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Best Lightweight Laptop Under $500 [2020 Review]

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You don’t have to pay a premium price for a lightweight and portable laptop. Contrary to popular belief, it is possible to get a plausible ultrabook without breaking the bank. If you are on a budget and don’t have much to spend, we are going to show you the best lightweight laptops under $500.

Our Top Lightweight Laptops Under $500

After doing plenty of research and reading customer reviews, we have found the following laptops to be the best ultraportables under $500.

Brand
Best Overall
Microsoft Surface Go
Best for the Money
Lenovo IdeaPad 130S
Best Cheap Pick
Samsung Chromebook 3
Product
NEW Microsoft Surface Go 2 - 10.5" Touch-Screen -...
New Lenovo 130S 11.6" HD Laptop, Intel Celeron (2...
Samsung Chromebook 3, 11.6", 4GB RAM, 16GB eMMC,...
Processor
Intel Pentium Gold Processor 4425Y 8th Gen Intel Core m3
Intel Celeron (2 core) N4000
Intel Celeron Processor N3060
RAM
4GB
4GB
4 GB
Rating
Best Overall
Brand
Microsoft Surface Go
Product
NEW Microsoft Surface Go 2 - 10.5" Touch-Screen -...
Processor
Intel Pentium Gold Processor 4425Y 8th Gen Intel Core m3
RAM
4GB
Rating
Price
Best for the Money
Brand
Lenovo IdeaPad 130S
Product
New Lenovo 130S 11.6" HD Laptop, Intel Celeron (2...
Processor
Intel Celeron (2 core) N4000
RAM
4GB
Rating
Price
Best Cheap Pick
Brand
Samsung Chromebook 3
Product
Samsung Chromebook 3, 11.6", 4GB RAM, 16GB eMMC,...
Processor
Intel Celeron Processor N3060
RAM
4 GB
Rating
Price

Best Overall Lightweight Laptop Under $500: Microsoft Surface Go

NEW Microsoft Surface Go 2 - 10.5' Touch-Screen -...

The Microsoft Surface Go is one of the few hybrid devices that can perfectly pull the double duty of being a standard clamshell laptop and a portable Windows 10 tablet. Weighing only 1.2 pounds, this laptop is almost as heavy as a regular tablet. It sports a premium look with incredibly thin display bezels and long battery life.

For college students and travelers looking for a lightweight laptop that doesn’t blow their budget, the Surface Go deserves recognition. While it bears a striking resemblance to its predecessor, this model comes with a sharper 10.5-inch display with punchy colors and impressive resolution.

You also get longer battery life for long hours of uninterrupted browsing, movie watching, or playing some light games. The webcam is also a slight step-up from the previous model. You can now enjoy clearer teleconferencing when in a business meeting or just catching up with old friends.

This combined with a smooth and comfortable Type-Cover keyboard makes Microsoft Surface one of the best lightweight laptops under $500. Although the Type-Cover is optional, it is a worthy addition if you are looking for speedy typing. It will add some weight to the laptop but you won’t be able to feel much difference.

We also find the 6GB storage a bit insufficient for people who have a lot of files to store. However, if you just want a pretty convertible for basic productivity tasks and some entertainment on the side, the Microsoft Surface Go will be a great companion.

What We Like

  • Portable and easy to travel with
  • Sharp touchscreen display with punchy colors
  • Improved battery life
  • Excellent webcam

What We Don’t Like

  • Insufficient internal storage
  • Average performance
NEW Microsoft Surface Go 2 - 10.5" Touch-Screen -...
  • Starting at just 1.2 pounds (not including Type Cover*), with new 10.5” touchscreen.
  • Battery life up to 10 hours[1]. Perfect for browsing, shopping, emails, and homework
  • Tablet portability, performance and laptop versatility with adjustable Kickstand and Signature Type...

Best for the Money: Lenovo IdeaPad 130S

New Lenovo 130S 11.6' HD Laptop, Intel Celeron (2...

While the renewed Lenovo IdeaPad 130S might not win any benchmarking competitions, it is hard to beat as a portable Windows laptop. You will be disappointed when you use it for video editing, hardcore gaming or video streaming. However, for basic tasks like watching movies or passing time with some entry-level titles, you will find it worth the price.

The price is probably going to be the first thing you notice about this laptop. Most Chromebooks and hybrid laptops are known for their hefty price tags even when they come with slim specs sheets. And while the IdeaPad won’t make you a proud laptop owner, it will certainly do justice to your budget.

At a mere 11.6-inches, the IdeaPad 130S’s display is far from the biggest. While you can upgrade to the 14-inch model, then it might not be as lightweight as you would like. However, since you are looking for a portable laptop, this the perfect display size to take home – and pretty much anywhere.

The display has thin bezels and boasts of a solid build quality which means you can bump it around a bit without worrying about dislodging the pixels.

There is a pre-installed Windows 10 OS in S mode. This means that the OS has been doctored for light and speedy use. However, if you are not a fan of the S mode, you can easily migrate to full Windows 10.

That being said, if you want a machine that can quickly breeze through basic tasks browsing the internet, writing emails, watching Netflix, or playing some mobile games, we recommend you stick with Windows 10 S Mode.

Just like the Microsoft Surface Go, the Lenovo IdeaPad 130S also comes with 4GB of RAM and 64GB eMMC flash storage. These works in combination with an Intel Celeron N4000 processor with up to 2.6 GHz SPEED and 4M cache memory.

