyboard: It comes with a water-resistant keyboard that is durable as well as comfortable to use.
Weight: It weighs 2.9 pounds.
Battery Life: The laptop will work for around 10 hours between charging.
Ports: USB Type-C port, an HDMI, USB 3.0 port, an SD card reader, and a microphone/headphone jack.
Networking: 802.11 Wi-Fi (a/g/n/ac) and Bluetooth 4.0
Other Features: 720p webcam, four dynamic modes of use, and dual speakers.
7. 2018 HP Business Touchscreen Laptop PC – Shortest Battery Life
Processor: This touchscreen business laptop from HP comes with 2.7 GHz AMD Quad-Core A12-9720P processor. Its clock frequency can go up to 3.6 GHz with Turbo Boost technology.
Graphics: It is powered by AMD Radeon R7 graphics.
Screen Size and Resolution: It has a 15.6-inch diagonal WLED-backlit touchscreen with HD (1366 x 768) display.
RAM: It has an 8GB DDR4 SDRAM, the same as the HP Pavilion 17 has.
Storage: 1TB HDD is also the same.
Keyboard: There is a full-size island-style keyboard with a number pad.
Weight: The weight of this HP laptop is 4.52 pounds.
Ports: If we look at the number of ports, then there are two USB 3.1 ports, an HDMI, one USB 2.0 port, RJ-45, and a headphone/microphone combo jack.
Networking: Bluetooth and 802.11 Wi-Fi (b/g/n) compatible
Battery Life: Its average battery life is 4 to 5 hours.
Other Features: DTS Studio Sound with dual speakers, CD/DVD burner, and a webcam.
In order to buy the best laptop under $500, you must have to shift your focus to the features of the system for better selection. So, what are those features? Here we are discussing them.
Traditional or Convertible Laptop
First of all, it is necessary to decide whether you want a traditional laptop or a convertible one. You can get anyone under $500, but if you need versatility, then 2-in-1 is the best option; otherwise, go for the traditional one. Both of them are unique and useful in their own ways, so it all depends on your needs and choose whether to go with a regular laptop or a convertible one.
The first feature that you should focus on is the processor. It is mandatory to look at the number of cores and clock speed of the processor. A laptop under $500 either comes with two or four cores. More data can be processed simultaneously when the processors have multiple cores.
Also, the higher the clock speed, the faster the processor will work. So, try to find the best number of cores and clock speeds under $500.
The more memory your laptop has, the faster it will perform. The machines that are available under $500 either come with 4GB or 8GB RAM. It is best to have a system with 8GB RAM to have better multitasking and smooth performance.
Cheaper laptops come with different hard drive options. Some machines feature SSDs, some have eMMCs, and some of the laptops come with HDDs.
So, it all depends on your needs to go with any storage option. But one thing you should note that SSD is the fastest, eMMC is neither fast nor slow, and HDD is slower than both the SSD and eMMC.
Generally, you get 11 to 13-inch screens with laptops that fall under the $500 category. But it doesn’t mean that you can’t get bigger screens. There is an Acer Aspire E15 that has a 15.6-inch screen and HP Pavilion that features a 17-inch screen. Both these laptops come under $500.
Other than the screen size, the display is also important to consider. Make sure you have at least Full HD display with IPS anti-glare panel to have vibrant colours, wide viewing angles, and protection from glare.
Keyboard and Trackpad
Before the selection, you should also have to look at the keyboard and trackpad. Make sure that the keys are placed at a uniform distance and have a decent key-travel distance. Both of your keyboard and trackpad must provide excellent tactile feedback.
But if you are selecting a convertible laptop, then along with focusing on the keyboard and trackpad, you should also consider the touchscreen. Make sure that your touchscreen has 10-point multi-touch support.