|1. Asus FX505DT||2. Lenovo Ideapad L340||3. Acer Aspire 5 Slim|
Gaming has become not only one of the great past-times of our society but also one of the best paid competitive sports in the world. More and more games are being released each year, and newer ones that have better graphics and more complex AI also require better hardware in order to run them.
In most cases, getting the best budget gaming laptop that you can find should be enough, however, if you want to run next-gen games you will have to pay a lot of attention to what machine you choose.
Generally speaking, there are more budget laptops on the market than premium machines, which means that it should be easier to find a more affordable machine that fits your needs, than a premium one.
We have gone through all the information that you need in order to not only understand what kind of machine you are getting but also to ensure that it will run the types of games that you’re interested in.
Furthermore, we’ve researched the most popular budget gaming laptops on the market in order to determine if they actually have the capabilities to run the next-gen games that are planned to be released in 2020.
This having been said, please keep in mind that although each of the machines that we’ve included in our reviews is extremely powerful, their specs may vary greatly, which means that they are better at running certain types of games.
Buying Guide For Best Budget Gaming Laptop
There are several things to take into consideration when looking to buy a new gaming rig, especially the best laptop. One of the most important things to keep in mind is the fact that a large number of laptops use different versions of desktop PCs, which can limit their performance when it comes to running newly released PC games in 60+ FPS.
You have to look at two things when it comes to buying the best budget gaming laptop that you can find: The internals and the functional design of the machine.
1. Understanding The Components
It is important to understand how a gaming laptop works in order to be able to make a great decision and this means paying attention to the specs.
2. Processor Or CPU
If GPUs process visual information, required to render the video part of the game, CPUs calculate everything else. These are the heart of any laptop, regardless of its purpose. They establish how fast your OS boots up, read/write speed (to a degree), how fast your applications run, and they are also extremely important to certain types of games.
Generally speaking, games that have highly advanced artificial intelligence require a lot of processing power. These are usually real-time strategy games such as Total War, or Stellaris, but you will also need a decent CPU for role-playing games such as Fallout 4.
Some of the best budget gaming laptops will come with an i5 CPU from Intel, and these should be enough to run most games on medium settings, however, if you want to max your games out then you may want to look for an i7 or something better.
3. Graphics Card Or GPU
If CPUs are important for all computers and laptops, GPUs are vital for all gaming machines. These components process visual information at much faster speeds than CPUs and feature many technologies that can make games look great and run as intended.
Today’s CPUs such as the i7 or i5 from Intel also come with integrated graphics chips. These can render non-demanding games, at low graphical settings, provided that you do not mind looking only at 15-20 frames per second.
A separate GPU is required in order to run AAA games at full detail settings. The majority of gaming laptops will have a separate graphics card such as a GeForce GTX 1050 from Nvidia. Always look for laptops that have fully-fledged graphical cards if you value quality and FPS consistency, but keep in mind that these tend to be considerably more expensive than the models that have integrated graphics.
Generally speaking, if you want to get a laptop that has a dedicated graphics processor, try looking for something that has a GeForce GTX 1080, a GeForce 940MX or anything in-between. These are popular among amateur games as well as professionals who train regularly for esports competitions.
ATTENTION: Graphics cards come with their own type of memory, namely v-ram. Most modern modes can have anywhere between 2GB and 6 GB. Games released in the last 2-3 years require around 2 GB or v-ram in order to run well, however, you will need more if you want to record your play sessions or edit video content.
4. Memory Or RAM
Computers and laptops use Ram memory for pretty much anything. This type of high-speed storage holds the information generated by running programs and is wiped when no longer needed or when the machine is powered off. In other words, it is a form of temporary storage. Most AAA games that have been released in the last couple of years require at least 8 GB in order to run at full graphical settings.
RAM memory usually comes in multiples 1GB, 2GB, 4GB, 8GB, and 16GB. The first two values are obsolete by today’s standards and are only used by cheaper smartphones while the last one is the maximum amount of RAM that a commercially available laptop or computer can effectively use.
