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Best gaming laptop under $500: cheap gaming laptop models 2022

The best cheap gaming laptop under 500 USD in 2022

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If you’re looking for the most cheap gaming laptop on the market, this article will help you find the best gaming laptop under 500 USD to meet your needs. Each of the five budget gaming laptops listed has different strengths and weaknesses, as well as different retail prices. Our reviews focus on specifications such as GPU, CPU, memory, and display to help you decide between them. If you want to get the very best mobile gaming platforms available regardless of price, able to play the most high-end games, then take a look at our best gaming laptop page. If you’re after the cheapest of budget gaming laptops, then read on.

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Is the best gaming laptop under 500 USD worth buying?

When looking for the best gaming laptop under 500 USD, one needs to be aware of the various restrictions that such a budget puts on your available options. At this pricing, you really are only going to be able to get older and weaker hardware with entry-level gaming performance, though if you’re only going to be playing older, less demanding games, this may not be a problem. These are truly cheap gaming laptops, and arguably stretch the definition of what constitutes a ‘gaming laptop’ quite a bit.

We suggest you have a quick skim through our Things to consider when buying a gaming laptop under $500 section below to get a quick overview of the market in this price bracket so you can make the best choice.

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Best gaming laptop under $500: our top picks


Things to Consider When Buying A Gaming Laptop Under $500

Each of the below considerations should be taken into account when shopping for a gaming laptop under $500 specifically. If you are looking for a more general list of considerations that apply to gaming laptops of any budget, take a look at the ‘Things To Consider’ section of our best gaming laptops page.

Realistic expectations of gaming performance

The unfortunate reality is that when you reach budgets of $500 for a gaming laptop, you are unlikely to get good FPS performance on even moderately demanding games. Most gaming laptops under $500 will come with integrated graphics (i.e. part of the CPU) instead of a separate, dedicated GPU, so you can’t expect the same level of performance.

Older games may run on decent Frames Per Second on medium-high settings, but for anything new, unless it has low requirements (e.g. map-based strategy games like Crusader Kings III), you will generally need to fork out more money. Our best gaming laptops for under $1,000 guide may be your best port of call. Alternatively, if mobility isn’t that big a priority for you, we’d suggest looking at desktop machines such as our $700 self-build gaming PC, or pre-build gaming PC for under $800. Ultimately you will nearly always get at least 50% more performance out of a desktop machine for the same price as you would from a laptop, as the power and cooling restrictions of the laptop chassis limit performance substantially.

Consider a refurbished laptop

Typically, we do not actually recommend refurbished products on WePC: although they’re usually worth considering, there is a general assumption you will almost always be able to get any product we recommend in a refurbished state for less money (unless it’s brand new of course) so to list them all would be redundant. We review products brand new – we leave it up to you to decide if you want to get them second-hand or not!

Nevertheless, as below budgets of $500 the FPS performance of laptops is severely restricted, we think it is occasionally worth suggesting the odd refurbished model for under $500 (that would retail for brand new above this price range), just to illustrate the fact it may be the better option here.

We would also advise looking at our Best Gaming Laptops under $600, $700, and $800 guides and seeing if you can find some of the options listed there at refurbished prices. Bear in mind that a refurbished gaming laptop will rarely come with a warranty or the other such benefits you would get with a brand new model.

Maximum refresh rate

At the time of writing, 120Hz gaming laptops are non-existent at budgets below $500 (unless you go refurbished of course). 60Hz is the norm at this price range, capping you at an effective 60 FPS performance in games. At such low Frames Per Second we could not recommend such laptops for competitive gaming use, though for slower-paced RPGs, strategy games, and adventure games where reaction time isn’t a problem then you will be OK, though you will find the overall experience a bit more janky and less immersive. If this isn’t for you then you’ll need to spend more money, unfortunately (or buy a second-hand laptop).

Resolution

At $500 or less, you are going to be capped at 1920 x 1080 resolution for whichever gaming laptop you decide to go with. If you want 1440p or above you will have to spend at least $1,000, and likely more. Nevertheless, for many this won’t be a particularly major drawback – 1080p is still the ideal resolution for competitive gamers, and if your gaming laptop is 15” inch or smaller in size then it’s debatable as to whether a higher resolution screen is even worth the money (unless you’re also using it for visual workstation uses perhaps).

