Best UltraBook Under 500
- Best UltraBook Under 500
- Related: Checkout our list for Gaming Laptops Under 500
- Best Ultrabook Under 500 – What’s an Ultrabook?
- Best Ultrabook Under 500 – What You Can Expect
- Best Ultrabook Under 500 – Ultrabooks Revealed
- Related: Click here for our list of the Best laptops with a CD/DVD drive
- Best Ultrabook Under 500 – Picking the Right Ultrabook
- Best Ultrabook Under 500 – Processors
- Best Ultrabook Under 500 – Why Should You Get an Ultrabook
- Best Ultrabook Under 500 – Evaluate Your Needs
- Best Ultrabook Under 500 – Our Criteria
- Best Ultrabook Under 500 – 1 Ultrabook, 2 Choices
- Best Ultrabook Under 500 – 11 to 13-inch Ultrabooks
- Best Ultrabook Under 500 – 14 to 15-inch Ultrabooks
A great Ultrabook doesn’t have to cost a lot of money. As with all things, however, the less money you have to spend, the more compromises may be required to get a system that meets your needs in order to come under budget. The good news is the best Ultrabook under 500 dollars will still deliver a light-and-thin design that’s aesthetically pleasing, with a sturdy build quality, a processor powerful enough to handle your daily tasks, while returning 5 plus hours of work on a full charge.
Related: Checkout our list for Gaming Laptops Under 500
Best Ultrabook Under 500 – What’s an Ultrabook?
In early 2011, Intel introduced the thinnest and lightest laptops ever to take back the market-share the laptop industry was losing out to smart devices and Apple’s MacBook Air. Intel dubbed it, the ‘Ultrabook’ and trademarked the name.
Thinner, lighter and longer-lasting, this notebook class represents the best example of what a laptop can be, and sets a new standard among the laptop line.
Decent performance comes from Intel Core i-series ultra-low voltage processors built on the Haswell architecture (though you will see different configurations on our list).
Any laptop can be designated an Ultrabook so long as it meets these and other criteria as provided by Intel.
Best Ultrabook Under 500 – What You Can Expect
In this Guide you’ll find information to help you make a smart decision on the best Intel or AMD powered system for you that respects a 500-hundred-dollar budget.
Best Ultrabook Under 500 – Ultrabooks Revealed
The standard size of an Ultrabook is 13.3-inches. However, you will find that they are mostly grouped in 11 thru 15 inch categories (screen-size measured diagonally).
Needless-to-say, the bigger the screen, the heavier the machine. However, what a big form-factor lacks in portability and comfort, it makes up for with a larger display. Perfect for those who spend long hours in front of their laptop.
You can get one with either a standard clam-shell or convertible design with the addition of touch-capabilities and sensors once found only on smartphones. The latest versions integrate touchscreens and even voice command which are now standard features.
Slimmer chassis designs limit key travel. But the comfort level during typing is superior to that of tablets, thanks to the addition of full-size keyboards.
Some will come with full SSD. While others adopt a hybrid storage system in which a small cache is used in conjunction with a mechanical hard disk drive so that users can take advantage of both storage-space and speed. Most in this price-range come with HDDs.
Mark Chiappetta from pcworld.com goes into excellent detail about the difference in these types of on-board storage.
While 8GB of RAM is almost always ideal for a modern laptop, 4GB should be good enough depending on the type of user you are. It never hurts to look for a system that will allow you to upgrade RAM in the future should the need arise regardless of the class of laptop you’re shopping for.
Many people-including us here at Gigabyte Kingdom-run applications that require an optical drive. But, to maintain a slim design, most unfortunately do away with this feature which is getting harder to find on new systems across the laptop spectrum.
Related: Click here for our list of the Best laptops with a CD/DVD drive
If you are willing to spend a bit more, you can get one with a few different 2-in-1 form-factors that incorporate touchscreen technology. These are usually better built than other Windows based systems in this class. We recommend one with an IPS (In-Plane Switching) display for better user experience because of its wider viewing angle, and enhanced color quality.
Best Ultrabook Under 500 – Picking the Right Ultrabook
You should expect value. For good or bad, the speed of technology has made it possible so that the same luxurious features found in $1,500 Ultrabooks just a few years ago are now available at a fraction of the price today.
