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Any laptop can be a gaming laptop if you’re willing to adjust your expectations. Some people’s idea of gaming is playing solitaire on their lunch break. However, that’s not what most folks have in mind when discussing gaming laptops. Say you want to increase FPS in your favorite games but don’t want to break your wallet.
As most experienced gamers know, a laptop that can support some serious gaming action is more expensive than your standard notebook for school or work. But even in the oversaturated market of gaming equipment, there are great deals to be found.
We’re talking about gaming laptops with a dedicated graphics chip, which is the minimum requirement for this type of device. In this article, we’ll give you several excellent options for budget gaming laptops. We’ll also highlight their prominent features but also tell you about their potential shortcomings. The models you’ll see here will show you that you don’t always have to spend more than $2,000 on a laptop that’s fit for all your gaming needs.
It can be complicated to talk about budget gaming laptops, given that not everyone has the same budget at their disposal. Still, this category encompasses a specific price range. If you’re looking for an excellent gaming device for under $1,000, Acer Nitro 5 should likely be at the top of your list.
Let’s dive into the specs first. The central processing unit (CPU) is a 10th Gen Intel Core i5-10300H, the GPU is an NVIDIA GeForce RTX 3050, and this is a 1920 x 1080 15.6-inch FHD display laptop. It features 16GB of RAM, 1TB SSD storage, and a 9-hour battery life. This laptop, weighing in at just over five pounds, is priced at $920.
The specifications, paired with the attractive price tag, make this one of the best gaming budget laptops on the market at the moment. So, what else can be said about this impressive contender? It has a unique design, that’s for sure. Acer Nitro 5 is all about red flare, and users seem to love that about it. The hood is plastic, and it’s surrounded by faux aluminum that curves the hood somewhat. The rest of the lid is black matte, and it features a glossy Acer logo.
This laptop’s interior is also a combination of red and black with red keyboard lighting, which is one of those things you either love or can’t fathom. It has a decent number of ports but no Mini DisplayPort connection. What about the display? Well, you need to maintain realistic expectations with budget gaming laptops, and to some degree, the same should apply to Acer Nitro 5. However, it features an excellent brightness level and a 144Hz refresh rate. We especially love the keyboard because it’s super comfortable and has excellent feedback. The audio output is fantastic, even with more demanding games.
If you’re willing to splurge just a little bit but still not go over $1,000, you should consider Lenovo Legion 5 as your next purchase. The price might be a little higher than the Acer Nitro 5, but the configuration of this laptop’s features justifies it. Here’s what we are talking about: It has an AMD Ryzen 7 5800H processor, 16GB of RAM, SSD boot drive type with 512GB capacity, and an NVIDIA GeForce RTX 3050 Ti graphics card.
It runs on Windows 11 Home and has decent battery life. As you can see, Lenovo packed a lot of power into this budget gaming laptop (as it has in the past with all of its models from the Legion series). What could be said about design? Not much, and that’s actually a good thing. It has a clean look and advanced features, which is where Lenovo leans with all their laptops. The chassis is plastic, but its sturdiness of it is surprising in a good way. This laptop won’t have you second-guessing its quality even for a minute.
When it comes to performance, Legion is proficient, and you can use it to play anything effortlessly, from Far Cry 5 to Rise of the Tomb Raider. The screen refresh rate is 165Hz, and the size of the screen is 15.6 inches. The keyboard is standard and generally has a comfortable feel and decent feedback. The webcam has traditional placement and even features a shutter for privacy. We especially like that Lenovo Legion 5 has plenty of ports. Overall, this is a fantastic, budget-friendly gaming laptop that won’t break the bank but still feels expensive.
A list of budget gaming laptops would be incomplete without a Dell device on it. Perhaps the company’s primary target customers aren’t gamers in a broad sense, but here they are catering to them with this excellent laptop.
Visually, the Dell G5 15 SE looks like most Dell laptops do. It has a sleek, minimalistic design that blends into any setting. Size-wise, it’s pretty standard. While some gaming laptops keep moving in the direction of the lighter and thinner structure, Dell opted out of this trend. That doesn’t mean this laptop is bulky, just not exceptionally lightweight. What you get is a genuinely sturdy and durable device, regardless of the plastic chassis.
The keyboard has decent travel, and the typing experience is satisfying. It’s a backlit keyboard, too, which is a must for most gaming laptops, budget or not. You can customize the lighting in different areas of the keyboard as well. Now, onto the specs.
It features AMD Fourth Generation Ryzen 5 6-core processor, 8GB RAM, and 256GB SSD storage. It also has a 15.6-inch anti-glare display and a native display resolution of 1920×1080. The battery life is decent, though not impressive, with little under eight hours before a recharge is needed. The frame rates are more than solid, and the performance outside of gaming is also remarkable, thanks to the AMD chip. If you use Photoshop in addition to gaming, this laptop will serve you well. The Dell G5 doesn’t feel cheap at all, even though it’s just under $1,000. For some, this will be a capable entry-level gaming laptop.
If you’re looking for something slightly more powerful but still not overly expensive, Asus is the go-to brand. The company has long been known for manufacturing some of the best gaming laptops on the market, and the TUF Dash F15 model is one of them. TUF stands for “The Ultimate Force,” which is Asus’s way of saying that they prioritize performance over anything else, including flashy design, with this laptop.
However, the design itself is worth more than a mention. The base is made from smooth thick plastic, which feels reassuring and sturdy. The rigid, stable lid is made of metal, which is an excellent touch by Asus. There’s no external lighting on this model, which is an interesting choice many users will welcome. Also, you can get it in black and white. There’s no webcam, but the laptop is relatively light and ultra-portable.
