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So, you’re on the market for a great laptop that can run games and won’t break the bank? The good news is that there has never been a wider choice of budget options. Manufacturers have realized the potential in this niche, which is why you can find several dozen new laptops under $500.
But which one is the right gaming setup and which is the right for you? Well, sorry to burst your bubble early on, but some compromises will have to be made at this price point. Still, that doesn’t mean you won’t be able to play your favorite games. To show you what’s possible, we’ve put together a list of the best cheap gaming laptops under $500.
In addition to the devices themselves, our team put together a short buying guide. Consult it and then start checking out specific devices. We are confident that you’ll be able to find a suitable option for your favorite game. If you have any questions, don’t hesitate to ask us!
- 6 Best Gaming Laptops Under $500
- What to Consider Before Choosing the Best Gaming Laptop Under $500
- Methodology: How We Selected These Laptops
- FAQs About the Best Gaming Laptops Under $500
6 Best Gaming Laptops Under $500
|ASUS VivoBook 15|
|Lenovo IdeaPad 3|
|Acer Aspire 5 Slim|
|Dell Inspiron 15 3000|
Here are the best of the best when it comes to good cheap gaming laptops. You may not be able to run AAA games or perform any heavy-duty tasks since these laptops don’t have dedicated GPUs.
Despite this, we believe these devices have what it takes to be your daily gaming rig for games like Minecraft, Roblox, Fortnite, etc. The laptops are listed from best to worst in terms of specs, but we’ve also included what each device is best for. Sounds good? Let’s begin.
1. ASUS VivoBook 15 – Best Under $500
After extensive reviewing, we concluded that the ASUS VivoBook 15 is the best choice in this price range. Its main calling cards are the beautiful 15.6-inch display with 1920×1080 screen resolution. Thanks to ASUS’s NanoEdge technology, the bezels are some of the narrowest we’ve seen. We also like the Intel UHD GPU. While it is integrated, it can handle a lot.
Of course, there are some tradeoffs as well. 128GB is not too big of storage. If you opt for this device, consider upgrading the SSD down the road or getting an external drive. The battery life is not too bad at 8 hours on a single charge. With gameplay only, this will be reduced just like for any other laptop.
What surprised us, though, was the CPU. Despite having only two cores, the 2.1GHz Intel Core i3-1005G1 is a nice touch, especially in a budget gaming laptop. It’s more than enough to run Fortnite or CS:GO on mid graphics.
We believe the Vivobook 15 ticks all the essential boxes. It has 2 USB 2.0 and 3.0 ports, making it ideal for connecting an external keyboard or monitor.
All this considered, the ASUS VivoBook 15 is a great laptop at just under $500. The reliable Intel UHD CPU works nice with the i3 processor, making this a perfect choice for gaming on a budget.
- Good CPU
- One of the best displays for under $500
- Great cooling
- Decent amount of ports
- Just 128GB of SSD storage
2. Lenovo IdeaPad 3 – Best Battery Life
Power outages and charger malfunctions do happen, contrary to popular belief. That’s why we felt like we had to include the latest Lenovo IdeaPad 3. Even though it’s one of the more expensive selections on the list, it also has the specs to justify the price. It was also one of our favorite laptops to play Roblox.
Although the name Pentium screams the late 2000s, the 2GHz Intel Pentium Gold 7505 is pretty decent. It’s more than enough for everyday gaming with two cores and a max turbo frequency of 3.5GHz. Games start up quickly.
Intel’s UHD graphics pack a decent punch, so Roblox, Minecraft, and even DOTA 2 or CS:GO on mid graphics will run just fine. We particularly loved how the IdeaPad 3 ran DOTA 2. Maybe it has something to do with the fact that we won the most matches on it, but feel free to try it for yourself.
In short, this is perhaps the laptop with the best price-to-performance ratio on this list. The display offers 1920×1080 resolution looking great on those 15.6 inches of screen real-estate. The Intel GPU-CPU combo is always a reliable option, and user reviews confirmed it. 12.5 hours of batter is just a bonus at this point.
