Best Dell Laptops Under $500 Windows Central 2021
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 from which to choose. 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 a reasonable amount, like the Dell Inspiron 14 2-in-1, our pick for the very best Dell laptop that costs less than $500.
Best overall - Dell Inspiron 14 2-in-1 5000
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 11th Gen Intel Core i3 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 a massive bonus since there are still plenty of low-cost laptops out there using a slow HDD or eMMC for their storage choices. You're limited to 128GB of storage and 4GB of RAM at this price, but it's still a snappy performer.
As it's a 2-in-1, you also get a touch display, albeit only an HD resolution one, and it folds all the way around so you can use it as 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 or a 1080p display for under $500, it's still the best of the bunch.
- Superfast NVMe SSD storage
- Convertible touch display
- Great looking design
- Low-resolution display
- Only 4GB RAM in budget
Runner-up — Dell Inspiron 15 5000
The Inspiron 15 5000 is incredibly well equipped for a sub-$500 laptop. Part of that is down to what's inside it, and you are limited at this price point to the 11th Gen Intel Core i3, but it's still a solid laptop for the money.
You get a Core i3-1115G4, paired with 8GB of RAM, but you do get a 128GB PCIe SSD included. 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 Core i3-1115G4 is a solid budget laptop processor, too. It's got excellent single and multi-core performance and is much better than we'd be seeing in a laptop this affordable even a couple of years ago. It's well built, too, and ultimately a lot of PC for not a lot of money.
- 11th Gen Intel processor
- PCIe SSD storage
- Great build quality
- Upgradeable RAM and SSD
- No touchscreen
- Chunky bezels
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 budget laptop.
- Great price
- Convertible with touch display
- Quiet operation
- Older AMD APU
- eMMC storage is slow
Great for Kids - Dell Inspiron 15 3000
The Inspiron 15 3000 is a solid choice if you're hunting for a laptop for the little ones in your life. It's got a big screen, 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 decent battery life, a large 15.6-inch HD resolution display, and a robust build quality that can take the kind of abuse kids to 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 10th Gen Intel CPUs, specifically the Core i3-1005G1 in this price bracket, with either a 128GB PCIe SSD or 1TB HDD for storage and 4GB or 8GB of RAM. The best option is to get the SSD for sure and add an additional HDD or SSD for mass storage since the 1TB HDD model is very slow.
- Great price
- Durable construction
- Small enough for a school bag
- No 1080p display
- HDD storage option is slow
Dell's expensive XPS and gaming laptops might make the most noise, but it's certainly not the case that you have to spend megabucks 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 superfast 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 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 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 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 the 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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