Best Budget Gaming Laptops
Yes, you can snag a decent device for right around $1,000
The words “gaming laptop” often conjure up images of boxy high-priced computers decked out in flashing lights. But these products have evolved in recent years.
Today's options are thinner, lighter, and available with more subdued stylings. And while it’s still possible to spend more than $2,000 on a high-end model, you can now find gaming laptops that perform well for around half that.
You’ll lose some “nice to haves” available on the more expensive models. You’ll have to settle for a 1080p display instead of a 4K one, for example, or less onboard storage space. But you’ll still be able to play modern games like Humankind, Fortnite, and the latest Call of Duty at reasonable settings.
HP Pavilion Gaming 16
With this 16.1-inch notebook, you can tick all the right boxes for a budget gaming laptop featuring a previous-generation Intel Core i5 processor, 8GB of memory, 512GB of solid-state storage, and a dedicated Nvidia graphics card.
As you’d expect with a gaming laptop, the model scored well in our performance evaluations. Our testers liked the display, too, noting that it’s bright and color-accurate, and provides a wide viewing angle, which is good if your awesome gaming skills tend to draw a crowd. Everyone behind you can clearly see what’s happening on the screen. There's a built-in webcam for quick and convenient Zoom calls.
Like other gaming laptops, this one is a little on the heavy side compared with nongaming models, coming in at nearly 5 pounds, and it lasted a modest 5 hours in our battery life tests.
Asus ROG Strix
This 15.6-inch model has a previous-generation Intel Core i7 processor, 8GB of memory, 512GB of solid-state storage, and a dedicated Nvidia graphics card. Those are solid specs for all but the most demanding games.
Our performance tests bear this out, revealing that this is one of the fastest models in our ratings regardless of price. The 1080p display did a good job of reproducing accurate colors, which is key for those who enjoy watching Netflix and HBO Max. You'll also find an array of built-in ports for connecting external devices.
One device worth considering: an external webcam. That’s right— this is one of the rare laptops that doesn’t have a built-in webcam. If you’re okay with that and the so-so battery life (as little as 5 hours per charge), then this is a smart pick.
Lenovo Legion 5
This 15.6-inch option also has a previous-generation Intel Core i7 processor, 8GB of memory, 512GB of solid-state storage, and a dedicated Nvidia graphics card.
It generally earns high marks from our testers, particularly when it comes to performance and versatility, thanks in part to a built-in webcam, an array of USB and Ethernet ports, and support for the relatively new WiFi 6 standard.
Once again, the model has average battery life (6 hours per change) and is somewhat heavy (5 pounds), but that’s typical for a gaming laptop.