Prices Decline

The price of Windows laptops continues to decline, with the average system costing just $456 in December 2011. However, you don't have to settle for something that's underpowered or poorly made when you opt for a bargain notebook. You can get a second-generation Core i3 processor, 4GB of RAM, and 500GB hard drive in this price range, which is plenty of power for everyday computing. Here are the 8 best laptops you can get for under $500 right now.

HP g6t ($469)

LogicBUY offers the 15.6-inch, 2.1-GHz Core i3 HP g6t for only $469. We reviewed its cousin, the <a href="http://www.laptopmag.com/reviews/laptops/hp-pavilion-g6-1c77nr.aspx">HP Pavilion g6-1c77nr</a>, very favorably in 2011, praising it for its solid performance, comfortable keyboard, and good speakers.The Pavilion g6t is no slouch compared to the g6-1c77nr, featuring a 2.2-GHz Intel 2nd Gen Core i3-2330M CPU, 4GB of RAM, and a 500GB hard drive. Although the Gateway NV55C54u (also on this list) offers slightly better performance and longer battery life, this is a great deal for a performance laptop. This deal expires on February 2, 2012. <br><br> <a href="http://www.logicbuy.com/deals/hp-g6t/36198.aspx">Find the HP g6t On Sale at LogicBUY</a>

Lenovo ThinkPad E420 ($494)

Another great deal from LogicBUY, the Lenovo ThinkPad Edge E420 is a less-fancy-looking version of the <a href="http://www.laptopmag.com/review/laptops/lenovo-thinkpad-edge-e420s.aspx">ThinkPad Edge E420s</a> that earned an Editor's Choice award from us in May 2011. We were impressed with the laptop's sophisticated design, light weight, excellent keyboard, and strong battery life. <br><br> The ThinkPad Edge E420 features a Sandy Bridge Intel Core i3 processor, a 14-inch 1366 x 768 anti-glare display, and Intel HD graphics. The $494 deal from LogicBUY expires on February 1, 2012. <br><br> <a href="http://www.logicbuy.com/deals/lenovo-thinkpad-edge-14-inch-core-i3-laptop/19810.aspx">Find the Lenovo ThinkPad E420 On Sale at LogicBUY</a>

Dell Inspirion 14R ($499)

The Dell Inspiron 14R, only $499 on Dell's Web site, packs a 2.2-GHz Intel 2nd Gen Core i3-2330M processor, 4GB of RAM, a 500GB HDD, and Intel HD graphics into 14-inch frame. We were impressed with the Pentium-powered <a href="http://www.laptopmag.com/review/laptops/dell-inspiron-14r.aspx">Dell Inspiron 14R</a> we rereviewed in 2011, and for the same price today you get a more powerful processor, twice the RAM, and twice the hard drive storage capacity. What's more, the new Inspiron 14R features switchable lids, allowing you to choose a look to your liking. <br><br> <a href="http://www.dell.com/us/p/inspiron-14r-n4110/fs">Find the Dell Inspiron 14R On Sale at Dell</a>

Gateway NV55C54u ($419)

We really liked the <a href="http://www.laptopmag.com/review/laptops/gateway-nv55c54u.aspx">Gateway NV55C54u</a> when we reviewed it in December 2011. Despite its faux-wood finish, small touchpad, and somewhat weak audio, the 15-inch NV55C54u offered solid performance thanks to its 2.4-GHz Intel Core i3-370M CPU and 4GB of RAM, and nearly 5 hours of battery life. Gateway also threw in a dedicated number pad, which is helpful for gamers and accountants alike. At just $419 right now, the NV55C54u is one of the best notebook deals around. <br><br> <a href="http://www.amazon.com/Gateway-NV55C54U-Laptop-i3-370m-2-4GHz/dp/B005WDLEAU">Find the Gateway NV55C54u On Sale at Amazon.com</a>

HP Pavilion dm ($448)

We gave the <a href="http://www.laptopmag.com/review/laptops/hp-pavilion-dm1-4010us-late-2011.aspx">HP Pavilion dm1-4010us</a> 4 stars when we reviewed the laptop in October 2011, and for good reason. The Pavilion dm1 features a comfy keyboard, reliable touchpad, and solid performance, all bundled in an attractive 11-inch chassis. This configuration of the Pavilion dm1, on sale for $448 at Best Buy, boasts a 1.65-GHz AMD Vision E2 processor, 4GB of RAM, and a 320GB HDD. The laptop also features Beats Audio for superior sound and AMD Radeon HD 6320 graphics. Although the HP Pavilion dm1-4010us has below-average battery life, its other attributes more than make up for this deficiency. <br><br> <a href="http://bit.ly/xcKbez">Find the HP Pavilion dm1 at Bestbuy.com</a>

Toshiba Satellite P755 ($499)

The Toshiba Satellite P755-S5320, on sale for $499 at Best Buy, boasts more powerful performance and a larger hard drive than most of the notebooks on this list. Although the P755-S5320 won't play hardcore games on its Intel HD graphics, the laptop features a 2.2-GHz Intel 2nd Gen Core i3 processor, 6GB of RAM, and a 640GB hard drive. Toshiba claims that the 6-cell lithium-ion battery will last up to 6 hours and 23 minutes. <br><br> <a href="http://bit.ly/zGUmAg">Find the Toshiba Satellite P755 at Bestybuy.com</a>

ASUS X44L ($379)

Although this laptop won't win any contests for performance or design, the 14-inch ASUS X44L-BBK4 boasts plenty of power for less than $400. The 2.2-GHz Intel 2nd Gen Core i3-2330M CPU and 4GB of RAM ensure that you'll be able to surf the Web, listen to music, and watch movies without seeing a slowdown, and its 500GB hard drive offers plenty of storage capacity. Buyers could do far worse than the ASUS X44L, selling at Bestbuy.com for $379. <br><br> <a href="http://bit.ly/zkdXB2">Find the ASUS X44L at Bestbuy.com</a>

Lenovo B575 ($329)

At $329 from Best Buy, the Lenovo B575-1450AHU is a steal. Lenovo packed as many features as they could into this 14-inch laptop. It boasts a 1.65-GHz AMD Dual-Core E-450 processor, 4GB of RAM, and a 320GB HDD. The laptop even boasts a dedicated numeric keypad, an ultra-comfy Accutype keyboard, and a fingerprint reader. These features put the Lenovo B575 over the top on budget buyers' "must-have" lists. <br><br> <a href="http://bit.ly/xOtGIg">Find the Lenovo B575 On Sale at Bestbuy.com</a>

Top 8 Laptops Under $500