Best Laptops under $500: Cheap & Budget Gaming (June 2020)

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Winner
2020 ASUS VivoBook 15 15.6 Inch FHD 1080P Laptop (AMD Ryzen 3 3200U up to 3.5GHz, 8GB DDR4 RAM, 256GB SSD, AMD Radeon Vega 3, Backlit Keyboard, FP Reader, WiFi, Bluetooth, HDMI, Windows 10) (Grey)
Best Price-Performance Ratio
2019 Dell Inspiron 14" Laptop Computer| 10th Gen Intel Quad-Core i5 1035G4 Up to 3.7GHz| 4GB DDR4 RAM| 128GB PCIe SSD| Intel Iris Plus Graphics| 802.11ac WiFi| Bluetooth 4.1| USB 3.1| HDMI| Windows 10
HP 14" HD AMD Ryzen 3 3.5GHz 4GB 128GB SSD Radeon Vega 3 Webcam Windows 10 Laptop
Model
ASUS VivoBook 15
Dell Inspiron 14
HP 14
Test Result
Test Result 9.8/10 Excellent June 2020
Test Result 9.7/10 Very Good June 2020
Test Result 9.4/10 Very Good June 2020
Manufacturer
ASUS
Dell
HP
RAM
8 GB
4 GB
4 GB
CPU
AMD Ryzen 3 3200U
Intel Quad-Core i5 1035G4
AMD Ryzen 3 3200
Graphics Card
AMD Radeon Vega 3
Intel Iris Plus Graphics
AMD Radeon Vega 3
Storage Capacity
256GB SSD
128GB SSD
128GB SSD
Performance
Value for money
Weight
3.8 lbs.
3.7 lbs.
3.2 lbs.
Pros
  • Reasonable price
  • Backlit keyboard
  • Sturdy build quality
  • Good Gaming performance
  • Provides very good performance
  • Best price-performance ratio
  • Nearly 8 hours of battery life
  • Aluminum case
  • Very low price
  • Loud audio
  • Reasonable port selection
  • Snappy performance
Cons
  • Mediocre battery life
  • Keyboard backlighting is fuzzy
  • Mediocre battery life
Recommended by us?
Winner
2020 ASUS VivoBook 15 15.6 Inch FHD 1080P Laptop (AMD Ryzen 3 3200U up to 3.5GHz, 8GB DDR4 RAM, 256GB SSD, AMD Radeon Vega 3, Backlit Keyboard, FP Reader, WiFi, Bluetooth, HDMI, Windows 10) (Grey)
Model
ASUS VivoBook 15
Test Result
Test Result 9.8/10 Excellent June 2020
Manufacturer
ASUS
RAM
8 GB
CPU
AMD Ryzen 3 3200U
Graphics Card
AMD Radeon Vega 3
Storage Capacity
256GB SSD
Performance
Value for money
Weight
3.8 lbs.
Pros
  • Reasonable price
  • Backlit keyboard
  • Sturdy build quality
  • Good Gaming performance
Cons
  • Mediocre battery life
Recommended by us?
Best Price-Performance Ratio
2019 Dell Inspiron 14" Laptop Computer| 10th Gen Intel Quad-Core i5 1035G4 Up to 3.7GHz| 4GB DDR4 RAM| 128GB PCIe SSD| Intel Iris Plus Graphics| 802.11ac WiFi| Bluetooth 4.1| USB 3.1| HDMI| Windows 10
Model
Dell Inspiron 14
Test Result
Test Result 9.7/10 Very Good June 2020
Manufacturer
Dell
RAM
4 GB
CPU
Intel Quad-Core i5 1035G4
Graphics Card
Intel Iris Plus Graphics
Storage Capacity
128GB SSD
Performance
Value for money
Weight
3.7 lbs.
Pros
  • Provides very good performance
  • Best price-performance ratio
  • Nearly 8 hours of battery life
  • Aluminum case
Cons
  • Keyboard backlighting is fuzzy
Recommended by us?
HP 14" HD AMD Ryzen 3 3.5GHz 4GB 128GB SSD Radeon Vega 3 Webcam Windows 10 Laptop
Model
HP 14
Test Result
Test Result 9.4/10 Very Good June 2020
Manufacturer
HP
RAM
4 GB
CPU
AMD Ryzen 3 3200
Graphics Card
AMD Radeon Vega 3
Storage Capacity
128GB SSD
Performance
Value for money
Weight
3.2 lbs.
Pros
  • Very low price
  • Loud audio
  • Reasonable port selection
  • Snappy performance
Cons
  • Mediocre battery life
Recommended by us?

Getting the best gaming laptop for less than 500$ is a though thing to ask for.

Because of the budget restrains gamers do have to accept some compromises in order to get a solid gaming laptop.

