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The 5 Best Cheap Gaming Laptops Under $500

Your number one weekly updated guide to the best gaming laptops available for under $500.

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Welcome to our weekly updated pro guide to the best cheap gaming laptops available for under $500 based on sales, pure hardware power, retailer discounts, professional reviews, and benchmarks.

Cheap gaming laptops are a rare breed and finding them online can be a real chore. We spend hours of research every week scouring the web for the best gaming laptops under $500 and list them right here for anyone on the hunt for a new mobile gaming laptop.

If you are new to computing we suggest reading our beginners laptop buying guide for a low down on some questions you should be asking yourself before you make your final decision.

Please Note: If you plan on playing newer games we’d strongly recommend investing something with better graphics performance in the sub-$600 range or higher as graphics performance in this price range will usually offer much better value for money. 

Top Picks >> Runners Up >> Honorable Mentions >>Under $600 >>Under $1000 >>

Best Gaming Laptop Under $500 – Top Pick

Although not as powerful as gaming laptops with a dedicated graphics card, sub-$500 gaming laptops feature top of the range integrated graphics which will allow for playable framerates on many older games.

1. Lenovo IdeaPad 3 82KT00AMUS 14-inch

Lenovo IdeaPad 3 82KT00AMUS 14-inch

For work and play, look no further than the Lenovo IdeaPad 3 14-inch laptop. At its current discounted price, it makes our top pick on this list of budget gaming laptops given its decent selection of hardware for those on a tight budget.

The Abyss Blue plastic casing, while cheap-feeling, has an understated, clean design that is both slim, measuring 0.78 inches thick, and light, weighing in at  3.11 lbs. The 14-inch 1920 x 1080 display is dim, however most have found that it is sufficiently bright for indoor use, and the fact that it is an IPS display means that it will offer decently wide viewing angles.

The IdeaPad 3 comes packed with decent hardware. The 256GB SSD will keep your machine feeling snappy and boot it will boot up in seconds. The 8GB of RAM and the decent 6-core AMD Ryzen 5 5500U processor run the show together with the AMD Radeon 7 graphics. You will run most older games at higher settings, while also allowing you to run some of the new titles at lower settings while hitting between 40 – 60 fps, including Fortnite, Valorant, and a few other popular titles.

AMD Ryzen 5 5500U \ Radeon Graphics \ 23 GAMES TESTED in 04/2021 (16GB RAM)

The decent mid-range components also make this well suited to professionals looking for a laptop for office use or for college students. Video and photo editing applications will run reasonably well, as well as those looking to run slightly more resource-hogging programs, such as design programs like CAD.

Pros

  • Excellent value for money
  • Lightweight design
  • Great day-to-day task handling
  • Snappy
  • Good battery life

Cons

  • Dim display
  • All-plastic design feels cheap
  • Runs hot
  • Flimsy feeling keyboard

Specs

  • 14 inch, 1920 x 1080 pixels (IPS)
  • Windows 10 Home
  • 8 hours battery life
  • 3.11 lbs

Summary & Score

Despite its shortcomings, the Lenovo IdeaPad 3 14-inch laptop is a reliable budget machine which has exceeded many users’ expectations with its, excellent value, snappy performance and solid battery life.

Lenovo IdeaPad 3 82KT00AMUS 14-inch
$609.99$509.00
Order Now
on Amazon.com
(as of 28-11-2021 19:17 UTC) Details

Top Gaming Laptops Under $500 – Runner-Up

2. HP 14-fq1021nr 14-inch

HP 14-fq1021nr 14-inch

AMD’s introduction to the laptop market has resulted in high quality and powerful components being fitted into machines that end up selling at incredibly decent prices. Take the HP 14-fq1021nr 14-inch laptop for example. It ships with an incredible 2.1GHz AMD Ryzen 5 5500U CPU, which features 6 cores and 12 threads; a generous 8GB of memory, which is fitted in one of the two slots; and integrated AMD Radeon graphics. While this isn’t as powerful as a machine like the Lenovo IdeaPad Gaming 3 that features a dedicated GPU, it will undoubtedly run old games well, and newer titles at reasonable settings, especially when fitted with an additional 8 GB of memory. An Amazon reviewer noted that once he added extra RAM, games such as Doom Eternal, Empire Sin, and Anno 1880 were all hitting between 30 – 60 fps at 1080p.

