The best laptops under $500 that are actually worth buying

Who it’s for:

Gaming Chromebooks are an interesting type of laptop to tackle because they aren’t exactly what you’d think of when you hear the words “gaming laptop.” In fact, they’re in a category of their own — gaming Chromebooks are pretty much solely used for cloud gaming, as they don’t have the specs to run performance-heavy games or software natively. The tradeoff, though, is that you can get one for a great price.

Case in point: The Lenovo IdeaPad Gaming Chromebook 16. This laptop is a fantastic value at just $429 if you don’t mind using it only for cloud gaming in addition to regular web browsing, productivity tasks, and streaming.

Why we picked this:

During our testing, we had no issues booting up Xbox Game Pass and hopping into games like Starfield and Sea of Thieves (they ran decently well, too). Controller setup was quick and painless via speedy Bluetooth connection. Besides its cloud gaming capabilities, the Lenovo IdeaPad Gaming Chromebook 16 also made a good impression with its keyboard, which feels really nice to type on, and build quality that hardly feels budget-level. The display isn’t anything to write home about, but it’s not bad either. We appreciated the 120Hz refresh rate, but we wished the max brightness was just a little bit brighter.

Battery life is about average for a Chromebook, which is to say that it’s pretty darn good. During testing, we got about 10.5 hours out of the device before needing to recharge. The Chromebook’s bonus perks sweeten the overall package, which includes three months of YouTube Premium, a year’s worth of Google One cloud storage, and a month of access to Boosteroid.

As for cons, there aren’t many, and it’s hard to harp on them when you’re getting such a stellar value. They really come down to the audio features — at max volume, the speakers sounded a bit tinny, and lacked depth overall. The microphone isn’t a strong point, either, and didn’t sound very good on the other end of voice calls. And like we said, it’s not a full-on powerhouse gaming laptop, but as long as you know what you’re getting (a cloud gaming machine), you can’t beat that price.


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