Wether you are a student, developer, PhD Grad or a regular employee you probably like to play games in your free time on your laptop.

Many manufacturers and brands advertise their laptops as gaming machines, but a lot of these claims are wrong, especially for laptops under 500 Dollar.

That’s why wwe took the time to find the best budget gaming laptop for under $500.

We could find three top models that are suited for gaming newer games also.

Of course you cannot expect graphical miracles from laptops under 500 Dollar, but it should be sufficient for most games on lower graphics settings.

Test Results: Best Gaming Laptops under $500

Ranking First: ASUS VivoBook 15

ASUS VivoBook 15

Pros

  • Reasonable price
  • Backlit keyboard
  • Sturdy build quality
  • Good Gaming performance

Cons

  • Mediocre battery life

Great Gaming Performance for a laptop for under 500 Dollars

Asus’ VivoBook range consists of budget to mid-range laptops and complements the higher-end and more expensive ZenBook range.

Our current test device is a 15.6-inch VivoBook 15, which is equipped with the entry-level processor Ryzen 3 3200U from AMD’s 2nd Zen+ generation, pretty good for a laptop under 500 Dollar.

This particular model is equipped with 4 GB RAM, a 128 GB SSD and a 1080p display and can be purchased online for about 400 US dollars (~368 Dollar).

Models with the Intel Core i3-8145U, Core i5-8265U, Core i7-8565U and models with GeForce-MX110 graphics are also available.

In contrast to the AMD-based VivoBook-F512 series, the optically identical Intel variants are sold as the VivoBook-X512 series.

The direct competition consists of other cheap 15.6-inch multimedia laptops such as the Lenovo Ideapad S340-15, Acer’s Aspire 5 A515, Dell’s Inspiron 15 3585 and the Huawei MateBook D.

Housing

The chassis construction is almost identical to that of the VivoBook S15 S532, but the ScreenPad is missing here.

That’s why many of our existing comments on the S532 chassis also apply to the F512.

However, the lid is disappointingly weak and gives way more easily at the corners when twisted.

In contrast, the base unit is relatively rigid, which means that despite its plastic construction it yields less easily and creaking noises are kept within limits.

Equipment

The connection equipment is identical to that of the VivoBook S15 S532 and any laptop under 500 Dollar really.

For reasons unknown to us, the position of the HDMI and USB ports on the right side has been swapped, but otherwise the port layout also matches.

We would have liked more space between the connections, as they are very close together.

Communication

Intel’s 8265 module with Bluetooth 4.2 is installed as standard.

The system seems to have difficulty maintaining high transfer rates and, most importantly, the transmission speed was noticeably low despite repeated tests with our Netgear RAX200 router.

However, apart from this, no connection problems have been encountered while surfing and streaming video.

Maintenance

Removing the base plate is very easy, since only a Phillips screwdriver is required.

Inside there is one SODIMM and one M.2-2280 slot.

In our picture you can see the large unused spaces next to the battery and the fan.

ASUS VivoBook 15

Warranty and accessories

Except for the power supply unit and the instructions, no extras are included in the scope of delivery.

The standard, limited one-year warranty applies.

Input devices

Keyboard

The size, layout and typing feel of the illuminated keyboard are similar to those of the VivoBook S15 S532.

The QWERTY standard keys offer a great key feedback in view of the low price, but the operation of the tiny number pad and arrow keys is relatively uncomfortable, not least because of their spongy feedback.

But still good quality for a laptop under 500 Dollar.

Touchpad

The Precision ClickPad (10.5 x 7.4 cm) is smaller than the ZenBook 15 (13 x 6.7 cm).

Pointer movements are registered cleanly and without any noticeable errors or dropouts.

In contrast, clicks feel spongy due to the unclear feedback.

Display

The IPS panel AU Optronics B156HAN02.1 installed here can also be found in many other cheap 15.6 inch laptops like the ThinkPad E590 and the VivoBook S15 S510UQ 2017 from our own company.

The low contrast ratio of only 300:1 and the low sRGB color space coverage show that this is an inexpensive panel.

We didn’t expect the quality of a top ultrabook here, but competing, cheap laptops, like the IdeaPad S340, also have brighter displays with higher contrast ratios and can therefore achieve a better display than our Asus device.

ASUS VivoBook 15

A closer look reveals an inconspicuous, but recognizable, granular layer, which is common for matte displays.

Overall, the screen is usable, but you shouldn’t expect breathtaking colours or extremely sharp text and images.

Through our calibration we were able to reduce the grayscale deltaE from 4.6 to 0.9 and significantly improve the display.

On the other hand, the color accuracy changes only insignificantly due to the limited color space coverage of the panel.

