ASUS recently announced their ProArt StudioBook One which is the most powerful laptop for creators ever made, but also one that is going to have a hefty price tag of several thousand. What if you are on a budget, though? What’s the best laptop for creators under $500? Frankly, It’s the one that makes enough sacrifices to get the price-point down while at the same time providing the most important aspects that will allow you to create content without issues.
And there’s only one laptop that delivers on that which is the ASUS F510UA.
Before we get into this, let’s be clear. $500 isn’t a lot. Most phones cost double the price, so considering that getting a powerful machine that can handle the likes of Photoshop and Premiere isn’t an easy task.
A Reason Why This Laptop Is Better Than All the Pricer Laptops out There
High-end laptops have one major flaw. That they don’t allow for upgrades. And that’s not ideal for creators at all. Just because you cannot spend more than $500 on a laptop right now doesn’t mean that you won’t have another $300 laying around in the future.
This ASUS F510UA is far better than any other laptop at the price range of $500 by itself, but you can also upgrade it to make it on the level of higher-end laptops, at a very low price.
For instance, for around $132, you can get yourself 32GB (2 x 16GB) of DDR4 RAM for this laptop if you don’t mind opening it up. Most high-end laptops don’t even provide you with a 32GB option. Even at the cost of over $2,000. Now, for most users, 8GB is enough, but if you want to rock Adobe After Effects, that’s where 32GB of RAM will come in vital. It will also make a huge difference when it comes to much simpler tasks such as simply having a bunch of Google Chrome tabs open, or when several pieces of software are on at the same time
You can also upgrade your hard drive, which also isn’t the case on a lot of high-end laptops. And it should be. Sure, you can always have a portable hard drive like the Seagate Portable which costs just $45 for 1TB of storage, but it’s just more convenient to have most of your files on your laptop directly. The issue is that laptops tend to come with small storage. 1TB is often not enough for people.
On the ASUS, you get an empty M.2 slot which means you can put a nice 1TB SSD there, but you can also upgrade the 2.5″ inch hard drive that’s in the laptop when you buy it. You can either get another SSD drive to have a set of two, or you can get a much bigger standard mechanical drive. Up to you.
This laptop with upgraded RAM and a better drive is like the OnePlus of phones. Incredible performance at an incredible price.
And for that alone, if you are looking for the best laptop for creators for under $500, you should get this ASUS F510UA, as you can always upgrade at an affordable price, versus having to pay a big premium for better specs.
(We’ll be making a guide to the best storage and RAM for this laptops soon.)
What This $500 Laptop Comes With
Right away, you probably noticed that this laptop looks pretty good. That’s to do with ASUS’s NanoEdge Display which gives you much smaller frames. Not nearly as small as on the Dell XPS models but still smaller than on a lot of laptops.
The laptop itself comes with 3 USB-A ports, a USB-C port, a headphone jack, a charging port, and a memory card reader.
Oh, and there’s even a fingerprint scanner there too, although it’s not quite as quick as the ones you get on a phone.
Specs-wise? You get an 8th-gen Intel i5-8250U 1.6GHz (Turbo up to 3.4GHz) processor, 8GB of DDR4 RAM, Intel UHD 620 graphics, and a 1TB hard drive.
Of, course specs are great, but we all know that they don’t always tell the truth, so how does it perform in reality?
You aren’t going to play games on this laptop. That’s just not going to happen with this integrated card, but other than that, as far as content creation, this laptop is an incredible performer that you just wouldn’t expect from a laptop at this price.
The i5 mixed with the 8GB of RAM allow for smooth editing of full-HD videos at full playback quality on Adobe Premiere, which is exactly what most people reading this need. 4K? It can handle it too if really needed, although this is not a laptop we recommend for 4K at its stock settings. (Stay tuned to our newsletter to find out when we make a post about optimizing this laptop for 4K editing.)
Of course, this laptop is also able to handle Photoshop editing very well.
With that said, apps do turn on very slow on this laptop because of the hard drive it comes with. That’s not only because of the fact that the hard drive is a standard hard drive, but also because it’s one of the slower ones with a speed of 5400 RPM. That also means that Windows itself turns on slower and that files don’t load as quickly, which is one of the biggest issues of this laptop.
Although that’s an issue that can simply be fixed with an SSD drive. ASUS does actually have a model of this laptop with an SSD drive if you don’t want to buy one yourself, but it is a far better deal to buy one.
