If you’re looking for a low-cost laptop, you’ll have to make some tough choices. Gaming laptops are usually top-tier and often cost from just under a budget of $500 to way more than $5000. When you’re analyzing a sea of machines that all look the same, balancing a limited budget with a feature set that largely comprises the necessities isn’t easy.
1. Acer Aspire 5
The Acer Aspire 5 is the top contender on this list. This laptop is a cheap alternative to a hardcore gaming laptop. With gaming, the essential feature is graphic performance. Acer Aspire 5 does not disappoint. Before we talk about this laptop’s gaming capabilities, let’s consider other necessary components and specifications requirements that a gaming laptop must meet.
The Aspire 5’s display is not close to the best out there, but you can’t have your bucks and have the best display at the same time. So bearing the budget you have in mind, the Aspire 5 display is commendable. The display is a 1080 pixels resolution that is about 14-inches wide.
The speakers are also loud and produce great audio quality. You would hear your gameplay audio perfectly as the laptop produces very loud sounds with crisp and clear audio.
In the performance aspect, the Aspire 5’s Intel Core i5 is top-notch. Some other laptops with this spec are very expensive, so you shouldn’t expect all specs of this laptop to tick every box. Amazingly, the processor contains four cores with eight-thread. That’s what is expected from a system with an 11th-generation computer.
What about the RAM?
The Aspire 5’s is equipped with 8GB of RAM. If you’re going to be running most games, RAM is a very important feature of a gaming laptop.
Now to the important aspect of all, is the Graphic unit up to the task? the Graphics installed on this computer is one not commonly found in laptops within its price range. It features an Intel’s Iris Xe graphics clocking at a speed of 1.3GHz. This GPU outperforms the usual UHD graphics installed in laptops within this price range.
If you’re looking for a gaming laptop under $500, the Acer Aspire 5 is your best bet. You get quality and value out of it.
2. Dell Inspiron 15 3593
The Dell Inspiron 15 3593 is a tough opponent for the Aspire 5 to beat. At first glance the Inspiron 15 packs an intel core i7 processor. Before we delve into why the Inspiron might be a worthy opponent, let’s see if other specs are suited for a gaming environment.
We know we are on a budget, so we are not worried about the build and body design of the laptop. What you should be more interested in is the performance of the laptop.
It has a larger display than the Aspire 5 which features a 14-inch panel. The Inspiron adds an extra inch to this coming up with a 15.6-inch screen display. Like the Aspire, it also features a 1080 pixels display resolution. There seems to be no problem with the display, 1080 would render the gameplay just ok.
The display is not the only similarity it shares with the Acer Aspire 5, the Inspirion also provides an 8GB RAM. Although both laptops might share certain specs, the Inspirion beats the Aspire laptop in when it comes to the sheer power of its processor. The Inspiron comes with a quad-core corei7 processor. The corei7 is of the 10th generation and is coupled with a powerful GPU, the Intel Iris Plus Graphics G7.
3. Lenovo IdeaPad 3 14
With an AMD Ryzen 5 5500U engine, 8GB of DDR4 RAM, and 256GB of SSD storage, the IdeaPad 3 14 sits comfortably on the cusp of both worlds at roughly $500. The memory and storage capacities are on the low side—these days, we like 16GB of RAM and 512GB of solid-state storage. However, the lower figures are standard for laptops in this price range, and the processor is the star here.
AMDs are a great CPU with durability
Despite being based on the older AMD Zen 2 architecture, AMD’s Ryzen mobile CPUs have become formidable in recent years, and the 5500U still performs well and is a commanding starting point in the budget-laptop market. To put it into perspective, the AMD’s 5500U is the alternative or the competitor to intel’s core i5 11th generation processors.
According to a review, the AMD’s 5500U is a better performer than the core i5 11th generation. This is due to the higher amount of cores and workload distribution among the available cores that the AMD is capable of.
