Wednesday, August 10, 2022

Best Budget Gaming Laptops 2021: Value-Packed Cheap Gaming Notebooks

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The best gaming laptops keep improving with more advanced features, better designs, stronger internals, and even improved battery lives. And, right alongside those premium gaming laptops, budget gaming laptops are reaping the benefits. You can now find budget gaming laptops that easily handle the latest PC games thanks to Nvidia’s GTX 16-Series graphics and AMD’s Ryzen 4000-series mobile CPUs. Even some higher-end Nvidia RTX GPUs have made their way into budget gaming laptops for a portable ray tracing experience.So, whether you’re just looking for an affordable machine to help you PC game on the go, we’ve picked out the best machines for you. If you’re browsing in the UK, click here to find out where you can find the best budget gaming laptops.

TL; DR – These are the Best Budget Gaming Laptops:

1. Asus ROG Zephyrus M15

Best Budget Gaming Laptop

Our Pick

Asus ROG Zephyrus M15

On Amazon

For a bit over $999, the Asus ROG Zephyrus M15 (read our review) offers a whole lot in a sleek package. This machine is ready for your ambitious gaming expeditions thanks to the pairing of a six-core Intel Core i7-10750H CPU and an Nvidia GeForce GTX 1660 Ti graphics processor. Those pair excellently for 1080p gaming at high frame rates, which makes the 1080p/144Hz IPS display on this laptop all the more fitting.

Our selected configuration of this laptop includes 16GB of fast DDR4 RAM, ensuring you’ve got plenty of memory for games and applications. It also has a 512GB NVMe SSD, letting you fit a selection of games that will load up with incredible speed. It all comes fitted into a laptop chassis that’s less than an inch thick and only weighs a little more than four pounds. And, unlike typical thin-and-light laptops, the Asus ROG Zephyris M15 offers up a decent selection of ports for peripherals and even a Gigabit Ethernet port in case the Wi-Fi 6 connectivity isn’t cutting it.

2. Acer Nitro 5

Best Ultra Cheap Gaming Laptop

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Acer has lowered the cost of entry into the PC gaming laptop market with the Nitro 5 (read our review). This gaming laptop costs less than $700 but delivers all you need for a compelling gaming experience. The 15.6-inch display will ensure you’ve got a clear view of the games you’re playing, and its IPS panel won’t suffer from poor viewing angles.

On the inside, you’ve got an Nvidia GeForce GTX 1650 to keep games running smoothly at 1080p, and the Ryzen 5 4600H won’t trip up whether you’re gaming or working on this machine. Its 8GB of RAM and 256GB of storage may be on the small side, but you can actually add more RAM and storage later on. You won’t find many quality options cheaper than this unless you go for a budget gaming PC. So, if you’re ready to get up to speed in popular esports titles, the Acer Nitro 5 will get you up and running more affordable than almost anything else.

3. Asus TUF Gaming A15

Best Budget AMD-Powered Gaming Laptop

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Asus TUF Gaming A15

On Amazon

As with gaming PCs, going with an AMD processor is a great way of getting a powerful rig at a discount. Nothing sums up this up better than the Asus TUF Gaming A15 that comes with Nvidia GTX 1660 Ti graphics for under a grand. This is pretty much the cheapest Nvidia GTX 1660 Ti-powered gaming laptop you’re going to find.

What’s more, this is a very well rounded machine with an octa-core AMD Ryzen R7 4800H processor. You’ll also be able to download a sizable library of PC games with 512GB of storage. Meanwhile, 16GB of 3,200MHz memory gives the Asus TUF Gaming A15 a strong foundation for video editing that’s sure to attract creatives.

4. Dell G5 15

Core i7 Power on a Budget

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High-end Intel processors don’t come cheap, but the Dell G5 15 packs in a six-core Intel Core i7-10750H processor for under $1,000. That CPU can boost up to 5.0GHz, giving it some strong gaming performance that will let the Nvidia GeForce GTX 1650 Ti go all out on games.

This laptop has a low-key design, and the base model skips out on the wild RGB lighting many gaming laptops include. That means you’re not getting some of the fluff that may make your laptop look cooler but doesn’t actually make your games run any faster. But, for raw performance, this laptop offers strong value.

5. Lenovo Legion 5i

Best Budget 17-inch Gaming Laptop

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Lenovo Legion 5i

On Amazon

Lenovo’s got a knack for offering solid value in its devices, and that holds true with the Lenovo Legion 5i. This is the laptop to check out if you have your eyes set on a bigger display that will let you see your games more clearly. The display is a 17.3-inch, 1080p screen that lines up well with the gaming performance available from an Intel Core i7-10750H and Nvidia GeForce GTX 1650 Ti.

The Legion 5i comes with a number of modern conveniences, like support for the latest Wi-Fi 6 standard and an anti-glare display that should make it easier to see in brightly lit rooms. Plus, at 5.5 pounds, it’s impressively light for a 17-inch laptop.

6. Gigabyte Aorus 5

Best 15-inch Budget Gaming Laptop

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Gigabyte Aorus 5

On Amazon

One of the most helpful pieces of hardware for gaming at a higher level just might be a high-refresh rate display, as the smoother action makes it more clear what’s going on and easier to react. The Gigabyte Aorus 5 gaming laptop can deliver just that in a compelling package that costs only $1,199.

This laptop packs in an Intel Core i7-10750H and Nvidia GeForce GTX 1660 Ti to run its 1080p display at up to 144Hz. It also has 16GB of RAM to ensure your games don’t easily run out of memory even if you have some background applications running, like Discord.

