Laptops for (under) $500, Alex
January 1, 2017 12:54 PM   Subscribe

Hit me with your best all-purpose laptop recommendations for under $500- no special bells and whistles needed. Current model cost $350 approximately 6 years ago, and it's been fine but I can tell it's ready for The Farm Upstate. I'd LOVE it if I could still get one that runs Windows 7.
posted by I_Love_Bananas to Technology (14 answers total) 10 users marked this as a favorite
Not sure if you'd like to limit to new laptops, but a used Thinkpad T430 (~$250) or T440 (the generation after the T430, ~$350?) would still make for a good general use laptop. Thinkpads are Lenovo's business line of laptops and are built for durability, so hold up very well over time. They also have great keyboards, especially the T430. Most of the used ones will come with Windows 7 pre-installed. You could use the savings to buy an SSD such as the Samsung 850 EVO which will make Windows much zippier than with a regular hard drive.
posted by hexaflexagon at 1:21 PM on January 1, 2017 [3 favorites]

The Wirecutter on budget laptops.

I doubt you'll be able to find a new laptop that still sells with Windows 7. Even if you did find one, it likely would be because it's been sitting on a shelf for a couple years and will have older hardware to match.
posted by bluecore at 1:22 PM on January 1, 2017 [3 favorites]

I would check out The Wirecutter's Guide or buy a refurbed Lenovo Thinkpad.
posted by bergnotburg at 1:22 PM on January 1, 2017 [1 favorite]

If you end with with Windows 10, a touchscreen actually can make it a better experience. Microsoft currently has this Dell with a 15 inch 1080p touchscreen for under $400 (and with no bloatware). I've got the previous generation and it's pretty nice for the money.
posted by Candleman at 1:37 PM on January 1, 2017

In terms of used: make sure you check out area pawn shops. They often have a nice selection of older high-end machines that would likely be better value in that price range. They also usually have fairly good return policies.
Also my area has a Goodwill that specializes in electronics, and I occasionally I've seen Thinkpads there as well.
posted by SaltySalticid at 1:54 PM on January 1, 2017

I've bought 5 or 6 (Lenova) Thinkpads used and have been generally quite pleased witth what's delivered. Many websites sell them. A new machine with Windows 7? Doubtful, but there's plenty of refurbished Windows 7 laptops available, for example here.
posted by Rash at 2:46 PM on January 1, 2017

I suggest poking around Groupon. They always have a ton of cheap refurbs floating around. Also right now Best Buy is doing an open box clearance and they have some pretty solid deals. My local one had some Lenovos in open boxes for $150.
posted by Ghostride The Whip at 3:34 PM on January 1, 2017 is a good source. I saw at least 1 Thinkpad with Win7.
posted by theora55 at 3:41 PM on January 1, 2017 [1 favorite]

Another vote for used/refurbed higher spec Thinkpad. Love 'em.
posted by Chairboy at 4:24 PM on January 1, 2017

I'm another of the "refurb T-series Thinkpad" people here, and the T430 I bought off eBay for ~$200 earlier this year feels as solid as the classic IBM models. I'll throw in an SSD this year (it requires a low-profile 7mm model) and it'll be set for a while to come.
posted by holgate at 6:00 PM on January 1, 2017

Jumping on the thinkpad train, there are tons of thinkpads under $200 selling on right now!
posted by ball00000ns at 8:17 PM on January 1, 2017

To expand your options beyond Thinkpads, consider the HP Elitebook line as well. They have a similar concept of being solidly designed business laptops meant to withstand the rigors of very frequent travel. Most models are built with an internal magnesium frame and are quite tough. That's the reason why there are so many refurbs out there for sale. I have two, with my latest just bought a couple months ago from Newegg for $240 and it's been pretty great. If you're curious about how the model codes break down into size and generation feel free to memail me and I'll tell you more about 'em.
posted by glonous keming at 11:04 AM on January 2, 2017

Response by poster: Lots of good tips all- thank you! I feel much better able to make a decision now.
posted by I_Love_Bananas at 1:29 PM on January 2, 2017

I have purchased refurbs from these guys previously, but then, they are local to me and it's easy for me to go in there if there's a problem.

Discount Electronics . Their business is highly rated. They're mostly Dell stuff, if you dig that.
posted by bitterkitten at 7:06 PM on January 2, 2017

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