But the IdeaPad 3 14 falls short in some other aspects. The brightness is at 189 nits, which is way beyond average. It also means that the laptop would be difficult to use in bright lighting conditions. You would play your games well in the hot, but in the daytime, you might as well watch a mirror. The color production of the laptop is also not on the bright side of things.
Another downside is the GPU. You would have to be very considerate before getting this laptop because, when it comes to gaming, the GPU is very important. This IdeaPad features an AMD Radeon RX Vega 6 clocked at 1.5GHz. There is no supporting dedicated graphics which might be a letdown. However, this is still an average-performing GPU. It should handle games like FIFA 19 or others with similar spec beautifully.
4. Lenovo IdeaPad 3 15
The Lenovo IdeaPad 3 15 (2021) is a budget-friendly Windows notebook with AMD Ryzen 5000 CPUs. Even though it’s primarily plastic, it seems well-made, and its thin and light design makes it easy to carry around. It boasts a long battery life, lasting approximately 8 hours of video playing and over 9 hours of light productivity.
Unfortunately, the Graphics card installed in this machine may not be the best on this list but it would be sure to handle games with similar gaming requirements as FIFA 19.
The laptop comes with a soldered memory of 4GB of RAM which is quite small and a disadvantage. However, it also features a RAM memory slot where you can increase the RAM size by installing another RAM- a maximum of 8GB. This means that you can upgrade the RAM of the device to a maximum RAM of 12GB which would be enough to run most games.
On the display aspect, it features a similar screen resolution to other laptops on this list. it comes with a standard 1080 pixels resolution with a pixel density of 142PPI. The IPS display panel is much better than the LCD when it comes to color contrast. The refresh rate of the screen is standard and similar to that found on most laptops, i.e 60Hz. The brightness of the screen may be the brightest yet, having a maximum brightness of 308nits.
5. HP ProBook 450 G7
The HP ProBook 450 comes with an Intel corei7 10th generation computer, that’s a good start for a gaming laptop especially since we are on a budget.
What’s most interesting about this PC is the dedicated graphics. The NVIDIA GeForce MX250 is not the most powerful GPU out there but it’s great enough for our budget. It’s a game dedicated to Graphic Units hence one of the best buys on this list of budget gaming laptops. The GeForce MX250 doesn’t just play great games, it also is built to save battery life as much as possible while still running your favorite game.
The display is similar to those on this list, coming with a 1080pixels display which isn’t bad for this price. However, the colors of the IPS display may not be as accurate as should be but that’s a price to pay for such performance.
The processor is made up of 4-cores running at 1.8 GHz each which sums up to 4.9GHz. Having at least 4 cores can be of great advantage especially when it comes to gaming. On the RAM side of things, the Laptop comes with an 8GB of RAM installed but can be upgraded easily so that’s awesome.
Another component that improves the overall performance of the device is the SSD, and this laptop comes with 256GB of SSD storage. It’s quite small, but if you want more, you’re going to have to part ways with extra cash. For a lot of games, you would rely heavily on your keyboard, the ProBooks keyboard is said to be built to military standard. This now makes the HP ProBook the best buy on this list.
6. Dell Latitude 7390
The Dell Latitude 7390’s matte touch-screen display, with its low bezels and vibrant colors, is the first thing you’ll notice. Its lengthy battery life and quick performance will also impress you. The Latitude’s 13.3-inch, 1080p touch screen is bright, but some others are brighter. The display is not bright compared to some competitors on this list of budget laptops under $500 but should be visible under room-light conditions.
The touch screen is also a nice feature but with regards to gaming, it doesn’t add to the scores that qualify it as a gaming laptop. With an Intel Core i7 quad-core 8th generation Processor, the CPU has what it takes in terms of processing power. But remember that processing power is not the most determinant feature for gaming. The frequency of the processor is however a disappointment, as they run at 1.9GHz.