For less than $500 you can expect systems with boot times from sleep mode at under one-second, a minimum of 4GB of RAM, and the newest generation Intel Core i processor.
Best Ultrabook Under 500 – Processors
No. We weren’t mistaken when we said earlier that you can get a system with your choice of Intel or AMD hardware. As of May 2012, AMD joined the Ultrabook market with its own low-consumption processors.
Note* The AMD backed hardware is sometimes cheaper than even the least expensive Intel configurations.
Best Ultrabook Under 500 – Why Should You Get an Ultrabook
What was once one of the most expensive laptops in the portable computing segment is now, dare-we-say, affordable.
Ultrabooks are for users who privilege a super-stylish design that’s as functional as it is lightweight over the ability to use an optical drive and multiple ports. Though, you still get a handful of ports that hook up to the latest peripherals.
Best Ultrabook Under 500 – Evaluate Your Needs
Before we begin, asking yourself the questions below will help you zoom in on just the right system for you:
- How am I going to use my laptop?
- What do I need it to do?
- What features are most important to me; ie. screen size, touchscreen, performance, etc.
Best Ultrabook Under 500 – Our Criteria
During our intense research to find the sleekest productivity powerhouses at reasonable prices to show you, we discovered that the release of the 7th Gen Intel Core processor has made the list of the best Ultrabooks under 500 dollars an ever growing one. Which is great news for you.
For this list, we set our eyes on machines that we felt offer the greatest value for the money, with at least:
- a 1366 by 768-pixel display,
- a solid-state drive with 128GB to 256GB of space,
- or, at least a 500GB hard disk
Note*Hard disk systems will suffer when it comes to startup, and reliability. But hybrid drives will fare better.
- With the introduction of new convertible designs, Intel beefed up the specifications in the hybrid and 2-in-1 categories to 0.9-inches. We applied this specification across all the laptops on our tight list, regardless of category.
- In addition, per the standards developed by Intel, these systems must deliver at least 5-hours of battery life per single charge. We are happy to announce that most of the ones we selected have a battery life greater than 5-hours.
- And lastly, to make our list, the laptop must have at least 1 USB 2.0 port and 1 USB 3.0 port.
- Bonus: We threw in a few bonus Ultrabooks just because we could (#_is our favorite).
Best Ultrabook Under 500 – 1 Ultrabook, 2 Choices
When it comes to these laptops, the choices are either a Chromebook, or a Windows based notebook.
Of course, when you’re talking Ultrabooks with an 11 to 13-inch display, you’re mostly talking about Chromebooks.
One of the most attractive features of Chromebooks is their relatively affordable price. For less than $300 you get a compact machine that can keep up with your daily computing needs, like checking emails and responding to Facebook.
These are not powerful systems. Running the standard desktop software will send your Chromebook to task.
The Chrome operating system is what differentiates a Chromebook from a laptop that runs Windows. Developed by Google, the operating system is easy to use and designed to handle light duty computing, like browsing the internet, watching movies, listening to music and editing documents.
Chromebooks come pre-installed with a handful of Google goodies, like Gmail, Maps, Drive and Youtube.
You can think of Chromebooks like iPhones with full laptop functionality.
Furthermore, a Chromebook is built around Cloud services. Which means the Windows programs you’re used to won’t be available. Instead, you rely heavily on web-based apps to get work done.
You’ll never have to worry about updates, though, as they are performed automatically. Depending on the type of user you are, this may or may not be a bad thing. Just be sure to be by some sort of internet connection to use the Cloud services.
But what if a task requires resources not provided by the web? The biggest draw for a Windows Notebook is its compatibility and power.
Windows based Notebooks have been around much longer than Chromebooks. As such they have access to way more resources from programs that go back decades, like applications for almost anything you can imagine, to millions of PC games, just to name a few.
Plus, you can even run Chrome on the system if you want.
However, even an entry-level laptop packing Windows will cost more than a comparable Chromebook.
Although, the Windows based notebooks are rivaling similarly speced Chrombooks in price lately.
Because unlike the Chrome OS system, which forces you to use the Chrome browser, Windows notebooks give you the flexibility to use any browser.
