The 6 Best Gaming Laptops Under $500

Enjoy PC gaming without breaking the bank with these budget-friendly laptops.

By GamesRecon 26 Min Read
Acer Aspire 3 (A314-23P-R3QA)

Best Overall

Acer Aspire 3 (A314-23P-R3QA)

Lenovo IdeaPad 3 $500 Gaming Laptop

Best Value

Lenovo IdeaPad 3 (82KT00GVUS) 

Acer Aspire 5 (A515-57-56UV)

Best for Gaming & Study

Acer Aspire 5 (A515-57-56UV)

ASUS Chromebook Plus CX34

Best Gaming Chromebook

ASUS Chromebook Plus CX34

Lenovo ThinkPad E16 Gen 1

Best with Little Extra Cost

Lenovo ThinkPad E16 Gen 1 (21JT001PUS)

Dell Inspiron 15 3511

Best from Dell 

Dell Inspiron 15 3511 Cheap Gaming Laptop

Are you on the hunt for a cheap gaming laptop and don’t want to break the bank? I get it. Finding the best gaming laptop under $500 is kind of like a treasure hunt – exciting but tricky. And let’s be honest: at this price, we’re playing a bit of a balancing game. It’s all about getting the best bang for your buck without expecting the moon.

Think of it like this: you’re at a buffet with a small plate. You can’t load up on everything, but you can still get a satisfying meal; that’s what we’re doing here. We’re looking for laptops that can handle your gaming needs without expecting them to run the latest AAA high-intensive titles on ultra-high graphics. It’s about finding that sweet spot where cost meets functionality.

So, are you ready to explore some of the best gaming laptops under $500 that won’t leave your wallet feeling too light? Below in this article, you will find that perfect gaming companion for you, without needing to sell a kidney.

Acer Aspire 3 (A314-23P-R3QA)

- Advertisement -

Acer Aspire 3 (A314-23P-R3QA)

Best Gaming Laptop Under $500

Pros

  • Good value for performance

  • Handles everyday tasks efficiently

  • Easy to carry around

  • Solid build quality

  • Adequate port selection

Cons

  • Not suitable for intensive tasks

  • Average display

Buy It Now:

CPU: AMD Ryzen 5 7520U Quad-Core / GPU: AMD Radeon Graphics / RAM: 8GB LPDDR5 / Storage: 512GB NVMe SSD / Display: 14-inch FHD (1920 x 1080) IPS / Dimensions: 12.93 x 0.74 x 8.55 inches / Weight: 3.09 pounds

Acer Aspire 3 (A314-23P-R3QA) is our pick as the best gaming laptop under $500 and it’s standout in the budget laptop market, offering great value for your money than you might expect. In a sea of options such as Lenovo IdeaPads and Asus VivoBooks, it holds its own, especially when you consider its price tag, which is under $500. This notebook isn’t just about basic performance; it’s a step above that. You won’t find yourself saddled with a dull, heavy machine. Instead, the Aspire 3 combines decent performance with a sleek look. The heart of this laptop is its AMD Ryzen 5 7520U processor, supported by 8GB RAM and a quick 512GB SSD. It’s a setup that can handle everyday tasks without breaking a sweat.

Acer didn’t aim for luxury with this model but they focused on performance and practical specs in this model. The whole chassis is of plastic, which could pass for aluminum, is sturdy, and doesn’t show that it’s a low-level plastic build. Design-wise, it has simple yet a stylish silver appearance. The keyboard and trackpad are what you’d expect from a budget machine—serviceable, with a bit of a hollow feel to the keys. Moreover, the 1080p Full HD IPS display is sharp and bright, with vibrant colors and good contrast, though it’s not the best out there. The port selection is decent, with a mix of USB 3.2 Gen 1 Type-A, USB Type-C, and HDMI 2.1, though a few more USB-C ports wouldn’t have hurt.

- Advertisement -

In terms of hardware, this laptop is well-equipped for normal working and even some light photo and video editing, though it’s not cut out for heavy-duty work or gaming. The Radeon graphics can handle older games reasonably well but don’t expect it to run the latest demanding titles. At 3.09 pounds, it’s a little heavier than some competitors but remains highly portable. Battery life is just okay, lasting around 7-8 hours on a typical workday – it’s enough for a full day’s work, but don’t expect much more than that. While the Acer Aspire 3 has its limitations, particularly with the display and battery life, it’s a solid choice for those who need a reliable laptop for routine work with some gaming in their free time.