Blue is reproduced particularly imprecisely compared to other primary and secondary colors.

Outdoor readability is poor, but this is no surprise for this category of devices.

Aggravating factors are the weak contrast ratio and the display’s lower maximum brightness, which without a power connection is only 216 cd/m² instead of 252 cd/m².

To stop the automatic brightness reduction, the AMD Adrenaline Software must be installed manually.

Processor

The CPU performance is very similar to that of Intel’s Core i3-8130U, which comes from the latest processor generation Kaby Lake, or the Whiskey Lake CPU Core i3-8145U.

The Core i3-1005G1 from Intel’s current, 10th generation, which can be found for example in the Dell XPS 13, achieves a 20 to 30 percent higher processor performance, great for a laptop under 500 Dollar.

Asus also offers VivoBook configurations with the Core i7-8565U, which offers an approximately 50 percent higher multi-thread performance than our inexpensive Ryzen 3 configuration.

ASUS VivoBook 15

In our Cinebench R15 multi-thread loop, our test device proves to be relatively stable in terms of performance.

For more technical information and benchmark comparisons, please see our Ryzen 3 3200U page.

The AMD Ryzen 3 4300U will replace the Ryzen 3 3200U in the coming months.

System Performance

Compared to competing Core i3 alternatives, the results of our PCMark benchmarks meet our expectations and compared to laptops based on Intel’s Atom processors, such as the Chuwi LapBook, the system performance is much higher.

DPC latencies

The DPC latencies of our system become problematic if you open several edge tabs in succession, play a 4K UHD video and run Prime95.

Fortunately, we were unable to detect lost frames during our 4K UHD video test.

Mass storage

Our test device was equipped with the inexpensive, 128 GB SanDisk M.2-SSD SD9SN8W128G to keep the price low.

With only 341 MB/s and 134 MB/s respectively, the sequential read and write rates determined by AS SSDs are lower than those of most other SATA III SSDs.

In CrystalDiskMark, the speeds are slightly higher, but still comparatively low.

Graphics card

The built-in Radeon RX Vega 3 delivers a neck-and-neck race with the competing Intel UHD Graphics 620 and is therefore unsuitable for most 3D games.

For less demanding games like DOTA 2 or Rocket League, you should instead look at laptops with the RX Vega 10, an Ice-Lake Core i7 or a GeForce MX150/MX250 graphics card.

However playing games on lower graphics settings is till alright. Considering that laptops under 500 Dollar have to compromise on equipment the Vega 3 is still a solid GPU.

ASUS VivoBook 15

Further benchmark comparisons can be found on our RX Vega 3 page.

Emissions

Noise emissions

The volume of the laptop’s fans is hardly worth mentioning.

When typing, surfing or editing text, you can expect a quiet background noise of up to 31 dB(A).

At most, we could measure a peak value of 34 dB(A) for a short time under extremely high load.

Our test device also does not suffer from coil peeps or the like.

Temperature

The surface temperatures of the VivoBook F512/X512 are always warmer in the right half of the housing than in the left half, which is due to the position of the processor and cooling system.

The temperature of the warmest area on the keyboard settles at around 33°C under extremely high load, whereas the bottom reaches a maximum of 42°C.

Regardless of the system load and regardless of the temperature difference between the left and right side, the laptop never gets uncomfortably hot.

Stress test

To check it for potential throttling and possible stability problems, we expose the system to artificial loads.

When running Prime95, the CPU clock speed is in the 3.3-3.5 GHz range for the first few seconds.

Subsequently, clock frequency and temperature stabilize at 2.5 GHz and 86 °C respectively with an occasional jump to 3.1 GHz.

If CPU and GPU are used simultaneously, the clock frequency drops to 2 GHz.

Performance is limited in battery mode.

A 3DMark-11 run delivers physical and graphic scores of 3,653 and 1,678 points respectively in network mode, whereas 1,866 and 1,596 points are achieved in battery mode.

Speaker

The speakers are nothing special, which is fine considering a laptop under 500 Dollar.

Higher volume levels do not cause noise, but the front palm rests will vibrate a little.

For large conference rooms the maximum volume is not sufficient.

Power Management

Energy consumption

ASUS VivoBook 15

When idle on the desktop, between 3 and 8 W are consumed, depending on the performance profile and brightness level.

During the 3DMark 06 version, the consumption is only 30 W and is thus comparable to that of the Acer Aspire A515, which is equipped with the more powerful Ryzen 5 3500U.

We could measure a peak consumption of 44.4 W on the small (~5.3 x 5.3 x 2.8 cm) 45 W power supply.

As our diagrams below show, consumption drops over time due to throttling.

Battery life

Small, internal batteries are common within the budget laptop class, while higher-end laptops like the XPS 15 can offer battery capacities of more than 90 Wh.

