Even if they’re much cheaper now thanks to huge advances in mobile PC hardware, gaming laptops still aren’t the cheapest computers on the market. Fitting all that beefed-up hardware (and dedicated GPUs in particular) into a compact laptop chassis is no easy task, but the demanding needs of gamers require considerably more power than you usually get from work-focused laptops like 2-in-1 ultrabooks or MacBooks.
Nonetheless, there are some fantastic high-value portable gaming machines out there if you can find them, and we’ve already done the hard work for you. Below, we’ve rounded up the six best cheap gaming laptop deals available online right now, and each one will set you back less than $1,000 (with two of our picks ringing in at less than half of that).
Today’s best cheap gaming laptop deals
You’re not likely to find a good gaming laptop with a dedicated GPU for less than $500, and you’re almost certainly not going to find a new one for less than $400. AMD has largely bridged this gap between dedicated and integrated graphics, however, with its unique APUs (accelerated processing units, although AMD no longer uses this moniker) which are CPUs that feature built-in graphics processing capabilities. The 15-inch Acer Aspire 5 laptop packs one of these processing units, the dual-core AMD Ryzen 3 with Vega 3 graphics, combining the convenience of a super-cheap work laptop with a bit of light gaming power.
You’re not going to be running the latest games at high settings, of course, but if you’re looking for what is easily the cheapest of cheap gaming laptops, this Ryzen 3 PC might be the one. Its vibrant 15.6-inch display has a 1080p resolution (no 720p corner-cutting here, thankfully), and its Ryzen APU is paired with 4GB of RAM and a 128GB solid-state drive. At just $360, you’d be hard-pressed to find a cheaper laptop than this that’s still capable of handling some light gaming.
— $429, was $499
The previous laptop is admittedly pretty bare-bones, so if you’re willing to up your budget (but still want something that slides in under $500), the Lenovo IdeaPad 3 is a worthy upgrade that will give you a bit more juice for gaming. It packs a Ryzen 5 CPU with Vega 8 graphics — a nice upgrade over the Ryzen 3 — and you get a full 8GB of RAM, which is twice the minimum 4GB of memory that you usually see on cheap sub-$500 gaming laptops.
This laptop also offers a nice snappy 256GB SSD and it comes sporting a 15-inch Full HD IPS display. Ryzen 5 laptops usually sail well north of $500, but you can score this cheap gaming laptop for just $429 ($70 off).
— $600, was $700
If the Radeon Vega laptops whetted your appetite but you’re willing to shell out a little more for a discrete GPU and bigger display, then the 15-inch HP Pavilion gaming laptop offers some nice upgrades for the money. It runs on an AMD Ryzen 5 CPU along with a GeForce GTX 1650 GPU, 8GB of DDR4 RAM, and a fast 256GB SSD, which are solid specs for modern gaming at this price.
Its 1080p display sits at a great size for gaming at 15.6 inches, and like most gaming laptops, this one also features a nice backlit keyboard for when you’re burning the midnight oil (be it for gaming or for working). A gaming laptop like this would normally set you back more than $700, but you can grab it for just $600 right now after a $100 discount.
— $750, was $800
Every gamer knows you’re going to pay more for a dedicated graphics card — even in a cheap gaming laptop with an entry-level GPU — but if you want to enjoy playing modern games at good settings, you need one. The Acer Nitro 5 is one of the best mid-range Nvidia-powered gaming laptops out there with a discrete video card: It pairs an Intel Core i5 CPU with a GeForce GTX 1650 Ti GPU, which are great specs for any sub-$1,000 gaming rig.
The laptop also features 8GB of RAM, a 512GB SSD, and an immersive 17.3-inch 1080p display. Its nice-looking design is well-ventilated and gives you a backlit keyboard for those late-night play sessions. On sale for $750 ($50 off), it’s an excellent value and one of the best picks out there at the moment for a cheap gaming laptop boasting a powerful GPU that can be had for less than $1,000.
