Those on a budget might be surprised to learn just how much laptop you can get for less than $500 these days. Chromebooks are coming on strong, because they’re easy to use, responsive and satisfy basic computing needs. Prefer Windows? You can also pick up a Windows 8 laptop with touch for less than $350. The trick of choosing a great budget notebook is finding the one that delivers what you care about most, whether it’s portability, performance, display quality or comfort.
Here are the best laptops available now for less than $500.
The Dell Inspiron 15 5000 is a very attractive laptop inside and out. On the outside, you get a design that feels more solid than the budget competition and that comes in a fetching red hue. When you turn the system on, you'll enjoy snappy performance courtesy of a Core i3 processor, as well as a refreshing lack of bloatware. Add in surprisingly powerful speakers, and you have a value-priced laptop that rises above the rest.
The Toshiba Chromebook 2 boasts a gorgeous full-HD, 13-inch display and punchy Skullcandy-powered speakers. The MacBook Air-like design doesn't hurt either. This Chromebook lasted nearly 8 hours on the Laptop Mag Battery Test, which means you'll have plenty of time to surf, get work done and play games between charges.
Versatile and vibrant, the Dell Inspiron 11 3000 sports the most colorful display in its class along with zippy Intel Pentium performance. Other highlights include 6 hours of battery life, surprisingly loud speakers and an attractively slim design that makes it easy to transform from laptop to tablet mode (or tent or stand mode).
If you want the longest battery life for your buck, the Asus X555LA delivers, lasting nearly 6 hours on our test. This 15-inch laptop also offered speedy performance in various benchmarks, as well as strong audio. Plus, Asus doesn't pack as much bloatware as other brands in this price range. We just wish the design felt more solid.
For basic, mostly cloud-based computing, the stylish HP Stream 13 is the ticket. Its Intel Celeron CPU is fine for surfing the Web, checking Facebook and streaming music, which will sound great through the quality speakers. The 6 hours of battery life isn't best in class, but you'll have plenty of time between recharges.
With a battery life of more than 12 hours, one of the least expensive laptops on this list also lasts the longest. At $200, the 11-inch Asus EeeBook X205TA is an affordable solution for basic computing needs, with an Intel Atom CPU, 2GB of RAM, a 32GB flash drive and 1TB of cloud storage. Weighing only 2.16 pounds, the X205TA is easy to take with you no matter how far away from a power outlet you roam.
At just 1.96 pounds, the Asus Chromebook Flip is a slim and sleek aluminum Chromebook, giving you a 10-inch touch-screen system you can use as a laptop or tablet. Another reason to scoop up this hybrid is the more than 9 hours of battery life. Having Google Now on board makes it a cinch to do searches with your voice, and the latest version of Chrome OS will soon support notifications from your Android phone.