Highest gaming performance:
However, the problem is usually the lower end display quality, in my opinion. Better 1080p screens start to appear in the $600 range and you should consider adding $50-$100 and getting one of gaming laptops under $600 options (check here to see recommendations).
Acer V3-572G 15.6″ for $530. Comes with GT 840M, I5-4210U CPU, 8GB DDR3 RAM which is very nice and 1TB HDD. The screen is probably of low quality, but I’m sure you can replace it easily as it is an eDP display (probably) like in the V5-552G case. A good 1080p IPS level display will cost you around $80-$90 tops. A very good deal for $550. Currently it’s the best for around that price. Battery performance is also good at around 5-6 hours at least.
Good battery performance of 5-8 hours is also expected, with actual users backing up.
2. Many refurbished laptop with some dedicated GPU from eBay. I can’t keep track, but you can find a GT 740M/745M, sometimes with an IPS display, Radeon 8750M/8850M, GT 650M and more.
The two best options are above $500, so I would suggest waiting for some other deal or bite it and get another $50-$100 for one of the $500-$600 gaming laptops and getting one of the more interesting options.
If you are restricted to $500 tops, I would wait for some deal on the Acer V5 (was selling for $470-$500 for a week or two) or on the HP 15z-j100. The laptops in this list, however, are the fastest you’ll get for such a price.
(???) What can you do with such a configuration? Most games on medium settings at least and too few on high settings – CS:GO, Torchlight 2, F1 2012, CoD: Modern Warfare 3, Deus Ex Human Revolution, Dirt 3 and more. See how the Radeon 7660G manages Skyrim and or how the 7670M handles Skyrim too on high setting. Note: You could get some 20%-30% higher performance with the 600$ gaming laptops offers currently.
Saving money – 400$ gaming laptop
There are many options refurbished or used with warranty on eBay – link. The links will lead you to search with laptops with an A8-4500M/A10-4600M or A10-5750M. The last two come with a pretty good integrated GPU. If you can snatch those for like $300, then it’s a good deal for very light gamers. The A10s come with an integrated GPU that comes close to ome $500-$600 current offerings, that’s why I’m suggesting those.