While many gamers still prefer a desktop computer for serious play, laptops are rapidly growing in popularity within the gaming community for their portability and convenience.
When selecting a laptop to be used primarily for gaming purposes, you’ll need to evaluate each option based on several components. These include speed, screen resolution, keyboard quality and the ability to upgrade the machine in the future. As you compare different models, keep the following tips in mind before making your purchase.
Tips Before Purchasing the Best gaming laptop under 500
Don’t skimp on the GPU (graphics processing unit). This is critical to your laptop’s gaming performance. Your computer relies on its GPU to render images, video and 3D animations. A weak GPU can seriously degrade your playing experience. A quality GPU should be able to keep up with the evolution of gaming technology for at least a few years, and preferably more than four. This is crucial, as this component cannot be upgraded later in a laptop.
Consider whether you expect to upgrade your memory in the future. Most gaming laptops leave you the option of adding more RAM and storage, but some do not. If possible, try for a model with at least 8 GB of RAM. However, 16 GB is a better starting point if your budget can manage it.
You can prioritize speed or screen resolution, but not both. The fastest laptops necessarily sacrifice some screen quality, while the crystal-clear 4K screens don’t run as quickly as lower-resolution models.
Avoid touch-screen models, which drain your battery and can make the display a bit harder to see. These obstructions are mainly due to the material used to make the screen touch-responsive.
Pay attention to keyboard quality. Note how the keys respond to different levels of pressure. Check to see if the model offers macro keys to create shortcuts for common gaming commands.
Screen size is a factor to consider if you don’t plan to connect your laptop to an external monitor. Most gaming laptops offer a 15- or 17-inch screen size, however there are a handful of 14- and 18-inch options available. A smaller screen may make it difficult to see fine details of your game, while the larger screen adds weight and bulk.
Diving Into Inexpensive Gaming Laptops
Are you just getting started in the gaming world? Are you purchasing a laptop as a second computer for gaming on the go? Regardless of what you’re looking for, the following five models will provide you the greatest bang for your buck without exceeding the $500 threshold (at least by much). The five best gaming laptops under 500 are:
- Acer Aspire E 15 E5-575-33BM
- ASUS Vivobook F510UA
- Dell Inspiron 15.6 inch FHD Widescreen Laptop
- Lenovo Ideapad 15ABR 15.6 inch HD High Performance Laptop
- Lenovo Ideapad 15.6 inch HD High Performance Laptop
Typically coming in at under $400, this Acer model is an excellent value for gamers. It’s ideal for those simply looking for a basic laptop that can handle dynamic onscreen action without any hiccups.
This laptop includes:
- An 8th-generation Intel Core i3-8130U processor
- 15.6″ Full HD (1920 x 1080) widescreen LED-lit display
- 6 GB dual channel memory
- Windows 10
- Up to 13.5 hours of battery life
With a five-pound body that’s roughly an inch thick, it’s portable, if not exactly sleek. But, most importantly, it gets the job done. The 15.6-inch full HD display offers surprisingly vibrant color and good off-angle viewing. Additionally, its matte finish minimizes distracting reflections, although the display does appear slightly dim.
The Apsire E 15 runs on an Nvidia GeForce MX150 discrete GPU. This should handle most games just fine. However, this is provided you’re willing to play without maxing out your graphics quality settings. This is a very reasonable expectation at this modest price point. It makes the Aspire a wonderful selection for the best gaming laptops under $500.
At a shade over the target price point, this model conforms to the spirit of the parameters for this review. Also, its components place it at the high end of the budget category. The VivoBook F510UA shines with its striking design and 8th-generation Intel Core i5 power. However, its limited battery life leaves room for improvement.
Compared to the clunky body of the Acer Aspire E 15, the VivoBook looks and feels like a sleek sports car. The ultra-narrow .3-inch NanoEdge bezel allows ASUS to pack a 15.6-inch HD display into a 14-inch frame. This not only looks attractive, but also weighs in at a diminutive 3.7 pounds. The keyboard is quiet and responsive, lacking the noisy clicks and clacks that typically accompany inexpensive laptops.