Pro Tip: Keep in mind that operating systems like Windows 10 also need more and more RAM with each major update, memory that will have to be split between them and all running applications, especially games. It is usually better to get a machine with slightly more RAM than you think that you will need in order to compensate for this.
5. Storage – HDD Or SSD
Almost all the AAA games that have been released in the last 5 years need at least 15 or 20 gigabytes of storage in order to install and run, and some can go as high as 60 Gb. This makes storage one of the most important characteristics of a gaming laptop.
Manufacturers typically use both HDD as well as SSD storage for their machines due to the fact that the former is more reliable and the second one is faster. You are free to use both of these however you see fit, but the best way to set up your laptop is by installing your OS on the SSD, which will cause it to boot up in a few seconds, and keep all the games on the HDD.
You should also take into consideration that certain games are poorly optimized and have long loading times, which can easily ruin your gaming experience. If you want to speed them up, you can install them on the SSD, however, this will require a model with a larger solid-state drive.
If you are on a really tight budget, you can always get a gaming laptop that has only a small SSD drive that will fit the OS and a 1TB HDD, and get an external hard drive at a later time.
ATTENTION: Keep in mind that SSDs are considerably less reliable than HDDs, and have a read/write limit. This means that they will start having storage issues after writing and deleting a certain amount of information. It usually takes a couple of years in order to reach this limit, but it should be taken into consideration if you want to use SSD as regular storage.
6. Wireless Card Or Wi-Fi
Wi-Fi cards are pretty much standardized in terms of capabilities; however, certain models may still have connectivity and compatibility issues.
Unfortunately, the only way to reliably learn if the laptop that you want to buy can establish stable wireless connections is to go online and read a few forums. In most cases, you will be able to simply ask if your chosen model has a good Wi-Fi card or if it is likely to spontaneously drop the connection occasionally.
Always look for devices that have great Wi-Fi cards if you play a lot of multiplayer games and do not want to have issues with your internet connection. You should also keep in mind that connectivity issues can also originate from your router, so try to connect your laptop to several routers in order to establish if the issue is with your machine or not.
7. Ports And Device Compatibility
Laptops are never ideal for gaming due to the fact that a large number of high-performance components need to be integrated into a portable machine.
This means that some compromises need to be made when manufacturing them, and the one that is the most apparent is the lack of connectivity of some devices.
USB ports are usually the main focus of seasoned gaming laptop buyers due to the fact that most manufacturers only integrate 1 or 2 into their machines.
You need at least two USB ports in order to connect both your mouse as well as your cooler to the laptop, and the number grows if you also prefer to attach a gaming keyboard or other devices.
You also have to keep compatibility in mind. Most devices such as coolers, old external drives, and thumb drives use USB type A connectors, but newer ones require USB type C ports. Ideally, a machine should have at least two or three traditional type A ports and one type C.
This will be enough to connect a mouse, a keyboard, a cooler, and a high-speed external SSD to increase the laptop’s storage capabilities
8. Battery Capacity
All gaming laptops, budget or otherwise tend to have poor battery life. This is not because the batteries themselves are weak but due to the fact that the processors in these machines require a lot more power in order to run.
It is also important to keep in mind that the values presented by manufacturers in terms of how long their laptops can run on a single charge only include basic tasks such as browsing the internet or editing documents.
Generally speaking, the more resource-intensive the game you play is, the faster your battery will go. This means that the best budget gaming laptop that you find should have a decent rechargeable li-ion power cell.
Most budget gaming laptops can run for up to 7 hours on a single charge if you are browsing the internet or watching YouTube videos, however, this time may be cut by up to 60% while gaming.
Then there is also the fact that your peripherals will also draw juice from your battery. The mouse, the cooler and other devices that you may have plugged in will feed on the same power source as the CPU and GPU.
Overall, the battery is not extremely important when it comes to gaming laptops. Almost all machines will run for at least 6 hours if you’re using them for basic tasks, but you will want to plug them into an outlet if you want to play games for more than 1-2 hours.
