Don’t want to spend $2,000 or more for a gaming laptop? No worries; if you are a cash-strapped gamer, you can make do with a budget gaming laptop that costs less than $1,000. If you are a casual or a moderate gamer, you may not need to aim for high-end specs and spend thousands of dollars on a laptop with many features you may never use. Here is a list of budget gaming laptops enthusiasts can take advantage of:
Top 5 Best Gaming Laptops under $1000 – 2017
This is a rather unassuming looking laptop that offers surprisingly good value for the price. It’s packed with a 2.2 GHz Intel Core i7, 16GB of SDRAM, 1TB 5400rpm HDD, and an 8GB SSD. This shouldn’t be confused with a genuine SSD. The SSD is built into the HDD as cache, which makes the HDD faster than typical. Also thanks to the HDD, there’s plenty of storage so you won’t quickly run out of drive space after installing games. It also has a quite large 17.3-Inch screen as well that supports 1920×1080 screen resolution. It should be mentioned that this is not marketed as a gaming laptop. However, if you are casual to the moderate gamer on a budget, this machine would work quite well.
The graphics card equipped is NVIDIA GeForce GT840M with 2GB of VRAM. This model is low to the mid-level dedicated video card. NVIDIA doesn’t recommend it for hardcore gamers. However, when paired with the high-performance Core i7 processor, even this unimpressive card can be used for moderate level gaming needs. You can easily play games like League of Legends, Grand Theft Auto V, and classics like World of Warcraft on high settings without any problems. You will only encounter problems with new titles released in late 2016 or later.
- Speedy HDD with SSD cache
- 16GB of RAM, upgradable
- Large screen with solid resolution
- Comes with Genuine Windows 10
- Mid-level graphics card
- Unstylish exterior design
- Battery only lasts 3 to 4 hours on gaming mode
The laptop packs an excellent chipset and an HDD. Though the graphics card is disappointing by itself, paired with the Core i7 it generates good results. Recommended for mild to moderate gamers only.
This may not be the Dell Inspiron gaming laptop, but it comes with its own excellent specs, plus Full HD support. It packs a 7th-generation Intel Core i7-7500U processor with up to 3.5 GHz clock speed, 16GB of RAM, 2TB HDD, 1920×1080 WLED-backlit screen, a backlit keyboard, and Waves MaxxAudio software. As a multimedia laptop, this is quite super. The screen has no glare, and the audio system packs more clarity than what you usually get with stock hardware. It comes with 64-bit Windows 10. The 3 cell battery can last up to 6 hours! Fast Wi-Fi with minimal buffering is also included.
The graphics card is AMD Radeon R7 M445 with 4G GDDR5 graphics memory. It delivers performance similar to Nvidia GeForce 940M. You can play games like Resident Evil 7, Witcher 3, and Rise of Tomb Raider on low settings. You can aim for mid or high settings for games like Bioshock Infinite, Battlefield 4, or GTA V. It plays Minecraft and WoW with no lag issues. However, no ultra settings of games are supported.
- High performing chipset
- 16GB of RAM
- Battery life up to 6 hours
- Updated audio software
- Speedy Wi-Fi
- Mid-level graphics card not suitable for hardcore gaming
Overall, this is a solid low-cost laptop for entry-level to moderate gamers. This Dell also doubles as an excellent multimedia computer. With fast Wi-Fi, you can play online games and stream movies without little to no lag.
This Asus is a lot similar to the newer model listed below, but it also has some features that make it less speedy than the one listed below. It comes with a 4th gen Intel Core i7 that can manage up to 2.6 GHz. It has 1TB 5400 HDD, 8GB DDR3 RAM, and comes with Windows 10 preinstalled. This laptop also has a NVIDIA GeForce GTX 960M graphics card like the other Asus. While performance is as good as it can get for a budget gaming laptop, it lacks an SSD that gives gaming performance that extra boost. You can still manage to play graphics intensive games like Witcher 3 or GTA V on mid or high settings. However, games like Rise of the Tomb Raider will only be possible on low to mid settings. Some games do play on ultra, but there is some lag.
There are other features that make this Asus really stand out. The keyboard is backlit with stunning red lights. The user can adjust the intensity of the keyboard lighting (but cannot change colors). The keys are definitely designed with gamers in mind. The laptop screen is quite amazing. It’s black, but a very sleek black that designed to portray video amazingly as possible. In addition, the hard drive is really quiet when playing games too.
- Great screen and graphics
- Minimal noise
- Excellent backlit keyboard with customizable settings
- Battery life up to 6 hours depending
- Only 8GB of RAM
- Mid-level graphics card paired with an HDD
Overall, this is a solid buy if you are into moderate gaming. If you are a hardcore Minecrafter or a WoWer, this laptop would definitely be sufficient for your needs.