Lenovo IdeaPad 3 $500 Gaming Laptop

Lenovo IdeaPad 3

Best Value Gaming Laptop Under $500

Pros

  • Worth the value

  • Can handle a few modern games

  • Decent battery life

  • Good sturdy chassis

Cons

  • Not for heavy gaming

  • Poor audio quality

Buy It Now:

CPU: AMD Ryzen 5 5500U / GPU: AMD Radeon 7 Graphics / RAM: 8GB DDR4 / Storage: 256GB SSD / Display: 14-inch FHD (1920 x 1080) IPS / Dimensions: 19 x 11.5 x 3 inches / Weight: 4.4 pounds

Lenovo IdeaPad 3 is yet another solid choice under $500 budget which includes AMD’s decent Ryzen 5 5500U CPU and AMD Radeon 7 GPU. It has no problem running some popular games like CS:GO, Fortnite, and Apex Legends on lower to medium settings. Further, you can easily perform multitasking on this notebook without any worry.

Regarding the specs, it’s got 8GB of DDR4 RAM and a zippy 256GB NVMe SSD for storage. And don’t worry about its gaming performance; you’ll get a smooth 40-60 fps on most titles and even better performance with the classics. The design is sturdy and looks very decent, too. This IdeaPad 3 is a solid all-in-one machine, not just for gaming but for work or study, and it’s easy to carry around.

The 14-inch IPS display is another good feature of this device, especially when you’re using it outside. It’s got broad viewing angles and handles regular tasks like web surfing, emailing, and study work like a breeze. There are all necessary ports available for connectivity including the USB Type-C port. But the one bad side is the sound quality—it’s not the one you should expect. But at this price point, that’s a compromise I think most can live with by using external audio or sound devices.

Acer Aspire 5 (A515-57-56UV) $500 Laptop for Gaming and Study

Acer Aspire 5 (A515-57-53T2)

Best Sub-$500 Laptop for Gaming and Study

Pros

  • Strong overall performance

  • Good connectivity

  • Comfortable keyboard

  • Long-lasting battery

Cons

  • Average display without touchscreen

  • Lacks fingerprint reader or facial recognition

  • Speakers are somewhat quiet

Buy It Now:

CPU: Intel Core i5-1235U / GPU: Intel Iris Xe Graphics / RAM: 8GB DDR4 / Storage: 512GB SSD / Display: 15.6-inch FHD (1920 x 1080) IPS / Dimensions: ‎14.29 x 9.36 x 0.7 inches / Weight: 3.88 pounds

Acer Aspire 5 (A515-57-53T2) is like that reliable friend who may not be the flashiest in the group but always gets the job done. The Aspire series has this knack for balancing affordability with features you’d usually expect in pricier models. It’s like getting a bit more than what you paid for, you know? This model, priced just under $600 is a neat package. It’s got a 12th-gen Intel Core i5-1235U processor, which is strong, and 8GB of RAM paired with a 512GB SSD. That’s like having a good brain with a decent memory – it can handle everyday tasks without breaking a sweat.

Design-wise, it will not turn heads, but it’s got a practical charm. You will find it on the heavier side at 3.9 pounds, but still easy enough to lug around in a backpack. The keyboard has a backlight – a lifesaver in dim settings – and the keys feel comfortable, except for the narrower ones on the numeric keypad. But having a number pad is a bonus for spreadsheet warriors. And the screen, while adequate, isn’t going to blow your socks off. It’s not the brightest or most colorful, but at this price point, it’s what you’d expect. The full HD display is standard fare, but it’s 1080p, so your Netflix streaming sessions are sorted.

In terms of ports, there are plenty of USB ports, an HDMI slot, and an Ethernet jack – you won’t be stuck looking for adapters all the time. Wi-Fi 6 and Bluetooth are there too, covering all your wireless needs. For the webcam, it is pretty basic, and there’s no fancy Windows Hello facial recognition or fingerprint reader. You’ll have to input your login passwords like you used to previously. The speakers are also on the letdown list, to be honest. They’re not very loud, so you might find yourself reaching for headphones more often than not.

