Our best laptops under £500 guide proves that you don't need to spend enormous sums of money on a really great laptop. Every laptop in our guide performs way above its price bracket, delivering a reliable and solid computing experience without cutting any important corners.
It's always a good idea to spend as much as you can afford on a laptop to ensure you'll get plenty of years from it. But that doesn't mean you need to spend your money on the most powerful laptops around. For the majority of us, under £500 is the sweet spot: if you go a lot cheaper you'll really start to cut corners and make sacrifices in the specification.
Our top pick right now is the excellent all-rounder, the Asus VivoBook 15. But it might not be the best cheap laptop for you. That's why we've listed a selection of different laptops including not just Windows ones but Chromebooks too. The selection here should fit most people and most kinds of tasks.
If you're not familiar with Chromebooks, they're Google-powered laptops that are often very, very cheap. We've put together a dedicated best Chromebooks guide if you'd like to see the cream of the Chromebook crop.
All of the laptops in our guide are good all-rounders. They'll cope comfortably with web browsing and Office applications, Zoom calls and online shopping and everyday gaming. If you're a power user who wants to play the latest games at the very maximum possible speeds and resolutions, or if you want to perform very demanding tasks such as video rendering, check out our best laptops and best gaming laptops guide instead. And if you're a fan of Dells – like we are – we also have a dedicated guide to the best Dell laptops.
Dell isn't the only big name brand you'll find here. Buying an affordable laptop doesn't mean having to buy a no-name cheapie from someone you've never heard of. All the big players are here: Microsoft, HP, Dell, Acer, Lenovo, Asus and many more. Let's discover the best laptops under £500.
The best laptops under £500 you can buy today
The best cheap laptop for most people, right now, is the stunning Asus VivoBook 15. Not only does this laptop come with a capacious display that, thanks to tiny bezels, seems far bigger than it actually is, but backs up those looks with a strong all-round hardware and software showing. You get a full-fat version of Windows 10, of course, and that is powered by a combination of Intel Core i3 CPU, Intel UHD 620 GPU, 4GB of RAM and a 256GB SSD NVMe. Oh, and for those who find themselves taking more video calls and meetings than before, the VivoBook 15 also delivers an integrated webcam.
Solid battery life, a decent selection of ports, and an included 1-year warranty complete the package. For the money this is a great system, and in T3's eyes one of the very best laptops under £500 on the market today. See how it compares to our number 2 pick in our Asus Vivobook 15 vs Acer Aspire 5 head-to-head.
There's plenty of reasons why the Acer Aspire 5 sits so high in our best laptop under £500 buying guide, and its affordable cost is just the first. It also delivers a really strong and capable all-round specification, including an AMD Ryzen 5 4500U, Intel UHD 620 GPU, 8GB of RAM and a 512GB SSD. This is combines to deliver zippy performance in all light and medium computing tasks, and when combined with the Aspire 5's 15.6-inch, 1080p IPS LCD screen, delivers plenty in terms of entertainment and gaming clout, too.
Battery life tops out at a respectable 10 hours, too, and it has a strong selection of ports as well, meaning you can hook it up to a larger monitor or TV. You also get an integrated HD webcam, which is perfect for video meetings. Overall, the Acer Aspire 5 is a really strong all-round laptop that delivers great value. For more info, head to our Acer Aspire 5 review, which focuses on the A514-52-582Y model, or see how it compares to our number 3 laptop in our Acer Aspire 5 vs Lenovo IdeaPad 3 face-off. You can also see how it matches up to its cheaper sibling in our Acer Aspire 3 vs Aspire 5 comparison.
If you are looking for a cheap laptop for light computing experiences and don't need a large screen, then the Lenovo IdeaPad 3 is a great choice. It's compact 11.6-inch screen makes it incredibly bag-friendly, as it's one of the best lightweight laptops around too, weighing only 1.12 kilograms.
This system is a Chromebook, meaning that it runs Google's online-focussed operating system, which is designed to be used while online. Google's G-Suite of services like Google Calendar, Google Docs and GMAIL are perfect partners. Despite its budget spec, this OS means that it runs very fast and with built-in HD Audio and a crisp 11.6-inch screen, it still offers plenty when it comes round to web-browsing, video streaming and basic image editing. Overall, the Lenovo IdeaPad 3 is a basic system for lightweight computing needs, but that's precisely what many people need. After all, what's the point in spending £700 on a system when you're not going to use its full power?
