The best laptops under £500 to buy today in 2020

T3's picks for best laptops under £500 – get the perfect, affordable laptop for you right now

Best laptops under £500 to buy 2020
(Image credit: Asus)

T3's best laptops under £500 guide has been created specifically to help make identifying a cheap but good laptop as easy as possible. All the systems in this list manage to astutely balance portability, power and price, and we're confident that they won't disappoint.

Because, truth be told, while spending the most you possibly can on a laptop is always a smart idea, as it often buys you extra features or longevity, today even cheap laptops like these in this list are really, really strong computing companions. And in a time where more people are finding themselves working from home, having a great laptop to call on can make all the difference. 

Unless you have a high-end or very niche usage case requirements, budget laptops offer all the same basic functionality that more premium systems do, but they do so for much less money. Why spend thousands if you just need a solid system for web browsing, shopping, emails and office suite work?

And the really good news is that almost all the top laptops makers now have really great offerings at the sub-£500 level. From Dell to HP, Lenovo to Asus, and even on to Microsoft and Acer, shoppers really are now spoilt for choice when it comes round to bagging a cheap laptop.

What follows, therefore, is our top picks of the best cheap laptops you can buy today. We've not only supplied selections at various price points, from a couple of hundred right up to £500, but we've also picked systems to cover the OS spectrum, too. Finally, we've also included some left-field choices that we feel are perfect for light computing.

Best laptops under £500 quick look

1. Asus VivoBook 15
2. Acer Aspire 5
3. Lenovo IdeaPad 3
4. Microsoft Surface Go
5. Asus C433 Chromebook
6. HP Stream 14
7. Dell Inspiron 14 3000
8. Acer CB3-431 Chromebook
9. Lenovo IdeaPad S145
10. Acer Aspire 3
11. Acer Swift 3
12. Apple iPad

Best laptops under £500 on Black Friday

Black Friday sales are longer than ever this year, stretching out from mid-October right up until Christmas. And, the truth is, many of the best laptops under £500 in this guide will be discounted in the Black Friday sales.

It therefore pays to start deal-hunting as early as possible, as the best Black Friday deals are not just confined to a few days in 2020, but spread out over a couple of months. These top deals are being dropped online, too, for obvious reasons, as more people than ever find themselves working from home.

Amazon Black Friday dealsCurrys Black Friday dealsArgos Black Friday deals and John Lewis Black Friday deals are great ways to bag top hardware for even cheaper than normal.

The best laptops under £500

Best laptops under £500 Asus VivoBook 15

The Asus VivoBook 15 is the best laptop under £500 for most people.

(Image credit: Asus)

1. Asus VivoBook 15

The best laptop under £500 for most people

Specifications
CPU: Intel Core i3 1005G1
GPU: Intel UHD 620
Screen: 15.6-inch Full HD
RAM: 4GB
SSD: 256GB SSD NVMe
OS: Windows 10
Reasons to buy
+Spacious, tiny bezel screen+Strong internal hardware+Full fat Windows 10 OS+Webcam included

The best laptop under £500 for most people, right now, is the stunning Asus VivoBook 15. Not only does this laptop come with a capacious display that, thanks to tiny bezels, seems far bigger than it actually is, but backs up those looks with a strong all-round hardware and software showing.

You get a full-fat version of Windows 10, of course, and that is powered by a combination of Intel Core i3 CPU, Intel UHD 620 GPU, 4GB of RAM and a 256GB SSD NVMe. Oh, and for those who find themselves taking more video calls and meetings than before, the VivoBook 15 also delivers an integrated webcam.

Solid battery life, a decent selection of ports, and an included 1-year warranty complete the package. For the money this is a great system, and in T3's eyes one of the very best laptops under £500 on the market today.

Best laptops under £500 Acer Aspire 5 A1515-44

The Acer Aspire 5 is the best premium laptop under £500 you can buy today.

(Image credit: Acer)

2. Acer Aspire 5

The best premium laptop under £500

Specifications
CPU: AMD Ryzen 5 4500U Processor
GPU: Intel UHD 620
RAM: 8GB
Storage: 512GB
Screen: 15.6-inch, 1920 x 1080
Dimensions: 17.9 x 363.4 x 250.5 mm (H x W x D)
Weight: 1.9 kg
Reasons to buy
+Affordable+Strong hardware spec+Good battery life+Webcam included

There's plenty of reasons why the Acer Aspire 5 sits so high in our best laptops under £500 buying guide, and its affordable cost is just the first.

