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Best Cheap Gaming Laptops (2022)

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Portable gaming is, at last, a reality, and it doesn’t necessarily have to cost a kidney. Thanks to the latest CPUs and GPUs from manufacturers, you can have near desktop-level gaming performance.

Because the fact is that due to fierce competition between hardware manufacturers this time around, you can actually grab an affordable gaming laptop with the latest hardware (albeit not the high-end flagships) and enough future-proofing to last you years.

People often get intimidated by the sea of choices in front of them whenever they hunt for a gaming laptop. Many brands are marketing their laptops with unreal gimmicks and whatnot.

But the critical thing to remember when shopping for a laptop under budget is to go for the one with the hardware to deliver maximum gaming performance. We don’t want to waste our budget on gimmicks and premium features we don’t really need.

So, in this article, we’ll make it easy for you by reviewing some of the best choices in budget gaming laptops. This will help you choose just the right laptop you need gaming needs without breaking the bank. So, let’s dive in.

Best Cheap Gaming Laptops– Comparison Table

ImageProductDetailsCheck Price
HP OMEN Gaming Laptop on Amazon
HP OMEN Gaming Laptop CPU: AMD Ryzen 5 5600H
GPU: Nvidia GeForce RTX 3060
Screen Refresh Rate: 144Hz
Screen Resolution: 1920 x 1080
Screen Size: 15.6-inch
RAM: 32 GB DDR4
Storage: 1 TB SSD
Connectivity:
1 x 3.5mm Combo Jack,
1 x HDMI 2.1,
1 x Mini DisplayPort,
1 x SuperSpeed USB-C 3.0,
3 x SuperSpeed USB 3.0 Type-A,
1 x RJ45 LAN port,
1 x Multi-format SD card reader
Buy on Amazon
Asus TUF Gaming F15 on Amazon
Asus TUF Gaming F15 CPU: Intel Core i7 12700H
GPU: Nvidia GeForce RTX 3060
Screen Refresh Rate: 300Hz
Screen Resolution: 1920 x 1080
Screen Size: 15.6-inch
RAM: 16 GB DDR5
Storage: 1TB NVMe SSD
Connectivity: 1x 3.5mm Combo Audio Jack,
1x HDMI 2.0b,
1x Thunderbolt 4,
1x USB 3.2 Gen 2
Buy on Amazon
Acer Nitro 5 on Amazon
Acer Nitro 5 CPU: Intel Core i5 12500H
GPU: Nvidia GeForce RTX 3060
Screen Refresh Rate: 144Hz
Screen Resolution: 1920 x 1080
Screen Size: 15.6-inch
RAM: 16 GB DDR4
Storage: 512 GB SSD
Connectivity:
1 x HDMI 2.1,
1 x USB 3.2 Gen 2 Type-C (with DisplayPort and Thunderbolt 4 support),
2 x USB 3.2 Gen 2 Type-A,
1 x USB 3.2 Gen 1 Type-A,
1 x Headphone Jack,
1 x RJ45 LAN port
Buy on Amazon
Gigabyte AORUS 15 XE4 on Amazon
Gigabyte AORUS 15 XE4 CPU: Intel Core i7 12700H
GPU: Nvidia GeForce RTX 3070ti
Screen Refresh Rate: 165Hz
Screen Resolution: 2560 x 1440
Screen Size: 15.6-inch
RAM: 16 GB DDR4
Storage: 1TB SSD
Connectivity:
1 x Thunderbolt 4,
1 x HDMI 2.1,
1 x USB 3.2 Gen1 (Type-C with DP),
1 x USB 3.2 Gen1 Type-A,
1 x RJ45 LAN,
1 x Audio Combo Jack
Buy on Amazon
MSI Pulse GL66 on Amazon
MSI Pulse GL66 CPU: Intel Core i7 12700H
GPU: Nvidia GeForce RTX 3070
Screen Refresh Rate: 144Hz
Screen Resolution: 1920 x 1080
Screen Size: 15.6-inch
RAM: 16 GB DDR4
Storage: 512 GB SSD
Connectivity:
2 x USB 3.2 Gen 1 Type-A,
1 x USB 2.0 Type-A,
1 x HDMI 2.0,
1 x USB 3.2 Gen 1 Type-C,
1 x Audio Combo Jack,
1 x RJ45 LAN
Buy on Amazon
Lenovo Legion 5 Pro on Amazon
Lenovo Legion 5 Pro CPU: AMD Ryzen 7 5800H
GPU: Nvidia GeForce RTX 3070
Screen Refresh Rate: 165Hz
Screen Resolution: 2560 x 1600
Screen Size: 16-inch
RAM: 16 GB DDR4
Storage: 1TB SSD
Connectivity:
2 x USB 3.2 Gen 2 Type-C (With DisplayPort 1.4 and Power Delivery),
1 x Audio Combo Jack,
4 x USB 3.2 Gen 1 Type-A,
1 x HDMI 2.1,
1 x RJ45 LAN
Buy on Amazon
MSI Katana GF66 on Amazon
MSI Katana GF66 CPU: Intel Core i7 11800H
GPU: Nvidia GeForce RTX 3050ti
Screen Refresh Rate: 144Hz
Screen Resolution: 1920 x 1080
Screen Size: 15.6-inch
RAM: 16 GB DDR4
Storage: 512 GB SSD
Connectivity:
2 x USB 3.2 Gen 1 Type-A,
1 x USB 2.0 Type-A,
1 x USB 3.2 Gen 1 Type-C,
1 x HDMI 2.0,
1 x RJ45 LAN,
1 x Audio Combo Jack
Buy on Amazon
Dell G15 5520 on Amazon
Dell G15 5520 CPU: Intel Core i5 12500H
GPU: Nvidia GeForce RTX 3050
Screen Refresh Rate: 120Hz
Screen Resolution: 1920 x 1080
Screen Size: 15.6-inch
RAM: 8 GB DDR5
Storage: 512 GB SSD
Connectivity:
3 x USB 3.2 Gen 1 Type-A,
1 x USB 3.2 Gen 1 Type-C (With DisplayPort),
1 x HDMI 2.1,
1 x RJ45 LAN,
1 x Audio Combo Jack
Buy on Amazon