You saw that this is an i5 processor and you might be thinking that it’s not enough for content creation. Sure, if you are going to be done some ultra-intense After Effects work, a better processor would help, but overall the 8th gen i5 is able to handle most tasks that creators that have a budget of $500 will be working on.
I do wish there was a better cooling system implemented on this laptop though. It easily gets loud and heated.
Great Performance Isn’t Everything That Matters Though
A great performing laptop is only great until it dies.
How does this ASUS F510UA stand in this section?
Well, frankly, battery life is a quite complicated topic. There are so many things that influence it.
With that said, ASUS claims this laptop has 8-hour battery life.
When it comes to working on the internet, absolutely.
When it comes to Photoshop work? We managed to get around 5 hours.
Video wise? 1-3 hours which is also how much you get on the more powerful XPS 15.
This ASUS F510UA comes with a relatively small battery rated at 42WHrs, but the lack of 4K, no powerful graphics card, and an 8th gen processor over the 7th gen like a lot of competition at that price range makes the battery life good enough for creators to use when they can’t be connected, although ideally, you should seek power when possible.
We do wish there was a USB-C port that also allows you to charge your laptop though. That’s because standard chargers can break, and more so because having the ability to charge with a USB-C port would allow you to charge your laptop from almost any power bank.
That’s where the TYLT AWALL power bank comes in though as a power bank that comes with a socket. That means that you will be able to charge your laptop or anything else for that matter wherever you are. I rock two of them, and they make a massive difference when it comes to content creation on the go.
I do wish they added a slightly bigger battery though. Would have made a massive difference. But that’s just one of the sacrifices made to reduce the price.
My Biggest Issue with This Laptop
My biggest issue with this laptop? Frankly, it’s the keyboard. Now, overall, it’s actually pretty good. Good to the point that I didn’t feel like I needed to use the Logitech Craft keyboard every single time. With that said, there is some flex in the middle, and I, for sure, feel like the keys, don’t always jump back up evenly when I press them.
However, the keys are spaced up nicely and do allow for a nice writing experience. And that’s coming from someone that writes most of the day, every day.
Well, it’s a nice writing experience until it gets dark…
That’s because the keys are not backlit at all.
As a someone that writes a lot, that’s just a must.
I would forgive the lack of backlit keys if they at least put a light on the Caps Lock, but they didn’t.
On the bright side, even though Windows touchpads are pretty limited, the touchpad doesn’t have any issues at all.
The Biggest Sacrifice Though?
Now, if you compare it to any other display at this price range, you will say that this is an amazing display. It’s sharp. It’s nice to look at. And It’s fully HD which isn’t always a case at this price point. It’s also IPS.
And it’s true. It is an overall great display. But if you are a creator, you might be looking for color accuracy, and this one doesn’t provide it. With just 45% NTSC color gamut, it’s well under the average of other screens. The screen itself also isn’t too bright at around 300 nits versus 1000 on new smartphones.
Does it matter, though? In most cases, not. You most likely will be working indoors, and most people also don’t have full-color accurate displays, so they don’t see something fully accurately anyway. If you are doing client work this is something to think about hough.
Even with that, though, we would still recommend this laptop for any creator. Just get a monitor when you can afford one. That will make a much bigger difference because ultimately in the long-term, a 15.6″ monitor is too small for comfortable and ergonomic content creation.
A great advantage this screen does have though is that’s it’s not glossy but matte. That’s not too common in laptops, but something we really have grown to like. Screens with glares might be better for taking pictures of, but as far as the comfort of use, a matte display makes a big difference.
Other Little Sacrifices That This Laptop Makes to Get the Price Down
The webcam is very, very bad. It’s not even full HD. Not that other laptop s deliver either. The Dell XPS line is just as bad in terms of quality.
Oh, and the speakers, while pretty loud, also not that great. Now, I don’t like to show how speaker sound in videos as you will hear it different at home because you have different speakers, but if you go at full volume, your experience will suffer from the cracking noise. Just get some earphones like the Jabra Elite 65e.
Is This the Best Laptop for Creators Under $500? – To Sum up This Asus F510UA Review
If this laptop didn’t have the option for you to upgrade, we would have probably told you to save a bit extra and buy a better laptop. The fact that you can upgrade this laptop though, it will save you several hundred because to get extra RAM or storage built into a laptop, that always costs far more than the products are worth.
If you are a creator on a budget, there’s no better laptop under $500 to start with.
It’s not perfect and does have a lot of flaws that make it affordable, but it also doesn’t have any competition at this price range.
Enjoyed this review? Make sure to subscribe to our newsletter for the review of Loupedeck which is the editing device in the picture above.