The Best Budget Gaming Laptops Under $500 in 2020

Are you looking to buy a laptop that you can use for some light gaming without breaking the bank? If so, we’ve got you covered.

While you shouldn’t expect a laptop in this price range to handle modern games at their highest settings, you still have some options. Particularly if you intend to play older games developed before 2010.

We took a look at the best gaming laptops priced under $500 in terms of quality, performance, graphics, and other factors to help you narrow down your options. Here are our recommendations.

With any of the laptops listed here, you should be able to play the following games:

  • Destiny 2 (30-45 fps minimum)
  • League of Legends (up to 100 fps)
  • Fortnite (40-60 fps minimum)
  • Minecraft (up to 100 fps)
  • CS: Go (up to 100 fps)
  • Overwatch (40-60 fps minimum)

Best Budget Gaming Laptops Under $500

Acer Aspire E15

Newest Acer Aspire E 15 Full HD Laptop...
  • 15. 6" Full HD (1920 x 1080) widescreen LED-Backlight Display, 8th Generation Intel Core...
  • 6GB system memory for advanced multitasking - Substantial high-bandwidth RAM to smoothly...

The Acer Aspire E15 is a great budget gaming laptop if you’re looking for speed, great battery life, and light gaming.

With its 8th Gen Core i3 processor and 6 GB of RAM, the laptop actually meets many modern games’ minimum system requirements. That said, you’ll probably still want to stick to basic gaming with the Aspire E15 and keep the settings on low.

You should be able to play Half Life 2 with 70-120 fps, for example, but a modern game with heavier graphics like Battlefield V won’t run so smooth.

Another big plus for the Acer Aspire E15 is its battery life, which can last up to 13.5 hours. This will probably drop down if you’re doing heavy gaming or video editing, but its battery life is still one of the best out there.

In terms of cons, the biggest for this laptop is its display, and this is where you’ll notice why the laptop is so affordable. The screen has a large bezel and the colors – while not horrible – aren’t as bright or vivid as more expensive laptops.

If you do decide to go with this laptop, installing an SSD hard drive will vastly improve the hard drive speed and make this laptop superb for its price.

Lenovo IdeaPad S340 2020

The Lenovo IdeaPad S340 is another budget laptop that packs high performance features at under $500.

To start, the laptop has an 8th Gen, quad-core i5 processor along with 8 GB of RAM. That makes it better than the Acer Aspire E15 already. Alongside that the IdeaPad S340 comes with an SSD hard drive, meaning the computer will boot up within seconds.

The graphics card is a simple Intel UHD Graphics 620. Nothing to write home about, but should be able to render most pre-2010 games in at least medium settings.

There aren’t too many cons with this Lenovo laptop, especially when you consider all of the features you’re able to get for the price. Minor issues might be that there isn’t a DVD drive (but who still watches DVD these days?), and that you’ll need a USB to ethernet adapter if you use an ethernet cord.

All in all, the S340 is an excellent budget laptop that can definitely handle some light gaming along with any school/work needs.

Acer Aspire 5

Acer Aspire 5 Slim Laptop, 15.6 Inches...
  • 8th Generation Intel Core i5-8265U Processor (Upto 3.9 gram Hz) | 8 GB DDR4 Memory | 256...
  • 15.6 Inches Full HD (1920 x 1080) Widescreen LED-backlit IPS Display | Intel UHD Graphics...

At nearly exactly $500, the Acer Aspire 5 just manages to sneak into this list. It also happens to be one of the best bang-for-your-buck laptops out there.

It features a 3.9 GHz Intel Core i5 processor, 8GB of RAM, and a 256 GB SSD hard drive. The Aspire 5 has the same graphics card as the Lenovo IdeaPad S340, which is the Intel UHD Graphics 620 that works great for an integrated graphics card. These specs are good enough for all your light gaming needs.

Other features of the Aspire 5 include a backlit keyboard, Acer TrueHarmony sound system that produces deep bass, and a thin aluminum case that gives the laptop a nice sleek look.

The only real drawback of the Acer Aspire 5 is the fan noise can get quite loud if you keep the laptop poorly ventilated. Since the fan vents are on the bottom of the laptop, ideally you’d prop it up with a laptop stand if possible to increase airflow.

ASUS VivoBook F512

ASUS VivoBook F512 Thin and Lightweight...
  • 15.6 inch FHD 4 way NanoEdge bezel display with a stunning 88% screen-to-body ratio
  • Powerful AMD Quad Core Ryzen 5 3500U Processor (2M Cache, up to 3.6 GHz)

ASUS is one of the best gaming laptop brands out there. With the VivoBook F512, they’ve tried to incorporate elements of a good gaming laptop while remaining under $500.

To start, the ASUS VivoBook has an AMD Quad Core r5-3500u processor that can go up to 3.6 GHz. It also has 8 GB of RAM, 256 GB SSD hard drive space, and a Radeon RX Vega 8 graphics card.

You can pretty much play any game, even modern ones, thanks to the Vega 8 graphics card, if you set the resolution to 720p and low graphics settings.

One of the more attractive aspects of this laptop is its display. Like many of the other laptops listed here, it’s 15.6 inches anti-glare, but has a much smaller bezel to give it an 88% screen-to-body ratio.

Thanks to its specs, the iGPU typically runs in the 900-1000 MHz range to start. However, just be aware that as the iGPU reaches higher temperatures, it can throttle down to the 300-500 MHz range which affects performance until it cools off again.

The battery life of ~5 hours with average use isn’t the greatest, but the charger is very small and light.

If you can go $50 over budget:

Acer Nitro 5

Acer Nitro 5 AN515-42-R5ED Gaming...
  • Amd Ryzen 5 2500U quad-core processor (Up to 3 6GHz) | 8GB DDR4 Memory | 1TB 7200Rpm SATA...
  • 15 6" Full HD (1920 x 1080) widescreen LED-backlit IPS display | AMD Radeon RX 560x with 4...

If you’re willing to spend an additional $50 and don’t mind a pre-owned product, the 2019 model of the Acer Nitro 5 is available through Amazon Renewed for $550. These products are certified factory refurbished and show limited or no wear.

The Acer Nitro 5 typically retails for up to $700, so you’re getting a decent discount and much better performance. The laptop comes with a 9th generation, quad-core i5-9300H processor, along with 8GB of RAM and 256 GB of SSD.

Where this laptop really shines though is its graphics card, which is the NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1050. Having a dedicated graphics card means you can play modern games on high settings for stunning visuals and no frame drops.

If you have even the slightest bit of extra budget, definitely consider picking up the Acer Nitro 5 for your gaming needs.

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