Here’s the deal. Not everyone can afford a thousand bucks or more for a gaming laptop. But a limited budget doesn’t mean you have to settle for a piece of junk either. That’s why we’ve created a list of good gaming laptops under 500 dollars. They prove that a capable machine for gaming doesn’t have to be prohibitively expensive. True, they’re not as exciting as true gaming rigs. But you can squeeze 40FPS out of titles like Fortnite just by dialing back settings a notch or two. Well, don’t just stand there with your mouth hanging open. Let’s jump in!
IN A HURRY? HERE’S OUR TOP PICKS…
|1.||Acer Aspire 5 Slim||Integrated AMD Radeon Vega R3||4GB||AMD Dual-Core Ryzen R3200U APU||View|
|2.||HP Pavilion 15||Integrated Intel UHD Graphics 620||8GB||Intel Dual-Core i3-1005G CPU||View|
|3.||Dell Inspiron 3000 (i3583)||Integrated Intel UHD Graphics 620||8GB||Intel Dual-Core i3-8145U CPU||View|
|4.||Asus VivoBook F510QA||Integrated AMD Radeon R7||8GB||AMD Quad-Core A12-9720P APU||View|
|5.||HP Pavilion 17||Integrated Intel HD Graphics 620||8GB||Intel Dual-Core i3-7100U CPU||View|
|6.||Lenovo IdeaPad 330S||Integrated Intel UHD Graphics 620||8GB||Intel Dual-Core i3-8130U CPU||View|
|7.||Asus VivoBook 15 F512DA||Integrated Radeon Vega 8||8GB||AMD Quad-Core R5-3500U APU||View|
|8.||Lenovo IdeaPad 320-15||Integrated AMD Radeon R7||8GB||AMD Quad-Core A12-9720P APU||View|
|9.||Acer Aspire E5 (574-58JM)||Integrated Intel HD Graphics 5500||6GB||Intel Dual-Core i5-6200U CPU||View|
|10.||10. HP Pavilion 14||Integrated Radeon Vega 3 Graphics||8GB||AMD Dual-Core Ryzen 3-3200U APU||View|
Good Gaming Laptops under 500 Review
1. Acer Aspire 5 Slim
First on our list is the Acer Aspire 5 Slim.
BUILD: While the aesthetics look premium. The focus here is on good internal specs rather than features that wow. Our favorite bit is that you can pop off the bottom of the chassis to upgrade hardware like RAM and storage; a feature not many laptops offer.
DISPLAY: The lid also folds back a full 180-degrees for collaborative gaming to reveal a 15.6-inch display complete with 1080p and IPS. Contrast and color reproduction are acceptable. But the brightness level is weak.
SPECS: Our review unit (the A515-43-R19L) is the entry-level model within the Aspire 5 lineup. It comes with an AMD Dual-Core Ryzen R3200U APU, 4GB DDR4 SDRAM, 128GB PCIe NVMe SSD, and integrated AMD Radeon Vega R3 Graphics. Performance is good for playing older games at lower settings.
KEYBOARD: The white backlighting is inviting and not a premium feature you’ll find on many budget notebooks. Keystrokes feel shallow, yet clicky. The touchpad has a Windows 10 Precision driver which recognizes gesture controls well, a plus for gaming.
PORTS: The port selection includes one USB Type-C port (unfortunately, it’s not Thunderbolt 3). But you also get two USB Type-A ports, one USB 2.0 port, an HDMI port with HDCP support, and a combo headphone/mic port. For connectivity, there’s 802.11ac Wifi and Bluetooth 5.0.
BATTERY LIFE: Performance is excellent on the 48Whr battery – you can expect to game for about 8-hours before the lights go out.
- good performance
- excellent battery endurance
- useful input devices
- dim display
2. HP Pavilion 15
Yeah, it’s a little more money than our 500-dollar budget, but just look at what you’re getting!
BUILD: The Pavilion 15 is not a gaming laptop in the literal sense of the phrase. It’s a budget, mid-range machine that dispenses with the flashy looks of the Omen series. And the bright screamin’ keyboard of the Pavilion Gaming laptops to focus on what’s under the hood.
DISPLAY: Since a quality display helps create a sensational experience for gaming. You get a 15.6-inch Full HD panel with IPS. Sadly, the colors don’t really pop, and the screen isn’t that bright.
