Better entry-level graphics chips mean terrific performance for less money.Gaming laptops can get pretty expensive because of the components needed to run the latest games. That means even cheap gaming laptops are typically between $700 and $1,000. The good news is you can actually get decent gaming performance at these prices and they’re thinner and lighter than gaming laptops were a couple of years ago. Playing Fortnite, CS: GO, PUBG, Minecraft and Apex Legends won’t be a problem for these. But, if you’re looking to save even more money, consider refurbished or open-box gaming laptops from sources such as Best Buy, Amazon, Micro Center and Woot.
We keep this roundup updated as we review new products; our recommendations to help you find your ideal gaming experience based on our reviews and testing are below. But first, if you know what you’re looking for and want to start shopping, the best deals we’ve found currently available from major retailers are right here at the top, starting as low as $699. And if you want to improve your gaming and work-from-home experience, here’s some inexpensive gaming gear to help you do it.
Gaming laptop deals from $800 to $1,000
Gaming laptop deals for $799 or less
Acer Nitro 5
The 17.3-inch Acer Nitro 5 brings something extra to entry-level gaming laptops, and not just a larger display. The screen is certainly a big part of its appeal, though: Most sub-$1,000 gaming laptops have 15.6-inch displays, and the Acer’s larger screen lets you sink in and get lost in whatever world you’re playing in.
On the other hand, you can get the Nitro 5 with a 15.6-inch display for as low as $670, including an AMD Ryzen 5 4600H processor and Nvidia GeForce GTX 1650 graphics. Read our Acer Nitro 5 (17.3-inch) review.
Lenovo Legion 5/5i
The Legion 5 is an updated version of last year’s Y540, which was one of our favorite gaming laptops for its design and value. There are a few changes to the design, but mostly it’s what’s inside that’s changed, including a choice between AMD (Legion 5) and Intel (Legion 5i) processors. Prices still start just under $1,000. If you need to keep costs down, the company’s IdeaPad Gaming 3 laptop starts down around $700. Read our Lenovo Legion Y545 review.
Dell G5 15
Dell’s G-series gaming laptops are cheaper than those from its Alienware division, but still capable of playing the latest AAA titles. There are three separate models — the G3, G5 and G7 — available in 15- and 17-inch sizes. The midrange G5 15 hits the mark with an excellent price-to-performance ratio, build quality and design. The newest versions start at $840, including a special-edition model with AMD’s impressive Ryzen 5 4600H processor.
Dell G3 15
While the G5 is still our go-to pick, the G3 is available with many of the same components, including CPUs and graphics chips, but for less money. The other features and build quality aren’t as nice as the G5’s, but the G3 is thinner and lighter. It’s a good pick if you’re looking for a school or home office laptop that can also handle playing the latest games. Read our Dell G3 15 Gaming Laptop review.
HP Pavilion Gaming 15
It’s the bright screamin’-green keyboard that really gives away that HP’s 15.6-inch Pavilion Gaming laptop isn’t just a normal midsize notebook. Sure, there are some pretty large rear fan vents, but otherwise the chassis is fairly tame and all black except for a slight green tint to the HP logo on the lid. Inside is an excellent mix of components that are good for gaming as well as work. Read our HP Pavilion Gaming 15 review.
Acer Aspire 7
The Aspire 7 isn’t a “gaming” laptop but is a great option if you’re looking for a home office laptop that’s also good for gaming. Along with an Nvidia GTX 1650 graphics card and a 10th-gen Intel Core i5 processor, you get a good 15.6-inch full-HD display and a bevy of ports for $800.
The Aspire 7 is a little chunky, though. For those who prefer something slimmer and lighter, the Aspire 5 hits the mark and is available with an MX250 graphics card for under $1,000. Read our Acer Aspire 7 review.
Buying tips for a cheap gaming laptop
Older laptops with Nvidia’s GeForce GTX 10-series GPUs are still around, but the deals aren’t as good as they once were. Laptops with an entry-level GTX 1050 Ti card normally start around $700 if you can find them. That chip gives you enough graphics performance to play the newest demanding games at low-to-medium settings. Spending between $800 and $1,000 (or a little more) will get you a laptop with a newer GTX 1650 or 1660 Ti or an older upper-midrange Nvidia GeForce GTX 1060 for a great gaming experience. Plus, with the 6GB version of the GTX 1060, you can experience a little of the ray-tracing effects available with the pricier RTX cards.
For the best gaming experience with a budget gaming laptop, you’ll want to make sure you get the most graphics power you can afford from the start since this can’t be upgraded later, unlike memory or storage. If you’re on a strict budget, go with an older Nvidia Geforce GTX 1050 Ti or newer 1650 graphics card, which will give you good gaming performance on newer games at medium or high settings with prices starting down around $600. If you can afford to spend closer to $1,000, you’ll be better off, in the long run, getting a laptop with an older Nvidia GeForce GTX 1060 with 6GB of memory or newer 1660 Ti.
Beyond the graphics chip, look for:
- An eighth-gen or ninth-gen Intel Core i5 or i7 processor or AMD Ryzen 4000 series processor
- At least 8GB of memory (aka RAM)
- At least a 256GB solid-state drive, a combo of a 128GB SSD and hard drive or a large solid-state hybrid drive
Most if not all gaming laptops let you easily expand or upgrade your memory and storage, so again, it’s best to put your cash into the GPU and processor. Sure, you’ll get more for your money with a gaming desktop, but if you don’t have room for one or you must have mobility, these budget-friendly laptops are worth the investment.