What We Like

  • Light and portable design
  • Pre-installed Windows 10 S mode for speedy operation
  • Affordable price tag
  • Long battery life
  • Sharp display

What We Don’t Like

  • Insufficient internal storage
  • Subpar overall performance
Sale
New Lenovo 130S 11.6" HD Laptop, Intel Celeron (2...
  • Intel Celeron N4000 1. 1GHz up to 2. 60GHz with 4M Cache, 4GB system memory for basic multitasking.
  • Typical 11. 6” display with 1366 x 768 HD resolution. Energy-efficient LED backlight.
  • 64GB eMMC flash memory is ideal for mobile devices and applications. Intel UHD Graphics 600 provides...

Best Cheap: Samsung Chromebook 3

Samsung Chromebook 3, 11.6', 4GB RAM, 16GB eMMC,...

Ticking off the scales at a mere 2.54 pounds, the Samsung Chromebook 3 is hard to miss on a list of lightweight laptops. It is a decent laptop with a price that is so low you might think you are in for a bad deal. However, a few days with the laptop and you will realize it is exactly what you need if you didn’t budget for a one.

The screen is sharp and brighter than what you will get with most Chromebooks at 259 nits. While the 4GB of RAM is nothing to smile about, you should be able to open multiple browser tabs and breeze through basic tasks without any issues.

There is also decent battery life for long usage without recharging. This is ideal if you are watching movies or browsing away from a power source. Just like the Microsoft Surface Go, this laptop also comes with an impressive Instagram ready webcam. You will get filters that you can apply when you go live on Instagram and Facebook or during video chats.

The Samsung Chromebook 3 comes with the standard Google Chrome OS for all Chromebooks. This means that you will largely be using web-based Google Services and some offline Android apps.

The only caveat is that the laptop might run warm after long usage especially when gaming or browsing. So, if you are using on your lap, you might want to keep your long pants on.

What We Like

  • Affordable price tag
  • Decent battery life
  • Bright screen
  • Great performance
  • Impressive and Fun webcam

What We Don’t Like

  • Lackluster audio performance
  • Runs warm when used for long hours
Samsung Chromebook 3, 11.6", 4GB RAM, 16GB eMMC,...
  • 11.6 inch ( 1366 x 768), 16:9
  • Intel Celeron Processor N3060, 1.6 GHz to 2.48 GHz
  • 4 GB Memory. Spill Resistant : Yes

What to Consider in a Good Lightweight Laptop Under $500

Like most cheap laptops, the best lightweight laptops under $500 won’t pack any robust packs. However, since you want to get the best out of your purchase, we think you make the following features a priority when looking for a portable laptop.

An opened lightweight laptop with a stand on the table

Weight

This is one of the top factors we considered while preparing this guide. Generally, the best lightweight laptops are under 3 pounds. There are a lot of things that contribute to a laptop’s weight. These include the screen, keyboard, and batteries. For a laptop to be lightweight, these features have to be stripped down to smaller sizes.

So, while you will have a laptop that you can easily use on the go, you should expect some throwbacks with ultraportables. For instance, smaller batteries could mean short battery lives while smaller keyboards are just not so comfortable to use.

Size

In most cases, the size of the laptop is directly proportional to its weight. While you can get some thin and lightweight 15-inches, this is not always the case. Plus, you will have to spend a bit to get a laptop that is both big and ultraportable.

So, since we are looking at laptops under $500 you will have to stick to a screen size of mostly 11 inches to get the best cheap ultraportable.

Lucky for you, most of the laptops in this guide are within this size range so all you have to do is pick one that clicks best with your budget and specific needs.

RAM

While RAM does to directly affect portability, it is an important feature to consider when buying a laptop.

The random access memory temporarily stores information of currently running programs so that the processor can easily access them.

This allows for not only faster processing but also multitasking.

This means that you can do more tasks concurrently without affecting the performance.

Three Lenovo Thinkpad laptops

With less than $500 you will most likely get 4GB of RAM or lower. If you are lucky, you might get 6GB or 8GB. Whatever the case, make sure that you don’t go under 4GB unless you want a gravely compromised performance.

Processor

The processor is the heart and brain of the laptop. It is responsible for everything you do from typing on a word processor to browsing on the web. For this reason, you need nothing but the best.

The best lightweight laptops under $500 are not known for good CPUs. You will most likely get an Intel Celeron or Premium. However, if you shop around long enough, you might find a good processor. If you get a Core i3, good for you. A Core i5 or Core i7 is even better but for this price point, you will most likely be stuck with a less than a top-hole processor.

Two women using a laptop together

Storage

It is unfortunate that most cheap ultraportables don’t come with enough storage. For instance, with Chromebooks, you will most likely get about 64GB if you are spending less than $500. However, if you look around long enough, you will likely find something better.

For this price point, anything above 6GB SSD or 500HDD will suffice. Look out for laptops with SSD storage since they tend to be faster and less noisy compared to HDDs.

Conclusion

While most ultraportables are expensive, you can easily get one that costs less than $500. You will compromise on some features like processor, storage, and screen size but get a portable laptop that is well within your budget. Make sure to factor in the features discussed above when making your purchase.

A lover of MacBook Air and the Dell XPS line of laptops, Liam has been researching and writing as a guest blogger for numerous websites for over 10 years. Now, he blogs about tech trends, PCs, laptops, gadgets, and other emerging gadgets on FancyAppliance.com.