Although priced slightly higher than $500, the Aspire E 15 E5-575G-57D4 has earned our top pick in the budget gaming category thanks to its dedicated NVIDIA GeForce 940MX graphics card which offers more than twice the performance of competing laptops with only integrated graphics units. The Aspire E 15 will run titles such as Overwatch, Battlefield 1 and Titanfall 2 on low to medium settings with graphics performance more than double than competing integrated graphics based laptops below.
Gabe Carey is a Junior Analyst at PCMag specializing in peripherals, storage and the systems that power them. Prior to joining this website, he was an ardent freelance reporter for Digital Trends and TechRadar, though his most noteworthy accomplishment was racking up over 15,000 signatures on a petition to change the national anthem to Sonic Advent... See Full Bio
There are no longer any gaming laptops using an Intel Core i3 processor. These days, many entry-level computers come equipped with a 4-core Core i5 processor. However, the most commonly found processor in this type of laptop is the Core i7. The 4-core Core i7-7700HQ processor is slowly being phased out in favor of the Core i7-8750H (6 cores at 2.2/4.1 GHz) and the Core i9-8950HK (6 cores at 2.9/4.8 GHz).
The entry-level Pascal gaming chip is the GeForce GTX 1050, typically found in models starting around $700 to $800. The GTX 1050 is capable of playing most of today's games at 1080p resolution with medium to high settings. Keep in mind that the GTX 1050 may be on the edge of playability at high settings, depending on the game. You may want to opt for the next step up, a GeForce GTX 1050 Ti-based model, for a bit more graphics muscle. The floor on GTX 1050 Ti-based laptops was about $850 at this writing, with models ranging up to about $1,200. These two chips make up the heart of the under-$1,000 budget-laptop market here in late 2018.
But we assume you want to do more than harvest potato mines and pea-shooters—you have a Steam account, and you ache to play some of the latest AAA titles: the newest rev of the Battlefield series, the latest Tom Clancy-fest, the newest iteration of Tomb Raider or Far Cry. That's where a dedicated graphics chip comes in. It's the starting point for getting serious about gaming on a notebook.
Parts/LaborWeight9.06 lb7.1 lb9.9 lb4.4 lb4.85 lbScreen Size17.3"15.6"18.4"14"15.6"Battery Life (hrs:min at load)3:045:291:234:523:43Price (as configured)$2,499.00$1,619.99$3,099.00$2,699.99$1,449.99Buy NowBuy NowBuy NowBuy NowBuy Now #1 Pick Editor’s Choice/Asus ROG G75 – Best Affordable Gaming LaptopThe Asus G75 ranks #1 and is no exception when it comes to portable gaming.WHY IT’S A TOP PICK: The G75 combines beauty and power unlike any other laptop.When you get an Asus gaming laptop, you know you’re in for a solid piece of gaming hardware thanks to the company’s very own Republic of Gamers seal of approval.Read: ASUS ROG G75VT Gaming Laptop ReviewAll products in the ROG line, laptop or otherwise, maintain Asus’ notorious eye for packing more than enough quality, power, and price breaks into a machine that has no business costing as little as it does for all the extra frills you get on the side.We love the G75 because it encompasses everything we love about gaming in a single system, all without coming off as gaudy or audacious for what it achieves, which is why we name it our best gaming laptop of 2018. View on Amazon – $2999 #2 Pick Alienware 15 – Best Gaming Laptop Under $2,000Ranking #2 is Alienware’s 15 gaming laptop.WHY IT’S A TOP PICK: The Alienware Graphics Amplifier makes true AAA 4K gaming possible.Alienware might be one of the oldest players in the premade PC game, but that doesn’t mean they still aren’t one of the best. With specs like an Nvidia GTX 970M and 1TB of hard drive space, this laptop does everything you need it to.Read: Best Laptop For College StudentsNot only that, but the Alienware 15 is also one of the few models that’s compatible with the company’s Graphics Amplifier box. The Graphics Amplifier is a separate station that users can use to ramp up their gaming power to the max with the help of an external GPU, giving you the option to run medium settings on the road, but crank the volume to ultra once you’re back home and plugged in. View on Amazon – $1899 #3 Pick MSI GT80S 6QE Titan SLI – Best MSI Gaming LaptopBased on pure power alone, MSI GT80S would top our list if it had better battery life and a lighter footprintWHY IT’S A TOP PICK: The MSI GT80S is the most powerful laptop we’ve ever tested.If you need top of the line performance from a gaming laptop that takes no prisoners, the name of MSI’s GT80S 6QE “Titan” gaming laptop should be enough to convince you of what it can do.With a dual GTX 980M SLI set of graphics cards and Intel Core i7-6820HK quad-core processor to boot, the Titan gives you the opportunity to completely demolish, destroy, and conquer any virtual opponent that might come your way, online or otherwise.It may not be the lightest (or prettiest) gaming