SPECS: Performance comes from a power-efficient Ice Lake generation Intel Dual-Core i3-1005G, an 8GB DDR4 SDRAM, a 128GB SSD and an integrated Intel UHD Graphics 620 card. Compared to gaming laptops, it may not sound like much. But it’s a powerful configuration for less than $500 to keep you immersed in your favorite older games.
KEYBOARD: Typing feel is shallows on the chiclet-style keyboard. But the touchpad is smooth and able to support multi-touch gestures smoothly. But the discrete left and right click buttons are a bit on the stiff side.
PORTS: The selection includes one USB Type-C port, one USB 3.0 port, two USB 2.0 ports, HDMI, Ethernet and a headphone/mic jack. For connectivity, you get an 802.11ac standard Wifi as well as Bluetooth 4.2.
BATTERY LIFE: So, how many hours of gaming can you expect un-plugged? Just shy of 8-hours – not bad, HP. Not bad.
- Ice Lake CPU
- responsive keyboard and touchpad
- good battery life
- shallow keyboard feel
- lackluster display
3. Dell Inspiron 3000 (i3583)
The Dell Inspiron 3000 (i3585) is our third pick. It’s one of our premier choices because it strikes a good balance between performance and price.
BUILD: It’s a budget desktop replacement finished in textured and glossy black plastic that also trades frills for a solid construction. Opening the lid betrays an un-settling bit of flex, however.
DISPLAY: But the sturdy dual hinge works to reveal a 15.6-inch touchscreen. It’s an HD (1366 x 768) panel but what do you expect at this price? It’s sharp for an inexpensive system. Colors are accurate and the viewing angles are acceptable, despite a lack of IPS.
SPECS: You get a Coffee Lake generation Intel Dual-Core i3-8145U CPU, 8GB DDR4 SDRAM, 128GB SSD, and an integrated Intel UHD Graphics 620. Performance is good for many titles without noticeable hang-ups or freezes.
KEYBOARD: Although it looks good, we recommend using the ports to plug in a better mouse and keyboard for gaming. Travel on the slightly recessed keys have a shallow feel. And there’s a subtle bit of flex in the keyboard deck. The touchpad works well with Windows 10 multi-finger gestures. But it emits a strange clicking sound that doesn’t inspire confidence.
PORTS: Offerings are solid with a USB 3.0 port, two USB 2.0 ports, an SD Card Reader, HDMI, and a headphone jack. You get 802.11ac Wifi and Bluetooth 4.0 for connectivity.
BATTERY LIFE: How’s the battery life, you ask? Quite good at around 7-hours.
- strong build quality
- generous hardware specs
- sharp touchscreen
- flex in the lid and keyboard deck
4. Asus VivoBook F510QA
We chose the Asus VivoBook F510QA because it delivers a lot of bang for your buck.
BUILD: Design wise, it diverges from its budget laptop status for a stylish, sleek chassis that dazzles. It’s made of plastic, and even though the keyboard deck exhibits some flex around the middle when typing. The construction is overall sturdy enough to survive daily life.
DISPLAY: But the display is where Asus obviously cut corners. Although it’s a 15.6-inch panel with FHD (1920 x 1080) resolution. Viewing angles aren’t great. Neither is brightness or color accuracy.
SPECS: The system is equipped with an AMD Quad-Core A12-9720P APU, which is slightly slower than an 8th generation Intel Core i3. You also get an 8GB DDR4 SDRAM, a spacious 256B SSD. And an integrated AMD Radeon R7 graphics card. It’s a configuration that’s strong enough to let you get away with playing basic games.
KEYBOARD: Travel on the ergonomic chiclet-style keyboard is shallow but with a satisfying click. The touchpad is responsive, and you’ll find a fingerprint reader on the top-left corner.
PORTS: Connectivity options are good for a budget laptop. The lack of Ethernet is glaring. But you get a USB Type-C port, one USB 3.0 port, two USB 2.0 ports, an audio combo jack and HDMI. For connectivity you get 802.11ac Wifi and Bluetooth 4.2.
BATTERY LIFE: The 3-cell, 42WHr battery only allows around 6-hours of game time from a single charge.
