Not everyone needs the latest high-end gaming laptop with top-of-the-line specifications. For those on a budget, there are plenty of affordable gaming laptops that can deliver decent performance in modern games. These machines are perfect for high school or college students who don't require the absolute best performance, as well as younger gamers who may not be ready for the responsibility of a premium, $2,000 notebook.
When it comes to the best budget gaming laptops, we're focusing on laptops under $1,000. In the past, finding a decent gaming option at this price range was challenging, but as PC prices have dropped, budget gaming laptops have become more accessible.
Stepping up to systems priced between $1,000 and $2,000 puts you in mid-range territory, which is beyond the scope of this guide. However, keep an eye out for sales that can bring those PCs below $1,000. For a general overview of what to look for in more expensive systems, refer to our guide to the best gaming laptops.
Budget gaming laptops are worth considering if you're looking to save money and have realistic expectations about what you can get in this price range. These laptops can be equipped with Intel and AMD's latest CPUs, although not their highest-end models. You can also expect entry-level GPUs like NVIDIA's RTX 3050. Many budget models come with 1080p screens running at 120Hz or higher.
However, some budget gaming laptops may compromise on specs like RAM and storage. We recommend getting at least 16GB of RAM and a 512GB SSD for a smooth gaming experience. Additionally, some cheap gaming laptops may have lower build quality, with more plastic than metal. Nevertheless, the recommended budget gaming laptops should still be sturdy enough to last a few years.
It's important to note that budget gaming laptops tend to be heavier and thicker than mid-range and premium models, and they usually have shorter battery life. These are trade-offs worth considering if you're looking to save money, as even the most expensive gaming laptops struggle with battery life.
One of the top recommendations for a budget gaming laptop under $1,000 is the Dell G15. Dell has been one of the pioneers in delivering decent gaming power in affordable systems, and the latest G15 continues that tradition.