Best Gaming Laptops under $500: Top Budget Reviewed Laptops for 2022

For the casual gamer, Best gaming laptops under $500 are a way to play high end games without spending large amounts of money. Advances in technology has now made it possible for mobile devices like laptops and tablets the ability to execute graphically complex 3D games. With this in mind, it is important to temper one’s expectations when picking out affordable notebook computers for the purpose of playing PC games.

The cost factor limits the ability of the graphics processors that are built into gaming laptops under $500 such that users will have to settle with low to medium quality settings for computationally intensive 3D games in order for them to run fluidly. Nevertheless this disproves the notion that there are no budget gaming laptops. These are the top notebook computers that are powerful enough to run popular 3D video games including first person shooters (FPS) and role playing games (RPG).

Furthermore We’ve reviewed the Best Gaming Laptops under $500, also we have done benchmarks of each laptop with different software in detail.

Major Difference Between Regular Laptop and Gaming Laptop

Graphics Card

A common question asked is what’s the difference between a regular laptop and a gaming laptop. While there are a lot of the components that make a gaming computer, the main difference between a normal day to day laptop and one that’s used for gaming is the graphics processor or the GPU, referred to as the graphics processing unit. As its name implies, it handles all the major computations needed to render graphics onto the screen. The faster and more powerful the GPU the less lag time between frames and more detailed the graphics appear.

When looking for affordable gaming laptops under $500 the slowest GPU one should be willing to purchase is the Intel HD 4000 graphics card. This is integrated into Ivy Bridge processors made by Intel so all the CPUs under this series already have them built in.

At this price level, all the video cards available will be integrated into the processors. While dedicated graphics cards are more ideal for gaming purposes as they produce better performance, these cost more and cost beyond the $500 limit as of this writing.

Because the video cards mentioned in this article don’t come with their own memory space, when comparing similar laptops with the same GPU, taking note of the system’s RAM or main memory is essential. Integrated video cards share the computer’s main memory space, so the bigger the RAM the computer has the more data it will be able to temporarily store for quick processing. This results better gaming performance.

GAMESAMD RADEON HD 8550GAMD RADEON HD 7640GINTEL HD GRAPHICS 4400INTEL HD GRAPHICS 4000
Anno 2070MediumMediumMediumLow
Assassin´s Creed IIILowLowLowLow
Battlefield 3LowLowLowLow
Borderlands 2MediumMediumMediumLow
Call of Duty: Black Ops 2MediumLowLowLow
Counter-Strike: Global OffensiveHighestHighestHighestHigh
Crysis 3LowLowLowLow
Dead Space 3MediumMediumMediumMedium
Diablo IIIHighMediumMediumMedium
DishonoredHighHighHighHigh
F1 2012HighMediumMediumMedium
Far Cry 3LowLowLowLow
Fifa 13HighestHighestHighHigh
GRID 2HighMediumMediumMedium
Guild Wars 2HighHighHighMedium
Hitman: AbsolutionMediumLowLowLow
Metro: Last LightLowLowLowLow
SimCityLowLowLowLow
Sims 3HighHighHighMedium
StarCraft II: Heart of the SwarmMediumMediumMediumMedium
The Elder Scrolls V: SkyrimMediumLowLowLow
Tomb RaiderMediumMediumMediumLow
World of WarcraftMediumMediumMediumMedium
Table of maximum game settings for each of the video cards

The four main graphics processor that fit under the $500 gaming laptop range include AMD’s Radeon HD 8550G and HD 7640G, and from Intel the HD Graphics 4400 and 4000. The most common laptops will have the HD 7640G and HD 4000. Newer models will use the Radeon HD 8550G and HD 4400, both of which were released in 2013.

From a purely gaming standpoint, the AMD Radeon chips are far better choices. These are better optimized to handle the multithreaded nature of gaming applications. In our comparison table below, listed are the maximum settings one can expect from each of these graphics processors for popular gaming titles to run without stuttering.

Depending on which games you plan to play, select the video card and laptop that offers the best performance.

The Best Gaming Laptops under $500 You Can Buy Today

ACER ASPIRE V5-552-8854

REASONS TO BUY
REASONS TO AVOID

If you are looking to purchase a laptop for under $500, you may want to consider the Acer ASPIRE V5-552-8853. Its price is right in line with other laptops under $500, and it has a fantastic design. This laptop comes with everything you could ever need in a laptop, including a powerful processor. This is a great laptop for schoolwork and word processing, as well as daily tasks.

