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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. The machines won’t shatter any benchmarks, but instead offer a solid balance of performance, durability, and low price point.

Dell Chromebook 11 ($219+)

Dell Chromebook 11

Now that Dell’s original Chromebook has been retired, you’ll have to settle for the new Touch-enabled version. It doesn’t pack the same performance, but its dual-core Celeron certainly keeps the price low, and a lot of users will find the touchscreen more important as Google Play apps make their way to Chrome OS. 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 Dell Chromebook 11 Touch review here.

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Amazon Dell

Dell Inspiron 15 3000 ($250)

Dell Inspiron 15 3000 Thumb

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.

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Dell

Acer Aspire E5 ($390+)

dtdeals_acer-aspire-e5-notebook-1

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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Amazon Newegg

Acer Chromebook 14 ($300)

Acer Chromebook 14 CB3-431-C5FM

If you want a premium look at a low price point, Acer’s Chromebook 14 delivers. This Chromebook is way nicer than any $300 laptop deserves to be, with beautiful aluminum housing and a 14-inch full HD display. It’s also got just enough power to smoothly run Chrome OS, with 4GB of RAM and a quad-core Intel Celeron N3160 processor clocked at 1.60 GHz. The crisp keyboard and touchpad are spacious, and even storage is above average given the 32GB internal hard drive. Read full review here.

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Amazon Best Buy

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