The battery life of our Asus test device can still be impressive with just under 6 hours of practical WLAN usage.

Fully charging the empty battery takes about 1.5 hours. It is not possible to charge the laptop via USB-C.

Verdict: Great Gaming Performance for around 500 Dollars

Our Ryzen-3 configuration costs less than the Intel Core i3 model, but offers almost the same performance.

This is a good indication that AMD’s Intel price-performance ratio is also superior in the budget area.

One of the disadvantages is that you are somewhat limited by the built-in 4 GB RAM and the low memory, but this VivoBook is surprisingly easy to maintain and upgrade, making it a good entry-level laptop with a lot of potential.

For 200 US dollars (~184 Dollar) more you can already get the AMD-based Huawei MateBook D 15, which is especially interesting for frequent travelers.

Outdoors, the VivoBook’s low display brightness is noticeable and makes it difficult to use in many situations.

On the other hand, the basic VivoBook model is perfectly suitable for those who limit their office tasks and video streaming to indoors.

As we have encountered WLAN problems with our test device, we recommend that you check the performance of the wireless connection yourself.

All in all a great Laptop for under 500$, also for gaming.

Ranking Second: Dell Inspiron 14

Dell Inspiron 14

Pros

  • Provides very good performance
  • Best price-performance ratio
  • Nearly 8 hours of battery life
  • Aluminum case

Cons

  • Keyboard backlighting is fuzzy

Best price-performance ratio laptop under $500

Enduring companion. The Dell Inspiron 14 7490 is a slim subnotebook that, according to Dell, wants to convince with perfection and comfortable features.

This test shows just how well this works for a laptop costing under 500 Dollar.

The Dell Inspiron 14 7000 “is a compact 14-inch that looks out for customers with current 10th generation Intel Core processors, a metal chassis, IPS display and some special features.

The prices currently start at just under 1,000 Dollar in Dell’s online shop.

For this you get an Intel Core i5-10210U, 8 GB LPDDR3 RAM and a 256 GB (gross) solid state drive.

The Intel UHD Graphics integrated in the processor is responsible for the graphics output.

Always included is a FullHD-IPS display, which should be able to reproduce 100% of the sRGB color space.

The test device is currently available for 500

Dollar and offers an Intel Core i7-10510U, 16 GB LPDDR3 RAM and a 512 GB solid state drive.

Here, the graphics output is taken over by an Nvidia Optimus combination of Intel UHD Graphics and Nvidia Geforce MX 250.

Dell Inspiron 14 7490: Warranty

Dell offers a 1 year manufacturer’s warranty with pick-up and return service on the Inspirons 7000 Series.

As a supplement, the manufacturer offers various optional support packages.

For an extension to 3 years of premium support, for example, about 190 Dollar are due.

Dell Inspiron 14 7490: Case

According to Dell, the metal case is made of a magnesium alloy, which is supposed to guarantee a particularly good compromise between lightness and stability.

In fact, the 4 lbs. light 14-inch case pleases with a clean finish and very good stability. Definitely not looking like a laptop under 500 Dollar.

The entire base unit is extremely torsion-resistant and can only be deformed slightly in the display area.

The surface is slightly roughened and thus also offers an attractive haptic appeal.

Separate maintenance flaps are not found here any more than in the current competition.

If you want to access the internal components here, you have to remove the entire base plate.

The main memory is soldered and cannot be upgraded.

Before upgrading or maintenance work on your own, you should inform yourself as usual about the applicable warranty conditions.

Dell Inspiron 14 7490: Equipment

Dell Inspiron 14

Dell has given the Inspiron 7490 a lot of important connections, especially for a laptop under 500 Dollar.

Thunderbolt 3, HDMI 2.0, USB 3.1 Type A and even a MicroSD memory card reader can be found here.

The lack of a separate mains connection is not entirely understandable.

The actually feature-rich Thunderbolt 3 atrophies to a simple power connection in desktop mode.

Only the acquisition of further peripheral devices, such as a docking station or well-equipped Thunderbolt 3 monitors, can help here.

Otherwise, the performance of the interface standards is quite convincing.

High-resolution displays can be operated via HDMI 2.0 or via DisplayPort via Thunderbolt 3 at 60 Hz, data flows via Thunderbolt 3 at up to 2,806 MB/s and MicroSD cards are read at up to 84 MB/s.

WiFi 6 WLAN and Bluetooth 5.0 are available as wireless connection options which is not standard for a laptop under 500 Dollar.

A WWAN option is generally offered, but is not integrated in the test device.

In such models the SIM drawer is then located next to the memory card reader.

A wired network connection can only be realized via adapters.