— $890, was $1,040
If you’re looking for the best gaming laptop that can be had for around 900 bucks right now, you’ve found it: This new Dell G5 laptop boasts excellent desktop-like specs with an Intel Core i5-10300H CPU, an Nvidia GTX 1660 Ti GPU with 6GB VRAM, and 8GB of RAM, along with a nice fast 256GB solid-state drive. Its 15.6-inch 1080p display is also has a 120Hz refresh rate for smoother gaming at 60 frames per second.
This high-value gaming laptop will set you back $890 right now with a $150 savings, landing comfortably below our budget limit and making this one of the beefiest 1080p gaming laptops you can score at the moment.
The new Lenovo Legion 5 is one of our favorite picks if you want capable hardware without the bulky LED-covered gaming laptop designs that (understandably) turn many people off. Under the hood, this sleek PC comes loaded with impressive specs including an AMD Ryzen 7 CPU and an Nvidia GeForce GTX 1660 Ti GPU, which is hands-down one of the best mobile graphics cards on the market right now.
Along with that, you’ve got a boosted 16GB of RAM, a 512GB SSD, and a 15.6-inch 1080p IPS display (with an upgraded 144Hz refresh rate, no less), and even though it lacks a garish “gaming laptop” aesthetic, the Legion 5 still features a nice backlit keyboard to complement its nice looks. Just as attractive is its price: This gaming machine hits our $1,000 limit right below the mark, and it’s a solid value for a premium gaming laptop that’s packing this hardware and still fits well within our budget.
How to choose a cheap gaming laptop
The two main considerations when choosing a good cheap gaming laptop are naturally going to be what you’re willing to spend and which graphics card you want (considering the GPU is what actually makes a laptop a “gaming laptop”), and these two are closely linked as your budget is going to determine what graphical performance tier you can afford. However, don’t overlook some of the smaller things that you might personally want in a gaming laptop – convenience features such as programmable button macros, customizable RGB keyboard backlighting, and so on – so that you don’t jump on that great deal only to end up with something that doesn’t actually meet your needs. For more detailed hardware analysis, read on.
What makes a good cheap gaming laptop?
A good cheap gaming laptop should first and foremost be affordable, but you don’t want to go for the first deal you find that simply happens to meet your budget. You can expect to pay at least $600 (usually closer to $700) for a cheap gaming laptop with a dedicated graphics card, although you can find a few that have AMD APUs with built-in Vega graphics for less than that. Also bear in mind that Nvidia recently released its new line of 16-series GPUs which have completely replaced the older 10-series graphics cards as the entry-level and midrange GeForce GPUs. In 2020, you’re better off avoiding older laptop models with these 10-series cards and sticking with the newer ones, as the price is about the same and they will generally come with more up-to-date CPUs as well.
In the budget-friendly price brackets, the most powerful graphics card you’re likely to find in a cheap gaming laptop right now is arguably the Nvidia GeForce GTX 1660 Ti, although you can expect to spend nearly your full budget for a laptop with this kind of graphical horsepower. If you’re going cheaper, though, then you’ll see cards like the GTX 1650, GTX 1650 Super, GTX 1660, and RX 500-series, pretty much all of which are still very capable of running modern titles at 1080p/60fps at good to high in-game settings.
For memory, 8GB of RAM should be the bare minimum (unless you’re going really cheap), and 16GB is a better mark to aim for in a modern gaming system. A higher refresh rate of 144Hz on the laptop display will also ensure a smoother experience when playing at higher framerates, but that’s something that you’ll typically find on gaming laptops hovering around the $1,000 mark with the nicer midrange GPUs like the GTX 1660 Ti. That’s one of the sacrifices you’ll make with a cheap gaming laptop, but if you know what to expect, you shouldn’t end up disappointed.
Are cheap gaming laptops good for work?
A gaming laptop is still a laptop and can do everything that a laptop computer can do — that includes work. In fact, even a cheap gaming laptop can offer some advantages: Faster processors and increased RAM will make all of your non-gaming software run noticeably faster, and graphical work such as video editing and rendering will go much more quickly with a dedicated graphics card. Even if you mostly use your PC for work first and only light gaming, it might be worth it to shell out a little more cash for a cheap gaming laptop for the better hardware you’ll be getting.
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