Top 5: Best Gaming Laptops Under $500 in 2020 – Reviews

Updated: June 24th, 2020By: BrantonLaptops27 Comments

best gaming laptops under 500

Laptops aren’t always ideal for gaming, especially without spending more than $500. They’ll only be able to handle light gaming and not very well at that. So, it can be pretty hard to choose the best gaming laptop.

Before we go any further, I have to tell you that laptops under $500 are not meant for gaming. None of them come with dedicated graphics cards and subsequently won’t be able to handle high-level (or even mid-level) gaming.

Basically, spending  $500 on a laptop is going to get you something that can run games on low settings, anywhere you want – as long as there is power. Like I said, you won’t be able to get a laptop with a discrete graphics card at this price, so expect everything on this list to have integrated graphics.

The Truth About Laptops Under $500

Just to be perfectly transparent – it is impossible to get a really good gaming laptop at this price. You can get good gaming PCs at this price range, but laptops are another story.

You’re going to get a relatively weak processor and a mediocre graphics card. The ram and storage will be fine, but if you’re playing resource intensive games (WoW, Total War, etc) then you’ll get a lackluster experience.

However, if you’re playing older games that we are well optimized such as League of Legends then these options will work well for you.

If you really want a good gaming laptop that you can play more modern games then look at these options under $1000 which can handle all of your gaming needs.

Best Gaming Laptops Under $500 2020

#1

2020 Dell Inspiron 15 15.6″ Touchscreen Laptop

The Dell Inspiron 15 is definitely the BEST gaming laptop under $500 that you can get.

With this choice you’ll get something that is extremely portable with good graphics and can run games well, live streaming, and any other task you’d need a laptop to do with its fast and smooth performance.

However, one thing to keep in mind is that it does NOT come with a DVD drive.

It’s a great choice for the money and comes within 3 days!

The Good
  • Fast and smooth performance
  • Lightweight for great portability
  • awesome storage
The Bad
  • no DVD drive
Specs
...for nerds
  • Processor: Intel Core i3-1005G1 processor
  • Graphics: Intel UHD Graphics
  • RAM: 8GB DDR4
  • Storage: 1T HDD, 128 GB SSD
  • Display: 15.6″, 1366 x 768 HD
    (1080p)
  • Operating System: Windows 10
  • Weight: 4.45 lbs
  • Battery Life: Up to 6 hours

#2

Lenovo 320-15ABR 15.6″

Lenovo’s 320-15ABR is a great entry-level laptop for gaming under $500. Not only is it under $500, it’s actually under $400! And that’s why it has our #1 spot even though it’s packing a lot of the same components as laptops lower in the ranks. You can’t argue with price, and the Lenovo 320-15ABR has an extremely attractive price to say the least. 

Like lesser ranked builds, the Lenovo 320-15ABR is running an AMD A12 9720P processor, 8GB of DDR4 RAM at 2133MHz and has 1TB of 5400RPM HDD storage. The display is relatively standard for this level of build at a size of 15.6″ and a 16:9 resolution of 1366×768 (basically 720p). 

It’s packing enough power to handle light-duty games, but anything that’s more graphically demanding than say CS:GO is going to have a hard time running well on this laptop. By well I mean in the range of 60fps, 30fps is completely doable in most games at 720p. 

Overall, the Lenovo 320-15ABR is a great entry-level option in terms of a laptop you could use for gaming under $500. It has a very attractive price and should not be overlooked as it compared to builds closer to the $500 mark! 

The Good
  • Very good price for what you get
  • Good for light-duty gaming
  • Webcam + mic
  • Easy to add more RAM
The Bad
  • Not good for graphically demanding games
  • Short battery life
Specs
...for nerds
  • Processor: AMD A12 9720P
  • GPU: Radeon R7
  • RAM: 8GB DDR4 2133MHz
  • Storage: 1TB 5400RPM HDD
  • Display: 15.6″, 1366×768 (basically 720p)
  • Operating System: Windows 10
  • Weight: 5.5 lbs
  • Battery Life: Up to 5 hours

#3

Acer Aspire 5 Slim Laptop, 15.6″ Full HD IPS Display

The Acer Aspire 5 is a little pricier than the the budget, but it’s well worth it.

With 8 GB Ram and 256GB of SSD it doesn’t have a ton of storage, but its processing power and storage is definitely more than enough to play most games. If it’s not enough it’s easy to add more since there is one 2.5″ slot for a SATA or form factor SSD.

