Finding the best laptop under 500 bucks can be difficult. Finding a laptop to buy isn’t hard to do; finding a laptop that’s actually worth your money is the challenge. Many of the laptops under 500 dollars are budget models cobbled together from older components and whatever laptop chassis the vendor has on hand. Performance and battery life are often sacrificed in the name of a low price – and that’s real shame, because there are some great laptops that fit this budget. So, let’s take at look at some great candidates for the title of best laptop under 500 bucks.
A personal favorite of mine, the ASUS Eee PC 1215N is a Atom-based netbook with some spice throw in; specifically, Nvidia Ion discrete graphics. Although Atom is generally very quick, the ASUS Eee PC 1215N has a dual-core variant of the netbook processor. Combine that with the quick Nvidia graphics and you have a surprisingly fast small laptop.
The Eee PC 1215N is still a netbook, though, and that means it has great battery life. Six hours should be expected from moderate real-world usage with Wi-Fi on. If you treat the battery more delicately, you could squeeze eight hours or more out of this machine. Plus, the laptop has a great keyboard, a big touchpad, and decent screen.
You can find the ASUS Eee PC 1215N at Amazon.com for about $485.
A rather unique laptop, the Toshiba Satellite C655D is effectively a netbook with a 15.6″ display. It is equipped with a single-core AMD E-240 APU that has processor performance roughly on par with a single-core Intel Atom, but graphics performance that is equivalent to a low-end discrete GPU. This combination has limitations, and this is not the laptop to buy if you want cutting-edge performance.
Placing a low-power netbook processor into a big chassis has advantages, however. This laptop is extremely quiet, never warms noticeably, and has a decent display that’s easy on the eyes. Plus, because the processor sips power, you can expect over 4 hours of real-world battery life despite the large display.
The Dell Inspiron M5030 2800B3D could serve as the perfect laptop for secret government agents. Clad in nothing but black, and having few distinguishing marks of any kind, this laptop won’t attract much attention based on looks. Once you consider the hardware, however, the Dell Inspiron M5030 makes a lot of sense.
A 2.3 Ghz AMD Athlon II dual-core processor powers this laptop, and it’s paired with Radeon 4250 integrated graphics. This duo provides excellent performance for a budget laptop, and the four gigabytes of RAM provide plenty of room for multi-tasking. On the downside, there isn’t room in a $500 budget for a fast processor AND a big battery, so the Dell Inspirion M5030 mediocre battery life of between 2 and 3 hours.
All of three of these laptops are great, but which one is the best laptop under 500 bucks?
Overall, I think the honor goes to the Toshiba Satellite C655D. The ASUS Eee PC 1215N is an amazing netbook, but it’s small size makes it a bit uncomfortable for use as your only computer. The Dell Inspirion M5030, on the other hand, is substantially quicker – but the battery life makes travel difficult.
Depending on your needs, you may find the other two options serve you better. But the rock-bottom price of the Toshiba Satellite C655D-S5134 makes it difficult to beat.