The computer’s internal specs are almost as impressive as the exterior package, delivering high-quality visual performance with no lags thanks to its:
- Intel Core i5-8250U processor
- 8GB DDR4 RAM
- Intel UHD 620 graphics
Unfortunately, its battery didn’t live up to the rest of its components, lasting less than 7 hours in testing. This is almost half the battery life of the Acer option above, even at its smaller size. For extended periods of play, you’ll need to keep it connected to an external power source. Alternatively, you’ll risk an unwanted interruption and a need to run for the power cord.
However, if you are looking for a lightweight yet power-packing option, the ASUS model is perfect for your needs.
This laptop falls at the low end of our price range, providing an extremely budget-friendly option for gamers. Dual-core processing pairs an AMD A6-9200 accelerated central processor with an AMD A6 APU to handle graphics processing.
The AMD Radeon R4 integrated graphics chipset with shared video memory provides solid image quality. This is ideal for streaming video, basic photo editing and casual gaming. The laptop also includes 4 GB RAM and 500 GB hard drive, and comes loaded with Windows 10.
As you might anticipate based on the price tag, the Inspiron doesn’t offer the same level of performance as some of its competitors in this category. Common complaints by users include slow speed and crashing while using multiple programs simultaneously. These are concerns that could potentially be mitigated by installing additional memory.
Like its internal components, the laptop’s body is predictably average, coming in at just under an inch thick and weighing roughly five pounds. Dell has never been the sleek option, outside of its purchase of Alienware. However, their computers work, and they last long, especially for their price.
Overall, this laptop provides the minimum requirements for gaming, online surfing and other basic tasks. This being said, it’s worth taking some of the money you save on the purchase price to invest in additional RAM. This will boost its performance level and prevent frustrating slowdowns and system crashes.
All in all, this Dell laptop is the ideal budget option for those with tricky financial needs who still want to get their gaming in.
Its elegant platinum-gray frame measures just under an inch thick and weighs just shy of five pounds, making it a lightweight, portable choice for gaming as well as other needs. Its screen offers the most basic level of 1366 x 768 HD resolution along with an energy-efficient LED backlight. The keys have good grip and noticeable pressure points, helping to reduce finger fatigue while preventing keystroke errors.
The system runs on a quad-core 2.7GHz AMD A12-9720P processor with 8GB of RAM and integrated AMD Radeon R7 graphics card. It ably handles most games from the last several years, although the very newest versions may not perform at the same level you’d enjoy on a high-end laptop.
Perhaps the biggest chink in this model’s armor is its paltry battery life, which lasts a mere five hours before needing an external charge. If for some reason your play tends to take you away from an outside power source, you may need to steer clear of this version of the IdeaPad; otherwise, it’s an outstanding choice within the budget category.
Fueled by a 2.0 GHz AMD A6-7310 accelerated processor and AMD Radeon R4 graphics card, this model offers 4 GB of RAM. This is half the amount of the other Lenovo model, but is enough to fulfill most gaming requirements. The processor keeps up with most games’ special effects while supporting medium-quality graphics. Please note, though, that higher graphics settings may trigger a slowdown in performance. Its screen offers rich color with clear resolution, although you may observe minor washout near the edges.
This laptop distinguishes itself as perhaps the most versatile model reviewed here. It has a DVD+/-RW optical drive, Windows 10 operating system and quality components well-suited for professional multitasking.
Wrapping Up: The Best Gaming Laptop Under 500.
Perhaps the most important consideration when shopping for a budget-priced gaming laptop is setting reasonable expectations. At this price point, it’s possible to find models that can run the latest in MMO and first-person shooter games. However, it’s unlikely that they’ll be capable of delivering all of the high-quality graphics and special effects that you’d enjoy on a more expensive laptop or PC.
You will have to make some trade-offs. However, as long as your expectations are realistic, any of the five models we looked at here should be more than sufficient to meet your gaming needs. They will additionally excel at basic browsing, entertainment and professional demands. These five options truly are the best gaming laptops under $500 on the market today.
Looking for more laptop options? Here are a few recommended posts: