Before I show you the best gaming laptop under $500, there are two things you need to know.
1: Not every so-called “gaming laptop” is ideal for gaming. In fact, there are only very few laptops under 500 that can play the latest games at smooth fps. It’s so rare to find a good gaming laptop in this price range that many people will just tell you:
“There are no gaming laptops in the $500 price range“. False:
Let me tell you, there are some. But only with the right hardware. Don’t fall for buying a laptop with an integrated graphics card. You know, the one called a “gaming laptop” because it has a flashy design.
2: Only take recommendations from an up-to-date source. The best gaming laptop a couple of months ago might already be outdated today. I update this page every month so you always can find what laptop is great right now. (take a look beneath the title for date of latest update).
Now that you know these two simple facts. Let’s dive right into the best gaming laptops under $500:
Note: If you want to run demanding games in glorious 60 FPS, then a gaming laptop under 500 won’t be enough. For that, a gaming laptop under 1000 is your best choice. But if you are okay with playing less demanding games at nice fps. And just running the most demanding games is enough for you, then all you have to do is to scroll down…
#1 Best gaming laptop under 500: Acer Aspire E 15 E5-575G-52RJ
What if I told you a gaming laptop under $500 doesn’t need to be slow and barely able to run most games? It sounds unlikely, right?
You are in luck. Of over 100 analyzed laptops under 500, there was one, yes only one, that was actually good enough for gaming. That 15″ laptop is the Acer Aspire E15 E5-575G-52RJ.
Let’s start with what matter. Inside this notebook, there is a powerful Intel i5 processor and fast 8GB 2133Mhz DDR4 ram memory. More on that in a minute. There is also a dedicated Nvidia GeForce 940MX GPU. It’s the best graphics card you can find in any laptop for under 500 dollars. With it, you can play games such as Dota 2, CS: GO, Hearthstone, League of Legends and The Sims 4 at smooth fps on medium to high settings. You can even play demanding games such as Watch Dogs 2, Far Cry 4 and Battlefield 1 on low-medium settings! Take a look at the end of this NotebookCheck article for the fps the 940MX produce in your favorite games.
To get this powerful hardware, that we’ll talk about later, Acer had to make some design choices that not always turned out so great…
The design is rather unremarkable but the build quality is good, and it feels sturdy. The plastic chassis is in a tone somewhere between shiny and matte black. It has all the ports you’ll need. But it lacks an optical drive, although there is space for you to install your own cd-drive. On the bottom of the laptop, there is a service lid. This means you can easily upgrade ram or storage without having to remove the whole bottom. The weight is slightly over 5 pounds (~2.3 kg), so a bit over what most 15-inch laptops weight. But this is a gaming laptop, so you should expect a bit more weight with the more powerful hardware.
The speakers have great treble but lack in bass. They are great for watching movies and gaming not ideal but for music with the weak bass.
The keyboard is alright. It is a chiclet keyboard with curved island keys with a decent keyboard experience. It has no backlight, but I guess that is a necessary move for Acer to stay in this very cheap price range. The trackpad is the weakest point of the laptop. It is sensitive and can at times be inconsistent.
The screen is a 1080p Full HD display that gets the job done. Sure, it is a bit dim, and the color accuracy is not perfect. But for only 500 bucks, you can’t both have a perfect screen and powerful hardware. Sure, there are some design flaws, like the so-so screen and the bad trackpad. But wait, there’s more…
The processor is the Intel Core i5 6200U. It is a powerful 2.3 GHz processor that is excellent for the price. It is powerful enough to handle everything you throw at it. No matter if it’s demanding games or applications like video editing software. The storage is a 1TB 5400 rpm HDD. One terabyte is enough storage for most people. The 5400 rpm, compared to the faster hard drives 7200 rpm, makes it a bit slow. But the latest generation of the Ram, DDR4, and 8GB of it makes up for it. The battery life is good. It can handle around 5 hours of web surfing or around 3 hours of gaming before you need to plug it in.