Dell Inspiron 14 7490: Input devices

Keyboard

The keyboard used in the Dell Inspiron 14 comes with mostly normal sized keys in a 19 mm grid and has the same metallic coloring as the rest of the case.

The F-key bar is smaller, as is often the case, but in this case it still offers a convenient size.

The pressure point is pleasantly defined, and with a medium short stroke and quiet impact noise, the other characteristics also turn out well.

Some users could be disturbed by the arrow keys squeezed into a line or the low-contrast keyboard labeling depending on the lighting situation.

The standard built-in keyboard illumination has a 2-step design and improves visibility in darker working environments.

Touchpad: Great for a laptop under 500 Dollar

Dell Inspiron 14

The 106 x 66 mm touchpad has good gliding characteristics despite its roughened surface.

The mouse buttons integrated in the click pad are easy to operate. Overall, the input responds very reliably.

Dell Inspiron 14 7490: Display

According to the data sheet for the Inspiron 14 7490, Dell installs two different FullHD IPS displays.

One model with and one without touch surface.

Both are supposed to cover 100% of the sRGB color space, but differ in maximum brightness and surface texture.

According to the manufacturer, the brightness reaches up to 270 cd/m² for the matt touch display and up to 300 cd/m² for the reflective standard display.

Brightness & contrast

The Sharp panel built into the test device has to manage without touch operation and delivers brightness values between 256 cd/m² and 313 cd/m² at the nine measuring points.

The illumination is only average at 81%. In the black image, halos and cloud formations are visible, which could be disturbing in dark image, game and film content.

Brightness can be adjusted via 11 predefined levels or by percentage using the Windows display settings.

The lower three brightness levels obviously use PWM with a frequency of 1,600 Hz.

In outdoor operation, one must expect disturbing overlaps.

Depending on the incidence of light, image contents are then difficult to recognize due to the smooth surface, a hardly effective anti-reflection coating and the only average brightness.

The measured black value turns out well with 0.149 cd/m². Together with the maximum display brightness it provides a contrast of 2,100:1.

Color space & color accuracy

The colour display is convincing right out of the box.

Although a slight orange tinge can be seen here, the overall result is a subjectively natural colour reproduction.

The totality of the displayable colours also contributes to this, providing finely differentiated colour gradations.

As already mentioned, Dell promises 100% of the sRGB color space for the screen and actually delivers a very good 98%.

With an average DeltaE 2000 (deviation from the ideal, the less the better) of 1.8 and a maximum DeltaE 2000 of 4.7, there is nothing to criticise in terms of colour fidelity, even for professional users.

The limit values of 3 and 5 are clearly undercut and thus testify to a true-colour reproduction of the image contents.

Perfectionists can certainly optimize the white point and thus the overall color accuracy by profiling.

Dell Inspiron 14 7490: Performance

Dell Inspiron 14

Intel’s Ice Lake generation is already used in the Dell Inspiron 14 7490.

Dell offers configurations with Intel Core i5-10210U or Intel Core i7-10510U.

Intel’s UHD Graphics is found as the graphics unit in the entry-level model, and Nvidia’s Geforce MX 250 is added in the higher positioned variants.

With 8 GB or 16 GB LPDDR3 RAM most users should get along well, this is standard for a laptop under 500 Dollar.

Dell offers a sufficiently wide range of mass storage capacity from 256 GB (gross) up to 1 TB.

The test device has the Intel Core i7-10510U, 16 GB RAM, the dedicated Nvidia graphics and 512 GB mass storage capacity.

In Dell’s online shop, interested parties currently have to transfer just under 1,300 Dollar for this.

Processor – Intel Core i7-10510U

In the Dell Inspiron 14 7490, the processor allows itself up to 49 watts at the beginning of a load phase according to HWinfo.

Within the first 60 seconds the value decreases to about 20 watts, which the system then keeps quite constant.

In the result, the Intel Core i7-10510U places itself in the single thread comparison between the Intel Core i7-1065G7 in the Acer Swift 3-SF314-57-77MU and the Intel Core i7-8565U in the Lenovo ThinkPad T490.

In terms of multi-thread performance, the test CPU is positioned between the Intel Core i7-8565U in the Lenovo ThinkPad T490 and the Intel Core i5-8257U from Apple’s 13-inch MacBook Pro 2019.

Under continuous load, the system not only has to surrender to the dominant Intel Core i5-8257U in the Apple 13″ MacBook Pro 2019, but also to the AMD Ryzen 7 3700U in the Lenovo Ideapad S540 and the Intel Core i7-8565U in the Lenovo ThinkPad T490.

Otherwise, the performance remains constant in the further course of the test and still delivers a respectable 11,789 points after the 29th run in the Geekbench CPU stress test.