As for the configuration, that’s the best part. It has an Intel 8-Core i7-11370H processor with a 3.3 GHz speed. The RAM is 16GB, which is twice as much as what the standard budget laptops offer, and the GPU is an NVIDIA GeForce RTX 3050 Ti. The battery life is excellent, with about ten hours of uninterrupted gaming. Another area where Asus TUF is above average is its port selection.
It has a Thunderbolt 4/USB Type-C port, and you can use it to charge the device fast with the proprietary AC adapter. It also comes with an HDMI 2.0 port, three USB 3.2 Gen 1 Type-A ports, an RJ45 LAN port, and a 3.5mm combo audio jack. The keyboard is discreetly backlit and quite comfortable to use. This gaming laptop’s price point goes a little over $1,000, but we believe it’s worth the investment.
HP laptops have a good reputation overall but aren’t necessarily associated with gaming. That all changed with the introduction of the HP Pavilion Gaming 15 laptop.
Before we go into any other features and specs, it’s important to point out that this is a laptop for gamers looking for a device with an extremely long battery life. We’re talking about not having to charge your laptop for up to 12 hours and 30 minutes. That’s an impressive performance for any laptop, and HP has traditionally installed a powerful battery in their devices.
This HP Gaming laptop has AMD Ryzen 5 4600H processor, NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1650 GPU, 512GB SSD storage, and 8GB of RAM, which are all considered mid-range specifications for a budget laptop like this. And it truly is a budget option. You can get it for $850, although it will have a slightly higher price tag if you choose different configurations. You will be able to boot this laptop in a matter of seconds and transfer files in no time. It’s a lightweight laptop with a thin design. Yet, it feels solid and durable, despite the weight or lack thereof.
The keyboard is where HP Pavilion Gaming 15 might be a problematic choice for some users. Cursor-arrow keys are in a row and not in T-formation, which makes them hard to hit. However, if you can get past this issue, there’s a good side to the keyboard as well. There’s a dedicated, albeit small, “Home, End, Pg Up, Pg Dn” configuration next to the numerical keyboard. The screen tilt is satisfactory, and the colors are vibrant. It’s a great-looking, affordable laptop with only minor shortcomings.
This is a laptop designed for people who love gaming and want to play all the newest games but would rather not spend a fortune on it. You can purchase an MSI GF65 laptop for just under $1,000. This solidifies its place in the budget-friendly category.
It has an Intel Core i5-9300H processor at 2.4 GHz speed, 8GB RAM, an NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1660 Ti graphics coprocessor, a 256GB SSD, and a maximum screen resolution of 1920×1080. This is a well-built and durable laptop, but it is heavier than the average model in this category. It weighs a little over seven pounds. Now, let’s talk about the design. The primarily plastic structure is black with intermittent red, including the logo. The MSI GF65 has a detailed display that features just enough brightness and color.
The images are also crisp and sharp, which is essential if you want to immerse yourself in the gaming experience fully. What about the keyboard and the touchpad? Well, it has an island-style keyboard which might be a disadvantage for some users, but many will appreciate it. The keyboard is backlit but only in red, which could be a divisive feature. The keys have nice crispiness, and the typing experience is super comfortable.
The audio output can sometimes seem a little congested, but the vocals are super clear. It does have a webcam, which is great. It will sustain power, without charging, for up to six hours or so when it comes to battery life. In a nutshell, this is a reasonably priced gaming laptop with some serious power and a few minor flaws.
Acer, undoubtedly, has some of the best gaming laptops. In terms of budget-friendly options, we wanted to present a borderline option for your consideration. If you’re willing to go up to $1,200 for a gaming laptop with ultra-performance, the Acer Predator Helios is worth some serious thought.
The specs should come first because they’re truly impressive. This laptop runs on an Intel Core i7-10750H processor at up to 5.0 GHz speed and features 16GB RAM. The boot drive is 512 GB SSD, and the native display resolution is 1920×1080. The graphics processor is NVIDIA GeForce RTX 2060, and the screen refresh rate is 144 Hz.
It runs on Windows 10 and weighs just under five pounds. It’s worth mentioning that the battery life is only six hours or so, which might be an important feature for most users. Acer Predator is a very smooth operator; it works fast and has zero lag. The anti-glare surface is terrific, and so are the more than ample brightness and excellent color hues.
The keyboard is quite colorful and has four backlit zones. When it comes to keyboard feedback, it has an excellent response, so you can count on some high-speed typing. The touchpad is buttonless and sits to the left of the laptop. The audio output is fantastic, with clear-sounding speakers that may make you forget to use headphones. The port selection is decent, though it lacks the Thunderbolt 3. Overall, components-wise, this might be a mid-range gaming laptop, but it offers top-shelf performance. It might even fit into the lower section of the high-end category of gaming laptops.
In terms of affordability, Lenovo offers the best deal with their IdeaPad Gaming line. This model is the Lenovo IdeaPad Gaming 3i, and you can get it for less than $800, which is on the lower end of the budget-friendly gaming laptop options. Still, it’s Lenovo, and they know how to build a laptop.
This is an Intel Core i5-11300H processor with 8GB RAM, 512GB SSD storage, and NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1650 GPU. The laptop has a solid structure and a simple style. It doesn’t try to overcompensate with anything flashy. It’s fully plastic but remarkably sturdy. It feels strong even though it doesn’t weigh much, which is the right kind of combination of features.
When it comes to the screen, you have a full HD resolution and 120 Hz refresh rate. It’s a standard display that gets the job done. The bonus is a superb-quality webcam with a slider, so you can close it whenever you want. There are two other excellent features on the Lenovo IdeaPad: the keyboard and the touchpad. The keyboard is well made, just as with most Lenovo devices. We like how the keys are sculpted with enough travel but without the feeling of instability or mushiness. The backlit color is blue and has an appealing glow to it. The touchpad is standard yet has excellent responsiveness.
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