Gaming laptops have been with us for quite a while now. I mean, we could just name drop the flagships, but that’s not why we’re here. Out there in abundance at affordable market prices to enthusiasts, are budget-friendly ones.
No doubt we all have a rough idea of the specs a gaming laptop should have to be considered A GAMING LAPTOP. Specs to consider include and are not limited to the processor that is nothing below Intel Core i7 or AMD Ryzen 7 (although you could just scrape through with an i5/Ryzen 5), graphics, RAM/storage, display, battery life and the cooling system.
Ask yourself this though, is it possible to get a hold of one with close to flagship specs at a not-so-flagship price? Well, the answer is yes, and here they are in no particular order.
HP Envy 13 (2021)
This might just be the best ultrabook in the market going for just below this price bracket. The reason for this might be anything from it’s sleek aluminium design that HP’s are known for, to its faster performance (11th Gen Intel CPU), to its longer battery life, clocking it at 14+ hours according to the HP website. Boasting a 13.3-inch 1080p display, an Iris Xe GPU, Thunderbolt connectivity, 16 and 256 Gigz of RAM and ROM respectively, it already adds to its impressive predecessor which had very few faults to be addressed in this latest model. At just about 2.9lbs, the Core i5 laptop also comes with two Type-A ports with which you can connect a variety of peripherals. Well, those are some pretty flagship specs, but the price, – $849 – not so much.
Need I say more?
Asus TUF Gaming FX705
Apart from gaming, this midrange laptop can be used for watching movies and sports. It boasts an impressive 144Hz refresh rate thus providing smooth frames and a crisp display – which is quite large to match at 17.3-inches, with a cutting-edge IPS-level NanoEdge display.
The Intel Core i7 – 8750H CPU and NVIDIA GeForce GTX 10-Series GPU aren’t the worst. Neither is the 32GB-DDR4 memory nor 1TB storage featuring a 5400rpm FireCuda solid-state hybrid drive(SSHD) & up to 512GB PCIe solid-state drive(SSD).
To set it apart from the rest, in a manner of speaking, it features a host of I/O ports all situated on the left side of the laptop to ensure no interference with the right-handed mousing experience, or so they say. The ports include a single USB 2.0 and two USB 3.1 Gen 1 Type-A ports for your gaming peripherals, as well as HDMI 2.0 to connect to an external display.
The FX705 also boasts the Anti-Dust Cooling (ADC) system, ‘Powerful Dual fan’ and ‘Overboost technology’ to ensure exceptional cooling during intense gaming. Its keyboard offers customizable lighting, what they are referring to as an ‘All-zone desktop-inspired RGB-Backlit Hyperstrike Keyboard’.
Something’s got to give though, with its battery life the only downer when compared to the rest of the laptops in this list. 4+ hours of battery life is the price you pay figuratively, but literally, anything between $950 and $955 should suffice.
Acer Nitro 5
You could get your hands on this ridiculously affordable laptop for as low as $720 or as high as $870. The reason probably being that it comes in both 15.6″ FHD at up to 144Hz refresh rate and 17.3” pristine QHD at 165Hz refresh rate.
Pretty sweet, no?
The Nitro 5 offers the powerful AMD Ryzen 5 4600H processor and Nvidia GeForce GTX 1650 graphics – which will require a bit of adjustment in the settings to serve up decent frame rates. This to sit well with the up to 8 and 256 Gigz of RAM and SSD storage respectively.
The keyboard on this baby is quite comfortable, featuring the WASD and arrow keys being highlighted for easy visibility. All your peripherals can plug into the full range of ports, including HDMI 2.1, Intel Thunderbolt 4, and the newest USB 3.2 standard with Gen 1 and 2 support.
Despite the dim display and tricky graphics that need some adjusting, the mucky audio and a few of the compromises that you may need to make do with here, the pros column more than makes up for it with its 11+ hours of battery life, insane performance and affordability. You really can’t go wrong here.
Dell G5 15 SE (2020)
While the top notch variation gets you all the powerful features you would want, you have to cough up slightly more than 1,000 bucks. That would be unnecessary however, because in order to get decent performance, you only have to pay just about $879.99 for the G5 15 SE.
It carries everything AMD, with the Ryzen 7 4800H processor and Radeon RX 5600M graphics card for blistering performance and strong graphics compared to most laptops in the budget gaming bracket. The storage capacity is 512 GB (M.2 PCIe NVMe) SSD with up to 16GB DDR4-3200MHz memory.
Say what you will about its chunky design, but I’d choose to focus on the 7 hours of battery life instead. Also, the myriad of components and ports available to you – (USB-C 3.1 Gen 1 (PowerShare), HDMI 2.0, USB-C 3.1 Gen 2 DisplayPort, Thunderbolt 3 Mini DisplayPort) – allows you to connect most of the peripherals you would need in your gaming experience.
Let’s round this one up by briefly outlining the 15.6 inch FHD (1920 x 1080) In-Plane Switching (IPS) 300-nits display and 144Hz refresh rate. The standard really is clear for most of the gaming machines here. That said, it really isn’t all that in terms of display, but it works well enough.
HP Pavilion Gaming 15 Laptop
With 2 variants sporting different processors and varying slightly in specs, it is definitely worth checking out.
The first variant boasts an 11th Gen Intel Core i5 processor, an NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1650 (4 GB) GPU, 8 GB RAM; 512 GB SSD storage and a 15.6″ diagonal FHD display to name a few and starts at about $800, while the second features an AMD Ryzen 5 processor, an NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1650 (4 GB) GPU, 8 GB RAM; 256 GB SSD storage and a 15.6″ diagonal FHD display as well. The latter’s price starts out at $650.
It may not sound like much because of its price range, but boy does it pack a punch performance-wise. This is due to the fact that it has some pretty powerful specs as already mentioned and with 6+ hours of battery life, it has the endurance to boot.
Another for the plus column is that it can actually play games at pretty decent frame rates while still managing to stay pretty cool while at it. It’s not all praise though, lest it seem too good to be true because the display can get quite dull, but it’s still manageable. All I’m trying to say is, it’s one of the hidden gems that is being slept upon.
Lenovo IdeaPad Gaming 3 Laptop
I couldn’t resist the urge to drop this one here and it’s not for lack of effort. Maybe it should have been in the list up there altogether. But that’s all ifs, buts and maybes.
This 15.6” laptop is great for gamers and content creators alike. It features a 2.5 GHz Intel Core i5-10300H quad-core processor, 8GB of DDR4-2933 memory that allows upgrades of up to 16GB, and a fast 256GB M.2 NVMe SSD in conjunction with a 1TB 5400 rpm hard drive. This gives this laptop the ability to multitask 3D games and applications as well as load them really quickly.
You don’t have to worry about brightness, as it packs a 1920 x 1080 resolution IPS. The NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1650 graphics powers the 60 Hz display, offering up high frame rates during the entire experience.
The Ideapad’s USB 3.1 Gen 1 Type-A ports and a Type-C port are available for connecting compatible devices such as keyboards, mice, and external storage drives, with the USB 3.1 Gen 1 featuring a maximum throughput of 5 Gb/s. The USB 3.1 Gen 1 and USB 3.0 are even interchangeable.
Lasting up to 9.7 hours, the 45Wh battery does really well to keep up. $680 shouldn’t be too much to ask for.
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