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Best Work Laptop Under $500 [2020 Review]

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You don’t always need an expensive laptop to boost your productivity. Some of the best work laptop under $500 pack powerful features to help you quickly finish your tasks without breaking the bank. If you are looking for work laptops that won’t blow your budget, this is the right guide for you. 

We have done our research and identified a few laptops you can buy for less than $500 and still get solid performance, sleek designs, long battery life and a decent dose of portability. 

Our Top Laptops for Work Under $500

After doing our research, reading customer reviews and comparing many options, we have identified the following work laptops as the most affordable. We prioritized laptops with features that are most essential to the workplace so you can enjoy optimum productivity. 

Brand
Best Overall
Acer Aspire 5
Best for the Money
ASUS Chromebook Flip C434
Best Cheap Pick
Dell Inspiron 3000
Product
Acer Aspire 5 Slim Laptop, 15.6 inches Full HD IPS...
ASUS Chromebook Flip C434 2-In-1 Laptop, 14" Full...
Dell Inspiron 15 3000 Series 15.6 Inch Laptop...
Processor
3.5 GHz Ryzen 3 2200U
3.4 GHz Core M Family
2.00 GHz Intel
RAM
4 GB DDR4
4 GB DDR3L
4 GB SD
Rating
Best Overall
Brand
Acer Aspire 5
Product
Acer Aspire 5 Slim Laptop, 15.6 inches Full HD IPS...
Processor
3.5 GHz Ryzen 3 2200U
RAM
4 GB DDR4
Rating
Price
Best for the Money
Brand
ASUS Chromebook Flip C434
Product
ASUS Chromebook Flip C434 2-In-1 Laptop, 14" Full...
Processor
3.4 GHz Core M Family
RAM
4 GB DDR3L
Rating
Price
Best Cheap Pick
Brand
Dell Inspiron 3000
Product
Dell Inspiron 15 3000 Series 15.6 Inch Laptop...
Processor
2.00 GHz Intel
RAM
4 GB SD
Rating
Price

Best Overall Laptop for Work Under $500: Acer Aspire 5 

Acer Aspire 5 Slim Laptop, 15.6 inches Full HD IPS...

It’s hard to miss the Acer Aspire 5 on a list of the top affordable laptops. This laptop offers an admirable balance between price and functionality. Despite its low price, it packs powerful technology that makes it a great fit for the workplace. 

These include an AMD Ryzen 3 3200U processor, 4GB of RAM, a Full HD IPS display, a backlit keyboard, and Vega 3 graphics. 

For a small price, you get a portable design, long battery life and a host of connectivity options. The large 15.6-inches FHD display is great for working on, especially if you prefer screen size and clarity. This is also a good option for creatives who are just getting their feet wet and looking to upgrade in the future. 

While the AMD Ryzen 3 processor and 4GB of RAM might seem like a weak combination for top performance, they are pretty good for this price point. If you want more power, you will have to upgrade to pricier options. Otherwise, since you are on a tight budget, the Acer Aspire 5 makes for a great pick in the meantime. 

What We Like 

  • A decent AMD Ryzen 3 3200U processor and 4GB of RAM for fast performance while at work. 
  • The 128GB SSD storage is a good deal for this price point. It will boost the laptop’s performance and enable you to store enough work files. 
  • The long battery life will make sure that you don’t carry your charger everywhere you go. 
  • The 15.6-inch Full HD display will come in handy for creative professionals. 
  • There are many ports for quickly transferring important work files between your laptop and other devices like your smartphone. 
  • Backlit keyboard for quickly completing typing tasks even when in dim environments.

What We Don’t Like 

  • The touchpad is clumsy and slightly unresponsive.  
  • It overheats when used for long hours making it a poor choice if you have a lot of work to do.                                  
Acer Aspire 5 Slim Laptop, 15.6 inches Full HD IPS...
  • AMD Ryzen 3 3200U Dual Core Processor (Up to 3.5GHz); 4GB DDR4 Memory; 128GB PCIe NVMe SSD
  • 15.6 inches full HD (1920 x 1080) widescreen LED backlit IPS display; AMD Radeon Vega 3 Mobile...
  • 1 USB 3.1 Gen 1 port, 2 USB 2.0 ports & 1 HDMI port with HDCP support

Best Work Laptop for the Money: ASUS Chromebook Flip C434

ASUS Chromebook Flip C434 2-In-1 Laptop, 14' Full...