Considering performance, it does a great job with everyday tasks. Just don’t expect it to handle heavy gaming or intense graphic design – it’s not cut out for that. But for things like office work, web browsing, and light photo editing, it’s more than capable. Battery life is pretty solid, with over 10 hours of running on a single charge. That’s more than enough to get you through a day without scrambling for a power outlet. This Acer Aspire 5 walks the fine line between being a budget gaming laptop and offering decent features. It’s not perfect – the display could be better, and some modern features are missing. But overall, it delivers what it promises: a solid, budget-friendly rig that performs better than many in its class.

ASUS Chromebook Plus CX34

ASUS Chromebook Plus CX34

Best Gaming Chromebook Under $500

Pros

  • Improved Intel processor

  • High-quality IPS display

  • Durable, passed MIL-STD-810 testing

  • ChromeOS upgrades

Cons

  • Chassis is predominantly plastic

  • No touch screen

  • On par battery considering other rivals

Buy It Now:

CPU: Intel Core i3-1215U / GPU: Intel UHD Graphics / RAM: 8GB DDR5 / Storage: 256GB UFS / Display: 14-inch FHD (1920 x 1080), NanoEdge Anti-glare / Dimensions: ‎‎12.85 x 0.74 x 8.44 inches / Weight: 5.14 pounds

Chromebooks have been around for a while, but Google’s new “Chromebook Plus” lineup, including this CX34, is shaking things up. They’ve bumped up the standards with better displays, more RAM, and a slicker ChromeOS. The CX34 stands out in this crowd because it packs all these upgrades without putting too much pressure on your wallet. This CX34 contains an Intel Core i3-1215U processor, it’s not the newest kid on the block, but it’s a step up from the basic Chromebook chipsets. It’s coupled with 8GB of RAM and a 128GB UFS storage drive, which is kind of a new thing in the laptop industry, but it’s cool because it’s designed for low-quality models.

Considering the design and build of this cheap Asus Chromebook, it’s got a nice 14-inch FHD IPS display. The bezels are very thin on three sides, making it look pretty sharp. There is no touchscreen on this model, though – its keyboard and touchpad are the star of the show. The build is mostly plastic, which is kind of a giveaway of its budget nature. It’s available in white with gray keycaps, it feels a bit flexible but surprisingly passed some tough durability tests, so it’s tougher than it looks.

Furthermore, the 1080p webcam is a nice touch for better-looking video calls, although the colors seemed a bit dull. Still, a big leap from what most budget Chromebooks offer. The physical shutter for the webcam is a bright orange, making it easy to see when it’s closed for privacy. Typing and using the touchpad feels good; the laptop doesn’t flex when you’re typing, and the touchpad is spacious. Plus, there’s an antimicrobial coating on the chassis, which is neat for hygiene, especially if you’re sharing the device. For the weight, it’s not the lightest at 3.17 pounds but still is portable enough to travel with you. The connectivity options are impressive for its price range, with many ports including two USB-C 3.2 Gen 2 ports, two USB Type-A ports (USB 3.2) ports, an HDMI slot, and an audio jack alongside the Wi-Fi 6 and Bluetooth 5.2.

The ChromeOS has gotten some cool upgrades with the Chromebook Plus series along with the usual Google Play and cloud gaming features for all gamers out there. There’s more stuff coming, like Google-powered AI features and they’ve also added some great tools for photo and video editing. For productivity, the CX34 is very snappy – it compares with high-quality flagship models and surpasses the other budget notebooks. The Chromebook Plus series, in general, seems to be a big step up in performance. Battery life is over 12 hours, which is decent and on par with most Chromebooks. Overall, the Asus Chromebook Plus CX34 is a solid choice for a budget Chromebook. It’s got a great display, plenty of RAM, and performs well. The build is sturdy, even if it’s plastic, and the range of ports is a bonus. It’s a great value and a sign of exciting things to come for Chromebooks.