9. Can It Be Overclocked?
All CPUs and GPUs have a clock speed limit that dictates how fast they can perform calculations. This is not customizable in most cases; however, some processors have backdoors built into them that allow anyone with the right type of software to raise this limit and make them run faster.
Manufacturers do not disclose if their processors can be overclocked or not, but there is a lot of information online to help you get started.
Simply look for the model of your CPU or GPU, followed by the work “overclock” and you should get results pages that will not only tell you if it is possible or not but also guide you through the whole process.
ATTENTION: Overclocking processors makes them generate more heat, which can be dangerous in the case of gaming laptops. The components will perform better, but they can easily burn out if not properly cooled.
Laptop fans are designed to help cool down normally running processors and they may not be enough to compensate for the added heat that is generated by overclocking your machine.
If you want to raise the clock speeds of your CPU and GPU, make sure that you do so in a cool room and that you have a powerful laptop cooler under your device.
Damage caused by overclocking your machine will void the warranty offered by the manufacturer, so take this risk into consideration and look for help if you are attempting to do this for the first time.
10. Functional Design & Cooling Capabilities
Cooling is not as much of an issue when it comes to desktop gaming rigs, however, it is a very important factor for determining how a laptop will run. An overheating machine can not only limit the overall performance of the CPU and GPU but can even damage the laptop or harm you, especially if you decide to overclock the processors.
Even when it comes to the electrical components of the best budget gaming laptop, they will get hot when they are powered on.
This is not much of a problem with desktop PCs due to the fact that their cases are large and the components can radiate their heat in the air and cool down, however, laptops are much more compact.
Proper cooling is vital to ensuring that a laptop will run well, especially when running games on high-graphics settings which tend to be very demanding on the graphics card.
Most small laptops and Ultrabooks are often passively cooled, which means that their case acts as a radiator that helps the components cool.
This method is extremely useful in the case of machines that have limited processing power, gaming laptops usually have a fully-fledged desktop GPU inside them, which can give off enormous amounts of heat.
Ideally, gaming laptops should have several high-power fans to move air through the components and help them cool off. Even the most affordable gaming laptop will have at least one fan that will prevent it from overheating.
However, when it comes to cooling solutions, more is better. You should look for devices that have two or more fans, preferably one for the GPU and one for the CPU.
Manufacturers do not give a lot of information regarding how hot their products get or how efficient the fans are, but you should be able to find all the information that you need by doing a bit of research.
Do not worry if the machine that you want to buy tends to overheat. This is the case with most gaming laptops and how hot they get usually depends on what games you’re running.
If cooling is the only problem that you encounter, consider getting a multi-fan laptop cooler in order to keep the device’s temperature under control. These aren’t expensive and can-do wonders in terms of cooling, while also providing you with a few other features, such as the ability to set a comfortable incline for your machine.
A properly cooled laptop can output 5-10 more frames per second than one that is constantly overheating, so it is important to keep an eye on how hot your machine gets while gaming.
11. Operating Systems
Not all the best budget gaming laptops come with pre-installed operating systems and setting one up by yourself can be confusing if you have never done this before. Furthermore, there are several operating systems to choose from and not all are optimized for gaming.
The main OS used by gamers from all over the world is currently Windows 10 due to the fact that it is more efficient than previous iterations and it is more stable.
This having been said, if you want to play older games, particularly ones that have been released before 2011, you may find that it is better to use Windows 7 or Windows XP as most older games are more compatible with these.
If you also want to install an older operating system you should take into consideration the fact that they may not be able to use more than 4gb of RAM, regardless of how much memory you have installed on your machine.
Furthermore, while Windows 10 is designed to be kept on an SSD partition and will run faster as a result of doing this, older operating systems tend to be inefficient in terms of data architecture and may not receive a speed boost.
Overall, look at the features of a laptop and remember that you don’t have to necessarily go for the model that has the most powerful CPU, GPU, or the biggest storage capacity.