laptop out there, but what it lacks in polish and battery life it more than makes up for in the power department. View on Amazon – $1500 #4 Pick Razer Blade – Most PortableRazer Blade, a top gaming laptop pick because of its sleek design and power.WHY IT’S A TOP PICK: The sleek and sexy Razer Blade goes anywhere you do.We love the Razer’s gaming laptop because of just how darn thin it is, and equally light to boot. The engineers over at Razer have somehow managed to pack as many specs into the Blade as we’d expect from other contenders twice its size and three times as heavy, all while maintaining a sleek, stylish finish that looks just as great on a counter at the coffee shop as it does tucked away in your side bag.The Blade also includes a gorgeous 3200 x 1800 QHD+ screen that trounces any other laptop in its category, making it one of the slimmest, sexiest gaming laptops we’ve had the pleasure of using in a long, long time. View on Amazon – $2199 #5 Pick ASUS ROG Strix GL502VT – Best Budget Gaming LaptopHow can a 5lb laptop still rock a 6GB video card? The wizards at ASUS, that’s how.WHY IT’S A TOP PICK: The ASUS ROG Strix GL502VT is impossibly light with tons of power to spare.Somehow, someway, ASUS has managed to acheive the impossible with its latest entry into the ROG laptop lineup: the ROG Strix GL502VT. At only 4.85lbs and just short of 1″ thick, the Strix GL502VT still manages to sport an Intel Core i7-6700HQ processor alongside a huge (only in power, not size) Nvidia GTX 970M with 6GB of onboard GDDR5 VRAM.All that extra VRAM means plenty of punch to game with, all on a laptop that easily slides into any sidebag or backpack with ease. Add to this a sleek, anodized aluminum casing and pro-gamer level keyboard trackpad combo, and you’ve got a laptop that’s fast enough to stand up with the big boys, but compact enough to fit on your airplane table tray without a sweat. View on Amazon – $1599 What Features to Look For in a Gaming LaptopProcessor/Graphics CardFirst up, there’s the most obvious indicator of what you should be looking for when shopping for your next laptop: the power.Both the CPU and the graphics card you get with your laptop will be the lynchpin of how much it can get done, and of course in this realm, the best cpu for gaming is always the bigger, or in this case, fastest one.Usually, the higher the number you see next to the graphics card type, the faster it’s going to run, and the more games you can expect to run on it at a higher graphical fidelity. I.e – an Nvidia 860M will run slower than a 980M, because the former is one grade down from the latter.That said, there are still some unique cases as far as processors go. For example, if you’re looking at an Intel i5-5500u processor compared to an i7-4710HQ, you would think the 5500 is the better pick, right? Well, not exactly.When shopping for your laptop, you’ll want to pay attention to the “i” rating, either i3, i5, or i7 that comes before the processor type. i7s are generally considered the best for multi-tasking, while i5s are known more for offering the best balance of budget and gaming performance together. RAMAlmost just as important as the processor and graphics card, the amount of RAM you get with your gaming laptop should be a paramount concern.In any laptop that takes itself seriously, you shouldn’t be shopping for anything less than 8GB of DDR3 RAM at 1600MHz. Most of the recommendations we have listed here hit that mark, if not go well over it (16GB DDR4 2133MHz in the case of the MSI Dominator GT72)ScreenIt’s important to remember that although this is a gaming laptop, it’s also a laptop laptop.A good screen can make all the difference between getting eye strain after an hour or 24 hours of continuous use.As far as resolution goes, the absolute minimum display you should accept is 1920 x 1080.The best gaming laptops these days come equipped with a screen that’s at least capable of full HD, while a whole new breed of premium laptops are beginning to roll out screens that quadruple that up to 3200 x 1800 resolution, otherwise known as “4K”.Finally, when it comes to the whole “glossy vs. matte” debate, it’s pretty much a non-issue in the gaming world. No respectable laptop maker worth their salt would be caught dead putting a glossy finish on their machine’s screen, as the gloss creates far too much glare in ambient light which can make it harder to see where the enemies are hiding.Keyboard/TrackpadBut all the power in the world won’t do you much good if you don’t have a solid keyboard to slam commands into or a trackpad that can keep up with even the most clickiest Starcraft commanders.A solid keyboard can make or break the difference between getting a kill streak or getting yourself killed on the virtual battlefield. And although there aren’t many gaming purists out there who would be caught dead gaming on a trackpad, you’ll still want to keep an eye on this for purposes of general browsing and internet usage in the off hours.On the whole, the only two stats you’ll really