Dell

Best Dell Laptops Under $500 Windows Central 2019

Dell makes some of the very best Windows laptops money can buy. From the Alienware gaming machines to the incredible XPS 13 and XPS 15 and beyond, there's a lot to choose from. But laptops like these are also very pricey. Not wanting to spend thousands shouldn't exclude you from having a great laptop, and in the case of Dell, you can get something good for under $500 like the Dell Inspiron 14 2-in-1.

Best overall - Dell Inspiron 14 2-in-1 5481

In keeping the cost of a laptop low, there are always compromises to be made. But in the case of the latest Inspiron 14 2-in-1 those compromises are minimal. For one, you're getting an 8th Gen Intel Core i3 and up to 8GB of RAM for under $500. It's only a dual-core i3, but it does have four threads at least.

What's also astonishing about this affordable laptop is that Dell has NVMe SSD storage in all configurations, even the cheapest. Superfast storage is definitely a huge bonus since there are still plenty of low-cost laptops out there using a slow HDD or eMMC for their storage choices.

As it's a 2-in-1, you also get a touch display, albeit only a HD resolution one, and it folds all the way around so you can use it like a tablet, or just prop it up when you want to watch a movie. It's incredibly versatile, and while it's a shame you can't get one with a Core i5 for under $500, it's still the best of the bunch.

Pros:

  • Superfast NVMe SSD storage
  • Convertible touch display
  • Great looking design
  • Convertible

Cons:

  • Low-resolution display
  • Chunky bezels

Best Overall

Dell Inspiron 14 2-in-1 5481

Well made and well equipped

It's crazy you can get NVMe SSD storage for under $500, as well as a convertible touchscreen and four-thread CPU.

Runner-up — Dell Inspiron 15 3585

The Inspiron 15 3585 is incredibly well equipped for a sub-$500 laptop. Part of that is down to what's inside it, with this variant going with an AMD APU over an Intel chip or NVIDIA graphics. With either a Ryzen 3 or Ryzen 5 inside, you get a lot of performance without a high asking price.

The one to go for is definitely the version with the Ryzen 5 2500U inside, though you'll have to spec it with only 4GB of RAM and a 1TB hard drive to keep it under budget. That's not a problem though, as Dell left it easily upgradeable, so you can add an SSD and some more RAM if what comes included isn't enough for you.

The Ryzen 5 2500U is a superb laptop processor, though. Pound for pound it still falls a little behind an Intel Core i5 in single and multi-core operations, but not a huge amount, and its party piece is the Radeon Vega 8 graphics with 1GB of dedicated VRAM. This isn't a gaming laptop, but you can definitely play a bunch of games on it, something you wouldn't be getting from a sub-$500 Intel powered laptop. As an all-rounder, this is a really great package.

Pros:

  • Powerful integrated Vega graphics
  • Quad-core processor with eight threads
  • Solid build quality

Cons:

  • No touchscreen
  • Chunky bezels

Runner-up

Dell Inspiron 15 3585

Great performance for an amazing price

The one to get is the Ryzen 5 2500U powered version with Vega 8 graphics, since it's got really good performance, even capable of gaming for under $500.

Best Budget Convertible - Dell Inspiron 11 3000 2-in-1

This little 2-in-1 is a highly-portable laptop with an 11-inch 1366x768 resolution display that folds around to be used either as a tablet or to be propped up when you want to watch a movie. The entry-level model comes with 32GB of eMMC storage and 4GB of RAM, but you can spend a little more and get 128GB of storage.

eMMC and not SSD is a little disappointing, but it's a credit to Dell that you can even get a decent convertible laptop for this kind of money. It uses AMD hardware inside, though here you'll find the AMD A9-9420e dual-core APU with Radeon R5 graphics. It's not as good as Ryzen, but in a small laptop like this and for everyday computing it's fine, and since it's passively cooled it's also quiet.

And even though it's small, it's still well equipped with ports. You get a full-sized HDMI output, microSD card slot, even USB 3.1. That's fantastic to see on a really cheap laptop.

Pros:

  • Great price
  • Convertible with touch display
  • Quiet operation

Cons:

  • Older AMD APU
  • eMMC storage is slow

Best Budget Convertible

Dell Inspiron 11 3000 2-in-1

Small touch-friendly PC on a budget

It's not without its flaws but that you can get a decent convertible for this price is a remarkable achievement in itself.

Best for Kids - Dell Inspiron 11 3180

The Inspiron 11 3180 is a good choice if you're hunting for a laptop for the little ones in your life. It's compact, affordable and most of all, durable. Because you know it'll get banged and dropped and need to feel confident it'll survive.

You get excellent battery life, a decent 11-inch 1366x768 resolution display and a robust build quality that can take the kind of abuse kids deal out. And at 11 inches, it'll fit in their bag just great for the trips to and from school.

The latest versions have all switched to AMD APUs, specifically the 7th generation A6 or A9, with 32GB or 128GB of eMMC storage and 4GB of RAM. Sadly, the storage is a little slow, but at the price you can buy one for it's not much of a complaint.

Pros:

  • Great price
  • Durable construction
  • Small enough for a school bag

Cons:

  • Older AMD APU
  • eMMC storage is slow

Best for Kids

Dell Inspiron 11 3180

A good laptop for the little ones

A compact, durable laptop that looks pretty good, has decent hardware and a brilliantly low price perfect for the little ones' school work.

Conclusion

Dell's expensive XPS and gaming laptops might make the most noise, but it's certainly not the case that you have to spend mega bucks to get a good laptop from the company. The Inspiron 14 2-in-1 is proof of that. Sure, the display resolution is a compromise, but everything else about it is top quality, especially seeing the super fast NVMe storage in a sub-$500 laptop.

And while unflattering, perhaps, that's why it's the best choice. It's the least compromising in areas that actually make a significant difference to user experience. We'd all love to gaze at a gorgeous high-resolution display all day, but it's simply not going to happen under $500. By knocking a little bit off and taking it down to 768p, it still looks decent at 14-inches, but allows Dell to invest more in areas that will really matter.

Fast storage, a good processor and a good amount of RAM means the actual business of using this laptop will be far better than the others on this list. With the added bonus that it's still got a touch screen.

Credits — The team that worked on this guide

Richard Devine Richard Devine is an Editor at Windows Central. A former Project Manager and long-term tech addict, he joined Mobile Nations in 2011 and has been found on Android Central and iMore as well as Windows Central. Currently you'll find him covering all manner of PC hardware and gaming.

Daniel Rubino is executive editor of Windows Central. He has been covering Microsoft since 2009 back when this site was called WMExperts (and later Windows Phone Central). His interests include Windows, Surface, HoloLens, Xbox, and future computing visions. Follow him on Twitter: @daniel_rubino.

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