- Works great for Roblox and Runescape
- Intel’s integrated GPU provides reliable performance
- Looks good
- Great battery life
- No backlit keyboard
3. Acer Aspire 5 Slim – Best for Portability
Who says you have to play games from home? If you like to have LAN parties and private tournaments with your friends, the Acer Aspire 5 Slim just might be the device for you. Out of all the best laptops for under $500, this is by far the most portable option. Moreover, thanks to a couple of unexpected features, it’s one of the more interesting budget laptops we’ve seen recently.
Keyboard-wise, this is the best device on this list. Not only is there enough space between the keys, but they’re also backlit, which is a welcome feature at this price point. That makes the Aspire 5 Slim ideal for night-time gaming as well.
The 4GB RAM is the minimum you’ll need for some games, but you can also easily upgrade it to 8GB.
We also loved Acer’s TrueHarmony technology. Thanks to cleverly placed speakers, sounds feel like they’re coming from actual speakers and not integrated ones. It’s great for listening to the enemy’s footsteps in CS:GO!
What about the GPU? Well, AMD’s Vega 3 might not be the best graphics card you can get. Still, it’s very efficient and you can play Fallout New Vegas smoothly at medium settings as well as LoL or DOTA 2. The Ryzen 3 3000-series CPU, however, is an interesting addition. The release of this processor coincides with AMD’s vast improvements in quality, so you’re getting a good one.
No other budget gaming laptop is this versatile. AMD provides both the CPU and the GPU, and the results are smooth and excellent, just the way we like them. Aside from the specs, the backlit keyboard and the well-placed speakers make this slim Acer device a true eye-catcher.
- Very lightweight
- Great backlit keyboard
- Excellent speakers
- Has a Ryzen 3 3000 series CPU
- Only 4GB RAM
4. HP 15 – Best for Minecraft & Fortnite
One of the reasons why Minecraft is so popular is that it goes easy on the specs. After extensive testing, we at Laptop251 determined that the best laptop for Minecraft under $500 is none other than the HP 15. Fortnite is a breeze on this budget model, too. It all comes down to HP’s excellent choice of specs, as well as the surprisingly low price.
In terms of CPU, this is by far the best laptop in this range. It doesn’t get much better than the Ryzen 3 5300U. It has 4 cores, 8 threads, and a standard clock speed of 2.6GHz. The Radeon Vega 6 completes this great CPU-GPU pairing. In fact, it’s probably the second-best GPU out of our entire top 6.
What about the drawbacks? Well, the 1366×736 resolution seems a bit glaring at first. However, this doesn’t pose an issue when playing either Minecraft or Fortnite. In fact, we tested the device alongside several FHD laptops and we had to look hard to spot any differences during gameplay. The HP 15 just works and it does so silently.
Even though HP is more known for its pricier workstations or writing laptops, one of its only entries into the budget market is a success. You’re getting a killer current-gen CPU, along with a tried and tested Vega 6 GPU. And last but not least, it looks magnificent.
- Ryzen 5000 series CPU
- Radeon Vegas 6 graphics perform very well
- Can handle Fortnite at mid and sometimes high graphic setting
- Great keyboard
- Slim bezel design
- Comes with Windows 11 Home
- Low screen resolution
5. Gateway – Best for Gaming and School
If a laptop is good for gaming, why use it only for gaming? The Gateway is a perfect testament to this. As remote classes will only become more popular in the future, it’s good to have a device that you can use for school. That’s why a notebook can kill two birds with one stone. Gateway’s latest value-range model is a beauty, with a surprisingly good processor, and all the bells and whistles that go with it.
The Ryzen 5 3000 series can even be found in some great budget gaming PCs. So, we were surprised to see them run the 3450U. However, the Vega 8 integrated GPU really blew us away. AMD really came a long way in the last few years, and their non-dedicated GPU selection might even dethrone Intel soon.
Coupled with a small, but beautiful 1920×1080 FHD screen, it’s a great solution for gaming with mid-quality graphics. We tested it hard with dozens of WoW, LoL, and Fortnite sessions, and it hardly ever heated up. You can put it in bags of all sorts, without too much trouble. If you’re carrying it to class, it will snuggle next to your books and notes just fine.