Hard drive & RAM

You are unlikely to get a gaming laptop for under $500 with an HDD or SSD larger than 256 GB, though the odd 512 GB SSD model may occasionally appear on this page. At WePC we consider 256 GB to be too small to be practical for the majority of gamers, with many new PC games needing over 50 GB of disk space, not to mention the space taken up by the OS and other bits of software applications the average laptop user needs. We’d always suggest, where possible, to upgrade any 256 GB SSD to 512 GB or above, or to supplement it with an additional internal or external SSD or HDD.

Similarly for memory: you will not find RAM specs above 8GB in this price range as standard and we almost always recommend upgrading this to at least 16GB where possible.

Color replication

Even at budgets of $500 you can still get a sufficiently good color gamut if you’re only playing games. If you’re looking to do some light design work alongside your gaming, however, you’re unlikely to find 100% sRGB replication in laptop displays in this price range, and color accuracy won’t be up to scratch either. If you want a gaming laptop capable of such dual-use, you’ll have to spend considerably more money to get a suitable display.

Best cheap gaming laptop under 500 USD for 2022: in-depth review

Editor’s Choice
The best budget gaming laptop for $500 from HP

HP Pavilion Gaming 15 (Intel 15-9300H, Nvidia GTX 1050)

hppav

Processor

Intel Core i5-9300H

RAM

8GB DDR4 SDRAM

Graphics Processor

NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1050 3GB GDDR5

Storage

256GB SSD

Display

15.6″ Full HD (1920 x 1080) IPS Widescreen LED-backlit Display

Weight

4.96 lbs

4.0
/5
Editor’s Rating
Pros
  • Good Nvidia GeForce GTX 1050 for the price
  • Good AMD Ryzen 5 3550H CPU for the price
Cons
  • On the heavy side

At the top of our list is the HP Pavilion 15-ec0000na. This laptop not only comes equipped with an AMD 2nd Generation Ryzen 5 3550H Quad-core processor, which is notably more powerful than some other options on this list, it secures the top spot thanks to coming with the Nvidia GeForce GTX 1050 graphics card. This dedicated GPU is the best you can currently hope for in this price range for a brand new gaming laptop, most of our other selections here coming with integrated (iGPU) graphics. This machine should be able to play most older / less-demanding games at low to middling graphical settings without its performance suffering too much.

We say “this price range” but admittedly this HP Pavilion laptop 15 is usually outside of the budget for this guide at full price, however, we have seen it discounted within its range. Ultimately this selection illustrates what you can get if you stretch your budget a little higher.

The 60Hz 15.6” FHD IPS screen isn’t anything to write home about, but is about the best you’ll get in this price bracket. The hard drive is the standard 256GB sized SSD that most options here come equipped with, and we’d advise supplementing this with an external hard drive, or upgrading to a larger SSD if you don’t mind losing your warranty. The same can be said for the 8GB of DDR4 RAM (we’d suggest upping it to 16GB).

Weight wise the laptop is one of the heavier on this list, though it is still a portable machine at 5lbs. Finally, the keyboard of the laptop is backlit and the overall design has a degree of understated style that makes it suitable for a workplace laptop as well.

Runner up
Almost the best cheap gaming laptop for $500

ASUS F512DA-EB51 VivoBook 15 Thin And Light Laptop

ASUS F512DA EB51 VivoBook

CPU

AMD Quad Core R5-3500U

Graphics

AMD RX Vega 8

RAM

8GB

Storage

256GB SSD

Screen Size

15.6”

Max Refresh Rate

60Hz

3.5
/5
Editor’s Rating
Pros
  • Decent Radeon Vega 8 Integrated graphics for the price
  • Decent AMD Ryzen 5 3500U for the price
  • Lightweight and slimline
Cons
  • No SD card reader

This Asus F512DA-EB51 VivoBook packs an AMD Ryzen 5 3500U Quad Core CPU and an AMD RX Vega 8 graphics card. Although these core components don’t match the power of our top pick, they’re nothing to be sniffed at, and are the main reason this configuration of the Vivobook achieves runner-up position.

The other major positive in this laptop’s favour is its lightweight and overall design aesthetic. At 3.50lbs it’s the lightest on this list by some margin, not to mention the most slimline, and has the best typing ergonomics on its backlit keyboard. Generally, the Vivobook is the best selection here in terms of a sleek office laptop that can do some light undemanding gaming, although it doesn’t come with an SD card reader, which some may find to be a notable drawback.

It features an AMD CPU and AMD Radeon Vega 8 GPU. With a backlit keyboard and slate gray design, this is a sleek and modern laptop. Its ErgoLift design improves typing position, which will make long gaming sessions more comfortable.

The 8GB RAM and 256GB SSD storage are standard at this price point, and we’d consider upgrading them if it’s an option (warranty allowing) or at least supplementing the SSD with an external HDD. The 1080p 60Hz display isn’t brilliant but it’s the best you’ll get for this price.

