Why choose a traditional laptop when you can get a modern ultrabook that is thin, sleek, and lightweight? Coined by manufacturers who had to meet Intel’s trademarked specifications, the ultrabook has become a must-have for the busy professional or student on the go.
Portability can come at a high price—you might have noticed how hard it is to find an ultrabook under $500. Thankfully they do exist, and powerful computing is getting less expensive every month. In this article, we’ve rounded up the best cheap ultrabooks available.
- What to Look for in an Affordable Ultrabook
- Best Cheap Ultrabooks 2020 (Under $500)
- 1. Best Overall Ultrabook Under $500: ASUS VivoBook 15.6-Inch NanoEdge Laptop
- 2. Acer Aspire 5
- 3. Asus Chromebook C202
- 4. Acer R11
- 5. Lenovo Flex 14’ 2-in-1 14-Inch HD Touchscreen Display
- 6. Lenovo IdeaPad 3 14-Inch
- 7. Asus C302 Chromebook Flip 12.5-Inch Touchscreen Convertible Chromebook
- 8. HP EliteBook 840G G1 14-Inch Business Ultrabook
- 9. Dell Latitude E7440 14.1 Business Ultrabook
- 10. Jumper EZbook 3L Pro 14-Inch FHD Ultrabook
- Best Cheap Ultrabooks Under $500: Buyer’s Guide
What to Look for in an Affordable Ultrabook
At Least 5 Hours of Battery Life
One of the things that defines an ultrabook is an exceptional battery life. Since they are designed for business trips and professional office work, you should be able to depend on your ultrabook for up to 8 hours or more, depending on the intensity of the work.
Ultrabooks are often designed to have hybrid storage that uses both Solid State Drives (SSD) and Hard Disk Drives (HDD). For fast boot speeds, the SSD is used, but some ultrabooks use HDDs for storage. Having both means the SSD can be used for fast load times but there is still enough space on the HDD to store plenty of files.
Dealing with a cracked screen just because you had to fit your laptop in a tight space is the last thing you want. Ultrabooks should be able to withstand impacts. For this reason, aluminum parts are essential. Typically, the less plastic used, the more durable the notebook.
Thin and Compact Design
Ultrabooks must have a light form factor. For 14-inch models and larger, your ultrabook should be no more than 21mm thick. And if it’s smaller than 13.3 inches, it should be under 18mm thick. These specs are specified by Intel and are some of the important features that help differentiate the ultrabook against other conventional laptops.
The processing speed of your ultrabook is also designed to be efficient depending on the work you plan to perform on it. Intel Core i7 and i5 processors are the CPUs you will find in your ultrabook. They have the fastest configurations and can render graphics much better than you would experience with i3 CPUs.
Best Cheap Ultrabooks 2020 (Under $500)
Coming in at a feather-like 3.7 pounds, the ASUS VivoBook F510UA sports lightweight finishings but maintains a large-format screen and ultrabook level processing. With a low, two centimeter profile, the ultrabook can be easily transported. Its sleek, modern look and fully featured setup both defy sub-$500 expectations.
The large screen makes this laptop great for college students working on projects and professionals who frequently give presentations. With an attractive, dark gray finish, the ultrabook looks like it could easily cost twice as much as its sub-$500 price.
An eighth-generation Intel Core i5-8250U CPU provides smooth processing. Intel UHD 620 graphics can handle less visually-intensive games. Asus Visual Optimization and Tru2Life Video technology bring video and gaming visuals to life. If you’re looking for the latest generation processor, and you’re willing to pay an extra $100 or so, check out the latest iteration of the VivoBook 15 with a Ryzen 5 CPU.
A terabyte of HDD space brings tremendous storage to any professional or student using this ultrabook. However, since the computer lacks an SSD, it is slower than what you would experience on other hybrid SSD/HDD models. As far as processing, with a 1.6GHz base frequency and 3.4GHz turbo frequency, almost all tasks for professionals and students can be easily handled.
Keyboard and Connectivity
A high-end keyboard and matte trackpad both add a premium feel to the laptop. The keyboard is comfortable and spread out due to the Asus VivoBook’s large format. Without any backlight on the keyboard, low-light work can be a bit difficult.
On the thin chassis, you have a USB 3.1 Type C port, USB 3.0, USB 2.0, and HDMI port. It has the capability to connect to many accessories and peripherals including other monitors and projectors.
A premium-feeling laptop provides excellent performance at around half the price of comparable models without appearing to make any of the sacrifices of other economical ultrabooks. It’s a laptop perfect for any budget-oriented shopper, and it’s a particularly compelling choice for students and young professionals due to its utility for simple tasks that don’t require tremendous processing power.
Although the Acer Aspire 5 doesn’t have the same level of processing power as the ASUS VivoBook 15, a low price, great speakers, and brilliant screen make this laptop great for students who focus mainly on tasks like Microsoft Word and Excel and enjoy spending time watching HD movies and videos.
A 15.6-inch screen is about the same size as the largest MacBook Pro, and a full HD screen with an LED anti-glare backlit display differentiates this computer from others as an ultrabook that’s great for enjoying time relaxing. With an AMD Radeon Vega 3 graphics card, this computer can’t handle any intense graphics, but it will take care of most simpler games.
Keyboard and Connectivity
Since the processor isn’t anything special, the Acer Aspire 5 knows its strong suit: word processing. Spread over a full keyboard with a number pad, the keys have a sharp actuation and a 1.1mm travel distance. Typing is satisfying but easy; you won’t be applying too much force to press down on the keys, but each button press gives sharp tactile feedback.
The ports include a USB 3.1 type C port, two USB 3.0 ports, a USB 2.0 port, Ethernet, VGA, HDMI, and a 3.5mm jack. With this laptop, you won’t be dealing with low speeds as it does not only connect over the 802.11ac protocol, but it also offers MU-MIMO (Multi-User Multi Input Multi Output) technology. Operating on Windows 10, its powerful battery lasts up to 13 hours.
Acer Aspire 5 is a nice surprise, understanding its strong suits in a world of do-it-all ultrabooks. Incredible graphics and a wide screen make this perfect for movie buffs that like to sit back and enjoy a flick, while a great keyboard makes word processing easy. Although the computer lacks in processing power, it knows what it’s good at: simple tasks and visuals, making it perfect for students.
The Asus Chromebook C202SA is more appealing to younger users. It comes with rubber guards and a rugged design to withstand impact from falls. It can endure being tossed around and can handle spills as the keyboard is also liquid-resistant.
At 2.65 pounds, it is an ultralight laptop that will not weigh you down. It offers an incredibly long battery life of 8 hours. The charger is not a must-take item before you go to class. Not to mention, it is easy to repair since you can access the interior components.
Seeing that this laptop operates on Chrome OS, it has limited capabilities compared to what you can get with a Windows ultrabook. It runs on an Intel Celeron N3060, which is why it is suitable for doing college work. It experiences a bit of lag when you have multiple tabs open because it lacks the latest Intel core processor.
Chromebooks also have the ability to access thousands of apps from the Google Play Store. It lets you experience all the amazing apps that you want to make the most out of your system.
Keyboard and Connectivity
Asus Chromebook C202SA-YSO2 has a keyboard with large keys. The keys deliver 2mm travel distance that makes it easy to type in with the least effort. The laptop has a standard collection of ports which include a USB 3.0 port, three-in-one card reader, an HDMI port, an audio jack, and a Kensington key slot.
Although it’s a Chromebook, this laptop ticks most boxes for what an ultrabook should be. It is super light, thin, and with long battery life. Its eMMC flash memory, Intel processor, and premium build quality go to make it a great pick for younger people.
4. Acer R11
Most important to note with the Acer R11 is that it’s a Chromebook—this means that, although it’s quite quick with an Intel Celeron N3060 Dual-Core Processor, it’s mainly used for online tasks along with a few small offline tasks. Google Drive, Google Docs, and Google Sheets can all be handled offline, but you won’t get any offline games or software to run on this.
It can be set up with multiple form factors, with the potential to be opened to up to 360 degrees and used as a tablet. While the tablet feature is convenient, especially for using some of Google’s proprietary apps, the format of the ultrabook makes it more difficult to use for traditional laptop tasks like word processing and web browsing.
An 11.6-inch screen is small for the category but does make the laptop portable and usable as a tablet. 4gb of onboard memory means you can save offline, unlike some previous versions of Chromebooks.
Keyboard and Connectivity
This ultrabook’s strong suit is definitely as an in-betweener, particularly for those who might have a more powerful computer in their office or at home. While its fine for some light word processing, those who are trying to write longer documents or work in spreadsheets will definitely notice its smaller keyboard size.
As a convertible, it has a touchscreen display and an impressive 10-hour battery life. With 802.11ac and 2×2 MIMO wifi formats, it’s blazing fast for web browsing and viewing. A built-in webcam and quick charging are just the icing on the cake.
For those looking for something inexpensive and portable, an inexpensive yet powerful Chromebook like this Acer R11 could be the ticket. Quick internet and a responsive touchscreen make browsing and online activities easy, although for more processor-intensive tasks, word processing, and any offline software, look elsewhere.
Lenovo Flex 14’ 2-in-1 offers true value as it has a ton of features without breaking the bank. The laptop adapts to your exact situation as it offers a 360-degree flexible hinge. Whether you want to share some prediction graphs with a co-worker or need to get up and close with the screen, you can wrap the keyboard away to work by converting to tablet mode.
With this laptop, you are not getting a full HD display as it maxes the resolution at 1366 x 768 pixels. For a touchscreen, we would have loved to see more, but this is as good as it gets with a budget ultrabook. The narrow bezels mean that you will be getting crisp details as they offer a wide view of the 14-inch screen.
We like that this laptop is all about performance. It packs an Intel Pentium 4415U processor with 4GB RAM and 127GB PCIe SSD. This configuration comes with integrated Intel UHD 610 graphics. It is a mid-range model that will not drive gaming graphics but is works well for everyday computing.
Keyboard and Connectivity
Its chiclet keyboard has evenly spaced keys that have a light and shallow travel. Initially, the plastic feel may get to you, as it looks cheap, but having a solid click guarantees fast input each time. The touchpad brings the luxurious side of the ultrabook as it is smooth and responds well to all basic gestures, even including a fingerprint reader for unlocking it.
Connectivity on the Flex 14 is good, as it has AC Wi-Fi, a USB 3.1 type C port, two USB 3.0 ports, Ethernet, and a full-size HDMI. It will keep you connected to other devices as well as to the internet.
Lenovo Flex 14 2-in-1 hits a sweet spot between price and performance. It allows lots of functionality, but it’s not ideal to use in the sunroom or the outdoors owing to the glare-heavy screen. It gives you a decent size touchscreen and an adaptable form to suit the tasks in hand.
This 14-inch ultrabook is quite similar in both hardware and format to the larger ASUS VivoBook 15. Although it’s slightly smaller, due to a few hardware decisions, this notebook ends up being a bit more expensive than most big-screen models.
While the screen is smaller, it’s higher-quality than most on our list, with vivid colors shining through on a screen with a narrow bezel that’s designed in particular to minimize obstructions when viewing. Processing comes via an AMD Ryzen 5 3500U Mobile Processor. A Radeon graphics card is powerful for even some gaming purposes.
With an impressive build quality that feels much more expensive than its sub-$500 price tag, the Lenovo IdeaPad can take all the abuse that a fast-traveling student or professional might throw at it. While it’s a bit slow on the processing front for complex software tasks, it’s more than quick enough for anything else from word processing to web browsing.
Keyboard and Connectivity
The keyboard feels similar to a MacBook, although it doesn’t include a number pad. In fact, the whole styling in general, minimalistic and attractive, reminds us of some of Apple’s latest laptops. A small keyboard is a benefit, though, as the keyboard isn’t cramped at all. WiFi connectivity is quick thanks to the Ryzen processor and up to 2×2 WiFi 5.
The utilitarian but premium-feeling Lenovo IdeaPad 3 is a smaller-than-average ultrabook that’s great for those that are looking for something quick with a premium feel.
The first thing you see is the 360-degree hinge design. It allows you to flip it through every degree and use it as a tablet or laptop. Next is the 12.5-inch full HD display that is amazing to work with. The anti-glare panel is a nice addition as it helps to work without squinting your eyes when working in the sun thanks to its light sensor.
An Intel Core m3 processor powers the Asus C302. It does not compromise on value as it integrates the tablet mode to use with its Chrome OS system. It comes outfitted with your favorite apps, and you can also add others from Google Chrome Store.
What’s more, this laptop has 4GB of RAM which means it works smoothly when you have multiple tabs open on your browser. Also, it allows you to play motion-controlled games owing to its inbuilt gyroscopes.
