Laptops

The Best Gaming Laptops Under $500 – Buying Guide w/ Reviews for 2017

Just a few years ago, it was nearly impossible to find a laptop that works well for gaming for under $500. That’s no longer the case today, and there are plenty of viable gaming laptop options that don’t require deep pockets.

Make no mistake – you probably won’t be able to get great performance on many games with a $500 laptop. However, the $500 gaming laptop did not even exist three or four years ago. The laptops we have here may not run all you games at 60 FPS on max setting, but they hold up to most titles surprisingly well.

We made sure to look at a bunch of different laptops, we looked at all major brands (Dell, HP, Acer, ASUS, etc..) and we checked out specs, prices, user reviews and more to decide which ones are the best gaming laptops for under 500 dollars available today.

With that being said, a $500 desktop gaming PC is probably twice as fast as any similarly priced laptop so we recommend that option if you don’t need to game on a portable device. If you’re willing to spend a few more bucks, you can get a much better gaming laptop from if you head over to the gaming laptops under $1000 buying guide.

Lets move on to our top picks

Here Are Our Top Picks for the Best Gaming Laptops under $500

Acer Aspire E 15 E5-575G-57D4 | i5-7200U – Nvidia 940MX

Processor: Intel Core i5-7200U | Graphics: Nvidia GeForce 740mx 2GB GDDR5 | Memory: 8GB DDR4 RAM | Storage: 256 GB SSD | Screen Size: 15.6″ | Resolution: 1920×1080 | Weight: 5.27lbs.

Summary

Acer Aspire E 15 E5-575G-57D4 | i5-7200U - Nvidia 940MX

Our number one choice for the best $500 gaming laptop, the 15.6″ E 15 E5-575G-57D4, packs both a mid-range laptop GPU and the new Intel Kaby Lake i5-7200U. It also includes many nice hardware bonuses like a USB C port and a 256 GB SSD. It does cost a bit more than $500, but we think it’s features are well worth the price. At it’s price, the we have no doubt that the E 15 E5-575G-57D4 is the top choice for mobile gaming.

The E 15 E5-575G-57D4 has some serious computing power for a budget gaming laptop. It's latest i5-7200U processor and GeForce 940MX can easily run both games and standard computer tasks like Microsoft Office and web browsing. The Kaby Lake i5-7200U offers a modest 10-15% increase in performance over the previous i5-7200U and also clock speed and efficiency increase. However, the real highlight of the E 15 E5-575G-57D4 (and why the Acer E-series ranks so high here) is the GeForce 740MX 2GB GDDR5. Right now, the E-series is the only laptop in the $500 price point that offers a discrete Nvidia graphics card. The 740MX is far from the greatest laptop GPU, but games run surprisingly smooth on reasonable settings because of it. E-sports like LoL and CS:GO have absolutely no problem on this laptop. The laptop has the latest 8GB DDR4 memory and a 256GB SSD, much faster than thee 1TB hard drive most similar laptops have. You do get a lot less storage with it, but having literally 1000% faster drive speed is probably worth it.
The design of the E 15 E5-575G-57D4 is what you would expect from a laptop of its price. It has an all-around modern brushed back plastic build - you won't find any metal cased laptops at this price. Still, the laptop doesn't look cheap - it's plastic finish looks nice and has a good looking keyboard with a evenly lit back light. The laptop measures 15.02 x 10.2 x 1.19 in and weighs 5.27 pounds, which is a normal size and weight for a 15.6" notebook. The laptop's battery is also one of the most impressive we've seen, lasting over ten hours under modest use. It's nearly twice as much as most similarly price competitors.
The E 15 E5-575G-57D4 has a 15.6 inch 1080x1920 display. It has quite impressive paper specs, beating most of its competition. However, the display is quite underwhelming in real life. The screen is a little dim and the color reproduction quality is off washed out. The lackluster quality and brightness of the display is our biggest gripe with the E 15 E5-575G-57D4. Had the display been as good as the rest of the laptop, the E 15 E5-575G-57D4 would have been phenomenal.
ProcessorIntel Core i5-7200U
GraphicsNvidia GeForce 940MX 2GB GDDR5
Memory8 GB DDR4 SDRAM
Max Memory32 GB - 2 Slots
Display15.6" 1920x1080
Storage256 GB SSD
Battery6-cell Lithium Ion | 2800 mAh
Ports1x USB 2.0, 2x USB 3.0, 1x USB 3.1, HDMI
Dimensions15.02" x 10.2" x 1.19"
Weight5.27 lb

PROS

Newest i5-7200U CPU

Discrete graphics card – 940MX

USB-C port

Long battery life

Keyboard backlighting

CONS

Dim and unimpressive display

Mushy keys

Acer Aspire E 15 E5-573G-52G3 | i5-5200U – Nvidia 940M

Processor: Intel Core i5-5200U | Graphics: Nvidia GeForce 740M 2GB DDR3 | Memory: 8GB DDR3 RAM | Storage: 1 TB Hard Drive | Screen Size: 15.6″ | Resolution: 1920×1080 | Wei
ght:
5.29lbs.

