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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.

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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 Chromebook 11 ($350)

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.

Available from:

Amazon Dell

Acer Aspire E5 ($360)

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.

Available from:

Amazon Best Buy

Acer Chromebook 15 ($346)

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.

Available from:

Amazon Best Buy

Lenovo G50 ($380)

Lenovo G50

Lenovo wins points by shooting straight down the middle with the G50. You won’t find a fancy 360-degree hinge or flashy colors, but instead a serious laptop with decent performance and above average storage and RAM. It’s powered by a quad-core AMD A8-6410 CPU, backed by 6GB of RAM, and integrated Radeon R5 graphics for gaming performance without the power or financial weight.

Available from:

Amazon Best Buy

Toshiba Satellite Radius 14 ($500)


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

Available from:

Amazon Best Buy