Lenovo Chromebook Duet right profile

A cheap laptop is no longer guaranteed to be a bad device. It’s easier than ever to grab a quality machine for less than $500. Unfortunately, there are still some pretty terrible options out there, so you have to know how to avoid them. We’re doing our part to help out, and these are our picks for the best cheap laptops you can get.

See also: The best laptops for students

If you need to get connected without hurting your wallet, these are your best bets. We’ve included the main manufacturers and limited our picks to less than $500. The majority of our list is Windows-based, but a few of the Chromebook options are too good to leave off. We have a list dedicated to the best Chromebooks under $300 too if you’re thinking of taking the Chrome OS plunge.

The best cheap laptops:

Editor’s note: We’ll update this list of the best cheap laptops as new options launch.

1. Microsoft Surface Go 2

Microsoft Surface Go 2 cheap laptop

The Microsoft Surface lineup is a leader in the 2-in-1 game and has been since its launch in 2012. It’s also been known for its hefty price tag — that is, until the Microsoft Surface Go and the brand-new Surface Go 2. This refreshed version of the smallest Microsoft Surface tablet makes the cut with its low price point, and it’s among the best cheap laptops available.

If you’re familiar with the Surface line, you can probably guess that this price includes only the tablet itself. You’ll have to spend a bit extra to pick up a type cover and a Surface Pen for the full experience. The base configuration of the Surface Go 2 is rocking 4GB of RAM and 64GB of storage, but you can splurge and double them to 8GB and 128GB respectively.

See also: The best Surface Pro deals

In a relatively crowded market of 2-in-1s and tablets, the Surface Go 2 is a refined option with years of experience. It’s one of our top picks for the extensive catalog of accessories and peripherals Microsoft offers.

Microsoft Surface Go specs:

  • Display: 10.5-inch, 1,920 x 1,280
  • CPU: Intel Pentium Gold 4425Y
  • GPU: Intel HD Graphics 615
  • RAM: 4/8GB
  • Storage: 64/128GB
  • Software: Windows 10 Home S-Mode

2. Asus VivoBook 15

Asus VivoBook 15 cheap laptop

It’s nearly impossible to make a list of the best cheap laptops without the Asus VivoBook 15. An affordable Intel Core i3 chip keeps the VivoBook 15 well under-budget. The Intel setup continues with a UHD Graphics 620 card powering the sharp 15.6-inch Full HD display.

Under the hood, you’ll find 4GB of DDR4 RAM along with a 128GB SSD to keep the Windows 10 Home S-Mode experience running smoothly. Some budget-friendly laptops can be accused of looking cheap, but the VivoBook 15 combines a four-sided NanoEdge display and a backlit keyboard for an experience that punches above its price.

For all of the perks, the VivoBook doesn’t skip out on peripherals either. It’s equipped with two USB-A ports, one USB-C port, and an HDMI port too.

Asus VivoBook 15 specs:

  • Display: 15.6-inch, Full HD
  • CPU: Intel Core i3
  • GPU: Intel UHD Graphics 620
  • RAM: 8GB
  • Storage: 128GB
  • Software: Windows 10 Home S-Mode

3. Acer Aspire 5

acer aspire 5

Another perpetual competitor for the title of the best cheap laptop is the Acer Aspire 5. The base model is loaded with an AMD Ryzen 3 chip, though you can boost it to a Ryzen 5 or 7 for a price.

It matches the Asus VivoBook in terms of internals, with 4GB of DDR4 RAM and a 128GB SSD. Acer’s Full HD 15.6-inch display runs on AMD Radeon Vega 3 graphics with Windows 10 Home in S-Mode. You should have more than enough battery life to work comfortably away from an outlet for up to 7.5 hours.

The Acer Aspire 5 is another laptop with plenty of potential for peripherals. It features an HDMI port, three USB-A ports, and an Ethernet hookup.

Acer Aspire 5 specs:

  • Display: 15.6-inch, Full HD
  • CPU: AMD Ryzen 3
  • GPU: AMD Radeon Vega 3
  • RAM: 4GB
  • Storage: 128GB
  • Software: Windows 10 Home S-Mode

4. Lenovo Chromebook Flex 5

lenovo chromebook flex 5

The Lenovo Chromebook Flex 5 comes with some pretty awesome specs considering the price point, making it one of the best cheap laptops. On top of that, it runs Chrome OS, so this laptop will be super snappy. It comes with a Full HD screen and an Intel Core i3 processor. It also has dual front-facing speakers, a 10-hour battery life, and slim bezels.

This also happens to be a very well-made Chromebook with a 360-degree rotating screen, which means it can double as a tablet and take on multiple form factors. Not bad for a laptop in this price range!

Lenovo Chromebook Flex 5 specs:

  • Display: 13-inch, Full HD
  • CPU: Intel Core i3
  • GPU: Intel Integrated Graphics
  • RAM: 4GB
  • Storage: 64GB
  • Software: Chrome OS

5. Lenovo IdeaPad 3

lenovo ideapad 3

Lenovo may be known for its Yoga lineup, but the manufacturer offers a wide variety of affordable laptops as well. One such option is the IdeaPad 3, which comes with a solid spec sheet.

You’ll find the base model working with an AMD Ryzen 3 3250U chip, 8GB of RAM, and 256GB of storage. The large 14-inch Full HD display is powered by an integrated AMD Radeon Vega 3 graphics card, and the IdeaPad 3 boasts an impressive 10-hours of battery life. Sure, some devices last longer, but it’s nice to know that you can take this budget beast on the go sans charger.

