Best Laptops for $500 or Less

Consumer Reports' testing identifies the best low-price models from HP, Lenovo, and Microsoft

A laptop opened to show its screen

Can you find a decent laptop for around $500? Absolutely—as long you’re willing to accept a few compromises.

Laptops such as the HP Pavilion and Lenovo IdeaPad may not have the highest-end components or the most alluring design. But they pack more than enough power to handle everyday tasks, such as browsing the web, editing Office documents (including text and spreadsheets), and streaming video from services such as Netflix and YouTube.

Plus, they come at a price that’s easier on the wallet than you’d find with flagship laptops including the Apple MacBook ProDell XPSLG Gram, and Microsoft Surface Laptop.

More on Laptops

All the laptops we’ve included here run Windows, but shoppers looking to save money might also want to consider a Chromebook. These are relatively inexpensive laptops that use Chrome OS, a Google-developed operating system. If the lion’s share of your computing time is spent inside a web browser with apps like Google Docs or Gmail, a Chromebook may serve you well.

Every year we test dozens of laptops in our labs—from budget picks to high-powered gaming models—rating them on such metrics as performance, portability, and ergonomics.

Go to Consumer Reports’ 2019 Holiday Gift Guide for updates on deals, expert product reviews, insider shopping tips, and much more.
 

Microsoft Surface Go

At 10 inches, this laptop is modest in size, but it gets you the 2-in-1 benefits of Microsoft’s widely sold Surface laptop line, for a lot less money.

The touch screen, which functions on its own as a tablet, costs $400, and the optional keyboard/protective cover starts at $100.

(We opted for the $130 Surface Go Signature Type cover on the model we tested. If you want to save money, you can forgo the cover altogether and use almost any wired or wireless keyboard in its place.)

Under the hood, this Surface Go features a lower-end Intel Pentium processor (yes, the once-mighty Pentium is now one of Intel’s budget processors), 4 gigabytes of memory, and 64GB of storage.

Our testers note that the device is a little slow to complete certain tasks, including launching apps and editing photos, and the keyboard feels a bit cramped. But if you’re primarily interested in checking Gmail, posting items on Facebook, and keeping your finances in check with Excel, the Microsoft Surface Go will generally serve you well.

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