Not only this, but you get useful plugins like Flash and Java to view the websites that support these plugins.
The key word in Windows notbooks appears to be, more. You get more apps, more photo and video-editing options, more browser choices, more programs, more games more types of file support and more hardware options.
Check out laptopmag.com’s head-to-head feature comparison of Chromebooks and Windows laptops.
Best Ultrabook Under 500 – 11 to 13-inch Ultrabooks
Highly mobile users will appreciate an 11 to 13-inch form-factor. About the size of a mini laptop, these highly portable units have more power than a mini laptop with better display.
11-inch Ultrabook Reviews
Ultrabooks are usually a 13 to 15-inch affair. But for those of us who want an there’s as portable as possible, the solution arrives in a compact, 11.6-inch chassis.
So long as you don’t ask too much from these systems, you should be very happy.
You won’t find any premium features or materials here. But if you want a simple machine able to deal with basic tasks that can keep up with you for hours on a charge, you won’t go wrong with this choice.
HP Stream 11
Fun and stylish with a bold Horizon-Blue case, this Windows notebook is just as affordable, yet more capable than a Chromebook.
And just so you won’t miss cloud-based computing, HP and Microsoft throw in a terabyte of cloud storage that’s FREE for one year. But to help you stay productive on the svelte 12 x 8.1 x 0.78-inch system, you also get the full version of Office 365 goodies, also FREE for one year.
The screen is dimmer than similar sized Chromebooks, however. Although the horizontal viewing angles are plentiful, pictures on the HD, 1366 x 728p display appear dull. But the sounds coming from the DTS audio speakers make up for it. You can adjust them via the control panel.
The Intel Celeron N2840 processor only comes with 2GB of space instead of the 4GB we wanted. But the 32GB solid-stated drive is enough for smooth multitasking. But only 21.5GB of hard drive space will be available to you out of the box. You will experience some lag time on this Ultrabook depending on how many apps and windows are open. But performance is better than what you will find on more expensive machines with similar specs.
The island-style keyboard allows you to get some actual work done design with more key travel than you get from a comparable Chromebook. But the bright, white keys against the Blue chassis makes the machine look less serious than its capabilities suggest. Using the touchpad can be a pain. It sometimes requires multiple clicks to register a command.
The port offerings are a USB 3.0 and USB 2.0 port, an HDMI port, SD card slot, headphone and power jack, and a lock slot.
You’ll only get around 6-hours of battery life which is 3-hours less than what you get from a comparably equipped Chromebook. But with a loaded-out app store and free trial of OneDrive storage, it’s hard to complain (even if it is only offered for a limited time).
For those of us who don’t just want, but demand that our Ultrabook be even smaller and more portable, Asus has the hookup.
Bonus: Asus Transformer Mini T102HA
Featuring a bright 10.1-inch display and long battery life, this 2-in-1 enters the Ultrabook ring as a potentially good replacement for the outgoing Microsoft Surface 3.
The Asus Transformer Mini T102HA serves as both a tablet and miniature Windows 10 laptops with a detachable keyboard that suffers from feeling a bit too cramped.
The design is lightweight at a portable 10.2 x 6.7 x 0.5 inches and 1.76 pounds (that’s with the keyboard). The back of the gray, magnesium case features the Asus logo below which is a pull-out, adjustable kickstand that can be set up at different angles.
The 1280 x 800p touchscreen display, surrounded by a thick, black bezel is brighter than the competition. You’ll be equally impressed with the speakers which are surprisingly loud for such a small machine.
The 1.44 Intel Atom x5-Z8350 (Cherry Trail) CPU, with 4GB of RAM and 128GB of flash storage delivers sluggish performance. But for simple web browsing and media viewing, the device works.
A magnetic keyboard attaches to the bottom of the tablet and comes in amber orange, mint green, and icicle gold. The keyboard and touchpad are awkward to use. But you do get a stylus.
Port supply is similar to machines of this size and are limited to a USB 3.0 port, two full-size USB 2.0 ports, HDMI output, micro-USB port, headphone jack, and microSD card.
The awkwardly placed fingerprint reader on the back makes locking/unlocking the system quick, simple and easy. And with about 12-hours of battery life, you’ll be impressed how well this little 2-in-1 can keep up with you all day.