The laptop is compact, but the plastic body feels cheap and flimsy, so you would need to be cautious when you are on the go. At ‎12.76 x 8.86 x 0.71 inches and 3.77 lbs it is a great travel companion however, and the 7 hours of battery under light use is pretty decent for a machine that comes with these components. The 14-inch 1080p display is IPS, so you’re getting decent viewing angles.

New HP 14 Laptop with AMD Ryzen 5 Review! 🧨 In Games FPS, Memory Upgrade, Specs, Price

Port selection includes a blazing fast USB-C port, two USB 3.0 ports and an HDMI 1.4b for an additional monitor. The latest Wi-Fi 6 technology ensures that you’re getting the most up-to-date connectivity options. Its cooling is also said to be impressive, and even under stress manages to run at a decent temp.

Pros

  • Great priced for an AMD 5-series
  • Impressive performance
  • Respectable battery life
  • Good quality display
  • Decent cooling

Cons

  • Flimsy feeling
  • Quality control
  • Average keyboard quality

Specs

  • 14 inch, 1920 x 1080 pixels
  • Windows 10 Home
  • 9 hours battery life
  • 3.77 lbs

Summary & Score

Students and working professionals would be cautioned against overlooking the HP 14 14-fq1021nr, which packs quite a decent punch for a laptop of this size. This is in part made possible by the affordability of AMD’s powerful 6-core CPU.

HP 14-fq1021nr 14-inch
$549.99
Order Now
on Amazon.com
(as of 28-11-2021 19:17 UTC) Details

3. Acer Aspire 5 A515-56-36UT

Acer Aspire 5 A515-56-36UT 15.6-inch

The Acer Aspire 5 A515-56-36UT, a very popular budget laptop that carries up-to-date components in a reasonably compact 0.7-inch body, is well suited to the needs of kids or college students thanks to its durable design and awesome price-to-performance ratio.

The Aspire 5’s aluminum lid offers some level of protection against day-to-day bumps and houses a sharp 1080p 15.6-inch display. The matte display is said to be dim during daylight hours, and it is better suited to rooms that are poorly lit. It fortunately has pretty decent color saturation, which helps with improving the vibrancy of movies and photo viewing.

The laptop is said to be easily upgradable and weighs in at around 4 pounds, which is light enough for lugging around with you on any given day. The 11th generation Intel Core i3-1135G4 processor, 4GB of RAM, and the built in Intel UHD graphic card means it packs some power, and it will run processes such as video calling, MS Office applications, as well streaming and basic video and photo editing fairly well. Additionally, it delivers a decent gaming experience too, with the reviewer below doing a thorough analysis of its gaming performance. Amazon does offer a range of customization for this model, so should you require more power, the options are always there.

Acer Aspire 5 A515-56-36UT Slim Laptop Review! 🤯 Gaming, Specs, RAM Upgrades, Cons, Pros

The 128GB SSD storage is decent considering that most popular laptops in this price range have storage options of 32 or 64 GB, and the fact that it is a 128GB NVMe SSD means your laptop and programs will boot up in a matter of seconds, and in combination with the Intel Core i3-1135G4 processor and 4GB of Ram, your laptop will be highly responsive.

The chiclet full-sized keyboard with a numpad on the right-hand side should accommodate even the largest hands comfortably, and the backlighting allows you to use it in dimly lit areas. While Acer claims the laptop has 8 hours of battery life, customers have noted that it only pushes around 5 hours on a single charge. The built-in speakers are also said to be too soft for some users, however, a bluetooth speaker could mitigate this issue. Additionally, port selection is solid. You get three USB-A ports, a USB-C port, as well as an Ethernet and HDMI port for connecting an external display.

Pros

  • Responsive performance
  • Solid price-to-performance ratio
  • Great port selection
  • Decent storage considering the price

Cons

  • Poor built-in speaker volume
  • Dim display

Specs

  • 15.6 inch, 1920 x 1080 pixels (TN)
  • Windows 10 S
  • 8 hours battery life
  • 4.19 lbs

Summary & Score

The Acer Aspire 5 A515-56-36UT houses components that allow day-to-tasks to be carried without much effort, making it suited to power and casual users alike, however, the display could be improved and the built-in speakers leave a lot to be desired.

