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The 6 Best Gaming Laptops Under $500 for 2024: Ranked and Reviewed

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The 6 Best Gaming Laptops Under $500 for 2024: Ranked and Reviewed

Key Points

  • The Acer Aspire 5 Slim is the best overall gaming laptop under $500, with an AMD Ryzen 3 3350U processor and AMD Radeon Vega 6 GPU.
  • The HP Pavilion is a great runner-up option, with an Intel Celeron processor and 16 GB of DDR4 RAM.
  • The ASUS Vivobook 15 is the best choice for storage, with an Intel Core i3-1115G4 processor, 12 GB of RAM, and a massive 1 TB SSD.
  • The Dell Inspiron 15 3511 is ideal for touchscreen use, with an Intel Core i5-1035G1 processor and a Full HD touch-enabled screen.
  • The Lenovo IdeaPad 3i has the best webcam in its price range, along with an Intel Core i5 processor and 8 GB of RAM.

What are the best gaming laptops under $500? When it comes to gaming laptops, you might think you can’t do anything worthwhile under $1000. Now, if you’re looking to play the latest and greatest games, that might be true. However, if you’re looking for something that can do a little work and a little play, you’re in luck.

The six laptops selected for today’s buyer guide aren’t going to run Starfield with minimal effort. However, if you’re a fan of emulation or less intensive games like Stardew Valley, Minecraft, and Roblox, you’ll be good to go. We’ve looked at dozens of options, and here are our top picks:

#1 Best Overall: Acer Aspire 5 Slim

Best Overall
Acer Aspire 5 Slim Laptop
$499.99
  • 15.6" Full HD LED-backlit IPS display
  • 20 GB DDR4 RAM, 512 GB SSD
  • Radeon Vega 6 Graphics
  • AMD Ryzen 3 3350U Quad-Core Processor 
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01/16/2024 01:57 pm GMT

If you’re looking for a gaming laptop, the Acer Aspire 5 Slim is dressed to impress. It comes with an AMD Ryzen 3 3350U processor, which provides up to 3.5GHz of power under boost conditions. You’ve also got access to an AMD Radeon Vega 6 GPU, one of the few dedicated GPUs seen in this list.

The Aspire 5 Slim isn’t going to win awards for running the latest and greatest games. You’ll simply have to widen your budget for the likes of Starfield or Baldur’s Gate 3. However, if you don’t mind sticking with older titles, this laptop is a great fit for work and gaming.

ProsCons
It comes with 20GB of RAM.The speaker is located on the underside of the laptop.
It is one of the few laptops in this price range with a dedicated graphics processor.It doesn’t have the best battery life.

Check out the Acer Aspire 5 Slim on Amazon.

Best Runner-Up: HP Pavilion

Best Runner-Up
HP Pavilion Laptop (2022 Model)
$469.00
  • 16 GB RAM, 1 TB SSD
  • 15.6" HD (1366 x 768) display
  • Clock speed: 2.6 GHz
  • Windows 11
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01/16/2024 02:07 pm GMT

If you’re a fan of lower-spec games like Team Fortress 2, the HP Pavilion has you covered. The Pavillion 15-dw1053dx is a home laptop through and through. However, the Intel Celeron processor provides plenty of power for handling older games.

You also have access to 16GB of DDR4 RAM and up to 1TB of storage on an included SSD. Now, this laptop is better suited for the likes of word processing, web browsing, and other general tasks. However, it can game with the best of them in a pinch, provided you temper your expectations and pick older titles.

ProsCons
This laptop has great battery life.It doesn’t have Full HD resolution.
It has a decent integrated graphics card in the UHD 600 from Intel.The CPU’s top speed is on the slower side.

Check out the HP Pavilion on Amazon.

Best Value: HP Notebook 15-dy1008CA

Best Value
HP Notebook 15-dy1008CA
$353.20
  • 8 GB DDR4-2666 SDRAM
  • 256 GB PCIe NVM M.2 SSD
  • 15.6" HD (1366 x 768) display
  • Intel Core i3-1005G1 processor (CPU speed: 1.2 GHz)
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01/16/2024 02:08 pm GMT

If you’re looking for the best bang for your buck, the HP Notebook 15-dy1008CA is a solid choice. This is a lower-powered laptop, but it does come with an Intel Core i3-1005G1 processor. You’ve only got 8GB of RAM, which is the bare minimum for most tasks.

However, it does come with a decently sized 256GB SSD. It isn’t going to crush every modern game, but you should be more than covered for roguelikes and older games. The Notebook does falter with more modern games like SMITE or Fortnite, but it should be more than enough for something like League of Legends.

ProsCons
It has a great full-sized keyboard with a numpad.The processor is very underpowered.
The Notebook is a perfect fit for classic games and emulation.HP’s maximum resolution is only 1366 x 768, despite the larger screen.

Check out the HP Notebook 15-dy1008CA on Amazon.

Best for Storage: ASUS Vivobook 15

Best for Storage
Asus Vivobook 15
$539.00
  • 15.6-inch Full HD (1920 x 1080) display
  • 12 GB RAM, 1 TB SSD
  • 11th Gen Intel Core i3-1115G4 dual-core processor 
  • Base Frequency: 3.00 GHz
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01/16/2024 02:38 pm GMT

The Asus Vivobook 15 is one of the best buys you can make. This is one of the absolute best gaming laptops under $500 you can find, thanks in part to its plentiful storage and RAM. You’ve got an Intel Core i3-1115G4 processor, which isn’t the absolute best.