If you are looking for a cheap convertible for work, we recommend the ASUS Chromebook Flip C434. This 14-inch laptop comes with some decent features for a low price. An Intel Core M3-8100Y Processor powers this model, in combination with 4GB of RAM, both are good enough for the money. 

If you store a lot of files at work, you might find the 64GB eMMC Storage a bit lacking. However, you can work around this compromise by using cloud or external storage. Alternatively, you can invest in a laptop with more storage such as Acer Aspire 5 if you really need to save a lot of files. 

The all-metal chassis housing ASUS Chromebook Flip’s technology provides a decent amount of durability. This makes it a good choice for workers in slightly hazardous work environments since the chassis can withstand a lot of abuse. 

Just like the Acer Aspire 5, this laptop comes with a Full HD display. It is, however, smaller at 14-inches so if you want a bigger display, you might want to consider the Aspire 5. It also has a backlit keyboard with a simple layout and full-sized well-spaced keys. 

The FHD 4-Way NanoEdge touchscreen display allows for great flexibility for workers who want closer interaction with the screen. What is more, the 2-in-1 design allows you to use the laptop as a tablet and work on the go. 

What We Like 

  • It has a split-screen functionality that allows for multitasking.
  • The backlit keyboard is great for completing typing tasks in dim conditions. 
  • It has a long battery life making it a great option for those who like working for long hours without recharging. 
  • The 14-inch 1080p touchscreen display is vivid and interactive. 

What We Don’t Like 

  • It comes with only 64GB storage which is insufficient for workers who have large files to store. 
  • The touchpad is fussy and slightly hard to work with. 
ASUS Chromebook Flip C434 2-In-1 Laptop, 14" Full...
  • Plus Chromebooks offer fast performance, smooth video calls and ample storage.
  • The 14 inch Full HD Touchscreen NanoEdge display has a durable 360 degree hinge that can be used to...
  • Powered by the Intel Core m3-8100Y Processor (4M Cache, up to 3.4 GHz) for super-fast and snappy...

Best Cheap Work Laptop Under $500: Dell Inspiron 3000 

Dell Inspiron 15 3000 Series 15.6 Inch Laptop...

The Dell Inspiron 3000 is so cheap it’s easy to think it has nothing concrete to offer. However, this laptop is a competitive performer for workers operating on a flimsy budget.

It comes with most of the features found on the Acer Aspire 5 and Asus Chromebook Flip. These include 4GB of RAM, high-quality display and a decent processor.

A powerful Intel Core i3 5005U 2 GHz Processor powers the Inspiron 3000 along with a 1.1Ghz performance speed and 4MB cache memory. It has 4GB DDR4 RAM which will enable it to breeze through basic tasks like browsing, using word processors, reading and watching videos.

The 15.6” HD display with LED Backlighting is a slight step back from what you get with the Acer Aspire 5 and Asus Chromebook Flip. The display is a bit dim at best.

However, for this price point, it is hard to complain. You will still get a satisfying viewing experience as long as you are doing any next-level creative work.

As expected from any budget laptop, the general performance is underwhelming. The lack of an SSD storage makes the laptop slower compared to competitors in the same price range.

That being said, this model can work for you in a hurry, while you save enough money to upgrade for a more powerful model. 