It’s smooth performance against the price can’t be beat and will play some older games well. Admittedly, it’s impossible to find a laptop at this price that can play even newer games really well, but this can definitely handle League of Legends and other games.

It’s a great choice for the money and comes within 3 days!

The Good
  • Works well for very basic games
  • Easily handles basic tasks (homework, surfing the web, videos)
  • 256GB SSD
The Bad
  • Won’t do well in demanding games
Specs
...for nerds
  • Processor: Intel i5 10210u
  • Graphics: Intel UHD Graphics 620
  • RAM: 8GB DDR4
  • Storage: 256GB SSD
  • Display: 15.6″, 1920×1080 
    (1080p)
  • Operating System: Windows 10
  • Weight: 5.74 lbs
  • Battery Life: Up to 9 hours

#4

HP 15-BS095MS 15.6″

The HP 15-BS095MS is a slightly different version of the aforementioned BW040NR. Instead of 1866MHz DDR4 RAM, this one has 8GB of 2133MHz DDR4 RAM; and instead of just 1TB of storage, the BS095MS has a whopping 2TB! There’s also the more obvious difference in processors with the BS095MS running an Intel i5 7200u compared to the AMD A12 9720P in the previous laptop. 

Like all laptops in the sub-$500 price range, the BS095MS is more suited to 720p gaming than it is 1080p, so it’s not bad that it only has a 720p display. It’s probably not ideal for people who don’t game a lot and mostly browse the web, etc, but when you’re trying to go cheap you have to make some sacrifices! This laptop will have no problem handling light-duty gaming in titles like CS:GO, Terraria, Stardew Valley, League of Legends, DOTA2, and games like that. Where it will have issues is in more graphically demanding (usually AAA) games. 

Overall, if you need a ton of storage and good, fast RAM to handle multitasking, the HP 15-BS095MS should definitely be a laptop you consider! 

The Good
  • 2TB of storage! 
  • 8GB of DDR4 RAM at 2133MHz
  • Intel i5 processor (7th gen)
  • Webcam + mic
  • Touchscreen
The Bad
  • Won’t be enough to handle demanding games on good settings
  • 720p display
Specs
...for nerds
  • Processor: Intel i5-7200u
  • Graphics: Intel HD 620
  • RAM: 8GB DDR4 @ 2133MHz
  • Storage: 2TB 5400RPM HDD
  • Display: 15.6″, 1366×768 (basically 720p)
  • Operating System: Windows 10
  • Weight: 4.52 lbs
  • Battery Life: Up to 8 hours

#5

Acer Aspire E5-576-392H 15.6″

The Acer Aspire E5-576-392H is a great entry-level laptop which works pretty good for gaming, and will allow you to do anything else you would want to do on a laptop. It’s the newest model of our #5 pick and packs quite a bit more power. 

Featuring a powerful i3 8130u processor, 6GB of 1600MHz RAM and an integrated Intel UHD Graphics 620, this little laptop surprisingly only weighs 5.27 pounds but it still packs a punch and will run the majority of games on low-medium settings. Newer games, or games that are more graphically demanding will have some trouble running well (60fps) on this laptop. 

If you’re in the market for a kickass laptop in the $500 range that’s also going to work well for gaming, then the Acer Aspire E5-576-392H should definitely be on your list of considerations. 

The Good
  • Works well for very basic games
  • No problems with browsing the web, homework and things like that
  • Webcam + mic
  • 1TB of storage
The Bad
  • Won’t do well in demanding games
Specs
...for nerds
  • Processor: Intel i3 8130u
  • Graphics: Intel HD 620
  • RAM: 6GB DDR4 2133MHz
  • Storage: 1TB 5400RPM HDD
  • Display: 15.6″, 1920×1080 
    (1080p)
  • Operating System: Windows 10
  • Weight: 5.27 lbs
  • Battery Life: Up to 13.5 hours

#6

HP 14-CF0014DX

HP’s 14-CF0014DX is a great entry-level 14″ laptop that can work okay for gaming and will allow you to do anything else you would want to do on a laptop.

Featuring a dual core i3 7100u processor, 8GB of DDR4 RAM, and a 128GB SSD, it’s one of the better specced options for less than $500. This 14″ laptop surprisingly only weighs 5.27 pounds but it still packs a punch and will run the majority of games on low-medium settings. Newer games, or games that are more graphically demanding will have some trouble running well on this laptop.