It is usually better to choose a machine that has 8 GB of RAM, decent central and graphical processors, and a small SSD that will fit the operating system. If you don’t have much money you can forgo the SSD entirely and only use an HDD.
Simply look at some of the spec requirements of the games that you would like to play and try to establish a common denominator in terms of CPU and GPU performance.
The best budget gaming laptop for your needs will always be the one that will run your favorite games with high graphical settings, at 60 FPS. There is usually no point in getting a machine that’s so powerful that you won’t be able to use it at full capacity.
Top 10 Best Budget Gaming Laptops Of 2020
1. Asus TUF FX505DT
The FX505DT is one of the better models produced by the company and comes with a powerful GTX 1650 dedicated graphics card that has 4 GB of on-board V-RAM, and a quad-core AMD Ryzen 5 r5-3550h processor.
The laptop also comes with a 256 SSD which is more than enough for the included Windows 10 and all its updates, as well as a couple of games.
- Powerful GPU – The GTX 1650 is a true powerhouse in terms of graphical processing power and will run pretty much any game at over 60 FPS
- Stable Wi-Fi – The laptop comes with a Gigabit Wave 2 Wi-Fi 5 wireless board, which is perfect for long multiplayer games, even if the router is further away from you
- Anti-dust fans – The anti-dust technology integrated into the cooling system not only protects the internals but also ensures that you will have to clean the laptop only once every 6 months.
- Poor battery life – The laptop’s battery only lasts for one or two hours while gaming and around three while doing basic tasks.
What Makes It Different?
Many streamers from around the world consider the FX505DT to be the best gaming laptop on a budget due to the fact that it has great all-round specs and all the components are housed in a MIL-STD-810 military-grade case that is very difficult to damage.
Furthermore, its anti-dust fan technology ensures that you only have to clean it every 5-6 months in order to keep it running efficiently.
2. Lenovo Ideapad L340
The L340 is one of the best inexpensive gaming laptops around, for individuals who intend to run games that have very long loading ties due to the fact that it comes with a 512 GB NVME SSD, which can be used for both the OS as well as for software without requiring an additional storage device.
- Great GPU – The GTX 1650 is powerful enough to run any AAA title that is currently available and should also run next-gen games without any issues
- Large SSD – The 512 GB SSD offers enough space to install a large number of games in addition to the operating system
- Dolby Audio system – A trademark of Asus products, the Dolby Audio Technology produces crystal-clear sound
- Poor build quality – The plastic that the case is made from feels cheap and makes cracking noises is a small amount of pressure is put on it
What Makes It Different?
The L340 comes with a bigger SSD than other laptops, which means that you will also be able to install games on in. These titles will load faster and should generally run better than those installed on an HDD. Those who play a large number of games will find the extra space very useful.
3. Acer Aspire 5 Slim
This one might be the best value gaming laptop for casual gamers. The machine was not designed specifically to run AAA games, but it is one of the more affordable models on this list. It is also one of the lighter and easier to carry laptops that we have reviewed.
The Aspire 5 comes with an AMD Ryzen 3 3200U processor that uses very little power and an AMD Radeon Vega 3 Mobile Graphics processor that offers great performance and will run most AAA games at low-to-medium settings.
- Great battery life – The laptop can run for up to 7.5 hours on a single charge and will fully recharge in around 1.5 hours
- Lightweight – The machine only weighs 3.97 pounds, making great for students and individuals who travel a lot
- Great for general use – The laptop is affordable and efficient enough to be used as a main machine while on the road. Its CPU is enough for daily tasks and work while its GPU will run most games at decent framerates
- S Mode windows – The laptop comes with a locked-down version of Windows 10, and you will have to reinstall the OS if you want to install third-party software that is not available through the Microsoft Store
- Low RAM – The machine only comes with 4 GB of RAM which is not enough to play most modern games;
What Makes It Different?
The Aspire 5 combines a highly portable workbook with a decent GPU, making it a great solution for individuals who do not necessarily want to play the newest titles but want the ability to run a few games in addition to getting their work done.