When it comes to weight and portability, this ultrabook is only 2.65 pounds. It falls right in with our expectation of an ultraportable. It has an attractive aluminum chassis with a silver finish. It is tough enough to withstand you accidently dropping it on the street while hurrying to work.
Keyboard and Connectivity
It has a great one-piece chiclet keyboard. The keys provide 1.4mm travel distance, and it has a palm rejection feature. For professional web typists having a solid feel of the keys without accidentally typing letters guarantees faster work. That is what you get from Asus C302’s keyboard.
Asus C302 is not that great when it comes to have many ports, but at least it offers a USB 3.1 Type-C port. It allows the fastest transfer speeds whether you want to share videos, photos, or games. This Chromebook also comes with an audio jack and a Micro SD card slot.
From the Intel Core processor to a full HD touchscreen, Asus C302 gives you many of the same functionalities of high-end ultrabooks. You get to experience superfast processing speeds as well as seamless wireless connectivity over its latest wireless protocol.
HP EliteBook 840G G1 is all about premium features. You would think that it is going to fall flat when it comes to processing power but you can’t beat an Intel Core i5 processor when shopping at this price point. It has 8GB of DDR3 RAM and 128GB SSD. And don’t worry about the graphics since it operates on an HD graphics 4400 card.
The exterior design carries the day with a beautiful silver-gray finish. The case combines magnesium and aluminum housing that can take the bumps and scratches the fast-paced professional world manages to throw at it. Its rounded edges give it a beautiful appearance that is the envy of other ultrabooks. The rubber lip improves its durability as it is now less prone to scratches and battle marks if it ever hits the ground.
HP EliteBook 840G G1 delivers a clean look with a non-touch, matte display. It restricts the glare from the flat bezel and offers up to 1366 x 768pixels max resolution. You can choose different resolutions as it also offers a 1600 x 900pixel design.
Keyboard and Connectivity
HP EliteBook 840G G1 showcases an impressive high-quality keyboard. It has short actuation keys with tactile feedback for anyone who spends hours clanking away at the keyboard. You will also receive an excellent level of bounce and feedback when you press the keys harder.
Unlike other ultrabooks, HP EliteBook 840G G1 has plenty of ports. It offers four USB 3.0 ports, a smart card slot, a legacy VGA port, a drop-jaw Gigabit port, a full-size DisplayPort, a headset jack, and a docking port. A practical layout completes the clean look of this laptop.
It is surprising to see all the features packed in this ultrabook for the price. Between the SSD storage and 8GB of RAM plus the anti-glare screen, it competes well with other higher priced models.
Dell Latitude E7440 is one of the most sought after ultrabooks thanks to its compact form and affordable price. It comes with a 14-inch IPS screen that is a joy to work with, in and out of the office. This is because it delivers anti-glare properties so you won’t have to deal with reflectivity when looking at it from an angle.
Dell Latitude E7440 has 351-NIT brightness and is large enough to accommodate two windows for faster editing of documents.
Under the thin, anodized aluminum chassis is an Intel Core i5-4300U CPU. It makes up to 1.9GHz processing speed on its dual-core CPU which manages to give you smooth multitasking speeds. Not to mention, it can max out at 2.9GHz to allow more intense work to be done without input lag.
The ultrabook offers 8GB of DDR3 RAM and 256GB SSD.
This combination is just right when you want to do more than deliver reports. It has a solid photo and video editing performance such that you will not find yourself in a jam on the day before you have to deliver a presentation.
It does not come with an optical drive, so you have limitations on the storage capacity. But you can always add your hard drive since it includes a slot for it.
Keyboard and Connectivity
Dell Latitude E7440 comes with a super comfortable keyboard, only it is not backlit. For typing purposes, this keyboard offers high responsiveness and just the right key travel. All the keys are well-spaced which makes it easy to prevent accidental pressing of keys.
Being a business laptop; it offers a wide array of connectivity options. It has a USB 3.0 port for superfast transfer of documents and files. You also get an HDMI port, a Mini DisplayPort, an RJ-45, E-Port connector, and an Audio jack.
Dell Latitude E7440 is a thin ultrabook, but it weighs way more than most ultrabooks at 3.7 pounds. Nevertheless, it is a model you will love working with owing to the matte screen, large keyboard, and powerful processor combined with SSD.