want to pay attention to when choosing your next laptop are the spacing between the keys (how comfortable it is to type for different hand sizes), and how much diagonal width you’re going to get with the trackpad. These two numbers will indicate how you can expect the laptop to “fit” while you’re using it, whether you buy your gloves in extra large or fit just fine in a small.Cooling/Fan NoisePlan to get a little gaming done on a long-distance flight? If your gaming laptop sounds like an air raid siren every time you turn on anti-aliasing, there are probably going to be a few people in coach that take offense while you’re fragging away at half-past midnight.None of the laptops we’ve selected here are absolutely silent when the graphics card ramps up and really starts pumping out the pixels, but most can still keep their components cool without raising their decibel profile too high above a low hum in the process.Build QualityNext there’s the overall build quality of the laptop, which at least in the tiers we’ll be talking about, shouldn’t be much of an issue.While you might run into a low-end Windows laptop feeling a bit plasticy around the edges or cheap on the inside, when it comes to gaming laptops you can be sure that almost every pick we’ve listed here backs up their serious specs with an even greater dedication to design quality.This also includes the weight of the laptop, which in our collection can range from a feather light four pounds all the way up to a lap-crunching nine pounds. If you plan on taking your gaming show on the road often, even though you might have to sacrifice a little power, a lighter laptop will usually pay off in spades for the long haul.Overall, you want to be sure that the laptop has a strong enough build quality that it will be able to stand the impact of a drop from a counter or tabletop, but not so much that the heft of the case adds too much extra weight or width to the overall profile of the system.Hard DriveWhen checking out the hard drive configuration of your laptop, there are two main indicators you’re going to want to keep an eye on. The first is whether it offers an SSD (solid-state drive), an HDD (hard disk drive), or some hybrid combination of both.SSDs are faster, lighter, and more reliable than their HDD cousins, but also come at a much higher price to compensate. In general, it’s a good idea to have your operating system and vital programs installed on an SSD for fast access, while loading your gaming library onto an HDD that’s got plenty of extra space to spare. Anything that comes in a 120GB/1TB configuration or higher is usually enough to handle anything you might be able to throw at it.Mistakes to Avoid When Buying a New Gaming LaptopThe biggest mistake the average customer makes when purchasing their first gaming laptop is (as we mentioned in the intro) immediately equating better specs with being the best choice. This might be true for most desktops, but when you get a gaming laptop you also want to consider particular factors such as how heavy it is, the form factor, the resolution of the screen and how good the keyboard feels.Read: Best Laptops Under $500I’ve seen an endless amount of high-end, top of the line laptops do everything they can to stuff in the absolute beefiest processor and graphics card into the chassis, only to come up short when it comes to creating a comfortable experience in daily use.Not only that, but many laptops will skimp on things like a solid screen or a buttery smooth trackpad in order to put more money into the power, a grave mistake that can make even the most rudimentary web browsing a trial in patience and personal endurance.Which is the Best Gaming Laptop Right For You?Well, it all depends on what you’re looking for to find the best or most affordable gaming laptop for your needs. From what we’ve found, it’s difficult to name the best gaming laptop under $1000 because it doesn’t exist.Want something slim and light that will follow you wherever you go on the road? The Razer Blade is a perfect combination of power and portability you won’t find in any other laptop like it. Don’t care what you look like at the coffee shop and just want all the raw gaming goodness you can get? The MSI Dominator is more than well-equipped enough to handle any AAA title you might try to throw at it.Just as with gaming desktops and consoles, the manufacturers of these devices have made sure there’s a laptop for every time of gamer, and no matter what you’re in the market for, one of these top five should do everything you need it to to get the job done right. New Alienware 13 Comes with VR Specs - And Means BusinessShare11Pin2Tweet+1Share13 Shares
Maintain meticulous control while gaming with this CORSAIR HARPOON mouse. This lightweight, contoured navigation device fits naturally in your hand, reducing fatigue over long periods, and the 6000 dpi optical sensor is ideal for precise movements. Preconfigured for optimum performance, this CORSAIR HARPOON mouse requires no additional software or drivers.