Summary: The Acer E 15 has an excellent price considering the great hardware. It’s simply the best gaming laptop you could get for under 500 dollars.
|Great Price/Performance ratio||Too sensitive trackpad|
|Great gaming capabilities for the price||Dim screen|
|Fast DDR4 ram memory||Average speakers|
#2 Spend little over 500 for an SSD: Acer Aspire E5-575G-57D4
The same powerful graphics card and fast Ram memory as our number 1. An even better processor and a Solid State drive! But with only 256 GB storage and 50$ more. Is it really worth it?
The design and the hardware of the Acer Aspire E5 are very similar to the laptop placed at 1, the Acer Aspire E 15. It means they suffer from similar problems. Both has a dim display and an uncomfortable trackpad. But it also means they are both powerful laptops for the price.
No need to repeat the facts. You already know that the combination of the fast 8GB DDR4 ram and the Nvidia GeForce 940MX makes for some phenomenal performance for the price. But with both having nearly the same design and the same strong base. What difference does the improved CPU and the SSD make? And, does it justify the price increase?
The processor is the Intel Core i5-7200U CPU. If you compare the user benchmarks, you’ll notice it is about 16 % stronger. The difference is noticeable but not necessary for people that will use it for mostly gaming.
The Solid State Drive (SSD), makes a difference, though. With an SSD Windows will boot faster and games and other applications will also load much faster. The SSD is 256GB. 256 GB of storage is on the lower end for most people. If you just want to play some games and use it for work, it will be okay. But if you want to save a bunch of media on your laptop, then it will be too small. Fortunately, the service lid on the bottom will make adding storage a breeze. Or you could always save on an external hard drive or an USB.
Summary: The SSD and the better processor on this laptop make it even more powerful. But you need to be prepared to not to save too much with the small 256GB storage.
|SSD for fast boot and load||Only 256GB storage|
|The best processor on the list||Slightly over $500|
|Nvidia GeForce 940MX graphics||Weak trackpad|
#3 The reliable alternative: Acer F5-573G-56CG
The same hardware as the winner and some of the design flaws fixed. The Acer F5-573-56CG is the perfect option if you are willing to go slightly over the 500 dollar budget.
Instead of a full plastic design, the F5 has a metal surface and a texturized interior. Half hard plastic and half hard metal. You can feel the cross-hairlines of aluminum on the top of the laptop. Feels smooth and looks attractive. It is not the most stylish laptop, but it has a solid build quality. It is a bit heavy at 5.2 pounds (2.4 kg), but it has a great overall feel.
The keyboard is comfortable with nice ergonomic keys. The trackpad is actually good and feels accurate with a good gliding surface, and a nice clicky feel when you press the buttons.
The screen is the best on the list. It is a good TN panel with 100% sRBG coverage. In other words, a display with vivid and detailed colors and the right brightness.
The hardware is the same as the hardware in the Acer Aspire E 15 E5-575G-52RJ. So, a plenty of storage with a 1TB 5400 rpm HDD. 8GB DDR4 ram. With DDR4 you can enjoy a fast multitasking or browsing experience. The Intel Core i5-6200U CPU that is plenty enough for gaming and everyday use. And the Nvidia GeForce 940MX graphics card that you can use for light gaming. You can even play even more demanding games smoothly. At least if you turn down the shadows and use a more simple AA.
The Acer F5-573G-56CG also got the best battery on the list. You can only play games on it for about 3 hours before you need to charge but for everyday use, it will often hold for the whole day.
Summary: The same powerful hardware but better design and battery. If you can handle going slightly over 500, then the best laptop you can find in the 500$ range is the Acer F5-573G-56CG.
|Great hardware for the price||Slightly over $500|
|Nice brushed aluminum finish||Keyboard is not backlit|
|Exceptional battery life||No optical drive|
Sure, you won’t be able to play the latest AAA games on 60 fps on high setting.
But if you want to enjoy some less demanding games or are happy with playing the demanding games on low, then a gaming laptop under 500 is just for you.
Most of the laptops in the 500 dollar price range out there are not ideal for gaming. But there are some that will play your favorite games smoothly. And you are now just a few clicks away from your new gaming laptop under 500. So, if you haven’t already click on check price after any of the summaries to see more about the laptop on Amazon.
Enjoy you new gaming laptop under 500.