Acer Aspire 5 A515-56-36UT 15.6-inch
$399.00$379.00
Order Now
on Amazon.com
(as of 28-11-2021 19:17 UTC) Details

4. Dell Inspiron 15 3000 (2021 model)

What makes the Dell Inspiron 15 3000 stand out in comparison to its competitors is its large 512 GB of storage space and its 16 GB of DDR4 RAM, which when compared to our top pick, the Lenovo IdeaPad 3 14-inch that only comes with 8GB of RAM, is quite a step up. This means that you will have a workhorse laptop well capable of multitasking, making it perfect for the modern day productivity-orientated individual. The slower Intel N4020 Dual-Core Processor is a slight drawback, and will stifle the laptops overall potential somewhat, however at this price you will be hard pressed to find a laptop with better value. Games requiring more intensive CPU usage will suffer, and therefore casual gaming will fare better on this system. Older games such as DOTA 2 and WOW should run fine on lower settings, and even modern titles should run at lower settings on lower resolutions.

The laptop’s lightweight design makes it very portable, weighing in at 3.64 pounds. On top of this, its dimension of 14.11 x 9.27 x 0.74 inches (LWH) means it’ll easily slip into a backpack and go unnoticed. The case is made of all plastic and some reviewers directed criticism towards its cheap feel. The large 15.6-inch display is only 1366 x 768 pixels, which is disappointing given that most laptops in this guide come with 1080p displays. However, the other options don’t come with 16GB of RAM and 512GB of storage, which gives this machine an edge in performance.

You get a full-sized keyboard that many have said is okay, but it does suffer from some flex. Its port stock include one USB 2.0 Gen 1 port, two USB 3.2 Gen 1 Ports, one HDMI and the usual headphone/mic combo jack. You should get around 8 hours on a single charge, but expect that to decrease under load, especially during gaming.

Pros

  • 16GB of RAM
  • 512 GB of storage
  • Lightweight and portable
  • Large display

Cons

  • Low resolution display
  • Underpowered CPU
  • Feels cheap

Specs

  • 15.6 inch, 1366 x 768 pixels (TN)
  • Windows 10 Home
  • 8.5 hours battery life
  • 4.07 lbs

Summary & Score

The Dell Inspiron 15 3000’s entry-level CPU is a noteworthy drawback, holding back an otherwise decent machine. It comes with plenty of storage space and a whopping 16GB of RAM, which is unheard of in this price range.

Dell Inspiron 15 3000 (2021 model)
$529.00
Order Now
on Amazon.com
(as of 28-11-2021 19:17 UTC) Details

5. Acer Aspire 5 Slim A515-43-R19L 15.6 inch

The Acer Aspire 5 Slim A515-43-R19L is a bestselling budget laptop with a Full-HD high quality IPS display and high quality audio engine as well as AMD Vega 3 Mobile Graphics.

Unfortunately, it’s integrated AMD graphics card won’t be able to handle newer games that are more demanding. That said, many top tier titles from 2017 or earlier will be able to run fine at acceptable framerates medium settings at 1366×768 resolution. These include popular games such as Dota 2, League of Legends and CS:GO. For more playable titles be sure to check framerates at the link below.

Best 2019 Budget Laptop? Acer Aspire 5 with AMD Ryzen Review – A515-43-R19L

If you are happy playing older titles, then this Acer Aspire 5 Slim model has the best looking screen you can get for the price. To boot it features a low key premium lightweight design including a backlit keyboard.

On the down side, some reviewers were critical of a below average touchpad (no problem for gaming on a mouse) and slightly shorter than advertised battery life.

Overall, if screen quality is top of your gaming requirements and you’d like to enjoy older games, the A515-43-R19L will get the job done. Otherwise you may be better off looking at some more pricey alternatives for gaming.

Pros

  • High quality IPS display with good contrast
  • Lightweight design with aluminium top cover
  • Backlit keyboard

Cons

  • Graphics only suitable for older games
  • Flimsy touchpad
  • Limited storage space out the box

Specs

  • 15.6 inch, 1920 x 1080 pixels (IPS)
  • Windows 10 Home
  • 7.5 hours battery life
  • 3.97 lbs

Summary & Score

The Acer Aspire 5 Slim A515-43-R19L provides enough graphics to run for older games on low settings and snappy Windows performance at a bargain price.

Acer Aspire 5 Slim A515-43-R19L 15.6-inch
See Price at Retailer
Order Now
on Amazon.com
(as of 28-11-2021 19:17 UTC) Details

Additional Resources

Recommended:

If you want an overview of some other options our best gaming laptops overall  guide offers some more options to suit any budget. We also strongly recommend checking our gaming laptops under $600 guide which usually offers laptops with substantial gains in gaming performance.  Digging deeper more power users may will want to check out our guides to the best gaming laptops under $1000, the best gaming laptops under $1500, our, if you can afford it, our guide to the best VR-Ready and high-end gaming laptops featuring gaming laptops powerful enough to max out more demanding games.