The Full-HD display offers vibrant colors and sharp details for casual gaming and multimedia. While many laptops under $500 feature a lower resolution display, the HP 15-ay011nr boasts a maximum resolution of 1920×1080. Ample storage space is offered by the 1TB mechanical hard drive, but due to its price users will have to make do with the slower 5400rpm drive speed, But the hard drive can easily be swapped out for a solid state drive or a 7200rpm mechanical drive.
Cheap gaming laptops are as mythical as unicorns in the eyes of most gamers and finding them online can be a real chore. We spend hours of research every week scouring the web for the best gaming laptops under $500 and list them right here for anyone on the hunt for a new mobile machine. Our top level guide to the best gaming laptops of 2017 /2018 also offers an overview of all budget netbook hardware if you need to compare specs for any laptop.
The ASUS ROG Strix GL502VS-DB71 is impressively remarkable and offers about twice the gaming experience of previous single-GPU notebooks, which is terrific. It’s gaming laptop that delivers on point as a result of its quad-core CPU, DDR4 memory, the most recent GPU in its class and a 256GB SSD. Its design is handy and quite portable too. You can get as much as 5 hours of battery life but as a gaming laptop it’s demanding hardware can cause the battery to drain easily but this is no big deal at all
For example, the Aero 15X, weighs just over 2 Kg and incorporates a GeForce GTX 1070 Max-Q graphics chip. Its keyboard is equipped with RGB backlighting and an anti-ghosting system. The Aero 15X also features two internal M.2 NVMe format connectors. Let’s not forget that it is also equipped with a 15.6-inch Full HD display operating at a frequency of up to 144 Hz (which is also factory calibrated). Other models are equipped with a QHD display (Aero 14K).
True, it’s not the most powerful gaming laptop on this list, but it definitely presents the best value for your money – it comes with a great CPU and a powerful GPU that is more than capable of fully utilizing that 1080p 144 Hz display. Furthermore, while some may find its 256 GB of storage limiting, as mentioned before, it can easily be expanded. All of this makes for a very reliable and versatile laptop that will be a good match for most people’s needs.
The Lenovo Legion Y530 lasted 5 hours, 4 minutes in our Web-browsing battery test—about half an hour short of the Dell G7, Dell G5, and HP Pavilion 15t, but longer than any other contenders. That isn’t long enough for the Y530 to survive a full day of work or classes, but gaming laptops aren’t known for their battery life, and the Y530 is still one of the most portable options.
Some manufacturers have opted for an intermediate and less expensive solution; that is to say, a hybrid hard drive (SSHD) which incorporates a very small SSD (8 GB) in order to optimize the storage system’s performance. However, the performance of this type of drive remains slightly inferior to that of a fully fledged SSD. Intel’s Optane technology is used on some of these hybrid systems, and it works quite well…
When buying a gaming notebook, get one that will last you for a few years. If you can afford it, get at least an Nvidia GeForce GTX 1060 for basic VR support. That choice is more important than RAM and the CPU, though you should pay attention to those as well. Storage is the most likely to be upgradeable, but more is better, as games take up a lot of space. Decide if you prefer high resolutions or faster displays and consider what software will be helpful to you, but realize that you won’t get great battery life. How all of those work together determines just how well a gaming notebook does on the Tom’s Hardware test bench.
OriginPC - If you’re getting an Origin, it’s probably because you want customization options. The company offers a wide variety of paint jobs and skins and lets you choose from an array of different processors, GPUs and overclocking options. You can also get thermal compounds to keep things cool and you can even pick the exact RAM and storage you want.