12-inch Ultrabook Reviews
Bonus: Google Chromebook Pixel
The latest Chromebook offering from Google is a testament to how far Chromebooks have come in recent years.
The latest Pixel is designed with a very specific user in mind.
Chromebooks are supposed to be entry-level machines-small and inexpensive-for the browser-based world of Google apps. But with a brilliant high-res touchscreen, speedy Intel processor, dual USB-C ports and a subtle texture that feels soft, this example seems more poised to challenge the 12-inch MacBooks, rather than simply browsing Google.
No doubt, the Google Chromebook Pixel is designed to be the best example of what a Chromebook can be. At 11.8 x 8.7 x 0.6 inches, the design is robust.
Attention to detail gives the Ultrabook a sturdy hinge, and tailored edges. Innovations like double-tapping the LED lightbar on the laptop’s aluminum lid when it’s closed gives you a color-coded estimate of the remaining battery life.
The gorgeous high resolution 12.85-inch touchscreen packs 2560 x 1700p resolution, which is better than Apple’s ballyhooed Retina displays. And with a taller than usual screen size, pictures and images are spectacular.
Power comes from either a dual-core 1.8GHz Intel Core i4 processor with integrated Intel HD 4000 graphics, and 4GB of memory. Or a 2.2Ghz Core i5-5200U processor, with 8GB of RAM and 32GB of storage space. There are two types of storage: 32GB SSD, and a 64GB model that adds 4G LTE wireless. Both receive 1TB of Google Drive storage FREE for 3 years.
The keyboard is comfortable and spacious delivering a firm feel. The glass trackpad is slick and responsive. Though it lacks the ability to understand complex finger-gestures.
The Pixel makes up for this, however, with a touchscreen that’s accurate and responsive, encouraging a browser experience that’s easy to navigate with your finger. Enabling voice search gives you yet another opportunity to give the keyboard and trackpad a break.
Like Apple MacBooks, the Pixel supports USB-C ports which can be used with adapters for HDMI, Display port, or USB-A. But unlike Macs, you get more than one (there’s one on each side). And you get a pair of USB 3.0 ports and SD card slot.
You should expect around 7-hours of battery life from normal usage, like watching Youtube videos on the highest brightness, and streaming music on Spotify.
13-inch Ultrabook Reviews
HP Stream 13
A very affordable Windows laptop that’s as capable as it is colorful, the HP Stream 13 is a compact notebook with a sturdy design that’s perfect for when a browser-based laptop just won’t do.
Beyond the blue matte, plastic case, the 13.12 x 9.02 x 0.77-inch Ultrabook features a brushed-plastic keyboard deck with white contrasting keys.
The display is disappointingly dimmer than the competition. Not only this, but you get narrow viewing angles. The 13.3-inch screen has a native resolution of 1366 x 768p. Images are fairly clear and vibrant. But details are sometimes missed and difficult to make out. Compare this to the Acer Aspire One Cloudbook 14, for instance.
The Intel Celeron N3050 CPU, with 2GB of RAM is less than the 4GB we were going for. But with the addition 32GB of eMMC solid-state drive storage to speed up operations, you get good performance for the price. It’s the perfect configuration for taking notes, surfing the web, and completing other computing tasks.
The keyboard/touchpad combo is comfortable. The chiclet style keys are reinforced by a metal inner casing which provides a solid platform that minimizes flex. But key strokes feel shallow. The touchpad allows for smooth double-finger scrolling and multi-finger gestures like pinch-to-zoom. You will have to click it like you mean it if you want the touchpad to register a click.
Ports include two USB 2.0 slots, a USB 3.0, HDMI, aux audio and micro SD card reader, and a charging port.
The battery life is below average for a 13-inch Windows based system. Continuous Web surfing over Wi-Fi will yield about 6-hours of battery life. But the cloud-based Acer Cloudbook returns almost 15-hours.
And just like the Stream 11, HP lets you take advantage of Cloud computing FREE for a year with 1TB of OneDrive storage, and Office 365.
HP Pavilion X360 13
A capable 2-in-1 with the looks and performance of a machine that costs much more, the HP Pavilion X360 13 is aimed at serious buyers who want their Ultrabook to make a bold statement.