4. MSI CF63 9RCX-615
The CF63 comes with a surprisingly good CPU, considering its price tag. Although not extremely efficient in terms of gaming, the included Intel Core i5 9300H offers 4 cores and 8 threads that should be enough for any AAA title. Furthermore, the laptop features a GTX 1050Ti from Nvidia, making it perfect for casual gaming.
One of the more impressive features of the laptop is the fact that even with these specs, it can still run for up to 7.4 hours on a single charge, making it a great portable rig for when you are traveling.
- Large SSD – The 512 NVMe SSD is ideal for larger games
- Decent processor – The i5 is more than enough for most games that have been released up until 2019. It can also run newer games, but you will have to tweak the settings
- Uncomfortable power connector – The port for the power connector makes cable management difficult
What Makes It Different?
Certainly, one of the best cheap gaming laptops around, the 9RCX-615 offers a decent gaming experience for casual gamers, without sacrificing the battery power that would be required in order to make it a useful workbook. To a degree, this model offers the best of both worlds.
5. Asus VivoBook 15 F512-EB51
The VivoBook 15 is not specifically designed for gaming, however, it can be used for this purpose. Featuring an AMD Radeon Vega 8 Graphics chip and a Ryzen 5 CPU, the laptop is perfect for casual gamers who do not want to play games that are too demanding.
- Fingerprint reader – The fingerprint reader makes it easy to log on without having to remember passwords or PIN codes
- Great connectivity – The laptop comes with a reversible USB type C, an HDMI port, a microSD card reader, and USB 3.1 and 2.0 ports, which makes it easy to connect multiple peripherals
- Not actually designed for gaming – The VivoBook 15 is essentially a regular laptop that comes with a better-than-usual GPU, which will run most older games without any issues, and can even run a few newer titles. This having been said, it is far from a gaming laptop as it lacks the processing power to run newer AAA games at medium or low graphical settings
What Makes It Different?
Casual gamers consider the VivoBook 15 to be the best cheap gaming laptop due to the fact that it offers great connectivity and an efficient CPU and GPU. It is not as heavy as a fully-fledged gaming laptop and its battery life is considerably better, however, it may not be powerful enough to run any game that you install on it.
6. Lenovo Legion Y7000
One of the main things that makes the Legion Y7000 one of the best gaming laptops for its price is the fact that it comes with a GTX 1050Ti, which is one of the more powerful graphics cards around.
The included quad-core i5 8300H is also well suited to run a large variety of games, including newer titles released in 2019 and the beginning of 2020. The only downside is that it comes with a 256 GB SSD, which will require an upgrade if you want to have more than 5-6 games installed at the same time.
- Decent processor – The i5 8300H is great for CPU intensive tasks such as large-scale RTS games
- Powerful GPU – The GTX 1050Ti is designed specifically for gaming, and will run any game that you throw at it
- Small SSD – A portion of the SSD will also be used by the operating system, which means that there will be less storage space for games
What Makes It Different?
The Y7000 is a great gaming machine overall. It can run any game that you install and its battery life is decent when compared to other models. The only downside is the fact that it may require an SSD upgrade.
7. Dell G3 15 3579
An affordable gaming laptop with a powerful GTX GPU
The DELL G3 comes with an upgraded graphics card when compared to other products on this list. Its GTX 1060 can run pretty much any new title, and the i5-8300H is perfect for CPU-intensive RTS games.
Where most gaming laptops only come with 2 or 4 gigabytes of V-Ram, the G3 comes with 6, which is perfect for photorealistic graphics.
- Powerful graphics card – The GTX 1060 comes with 6 GB of V-RAM, which is more than enough for even the newest AAA games out there
- Great connectivity – The laptop comes with both USB C and USB A ports, as well as an HDMI port and a microSD card slot
- Small SSD – The SSD is only 256 GB, and may not be enough to install several large games, especially after fully-updating Windows 10
What Makes It Different?