- competitive performance
- sleek design
- comfortable keyboard
- subpar display quality
- short battery life
5. HP Pavilion 17
If you’re in the market for an incredibly immersive experience. The HP Pavilion 17 comes with a slew of chassis upgrades and powerful entry-level components to get you gaming at a fair price.
BUILD: The latest version opts for a look borrowed mainly from the higher-end Envy family. The familiar design gets a 3D metal chassis, which equates to a more rigid laptop and a more premium feel. It also adds up to a 17-incher that feels thinner than before.
DISPLAY: Speaking of thin, thinner bezels surround the 17.3-inch TN screen which is supported by an HD+ (1600 x 900) resolution. You’ll be able to showcase your games with high color quality and clarity.
SPECS: Under the hood is a 7th generation Skylake Intel Dual-Core i3-7100U CPU, 8GB DDR4 SDRAM, a spacious 2TB MHD (mechanical hard drive), and an integrated Intel HD Graphics 620 GPU. For some light PC gaming, those are not bad specs.
KEYBOARD: It’s new “Lift-Hinge” props up the keyboard deck at a slight angle for a more comfortable typing experience and better airflow (not unlike the Asus ErgoLyft system). The keyboard is even backlit which is a rare find on a budget notebook.
PORTS: Connectivity options include a DVD-RW, two USB 3.0 ports, one USB 2.0 port, HDMI, Ethernet, and audio/mic jack. You also get WiFi.
BATTERY LIFE: Upgrades to the Pavilion 17 also include a Fast Charge feature to bring the system back up to 90% in 90-minutes. Pretty neat, huh?
- thin metal frame
- lift-hinge technology
- backlit keyboard
- no Full HD screen
6. Lenovo IdeaPad 330S
The Lenovo IdeaPad 330S may not be packed to the gills with gaming-level hardware. But here’s why we think you should consider it anyway.
BUILD: For less than $1000 you get the kind of premium design you don’t often find in a low-cost, midrange laptop (similarly speced laptops should take note). The no-nonsense chassis is made of a good mix of polished aluminum and plastic that not only looks sleek but feels sturdy.
DISPLAY: The lid swings open a full 180-degrees to reveal a 15.6-inch screen surrounded by a thin bezel. But, the HD (1366 X 768) resolution is disappointing. Not only is the contrast poor but the colors look washed out. Moreover, the screen is dim.
SPECS: The power configuration includes an 8th gen Intel Dual-Core i3-8130U, an 8GB DDR4 SDRAM, 128GB SSD, and an integrated Intel UHD Graphics 620 chip that’ll get you into a few PC games.
KEYBOARD: It’s a Lenovo, so the keyboard feel must be amazing, right? Well, the keystrokes feel shallow but that isn’t the bad part: the keys feel a little mushy when depressed. However, the touchpad is smooth and responsive.
PORTS: A solid range of ports include a DVD-RW, USB Type-C port, two USB 3.0 ports, an SD card reader, HDMI, and headphone/mic jack. You also get 802.11ac Wi-Fi and Bluetooth 4.1 connection.
BATTERY LIFE: With a battery life only around 5-hours during gaming, you’ll want to keep the IdeaPad 330S near a power outlet.
- solid performance
- premium design
- good touchpad
- keyboard feel is a mixed bag
- poor battery endurance
- abysmal screen quality
7. Asus VivoBook 15 F512DA
Not to be confused with the VivoBook S15. The Asus VivoBook 15 is a sleek notebook you can use for gaming that packs plenty of power into a beautiful chassis.
BUILD: It’s not as well built as the honorable ZenBook. But it features a thin and light design that’s built well enough that it doesn’t feel like it will fall apart in your hands.
DISPLAY: It also has a 15.6-inch Full HD (1920 x 1080) screen with Nano-edge bezels. Resolution is good against the matte finish. But even with the brightness turned all the way up, colors look washed out.
SPECS: In the equivalency scale, the AMD Quad-Core R5-3500U APU is comparable to an 8th generation Coffee Lake Core i5-8265U CPU. The components list also include an 8GB DDR4 SDRAM, a 256GB PCIe SSD, and an integrated Radeon Vega 8 graphics which is strong enough to get away with some decent gaming at low to medium settings.