The Laptop comes with 8GB of RAM, which is enough for gaming, and can easily handle multitasking. It also doesn’t feature dedicated graphics. Instead, it houses the UHD graphics which is the regular laptop GPU. It would handle games but not power demanding ones. The touch screen makes this laptop more costly than others on the list of budget laptops under $500. I wish they could take that off and put dedicated graphics into the machine.
7. ASUS VivoBook 15
This is the next dedicated budget gaming laptop that was built with gamers in mind. It’s slightly faster than most of its similarly-priced competitors, and it has a better-than-average port selection and decent battery life.
The most significant compromises include a display with poor brightness balancing and sharpness, as well as a limited 128GB SSD for storage (which is not uncommon in this price range). It may not be flashy, but for the money, it’s a fully functional 15-inch Windows laptop that can handle simple chores and last all day.
In terms of processor, the VivoBook houses an Intel Core i3 processor of the 10th generation. Even though it is of the latest processor generation, it still has a minimal number of cores, that is, a dual-core with four threads.
Even though the laptop was built with gamers in mind, it might quickly become obsolete as time goes by. With that said, it can perform well with games in the FIFA 19 range. The graphics are also the standard Intel UHD Graphics which isn’t the best when it comes to gaming. However, with the supporting 8GB RAM and SSD, it might just surprise you.
8. Dell Precision M6700
The Precision M6700 from Dell is a high-performance workstation with an above-average number of various components. In addition, Dell’s online store offers a very versatile laptop configuration, allowing the laptop to be modified according to specific demands. There are currently nine distinct CPUs available, up to Intel’s Core i7-3940XM, four professional graphics cards (FirePro or Quadro), four-screen models, and numerous storage device combinations.
A premium device turned budget gaming laptop
The better the spec of your Precision laptop, the higher the cost. However, I highly recommend this as it is easily upgradeable. In the display arena, the Precision features four different options. The HD+ screen is the first and usually the default display installation. It is also the cheapest installation, whereas the HD 3D Vision Pro screen is the most costly of them all. For an average display, you can get the FHD RGB-IPS screen.
The FHD screen display can go up to 330 nits even though it might not be evenly distributed, it’s pretty decent, especially for a budget gaming laptop. The color contrast is also superb and is rich with crip and clear colors.
When it comes to performance, the Precision is also not left behind. It features a Core i7 third-generation CPU which can achieve a clock speed of 3900MHz and has 4 cores and 8 threads. With a RAM of 8GB installed on this machine, it will not lag with gaming and other tasks.
Now the most important feature for a budget gaming laptop under $500, is the GPU. The Graphics card installed on this machine features the AMD’s FirePro M6000. it operates with 2GB of graphics memory and runs up to 800MHz which is not probably the best on the list. Alongside the dedicated GPU, there is the regular Intel HD Graphics 4000. It should be able to handle games like sims 3, Metro 2033, starcraft 2, the world of Tanks v8(2012), and other games during the time of its release. It might not be able to keep up with recent games which demand more power to run. However, it would surely meet the minimum requirements of most games.
9. HP Excess Pavilion x360
The Pavilion x360, which starts at $450, has the fancy-looking gold chassis and good performance you’d expect from a high-end gadget, but it also has the dark display and software you’d expect from a midrange laptop. In the end, HP’s 2-in-1 is a good alternative for consumers on a tight budget, but it doesn’t stand out much from the crowd.
With that being said, this gaming laptop would be the go-to guy when your budget is around $500 and you would like the classy look of the laptop. It features a 6th-generation Intel Core i5 CPU. This is becoming outdated today hence would be the worst buy on this list. The integrated Graphics is also far from the best on this list. It features an Intel HD Graphics 520 which would not run games like Metro: Last Light, and Doom.
Getting a budget gaming laptop within the price range of $500 can be quite difficult since there are so many to choose from out there. Before you opt for any laptop, you would want to investigate the most important specifications; The Ram, CPU, GPU, Hard drive, and Display.