7. Asus ROG Zephyrus G15

Best Budget Everday Gaming Laptop

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Asus ROG Zephyrus G15

On Amazon

The Asus ROG Zephyrus G15 is an amazing laptop for just about everything, and that goes doubly for gaming. This laptop packs a quality, IPS display that will work well for general use, meanwhile 16GB of RAM will give you plenty of memory for multitasking if you need to use this laptop for work as well.

Inside, the ROG Zephyrus G15 is running on the potent combination of an AMD Ryzen 7 4800HS and an Nvidia GeForce RTX 2060. That’s an eight-core processor paired with a GPU that will easily chew through games at 1080p, which means you’ll actually get to take more advantage of the display’s 240Hz refresh rate. You heard that right — this laptop display hits 240Hz for ultra-smooth gaming. All that for $1,699 is a deal.

8. Dell G3 15 Gaming

Best Budget Thin Gaming Laptop

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Dell G3 15 Gaming Laptop

On Dell

Dell has been building up a strong fleeting of affordable gaming laptops and it’s latest G3 15 Gaming laptop is one of the best it has ever made. It’s thinner and lighter than ever at just 0.85-inches thick and 5.18 pounds. At the same time, this 15-inch gaming laptop comes packing the latest components with the combination of an i5-10300H and a GTX 1660 Ti. The included 512GB SSD is a solid starting point, and it should have you covered for a small selection of major games.

The Dell G3 15 should also be of interest to those looking for a sleeper gaming laptop. Nothing about this machine screams the fact that you’re living the gamer life. If anything this machine’s sleek blue lines make it look more like a budget school laptop, which can be a good thing if you plan to take it out every day.

9. Acer Predator Helios 300

Best Budget 144Hz Gaming Laptop

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Acer Predator Helios 300

On Amazon

Arguably, Acer’s Predator Helios 300 (read our review) is a little pricier than most of the gaming laptops on this list, but wow is it worth it. It’s headlining feature is a Full HD monitor that gives you a 144Hz high-frame rate experience and great colors that only an IPS panel such as this can provide. The Helios 300 also comes loaded with a 10th Generation Intel Core i7 processor and the latest Nvidia RTX 2060, two specs that honestly should demand a higher price.

With an ample 16GB of memory and a 512GB SDD, this budget gaming laptop offers a lot at a low price. It also helps this machine was built for gaming from the ground up with one of the industry’s most competent cooling systems and an easy, one-button overclocking model.

Where to Get the Best Budget Gaming Laptops in the UK

It is definitely possible to game on a budget, and these magnificent laptops will certainly help you get there. Thankfully the vast majority of laptops on this list are also available to purchase in the UK, with just the one exception. Otherwise, take your pick, as there are plenty of great options to choose from. Don’t see the laptops below? Click here.

What’s next?

The field of budget and high-end gaming laptops is going to continue changing, especially as all the major players behind core components have new hardware on the way. AMD’s Ryzen 4000-series mobile processors are starting to show up in laptops, and they aren’t going unanswered.

Intel and Nvidia have both recently announced the latest hardware they have coming to power laptops. Nvidia is upping the power of its mobile graphics processors by bringing the Super variants of its GeForce RTX 2070 and 2080 to mobile devices. These new mobile GPUs will also be Max-Q parts, so they won’t be as power hungry as the desktop variants. Nvidia’s Dynamic Boost technology will also come into play, shifting power delivery between the CPU and GPU to improve performance.

Intel is also bringing more power to laptops with new, 10th Generation Intel Core H-Series processors. Intel has seen AMD bumping up its core counts, and it’s coming to the table with an eight-core, 16-thread processor. It’s also offering at least 5.0GHz single-core boost clocks on all Core i7 and Core i9 models, while Core i5’s will get at least 4.5GHz on a single core.

These new parts are definitely going to show up more in high-end, and therefore expensive, gaming laptops, but there’s a strong likelihood that the lower-end products will see their prices fall as a result.

What to Look for in a Budget Gaming Laptop

Below I’ve sketched out which graphics card and what other specs you need in a cheap gaming laptop. I also go over the main features to consider when shopping for a cheap gaming notebook.

For screen resolution, a 1080p display hits the sweet spot between price and required GPU beefiness. It is really the only option for a value-oriented gaming laptop. Even if you could score a cheap laptop with a high-resolution 4K panel, the GPU inside won’t be able to run games at that resolution, so prepare yourself for 1080p gaming.

When it comes to storage, try to steer clear of laptops with a lone solid-state drive. Heck, even a model with a 256GB SSD offers barely enough space to keep multiple games installed and at the ready, so you might be stuck getting a system with a slower, yet much more spacious, spinning hard drive.

You can also get a sweet deal by going with something older sporting previous generation processors, as they are usually available at fire-sale prices and there’s not a huge difference in performance between 8th Gen Coffee Lake and 9th Gen Coffee Lake Refresh for gaming. You won’t be quite as future-proof down the line, but you’ll still enjoy several years of solid 1080p gaming at a low price.

One more thing: just because it’s a laptop doesn’t mean you need to take its name literally. The best experience with a laptop usually isn’t on your lap but a desk. Do yourself a favor and check out my guide to the best computer desks to find one to suit your needs—and perhaps a laptop cooling pad to boost your performance—and don’t forget to check out the best gaming chairs to sit in with your new laptop.

More Expert Tech Roundups

Jason Cipriani has covered technology full-time for the past 8 years. During that time he has freelanced for the likes of CNET, Fortune, Time, ZDNet, Macworld, Wired, and TechRadar.

Mark Knapp is a regular contributor to IGN and an irregular Tweeter on Twitter @Techn0Mark


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