Also consider
A budget gaming laptop from Dell with Vega 8 iGPU

Dell Inspiron 15 5000

Dell Inspiron 15 5000

CPU

AMD Ryzen 5 2500U

Graphics

AMD Radeon Vega 8 (iGPU)

RAM

8 GB

Storage

256GB

Screen size

15.6

Max Refresh Rate

60Hz

3.0
/5
Editor’s Rating
Pros
  • Decent Radeon Vega 8 Integrated graphics for the price
  • 1TB HDD in addition to 256 SSD
Cons
  • Ryzen 5 2500U CPU could be better
  • Thick bezels

The Dell Inspiron 15 5000 comes packing with an AMD Ryzen 5 2500U CPU and Radeon Vega 8 graphics. Whilst not as impressive as some of the more expensive laptops on this list, these components still allow for respectable FPS performance on relatively non-demanding titles such as Dota 2, League of Legends, Rocket League or Crusader Kings 3 etc. 

The 8GB of RAM is below ideal but pretty standard for this price range, though we’d recommend upgrading it if possible. The 256GB SSD is prohibitively small for gamers, though again, not surprising in this price bracket, however, the Dell Inspiron 15 5000 has an ace up its sleeve in the form of an additional 1TB HDD which you can put your non-competitive games and miscellaneous files on, to maximize the free space on the SSD for gaming – a welcome addition.

All-in-all this is a solid mid-range option within this budget price range.

Lenovo pick
a budget gaming laptop that’s great value if you can get the 3500U version

Lenovo IdeaPad 3

Lenovo IdeaPad 3

CPU

AMD Ryzen 5 2500U / 3500U

Graphics

AMD Radeon Vega 8 (iGPU)

RAM

8 GB

Storage

256GB

Screen size

15.6

Max Refresh Rate

60Hz

3.0
/5
Editor’s Rating
Pros
  • Decent Radeon Vega 8 Integrated graphics for the price
  • Lightweight
  • Ryzen 5 3500U CPU option is superior
Cons
  • Ryzen 5 2500U CPU could be better
  • only 256GB SSD storage

This particular Lenovo IdeaPad from 2020 comes in with very similar specifications to the Dell Inspiron 15 5000 listed above, and for a very similar price.

The laptop often comes specced with AMD Radeon Vega 8 integrated graphics alongside an AMD Ryzen 5 2500U CPU. The laptop has the standard 8GB of RAM you’d expect for this price range as well as a 15.6” 60Hz 1080p display. It is slightly lighter than the Dell model but generally similar in dimensions and ergonomics besides this.

The major difference comes down to two factors: screen bezels and disk space. The display of this Lenovo machine is superior to the Dell in that it has much narrower Bezels, allowing for a more immersive gaming experience, not to mention when watching films or other multimedia content. Unlike the Dell however, the IdeaPad is limited to its 256GB SSD only, so you may want to consider an expansion to this, with either a larger SSD upgrade or an external HDD. However, if you can find the AMD Ryzen 5 3500U CPU version for around $500 then this is IdeaPad 3 the superior choice.

Ultimately this is another solid low-range laptop that should be able to handle less demanding strategy and MOBA titles on the low-medium settings whilst producing solid FPS.

Budget pick
The ultimate in cheap gaming laptop tech from Acer

Acer Aspire 5 A515-43-R19L

Acer Aspire E 15 E5-575G-52RJ

CPU

AMD Ryzen 3 3200U-Series

GPU

AMD Radeon Vega 3 Mobile Graphics

Screen Size

15.6-Inch Full HD Display

RAM

4GB DDR4

Storage

128GB NVMe SSD

Ports

1 USB 3.1 Gen 1 port, 2 USB 2.0 ports & 1 HDMI port with HDCP support

2.5
/5
Editor’s Rating
Pros
  • Cheap
  • Particularly lightweight and slimline
Cons
  • Fairly weak CPU and integrated graphics
  • Only 4GB RAM
  • Only 128GB SSD

Our final selection, the Acer Aspire 5 A515-43-R19L, is a true budget gaming laptop pick. At this price level you shouldn’t expect to be able to play anything other than particularly undemanding games (e.g. Roblox, Minecraft, Fortnite on low settings) and get an FPS that would make it worth your time. If these are the only sort of games you’re likely to play though, and you are after something dirt cheap, then this laptop could be right for you.

