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 HP Omen 15t Gaming is the most expensive option we tested, around $200 more than the G7 to meet our recommended specs. Its WASD keys reached 109.5 °F after just 30 minutes of Overwatch on high settings, and its underside got hottest (122 °F) exactly where my right thigh touched the laptop (though we don’t recommend anyone use any of these models on their lap). Its display also had a noticeable screen-door effect, a slightly visible grid that we didn’t see on any of the other laptops, and the Omen had roughly an hour less battery life compared with the Dell G7 and G5.
Gaming Laptops (Show All) MSI Gaming Laptops ASUS Gaming Laptops Gigabyte Gaming Laptops Alienware Gaming Laptops GTX 1050 Gaming Laptops GTX 1050 Ti Gaming Laptops GTX 1060 Gaming Laptops GTX 1070 Gaming Laptops GTX 1080 Gaming Laptops Alienware 17 Laptops DELL G5 Gaming Laptops DELL G3 Gaming Laptops Gigabyte Aero 15 Laptops AORUS X-Series Laptops Gigabyte Sabre Laptops
However, more sophisticated gaming laptops remain much more expensive. Currently, the world’s most sophisticated gaming laptop is the Acer’s Predator 21X which, as its name would suggest, is equipped with a 21-inch Full HD (curved!) display which operates at a frequency of 120 Hz and is G-sync compatible. It also features dual GeForce GTX 1080 graphics chips. On Acer’s website, the Predator 21X retails for 9,999 dollars.
Razer isn’t exaggerating when it calls its Blade 15 (available on Amazon) the “world’s smallest 15-inch gaming laptop.” While it’s impressive to get a six-core 8th gen Core i7-8750H and GeForce GTX 1070 Max-Q performance into a compact chassis, note that it’s densely packed and feels heavy for its size. If you can deal with the additional weight, the payoff may well be worth it. Read our review.
"Love it...Run good...My son picked this mouse out specifically to use for online gaming with his laptop and has been very happy with it....I use this every day for work now, the resolution is great, it works on a smooth laminate desk with no problems, you can quickly change the resolution but I really like the fact that I don't think I've had a single "whoops I just activated the mouse's proprietary [super annoying] feature again" Works like a great mouse should, it is a nice economical option with high end performance in my opinion."
The 256GB M.2 SSD is slightly small, and it is bound to fill up soon if you have large game library, but it is blazing fast, meaning your load and boot up times will be quick. The battery life is disappointing, however, running out of juice after about 3 hours of heavy use. You will need to remain plugged in most of the time, but this shouldn’t come at much of a surprise considering its energy-sapping components.
Measuring 14.4 by 10.2 by 1 inches and weighing just 5.1 pounds, the Legion Y530 is one of the lightest and most compact gaming laptops we tested this year; it weighs more than a pound less than the Dell G7. The thin bezels surrounding the screen allow for a smaller laptop overall, and the Y530 is by far the most convenient model to slip into a bag and use on the go of all the options we considered. We also appreciate its all-black, understated design—no flashy colors, edgy angles, or ugly prints—and the comfortable matte-black material covering the palm rest.
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
I just upgraded an older Z170 chipset P870DM3 (which Sager calls the 9873) with 9900K. +100% CPU power upgrade over 6700K. Ran a bench at 4.9ghz allcore this morning. Others have demonstrated the current Z370 P870TM model with >5ghz 9900K. (This same model was DAILYING 8700K at 5Ghz for 6 months before laptop coffeelake came along and boy it was a huge deal when ONE or TWO of the BGA i9's completed a short bench at 5ghz!). Utter beastly pieces of engineering, that make everything BGA else look puny by comparison. For sure they suck at portability, but if you don't place such a high importance on that, and you're talking best performance, this is it
Measurements performed by our colleagues at the Laptopmag website show that the MSI Titan achieves a maximum temperature of 59 degrees after 15 minutes of gameplay – which is not too bad. The Asus ROG Zephyrus has a maximum temperature of 67 degrees – which is still OK. However, the MSI GS65 Stealth’s maximum temperature of 90 degrees is likely to be problematic for some users.
For a long time, competitive gamers strongly preferred wired gaming mice to wireless ones to eliminate perceived latency, as well as the possibility of a battery running down in the midst of a heated match. Many serious players still hold that bias, but Razer, Logitech, and others have released higher-end mice of late with low latency ratings that ought to satisfy at least casual gamers.
Still, unless you're attempting to become a professional gamer or get ranked globally in a particular popular title, a 60Hz screen will suffice. Nearly all gamers are still "stuck" with 60Hz displays, after all. High-refresh panels aren't common in budget machines, but they are worth knowing about, as we expect them to trickle down into under-$1,000 machines soon.