You do have 12GB of RAM, which is plenty for most gaming and productivity tasks. ASUS also has packaged a massive 1TB SSD in the laptop. You won’t find this level of storage very often at this price point. While it won’t ace more robust games, it should be more than enough for indies and older titles.

ProsCons
The processor has a great top speed of 4.1GHz.The battery life is on the poorer side of things.
It is quite a versatile laptop.The GPU might not be able to handle newer games.

Check out the Asus Vivobook 15 on Amazon.

Best for Touchscreen Use: Dell Inspiron 15 3511

Best for Touchscreen Use
Dell Inspiron 15 3511
$412.00
  • 15.6" FHD touchscreen
  • Intel Core i5-1035G1
  • 12 GB RAM, 256 GB PCIe NVMe M.2 SSD
  • Windows 11 Home
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01/16/2024 02:22 pm GMT

Users looking for a touchscreen laptop should pick the Dell Inspiron 15 3511. Dell’s Inspiron line has been a dependable range of laptops for decades now. The latest mid-range model comes with some truly impressive specs. You’ve got an Intel Core i5-1035G1 processor, 12GB of RAM, and a 256GB NVMe SSD by default.

It does lean on Intel-integrated graphics, so you aren’t going to be running everything at Ultra. However, this is one of a handful of laptops in this guide that comes with a Full HD screen. This is a great laptop for the likes of gaming on the lighter end of system requirements and is great for general work and use.

ProsCons
It has a full 1920 x 1080 screen.The battery life isn’t the best.
The anti-glare screen is also touch-enabled.The onboard speakers are somewhat weak in overall volume.

Check out the Dell Inspiron 15 3511 on Amazon.

Best Webcam: Lenovo IdeaPad 3i

Best
Lenovo IdeaPad 3i
$430.00
  • 8 GB DDR4 RAM, 256 GB SSD
  • 14" FHD display 
  • HD camera with Smart Noise Cancellation
  • 12th-generation Intel Core i5-1235U processor
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01/16/2024 02:27 pm GMT

Video calls are no worries with the Lenovo IdeaPad 3i. That isn’t to say this laptop is a slouch when it comes to gaming. The IdeaPad 3i comes with a free trial of Xbox Game Pass, so Lenovo thinks quite highly of its capabilities when it comes to gaming.

In practice, you’ll likely want to stick to indies and lower-spec titles like Minecraft. The Intel Core i5 processor is great for multi-tasking when working. However, the slow base clock frequency isn’t well-suited for resource-heavy games. That said, you do have 8GB of RAM that you can upgrade and a 256GB SSD for storage.

ProsCons
The included webcam is one of the best in the price bracket.The battery life isn’t great.
You can upgrade the RAM and the storage.It comes loaded with bloatware.

Check out the Lenovo IdeaPad 3i on Amazon.

How to Picking the Best Gaming Laptops Under $500: Step by Step

There are a few considerations you need to keep in mind when shopping for a laptop intended for light gaming.

  • Form factor
  • Specs
  • Upgrades

Let’s look at each of these criteria in more detail.

Form Factor

The overall size of your laptop might be a major selling point. Laptops can go towards more compact devices, with 11- and 13-inch screens. The more common size you’ll find is the larger 15-inch size, at least in the sub-$500 price bracket. A larger screen is a great choice for gaming, however. You’ve got plenty of screen real estate to see all the details and, generally speaking, you don’t have to worry about lower-resolution options.

Best Gaming Laptops Under $500
You don’t have to break the bank to enjoy gaming on a laptop.

Specs

Your specs are the biggest factor in how your experience is going to go when it comes to the best gaming laptops under $500. Typically, you’ll want a quad-core processor and 8GB of RAM as a base minimum. You can opt for a dual-core processor, but that will severely limit the sorts of games you can play from a modern perspective. Integrated graphics are going to be the norm in this price range, with dedicated graphical processors from AMD and NVIDIA being the exception.

Upgrades

Not every laptop is capable of being upgraded. However, boosting your RAM and storage can go a long way in determining the usability of your laptop. If you’re a DIY enthusiast, having the option to upgrade components is a great way to get some extra performance. More RAM and higher storage go a long way toward improving your gaming experience, as well.

Using the Best Gaming Laptops Under $500: What It’s Like

Budget gaming laptops aren’t going to be the best experience if you’re looking to play new titles. However, if you’re comfortable with emulation and older titles, it can be an enjoyable time. Most laptops in this price range are going to be somewhat underpowered, at least compared to what most users expect from a gaming device. You can still have plenty of fun and get quite a bit of work done with a budget laptop, though.

Frequently Asked Questions

Does a cheap laptop have a dedicated GPU?

Typically, no, you’ll be leaning on integrated graphics. However, some chipsets like the ones from AMD will come with dedicated graphics as the default option.

Can I upgrade the RAM on any laptop?

No, although it is an option on some laptops.

Can I use a budget laptop with an external display?

If you have the appropriate connections you should be able to connect an external display to any laptop.

What is an easy way to expand storage?

An external SSD or hard drive would be the easiest solution for extra storage. Most of these devices come with a USB 3 connection, so throughput should be great.

Can I use an external GPU dock with any laptop?

That really does vary depending on the model of the laptop. However, at this price range, you’d be better off taking the extra funds from a GPU dock and spending it on a better laptop.

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