Best Gaming Laptops under $500 [2017]

Updated as of

Best Gaming Laptop under $500

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 The best gaming laptop a couple of months ago might already be outdated today.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 E5-575G-57D4 

Acer Aspire E5

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. A powerful dedicated graphics card, fast DDR4 ram memory AND a 256 GB Solid State Drive! Our #1 will be able to run most of your favorite games smoothly.

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.

The processor is the Intel Core i5-7200U CPU.  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 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 buy an external hard drive, a USB or use cloud storage if you need more memory.


Summary: The best graphics card you can get in any laptop in this price range. 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.

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ProsCons
SSD for fast boot and loadOnly 256GB storage
The best processor on the listSlightly over $500
Nvidia GeForce 940MX graphicsWeak trackpad


#2 The runner-up: Lenovo Ideapad 510

Lenovo Ideapad 510

Lenovo finally stepped up the game and recently released a laptop with solid hardware and a dedicated graphics card in the 500 dollar range. The Lenovo Ideapad 510 might not look like a laptop capable of gaming but looks can be deceiving.

The matte silver case made of plastic makes the laptop look elegant but also quite ordinary. The laptop is relatively lightweight with a weight of slightly less than 5 pounds (2.2 kg) and the build quality feels solid. The backlit keyboard is comfortable but the shift key is weirdly placed right of the up arrow. Both the case and the keyboard resist fingerprints well. All necessary ports are there except a USB-C port for that fast transfer with some of the modern external hard drives.

The speakers produce good audio and the full HD IPS screen has good brightness and a fast response rate (20-40 ms).

The processor is the Intel Core i5 6200U. It is a powerful 2.3 GHz processor that is excellent for the price. If you compare the user benchmarks, against the i5-7200U in our #1, you’ll notice it is about 16 % weaker. The difference is noticeable but not necessary for people that will use it for mostly gaming.

The graphics card in the Lenovo Ideapad 510 is the Nvidia GTX 940MX. It is the same GPU as in the Acer Aspire E5-575G-57D4 (our #1) so you know you can play your favorite games smoothly. 8 GB DDR4 ram and 1 TB of storage allow you to save a lot of files and games, and then load and run them without any lags.

The weakest point of the Lenovo Ideapad 510 is the battery life. For a gaming laptop the 2-3 hours of battery when gaming is alright but for people used to multimedia laptops the battery can seem on the shorter side. But you have to keep in mind this is a laptop with a dedicated graphics card powerful enough for gaming so a shorter battery life is natural.


Summary: Another powerful laptop with the Nvidia GTX 940MX GPU. The battery life is the weakest of the laptops on the list. But the excellent full HD IPS screen make the Lenovo Ideapad 510 our runner-up on the list of the best gaming laptops under $500.

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ProsCons
Excellent screenNo USB-C port
Lightweight but still sturdyOrdinary design
The best GPU you can get for the price (NVidia 940MX)Short battery life


#3 Best Acer gaming laptop under 500 with an HDD: Acer Aspire E 15 E5-575G-52RJ

Acer Aspire E15

The Acer Aspire E 15 E5-575G-52RJ is very similar to our #1. It has a similar design and almost identical hardware. There are two key differences, though. You will find a weaker CPU and a 1000GB HDD hard drive.

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.

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.

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 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 8GB of the latest generation of the Ram, DDR4 and the powerful CPU  Intel Core i5 6200U 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. If you want a solid gaming laptop with a large hard drive for under  $500 and feel like the Lenovo is not right for you, then the perfect laptop for you is the  Acer Aspire E 15 E5-575G-52RJ.

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ProsCons
Great Price/Performance ratioToo sensitive trackpad
Great gaming capabilities for the priceDim screen
Fast DDR4 ram memoryAverage speakers


#4 The reliable alternative: Acer F5-573G-56CG

Acer F5

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. This laptop is in high demand and not always available but when it is, it is one of the best gaming laptops you can get in the 500 dollar gaming laptop price range.

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ProsCons
Great hardware for the priceSlightly over $500
Nice brushed aluminum finish Keyboard is not backlit
Exceptional battery lifeNo optical drive


Conclusion

Only 4 laptops on the list are on the short side. But the fact is, after analyzing all the laptops under $500 on the market, the only ones with a dedicated graphics card was the laptops above. And if you go with anything less, like an integrated graphics card like the Intel HD 5500 you simply won’t be able to play games smoothly. (see the bottom  of this article for the bad framerates you get with an integrated GPU). Why go for a laptop with an integrated chip when you can go with one of the laptops with a dedicated GPU above?

Sure, you won’t be able to play the latest AAA games on 60 fps on high settings with these laptops.

But if you want to enjoy some less demanding games or are happy with playing the demanding games on low, then one of the gaming laptops under 500 above 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.

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