Microsoft’s Surface laptops are consistently excellent, and the Microsoft Surface Go 2 is one of the best 2-in-1 laptops right now, as well as being an excellent laptop under £500 in general. It takes everything that was good about the original – its sleek design, its excellent build quality, its go-anywhere do-anything versatility – and makes it even better.
The screen is bigger and has a higher resolution than before, and the specification has been improved for better performance. The bigger screen doesn’t mean a bigger device, though: the bezels around the display are smaller so Microsoft has been able to make the screen bigger without also making the Surface Go bigger. As with its predecessor, it looks and feels like a much more expensive machine.
With a very respectable five hours of active use between charges it’s good for on-the-go computing, but remember that the sticker price doesn’t include the Type Cover keyboard, which you'll need if you’re going to be doing a lot of typing (at time of writing, that’ll set you back just under £100).
To see how this system compares to our number one choice of best laptop under £500, be sure to check out T3's Asus Vivobook 15 vs Microsoft Surface Go 2 comparison feature.
Simply one of the best Chromebooks we've ever laid eyes on (look at that display, for instance), the Asus C433 will get you around the web and run Android apps with aplomb. You don't need to worry about being disappointed if you pick this as the best cheap laptop for you.
Chrome OS is the same here as it is on any other Chromebook, and it's getting better all the time, as are the web apps that run in your browser. Now that Android apps are supported as well, you can run the mobile versions of programs like Spotify and Microsoft Word as well. With a big, bright 14-inch screen and enough power to do everything you need to do, the Asus C433 is a fine choice. The display can flip over into tent and tablet modes as well, making this laptop even more appealing.
If you really don't want to spend much money at all but do want to land a stylish, lightweight laptop under £500, then you should definitely consider the HP Stream 14, which retails for a bargain price point. You get a solid all-round spec for your money, with an AMD 2.3GHz CPU, 4GB of RAM, 64GB eMMC storage, and 14-inch 1920 x 1080 resolution screen partnered with a Windows 10 S operating system. The HP Stream 14 also comes with a 1-year subscription to Office 365 and a 1TB OneDrive account, too, so you're set for office and study. The system also features a built-in webcam, meaning video meetings and calls are sorted, as well as MicroSD card reader.
The Inspiron is a regular visitor to our best buy guides, and the Inspiron 15 takes its rightful place thanks to its solid specification, good battery life and a price tag that just squeaks under our £500 limit.
This laptop is powered by a quad-core AMD Ryzen 5 3500U processor (Intel processors are available too) backed with 8GB of RAM and a 256GB SSD, the full HD screen (1,920 x 1,080 pixels) is sharp and bright and the battery life is a quoted 8.5 hours. It comes with Dell Mobile Connect, which enables you to connect your PC to your phone and get notifications of texts and calls on your laptop.
You wouldn’t want to render a 3D CGI movie on one of these, but for Microsoft Office, Netflix and other everyday tasks it’s a solid performer. Just make sure you’re getting one of the Full HD models: previous versions had a lower resolution display that we found unimpressive.
If you can do all your computing on the web – watching Netflix, working in online office apps and email clients, checking social networks – then Chromebooks represent excellent value for money, and this one is a worthy entrant in our best laptops under £500 list. You can't install desktop programs on them, but you don't need to worry about large software updates, or antivirus software, or your system slowing over time.
The 4GB of RAM and 32GB of storage you get with this Acer laptop should be enough for Chrome OS, as all you're doing is running a web browser. Meanwhile, the screen is relatively large, and offers a higher resolution than many other laptops at this price point.
Be prepared for some looks of disbelief when you tell people that the Lenovo IdeaPad S145 can be had for under £500 – it looks like a laptop that costs double the price, with sleek lines, thin display bezels and a rather nice black granite finish. There's a lot to like here – the 15.6-inch display, an abundance of ports, Windows 10, the Intel Core i3 processor that's on board. We like the lightweight construction as well, and the audio performance is decent. Whether you need to get some work done on the go, or you want to kick back and watch some movies, the Lenovo IdeaPad S145 has you covered. This is one of the best value laptops around right now; you'll struggle to get more bang for your buck.
Just because your budget has topped out at £500 doesn't mean you're bound to low-end components. That AMD Ryzen 5 2500U Processor means the Acer Aspire 3 can handle any casual task, and even deal with some light (and we mean light) gaming, too. That 15.6-inch Full HD display is very generous for a laptop in this range, and its surprisingly sharp too, while that 1TB HDD, despite not being as fast as an SSD, is huge and provides loads of storage space.
The only thing that isn't ideal is the system's battery life, which at just 4.5 hours is definitely not use-all-day-off-one-charge capable. Providing you're happy carrying your charger with you, or you're using the system primarily from a desk plugged in, then this negative point can be mitigated. For more info, head to should I buy the Acer Aspire 3?
Like the Switch 3 above, the Swift 3 – somewhat confusing, we admit – offers a larger display and slightly improved specs for about the same price, minus the 2-in-1 form factor and touch screen. The i3 CPU, combined with the SSD, offer good performance for a cheap machine, crunching less processor-intensive tasks with ease while providing good battery life.
Unlike some other cheaper laptops, the touchpad on the Swift 3 is actually nice to use, offering smooth scrolling and mouse movements, which is important due to the lack of touchscreen. The port selection is good, too, boasting an HDMI, three USB-A, one USB-C, and more. All in all, this is a good budget pick.
Now... this starts with the obvious caveat that, unlike the others on this list, the iPad is not actually a laptop in the true sense of the term. However, for some people – especially those who only need to perform lighter tasks – it might just suffice. Apple also sells larger iPads (like the Pro) but those are more expensive.
The base-level iPad starts at £319 for the 32GB model and goes up to £409 for the 128GB model (both WiFi-enabled). The rub is that, to get any actual work done, you'll need a third-party keyboard, which adds £50+ to the overall price. The Apple Pencil, which is useful for drawing, is another £89. So it's all about tradeoffs.
At the end of the day, if your needs are more geared towards light text editing, drawing, emails, browsing the web, and watching Netflix, it's worth considering an iPad (and if we've sold you on that idea, it's worth checking out our pick of the best tablets around).
How to choose the best laptop under £500 for you
Buying a new laptop can be a daunting task – even more so when you're trying to shop under a specific price limit, as we are here. A lower price range often means less powerful components, but it doesn't mean you have to settle for a cheap, throwaway product.
With very decent components continuing to drop in price, affordable laptops are boasting far more powerful specs, so your money goes further. It's not going to be a portable gaming beast or a media powerhouse, but you'll have enough grunt under the hood for surfing, editing documents and video streaming.
Apple MacBooks are out of the question at this sort of price, but fortunately Windows 10 has evolved to run very well indeed on less high-end hardware. We've also included a couple of our favourite Chromebooks in the list (just remember Chrome OS requires everything to be done on the web).
Down at this end of the market, prices fluctuate regularly, and retailers will often throw in special deals to tempt buyers, so don't be surprised if some of the these prices go up and down – spend some time comparing prices to figure out who's offering the best cheap laptop for you.
Bear in mind that you're not going to be getting the most powerful or the most feature-rich of laptops, but we think you'll be pleasantly surprised at what you can bag at an affordable price point.
From vibrant displays to surprisingly robust CPUs, out list of the best laptops under £500 for 2021 has plenty of choice to offer buyers with less money to spend. Design and build continues to get better and better as well.
So as you browse around the various deals and offers that retailers have made available, take a look some of our helpful tips and advice on buying a new laptop, then dive straight into our very best picks. Enjoy browsing!
How we test the best laptops under £500
Testing budget laptops is very similar to testing a laptop of any price, aside from the fact that the value proposition of the system gets more weighting than usual, while the absence of features less weighting.
This is because these systems are designed to offer solid core functionality first and foremost at a price that the vast majority of people can afford. These are systems that despite their low price point are perfect for students and professionals who can't spend thousands on a system.
So if a laptop under £500 doesn't have a touchscreen, or biometric sign-in option, then we don't hold it against the system, as it is not in its wheelhouse to do so. We want to see strong and solid core functionality, as well as decent build quality and performance from budget laptops.
That said, this doesn't mean that budget laptops get a free pass on things like build quality, and if a rival system delivers more for the same price point then we're sure to tell you.
Our testing process involves judging a system's built quality and design, performance and features, screen and software, and then price – and crucially price in relation to other similarly specced systems.
Only once all these things have been rated do we proceed to assign a budget laptop a star score, with high ranking systems then considered for our best laptops under £500 buying guide.