But with the amount of bloatware found on most midrange laptops, it’s difficult for it to stand out from other attractive mainstream notebooks.
The black HP logo of this 12.9 x 8.8 x 0.9-inch notebook pops against the golden lid, giving it a luxurious appeal.
Opening the lid reveals a black, plastic keyboard deck finished in a wood-grain pattern. And the 360-degree hinges allows the device to be used in four modes: laptop, tablet, tent, and stand which means the Pavilion can compete with the likes of the Lenovo Yoga line.
The 13.3-inch display touchscreen with IPS produces sharp images. But unlike the HP logo adorning the lid they don’t exactly pop, even with a native resolution of 1080p. But the picture is crisp with help from Intel’s HD Graphics 520.
Also crisp is the sweet sound you get from the speakers, which are the result of HP and Bang & Olufsen’s partnership.
The 2.3 GHz, Intel Core i5-6200U CPU is one of the best performers of any notebook in this category, with 8GB of RAM and a 12GB SSD. You can get a lot of multitasking done before you notice any lag.
It has a full-size island-style keyboard with gold keys that unfortunately feel mushy. The trackpad also feels spongy. But it does respond well to multi-gesture touch when navigating websites.
The standard assortment of ports includes a pair of USB 3.0 ports, a 2.0 port, HDMI, power and head phone jacks, and lock slot.
We wish the battery life fared as well as the processor. Though 6-hours of continuous web surfing is above Intel’s 5-hour requirement. But it’s less than the Stream 13’s competitors.
Lenovo Thinkpad 13
This is a travel-friendly, business focused Ultrabook that brings the essential goods to stand out from the crowd, while minding your budget.
The 12.68 x 8.78 x 0.78-inch notebook is thin-and-light, yet with the type of rugged build quality you won’t expect at this price. Lenovo says that it’s built to pass 12 military specification tests with its metal lid and durable plastic chassis.
But it’s really the overall design with the famous ThinkPad keyboard and other features you might not expect that makes this notebook a standout.
The Intel HD Graphics 520 is perfect for streaming videos on Netflix and playing web-based games on the 13.3 display with full HD, matte 1920 x 1080p resolution. But it struggles with anything graphically intensive.
The performance isn’t exceptional. But, with its entry-level components, you get a Core i3-6100U processor, 4GB of RAM and 128GB of solid-state drive which is great for getting essential work tasks done, like light photo editing and putting together a presentation.
The keyboard is Lenovo great with the comfort and responsiveness you’ve come to expect (Lenovo makes one of the best keyboards of any laptop manufacturer). You won’t get the mushy feel and shallow key travel that’s familiar with laptops this thin. Perfect for those of us who spend much of the day typing.
The small touchpad supports multi-touch gestures but can be a bit jumpy forcing you to turn some gestures off. And the trackpoint (that little red nub in the middle of the G, H, and B keys) doesn’t fall easily to hand. But it works well for guiding your cursor on the screen.
Connecting to peripherals isn’t a problem with the useful port assortment. You get 3 USB 3.0 ports, a USB-C port, an HDMI port, and what’s known as a Lenovo OneLink+ port to be used with the company’s $180 dock.
Streaming videos and music while surfing the web and writing papers in Microsoft Word will get you about 8-hours of battery life.
Best Ultrabook Under 500 – 14 to 15-inch Ultrabooks
If you won’t be carrying your system around often, a 15-inch Ultrabook is definitely the way to go as it offers the most real-estate when it comes to screen size.
A full-size laptop with a 14 to 15-inch screen may mean that you will have to take on extra heft and sacrifice things like, the quality of materials used to construct the chassis.
Screen quality will also suffer to get a 14-15-incher at this price.
14-inch Ultrabook Reviews
A stylish, lightweight design, solid performance, and great battery with a full-HD display are just some of the things that make this one of the best configured budget Ultrabooks you will find at this price range.
The sleek, brushed-aluminum lid gives the 9.3 x 13.3 x 0.7-inch notebook a look of a laptop that costs much more than it does. The two small tabs coming from the back of the hinge are there to keep the lid from scratching against flat surfaces.