The Acer Aspire V5 features a minimalist design that makes it a great choice for students and business users. It is equipped with a simple Acer logo emblazoned in the right corner, which is reminiscent of Acer Chromebooks. The lid, which is a chunky piece of black plastic, contains both speakers and cooling vents. The power button, however, is located on the right side of the machine and is difficult to find.

The Acer Aspire V5-552PG-XB09 battery lasts about five hours on a single charge, and is highly recommendable for students and home users. Acer also recommends charging your battery at least once a month. If you want to make sure your battery is fresh, make sure you use power saving mode. Also, be sure to charge the battery once every three months.

Another important feature is its screen. The Aspire V5-528854’s screen is matte, which means it’s suitable for outdoor use, but you should avoid using it in overly bright settings. Likewise, it’s easy to read content from the sides, but the image tends to distort when viewed from a larger angle. This isn’t the case with the F550DP, however, as its display is not as reflective as its rivals.

Despite its low price, the Acer Aspire V5 is capable of running many games, including PC games. With an integrated AMD Radeon HD 8250 graphics card, this laptop can run a variety of games with ease. However, it’s important to note that both the F550DP and Aspire V5-552-8854 have similar specifications. It’s not recommended to use multi-threaded games on a dual-graphics laptop, however.

Dell Inspiron 14

REASONS TO BUY
REASONS TO AVOID

Lenovo IdeaPad 3i

REASONS TO BUY
REASONS TO AVOID

Dell Inspiron 15

REASONS TO BUY
REASONS TO AVOID

Asus Vivobook 15

REASONS TO BUY
REASONS TO AVOID

Acer Nitro 5 Gaming Laptop

REASONS TO BUY
REASONS TO AVOID

HP 5dy 1036nr 10th Gen

REASONS TO BUY
REASONS TO AVOID

Acer Aspire 5 Slim

REASONS TO BUY
REASONS TO AVOID

Our Verdict

So far, the comparisons shown in our budget gaming laptop reviews have focused on the PC game performance. The graphics quality provided by each of the video cards are shown above and offer a good idea of the gaming ability of the affordable laptops listed above.

One notable feature many users need to understand is that the best gaming performance does not always translate to the best laptop. For games, GPU is prioritized over CPU. This means laptops with faster GPUs outperform those with faster CPUs when it comes to executing PC games. However, in almost all other day to day applications, a faster CPU leads to better overall performance.

At the under $500 price level, users will probably use their laptops at least half of the time on applications other than games, which makes it essential to take into consideration how the CPU or processors of the laptops above compare with one another.

The table below compares the CPU performance of the processors included in our list of gaming laptops under $500. Used are figures from popular benchmarking software, where the higher the result the better the processor’s performance.

BENCHMARKING SOFTWARESINTEL CORE I5 3230M (2.6 GHZ)INTEL CORE I5-4200U (1.6 GHZ)INTEL CORE I5-3337U (1.8 GHZ)INTEL CORE I3-3110M (2.4 GHZ)AMD A8-5557M (2.1 GHZ)AMD A8-4500M (1.9GHZ)
3D Mark 063,7132,9783,1232,973Not Available2,438
Cinebench R109,1328,5407,3957,301Not Available4,830
Passmark3,9893,5773,1613,0422,6402,718

Benchmark performance of the CPUs available for gaming laptops under $500

The results of the benchmarks show a completely opposite picture of that shown by the GPU table above. As a whole Intel chips outperform AMD processors even while the Core i5 CPUs are dual core while both AMD A8 series CPUs are quad core processors. Note that the AMD A8-5557M benchmarks numbers are not available as the product was just released June 2013.

Another notable item is with similar processors available, the CPU with the faster clock speed (higher GHz) will outperform some of the newer chips. Also, newer processors including Intel’s Core i5-3337U and i5-4200U are ultra low voltage (ULV) which mean that use less power (longer battery life) and tend not to get as hot as the older chips.

Making the Decision

Understanding the different components involved in choosing the best gaming laptops under $500 not only takes into consideration the ability to run games at the best possible resolution but also balancing this with other purposes the laptop computer will be used for. Hopefully the information provided above gives you enough knowledge to select the best laptop for gaming you need.

Nazim Naqvi
Nazim Naqvi is a Mechanical Engineer who loves cars and reviewing laptops. He's been passionate about cars ever since he was a child, and has always been fascinated by their mechanics. Nazim loves to share his knowledge about cars with others, and enjoys helping people find the perfect car for their needs. He also enjoys reviewing laptops, as he feels that it's important for people to have accurate information about the products they're considering buying.