SummaryAcer Aspire E 15 E5-573G-52G3 | i5-5200U - Nvidia 940M

Coming second is another laptop from the Acer E-series, the laptop line that includes discrete Nvidia graphics card in the $500 price range. The Aspire E 15 E5-573G-52G3 is a slightly older model in the Acer E-series, coming in at a lower cost while still having a strong Intel i5 CPU and Nvidia GeForce 940M graphics card. These are obviously just older models of the same chip, so you won’t see much of a performance drop from newer E-series laptops. If you don’t fancy having the newest PCs, you can save a bit of money by buying the E 15 E5-573G-52G3. The display isn’t spectacular, but you can’t expect much for such a low price. If you want an actual gaming monitor check out our buying guide for gaming displays.

The Aspire E 15 E5-573G-52G3 is a powerful $500 laptop. Inside is a fifth-gen Intel i5-5200U CPU and a GeFore 940M discrete graphics card with 2GB of DDR3 ram. Video performance is smooth for both benchmark tests and actual gameplay. 30+ FPS was achieved on most games at medium or high settings. The laptop has 8GB of DDR3 RAM, which is good for most tasks, including gaming. For storage, the laptop has a 1TB hard drive instead of the 256GB SSD offered on the newest Aspire E-series laptop.
The Aspire E 15 E5-573G-52G3 does have a quality feel to it's construction for a all-plastic construction laptop. The case is nicely textured, though it still doesn't look like aluminium. The plastic does looks a little too grey compared to the jet black finish on the newer laptops in the Acer E-series. The keyboard is fairly simple without any back lighting, but it's responsive and reliable. The track pad is a different story. It's installed flimsily and unwanted movement is clearly observed. The laptop weighs 5.29 pounds, which is just a bit higher than the standard 15.6" laptop, which usually weighs around 5 pounds. The battery life is also quite impressive, lasting nearly ten hours under light use.
The laptop's display is 15.6 inches from one corner to another and has a resolution of 1920x1080. It's a TN panel, so you won't have the better image quality and better viewing angles that you would see on an IPS panel. However, there are very few IPS paneled laptops at this price range, especially ones with discrete graphics cards!
ProcessorIntel Core i5-5200U
GraphicsNvidia GeForce 940M 2GB GDDR3
Memory8 GB DDR3 SDRAM
Max Memory16 GB - 1 Slot
Display15.6" 1920x1080
Storage1TB HDD 5400 RPM
Battery4-cell Lithium Ion | 2500 mAh
Ports1x USB 2.0, 2x USB 3.0, VGA, HDMI
Dimensions10.08" x 15.02" x 1.15"
Weight5.29 lb

PROS

i5-5200U CPU

GeForce 940M – discrete graphics card

Long battery life

CONS

Display isn’t spectacular

Low quality trackpad

No SSD

ASUS X555DA-WS11 | A10-8700P – AMD Radeon R5

Processor: AMD A10-8700P | Graphics: AMD Radeon R5 | Memory: 8GB DDR3 RAM | Storage: 1 TB Hard Drive | Screen Size: 15.6″ | Resolution: 1366×768 | Weight: 6.75lbs.
ASUS X555DA-WS11 | A10-8700P - AMD Radeon R5

 

Summary

The ASUS X555DA-WS11 fits well under the $500 price mark and is one of the cheapest laptops on this list. For the lower price, the trade-offs are not having a discrete graphics card and a lower screen resolution. It’s powered by AMD’s A10-8700P APU and it’s integrated Radeon R5 graphics – which is very capable for mid-range gaming. The X555DA is a very capable laptop for all sorts of multimedia applications and some light gaming.

