For gamers on a budget, the trick to finding the right gaming laptop is to get enough performance to play 3D games without sacrificing too much in other areas like the display and overall build quality, while also avoiding older models. for sale with obsolete or soon. -Parts that are going to be obsolete. Here’s our expert advice on what to consider to get the best gaming laptop for your money.
The search for an affordable gaming laptop for most people starts with price. The good news is that you can find a perfectly functional gaming laptop with modern components capable of playing today’s games for around $1,000. And sometimes less if you find a model on sale. Dell, HP, Lenovo, and other manufacturers offer discounts all the time, so you can score a great deal if you time it right.
If your budget allows you to spend more than $1,000, you’ll find models with more powerful components and brighter, faster displays along with other benefits like per-key RGB lighting and slimmer designs.
While MacBooks running Apple’s macOS are popular for home, work, and school use, Microsoft Windows is the choice for gaming laptops, especially budget gaming laptops. You can run some games on high-end MacBook Pros, but they are expensive compared to cheap Windows-based gaming laptops.
If you’re on a tight budget, you might consider a Chromebook. ChromeOS is a different experience than Windows: more optimized and easier to use. But limited because basically everything runs through the Chrome browser. Still, there are some Chromebooks for gamers.
Most gaming laptops feature a 15- or 16-inch screen, although you’ll see some smaller 14-inch models, as well as some 17 and even 18 inch giants. Newer 16-inch models with taller 16:10 aspect ratios are starting to replace 15.6-inch models with a more traditional 16:9 widescreen ratio, and we generally prefer the squarer models of 16 inches. You’ll probably play most of your games at a resolution of 1,920 x 1,080 pixels, which is a 16:9 ratio, but the greater vertical space offered by a 16:10 screen makes the laptop more useful outside of gaming. games when you’re scrolling through long web pages and documents.
Another important display spec for gamers is refresh rate: the number of times per second a display updates its image. Most gaming laptops, even the cheapest ones, have displays with variable refresh rates that can sync with the frames per second of a game to avoid artifacts like tearing (where it looks like parts of different displays are mixed together) and stuttering. (where the screen updates). at noticeably irregular intervals).
All the major companies have upped their flagship 1080p settings to 360Hz, but for many gamers they’re not essential – 240Hz at most should be fine for those rare occasions when you can get frame rates above 240fps. On cheaper gaming laptops, you’ll typically see refresh rates of 120Hz, 144Hz, and 165Hz, which should be enough if you have a low-end GPU that doesn’t go above 165fps.
Even if you don’t plan to play games with resolutions higher than 1080p, we suggest getting the highest resolution you can afford. Because on a larger 15- or 16-inch laptop screen, text and image edges may appear blurry at 1080p resolution, or 1,920 x 1,200 pixels on laptops with a 16:10 aspect ratio. . A Quad HD (QHD) resolution of 2,560×1,440 pixels (2,560×1,600 on a 16:10 display) will result in sharper text and images, and you can always choose to play at a lower resolution than the maximum.
The processor, also known as the CPU, is the brain of a laptop. Intel and AMD are the main CPU manufacturers for Windows laptops. Both offer an amazing selection of mobile processors. To complicate matters, both manufacturers have chips designed for different styles of laptops, such as power-saving chips for ultraportables or faster processors for gaming laptops. Their naming conventions will let you know which type is used. You can go to Intel either amd Websites for explanations so you get the performance you want. However, generally speaking, the faster the processor speed and the more cores it has, the better the performance.
The graphics processor, or GPU, handles all the work of controlling the screen and generating what is displayed, as well as speeding up many graphics-related (and increasingly, AI-related) operations. For Windows laptops, there are two types of GPUs: integrated (iGPU) or discrete (dGPU). As the names imply, an iGPU is part of the CPU package, while a dGPU is a separate chip with dedicated memory (VRAM) that it communicates directly with, making it faster than sharing memory with the CPU. All gaming laptops will feature a dGPU from Nvidia or AMD. Nvidia is the more popular of the two. For budget gaming laptops, you’ll see many models with the entry-level RTX 4050 GPU or upgraded RTX 4060 GPU, as well as older models with older-generation RTX 3050 or 3060 GPUs.
For memory, we highly recommend 16GB of RAM, with 8GB being the absolute minimum. RAM is where the operating system stores all data for currently running applications and can fill up quickly. After that, it starts switching between RAM and SSD, which is slower. Additionally, many laptops now have the memory soldered to the motherboard. Most manufacturers disclose this, but if the RAM type is LPDDR, assume it is soldered and cannot be upgraded.
However, some PC manufacturers will solder the memory and also leave an empty internal slot to add a RAM drive. You may need to contact the laptop manufacturer or search for the laptop’s full specifications online to confirm. And check the web for user experiences, because the slot may still be difficult to access, may require non-standard or hard-to-get memory, or other inconveniences, including voiding your warranty.
You’ll still find cheaper hard drives in budget laptops and larger hard drives in gaming laptops, but faster solid-state drives have all but replaced hard drives in laptops. They can make a big difference in performance. For a gaming laptop, we don’t recommend using less than a 512GB SSD unless you really like uninstalling games every time you want to play a new one.