$500 laptop for light gaming

Last time I bought a laptop was about eight years ago, and it’s showing: the thing is clunky and slow and completely devoid of a ssd. So I’m thinking about upgrading sometime in the next couple of months.

My desktop is good enough to play AAA games at adequate framerates, so I’m not looking for something that’ll wow me graphically. I want something that’ll not only play Stardew Valley, but will also play 2024’s equivalent of Stardew Valley, if you get my drift. So, no Chromebooks, but also no Alienware Nitrogen-cooled eight-core behemoth, either.

And $500 is a medium-soft ceiling. I’d much rather get a refurbished machine than go over this limit.

I have some experience building desktops, but I’ve never installed anything on a laptop, and don’t plan to try.

What advice would you give someone in this situation? Poking around, I see laptops in this range with a 120-250 GB ssd and 8 gb RAM. Beyond that, I’m not sure what to seek, or to avoid.

Do you intend to use your device within datalink range of a gaming desktop? If so, there are devices which enable you to run a game on your desktop and stream it to a gaming device so the gaming device only has to do minimal processing. E.g.: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nvidia_Shield_(set-top_box)
I doubt 2024’s equivalent of Stardew Valley will be demanding compared to today. Game developers, especially indie ones, have been risk-averse when it comes to pushing the envelope in terms of system requirements.

Let’s take Stardew Valley and see how far back we could have run it. Looking at its requirements on Steam, you see that it requires a 2Ghz processor (doesn’t say multicore), 2GB of RAM, 256MB VRAM and 500MB hard drive. Can you remember the last time you saw a CPU with a one core 2GHz processor? Do you know how far you have to go back to be unable to find a GPU with 256MB of VRAM? About early 2003 ( https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_Nvidia_graphics_processing_units#GeForce4_series )

If you could have run Stardew Valley with 15-year-old tech, you don’t have to worry about running the 2024 equivalent of Stardew Valley with anything quarterway decent you buy today.