The 14-inch display isn’t the brightest or most accurate; colors sometimes appear washed out. The integrated Intel HD Graphics only allows you to stream videos and play light video games, like the preinstalled Candy Crush Soda Saga. But the 1920 x 1080p display looks fantastic when you consider that few sub-$500 laptops come with full-HD screens.
Under the hood is an Intel Pentium N3700 processor, with 4GB of RAM and 128GB of eMMC storage that shows no lag when multitasking.
Although the keyboard tray is just plastic made to look like aluminum, typing is solid even though key-strokes are shallow. But, you don’t get any of that annoying flex associated with budget laptops.
The number of ports that Asus provides this machine is rare at this price. You get USB and Type-C ports, a 2.0 USB port, headphone jack, security slot, and an SD memory reader.
The VivoBook E403SA won’t put you out wondering where to charge it, either. You can expect 9-hours of continuous web surfing over Wi-Fi, which is more than you get from comparable systems.
15-inch Ultrabook Reviews
Dell Inspiron 5559
For those of us whose budget keeps them from indulging in Dell’s premium machines like the XPS 13 and 15, the company provides an attractive solution.
The Dell Inspiron 5559 is one of the most attractive budget laptops at 15 x 10.3 x 0.9-inches. It’s a well-balanced notebook that’s proven a popular choice for everyday tasks like running business applications and casual gaming.
The notebook combines strong performance with a soft-touch design that’s comfortable. The industrial silver-and-black scheme has a textured feel with a black Dell logo adorning the lid.
The 15.6-inch display is surrounded by a black bezel which is not as thick as what you’ll find on other models for this price. But the 1366 x 768p resolution is a disappointment as Ultrabooks at this price offer full-HD with 1080p screens.
Power comes from an Intel Core i5-6200U CPU, with 8GB of RAM, and 1TB HDD which is enough for ordinary multitasking, like streaming HD videos on Netflix, while surfing the web and using the Notepad.
The keyboard deck is black with a comfy, soft touch. The island-style keyboard is backlit and includes a number-pad. But keystrokes return a shallower feel than competitors. The trackpad is large and has a smooth surface. It allows for accurate multi-gesture navigation. Dell claims the keyboard is spill-proof. A bonus for those of us prone to spilling the occasional 32 once mug of Dr. Pepper all over our laptop.
You’ll find all the ports you need to get your multitasking done. There’s a USB 3.0 port, 2 USB 2.0 ports, a power port, Ethernet jack, HDMI port, SD card reader, a headphone/mic combination jack, a Kensington lock slot, and even a DVD drive.
You should see a battery life of around 6-hours even with continuous Web surfing over Wi-Fi, which is more than you’ll get from equally speced notebooks.
Acer Aspire E15 E5-575G
Its high-quality hardware allows for solid productivity and the kind of competent gaming performance you wouldn’t expect at this price.
In order to accomplish this, however, the machine is a bit heavier than other 15-inch notebooks with the same specs. Not a deal breaker. Just an observation.
We like the thatched pattern of the black, plastic chassis which gives it a subtle look other heavy-duty productivity users will appreciate.
The 15 x 10.2 x 1.2-inch chassis are the type of dimensions that keep the Aspire E15 from achieving true Ultrabook status, but just what you would expect from such a heavy notebook. Compare it to the Asus F555UA, for example.
The 15.6-inch display has a native res of 1080p which is disappointingly dim with poor color accuracy. But we are impressed to see the NVIDIA 940MX discrete graphics card with 2GB of memory which elevates a standard work machine to gaming rig status.
The dual-core 2.3GHz Intel Core i56200U processor, with 8GB of RAM and a 256GB SSD, while not the most powerful laptop configuration, can handle up to midrange gaming and everything in between. Running at nearly 100 percent load, the CPU manages tasks with minimum lag.
The keyboard and touchpad are uncomfortable. There we said it. The keyboard has a uniquely rubbery feel, while feeling simultaneously resistant. But at least the keys are backlit. Using the touchpad, the cursor takes forever to move across the screen. But at least it responds to multi-fingered gestures.
The port selection is almost austere with only 3 regular USB ports, one USB-C connector, HDMI, Ethernet, an SD card reader and a DVD drive.
