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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 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
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(as of 24-06-2021 19:12 UTC) Details

Top Gaming Laptops Under $500 – Runner-Up

2. 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
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(as of 24-06-2021 19:15 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

3. 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
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(as of 24-06-2021 19:15 UTC) Details

4. Acer Aspire E 15 E5-576G-5762 15.6-inch

Acer Aspire E 15 E5-576G-5762 15.6-inch laptop
If you are willing to save up a little bit extra for the best gaming experience possible the Acer Aspire E 15 E5-576G-5762 15.6 is one of our top gaming laptops under $600. It features a modern NVIDIA GeForce MX150 dedicated graphics card and an Intel i5-8250U coupled with 8GB of RAM which will run most heavy tasks with ease.

The dedicated MX150 is Nvidias latest generation budget mobile GPU with improved performance over the previous generation 940MX.  Multitasking will also not be much of problem, as the RAM will allow you to run quite a few applications and browser windows at once, though an upgrade to 16GB of RAM is also possible (see our buying guide below). It comes with a somewhat small SSD, affording you only 256GB of storage, but you can always add an additional SSD or HDD if needed.

Although the E15 comes with a Full-HD IPS display, some have noted that it is fairly dim compared to higher end displays. Regardless, you will get decent viewing angles and the matte finish will prevent any potential glare. It has a solid battery life of around 8 hours and 30 minutes,  with Acer even claiming up to 15 hours of battery life, though heavier applications and games will drain its battery life a lot faster. The NVIDIA GeForce MX150 is by no means a beast compared to higher end cards, and most modern AAA titles will struggle somewhat, but lowering the graphics will afford you some playability even on next-gen titles.

Both the keyboard and trackpad have been given a thumbs up from most who own this machine. There was a lot of critical commentary delivered on quality control, with many users receiving defective machines. While this may be only a select few reviewers, it is always worth mentioning to make sure you are eligible for a free return. If you are looking for a budget gaming laptop with a powerful graphics card and rock solid battery life at a great price, the E 15 E5-576G-5762 is one of a kind recommendation.

Pros

  • Good Intel i5-8250U CPU
  • Decent 8GB of RAM
  • SSD
  • Full-HD Display
  • Price

Cons

  • Dim screen
  • Potential quality control issues
  • Limited storage capacity

Specs

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

Summary & Score

The Acer Aspire E 15 E5-576G-5762 15.6-inch laptop is well priced and comes with a good CPU and fast SSD, but the storage capacity is fairly limited, and the matte Full- HD screen may not be for everyone.

Acer Aspire E 15 E5-576G-5762 15.6-inch
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(as of 28-10-2018 02:04 -07:00) Details

5. Acer Aspire 5 A515-51G-53V6 15.6-inch

Acer Aspire 5 A515-51G-53V6 15.6-inch laptop

Another Acer Aspire laptop, the Acer Aspire 5 A515-51G-53V6 is also a GeForce MX150 powered budget gaming option and one of the latest in Acer’s Aspire range in 2018, also featuring an 8th generation Intel processor.

Full specs included a 1.60Ghz Intel Core i5-8250U CPU, 8GB of DDR4 RAM and a 256GB SSD hard drive. The biggest update versus the E 15 models is that the A515 is almost a full pound lighter, making it a better option for anyone who finds themselve on the move more often than not.

As with the E 15, the addition of a backlit keyboard is a nice touch for such a bargain machine, and users also reported a relatively good battery life.

At only 4.4lbs, the design is lightweight enough to be carried around as a school or work laptop, though don’t expect it to be as thin as the latest ultrabooks.

The GeForce MX150, while doing an honorable job for it’s price, will still struggle with newer titles making this laptop idea for playing slightly older games or less graphically intensive games.

For around $200 more, the performance increase is quite significant, so if you are eyeing out newer titles it may be worth spending a bit of extra time to add to your savings.

Pros

  • Great specs for the price
  • Backlit keyboard
  • Sleek design
  • Decent battery life off load
  • More portable compared to previous Acer Aspire models with MX150

Cons

  • Dim screen
  • Average touchpad
  • MX150 will still struggle with the latest games

Specs

  • 15.6 inch, 1920 x 1080 pixels
  • Windows 10 Home
  • 7 hours battery life
  • 4.4 lbs

Summary & Score

The Acer Aspire 5 A515-51G-53V6 offers a GeForce MX150 perfect budget gamers at a good price without making very many compromises along the way.

Acer Aspire 5 A515-51G-53V6 15.6-inch
$599.99
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(as of 24-06-2021 19:18 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 are dedicated to helping you choose the right laptop for your needs and spreading knowledge about everything tech. Founded in 2012, our motley crew of 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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