Versatile options like this for under $500 are rare, so we felt included to add the Gateway to our list. If you’re looking to both game and follow online classes on your laptop, you’ll hardly find something more powerful. Until something better is released, the Gateway is a great gaming and school notebook for cheap.
- Can run most mid-spec games
- Great for schoolwork
- Great integrated GPUs in this price range
- Clunky keyboard
6. Dell Inspiron 15 3000 – Best with 16GB RAM
There is a small possibility that 4 or even 8GB of RAM won’t be enough, especially if you have to handle lots of school work. That’s why we wanted to include an option for high RAM requirements, and the Dell Inspiron 15 3000 emerged as the best option. It might have some drawbacks in other departments, but it’s great for casual gaming and chatting on Discord at the same time.
Since you won’t be running any sort of heavy-duty software, you probably won’t mind the 1.1GHz Intel Celeron N4020 processor. It’s one of the weakest CPUs on this list. The screen is also somewhat disappointing, coming in at just 1366×736. If you want a bigger and better screen, the ASUS VivoBook 15 is a better alternative.
Despite all of this, the 16GB of SDRAM is more than enough to handle multitasking when you’re gaming. Whether it’s listening to Zoom classes and finishing your homework at the same time, or something else, it gets the job done. We were able to work with 12 windows open without experiencing any sort of lag. Of course, this depends on what programs you have open.
Contrary to what most believe, it is possible to find a gaming laptop under $500 that has 16GB of RAM. Dell is legendary for its budget and mid-range devices, so it’s no surprise that they’re the ones finishing this list off. At this price, you won’t find a device that’s better equipped for both multitasking and gaming.
- Great for multitasking
- Looks elegant
- Good price-to-performance ratio
- Has a decently-sized screen
- Low resolution
- Lackluster CPU
What to Consider Before Choosing the Best Gaming Laptop Under $500
While at Laptop251 we always look for multiple solutions, we realize that everyone has different preferences. The ASUS VivoBook 15 may be our favorite, but it’s quite possible that you have different needs. That’s why we wanted to create a short and easy-to-understand buying guide. Before you put some money aside, think about the things below.
What kind of games will you play on your new laptop?
There’s nothing worse than spending money on a gaming laptop under $500, only to realize it can’t run your favorite game. Check the developer/publisher’s website for the most accurate spec requirements.
Even though you might be content with playing with the minimum specs, we would advise you to adhere to the recommended ones. This way, you can avoid lags and crashes.
What features to look for in a gaming notebook for under $500?
Like all PCs, good cheap gaming laptops are a collection of various specs and features. Since you’re on a budget, it’s unrealistic to expect the latest and greatest hardware. Instead, you have to curb your expectations, and most importantly – prioritize. Just as we said previously, no two gamers have the same needs and desires. If you’re unsure what to look for, here’s our list of all the essential specs a gaming laptop under $500 can have:
Don’t expect a 4K display at this price point. However, that doesn’t mean you can’t find a laptop with a good 15-inch screen. HD and FHD quality are pretty standard nowadays, so don’t settle for less.
Yes, RAM is great for multitasking, but you don’t necessarily need 16GB or 32GB for entry and mid-spec gaming. Most modern gaming laptops under $500 come with upgradeable RAM.
If you plan on using the device for work or studying, later on, you can upgrade the RAM kit without any issues. So we recommend putting a higher emphasis on something you can’t upgrade, like display or CPU.
A GPU is one of the main selling points of the gaming laptop. In this price range, it’s not realistic to expect a dedicated GPU that is needed to run AAA games. But you can get a laptop with AMD Radeon Vega or Intel UHD integrated graphics. These GPUs are enough to run entry- and mid-spec games such as Minecraft, Fortnite, Roblox, LoL, WoW, etc.
For gaming on a budget, make sure the laptop you are planning to buy meets at least the minimum processor speed (given in GHz) of the game you want to play.
If you mainly play at home you can always get a more comfortable external keyboard. In this case, you can compromise on the laptop’s keyboard.
Keep in mind that some laptops have backlit keyboards at this price range but most do not. If this is important to you be sure to look for a backlit keyboard in the specs.
