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These sub-$500 laptops take computing to the streets without breaking the bank

When it comes to a lot of laptops, you get what you pay for, and the corners that manufacturers cut on the cheapest machines are usually substantial. But, like selecting the perfect bottle of wine, the second least expensive model is typically a big jump from the Atom processors and cheap displays of sub-$200 machines.

Related: 25 awesome laptop bags for every owner, from students to globetrotters

With that in mind, we’ve rounded up a selection of our favorite laptops that will leave some money in your pocket after all’s said and done. The machines won’t shatter any benchmarks, but instead offer a solid balance of performance, durability, and low price point.

Dell Inspiron 15 3000 ($250)

Dell Inspiron 15 3000

If you’re looking for a jack-of-all-trades type laptop, look no further than the Inspiron 15 3000. The Inspiron feels sturdy, and its 15-inch screen is nearly 25 percent brighter and more colorful than other laptops with 1366 x 768 displays. It’s powered by a dual-core Intel Celeron processor, backed by 4GB of RAM, and includes a cool 500GB of hard drive space — though spending an extra $130 will net you a quad-core Pentium processor and touch-screen functionality. There are few options that can compete with the Inspiron 15 in terms of overall utility and value. Read our full review here.

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Dell

Dell Chromebook 11 ($219)

Dell Chromebook 11

When it comes to Chromebooks, it’s hard to argue that this 11-inch option from Dell isn’t one of the best. Even the upgraded version — which includes 4GB of RAM, an Intel Core i3 processor, and 16GB of SATA SSD storage — is available from Dell for a mere $330. Chrome OS may not be an ideal option for some, but it’s the perfect blend of productivity and simplicity for students, with an affordable price to match. Read our full review here.

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Amazon Dell

Acer Aspire E5 ($350)

Acer Aspire E5

If Windows is more your speed, Acer’s Aspire E5 strikes an appealing balance between price and performance. The heavily customizable machine can be built around an Intel Core i3 and i5 processor, or AMD A-Series chips without breaking $500, and comes outfitted with 4GB of RAM standard. Unfortunately, the 15.6-inch display is only available with either 1366 x 768-pixel resolution or a glossy 1600 x 900, but makes up for it with a 500GB hard drive and solid connectivity options. Read our full review here.

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Acer

Acer Chromebook 15 ($350)

Acer Chromebook 15

If you want the simplicity of Chrome OS with the pleasures of a larger screen, the Acer Chromebook 15 offers a 15.6-inch 1080p IPS display for under $500. Like the Dell, the Chromebook 15 boasts an Intel Core i3-5005U and a dual-core chip with a 2GHz base clock, along with 4GB of RAM and SSD storage. It offers plenty of space for the keyboard, too, and minimalist construction that looks and feel great. Read our full review here.

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Google Store

Toshiba Satellite Radius 14 ($450)

Toshiba Satellite Radius 14

Spending a little doesn’t have to mean compromising a lot, and Toshiba proves that with the Satellite Radius 14. It’s one of the least expensive 2-in-1 devices available at the price point, and even eschews the typical slow Atom processor for a full-on Intel Core i3-5015U. It’s not without its issues, but for around $500, other convertible laptops wish they could be the Radius 14. Read our full review here.

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Amazon Best Buy

This article was originally published on November 22, 2015, and updated on April 28, 2016, by Nick Hastings to include the Dell Inspiron 15 3000.