Though AMD has lost massive market share in the laptop CPU market, the Quad Core A10-8700P APU on the X555DA-WS11 is on par with the Intel i5 6200U. It's base clock is 1.8 GHz, but turbo boost enables the CPU to 3.2 GHz, a near 100% increase. The graphics are integrated - AMD Radeon A5. It doesn't have anything on desktop GPUs or something like a GeForce 960M, but the A5 is one of the better integrated GPUs. E-sport titles are no problem for the A10-8700P, and most Triple-A titles run well on low to mid settings. RAM is 8GB DDR3 and the storage is a 1TB hard drive at 5400RPM. The laptop has surprisingly decent speakers.
The laptop has an all-plastic construction, but ASUS has tried to add a more metallic feel to it. It's not a high quality design by any means, though. The keyboard is not backbit and isn't too impressive, but we don't have any gripes about it. ASUS has marketed it's IceCool technology pretty heavily, and it does work. The palm rests do stay cool even while playing a game on a hot summer day. Weighing nearly seven pounds, X555DA-WS11 is a heavy laptop - though its dimensions of 1 x 15 x 10.1 in are average for a 15.6" PC. We would have liked to see a better battery with the extra weight, but the laptop's battery is merely average.
The display is the largest disadvantage of the ASUS X555DA-WS11. It's 1366x768, compared to 1920x1080 that most other $500 laptops have, even though it is 15.6 inches. On the flip-side, however, games will generally play faster on a 1366x768 display versus a full HD 1920x1080 display since there are only 1/2 as many pixels. The image and color quality of the display isn't bad but it's also unremarkable.
ProcessorAMD APU A10-8700P
GraphicsAMD Radeon R5
Memory8 GB DDR3 SDRAM
Max Memory8 GB - 1 Slots
Display15.6" 1366x768
Storage1TB HDD 5400 RPM
Battery2-cell Lithium Ion
Ports1x USB 2.0, 2x USB 3.0, VGA, HDMI
Dimensions15.04" x 10.08" x 1.02"
Weight4.85 lb

PROS

Very good price

A10-8700P APU

One of the better integrated graphics

CONS

 Lower resolution screen

 RAM maxed at 8GB

No SSD

ASUS F556UA-AB54 | i5-7200U – Intel HD 620 graphics

Processor: Intel Core i5-7200U | Graphics: Intel HD 620 graphics | Memory: 8GB DDR4 RAM | Storage: 256 GB SSD | Screen Size: 15.6″ | Resolution: 1920×1080 | Weight: 5.1lbs.

ASUS F556UA-AB54 | i5-7200U - Intel HD 620 graphics

Summary

The ASUS F556UA-AB54 is not much of a proper gaming laptop, but we think that it’s excellent all-around performance as well as value merit it on a spot on here. It’s also built on a newer platform, with DDR4 ram and a 256GB SSD.  The F556UA-AB54 excels at a stylish multi-purpose laptop with the good gaming performance with its seventh-gen Intel i5 CPU. It’s not the fastest laptop for gaming at $500, give it a look.

Though the hardware setup on the ASUS F556UA-AB54 is nearly identical to that on the Acer Aspire E 15 E5-575G-57D4, there is one rather important component on the ASUS that is missing - a discrete graphics card. The F556UA-AB54 needs to run games on the Intel HD 620 integrated graphics in its i5-7200U chip. Though gaming performance inferior compared to the Acer E-series, the ASUS F556UA-AB54 is still a totally viable gaming platform as long as you set realistic expectations. The laptop's ram is 8GB running on the new DDR4 platform, and the storage is a 256GB SSD - a good plus.
The design of the ASUS F556UA-AB54 is one of it's main selling points. At around $500, you won't find many laptops that look as good as it. With brushed golden metallic panels, and a thin design, ASUS certainly had design as a high priority. If the bezels were also glass, the F556UA-AB54 could easily be mistaken for something that costs twice as much. The keyboard is not back-lit, but the quality is decent and the response is tactile. The 38 Whr polymer battery is supposed to last longer than a standard lithium-ion battery, but you can't ever change it out.
The laptop's display is the standard size: 15.6 inches from one corner to the opposite. The display is full HD 1920x1080. There's not much to say about it. It's a standard TN laptop panel with mediocre viewing angles and okay colors.
ProcessorIntel Core i5-7200U
GraphicsIntel HD 620
Memory8 GB DDR4 SDRAM
Max Memory32 GB - 2 Slots
Display15.6" 1920x1080
Storage256 GB SSD
Battery38 WHr
Ports1x USB 2.0, 2x USB 3.0, 1x USB 3.1, VGA, HDMI
Dimensions1" x 15' x 10.1" in
Weight5.1 lb

PROS

New Kaby Lake i5

Flashy design

SSD for storage

Nice sound quality

CONS

Integrated Graphics

Battery non-replaceable

Lenovo IdeaPad Z50 | FX-7500 – AMD Radeon R7

Processor: AMD FX-7500 | Graphics: AMD Radeon R7 | Memory: 8GB DDR3 RAM | Storage: 1 TB Hard Drive | Screen Size: 15.6″ | Resolution: 1366×768 | Weight: 5.29lbs.