Lenovo ThinkPad E16 Gen 1 $500 Gaming Laptop

Lenovo ThinkPad E16 Gen 1

Our Gaming Laptop Pick with Little Extra Cost

Pros

  • Good for casual gamers

  • Catering to different preferences and needs

  • Versatile connectivity options

  • Backlit well-laid-out keyboard

Cons

  • Dim screen and lacks vibrant colors

  • Not the latest Wi-Fi 6E

  • Speakers are just okay

Buy It Now:

CPU: Intel Core i3-1315U, Intel Core i5-1335U / GPU: Intel Iris Xe Graphics / RAM: 8GB / Storage: 256GB SSD / Display: 16-inch FHD (1920 x 1200) IPS / Dimensions: ‎‎9.75 x 14 x 0.77 inches / Weight: 3.9 pounds

Lenovo’s got this knack for making solid laptops for the corporate world, but the ThinkPad E16 Gen 1 steps a bit out of that box. It’s more of an entry-level business laptop, but don’t let that “entry-level” tag fool you. It’s quite a package, especially for users on a budget or casual gamers. The base model starts at around $638 on Lenovo, which is pretty sweet for what you get – a 13th Gen Intel Core i3, 8GB RAM, 256GB SSD, and a nice 16-inch, 1920 x 1200 display. You will find this laptop with AMD configurations on Amazon and Best Buy. But if you’re willing to shell out a bit more (around $909), you get an upgraded version on Best Buy with more RAM and storage, plus a fancier Core i5 chip and a touchscreen.

The E16’s built tough – it’s passed all those hardcore MIL-STD tests but yeah, they’ve cut some corners to keep costs down. It’s got a mix of aluminum and plastic in the build, and some bits like the webcam and Wi-Fi 6 tech aren’t top-tier. Moreover, it’s not an ultra-light machine, but not a brick either as it weighs around 3.9 pounds and is fairly slim. Good selection of ports, including USB-C, Thunderbolt 4, and handy Ethernet for wired internet connection. And inside, there’s room for upgrades with two M.2 slots and a memory socket.

Now, the screen’s a bit of a mixed bag; it’s decent but could be brighter and more colorful. The speakers are just okay – fine for casual listening but don’t expect a concert hall experience. The keyboard’s classic ThinkPad – comfy, backlit, with a nifty layout including a numeric keypad. When typing, you will feel comfortable, and you’ve got both the TrackPoint joystick and a nice touchpad. Lenovo throws in their Vantage app for system management, which is pretty useful, though there’s a bit of bloatware like McAfee that might annoy you.

On the hardware side in terms of CPU and GPU performance, it’s middle of the road. Good enough for everyday tasks and light gaming, but don’t expect to do heavy-duty graphics work on it. The battery life is decent but not extraordinary compared to what we have seen in the Lenovo Yoga 7i. The ThinkPad E16 Gen 1 is a bit of a compromise, sure – the screen could be better, and the Intel versions miss out on the higher-res option available with AMD. But for its price, it’s a pretty good deal, especially if you’re comparing it to other business notebooks or consumer models.

Dell Inspiron 15 3511

Dell Inspiron 15 3511

Best $500 Dell Gaming Laptop

Pros

  • Budget-friendly device

  • Offers respectable performance

  • Solid well-built chassis

  • Keyboard is user-friendly

  • Latest Windows 11 OS

Cons

  • Basic graphics

  • Dim display

  • No USB-C port

  • Poor battery life

Buy It Now:

CPU: Intel Core i3-1115G4 Dual-Core Up to 4.10 Ghz / GPU: Intel UHD Graphics / RAM: 8GB DDR4 / Storage: 256GB PCIe SSD / Display: 15.6-inch FHD (1920 x 1080), Anti-glare LED Non-Touch / Dimensions: 14.1 x 9.2 x 0.7 inches / Weight: 3.82 pounds

If you’re wallet-conscious but still want a decent laptop, this Dell model is a good pick. It comes with a nice big 15.6-inch screen, runs on Windows 11, and is pretty gentle on the bank account. The display quality isn’t something you love, but for a budget Windows notebook, it’s a fair trade-off. Under the hood, there is 8GB of RAM and 256GB of SSD storage. The processor is an Intel Core i3, which is a nice step up from the basic chips in low-cost models combined with a built-in Intel UHD graphics card – not a powerhouse, but enough for everyday tasks and playing classic games. The base model is around $323, but if you’re willing to spend more, you can get upgrades like more RAM and better graphics by spending some extra cash.