John is PCMag's executive editor for hardware. A veteran of the popular tech site and magazine Computer Shopper from 1993 to 2017, he has covered just about every kind of computer gear—from the 386SX to 18-core processors—in his long tenure as an editor, a writer, and an advice columnist. He served as Computer Shopper’s editor in chief from 2008 to... See Full Bio
The Full-HD display is impressive for its price tag and the fact that you can set it to a maximum of 1920 x 1080 pixels makes it far more suited to streaming high definition media. The Acer Aspire E E5-575-53EJ also features an SSD storage drive, which will mean super fast Windows boot speeds and much faster application loading times than traditional storage drives. However, the installed SSD only features 256GB of storage space, which will fill up quickly if you intend on installing loads of games or if you have a larger media collection. You can upgrade the storage drive at home, however larger SSDs do come with larger price tags and you might instead want to consider a good external storage drive for your media files.
There are not all that many graphics chips to choose from (Nvidia GeForce GTX 1050, 1050 Ti, 1060, 1070 or 1080…). Your selection will depend on your particular needs and budget. A GTX 1070 or 1080 would probably be overkill for gamers interested in playing MMORPG games such as World Of Warcraft or Guild Wars 2 and would only prove useful when connecting to an external 4K display. Facing off against the GTX 1050 and 1060 can be found a few computers employing a Radeon RX 560, 570 or 580 graphics chip – but not all that many.
Even if you're not familiar with Logitech's standard gaming mouse filigree, the G502 is very intuitive. It features two center/top buttons, one for toggling the mouse wheel between "loose" and "granular" settings, and one for adjusting DPI presets on the fly. This is the case for most Logitech mice, but it's nice to get both options on such an affordable product, and one that also features multiple tunable buttons. The G502 also uses a handy LED-based DPI indicator for various settings—normal, fast, super-fast, and slow—so it's especially good for shooter scenarios where different weapons call for different optimal speeds.
The large 5400 RPM mechanical hard drive is slow, but with 1TB of storage space you will be able to save tons of movies, music and files. It comes with two USB 3.1 ports and one USB 2.0 port, and it has a moderate battery life of around 6 hours. The keyboard is not backlit, but most have noted that it is comfortable to use at least. Unfortunately, the same can’t be said about the touchpad, with many stating a mouse is a must.
That said, there are still some basic conclusions to be drawn about graphics performance. In general, the higher the model number within a product line, the higher the 3D performance. So an Nvidia GeForce GTX 1080 generally produces higher frame rates and higher-quality graphics than an Nvidia GeForce GTX 1060 or GTX 1070. A single high-end discrete GPU will let you play the latest AAA gaming titles on a 1080p screen with all the bells and whistles turned on, and be fine for entry-level VR play. Adding a second GPU (a rare and expensive option) will let you run the latest games more comfortably on 4K and 5K displays, or let you hook up multiple monitors to your laptop.
This price range has some reliable standards. You'll get a 15-inch 1920 x 1080 display (in many cases a crisp IPS one), an Intel Core-5 CPU, a 1TB hard drive, medium- sized SSD, or a hybrid 1TB drive. Graphics card choices will be mostly limited to an Nvidia GTX 1050 or GTX 1050 Ti; the latter represents a 15 to 20 percent performance uplift over Nvidia's entry-level GTX 1050 and AMD's Radeon RX 560. It's worth the extra money if you're willing to spend it. All GTX 1050 Ti cards also includes a satisfactory 4GB of VRAM versus the normal 2GB present in most GTX 1050s.
If you can’t spend more than $1,000 but still want a laptop that can play games, get the Lenovo Legion Y530. It won’t play new games as well for as long as our top pick, but it keeps cool and has a bright screen, a comfortable keyboard, and a responsive trackpad. The Y530 is also about a pound lighter and significantly more compact than the Dell G7 and G5, but it’s more of a pain to upgrade yourself.
The Acer Nitro 5 Spin delivers solid multitasking power, good battery life, a comfortable keyboard and oodles of versatility thanks to its easily convertible design. A Nvidia GTX 1050 GPU means that you can play most games at low or medium settings. It's a solid choice for games looking for an affordable gaming system that does more than play games.