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3 Amazing productivity and (light) gaming laptops under $500

A look at three impressive laptops, all perfect for both productivity and light gaming.

It used to be that if you wanted decent laptop performance, you had to pay around $1000. While it is true that most high-end, high-performance laptops will still set you back a similar amount, it is now possible to find a laptop that will perform well without coming close to that price point.

It is possible to find cheap gaming laptops under $500 as well as business-oriented laptops around the same price. Inside, we will look at three decent laptops and even though you cannot expect them to beat the best laptops when it comes to gaming performance, you can expect no hiccups during daily use.

Absolute value for money – Lenovo IdeaPad 330

When looking to be productive, a bigger screen is always better. Meet the 17-inch Lenovo IdeaPad 330 costs around $450.

About the Lenovo IdeaPad 330

The Lenovo IdeaPad 330 comes with an 8th Gen Intel Core i5-8250U CPU, 8GB DDR4 RAM, a 1 TB HD(arguably its worst trait) and a 17-inch, 720P display.

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What you get with the Lenovo IdeaPad 330

In addition to the specs above, you also get Gigabit Ethernet, HDMI 1.4B, Two USB-A 3.0 ports, a 3.5mm audio in/out, USB-C 3.0 ( that transfers data only), an SD card reader and, surprisingly, a DVD reader.

The laptop is built out of plastic, which makes it both light and cheap-looking. That said, the laptop does not feel cheap and does not scratch easily.

The Lenovo IdeaPad 30 unit we have has 8GB of RAM and a 1TB HDD which we switched and replaced with an SSD. After doing so, the laptop’s performance skyrocketed, with apps starting faster and some gaming performance improvements noted.

The 30wh battery is a bit small, giving us about 4 hours of battery life. Thankfully, there is space around the battery so that its possible to replace the stock battery with a bigger battery.  Sadly, at this time, Lenovo does not offer a bigger battery for the Lenovo IdeaPad 30.

Conclusion

Coming in at around $490, the Lenovo IdeaPad 330 is an excellent option for those looking for great performance at a great price. The screen, although 720p, has vivid colours and fantastic viewing angles. The port selection is impressive as is the addition of an SD card reader and a DVD drive that you can swap with a Blu ray drive.

The only downside is that you might need to replace the stock HDD that comes with the laptop with an SSD. Doing this should give you the laptop of your dreams.

Welcome to the Future – ASUS VivoBook F510UA

If you must have the absolutely best-looking laptop at this price point, then you will love the ASUS VivoBook F510UA.

About the ASUS VivoBook F510UA

TheASUS VivoBook F510UA comes with an 8th gen Intel Core i5-8250U processor, 8GB of RAM, a 1TB HDD, a fingerprint reader, a 15.6-inch screen and lots of different ports.

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What you get with the ASUS VivoBook F510UA

The 8th Gen processor on the ASUS VivoBook F510UA, as on most cheap gaming laptops, is the Intel Core i5-8250. It has a clock speed of 1.6GHz when idling and can boost up to 3.4GHz when under load.

The display is a 15.6 inch, anti-glare Full HD display with ASUS’ splendid software enhancement. This technology enhances the sharpness and contrast of the images on the screen to produce realistic and vivid images. The display sits inside bezels that are just 0.8 inches thin which gives the ASUS VivoBook F510UA an 80% screen to body ratio.

When it comes to connectivity, the ASUS VivoBook F510UA ships with a USB 3.2 Gen 1 port with reversible connectivity for easier and faster connections. You also get USB3.1, 3.0, 2.0, HDMI and an SD card port making this laptop one of the best laptops for freelancers and other professionals.

Because ASUS was able to fit this 15.6-inch laptop inside the body of a 14-inch laptop, it is lighter and thinner than most other laptops in its class, just 3.7 pounds and 0.8inches thick.

Conclusion

Although you are getting one of the latest processors, you still have to keep an eye on that HDD. On our model, as with the Lenovo above, we had to swap the HDD with an SSD(there is a SATA 3 port available for that). After that, we saw 4-5x read/write speed improvements, with applications opening instantly and the laptop booting much faster.

The ASUS VivoBook F510UA is a fantastic laptop if you are willing to change the HDD and install an SSD.

In conclusion, the ASUS VivoBook F510UA is an amazing laptop with some amazing features. It looks great, the screen is great, the port selection is spot on, and the battery life is adequate. Although it comes with a trackpad that has precision tracking, it might take a minute or two to get used to its keyboard.

A Proper Budget Laptop – Acer Aspire E 15 (E5-575-33BM)

At first, we did not know what to think of the Acer Aspire E 15. How can a sub-$400 laptop have a 15.6-inch 1080p screen, an 8th Gen processor, 6GB of RAM, solid build quality and over 8 hours of battery life?

About the Acer Aspire E 15

Now, there are two variants of this laptop, but we were able to review the Core i3 variant. The core i3 comes with an 8th Gen Intel Core i3-8130 processor, 6GB of RAM, 1TB HDD, a DVD drive and any other modern port you can think of.

The Core i5 variant is a bit more expensive(at $600), but it packs an 8th Gen Intel Core i5-8250U, 8GB RAM, a 256 GB SSD and a GeForce MX150 graphics card.

The Core i3 version

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The Core i5 version

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What you get with the Acer Aspire E 15

The first thing you will notice about the Acer Aspire E 15 is its solid build quality. Its built with dark grey plastic that neither looks nor feels cheap. The laptop does not creak or flex during use, even when typing, giving an overall positive user experience.

When it comes t the ports, you get an ethernet port, two USB 3.0 ports, HDMI, VGA and a USB Type-C port that can transfer data but cannot be used to charge the laptop. On the right side, you get a DVD drive, another USB port and of course the 3.5 mm headphone jack. On the front, you get an SD card reader making this a fantastic choice for those who transfer data using SD cards.

The display is a 1080P panel with vibrant tones and limited viewing angles, sadly.

The Intel Core i3-8130 processor is fantastic for multitasking and offers enough performance for those who do not mind gaming on medium to high settings.

If you get the Core i3 variant, you can upgrade the HDD, replacing it with a much faster SSD. The 6GB of onboard RAM can be swapped with up to 32GB of RAM, taking this laptop’s performance past some $600-700 laptops.

The battery is also impressive, lasting about 8 hours on a full charge.

In conclusion

The Acer Aspire E 15 is an excellent choice for those looking for a proper multipurpose machine. With the i3 version going for about $380, adding a $100 SSD should give you a cheap gaming laptop under $500.

That said, the core i5 (starting at $600), with 8GB of RAM, a 256GB SSD and 8GB of RAM seems like the better option for those not keen on opening up and upgrading their laptop.

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