KEYBOARD: The special “ErgoLift” mechanism drops the bottom of the display behind the keyboard base raising the backlit keyboard up at a gradual rake for a comfortable typing experience. Key travel is short, but they have a tactile feel. Below is a spacious and responsive touchpad with a finger-print reader in the top-right corner.
PORTS: The selection includes a USB Type-C port, USB 3.0 and 2.0 ports, HDMI, a fast 802.11ac Wi-Fi and Bluetooth.
BATTERY LIFE: The 2-cell, 37Whr battery delivers a runtime of around 5-hours.
- sleek chassis
- fast performance
- useful ErgoLift mechanism
- dull display
- subpar battery runtime
8. Lenovo IdeaPad 320-15
What makes the Lenovo IdeaPad 320 a good value is its price to performance ratio. It’s one of our favorite picks for its ability to runs games reasonably well.
BUILD: The sleek, unibody construction looks more expensive than it really is. We like that its thin and light yet sturdy. But the two-tone design can fool you into thinking the chassis is made of aluminum – it’s not.
DISPLAY: This is an area where Lenovo often chooses to cut corners with its budget offerings. And the IdeaPad 320-15 is no different. You get a 15.6-inch HD (1366 x 768) energy-efficient screen, which means it’s not very bright and viewing angles are limited.
SPECS: So, what does the hardware list look like? You get an AMD Quad-Core A12-9720P APU which is comparable to a 6th generation Skylake Intel Core i3 CPU. You also get an 8GB DDR3 SDRAM, 1TB MHD (mechanical hard drive) and an integrated AMD Radeon R7 graphics card.
KEYBOARD: It’s an island-style design with keys that feel satisfying to use. The touchpad also has a smooth and responsive feel. The right and left click buttons are incorporated into the overall design for a clean look.
PORTS: Connectivity options include a DVD-RW drive, one USB Type-C port, two USB 3.0 ports, HDMI and headphone jack.
BATTERY LIFE: As you can see, this isn’t the most powerful laptop in the world. So, the 6-hour battery life during gaming is disappointing.
- respectable performance
- beautiful construction
- great keyboard
- disappointing screen resolution
- terrible battery life
9. Acer Aspire E5 (574-58JM)
For the price, the Acer Aspire E5 is better than you’d expect. It delivers solid gaming performance for the money. But here’s some other reasons why it’s worth a look.
BUILD: Just looking at the chassis tells you this machine is more focused on providing worthwhile gaming chops than game-ry aesthetics. A subtle thatched pattern on the black, plastic body is the only embellishment that draws the eye.
DISPLAY: The 15.6-inch HD (1366 x 768) screen suffers from many of the same issues TN panels experience. Its dim which drags down the experience somewhat. But it’s not a total deal breaker.
SPECS: Under the hood, the list of high-quality hardware include a 6th generation Skylake Intel Dual-Core i5-6200U CPU, 6GB DDR3L SDRAM, a 1TB MHD, and integrated Intel HD Graphics 5500. You’re in for some good performance for gaming.
KEYBOARD: We advise using the ports listed below to install an external keyboard. The keys look inviting. But they have an off-putting rubbery texture. And they feel hard to depress, which makes for an overall un-comfortable experience. The touchpad, however, is responsive to gesture controls.
PORTS: It’s pretty no-nonsense when it comes to ports as well. You’ll find a writable DVD drive, three USB ports, one USB Type-C port, an SD card reader, HDMI and an Ethernet port. Connectivity options include 802.11ac Wifi and Bluetooth 4.0 technology.
BATTERY LIFE: Is finding a power outlet a challenge for you? Then you’ll love this laptop’s 10-hour battery life.
- long battery endurance
- good selection of hardware
- responsive touchpad
- profoundly un-comfortable keyboard
10. HP Pavilion 14
And finally on our list is the HP Pavilion 14. If you’re in serious need of a laptop to game on that’ll toss easily into your bag, here it is.
BUILD: The silver exterior is attractive with a utilitarian construction. It’s not super slim, but it is quite thin and lightweight, making it easy to carry with one hand.
DISPLAY: The bezel surrounding the 14-inch HD (1366 x 768) touchscreen is acceptably thin. But what can we say about the screen? The colors don’t really pop, and it isn’t that bright. But at least there’s a touchscreen for more intuitive game play.