In our mind laptops without dedicated GPUs are not “real” gaming laptops, more like laptops that can be used for gaming. As you may be aware that’s true for all laptops under $500. The good news is, however, that these laptops in general have better battery lives than actual gaming laptops.
Don’t forget though that 8-10 hours battery life used for gaming quickly becomes only 2-3 hours. We may be stating the obvious here, but in most cases, you’ll be close to a plug, so for most people battery life is not as important.
Even in this price range, an SSD is a must. However, even 1TB is out of the question. SSDs may be more expensive than HDDs, but they’re much faster and more efficient. So, even 128GB or 256GB should be decent. And besides, storage upgrade options exist in most gaming laptops under $500. You can get a larger SSD and simply replace it. Better yet, get a USB stick or external storage.
Methodology: How We Selected These Laptops
Our list started from a pool of just below a hundred devices under $500. From the get-go, we focused on laptops for light and mid-range gaming that have the best GPU-CPU combination. That’s why we wanted to find a combination that ensures stability and provides consistent performance. AMD Radeon Vega or Intel UHD graphics were a must, though.
After narrowing the playing field a bit, we analyzed our proprietary data about best-selling laptops. We also paid close attention to devices that were released in late 2021. More often than not, the newer laptops have the best specs or price-to-performance ratio.
Once we had about 15 contenders, it was time to see what laptop owners shared about their experience. And we were able to get a lot of quality info. This led to just 10 laptops left from our initial pool. Sure, the number may be decent in a vacuum, but at Laptop251 we only want to provide the best of the best. That’s why we felt our job wasn’t done yet.
The final phase of our selection process involved lots of additional research. It involved Geekbench scores at first, but we wanted to be sure that the laptop in our final list was compatible with at least of the most popular low- to mid-spec games (Fortnite, League of Legends, DOTA 2, Minecraft, Roblox, and CS:GO).
Later, we put our findings together and compared the devices. And poof, that’s how we got to the stellar six you see above!
FAQs About the Best Gaming Laptops Under $500
Are there any gaming laptops under $500 with a dedicated graphics card?
Unfortunately, no. Dedicated graphics cards require much more power and cooling, so putting them into a gaming laptop under $500 is not feasible. That’s why most manufacturers go with integrated GPUs. Radeon Vega and Intel UHD are the best choices when you’re on the lookout for a budget gaming laptop.
Are integrated graphic cards good for gaming?
Yes, to a certain degree? They can never be as strong as dedicated graphics cards. However, that doesn’t mean you can’t play older titles or even a new game on low graphics settings. Because gaming is your primary need, you should prioritize GPU quality while shopping.
Are budget gaming notebooks good enough for AAA games?
No. Sadly, budget gaming notebooks are rarely good enough to run AAA games. There might be a couple of games that you can theoretically run on low settings, but it’s not a guarantee.
What kind of games can I play on a gaming laptop under $500?
Almost any gaming laptop under $500 can run Roblox, Minecraft, DOTA 2, and Fortnite without even breaking a sweat. Titles such as the GTA Remastered Trilogy or even older Mass Effect games can also be viable options. Just to be sure, check the game’s minimum and optimal spec requirements online.
The market for gaming laptops under $500 has never been bigger, so there’s a lot to choose from. Overall, we think the ASUS VivoBook 15 is the best of the bunch. Thanks to its strong processor, it can easily run the most popular low- and mid-spec games. However, HP 15 is also a good machine if you want to play Minecraft and Fortnite. The Vega 6 graphics and a Ryzen 3 5000 series CPU make it a great option for under $500.
On the flip side, the Dell Inspiron 15 3000 is a great choice if you want lots of RAM straight away. It also features Intel UHD graphics and is highly rated by experts and users alike. For those of you that want a multi-purpose gaming laptop, the Gateway is a great, but unexpected option for both school and gaming. Whether it’s remote classes or a couple of DOTA 2 matches, it gets the job done.
What’s your favorite gaming laptop under $500? Have you used any of these devices? Don’t hesitate to share your thoughts in the comments below.