Graphics – Intel UHD Graphics & Nvidia Geforce MX 250

Except for the entry model, all variants of the Dell Inspiron 14 7490 are equipped with an Nvidia Optimus composite of Nvidia Geforce MX 250 and Intel UHD Graphics.

For less demanding tasks, the use of the energy-saving processor graphics is a good choice, for somewhat more demanding 3D tasks, the Nvidia graphics should be the first choice.

When which graphics unit is used can either be left to the very well functioning Nvidia automatic or configured manually.

In the test, the Nvidia Geforce MX 250 provides for quite respectable results, which can even hold its own against the fastest CPU graphic units.

The 3DMark Night Raid scores 11,189 points and the Unigine Heaven Extreme 18 fps.

That doesn’t make the Inspiron 14 a gaming notebook, but at least provides a certain playability in newer titles with low resolutions and very reserved quality settings.

Otherwise, the Intel UHD Graphics integrated in the processor is completely sufficient for many other tasks.

Thus external 4k displays can be operated at 60 Hz, UHD videos can be played smoothly and up to 3 displays can be controlled, which is amazing for a laptop under 500 Dollar.

Thanks to Intel’s Quick-Sync video technology, you also get powerful support for video conversion (software-dependent).

Mass storage – KIOXIA BG4 512 GB PCIe SSD

Dell Inspiron 14

The mass memory built into the test device comes from the Toshiba successor KIOXIA.

The KIOXIA BG4 solid-state drive with 512 GB gross capacity comes in the short M.2-2230 format and is connected via PCIe interface.

With up to 2,241 MB/s for reading and up to 1,185 MB/s for writing (both QD32), the user receives a performance that is thoroughly practical.

The drive is plugged in and not soldered.

Dell Inspiron 14 7490: Emissions

Operating noise

The Dell Inspiron 14 7490 is an extremely quiet and cool notebook, untypical for a laptop under 500 Dollar. Many less demanding tasks are performed in silent operation. If 3D graphics tasks are used, the measured sound pressure level increases continuously and slowly up to 40.2 dB(A). No disturbing background noises have occurred in the test device.

Heat development

The metal housing remains pleasantly cool for simple tasks such as spreadsheets, word processing or Internet research. After one hour of full load, the surface heats up noticeably, but at a maximum of 45.8 °C remains far from a critical range.

The central underbody is barely warmer with a maximum temperature of 45.4 °C. Only the right air outlet ensures that the lower display frame heats up to 54.2°C with its outflowing cooling air. However, this is not likely to restrict practice.

Dell Inspiron 14 7490: Power consumption

Dell has obviously done a good job with the power consumption. From a minimum of 1.3 watts (display off) to a maximum of 5.3 watts (maximum display brightness), the Inspiron 14 is extremely frugal in idle mode. The consumption range is also quite narrow with 6.9 to 9.7 watts (brightness level 7 with 217 cd/m², balanced profile) in WLAN TV streaming or when playing FullHD videos.

The short-term maximum of about 55 watts only occurs at the beginning of a full load phase and reduces over 49.9 watts to up to 37.5 watts within a few seconds. The power supply unit is specified with a nominal output of 65 watts and thus offers sufficient reserves even with extensive peripheral connections.

Usually a laptop under 500 Dollar doesn’t consume a lot of power.

Battery life

Dell Inspiron 14

In addition to the low power consumption already in mains operation, the 52 Wh battery with practical capacity also contributes to the longest possible battery life.

Alternative capacities are not available.

For possible runtime extensions, one would have to fall back on external solutions, such as Dell’s USB-C notebook power bank (65 Wh, PW7018LC), if necessary.

Whether this is necessary at all is likely to depend above all on individual user behaviour.

This would have to be very demanding in the Dell Inspiron 14 7490.

The runtimes achieved with the 52 Wh battery can in any case be classified as very good. 9:20 hours for WLAN TV streaming or 15:53 hours for video playback prove the Inspiron 14’s high energy efficiency in battery mode.

Such long battery lifetimesin a laptop under 500 Dollar are otherwise often only possible with significantly higher capacity battery expansion stages.

Verdict: Best price-performance ratio laptop under $500

Dell has a very good notebook in its program with the Inspiron 14 7490.

The manufacturer hardly leaves any room for criticism on the great metal housing, with its colour-true display and current performance features.

Only the lack of a separate network connection and one or the other display feature could displease potential buyers.

On the credit side, the test device can book good input devices, a fairly broadly diversified interface equipment and very restrained emissions.

A particularly outstanding feature in the test is the endurance in battery operation.

With practical runtimes of 9 to almost 16 hours, even long laptop deployments shouldn’t cause any problems.

The Dell Inspiron 14 7490 clearly ranks in the budget segment in terms of price and it is a great laptop under 500 Dollar.