It also delivers a really strong and capable all-round specification, including an AMD Ryzen 5 4500U, Intel UHD 620 GPU, 8GB of RAM and a 512GB SSD. This is combines to deliver zippy performance in all light and medium computing tasks, and when combined with the Aspire 5's 15.6-inch, 1080p IPS LCD screen, delivers plenty in terms of entertainment and gaming clout, too.

Battery life tops out at a respectable 10 hours, too, and it has a strong selection of ports as well, meaning you can hook it up to a larger monitor or TV. You also get an integrated HD webcam, which is perfect for video meetings.

Overall, the Acer Aspire 5 is a really strong all-round laptop that should be high up on anyone's shopping list if they're playing with around £500.

Best laptops under £500

The Lenovo IdeaPad is a budget bargain, and one of the best laptops under £500.

(Image credit: Lenovo)

3. Lenovo IdeaPad 3

For portability and affordability, the Lenovo IdeaPad 3 is a great cheap laptop

Specifications
CPU: Intel Celeron 1.1GHz
RAM: 4GB
Screen: 11.6 Inches
Storage: 32GB
Reasons to buy
+Incredibly affordable+Light and compact

If you are looking for a cheap laptop for light computing experiences and don't need a large screen, then the Lenovo IdeaPad 3 is a great choice.

It's compact 11.6-inch screen makes it incredibly bag friendly, as too does its weight, which is only 1.12 kilograms.

This system is a Chromebook, meaning that it runs Google's online-focussed operating system, which is designed to be used while online. Google's G-Suite of services like Google Calendar, Google Docs and GMAIL are perfect partners.

Despite its budget spec this ligthweight OS means that it runs very fast and with built-in HD Audio and a crisp 11.6-inch screen, it still offers plenty when it comes round to web-browsing, video streaming and basic image editing.

Overall, it is a basic system for lightweight computing needs, but for many people that is exactly what is needed. After all, what's the point in spending £700 on a system when you're not going to use its full power?

Microsoft Surface Go

In terms of flexibility and hybrid functionality, the Microsoft Surface Go delivers and fantastic package.

(Image credit: Microsoft)

4. Microsoft Surface Go

The best laptop under £500 for hybrid functionality

Specifications
CPU: Intel Pentium Gold 4415Y Processor
RAM: 4GB
Screen: 10-inch, 1800 x 1200 pixel resolution
Storage: 64GB SSD
Reasons to buy
+Impressively portable+Very useful accessories+Tablet/laptop hybrid

The Microsoft Surface Go can go anywhere, do anything (as far as day-to-day computing goes), and with the optional Surface Typecover can do double duty as a laptop and a tablet. Don't forget the optional Surface Pen too, which can come in really handy with Windows and its apps.

In your search for the best laptop under £500, this is well worth considering if you value portability over power – it really is a pleasure to carry around and use, and you will get plenty of change from that £500 (perhaps to buy an accessory or two).

Asus C433 best laptops under £500

(Image credit: Asus)

5. Asus C433 Chromebook

The best sub-£500 laptop for mixing Chrome OS and style

Specifications
CPU: Intel Core M3 8100Y
RAM: 4GB
Screen: 14-inch, 1,920 x 1,080 pixel resolution
Storage: 64GB SSD
Reasons to buy
+Great design+Aluminium-alloy finish+Android app support

Simply one of the best Chromebooks we've ever laid eyes on – look at that display, for instance – the Asus C433 will get you around the web and run Android apps with aplomb. You don't need to worry about being disappointed if you pick this as the best laptop under £500 for you.

Chrome OS is the same here as it is on any other Chromebook, and it's getting better all the time, as are the web apps that run in your browser. Now that Android apps are supported as well, you can run the mobile versions of programs like Spotify and Microsoft Word as well.

With a big, bright 14-inch screen and enough power to do everything you need to do, the Asus C433 is a fine choice. The display can flip over into tent and tablet modes as well, making this laptop even more appealing.

best laptop under £500 HP Stream 14

The HP Stream 14 offers a compact system for basic computing at a very low price point.

(Image credit: HP)

6. HP Stream 14

A thin and stylish laptop with huge cloud storage included

Specifications
CPU: AMD A4-9125 Dual Core
RAM: 4GB
Screen: 14-inch, 1366 x 768 pixel resolution
Storage: 64GB eMMC | 1TB OneDrive
OS: Windows 10 S
Reasons to buy
+Thin and light design+1TB OneDrive storage+MicroSD card slot+Webcam and MicroSD card slot

If you really don't want to spend much money at all but do want to land a stylish, lightweight laptop under £500, then you should definitely consider the HP Stream 14, which retails for a bargain price point.