If you want a large ultrabook that can cope with demanding tasks, you will want to consider the Jumper EZbook 3L Pro 14-Inch. The housing is of aluminum, and you will find that it has a sleek texture that will remain in good condition for a long time.
With this ultrabook, say goodbye to input lags since it has a 7th gen Intel dual-core Apollo Lake N3450 processor. It operates between 1.1GHz and 2.2GHz base and turbo frequency. It is capable of running many browser tabs and Windows without any delay.
Not to mention, it has 6GB of RAM and 64GB of flash storage. It has top ultrabook performance at this price point with the HD 500 graphics cards. Therefore, it can do some basic gaming when you want to pass the time. The good thing is that you can expand the flash storage through the M.2 and TF slots.
Keyboard and Connectivity
The keyboard offers shallow keystrokes. You will find it comfortable to type for extended periods. If you are undertaking a long project or need to meet a deadline, its responsiveness offers smooth typing to complete work in good time.
It comes with two USB 3.0 ports, which is amazing to see. It also has a mini HDMI port, a 3.5mm audio jack, and a DC jack. All the ports are placed on the right leaving left side clean and sleek. On the back, you will find the speakers and the M.2 slot.
You need to drop thousands of dollars to own a decent ultrabook. Jumper EZbook 3L Pro 14-Inch makes it possible at a much lower price, owing to its rugged design that fulfills functionality. It is a capable laptop able to deliver Intel processing power for intensive work.
Best Cheap Ultrabooks Under $500: Buyer’s Guide
Buying an ultrabook has become more complex in recent years. As more brands enter the scene, we have seen the competition become more severe. If you are always on the road or need a laptop that can handle professional work, read on to find out the deciding factors before buying an ultrabook.
Being travel-friendly is what you are looking to get from an ultrabook. Remember that if you get an 11-inch laptop, you won’t be able to upgrade it with RAM or storage. As such, it is important to match your needs to the size of laptop that matters.
If, for example, you need to fit two windows on one screen, a 14-inch laptop will be better than the 11-inch model. The nice sweet spot in ultrabooks on a budget is the 12.5-14 inches and do not weigh more than five pounds.
Unfortunately, the thinner your laptop is, there are more sacrifices made for performance. That is to say, this laptop isn’t great for processor-heavy activities like gaming or video editing.
A quality ultrabook is envisioned to have the perfect combination between the panel type and resolution. For budget ultrabooks, you are looking for a beautiful display preferably on an IPS-panel display. The resolution is made up of pixels. The lowest number you can take home is 1366 x 768 which is HD but not full HD as in 1920 x 1080.
A full HD screen is way better than the HD only display since it gives up to 10 additional lines of text on an email or webpage. You can fit two windows side by side and be able to edit comfortably.
Do you need a Touchscreen?
If you are in the market to get a convertible, a touchscreen is a must have. But if you are getting an ultrabook because it’s thin and light and will spend most of the time in the office, you don’t need to have a touchscreen.
Besides its fast input system, you are going to be dealing with lots of fingerprints. A microfiber cloth should come in handy and help keep your screen from getting dirtied with fingerprints.
Your system’s performance is highly reliable on its RAM. The more simultaneous applications you run, the more memory you need to process your commands. It is essential to have at least 4GB of RAM for daily computing tasks and at least 8GB for photo and video editing. 16GB is ideal for gaming while 32GB is necessary for servers (you won’t be needing large memory in an ultrabook.)
Keyboard and Trackpad
Like size, the input also matters. Small laptops have small keyboards. It means you may encounter awkward placement of keys that may take up valuable time, especially if you type a lot. You will want to look closer at the Shift, Space Bar, Ctrl, and Delete Keys to ensure that every key lines up with your input style.
The way you execute each keystroke is just as important. Some models have a short actuation distance with heavy actuation force, while the opposite is true for most other ultrabooks.
The slim profile of ultrabooks gives them an edge over other laptops in the industry. Their versatility and performance also mean that the price tag can be hard to meet when money is tight. Our reviews have focused on models that hit the mark on the performance and thin profile.
Although it’s tricky to find a video processing or gaming ultrabook in this price range, there are plenty of lightweight, long-battery-life, quick ultrabooks too. Don’t be held back by an old, slow laptop when an inexpensive model can be a huge upgrade.