SPECS: While the display doesn’t impress, you get a solid list of specs that include a Ryzen 3-3200U APU, 8GB DDR4 SDRAM, 128GB M.2 SSD, and an integrated Radeon Vega 3 Graphics.
KEYBOARD: Since this is touted as a business-class notebook, you get a fingerprint reader for added security. And we applaud the fact that there’s virtually no flex in the keyboard deck. Typing feel is predictably shallow. But touchpad is smooth and responsive.
PORTS: The selection is good for a laptop of this size including a USB Type-C port, two USB Type-A ports, an SD card reader, Ethernet, HDMI, and headphone/mic combo. Connectivity options include an 802.11ac Wifi card and Bluetooth 4.2.
BATTERY LIFE: Battery endurance is on par with most of the laptops on this list. You can get around a 9-hour runtime.
- durable construction
- good selection of ports
- dismal screen quality
Good Gaming Laptops under 500 Guide
Any one of these laptops represents an economical way to get into the world of PC gaming. With a budget of 500-hundred-dollars, you don’t need to sacrifice nearly as much to find the perfect machine! Here’s a guide for finding any budget laptop. And to find good gaming laptops under 500 dollars, we’ve narrowed down the specs you should keep a sharp eye on for the best gaming experience.
You know the most important hardware for a gaming laptop is the graphics card. While these budget-level contenders don’t offer dedicated graphics. Integrated options like the Intel UHD Graphics 620 and AMD Radeon R7 can support superior graphics power compared to their predecessors, making dedicated GPUs all but obsolete.
Since they’re on the low-end, however, you won’t be able to play the latest iteration from the Call of Duty franchise. But they’re powerful enough to handle titles that are 3+ years old at playable frame rates, or even at the cost of turning down some in game settings.
The heart of any laptop is the CPU and you need a fairly strong one to power the games you intend to play. But since it’s not the most important component for gaming, we recommend you choose the most powerful one with respect to other components and your 500-dollar budget.
How do you go about figuring out what you need?
A dual-core CPU usually does the trick for most games and Intel and AMD are the most common chip brands. But they are different form each other. A good place to start finding out what you need is by checking out the basic system requirements for the games you want to play.
This is an import feature for any laptop you’d like to play games on because the data is stored in the system memory which is quicker to read and write from than the storage drive. A few years ago, you could easily get away with gaming on only 4GB of RAM. Today, that usually ends with a lot of hang ups and endless frustration (unless the other components can make up for it).
Typically, the more RAM you have, the better the frame rates will be. Fortunately – like many laptop components – technology has made RAM increasingly affordable. You’ll need at least 8GB of RAM if you hope to play even the most average games. And as our list of good gaming laptops under 500 dollars goes to show, you can get 8GB of RAM on even the most affordable laptops.
It’s hard to think of a scenario in which an SSD (solid-state drive) wouldn’t be more ideal for gaming than a mechanical hard drive. The problem is that while a 1TB MHD is fairly standard for laptops with gaming power. A laptop with 1TB SSD would be much more expensive. However, as technology advances we’ve been able to mine a number of laptops with an SSD with at least a 256GB capacity.
If you’re the type of gamer that finds yourself travelling frequently, then the weight of the laptop you choose for gaming will likely be an important consideration. And it just so happens that the weight of a laptop is proportional to the size of the screen.
For instance, the HP Pavilion 17, with its 17-inch display weighs 6.3-pounds. Whereas a laptop with a typical 15.6-inch screen will weigh between 4- and 6-pounds. If you’re a nomad, you don’t want a laptop that will prove too cumbersome to manage. But you also need to keep in mind what you’ll need for the kind of gaming experience you’re after.
We’re here to tell you that there’s nothing quite like playing your favorite PC games in scintillating detail. The quality of your laptop’s display matters a lot because, after all, among other things gaming is a visual experience.
Choosing between potential gaming laptops means you’re in the company of a lot more 1080p screens to select from. Unfortunately, because of the hardware running them, the quality isn’t as good as what you’ll find if you have a bit more to spend.