Lenovo’s IdeaPad 3 may not be the most feature-rich machine on the list, but the two USB-C ports and single USB-A option allow for plenty of peripherals.

Lenovo IdeaPad 3 specs:

  • Display: 14-inch, HD
  • CPU: AMD Ryzen 3 3250U
  • GPU: AMD Radeon Vega 3
  • RAM: 8GB
  • Storage: 256GB
  • Software: Windows 10 Home

6. Lenovo Chromebook Duet

lenovo chromebook duet cheap laptop

The Duet is a great Chromebook tablet by Lenovo, and the keyboard is included — unlike with the Surface. This ultra-portable little device slots in at the same price as the Surface Go 2 as well.

See also: Lenovo Chromebook Duet review

At first glance, the Duet looks just like a small journal. Once you open the cover, however, you’ll find that it’s a bright 10.1-inch Full HD Chrome OS tablet with 4GB of RAM and 64GB of memory. The internals may not be the most familiar to everyone, with a MediaTek Helios P60T chip and ARM G72 MP3 graphics, but they’re plenty capable in the small form-factor.

A small tablet might worry you when it comes to battery life, but the Duet should last 10 hours without much trouble. Unfortunately, the Duet isn’t exactly loaded with ports beyond a single USB-C option. This is a great little Chromebook, as well as one of the best cheap laptops around. 

Lenovo Chromebook Duet specs:

  • Display: 10.1-inch, Full HD
  • CPU: MediaTek P60T
  • GPU: ARM G72 MP3
  • RAM: 4GB
  • Storage: 64GB
  • Software: Chrome OS

7. Samsung Galaxy Chromebook 2

Samsung Galaxy Chromebook 2 side profie 4

The Samsung Galaxy Chromebook 2 comes with a very similar design and looks its predecessor was loved for. Just look at it! Its metal body and fun aesthetics definitely make it stand out.

The screen measures 13.3 inches diagonally and has a Full HD resolution. What makes this display special is that it has QLED technology, which can reproduce 100% of the DCI-P3 color spectrum and has great HDR capabilities.

See also: Need a replacement Chromebook charger? These are your best choices

In an effort to make the Galaxy Chromebook 2 more accessible than the first one, Samsung made some sacrifices. The base version of the Galaxy Chromebook 2 comes with an Intel Celeron processor, 4GB of RAM, and 64GB of storage. And while the MSRP is still above our limit, this computer can often be found for well under $500.

Samsung Galaxy Chromebook 2 specs:

  • Display: 13.3-inch, Full HD
  • CPU: Intel Celeron
  • GPU: Intel UHD Graphics
  • RAM: 4GB
  • Storage: 64GB
  • Software: Chrome OS

8. HP 15-ef1021nr

HP 15 ef1021nr

As a leader in the laptop market, HP has finely crafted a wide range of machines. The 15-ef1021nr is among the best cheap laptops, yet still offers plenty of value. It’s a perfect pick for students if remote learning continues well into the next school year.

See also: The best HP laptops to buy in 2021

For your money, HP will hook you up with an AMD Ryzen 3 processor and 8GB of RAM. The laptop also has 256GB of storage, which should be enough for most schoolwork. HP has loaded the 15-ef1021nr with Windows 10.

HP S15-ef1021nr specs:

  • Display: 15.6-inch, HD
  • CPU: AMD Ryzen 3 3250U
  • GPU: AMD Radeon
  • RAM: 8GB
  • Storage: 256GB
  • Software: Windows 10

9. HP Chromebook 14

hp chromebook 14

For a long time, Chromebooks were thought of as less than Windows laptops. This option, the HP Chromebook 14 packs a punch in a number of ways, making it a great contender in this list of the best cheap laptops.

See also: The best HP Chromebook for your needs and budget

It’s fully loaded with 4GB of RAM, 32GB of storage, and an HD 14-inch display. HP also boasts that the Chromebook 14 can get more than 9 hours of battery life and the brushed metal finish lends a premium feel. As the name suggests, it’s a Chromebook, so you may have to adjust to a different operating system than you’re used to.

The port selection is solid though not spectacular, with two USB-C ports and two USB-A options as well as a headphone jack.

HP Chromebook 14 specs:

  • Display: 14-inch, HD
  • CPU: AMD A4-9120C
  • GPU: Integrated AMD Radeon R4
  • RAM: 4GB
  • Storage: 32GB
  • Software: Chrome OS

10. Dell Inspiron 15 3000

DEll 15 3000 laptop

Bringing up the rear on our list of the best cheap laptops is the Dell Inspiron 15 3000. It’s by no means the weakest link, and it presents some of the best value on the list. If you’re looking for a great computer that stays within your $500 budget, this might be the best option.

See also: Best Dell laptop deals

The device comes with an AMD Ryzen 5 processor, which is pretty good for a computer at this price point. You’ll also find 8GB of RAM and 256GB of storage. You can pay for higher specs, but we believe this base configuration is an amazing deal.

Dell Inspiron 15 3000 specs:

  • Display: 15.6-inch, Full HD
  • CPU: AMD Ryzen 5 3500U
  • GPU: AMD Radeon Vega 8
  • RAM: 8GB
  • Storage: 256GB
  • Software: Windows 10 Home

That wraps up our list of the best cheap laptops available right now. However, there’s a lot more to the perfect laptop setup than your computer itself. Check out a few of these resources while you’re here: