9 Best Laptops for $500 or Less
Life + Money

9 Best Laptops for $500 or Less

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Laptops have become the choice computer for college students, business people on the go and even families at home. The Vaio Z has a battery life upwards of 22 hours; the Samsung Notebook 9 weighs less than two pounds. And while some laptops could set you back nearly $2000, there are plenty of options that are both high quality and affordable.

Consumer Reports tested 137 laptops and graded them on a range of features: performance (speed on productivity apps, web browsing, multimedia and 3D games); ergonomics (keyboard, pointing device, feature accessibility and, if applicable, touchscreen); portability (battery life and weight); versatility (hardware and software, along with tech support and warranty agreements); and display (screen size, glare, clarity, color, contrast, brightness etc.).

We also checked with CNET and PCWorld and found similar results.

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Here are some of the best affordable laptops of 2016:  




1. Asus Transformer Book T300CHI-F1-DB
Overall Score: 64
Retail Price: $500
The performance of this laptop-tablet (the touchscreen detaches for a 2-in-1 device) is top-notch. The laptop responds quickly, whether running emails, word processing, browsing the web, streaming videos or playing complex games.

2. Asus VivoBook E403SA-US21
Overall Score: 62
Retail Price: $350
Asus’ VivoBook is great for basic web browsing and productivity applications. With a battery life over 15 hours and a weight of just over three pounds, this is a good choice if you still want a big screen (14-inches) while on the move.  

3. Microsoft Surface 3
Overall Score: 61
Retail Price: $500
Although it has less memory and a small solid-state drive, this is a well-rounded laptop – light, great battery, and good basic performance. It also comes with a year’s worth of Microsoft Office 365 Personal, which would cost you $100 otherwise.

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4. Asus VivoBook E200HA-US01
Overall Score: 58
Retail Price: $211.15
A smaller and cheaper version of the VivoBook above, Asus’ 11.6 inch VivoBook is light (just over 2 pounds) and has a battery life of nearly 15 hours. Its processor preserves the battery, though sometimes at the cost of performance, which can be slow. You will probably need cloud storage since this VivoBook has only 2GB of memory.


5. Asus Transformer Book TP200SADH04T
Overall Score: 57
Retail Price: $299-339
A smaller version of the Transformer Book T300CHI, with a touchscreen and very long battery life, the performance is mediocre. But it works well for simple tasks like email, word processing and web browsing.


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6. HP Pavilion x360-13t
Overall Score: 57
Retail Price: $490
This 13.3-inch laptop is comparatively heavy at nearly 4 lbs, but it is versatile, able to convert to stand, tent and tablet modes. While there is a touchscreen, the full-sized keyboard and touchpad are well designed and easy to use.

7. Dell Inspiron 11 3000
Overall Score: 56
Retail Price: $180
Although its speed is mediocre, this laptop has a long battery life and is easy to carry. The matte screen reduces glare, making it a great laptop for brightly lit rooms and for outdoors use.


8. Acer Aspire E5-574-53QS
Overall Score: 56
Retail Price: $389.99
The 15.6-inch Acer Aspire is one of the best value large laptops you’ll find. Besides well-designed keyboards and touchpads, the laptop comes with a huge 1TB hard drive.


9. Dell Inspiron I3452-600BLK
Overall Score: 54
Retail Price: $160
For a 14-inch laptop, this Dell is very light, and the battery lasts nearly 13 hours. The keyboard and touchpad are great, and performance is good enough for web browsing, emails and other productivity apps.