Best Laptops Under $500
In this post we’ll explain what you need to consider when shopping for the best laptops under $500. Luckily for you, there is a huge gap between the $300 and $500 mark, and you can find some pretty powerful computers in this price range.
One of the nicest things about laptops in the $500 price range is the speed and power you get relative to cheaper laptops. Most laptops and netbooks in the $300 price range contain 2GB RAMs and 128-256 GB hard drives (which are slow and small). As you get to the $500 range, you find laptops with 4GB DDR3 RAMs, 500 GB hard drives and even one or two models with an Intel Core i3 processor (Intel’s Core series are the top of the line in consumer computers right now).
In this price range, your biggest concern will be choosing between the hundreds of models available to you. So that you know what’s important for your situation, here’s what you need to consider.
Computers with larger RAMs (random access memory) behave faster and respond quicker. In general the higher the RAM (2-8 in most cases) the faster the computer. Word processing and Internet browsing typically do not require much RAM, while watching HD movies and editing photos require more computing power. If you’re a simple computer user, you won’t need as much RAM. If you’re a power user, get as much as you can get, and look for models that allow upgrades (easy and cheap).
Your next consideration is the hard drive. There are two types of hard drives found in most laptops under $500. Regular and Solid State. Long story short, Solid State is faster. Further, your hard drive holds all of your files. If you will be storing a large amount of music or photos, look for something with a larger hard drive. If you have a small hard drive and it starts to get full, it will slow your computer noticeably.
Another thing to consider is the processor. Most computers under $500 contain second tier processors. They are not the worst, but they are not the best either. Most models include an AMD Dual-Core (which is not bad at all) or an Intel Pentium (I personally would never use a Pentium). Top of the line models use the Intel Core i series, and there are a few models under $500 that feature these. If you can, try to get a laptop with an Intel Core i; it’s guaranteed to be faster.
Your processor controls how fast your RAM can operate. Even with an 8GB RAM, a slow processor can hurt your computer’s performance dramatically. On the flip side, an Intel Core i3 with a 4GB processor will perform much nicer. This is why I always emphasize getting the best processor your money can buy.
The last thing you need to consider is the screen size. Many computers in the category feature screens between 12 and 15.6 inches. However size isn’t everything; some computers feature more advanced graphics card and higher quality LED backlit displays. It’s beyond the scope of this article to cover all the combinations, but make sure to do your homework when researching screen size, screen resolution and the graphics card numbers.
That’s it for our review of laptops under $500. If you’re looking for actual models, make sure to check out our homepage (where we review many models in-depth).