Asus has been issuing a truly remarkable line of laptops in recent years. This is the brand’s answer to the budget gaming trend. This laptop packs some powerful specs. It has a 6th gen Core i7 processor, which is still the best in the market for gaming. The Skylake chipset is 2.5GHz and can clock up to 3.1GHz in Turbo. The graphics card is NVIDIA GeForce GTX 960M. It’s not a new model, but it supports HD gameplay at 1080p 60fps settings. That means you can play relatively new games like Witcher 3 or Dishonored on high settings. If you remember, Witcher 3 is one of the most graphically intensive PC games.
The laptop has 8GB of RAM and 512GB of SSD storage. So it’s quite fast. Ideally, RAM could be 16GB, but even 8GB is quite enough as the SSD can make up for the speed. It laptop also supports ultra-fast Gigabit Dual-Band 802.11AC Wi-Fi, so playing MMORPGs in a breeze. There are four USB ports in total, and also has an HDMI port. The display supports 1920×1080 resolution and is matte, not glossy, you there’s no reflection especially when the settings get dark. It runs on Windows 10. As an added pro, the keyboard is backlit.
- Good for all terrain
- Quiet operation
- Not loaded with bloatware
- Backlit keyboard
- Good battery life that can support about 5 hours of streaming nonstop
- Only 8GB of RAM
- Mid-level graphics card
- Doesn’t come with a gamer-grade cooling system. The machine can get hot fast sometimes
While this laptop only packs a mid-level graphics card, it’s suitable for moderate level gaming. This laptop can handle graphics intensive games, and has a super cool Wi-Fi connection. It also has a generously large SSD. Overall, considering the price, this is definitely one of the best budget gaming laptops.
Despite the lack of brand recognition, this is one of the best gaming laptops for budget users. It comes with an Intel Core i7-7700HQ 2.8 GHz processor, 8GB DDR4 RAM, a 1TB HDD plus 128GB SSD, and Full HD screen, and a multicolor backlit keyboard. The most notable spec is, of course, the NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1050Ti graphics card with 4GB GDDR5 dedicated RAM. GTX 1050Ti is one of the most popular budget graphics cards for gamers.
The GTX 1050Ti gets compared a lot to GeForce 960M. The two are similar in power and noise. But, tests show that GTX 1050Ti has a slight but significant edge over GeForce 960M when it comes to graphics display, gaming speed, and performance per watt. For games like Battlefield 4 or BioShock Infinite, the GTX 1050Ti significantly outperforms GeForce 960M. Also, the card has 4GB VRAM. This will allow you to support gaming on multiple monitors. So, it can be said that this is the best graphics card you can get in a budget laptop of this price range.
GPU aside, this laptop is a solid performer in screen resolution and display as well. The matte display holds out during daylight. The HDD and SSD combination delivers excellent processor speed. Battery life is not so impressive, as it can last only about 4 hours when gaming. It should be noted that the RAM can be upgraded after purchase. The company will do it upon request.
- Best graphics card for the price range
- Beautiful multicolor backlit keyboard
- Speedy processor with HDD and SSD combination
- Problem-free Full HD display
- Upgradable RAM
- HDMI port
- Low battery life when gaming
Useful Tips to Know When Buying a Budget Gaming Laptop
When you are buying a budget gaming laptop, you need to be able to adjust your expectations. If you are a hardcore gamer who wants to play the latest Resident Evil on ultra settings, you will have to buy a more expensive laptop. But if you are a moderate or casual gamer, a budget gaming laptop will be sufficient for almost any need. Also, a budget gaming laptop is always an upgrade over an entry-level PC.
The specification you need to worry about most when choosing the best product is the graphics card. On laptops, the graphics card is fixed. You cannot replace it later like on a desktop. You will have to buy a whole new laptop. Therefore, pay close attention to the graphics card that comes with the machine. The best graphics card that budget gaming laptops come with is NVIDIA GTX 1050Ti or GeForce GTX 1050. If you can find a budget laptop with GeForce GTX 1060 or GTX 1070, that would be even better.
It’s important to note that the graphics cards are only as good as the processor it’s paired with. Gamers should really get Intel Core i7 processors, as it’s the best in the market for gaming. Core i5 is okay but is only good for casual to moderate gaming. Even a low-end graphics card like NVIDIA GeForce GT840M can deliver excellent performance on games like Battlefront when paired with a powerful processor.
When buying worry about regular RAM and not VRAM. Gaming laptops need at least 8GB of RAM, but it’s best to aim for 16GB of RAM (as long as the graphics card is good too). Buy a laptop with upgradable RAM to future proof your purchase.
Worry about VRAM only if you want to play games on multiple monitors. More VRAM does not make the laptop run the game faster. VRAM only supports higher resolution gaming and multiple monitors.
Gamers should prioritize SSDs over HDDs. SSDs are faster, though they lack the storage capacity of HDDs. But don’t worry about storage too much because you can always buy an external storage hard drive for relatively cheap.