Buying a gaming laptop usually comes with the severe financial strain of spending $2,000 and up. But it doesn’t have to be that way. There are plenty of good and affordable portable gaming machines out there. And these cheap gaming laptops aren’t the poorly built and anemic GTX 1650-powered notebooks of yesteryear. You can find a quality machine equipped with even mid-range to high-end CPUs and graphics cards to play all the latest and best PC game releases.
Don’t get us wrong. There are plenty of cheap gaming laptops that are not up to task. Thankfully, we’ve done all the comprehensive testing and research, finding some true gems. These rigs offer high refresh rates, decent resolutions, powerful processors, and plenty of memory to take on all the action. Check out our top picks below – and click here to see them in the UK.
TL; DR – These are the Best Budget Gaming Laptops:
Asus TUF Dash 15
Best Budget Gaming Laptop
Combining affordability and quality components, the Asus TUF Dash 15 is a remarkable gaming laptop. For under $1,200, this machine surprises you with a 12-gen Intel Core i7 processor and Nvidia RTX 3060 graphics that will shine when playing esports and most other games in 1080p/144Hz. A MUX switch is even included, which reduces latency between the GPU and display to boost performance. However, the screen is duller, and the colors aren’t as vivid as we’d like to see.
With a name like TUF, you’ll be glad to hear this gaming laptop is built tough too. No chintzy and creaky plastic here. Instead, a sheet of aluminum covers the screen lid helping elevate and simplify its design while still remaining thinner and lighter than your average gaming laptop. You also get loads of ports, including a Thunderbolt 4, so plugging in other peripherals is simple.
Dell G16 Gaming Laptop
Best Gaming Laptop Under $1500
The Dell G16 Gaming Laptop continues to stretch the limits of $1,500 by packing in the latest tech to deliver a gaming beast. Running the whole shebang is a 13th gen Intel Core i7 processor, bringing significantly more performance than the G16 2022 model’s 12th gen CPU. And the Nvidia RTX 4050 graphics offer a similar experience to the RTX 3060 we saw last year, but it consumes less power.
Besides those processors, Dell’s newest G16 model is very similar to its previous, with a 16-inch screen running at a QHD+ resolution and 165Hz refresh rate featuring G-Sync for crisp, smooth graphics. You still get the same 16GB of fast DDR5 memory, and storage has once again been left to the wayside with a 512GB SSD. There’s also the wedge-shaped chassis and hinge forward design, echoing the look of Dell’s higher-end Alienware models, and that’s a good thing.
Lenovo IdeaPad Gaming 3
Best Gaming Laptop Under $1,000
You might think it’s impossible to find a quality gaming laptop under $1,000, but the Lenovo IdeaPad Gaming 3 does just that for even a couple hundred less. With it, you get a 15.6-inch IPS panel toting a Full HD resolution for a clear field of view, though the lackluster 250-nit brightness means you won’t want to play in super bright spaces. Aiding that picture quality while you game is a 120Hz refresh rate with FreeSync for some silky smooth frames in your favorite titles.
The power behind that screen is an Nvidia RTX 3050 GPU and AMD Ryzen 5 6600H processor with six cores capable of hitting decently high speeds. With that pairing, you should have no issue getting into competitive online play with games like Apex Legend and Overwatch 2. It’s even packing 16GB of DDR5 memory to run multiple applications and once and live stream your game’s action, while the surprising 1TB of SSD storage ensures you have ample room for game data and speedy boot times.
Acer Predator Triton 300 SE
Best Budget Everyday Gaming Laptop
If you’re enamored by sleek yet powerful gaming laptops, like the Asus Zephyrus G14 and Razer 14, but couldn’t see yourself spending $2,000 or more, the Acer Predator Triton 300 SE is a solid budget alternative. This rig boasts a clean, bordering on professional-looking chassis—similar to its more expensive contemporaries—that’s thin and light enough to take anywhere. You’ll also appreciate the bright 14-inch Full HD display capable of a 165Hz refresh rate for butter-smooth frames while taking down enemies in your favorite games.
Don’t let its plain looks fool you, as the Acer Predator Triton 300 SE packs some serious heat under the hood between its Intel Core i7 processor and Nvidia RTX 3060. That means it’s more than capable of hitting those high frame rates in Full HD and even delivers ray-traced graphics. The 16GB of DDR5 memory ensures your games run well and lets you multitask like the boss you are, though it might be in your best interest to upgrade the limited 512GB of storage.
Legion Slim 7 Gen 7
Best Budget 1080p Gaming Laptop
The Legion Slim 7 Gen 7 has no problem taking advantage of speedy frame rates in Full HD on its 16-inch IPS display. You get slightly more vertical resolution than 1080p with a 16:10 aspect ratio, but either way, your games will cruise at 165Hz, while FreeSync support eliminates distracting screen tearing and stuttering. Keeping up with those frame rates is the Radeon RX 6600S graphics, and it’s though not necessarily a hair-raiser, it’ll work seamlessly with the Ryzen 7 processor and display.
To prevent interruptions in the action from overheating, there are cooling solutions, like two fans and tons of ventilation, all packed into a surprisingly thin, portable chassis. It even includes a feature often lost in budget laptop models: a flashy full-size RGB keyboard. If you’re concerned about connections for your extra peripherals like a gaming headset or controller, this rig is packing ports that include an HDMI 2.1, two USB-C, and an SD card reader, though there’s no ethernet.
Where to Get the Best Cheap 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 to Look for in a Cheap Gaming Laptop
Below we’ve sketched out which graphics card and what other specs you need in a cheap gaming laptop. We also go over the main features to consider when shopping for a cheap gaming notebook.
For screen resolution, a 1080p and some 1440p displays hit 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 and some 1440p 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.
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 at a desk. Do yourself a favor and check out our guide to the best gaming 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.
Kevin Lee is IGN’s SEO Updates Editor. Follow him on Twitter @baggingspam.