The Aspire uses an AMD Ryzen 3 3200 Dual CPU and has an AMD Radeon Vega 3 Mobile Processor. One of the major drawbacks of the machine is that comes with a memory size of only 4GB DDR4 RAM, which will severely hamper your ability to have many tabs open in your web browser, never mind have multiple programs running simultaneously. Similarly, the SSD is a mere 128GB, which is about 25% of what you’d really want on a decent gaming laptop. We would definitely, definitely advise upgrading both of these features to have any kind of decent experience with this machine, though this will probably affect your warranty.

In its favor though, the battery life of this Acer Aspire 5 is the best of any selection on this guide, lasting around 7 hours of normal, non-gaming use. At 3.97lb it’s the second lightest selection here, and is relatively slimline in its dimensions to boot. The 60Hz 1080p IPS display is about on par with the other selections here.


Frequently Asked Questions about gaming laptops under $500

What is a good budget laptop for gaming?

What constitutes a ‘budget’ laptop is not a clear-cut definition, though generally we’d say anything below $1,000 fits the bill. See our guides on the best gaming laptops under $800, $700, $600 and $500 to see which laptops we currently recommend within these respective prices ranges.

What is the cheapest gaming laptop?

Gaming laptops for less than $500 exist and are marketed as such, though it is debatable how suitable for gaming they actually are. Ultimately it depends on what games you want to play and at what level of graphical settings. If you want to play the latest AAA FPS games on medium settings at decent FPS then you will need to pay $1,000 at the very least. If you are interested in older titles, or in less graphically demanding games (indie and/or strategy games for example), then you may be able to get away with paying as little as $500, $600, or $700.

How good is a $500 gaming laptop?

The reality is that for $500 the quality of the gaming laptop you are likely to get is going to be fairly sub-par. You cannot expect to be able to play any of the latest games at anything other than the lowest graphical settings, and even then, if the game is particularly demanding, a laptop at this price will likely struggle. Our advice would be to save up and buy a gaming laptop for at least $1,000 or, if portability is not your main priority, pick up a prebuilt desktop gaming PC for $500 or $800.

Can a 500 dollar laptop run Fortnite?

A 500 dollar laptop can just about run Fortnite, but not to a fast enough FPS where you’ll actually enjoy playing it. The most powerful selection on this page has hardware comparable to the Fortnite system requirements for desktop PCs, but you have to bear in mind that laptop hardware is less powerful, even if the CPU and GPU have the same model name. We would advise buying an 800 dollar gaming laptop at minimum to run Fortnite, or better yet, check out our best Fortnite laptop guide for a full range of options.

What is the best gaming laptop under $500?

The HP Pavilion 15-dk0010na is the best overall gaming laptop at the present time for those operating on a $500 budget in our opinion, though this assumes you can get one at a discount to the usual price. Otherwise, the ASUS F512DA-EB51 VivoBook 15 is the best option. That being said, every selection on our list has its positives and negatives, depending on your specific priorities, needs and budgets.

Is 4GB RAM good for gaming?

4GB is not a sufficient amount of RAM to run the majority of games, even those that are slightly older. Even if it can run the game, the chances are it will hamper the performance substantially, and your enjoyment of the experience. We would recommend upgrading to at least a minimum of 8GB of RAM, and ideally, 16GB where possible.


Some of our other gaming laptop articles

In-depth laptop reviews

‘Best of’ brand guides

‘Best of’ price guides


Final Word

This has been our best gaming laptop under 500 USD guide for 2022. Each cheap gaming laptop chosen in this article is one of the best options currently available for gaming in this price range, though we definitely recommend checking out the gaming laptop guides that cover different price ranges under Custom Gaming PC in the top bar of this page, including the best gaming laptop under $600 and best gaming laptop under $700 guides.

Whilst these are the five best gaming laptops for $500 around at the moment, if it’s not essential for you to have a mobile gaming device, you may want to consider the extra power you can get for the same money from a desktop PC and have a look at our best gaming PC under $500 build page, and our best prebuilt gaming PC under $500 guide if you don’t fancy putting your own one together.

If there is a particular budget gaming laptop you think should be included in this guide that isn’t, please do leave us a comment in the section below.

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Technology Writer AT WEPC

Aaron Ritchie

From halcyon days playing Sonic 2 on the Megadrive, to trying to work out how to make the 'TOASTY!' man appear on Mortal Kombat 3, many of Aaron’s fondest childhood memories are associated with gaming. He regrets nothing. First getting into PC gaming through exposure to Drug Lord 2.0 and then the original Half Life, he has been a fiend ever since. If you need to know anything about gaming laptops, he's your guy.

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