It’s a pity that Dell nevertheless only grants a basic support of 1 year and also the available warranty extensions demand partly significant surcharges.

Ranking Third: HP 14

HP 14

Pros

  • Very low price
  • Loud audio
  • Reasonable port selection
  • Snappy performance

Cons

  • Mediocre battery life

Great performing Laptop under $500

The Pavilion series from HP stands for various notebooks with different equipment and display sizes.

My test device with its 14″ display and hardware equipment is one of the entry level models.

Scope of delivery

Short and sweet: At the Pavilion 14-ce3010ng you’ll only find the notebook in the box, the charger, the setup guide and a piece of paper with technical data.

Unfortunately everything is individually welded in plastic, making the impression of a laptop for under 500 Dollar.

Design and processing

The design is simple and dispenses with unnecessary flourishes. HP has placed a shiny logo on the display lid.

There is a small matt logo under the display and a small Bang & Olufsen and Pavilion lettering in front of the keyboard. You can also find the lettering on the hinge cover. That’s it.

In front of the display there is a fine grid structure under which the speakers are hidden.

The keyboard sits in a small recess so that the keys are flush with the top.

The typing feel takes getting used to.

The keys have a very short stroke and offer almost no resistance.

But after some getting used to it, longer texts were no problem.

The display frames are relatively wide by today’s standards.

This is especially true for the lower and upper frames.

In the upper frame there is an infrared camera, which you can use to log in using face recognition.

If you don’t want to do this, you can alternatively use the fingerprint reader on the right side.

Whether the position is cleverly chosen is a matter of taste.

But he performs his service impeccably.

There is only a minimal problem with the processing.

There are no sharp edges or burrs. However, not all gap dimensions are uniform on the display.

However, the mistakes are really small and can only be recognized by looking closely.

The upper side can be pressed in relatively easily.

That’s because she’s obviously quite thin. Nevertheless, the notebook is quite robust and torsionally stiff. The material is not so clearly identifiable.

However, it appears to be mostly coated aluminium, which looks great and is definitely not standard for a laptop under 500 Dollar.

Connections

HP 14

There are plenty of connections. You’ll find an HDMI port, an Ethernet port, a card reader, two USB 3.1 Gen1 Type A connectors and a USB C port (also 3.1 Gen1). Great value for a laptop under 500 Dollar.

Only data transfer is possible via the USB-A ports.

The USB-C port offers you the possibility to connect a display.

However, loading is not possible above it. Additionally there is a 3.5mm connector.

The connections are evenly distributed over both sides of the notebook.

On the left side, the SD card reader is located in the front third, while the Kensington lock, the 3.5mm port and the two USB-A ports are located at the back.

They sit relatively close together. So you should not use too large USB sticks if you don’t want to block a port.

On the right side all connections are located in the rear half.

Behind the fingerprint reader is the USB-C port, behind it the HDMI and Ethernet port. The final part is the power connection.

Display

The standard office notebook display that many laptops under 500 Dollar from HP works in Pavilion 14.

This means in plain language that it provides enough power to work, but nothing more.

It’s a matt IPS display, so on the one hand you won’t have any problems with reflections and on the other hand the content is hardly darkened at all even when viewed from the side.

The resolution is Full HD, contents are displayed in a nice and sharp way.

HP writes in the technical data of 250 cd/m² display brightness.

Unfortunately, the notebook doesn’t quite reach this value in everyday life.

On average, we measured 212 cd/m², the peak value is 231 cd/m².

How the fairly even illumination is distributed, you can see in the next graphic.

If you are looking for a brighter display, you have to go to one of the other configurations (linked below).

However, the brightness is sufficient for normal office environments.

The colour values are within the expected range.

The Pavilion 14-ce3010ng is intended for office tasks, where the most accurate colour reproduction plays only a minor role.

Therefore the values fit.

For color critical work, however, you should connect an appropriate display.

For occasional film sessions the colours are also sufficient.

Software

HP 14

Windows 10 Home is pre-installed as the operating system.

In addition, there are unfortunately the meanwhile usual suspicious additional programs with mostly rather dubious benefits.

You get an Amazon app, a Netflix trial subscription, MacAfee and Dropbox.

The latter two are starting with rather intrusive pop-ups.

Additionally, there are a few HP programs like the Audio Switch and the Support Assistant.

The good news: Everything you don’t want to have on your computer can be completely uninstalled.

In the delivery state, 202 GB are still free on the SSD.

Performance

Let us come to the most important point: performance.

Pavilion 14-ce3010ng is equipped with a 10th generation Intel® Core™i5 processor.

This gives you enough power even for more complex tasks.

However, you should refrain from all work where dedicated graphics are helpful. Because Pavilion 14-ce3010ng cannot perform these tasks.

