Fortunately, I’m ever helpful. After extensive research of the post-COVID market, I was able to identify 5 models that still cost less than 500 bucks. Moreover, these configurations give the best gaming performance considering their spec limitations. So let’s take a look at their reviews. And if still unsure, I hope the buyer’s guide portion, at the end of the reviews, provides all the information you need to make up your mind.
1. Lenovo IdeaPad 3
The 2020 release Lenovo Ideapad 3 is a solid option in the less than $500 range. It’s fast, and it’s furious. Thanks to a very underrated 10th gen Ice Lake Core i3 chip, you can use it to play all the entry-level games from gameloop or stream. Plus, It’s significantly faster than AMD Ryzen 3 3200U laptops.
Besides, an 8GB DDR4 SDRAM, a 256GB SSD, 768p display, and AMD Radeon R5 Graphics make this little machine an absolute steal in this price range. A 256GB SSD is difficult to find in laptops within this budget. There’s no keyboard backlight, though.
Moreover, The laptop weighs just 4.07 lbs, making it one of the lightest options on this list. So, it’s pretty portable. However, the chassis is made of cheap plastic. So, handle it with care when using it. While the advertised battery life of 7.5 hours seems too good to be, it gets near that level when you’re using it casually. But, pushing it for intensive tasks reduces the battery considerably.
Lenovo IdeaPad 3 provides a perfect combination of specs and performance under 500. Although it lacks the bells and whistles of gaming machines, its solid performance gets you the most bang for the so-called bucks.
Buy Here: Amazon
2. Acer Aspire E 15
Acer Aspire E 15 is another one of the best gaming laptops under 500. It boasts the latest NVIDIA GeForce MX150 dedicated graphics card and an Intel I Core i5-8250U processing chip. In addition, it has 8 GB RAM, making heavy processing tasks a smooth experience.
What we really love about this model is that it’s upgradable. So you can deck it to the max with 16GB RAM and get the most out of the performance. And that’s not all. The Acer Aspire E 15 has 256GB RAM – that’s ample space considering you have to spend just 500 dollars.
Like other models on this list, it has a Full-HD IPS display. Viewing angles are decent, and the matte finishing certainly keeps the glare at bay. While Acer’s claims of 15-hour battery life seem a little exaggerated, you can easily get a full day’s worth of charge on causal gaming and productivity tasks.
So, if you want a solid cheap gaming laptop with excellent battery life and a rock-solid graphics card, the Acer Aspire E 15 will never disappoint.
Buy Here: Amazon
3. ASUS VivoBook 15
Ultraportables are getting smaller, slimmer, and lightweight. Asus 2020 model of Vivobook 15 takes a similar direction while maintaining a peanut’s price. Plus, it also has a bigger, better, and bright display, slimmer design, and solid Intel’s 10th gen processor performance on its side.
It features Intel’s 10th Gen Core i3-1005G1 CPU (up to up to 3.4 GHz), 8 GB DDR4 RAM, and a faster 128 GB PCIe NVMe M.2 SSD. In addition, it has 4 ports, one of them being USB-C. As for the display, it’s the standard 15.6 inches Full HD (1920×1080) screen with not so standard 4-way NanoEdge bezel.
Because it has integrated graphics, don’t expect to play AAA titles. However, you can easily get away with less demanding games in low to medium settings. For example, you can play RPG games like Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim at 18-24 fps or racing games like Dirt 3 at 53 fps, staying well ahead of the Chromebooks in the same price range.
After futzing with the power settings, you can easily get it to work for over 6 hours or productivity work. Gaming will reduce this time to half. Keeping that in mind, ASUS VivoBook 15 will fulfill your nostalgia quotient for sure with its good gaming performance for old games.
Buy Here: Amazon
4. Lenovo IdeaPad Flex 5
The Lenovo Ideapad Flex 5 is another great option to consider when a budget limits you. This 2 in 1 convertible is a portable workstation, thanks to its 6 cores. It’s basically a laptop for creatives, but you can use it for light gaming sessions on the go as well, as its aluminium chassis is lightweight as well as pretty thin.