You get a solid all-round spec for your money, with an AMD 2.3GHz CPU, 4GB of RAM, 64GB eMMC storage, and 14-inch 1920 x 1080 resolution screen partnered with a Windows 10 S operating system.

The HP Stream 14 also comes with a 1-year subscription to Office 365 and a 1TB OneDrive account, too, so you're set for office and study.

The system also features a built-in webcam, meaning video meetings and calls are sorted, as well as MicroSD card reader.

Dell Inspiron 14 3000 best laptops under £500

(Image credit: Dell)

7. Dell Inspiron 14 3000

The best laptop under £500 for computing basics

Specifications
CPU: Intel Pentium Silver N5000
RAM: 4GB
Screen: 14-inch, 1,366 x 768 pixel resolution
Storage: 128GB SSD
Reasons to buy
+Solid construction+Secure OS+Highly portable

Dell makes some excellent budget laptops at the moment, with the Inspiron 14 3000 a case in point: fair enough you're not going to be doing much video editing or gaming on this, but it'll take care of all the computing basics for you very capably indeed.

This being a Dell machine, it's extremely well built and going to last you a long time. The 14-inch display gives you plenty of room for spreadsheets and movies alike, while you get three USB ports and an HDMI out port for connecting up peripherals. It's also very portable, perfect for throwing in a backpack.

Windows 10 S Home is on board, the stripped-down, super-secure version of Windows 10 that limits app installs but keeps you very well protected. If you're not a fan then you can unlock it to get the full version of Windows 10 at any point.

Acer CB3-431 Chromebook best laptops under £500 2020

The Acer CB3-431 Chromebook is not just insanely light and portable, but it is also one of the best laptops under £500 going. 

8. Acer CB3-431 Chromebook

Stunningly light, this is the best laptop under £500 for portability

Specifications
CPU: Intel Celeron N3160 (1.6GHz quad-core)
RAM: 4GB
Screen: 14-inch, 1920 x 1080 pixel resolution
Storage: 32GB SSD
Reasons to buy
+Speedy, secure, low-maintenance OS+Big, high-resolution display

If you can do all your computing on the web – watching Netflix, working in online office apps and email clients, checking social networks – then Chromebooks represent excellent value for money, and this one is a worthy entrant in our best laptops under £500 list.

You can't install desktop programs on them, but you don't need to worry about large software updates, or antivirus software, or your system slowing over time.

The 4GB of RAM and 32GB of storage you get with this Acer laptop should be enough for Chrome OS, as all you're doing is running a web browser. Meanwhile, the screen is relatively large, and offers a higher resolution than many other laptops at this price point.

Lenovo IdeaPad S145 best laptops under £500

(Image credit: Lenovo)

9. Lenovo IdeaPad S145

The best laptop under £500 for affordable, big-screen Windows 10

Specifications
CPU: Intel Core i3-1005G1
RAM: 4GB
Screen: 15.6-inch, 1,920 x 1,080 pixel resolution
Storage: 128GB SSD
Reasons to buy
+Large 15.6-inch display+Respectable specs+Lightweight, quality build

Be prepared for some looks of disbelief when you tell people that the Lenovo IdeaPad S145 can be had for under £500 – it looks like a laptop that costs double the price, with sleek lines, thin display bezels and a rather nice black granite finish.

There's a lot to like here – the 15.6-inch display, an abundance of ports, Windows 10, the Intel Core i3 processor that's on board. Shopping for the best laptop under £500 isn't always easy, but models like this one certainly help, and you'll struggle to get more bang for your buck on the market at the moment.

We like the lightweight construction as well, and the audio performance is decent. Whether you need to get some work done on the go, or you want to kick back and watch some movies, the Lenovo IdeaPad S145 has you covered.

Acer Aspire 3 A315-51 best laptops under £500 2020

Another cracking laptop under £500 deal, the Acer Aspire 3 A315-51 delivers a robust design and plenty of connectivity options.

10. Acer Aspire 3

A strong budget laptop with a sprinkling of premium in terms of build quality

Specifications
CPU: AMD Ryzen 5 2500U Processor
Memory: 8 GB DDR4 (2133 MHz)
Storage: 1TB HDD (5,400 rpm)
Screen: 15.6” Full HD display
Connectivity: 2xUSB 2.0, 1xUSB 3.0, 1xHDMI, 1xEthernet, 1xSD Card Reader
Reasons to buy
+Robust design+Huge 1TB hard drive+Myriad connectivity options

Just because your budget has topped out at £500 doesn't mean you're bound to low-end components. That  AMD Ryzen 5 2500U Processor means the Acer Aspire 3 can handle any casual task, and even deal with some light (and we mean light) gaming, too.

