These days, one doesn’t have to spend a lot of cash to get a great PC. On this list, we’ve included some excellent Chromebooks, laptops, desktops. Some new and some are certified refurbished. New PCs have never been owned before. Meantime, Certified Refurbished PCs are used, but they have been cleaned, their parts have been tasted, and they include at minimum, a 30 day warranty. In general, a certified refurbished machine is a great way to save a few bucks.
There’s a few factors to be concerned about generally. The two cheapest PCs on this list are both Chromebooks. While both of these computers are good for certain purposes, it’s important to note that Chromebooks don’t have full operating systems. They use Chrome OS which is essentially just a PC that can use the Chrome web browser.
Another important factor here is assessing your own needs. If you need a PC that can do it all, then you’ll be better off value-wise opting for a desktop. Desktops have much cheaper price for performance than laptops.
$500 is a limiting budget for a new PC, but there’s not a bad machine on this list. That said, one will not be able to play modern games at medium to high settings on any of these PCs; they lack the necessary graphics card.
All that out of the way, here’s the 10 best computers under $500 from lowest to highest price.
1. Samsung Chromebook 3 (Refurbished)
Processor Celeron N3050 / 884 | RAM 2GB | Graphics Card Integrated | Hard Drive 16.0GB eMMC | Weight 1lb |
This refurbished Chromebook packs a lot of punch at a very low price. While it’s inspected for quality, the new version is available on Amazon for $187. While its specs are modest, Chrome OS is very light, so even though the processor seems weak, keep in mind that all this PC really does is run Chrome. The same applies to its 16GB eMMC. While it may seem stuffy with such a small capacity, most of one’s work on Chrome OS is best done on the cloud (Google Drive for instance), so this is less of a limitation than it may seem.
This is a great PC for people who want to do things like browse the web and create documents. For any other use, including watching video, or outputting to multiple screens, this little PC will struggle. Its perks are that it’s very lightweight, simple, and affordable.
- Great for web browsing, document creation and basic PC use
- Easy to setupp
- Battery life is amazing
- Price is extremely hard to beat
- Speakers are terrible
- Will struggle with watching movies at full resolution, only for browsing and docs
2. ASUS Chromebook
Processor Rockchip Quad Core 1.8 GHZ | RAM 4GB DDR 3 | Graphics Card Integrated | Hard Drive 16GB eMMC | Weight 2 lbs |
Asus’ answer to the Chromebook has a bit more brawn in terms of processor, but it’s otherwise a very similar computer. It boasts a 2lb weight, small 16GB hard drive, and decent RAM for Chrome OS (4GB). Chromebooks are great for users who are willing to do their work in the cloud and will only be using PCs for student or office use. This particular model boasts great battery life and an excellent track pad, meaning it’s not just functional, it’s easy to use.
Price: $199 (6 percent off MSRP)
- Includes 100GB free of cloud service, Google Drive
- Attractive and small design; weight is on the low side
- Solid for editing docs, browsing the web
- Superb battery life of ~12 hours
- High quality keyboard & touchpad
- Excellent deal for users who need a simple PC
- ChromeOS isn’t as powerful as Mac OSX and Windows
- Durability could be better
3. HP Stream Laptop PC
Processor Celeron N3060 / 997 | RAM 4GB | Graphics Card Integrated | Hard Drive 32GB eMMC | Weight 3.17lbs |
For those who need Windows 10, this HP Stream Laptop is the cheapest way to get there. While it technically runs the full OS, don’t expect this PC to do much more than a Chromebook. Sure, it can theoretically boot Photoshop, but with its weak processor, it will struggle to do much more than edit simple documents and browse the web, at least smoothly.
Unless you specifically need Windows, at this price point, it’s better to go with a Chromebook because Chrome OS is so much lighter and requires much fewer system resources than Windows. That said, if you need a Windows laptop, the HP stream will get the job done affordably and well, just don’t expect to play any games on it.
- Great price for a full Windows machine
- Nice build quality, decent keyboard
- Attractive blue appearance
- Free Office 365 for one year
- Good for school and office use
- Processor isn’t very fast; really only for documents and web-browsing
- Includes some bloatware that’s best to remove
4. Acer Aspire 15.6″ (Editor’s Laptop Choice)
Processor i3-6100U / 3606 | RAM 4GB DDR3L | Graphics Card Integrated | Hard Drive 1TB HDD | Weight 5.29lbs |
If you want a budget PC, this Acer Aspire is a solid choice. It boasts an i3 processor, over three times as fast as the stream above it. It also weighs the part, unfortunately, clocking in at 5.29lbs. However, it has a huge 1TB hard drive, and pretty fast (though not spacious) RAM. While it’s not the fastest PC on the market by a long stretch, if you want to edit documents, browse the web, or use Photoshop, all within a full version of Windows 10, this is the PC to do it with.
- Durable build quality
- Superb price for the performance
- Solid price for a Windows PC
- RAM and HDD can be upgraded
- CD drive for users who still use them
- Won’t be able to do much with graphics like editing photos, editing video, or gaming
- Resolution isn’t high
5. Dell Optiplex 990, Certified Refurbished (Editor’s Desktop Choice)
Processor i5-2400 / 5911 | RAM 16GB DDR3 | Graphics Card Integrated | Hard Drive 120GB SSD + 2TB SSD | Weight 19lbs |
This Optiplex 990 is an amazing deal on every single level. It has a fast processor meaning it will be decent for even doing tasks like editing video. With 16GB DDR3 RAM, it’s also suitable for crazy multitasking. This is a PC that one could easily use Photoshop on effectively. Plus, it has a hard drive just for the OS; this generally makes using the computer for anything a bit more quick. With it’s 2TB hard drive, it also has a ton of capacity. This, however, is this PC’s biggest shortcoming.