What We Like

  • The long battery life makes this laptop great for workers who don’t like recharging frequently.
  • Decent Intel Core i3 5005U 2 GHz Processor for quickly completing basic tasks at the workplace.
  • Good build quality for long-lasting use
  • Many ports for transferring files between the laptop and other devices

What We Don’t Like

  • Subpar performance. Not a good option if you do performance-dependent tasks at work.
  • It doesn’t have SSD storage. The 500GB hard drive storage is unpleasantly slow.  
  • Slightly heavy. It may not be a good option for workers who commute daily.
Dell Inspiron 15 3000 Series 15.6 Inch Laptop...
  • Intel Core i3 5005U 2 GHz Processor
  • 4 GB DDR3L SDRAM; Integrated Intel HD Graphics
  • 500 GB HDD Storage; Tray load DVD Drive (Reads and Writes to DVD/CD)

What to Consider When Buying a Laptop for Work Under $500

Buying a laptop for work is slightly different from when buying one for everyday use. You need to be more careful and focus on features that boost your productivity at work other than unnecessary bells and whistles. Since we are looking at laptops less than $500, you might not enjoy top-hole features found in pricier models.

Group of people in a meeting using their best work laptop

If you don’t know what to look for, we have identified the following features as a top priority when buying a cheap work laptop.

Operating System

For this price point, you will most likely be choosing between Windows and the Chrome OS. It’s hard to find a Mac selling for under $500 unless you look for refurbished models.

The Windows 10 OS has become a standard for most work laptops. Innumerable laptops are using Windows so, shopping around for cheap options is going to be a walk in the park.

Windows 10 packs a lot of productivity features that make it the perfect OS for work. These include Cortana which can perform a variety of tasks like scheduling appointments and Task View for those who like multitasking. This OS is also easy to use compared to the OS X and Chrome OS since most people are familiar with it.

The Chrome OS is a good fit for workers and business people who mostly work online since Chromebooks don’t allow downloading programs. It supports cloud-based productivity programs such as Microsoft Office and Adobe Creative Cloud.   

Design

Contrary to popular belief, choosing the right laptop design for your work is important. The kind of design you need will vary based on the type of work you do. Here are some questions to ask yourself before deciding which design to go with.

Do You Need a Convertible or a Traditional Laptop? 

Depending on the level of flexibility you are looking for, you can either go with the mainstream laptop design or a 2-in-1. If you mostly work on a desk, you will be better off with a traditional design.

However, if you move around a lot while using the laptop, a convertible offers more flexibility.

How Often Do You Type? 

If you use the keyboard most of the time, you will want to go with a comfortable high-quality design.

In this case, bigger laptops are better since smaller ones have uncomfortable keyboards. 

Woman using her laptop for work

Look for a familiar keyboard layout with well-spaced keys and decent travel.

Two of our three recommendations have comfortable backlit keyboards so you can choose either of them based on your budget.

Will You Be Working on the Go? 

If you want a laptop that you can use while traveling, go for a portable design. In some cases, you will have to sacrifice display and keyboard size. Consider light and thin laptops since they are easy to pack and move around with.

CPU

Any good laptop for work should have a competitive processor. This is the heart and brain of the computer so making it a top priority is worth it. However, since you are looking for cheap work laptops, you’ll get processors that are only good enough for basic tasks. 

If you need faster processors, you will have to invest in pricier laptops. For a laptop under $500, you’ll mostly get an Intel Core i3 and its alternatives. These are good enough for handling spreadsheets, browsing, running programs like QuickBooks and typing on word processors.

Hard Drive Storage and RAM

Man drinking a cup of coffee while using his laptop for work

More RAM translates into a faster performance and more storage means more space to store important work files. 

The Random Access Memory temporarily stores data of programs that are currently in use. This makes it easy for the processor to access them, thus faster performance. Avoid any laptops with less than 4GB RAM since they are painfully slow.

Storage can either come in the form of Solid-state drives (SSD) like in the Acer Aspire 5 or Hard disk drive (HDD) like in Dell Inspiron 3000. While SSDs are more expensive, they are faster than HDDs and come with most modern laptops. For a work laptop, we recommend not less than 64GB SSD storage or 500GB HDD storage.

Conclusion 

Buying the best laptop for work when you are on a budget is not easy. We hope this guide helps you find one that strikes the right balance between price and usability at the workplace. 

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.