If you are on a mean budget then our best gaming laptops under $300 guide may also help, though we strongly recommend upping your budget if you plan on playing any newer games. If you aren’t a gamer then you’ll want to head over to our standard guide to laptops under $500 for non-gaming laptops or forever hold your peace.

If you are still not sure on getting a gaming laptop or a desktop gaming pc, our guide to the best cheap gaming desktops over on our sister site DesktopNinja may also help.

Gaming Laptops Under $500 – Honorable Mentions

6. ASUS VivoBook 15 F512DA-EB51 15.6-Inch

The ASUS VivoBook 15 F512DA-EB51 is another bestselling new release that offers an AMD Ryzen 5 3500U, the best AMD CPU ever released at its price, including the again the AMD Vega 8 integrated graphics for one of the most powerful integrated graphics systems on the market.

While it’s impossible to imagine a manufacturer like ASUS throwing in such amazing hardware at this price without cutting a few corners, the raw power of this machine cannot be understated especially when compared to most competing laptop at its price.

The catch, however, comes in the form of possible performance issues related to hardware overheating reported by some users. That said, we strongly recommend investing in a laptop cooling pad if you decide to go with this laptop as without it, you may find your hardware is throttled. The tradeoff for potential heat related issues is clearly in the VivoBook’s extremely stylish design, which includes razer thin bezels and good build quality along with a strong portability factor, weighing in at only 3.5 pounds.

Full specs include a 258 GB SSD harddrive, AMD Quad Core r5-3500u CPU, AMD Radeon Vega 8 Graphics and 8GB of DDR4 RAM. One important consideration worth noting is that this VivoBook has only one available RAM slot, which may make upgrading your RAM slightly more costly than other models.

Overall if raw performance is what you are after and you also plan on using your laptop on the go with a catchy design to show off around town, the ASUS VivoBook 15 F512DA-EB51 really takes the cake, though be sure to take into account the potential pitfalls of overheating.

Pros

  • Powerful value for money hardware
  • Radeon Vega 8 graphics
  • Good build quality
  • Stylish design with thin bezels
  • Extremely portable

Cons

  • Reports of performance degradation due to overheating
  • Noisy fans under load
  • No empty RAM slots for upgrades

Specs

  • 15.6 inch, 1920 x 1080 pixels (IPS)
  • Windows 10 Home
  • 3.5 lbs

Summary & Score

If you are looking for value for money hardware and are willing to invest in a laptop cooling pad to keep this laptop cool, its the hardware is extremely powerful for the price in an extremely stylish package to boot.

ASUS VivoBook 15 F512DA-EB51 15.6-Inch
See Price at Retailer
Order Now
on Amazon.com
(as of 28-11-2021 19:17 UTC) Details

7. Lenovo IdeaPad 3 81W0003QUS 14-inch

The Lenovo Ideapad 3 81W0003QUS sports an AMD’s Ryzen 5 3500U CPU and is currently our number one pick for the best gaming laptop under $500. The top feature of the Ryzen 5 3500U is its integrated Radeon RX Vega 8 graphics which offers excellent performance compared to competing Intel integrated graphics – in most cases as much as double the performance and frames per second when rendering games.

This is a breath of fresh air in a market dominated by lackluster integrated graphics performance. Expect to play games such as the Elder Scrolls Skyrim on high graphics settings at 1366 x768 resolution – no small feat for such a portable laptop. That said, don’t get your hopes up if you would like to play more modern games – if you do, we’d strongly recommend a gaming laptop under $600 or higher with a dedicated graphics card (more on these options below). Even the best integrated graphics on the market won’t be able to play most modern titles properly, there are a ton of the best old PC games these laptops will play without breaking a sweat.

The Ideapad 3 isn’t just sporting a powerful CPU and solid entry level graphics though. It also weighs only 3.3 lbs and has a professional design finish that will work well at work or school. This means not only will it get your gaming done, but it ticks all the right boxes to be your all-in-one mobile workstation too.

This $450 Dollar Laptop Rocks! – Ryzen 5 3500u – Lenovo Ideapad 3 Review

On the downside, some reviewers were critical of its flimsy touchpad. If you are a serious gamer you will probably want to be using a mouse most of the time anyway, but it could still be annoying in some situations. Another thing worth noting is a slightly smaller 14-inch display which also was reported as having relatively poor viewing angles which may not be suited for outdoor use or environments with a lot of glare.