It boasts a quad-core ryzen 3 4300U CPU, comparable in performance to the intel core i5 8250U. On the graphics front, the Vega 5 GPU competes with Nvidia’s Mx13. The RAM is also fast at 3200MHz though it’s only 4GB of RAM. And it comes soldered, which can dent any plans for an upgrade in the future. For storage, it has a fast 128 GB M.2 SSD. The Display here is a 14 inches FHD (1920 x 1080 resolution) Panel with a 60Hz refresh rate.
Battery life is an area where it really shines. On a single charge, it gives you a solid 7 hours performance. While 4GB RAM limits its gaming performance, the specs are decent enough to churn out 20-40 fps on old titles such as FarCry 3, GTA 4, and Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag.
Overall, the Lenovo IdeaPad Flex 5 is an excellent laptop. Just keep its specification caveats in mind, and you can use it for light gaming wherever you go.
Buy Here: Amazon
5. Acer Aspire 5
Acer’s newest 2021 model Aspire 5, is one the best gaming laptop under 500. It tops our list because of its decent components and performance combo, all while maintaining a price that’s too good for a gaming machine. The Aspire 5 is also much slimmer and lightweight than its sibling, the Aspire E 15.
The laptop packs a dual-core AMD Ryzen 3 3200U processor (Precision Boost up to 3.5GHz), 8GB DDR4 Memory, and 256GB PCIe NVMe SSD. Plus, an integrated Radeon Vega 3 graphics chip offers some help in the gaming department. The laptop also has a 15.6 inches (1920 x 1080 resolution) and LED-backlit IPS display.
As for its gaming performance, we tried playing Velorant on low settings and achieved 70fps. Likewise, you can play GTA 5 on low settings at 25 to 40 fps. However, its battery performance leaves a lot to be desired. Single charge barely lasts for two hours when you are playing a game. That’s why we suggest keeping it plugged on when you are gaming at 70fps.
In all fairness, you cannot ask for more at this price point. It has a sleek look, the backlit keypad can play older games and wouldn’t dent your monthly budget. If you want better specs in the same model, check out this version instead.
Buy Here: Amazon
Buyer’s Guide – Best Gaming Laptops under 500 Budget
Get the lowdown on all the important things to know for a smart decision below:
CPU & GPU
The CPU & GPU combination is the essence of a gaming rig. But when you have to work with a limited budget, you need to make some sacrifices. At least get a Core i3 (8th gen or above). If it’s AMD, make sure it’s Ryzen 3 3000 series process. Anything less, and you will not be able to make the most of the budget. As for graphics, I am afraid you will have to make peace with integrated chips.
RAM & SSD
Get at least 4GB RAM and 128GB SSD. Anything better will just be icing on the cake. Also, DDR4 or higher RAM is faster than the previous versions. Therefore, make sure you get the latest version as well. Likewise, if you are getting an HDD instead of SSD, you will need at least 500 GB to ensure enough space for the games.
Display & Resolution
Obviously, a display with better resolution, vivid colors, and more brightness improves your gaming experience. In addition, with more pixel density, you can see things much more clearly. However, when your budget is just $500, be ready to compromise on the resolution. You will only get HD or full-HD IPS displays at this price range.
Gaming laptops have notoriously bad battery life. It would be best if you didn’t have to hook your laptop to the power when gaming, as it kills the purpose of getting a laptop in the first place. If a lappy is rated for 6 hours, expect only 3 during a gaming session. At this price range, anything above 3 hours is decent battery life.
With that said, we bring our list of the best gaming laptops under 500 to a close. Cheap gaming laptops are hard to find, but we tried our best to bring you the ideal machines at this price. In case you have slightly more budget to spare, be sure to check out our best gaming laptops under the 1000 guide (Link Previous Article). And if you don’t care about the price, get the best gaming laptops(Link Previous Article). These powerful machines will really show you what a small form factor can achieve today, thanks to modern technology. Good luck, and thank you for reading!