One of the best features of this notebook is the long battery life. Web surfing over Wi-Fi returns 9-hours. Compare THAT to the Asus F555UA
Even if you’re on a budget, you need a laptop that can keep up with your life. Attractive and well-made with a premium look and a substantial feel, the Asus F556UA is a business notebook built for reliable performance and stellar productivity.
With a sleek design and wide array of features at an affordable price, this desktop replacement measures 15 x 1 x 10.1, which knocks it out of full Ultrabook status. Although the slim profile is made of plastic the chassis has a sturdy build quality. And the icicle-gold metallic color gives the notebook a premium look.Display
The 15.6-inch, non-touch display, with a TN-based full HD panel has a native resolution of 1920 x 1080p which is nice for watching videos or playing light video games. Even with narrow viewing angles. But the matte display does a good job of minimizing screen glare. The system makes use of an integrated Intel HD 520 graphics card which is typical of entry-level desktop-replacements.
Solid performance comes from the energy-efficient, sixth-gen Intel 2.3GHz Core i5 processor, with 8GB of RAM and a 256GB SSD.
This ‘Skylake’ architecture is popular in mid-range laptops. The 4 logic cores can be boosted all the way up to 2.8GHz. The RAM can be upgraded to 16GB. And the solid-state drive has blazing fast boot times and launches programs quickly.
You get the standard USB 3.0, USB 2.0, and the latest Type-C port which is lightning fast, not to mention rare at this price-point. The F556UA also comes with VGA, HDMI, and 802.11 AC-type WiFi+Bluetooth 4.1 card, DVD burner and SD card for connectivity.Battery Life
The life of the lithium polymer battery gives us mixed feelings. It’s not replaceable for one. And it delivers middle of the road performance when compared to other notebooks with the same specs, like the Dell Inspiron i7559 which gets around 7-hours.
But when you consider the full HD display, the 5-hours you get is actually pretty good.
It’s a perfect companion for home and small office users who want a reliable daily performer with a decent overall package and no frills. But it comes with lots of bloatware.
The design doesn’t stray from what you’d expect from Lenovo.
Even with the large dimensions for an Ultrabook (10.5 x 15.1 x 0.9-inches) this notebook is one of the lightest in class, weighing in at 4.6-pounds. Compare that to the competitions 5+ pounds.
You get a sharp, bright screen that could be brighter. The 15.6-inch, non-touch, HD LED-backlit LCD display has a native resolution of 1366 x 768p which provides a crisp and clear viewing experience, though with limited viewing angles.
The integrated Radeon R5 graphics card is a bit slower than the comparable Intel HD 4000 graphics card.
The AMD processor is a 2GHz, A8-6410, with 6GB of upgradable RAM and a 500GB hard drive experience that’s the same configuration you will find in other notebooks of this price. It delivers fast and smooth performance for basic computing tasks for playing games like Minecraft.
While working on 1-2 applications shouldn’t be a problem, you will experience lag with more complex tasks. To get more power out of the system we recommend uninstalling the bloatware that comes with the notebook.
The legendary Accutype keyboard delivers a comfortable typing experience. But we wish it was backlit, and more responsive. Key travel is shallow and spongy. You get the usual flex in the middle of the keyboard deck associated with notebooks at this price. But the adequately sized touchpad recognizes multi-touch gestures almost all the time.
You also get one USB 3.0 port, HDMI, VGA, Ethernet Wi-Fi and Bluetooth 4.0 connectivity, along with a DVD burner and SD card slot to expand storage.
Even though the battery life is on par with competitors, at only about 4-hours makes it the worst performer of all the systems on our list.
What have we learned? There are a great many choices of Ultrabooks in the sub-$500 category. Though you may have to make some compromises here and there, anyone looking for a mid-range system should expect to get the features and design qualities they want, and more.
As you may have noticed, there were few of these systems with a discrete graphics card. To maintain power, battery life and weight specifications almost all of them will come with an integrated graphics card.
If these laptops weren’t quite as sleek and lightweight as you had in mind, and you have a slightly bigger budget, we definitely encourage you to check-out our pick of the Best Ultrabook Under 1000.
We hope this guide helps make your laptop shopping easy. What do you think? Were there any models we forget to mention at this price range? Please let us know in the comment section below. Or contact us here if you have any questions or wish to add something to the article.
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