The number one concern with a PC like this is that since it is used, the hard drive may be the thing most likely to go first. Be sure to back-up your data, and keep any important docs in the cloud. Beyond this, however, this PC is a great deal. It’s powerful, has a fast hard drive (SSD) for the operating system, has plenty of RAM for multi-tasking, and a decent processor.
- Windows 10 Pro is the best Windows for customization
- Two hard drive set up means OS is snappy with sufficient capacity
- DVD-RW drive
- Includes Wi-Fi USB dongle for connecting online
- Only has USB 2.0 ports, no USB 3.0
- No graphics card (no gaming, video editing)
6. HP Notebook 15.6″
Processor i3 2.4ghz | RAM 8GB DDR4 | Graphics Card HD Graphics 620 (Integrated) | Hard Drive 1TB HDD (5400 RPM) | Weight 4.6lbs |
This HP Notebook boasts an i3 processor, a slightly reduced weight (4.6lbs) compared to other models, and a large (but slow-ish) hard drive. Its biggest advantage over other, more affordable models is its large RAM capacity. 8GB is much more comfortable for full Windows usage. Beyond this, this PC has a DVD burner and even decent speakers. It’s great for most tasks including viewing 1080P movies. That said, if you’re comfortable with a used machine, you may want to opt for the one below, as it offers an SSD, and is only slightly more money.
- Three USB ports for plenty of connecting
- Great for internet use
- Touch screen is nice though not particularly responsive like an iPad Pro
- Has SuperMulti DVD burner
- Speakers are decent
- Fast enough for everyday tasks
- A small percentage of users had reliability issues with the hard drive and battery
- Some users found keyboard and mouse to be inadequate
- Keyboard is not backlit, can be tough to see in dark room
7. Acer Aspire Flagship (Certified Refurbished)
Processor / Passmark Speed i3-7100U / 3652 | RAM 8GB DDR4 | Graphics Card Integrated | Hard Drive 256GB SSD | Weight 5.27lbs | Display 15.6″, 1080P, LED Backlit |
This PC is a great deal. Boasting a decently fast i3 processor and an SSD, it has the right components for getting the job done. Beyond this, it boasts a bright 15.6″ with plenty of resolution. This PC is excellent for student or office work, and with 8GB of RAM (compared to 4GB for the Acer model above), it does allow for some multitasking. With an SSD and processor at this speed, this PC will be solid for most tasks. While it is certified refurbished, it omits the biggest point of failure with most used PCs: a hard disk. Therefore, this PC really has no flaws in terms of being a refurbished machine. If you want a fast SSD and a decent computer around it, this is a great way to go.
- Multi-format DVD burder
- Excellent battery life of up to 12 hours
- Solid price for the performance
- Built-in SD card reader
- SSD for fast OS and file management
- SSD is somewhat small for things like video editing
- No graphics card
8. HP Elite Mini 8300
Processor i7-3770 / 9308 | RAM 16GB DDR3 | Graphics Card Radeon 6350 | Hard Drive 240GB SSD + 2TB | Weight 16.7lbs |
For students willing to go the refurb route, this desktop brings so much value to the table. It has tons of RAM, a fast i7 processor, and two drives, an SSD for the OS and some storage, plus two terabytes for storing just about anything. This PC is fast enough to edit video at 1080P and even 4K (though it may be choppy at times). It will be excellent for any student or office task. The one downside is thats graphics card is very weak, but it still helps when doing things like outputting to multiple displays; still, don’t expect to play any games on this computer.
Overall, this PC offers solid value and a great deal for those who want or are comfortable with a used desktop.
- Good performance for the price
- Solid workstation PC for document-editing and web browsing
- Quick SSD and large capacity data drive
- Great for student work or office applications
- Fast editing of photos or 1080P video
- Graphics card is useless for gaming
9. Dell Inspiron
Processor i5-6200U / 4006 | RAM 8gb DDR3 | Graphics Card Integrated | Hard Drive 1TB 5400RPM Hard Drive | Weight 5.36lbs |
Going back to laptops, this Dell Inspiron boasts a solid i5 processor, upping the performance of other laptops on our list by around 15%. That said, it’s still slowed down by its hard drive, a 1TB 5400RPM hard disk. While it will be acceptable for student and office uses, it won’t be able to play most modern games. Still, having that extra bump in processor speed means this computer will be fine for editing photos and some light video editing. It also boasts a backlit keyboard and DVD drive. For the users who doesn’t want a refurbished PC and is willing to spend a bit more for more processor power, this is a great way to go.
- Decent value with high quality parts
- Backlit keyboard is great for nighttime use
- Screen is clear and bright; 1080P looks great
- Fast enough to run Photoshop, other Adobe apps
- DVD drive
- No video card for playing games
- Start up time can be long
10. Lenovo Ideapad 17.3″
Processor i5-6200U / 4006 | RAM 8GB DDR3 | Graphics Card Integrated | Hard Drive 1TB 5400 RPM | Weight 6.6lbs |
This Lenovo is virtually identical in specs to the PCs above it and it’s heavier. That said, it’s important to note that Lenovo has some of the best trackpads out there. This PC is also 17.3″, meaning that its screen is larger. While there isn’t more resolution, having a larger screen can often help with certain tasks as it makes one’s vision feel less cramped. This is a great PC to go with if you want a large screen. Some perks include a DVD-RW drive and an SD card reader. Otherwise, this PC’s value is only decent. Still, for those who don’t mind the weight and want a large screen, this PC offers excellent value.
- Solid performing laptop with attractive appearance
- SD card reader for using memory easily
- Affordable pick for users who want a large screen
- DVD-RW drive
- Slow for certain applications
- Only good for web browsing, documents
- Low resolution
- Includes some bloatware; PC will run faster once removed
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