Another component that’ll add to that immersive experience is the sound of the game. The audio quality on these machines usually also pales in comparison to what high-end gaming laptops have to offer. At this price, if you want the most thunderous gaming experience with speakers that deliver plenty of boom, we recommend purchasing a good pair of ear defenders.
Due to how taxing an activity like gaming is on the hardware, no matter which laptop you choose battery endurance won’t be its strong suit. It takes a lot of juice to have everything running at full tilt for however long your gaming sessions last.
On average all the laptops on our list of good gaming laptops under 500 dollars have a run time of roughly four hours when playing games. Some will net you a little more, some a little less. But if you know you’re going to be in an area where a power outlet isn’t easily accessible. You might want to consider a backup battery or portable charging station.
Like to play games where you need to coordinate strategies with other players? There are a lot of games that allow you to team up with your friends. Gaming laptop with a quality microphone will prove invaluable during intense battles where you need to lead your team to victory through concise direction.
We saved the best for last.
The quality of the input device also adds (or subtracts) from the overall gaming experience. The keys need to feel right under your fingertips. Ideally, you want a laptop with a keyboard that gives you the same typing experience as one on a desktop computer.
For gaming, the laptop keys should feel snappy with a bit of bounce back – this will make the game play feel more responsive as you shoot down baddies.
Also, different laptop keyboards offer different layouts. This is the manufacturer’s attempt to fit the necessary keys into what is usually a cramped amount of space. During a particularly intense melee at one of the highest levels is no time to accidentally hit wrong keys.
If the games you play require the use of a numberpad, prioritize laptops that offer a dedicated numberpad as some laptops only come with numberpads that are integrated with other keys.
Backlighting is a nice-to-have feature that becomes indispensable when you find yourself trying to hold down the fort in darkly lit environments. If you find one with adjustable features you can use to customize the keyboard to your unique specifications, go for it.
If none of the laptops you’re scrutinizing offer these features in your budget. Consider an external keyboard you can plug into you system to tap into all the features you desire.
How to Get More Laptop for Gaming
Models from previous years tend to drop in price, especially when new laptops hit the shelf. That’s why we highly recommend either buying used gaming laptops under 500 or refurbished gaming laptops under 500.
If you don’t mind playing the waiting game, you could end up with the previous year’s edition which may offer higher specs for the same price.
They won’t stay at that price too long and there aren’t that many units available.
Does a descent gaming laptop under 500 come with warranty?
Many of these laptops from Amazon come with warranty. The Acer Aspire E15 – for example – comes with a 1-year warranty and 90-day software support.
Will these laptops allow me to play games from Steam?
A laptop with dedicated graphics will likely be better for most of the games that come from online digital PC game distributors like Steam and Green Man Gaming. But for lightweight gaming a laptop that supports a strong un-dedicated graphics card like the Intel Graphics 620 will play games beautifully.
What’s a lightweight laptop that can play many games smoothly?
For less demanding games, the Acer Aspire 5 Slim is a terrific option! It comes with a great selection of hardware and it weighs less than 3-pounds.
I want a laptop for less than 500 dollars that can handle many titles at decent graphics. What do you suggest?
The Acer Aspire E15 is great choice. There are many Acer Aspire E15s out on the market all sporting different range of components. So, you’ll want to keep a close eye on the ones that feature dedicated graphics.
What’s the best gaming laptop for 500 dollars I can also use for 3D modeling?
You can choose pretty much any laptop from this to play even high-end games. And their reliable enough for activities like 3D modeling.
Could you name a good reliable laptop for under $500 that’s comparable to Alienware?
Any of the laptops from the list will be a reliable choice to do some gaming – even on the high-end. However, something like Alienware is considered a full-on gaming laptop. The only laptops that would be a good comparison is something like MSI, Razer, Asus ROG series and the like. While great laptops for gaming, they’re sadly out of our five-hundred-dollar budget.
There may be lots of laptops in the 500-dollar range. But they’re not all good for gaming. Choosing the one to play the games you want can be hard. But this guide proves it’s not impossible. Our favorite is the Acer Aspire 5 Slim because it’s upgradable. Next up the HP Pavilion 15 gives plenty of performance for the price. And finally, we like the Dell Inspiron 3000 (i3585) for being a focused and well-constructed laptop with the chops for gaming. And if you don’t like any of those. You now have the resources to go out and choose your own.