If you’re in the market for a solid laptop in the $500 range that’s also going to work well for gaming, then the HP’s 14-CF0014DX (who names these?) should definitely be on your list of considerations.

The Good
  • Decent CPU & Integrated graphics
  • 8GB of RAM
  • Built-in mic & webcam
  • Integrated Bluetooth & WiFi
  • Will work for basic gaming
The Bad
  • Won’t work well for high-end games
Specs
...for nerds
  • Processor: Intel i3 7100u
  • Graphics: Intel Graphics 620
  • RAM: 8GB DDR3L 1600MHz
  • Storage: 128GB SSD
  • Display: 14″, 1366×768
  • Operating System: Windows 10
  • Weight: 5.27 lbs
  • Battery Life: Up to 13.5 hours

#7

HP 15-BW040NR 15.6″

The HP HP 15-BW040NR is a great 15.6″ laptop for a student on a student’s budget who also wants to game out from time to time. It’s packing a powerful AMD A12 9720P processor that’s running Radeon R7 integrated graphics. It’s also boasting a solid 8GB of DDR4 RAM at 1866MHz which isn’t bad at all. It also comes with an okay backpack and a semi-decent mouse, so there’s that too! 

Like all laptops under $500, the one major limiting factor to this one’s gaming performance is the fact that it’s not running a dedicated graphics card. Instead, it relies on the integrated R7 graphics that are packaged with the A12 9720P. That’s to say, it’s not going to blow your mind when it comes to in-game performance, but it’ll do well enough regardless. Another slight downside is going to be the 720p display, however it’s not all bad considering this laptop will run games a lot better in 720p than it would in 1080p. 

Overall, the HP 15-BW040NR is a good entry-level laptop with a modest amount of power. Popular games like Minecraft, and DOTA2 or even CS:GO would run well on the HP 15-BW040NR. If you’re looking to spend around $400 on a laptop to use for gaming, homework, and browsing the web, this one should be right near the top of your list! 

The Good
  • 8GB of DDR4 RAM
  • Will work for games like CS:GO, DOTA2 and LoL
  • 1TB of storage
  • Webcam + mic
  • Touchscreen
  • Comes with a backpack and a mouse!
The Bad
  • Will have trouble with newer AAA/demanding games
  • 720p display
Specs
...for nerds
  • Processor: AMD A12 9720P
  • Graphics: Radeon R7 
  • RAM: 8GB DDR4 1866MHz
  • Storage: 1TB 5400RPM HDD
  • Display: 15.6″, 1366×768 (basically 720p)
  • Operating System: Windows 10
  • Weight: 4.41 lbs
  • Battery Life: Up to 8 hours

Buying Guide

In this section we’ll go over the things to consider when selecting your laptop. Choosing the right or wrong one can make or break your purchase. In order of importance, here are the things to consider:

Processor

Without a doubt, this is the most important thing to consider in getting your laptop. A processor, or CPU, helps the computer run by running the commands of the computer and interacting with programs, which includes games.

It not only performs calculations necessary for games, but also works with the graphics card to display the graphics of the games to deliver a smooth visual experience.

Graphics Card

Almost as important as the processor, the graphics card is primarily responsible for making sure you can see the games you’re playing by rendering the images.

If you like games for the aesthetics of the world you’re in you’ll want a good, dedicated graphics card (as opposed to integrated).

NVIDIA and  AMD are among the top brands for graphics cards.

RAM

RAM, or random access memory, is the amount of data a computer can keep in its temporary storage. Data kept in temporary storage is faster and easier to access for a computer. Having more RAM allows the computer to quickly pull in data for games and minimizes lag. For example, with great RAM it’ll minimize the time it takes for you to switch maps/scenes/worlds.

The bare minimum you need is 8GB, which all of these laptops have. RAM is relatively inexpensive so you don’t need to look at RAM too much. It’s also easy to upgrade the RAM for a laptop.

Display

4th on our list is display – the actual screen or monitor that the laptop comes with.

Display is important for a good color range. With pixel density you get crisper images which enhance the visual experience. Some screens will be HD while others won’t.

Additionally you’ll want to know the refresh rate (how often the screen refreshes each second). You’ll want at least 60hz (the display will update 60 times per second) which will let you have smooth gameplay.