That 15.6-inch Full HD display is very generous for a laptop in this range, and its surprisingly sharp too, while that 1TB HDD, despite not being as fast as an SSD, is huge and provides loads of storage space. 

The only thing that isn't ideal is the system's battery life, which at just 4.5 hours is definitely not use-all-day-off-one-charge capable. Providing you're happy carrying your charger with you, or you're using the system primarily from a desk plugged in, then this negative point can be mitigated.

Best laptops under £500 2020

Being on a low budget doesn't mean bad hardware and the Switch 3 is a testament to that. 

(Image credit: Acer)

11. Acer Swift 3

Great battery, a nice design, and more, all for around £450.

Specifications
CPU: Intel Core i3-8130U 2.2GHz
Graphics: Intel UHD Graphics 620
RAM: 4GB
Screen: 14-inch LCD, Full HD
Storage: 128GB SSD
Reasons to buy
+Good trackpad+CPU and SSD mean it's quite fast+Good connectivity

Like the Switch 3 above, the Swift 3 – somewhat confusing, we admit – offers a larger display and slightly improved specs for about the same price, minus the 2-in-1 form factor and touch screen. The i3 CPU, combined with the SSD, offer good performance for a cheap machine, crunching less processor-intensive tasks with ease while providing good battery life. 

Unlike some other cheaper laptops, the touchpad on the Swift 3 is actually nice to use, offering smooth scrolling and mouse movements, which is important due to the lack of touchscreen. The port selection is good, too, boasting an HDMI, three USB-A, one USB-C, and more. All in all, this is a good budget pick.

Budget laptops 2020 under £500.

The iPad is something we all know and love at this point and its definitely worth considering as a laptop.

(Image credit: Apple)

12. Apple iPad

While it's not technically a laptop, for light computing users it is worth considering

Specifications
CPU: Apple A10 Fusion Chip
Screen: 9.7-inch 2048x1536 Retina Display
Storage: 32GB or 128GB SSD
Reasons to buy
+Great portability+Enormous app selection+Long battery life

Now... this starts with the obvious caveat that, unlike the others on this list, the iPad is not actually a laptop in the true sense of the term. However, for some people – especially those who only need to perform lighter tasks – it might just suffice. Apple also sells larger iPads (like the Pro) but those are more expensive. 

The base-level iPad starts at £319 for the 32GB model and goes up to £409 for the 128GB model (both WiFi-enabled). The rub is that, to get any actual work done, you'll need a third-party keyboard, which adds £50+ to the overall price. The Apple Pencil, which is useful for drawing, is another £89. So it's all about tradeoffs. 

At the end of the day, if your needs are more geared towards light text editing, drawing, emails, browsing the web, and watching Netflix, it's worth considering an iPad. 

Cheap laptops: How to choose the best laptop under £500 for you

Buying a new laptop can be a daunting task – even more so when you're trying to shop under a specific price limit, as we are here. A lower price range often means less powerful components, but it doesn't mean you have to settle for a cheap, throwaway product.

With very decent components continuing to drop in price, affordable laptops are boasting far more powerful specs, so your money goes further. It's not going to be a portable gaming beast or a media powerhouse, but you'll have enough grunt under the hood for surfing, editing documents and video streaming.

Apple MacBooks are out of the question at this sort of price, but fortunately Windows 10 has evolved to run very well indeed on less high-end hardware. We've also included a couple of our favourite Chromebooks in the list (just remember Chrome OS requires everything to be done on the web).

Down at this end of the market, prices fluctuate regularly, and retailers will often throw in special deals to tempt buyers, so don't be surprised if some of the these prices go up and down – spend some time comparing prices to figure out who's offering the best laptop under £500 for you.

Bear in mind that you're not going to be getting the most powerful or the most feature-rich of laptops, but we think you'll be pleasantly surprised at what you can bag at an affordable price point.

From vibrant displays to surprisingly robust CPUs, out list of the best laptops under £500 for 2020 has plenty of choice to offer buyers with less money to spend. Design and build continues to get better and better as well.

So as you browse around the various deals and offers that retailers have made available, take a look some of our helpful tips and advice on buying a new laptop, then dive straight into our very best picks. Enjoy browsing!