Lenovo IdeaPad Z50 | FX-7500 - AMD Radeon R7

Summary

The Lenovo IdeaPad Z50 is possibly the only laptop in the $400 price range that offers good gaming performance. It’s AMD FX-7500 APU and Radeon R7 integrated graphics chip can play most games cranked up to medium settings. The laptop is also surprisingly handsomely built, with a thin profile and smooth borders. It’s For the absolute cheapest gaming laptop option, you cannot go wrong with the Lenovo Z50.

The AMD FX-7500 quad-core APU clocks at 2.1GHz and goes up to 3.3GHz turbo boost. It's roughly a Intel i5-5200U with slightly better graphics performance since AMD integrated Radeon graphics are generally better than their Intel counterparts. Gaming performance on this laptop should be pretty good, especially since the display resolution is only 1366x768. The RAM and storage on the Z-50 are 8GB of DDR3 and a 1TB hard drive.
Lenovo has always had nice looking laptops, and the Z-50 is no exception. The laptop has glossy black plastic bezels instead of the coarse bezels seen on other laptops at $500. It's also pretty thin, at one inch thick. We find no problems with either the trackpad or the keyboard. Battery life on this laptop isn't very good and lasts under four hours in our tests. Had Lenovo not had terribly built laptops in the past, we would have given the Z-50 higher marks for design.
On the 15.6" screen is a 1366x768 pixel TN display. The pixel density is only half of that of a standard 1080p laptop display, but this also means that games will play noticeably faster .
ProcessorAMD APU FX-7500
GraphicsAMD Radeon R7
Memory8 GB DDR3 SDRAM
Max Memory8 GB - 1 Slots
Display15.6" 1366x768
Storage1 TB HDD 5400 RPM
Battery4-cell Lithium Ion
Ports1x USB 2.0, 2x USB 3.0, 1x USB 3.1, HDMI
Dimensions15.11" x 10.43" x 0.98"
Weight5.29 lb

PROS

4-core FX-7500

Very low priced

Great design

CONS

Relatively low battery life

 1366×768 display resolution

Secondary Bonus Options

Here are a few other laptops that did not make our five top picks but still deserve a mention! All of these laptops have Intel Core i5 6200U processors have use HD 520 integrated graphics. We didn’t want to leave these extra mentions out, they are good enough for many older games on high graphics, but many newer games will struggle to run unless you use medium or low settings. These laptops are perfect for any casual gamer or any gamer that doesn’t care too much about graphical quality, we made sure that these laptops had good enough specs to run most games on at least low-medium settings on a reasonable resolution. Please note that we didn’t actually test these laptops with most games so it might not be able to run some new games, but they should be capable of a lot. Remember, your computer isn’t everything, without a good internet connection no matter how good you are you will always have a bottleneck, you should look for a great wireless router for gaming for more info on this.

HP Notebook 15-ay011nr

  • i5-6200U
  • 8GB DDR3 RAM
  • 1TB HDD
  • 1920×1080
  • 15.6″

HP Notebook 15-ay011nr

 

 

 

 

Dell Inspiron i5559-4682SLV

  • i5-6200U
  • 8GB DDR3 RAM
  • 1TB HDD
  • 1920×1080
  • 15.6″

 

Dell Inspiron i5559-4682SLV

Lenovo Ideapad 300

  • i5-6200U
  • 8GB DDR3 RAM
  • 1TB HDD
  • 1600×900
  • 17.3″

examplegaminglaptop

What to Look For in a Gaming Laptop

Not satisfied with our picks? You can also try finding a gaming laptop on your own. With a $500 budget, the choices for a gaming laptop are pretty limited. Most standard gaming laptops cost $800 dollars or more. To find the best laptop for gaming at this price, you need to focus on two main specifications: CPU and graphics.

CPU

Currently, Intel holds around 90% of the market share for laptop processors so we will focus mostly on Intel CPUs since there are so few AMD powered laptops left. If you budget is $500, you should focus nearly exclusively on finding laptops with Intel i5s. i3s or Pentiums usually deliver pretty poor gaming performance and are well under you budget. i7 laptops cost a lot more and if you do manage to find a $500 laptop with an Intel Core i7, it’s most likely a very weak i7.

This brings us to the next point: whether the processor is an i3, i5, or i5 is not really indicative of how powerful it is. Intel introduced it’s first i7 CPU nearly a decade ago. Obviously, any laptop CPU today with an “i” in front of it’s name is miles faster than the Intel i7 from 2009. As you can see on CPUbenchmark.net, the Intel i3-6100U actually beats the i7-4550U in tests! This is because the i7-4550U predates the i3-6100U by around two years and was intended to be a weaker i7 processors because it was intended for low-power consuming ultrabooks.