All in all, despite a few minor shortcomings, it’s seriously hard to argue with the Ideapad 3’s powerful hardware and Lenovo’s reliable track record of high quality builds, making this Idea Pad 3 our definitive top pick for the best cheap gaming laptop under $500 of the moment.

Pros

  • Powerful value for money AMD hardware
  • Radeon RX Vega 8 graphics
  • Professional design
  • Lightweight and portable

Cons

  • Flimsy touchpad
  • Poor viewing angles

Specs

  • AMD Ryzen 5 3500U 2.1 GHz
  • AMD Radeon RX Vega 8 [View Framerates]
  • 8GB DDR4 RAM
  • 256GB SSD
  • 14 inch, 1920 x 1080 pixels
  • Windows 10 Home
  • 3.3 lbs

Summary & Score

The Lenovo Ideapad 3 81W0003QUS provides very powerful hardware for the price and only a few compromises, making it an affordable all-round laptop capable of light gaming and handling day to day tasks with ease.

Lenovo IdeaPad 3 81W0003QUS 14-inch
See Price at Retailer
Order Now
on Amazon.com
(as of 28-11-2021 19:16 UTC) Details

Buying Guide & FAQ

Before we continue we recommend that you read our laptop buying guide which is perfect for beginners and experienced gamers alike. It will help you get the lowdown on what you’ll need to know to make the smartest decision for on a gaming laptop for your needs.

Pro Laptop Buying Guide

Should I look for integrated or dedicated graphics for under $500?

One thing that might be tricky at this price level in the budget gaming laptop market is trying to choose between laptops with integrated graphics, which comes part of the CPU, or dedicated (discrete) graphics, which uses dedicated hardware to power your laptops graphics.

The answer is that dedicated graphics card is almost always better if cost will allow it. Unfortunately, you will very rarely find a gaming laptop under $500 with a dedicated graphics card. Only gaming laptops for under $600 or higher will offer dedicated cards so if you can afford it we highly recommend looking at one of our other guides.

Lately CPU manufacturers have also been improving integrated graphics enough that they can still be a viable option, though you will be limited to playing only older games. If going the integrated route lookout for AMD Ryzen CPU’s which offer the best in-class integrated performance.

How do I upgrade the RAM on my laptop?

Often budget gaming laptops will come with a minimum amount of RAM but offer easy upgrade options which are highly recommended. Upgrading RAM may seem like something out of a science fiction movie to some, but upgrading your RAM is actually very easy on most laptops and usually only takes a few minutes. Read our guide on boosting laptop performance by adding RAM for full notes and instructions on what to expect and to see if an upgrade is possible for your laptop.

How to Add RAM to Your Laptop

How do I upgrade the hard drive on my laptop?

Upgrading your laptop hard drive is slightly harder than the RAM but is still relatively easy on most laptop models. What’s very important is to find out if there is an extra hard drive bay available for a new hard drive, or if you’ll need to take out your current one and replace it which also involves reinstalling Windows.

Some laptops will have a spare slot available, and older laptops with DVD drives can swap out the DVD drive for an additional hard drive caddy on most laptop models. The benefit of course is a lot of extra space for your files, and in the case of laptop SSD hard drive upgrades, a large boost in loading times and overall performance too.

Conclusion

This brings our list of the top cheap gaming laptops under $500 to a close. For those with a few more dollars to spend be sure to head over to our other guides covering the best gaming laptops for more powerful machines that will up the ante and take your gaming experience to the next level. Check back soon for more awesome laptop deals and gaming glory.

These affordable gaming laptops may not be able to play the most modern games on the highest settings, but that doesn’t detract from the glory of being able to game on the move without coming even close to breaking the bank. Either way relative to the amount of games out there (golden oldies and recent titles included) you’d be surprised how the amount of games you can play stacks up against those that you can’t. These top gaming laptops will cruise through popular games like Minecraft and DOTA 2 without breaking a sweat as well as many newer titles.

More Gaming Laptops >>

By LaptopNinja Editorial Team

The LaptopNinja editorial team he is dedicated to helping you choose the right laptop for your needs and spreading knowledge about everything tech. Founded in 2012, the LaptopNinja team of motley tech specialists spend countless hours every week scouring the best deals across the web to help save you time and money based on more than half a decade of experience researching and recommended the top value for money and high performing laptops on the planet.

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