The main feature that makes the G3 one of the best cheapest gaming laptops around is the fact that it comes with 6 GB of V-RAM, which is a requirement if you run games at very high graphical settings.
8. HP 15-EC0013DX
This is one of the more affordable gaming laptops on the market, especially when considering that it comes with an Nvidia GTX 1050, which is one of the most popular cards around. The laptop also comes with a Ryzen 5 3550H, which uses a minimum amount of power in order to deliver great performance.
- Great overall – The 15-EC0013DX isn’t anything to write home about, but it is a decent gaming rig
- Affordable – The price tag of the laptop is lower of that of similar models that have about the same specs
- Unimpressive – The model is fairly basic in terms of design and performance. It won’t run the latest games at over 60 FPS, but it should run games that have been released up to the mid of 2019 without problems
What Makes It Different?
Its price makes it one of the better choices when it comes to finding the best cheap laptop for gaming. It does not offer any advanced features and the components are somewhat basic, but it is durable and will get the job done.
9. HP Pavilion
One of the best things about the HP Pavilion is its powerful i5-9300H processor which is great for CPU-intensive games. The GPU is a fairly basic GTX 1050, and it only comes with a 256 SSD, however, the processor makes it one of the best affordable gaming laptops for RTS enthusiasts.
- Great CPU – The i5 9300H processor is more than enough for the latest RTS large-scale games;
- Bios recovery and protection – The laptop automatically checks for health issues when it boots up;
- Not enough storage – the 256 SSD is not enough for more than 4-5 games and you will have to get a larger SSD or an external storage device;
What Makes It Different?
The Pavilion Gaming Laptop is basically a 15-EC0013DX with a few added features and a more powerful processor. It is great if you really need the power, but it is relatively expensive otherwise.
10. 2020 Dell G3
The 2020 model of the G3 from Dell is truly a beast to behold. Featuring an 8th Gen Quad Core i5 and a powerful GTX 1050Ti, the laptop offers 4 GB of V-RAM and comes with a 1 TB external HDD drive to help store all your games. This makes it easy to keep the SSD clean and install everything that you need on the external HDD
- Great specs – The 2020 DELL G3 has all the features that it needs to run 2020 games;
- Free HDD – The 1TB HDD is more than enough to store any sort of games, regardless of their size;
- Tends to get hot – You will need a laptop cooler if you intend to play graphics-intensive games for extended periods of time;
What Makes It Different?
The online media has caught sight of the 2020 Dell G3 model and everyone is agreeing that it is one of the best affordable gaming laptops around. It has great specs, with the exception of the 256 SSD. This having been said, the include free HDD is a better way to store games due to the fact that they can be played on multiple computers.
1. How Do I Maintain My Gaming Laptop?
The best budget gaming laptops, even cheaper ones do not require a lot of maintenance in terms of hardware. Simply wipe the dust using a soft brush, from the cooling fans, and remember to replace the thermal paste every couple of months.
2. Do I Need A Cooler For My Gaming Laptop?
It depends. Some manufacturers are very efficient when it comes to designing their products and, while they will get hot, the temperature will not limit their performance. Overall, it is a matter of trial and error. If you notice that your machine is slowing down when it gets hot, you may need a cooler.
3. Is The Cpu Or Gpu More Important For Gaming Laptops?
Both are essential to running games. It usually boils down to the system requirements of every game.
4. Is A Refurbished Gaming Laptop Good?
Yes. The best used gaming laptop should be able to outperform models that are designed only for casual tasks, simply due to the fact that they have a dedicated graphics card.
Finding the best budget gaming laptop around is all a matter of knowing what to look for and understanding what specs are important to you.
Look at the information presented above, and then make a list of the main games that you want to play on the machine. Once you have the list, go online and find the specs required in order to run those games.
The secret to getting a quality gaming laptop for the least amount of money is to find a product that will run the games all the games that you want to play without having to add more RAM or to overclock it.
Go through the products that we have reviewed and find one that works best for you. They are all extremely popular among casual and professional gamers and come from manufacturers that are known for the quality of their laptops.