The integrated Intel UHD graphics simply offers too little performance to be able to do video editing properly.

The built-in Intel NVMe SSD delivers solid performance and keeps your data loaded.

Only with very large data you will notice a difference to the top SSD models.

Additionally, there is 16 GB of Intel® Optane™ memory.

It remembers which programs and files you open often and makes sure that they are available very quickly.

However, my test period was too short to really judge whether it would work out that way. But it works quite well with other notebooks with Optane. All in all, surprising for a laptop under 500 Dollar.

Battery

HP states the battery life with up to 10.5 hours.

Like all marketing values, this is a wonderful laboratory value.

I have calibrated the Pavilion 14-ce3010ng to 200 cd/m². This corresponds to 96% brightness. For the test I have chosen the energy profile “Balanced”.

With my normal everyday use of Office, Mail and Photoshop I got by without a power outlet for about three hours.

The value is expandable. If you turn down the brightness or do without power guzzlers like Photoshop, you will of course get more runtime.

But a complete working day without a socket would be a very optimistic assumption.

Emissions

HP 14

Unfortunately, the Pavilion 14-ce3010ng does not cut a good figure at the volume.

The fans start up quite often and emit a high-frequency whistling sound.

That can’t be easily drowned out by normal office sounds. Here HP should improve once again.

At the temperatures measured, there is no risk of Pavilion 14-ce3010ng making a premature exit due to overheating.

The CPU warmed up to a maximum of 77 degrees Celsius under full load. This is completely in the green zone.

The waste heat is dissipated through a grid located on the front side in front of the display.

But since you can’t reach it with your fingers, it’s no problem that the area is warmer accordingly.

The surface warms up noticeably under load, but is far from being unpleasant.

We measured a hotspot with 33 degrees on the bottom in the middle under load.

So you can put the Pavilion 14-ce3010ng on your lap to work without any problems even under load.

Upgrade

Upgrading is not so easy with Pavilion 14-ce3010ng.

Three cross screws are visible. Others hide under the back feet.

Since they can easily break when removed, I have refrained from opening the notebook.

By the way, HP advises against opening the Pavilion 14, as it could be damaged, which could lead to a loss of warranty.

Personally, I think it’s a pity, because both the 8 GB RAM and the 256 GB SSD are among the things that may reach their limits in the foreseeable future.

If you can foresee that you need more performance/memory, you should dig deeper into your pocket.

For an additional 300 Dollar you can get for example the Pavilion 14 with Core i7, 16 GB RAM, 1 TB SSD and Nvidia MX250, but then you wouldn’t look for a laptop under 500 Dollar.

Sound

The Pavilion 14-ce3010ng scores with its sound.

At half volume, bass, midrange and treble are in a good relationship to each other.

The depths are naturally not really pronounced, but that’s no big deal. The highs are clear without being shrill. This is really nice.

HP 14

At full volume the sound does not really change.

The heights become a little more dominant, but not unpleasant.

The highest possible volume is not particularly loud. But even that is perfectly fine. Nobody will get the idea of sounding a party with just a notebook.

But the volume is perfectly adequate for movie nights and the office.

Great equipment for a laptop under 500 Dollar.

Verdict: Great performing Laptop under $500

Pavilion 14-ce3010ng makes a great impression.

It is well manufactured, has a fixed SSD, many connections and offers a good sound.

I also find it positive that face recognition and fingerprint readers are part of the start.

Critical points are clearly the display that is too dark for my taste, the short battery life and also that it can’t be upgraded that easily.

But for the called price of 500 Dollar you get a notebook that is all in all suitable for stationary use in the office.

For those for whom performance is not enough, the better equipped models can also be viewed.

These go up to the Core i7 10th generation, 16 GB RAM and 1 TB SSD – but then they also cost a lot more.

All in all a great laptop for under 500 Dollar.

Final Verdict: Best Gaming Laptops under $500

All in all, we can 100% recommend the 2020 AsusBook 15 for all budget gamers that want a gaming laptop for a bit over 500$, but it is really worth it. It is a great laptop under 500 Dollar.

For all the price-performance ratio nerds we recommend the Dell Inspiron 14, as it gives you the most performance for the money. And it is a great gmaing laptop for under 500$.

If you really have super tight budget we recommend you the HP 14. It is the cheapest of all laptops and gaming performance will be worse than that of the first and second rank but still ok. Also a good candidate in the category laptops under 500 Dollar.

In conclusion, we have to say that we were definitley positively surprised by all laptops under 500 Dollar and did not expect them to perform so well in gaming.

Of course you cannot compare the performance of laptops under 500 Dollar to a 1500$ Gaming Desktop PC, but all in all the result is really satisfying for the money you have to pay.


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