Right now, the three i5 processors that populate the $500 laptop market are the 5th gen i5-5200U, the sixth gen i5-6200U, and the seventh gen i5-7200U. They are pretty similar, which around a 5-15% performance increase from one to the next depending on how you benchmark them. Chances are that you won’t notice any performance difference between the 5200U and the 7200U since they are so similar in terms of raw power, if you want a better processor try out an more expensive gaming laptop.

Graphics

GPUs aren’t as important to look at in the $500 laptop price range simply because most laptops at that price don’t have discrete GPUs – they use their CPU’s graphics. This is called integrated graphics. They are almost always weaker than a dedicated graphics card and have to use system RAM since they don’t have their own dedicated memory. The i5-5200U has Intel HD Graphics 5500, the i5-6200U has HD Graphics 520, and the i5-7200U has HD Graphics 620. There is a small performance boost from each model to the next (under 10%), which scales about the same as the actual CPUs. So be sure to look out for what integrated graphics a CPU has. For example the i7-6500U beats our the i5-6200U slightly in terms of CPU performance, but both processors have the same HD 520 integrated graphics.

As for AMD integrated graphics, there only two viable AMD gaming options are on this list already, the Lenovo IdeaPad Z50 with the FX-7500 APU and the ASUS X555DA-WS11 with the AMD A10-8700P APU. Both have decent graphics performance comparable to that of the HD620 and HD520.

As for dedicated graphics cards, they are available on the Acer E-series at the $500 range. The E 15 E5-573G-52G3 has the GeForce 940M while the newer E 15 E5-575G-57D4 has the 940MX, which is marginally better than the 940M. Though the 940M series graphics cards are no match for any desktop cards, they are a huge improvement over integrated graphics.

Other Factors

Though the CPU and GPU are the most important components for gaming, memory and storage are two other things you can consider.

Memory (RAM)

To do any gaming, at least six gigabytes (preferably 8GB dual channel) is needed. The speed doesn’t matter, as long as it’s DDR3 or DDR4. Having adequate memory is especially important for integrated graphics because they use the system RAM. If the RAM bottlenecks, you will instantly see an FPS drop. Fortunately, you almost never find laptops above $350 with less than 8GB of RAM, so this shouldn’t be a problem.

Storage

While having an SSD or hard drive doesn’t affect gaming performance, it affects loading times and almost every non-gaming activity. 1GB SSDs cost around 4x as much more as one 1GB on a hard drive, but solid state drivers are 10x faster than a standard HDD. This means that everything from boot times to file transfers to web browsing will be much faster on an SSD. Choosing a laptop with an SSD will greatly increase your gaming experience. (Other things that will help your gaming experience is a gaming desk and chair, look at our guide for a desk for gaming and our dxracer guide)

Final Words

There are quite a few good gaming laptop options at the $500 price point today. We think the Acer Aspire E 15 E5-575G-57D4 and the Acer Aspire E 15 E5-573G-52G3 are the best gaming laptops under 500 available today if you want the best gaming performance. If you want an even more budget gaming laptop, try out the AMD APU powered ASUS X555DA-WS11 or Lenovo IdeaPad Z50. For a more casual, general use laptop, see the ASUS F556UA-AB54.

Read this Disclaimer

Disclaimer

*Please make sure to email bill@pandatechie.com if you spot any errors in the writing, we try to update the content as much as possible however we make mistakes. If any products that we reviewed run out of stock or any errors in the content, please inform us.

Make sure you also check on Amazon as specifications might change at any time or the stock might run out on Amazon, as well as the fact that many OEM producers use different specifications for extremely similar names of laptop models.

The Best Gaming Laptops Under $500 – Buying Guide w/ Reviews for 2017
5 (100%) 2 votes

About the author

Zeyu Yang

  • Pcgamerpro

    Intel 6200u vs 7200u? Is there much of a difference in performance?

  • John

    I am having trouble picking between the three laptops in the Acer E series? Which one has the highest price-performance ratio?

  • Don Dean

    What laptop here is the fastest in absolute gaming performance? I want to play over watch at 45 fps+.

  • Kenneth

    Is the Acer Aspire E 15 E5-575-33BM good for gaming. It only costs around $350 and has an i3-7100u.

  • dontstealmyinfo

    Great post

  • jo

    Hello there, You have done a fantastic job. I will definitely
    digg it and personally recommend to my friends. I’m confident they’ll be benefited
    from this website.