Its look is very similar to its predecessor (the 3505), sporting a solid build and a classy carbon-black look. It’s relatively less in weight for a 15-inch laptop, but not the lightest out there. One big upgrade from the older model is the 1080p full-HD screen, which is a good improvement from the 720p panel. The brightness could be better as it’s not very bright to use in direct sunlight. Typing on this laptop feels good, and it’s got a spill-resistant keyboard (a nice perk!). The touchpad is roomy, so your hands won’t feel cramped.

The speakers are fine and loud, but somewhat smaller. Port-wise, it’s got the basics, but sadly no USB-C port, which is a bit of a downer.  Gaming isn’t its forte, but it can handle less demanding games smoothly. The battery life of this Dell Inspiron 15 3511 is kind of mixed, not the best out there but not terrible either. However, Dell has done something great with sustainability, using recycled plastics and eco-friendly packaging materials. Dell Inspiron 15 3000 (3511) is not going to blow your mind, but for under $500, it’s a good choice to consider, especially with the newer Windows 11 on board.

Things to Look for When Buying a Gaming Laptop Under $500

Shopping for a gaming laptop, especially when you’re on a budget like $500, can be a headache. You’ve got to balance cost with performance, and that’s no easy feat. Below are some things about what you should keep an eye out for when you aim to purchase the best gaming laptop under $500, focusing on crucial specs like graphics cards, processor, RAM, and storage.

Graphics Card

The graphics card is basically the heart of your gaming experience and under $500 price, you might see a lot of integrated graphics cards. These are cool because they help your battery last longer, but they can not handle most of the latest games if they’re graphics-intensive. If you’re into more demanding games, a laptop with a dedicated GPU is a better bet. These cards have their own processing power, so they don’t lean on the CPU as much, leading to better visuals and smoother gameplay. Just a heads-up, though: finding a dedicated graphics card in this price range is not possible.

CPU

The CPU is the brain of the laptop. This component does all the heavy lifting – running your games, applications, you name it. With the built-in GPU, the processor has to work overtime to handle both regular tasks and graphics. But if you have a dedicated card, the CPU gets a break from visual tasks and can focus on other things. More cores in a processor mean better multitasking, but again, with a $500 budget, you’re probably looking at a less powerful chipset.

RAM

Think of RAM as the laptop’s short-term memory, it’s what lets you multitask – like having many tabs open while jamming to music and checking social media. For gaming, RAM is crucial because games require a lot of memory to run smoothly. Ideally, you’d want at least 8GB of RAM. With less, your laptop might struggle to keep up, especially with newer games.

Storage

Storage is another big one, you’ve got two main types: HDDs (hard disk drives) and SSDs (solid-state drives). HDDs are the old-school type – they’re cheaper but slower and can’t stand the heavy workload. SSDs, on the other hand, are faster and more durable, but they can push the price up. For gaming, SSDs are generally preferred for their speed and thankfully, you will find many gaming laptops under $500 come equipped with solid-state drives.

Is A Gaming Laptop Under $500 Worth It?

If you’re planning to play your modern favorite games on high graphics, a sub-$500 laptop shouldn’t be your choice to fulfill these needs. The best gaming laptops, which offer strong hardware configurations, full HD displays, and higher refresh rates, usually cost a lot of dollars. So, if you’re eyeing a $500 laptop, you’re essentially entering a world of compromise and pragmatism.

For the casual gamer or someone who mostly plays non-demanding games like League of Legends, Roblox, or Minecraft, a $500 gaming laptop could be a decent fit. These laptops can handle such games reasonably well, making them a solid option for light gaming needs. But remember, these are mostly budget productivity machines that can do light gaming on the side. You’re unlikely to find one with a dedicated graphics card, which is kind of a big deal for gamers.

In conclusion, it boils down to what you need and expect from your gaming. If you’re just starting or are a casual gamer, a $500 laptop can be worth it. It’ll get you to play games, but don’t expect it to deliver the earth-shattering performance of its pricier counterparts. If you’re a pro, though, you might want to save up money for a powerful gaming rig that can keep up with your gaming demands.