Storage

Storage is how much total data the laptop can store (usually measured in megabytes (MB), gigabytes (GB), or terabytes (T)).

1000  MB = 1 GB

1000 GB = 1 TB

1 TB is a LOT of data and there are a few options with this much storage.

However, not all storage is created equally. There is a hard disk drive (HDD) and solid state drive (SSD). Most computers by default have HDD, which can handle more data. You’ll want at least 512 GB of HDD  or 256 GB of SSD.

However, SSD is considered for gaming since SSD storage is faster to access for the computer.

Conclusion

Not everyone can justify spending massive amounts of money on a gaming computer, especially if you’re going to school or you’re on a fixed income. But, that doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy some light-duty PC gaming all the same!

Although none of these laptops are going to be the best for gaming on, they’ll still be able to manage games with CS:GO levels of graphics without an issue. Popular MOBAs will run well just like pixel-based, or most isometric-style games will run awesome as well. I’m talking games like Terraria, Stardew Valley, and even games like Oxygen Not Included. 

Something you should always keep in mind while gaming on a laptop is: don’t restrict your airflow. It might be convenient to put your laptop on a pillow on your lap or something and game out, but trust me, that’s a bad idea, and you’re slowly smothering your laptop. You should almost always use a cooling pad when actively gaming on your laptop, if not just a hard surface.

You might want to consider getting yourself a mouse also, gaming with a trackpad can be a nuisance at best. Since there are so many mice on the market, I’ve put together top 5 lists for both mice under $50 and mice under $100. You’re almost guaranteed to find the mouse you need within one of those lists.

Another addition you might want to consider is a good gaming headset. For that purpose, I’ve put together a list of the best gaming headsets under $100 and the best gaming headsets under $50!  

If nothing else, I hope this list of the laptops you can use for gaming while spending under $500 helped you in some way! If you’re not impressed by the level of performance you’re seeing in this list, check out the top 5 laptops for gaming under $1000

Have a question? Feel free to ask in the comment section!

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Branton

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Hey there! I'm Branton, the founder and lead editor here at PC Game Haven. Since our launch in 2015, we've helped thousands upon thousands of gamers build their dream desktops, find the perfect peripherals, and more. Thanks for stopping by and feel free to get in tough!

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Gerry
Gerry
September 2, 2018 12:01 pm

Hey Branton, any suggestion to play games like WoW, LoL, Rocket League and maybe fortnite? I really don’t know if any of those laptops above are good for that, but my budget is in the $500-ish, thanks for the awesome work!

Gerry
Gerry
September 4, 2018 1:32 pm
Reply to  Branton

You are right, I didn’t realize how demanding WoW is and since my budget is a little low I can manage to get the Asus but I would say its a great laptop for the price. So what about a good laptop to play indie and low demanding games like LoL, terraria, Hearthstone, civ, cities skylines, rocket league and so on? Could I find a laptop that can run those games without being pricey?

Tori
Tori
June 26, 2018 7:28 am

Can any of these laptop run The Isle type games? Been looking for something, but I’m new to the gaming world.

Anonymous
Anonymous
May 18, 2018 9:30 am

Would any of these work for fortnite?

Jordan
Jordan
October 28, 2017 7:34 pm

Do you think any of these could handle fallout 4 on lowest settings?

Jaskaran
Jaskaran
December 25, 2016 10:16 am

Yo I need your help Brandon. I am looking for a gaming laptop for $800 or less and I can’t find anything. I’ve been searching for months but the problem is that I live in Canada so basically everything is 25% or more cost. Please help I just need a really good gaming laptop for $800. Thanks

Anonymous
Anonymous
June 24, 2018 2:40 pm
Reply to  Jaskaran

get an acer nitro 5 I live in canada too I feel you man but the nitro 5 max out is only like 779 CAD on amazon.ca

Bob
Bob
December 16, 2016 10:33 pm

Do you have a recommendation on the cheapest I could go to run CS:S decently? Many of us still love it, its not dead! 🙂

Bob
Bob
December 17, 2016 10:15 pm
Reply to  Branton

You should fire it up again. It’s still as great as it always was. 🙂

Christian
Christian
November 13, 2016 7:25 pm

How much better would the 579$ Acer Aspire Or The Asus x550ZA

Compared to the ASUS X550ZA you have here.

And what are the top games it could run with best setting for FPS.