Minimal Portability (17 - 18 inches): If you plan to keep your laptop in your home and leave it on your desk or just move it between rooms, a system with a 17 or 18-inch display like the Alienware 17 should be fine. Laptops in this size range are usually the most powerful, because they have plenty of room for heat-generating components. However, they're heavy to carry, a tough fit for most bags and too power-hungry to use unplugged for very long.
The SteelSeries Rival 700 isn’t your average gaming mouse. While you’ll find an accurate 16,000 DPI sensor, a comfortable design and RGB lighting, the Rival is actually equipped with a vibrating motor and OLED screen. This allows the Rival 700 to integrate with games such as Dota 2 and Counter-Strike: Global Offensive, providing feedback to the user that may otherwise go unnoticed.
We tested the laptops using BioShock Infinite’s benchmarking mode and by playing half an hour of The Witcher 3 on ultra with VSync off. We measured the laptops’ internal temperature using HWMonitor and measured the surface temperature at various points on the keyboard and underside using an IR thermometer. We tested each laptop’s screen using some of the Lagom LCD monitor test pages, and used each for several workdays to get a feel for its keyboard, trackpad, screen, and speakers.
Dell is back in the market with their latest notebook in the form of Dell Inspiron 5575. This is an interesting variant from the Inspiron series of laptops from Dell, as it offers a very good set of specifications for the asking price. It sports a large 15.6-inch full HD display which is decent for gaming, and it is anti-glare so playing games for prolonged periods wouldn’t be stressful to your eyes. Moreover, it is fairly lightweight machine weighing just 4.8 pounds which is very good considering the kind of performance it offers.
Nvidia GeForce GTX 1060: Laptops with 1060 cards can play taxing games like Mass Effect: Andromeda or Witcher 3 without sacrificing some of the cooler visual eye candy, including water reflections and natural-looking hair at 1920 x 1080. You might have to tweak the settings a bit at 4K, but not too much. Even better, you can hook up your Rift or Vive headset up for a mobile plug-and-play VR experience.
We also liked HP's updated battery optimization technology, which offered more than five hours of excellent performance on medium to high brightness. Best of all, this laptop is lightweight and slim. It's actually one of the lightest (4.68 lbs) and thinnest (0.6 inches) affordable gaming laptops we've seen! There's really a lot to like about this machine. It's powerful, light, slim, cheap, and looks great.
Speaking about the internals of the laptop, it comes with an Intel Core i5-7200U with 8GB of RAM. Graphics on the device are managed by the powerful integrated Intel HD 620 graphics. Moreover, the storage segment on the laptop is bolstered by a massive 1TB of hard disk, which will never let you run out of space. The laptop comes with a great look and feels making it a perfect choice for gamers.
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
It’s great in all other applications, too, with smooth and reliable tracking across the board, and a shape that fit in our hands very nicely indeed. You can even adjust an array of weights for a more tailored experience. There are three zones of RGB lighting that shine bright and vividly, with effects that can be synced across the vast library of Corsair peripherals.
Solid-state drive: A solid-state drive speeds up boot times and reduces loading times in games, so all of our recommendations have SSDs. Some gaming laptops in this price range have 1 TB of hard drive storage and no SSD, but in those cases we recommend adding one yourself. We prefer at least a 250 GB solid-state drive because 128 GB won’t hold more than your operating system and a couple of games.
Of the gaming laptops we researched and tested in 2017, the Acer Predator 17 G9-793-79V5 has the most powerful specs for the price, without any dealbreaking flaws. The Predator 17 keeps its WASD keys, underside, and components cool, and it has a comfortable, responsive keyboard and a great 17-inch 1080p IPS display with G-sync. Its biggest flaws are loud, distracting fans and an ugly, haphazard-looking keyboard. Most important, the Predator 17 will be able to play most modern games on ultra settings—it offers great performance for the price. (If you want to know how it will handle a specific game, take a look at Notebookcheck’s benchmarks database.)
Speaking of the technical details, the Rival 700 is a modular mouse that offers features such as a modular design, RGB lighting, OLED display, adjustable DPI settings with DPI maxing out 16,000 on the optical sensor, and 8,000 on the laser sensor, and yes, you can change the sensor by buying one separately. Sadly, though, as much as we would have wished, the mouse doesn’t come with an ambidextrous design and might be a problem for people who aren’t left-handed. However, that doesn’t mean that the Rival 700 isn’t a good mouse, behind the expensive price lies a really good mouse that fits gamers of all sorts, it doesn’t matter if you are playing an FPS, an RPG, an MMO, the mouse is there to serve, and serve you well.