1. HP OMEN Gaming Laptop – Our Top Pick

When it comes to sheer price to performance value, it is hard to go against the HP Omen 15-inch.

Considering its cost, the raw performance it puts out is immense. Equipped with a six-core 12-thread Ryzen 5 5600H CPU, an RTX 3060 GPU, and a 144Hz, 15.6-inches FHD panel, makes this a go-to budget pick for gamers looking to play at comfortable frame rates at 1080p.

You’ve got a massive 32 GB of DDR4 RAM clocked at 3200Mhz. Paired with such massive RAM is ample storage of 1TB NVMe SSD.

When we talk about the chassis and the overall build quality, you can quickly notice that HP went with a sleek and minimal look (mostly to cut costs). The weight of this laptop is 5.4 lbs., which is expected of a thick gaming machine. The overall build quality is stiff, even though its frame is almost all plastic. But due to being in a slightly compact chassis, it can get toasty when the CPU and GPU are under load.

But HP also gives you a decent selection of ports in that chassis. Starting with external video output, you have 1 x HDMI 2.1 and a Mini DisplayPort. For I/O, you get 1 x USB Type-C with superspeed, 3 x USB 3.0 Superspeed Type-A, and an SD card slot.

Regarding networking, you have Intel WIFI 6 on board and a Gigabit LAN RJ45 port.

Overall, a laptop with the most value with an affordable price tag.

Our Take

If you’re out to find yourself a performant yet affordable 1080p gaming laptop, look no further. The HP Omen delivers more than any competitor at this price, whether it’s raw GPU performance, RAM capacity, or storage. But you might have face overheating a little.

PROS
  • Lots of RAM
  • Affordable than competitors
  • Surprisingly stiff build quality
CONS
  • Overheats a little under heavy load

2. Asus TUF Gaming F15 – Alternative with More Powerful CPU

The Asus TUF F15 gaming laptops come from their TUF gaming lineup and are every bit focused on delivering a fantastic gaming experience.

It’s packed with the latest Intel Core i7 12700H 14-core CPU and an RTX 3060 GPU with a MUX switch to bring maximum FPS in 1080p.

Due to being on Intel 12th gen, the RAM is DDR5 with an excellent 16GB capacity. In terms of storage, you have a decent 1TB NVMe SSD installed for ample storage space.

What’s really intriguing about this laptop is the unreal 300Hz refresh rate of its FHD IPS panel. That destroys every other pick on the list for raw refresh rates.

In terms of I/O, there’s nothing to write home about, and everything is pretty standard. Except for the Thunderbolt 4 type-C port.

If you need more GPU power in the future, you have the option of using a Thunderbolt GPU Enclosure paired with a desktop GPU.

Asus added some significant build quality improvements over last year’s model, and it’s pretty stiff. But there’s one caveat in the design. The central fans for the CPU and GPU cooling are in the beneath section of the laptop.

So, when on a flat desk, the fans will have a hard time keeping the chips cool; hence they’ll run at max speeds that’ll generate colossal noise, especially while in turbo mode.

Even though the Intel 12th gen packs some serious punch, it eats away battery fast. Despite having a 90-watt battery, the laptop doesn’t last long compared to the competition.

Our Take

The Asus TUF F15 packs incredible CPU power and a capable GPU to remove any limits in terms of FHD gaming. That is if you can handle the helicopter-like fan noise of this thing.

PROS
  • Incredible refresh rate
  • Thunderbolt 4 can use an eGPU
  • Lots of CPU horsepower
CONS
  • Low battery life
  • Loud fans when under heavy load

3. Acer Nitro 5 – Great Value for Money

The Acer Nitro 5 gaming laptop offers a great deal for its cost.

In terms of raw power, the laptop packs a strong punch. Equipped with an Intel Core i5 12500H CPU, Nvidia RTX 3060, 16GB DDR4 RAM, 512GB SSD(with an additional upgrade slot), and 144Hz FHD IPS panel. Those are some solid numbers.

But some of you might think low of the Core i5 CPU. Get this straight into your mind that Core i5 isn’t a low-end CPU anymore. It’s offering 12 total cores (4 P-cores and 8 E-cores) for 16 threads at a 4.50 GHz turbo clock speed.

You get a minimal design language of Acer in a chassis with an optimal cooling solution. And that’s a plus point if you ask me. Gaming laptops don’t have to show aggressive colors to become better at gaming. Most people prefer a minimal and elegant look.

But the stiffness is lacking a little as with some force; you can see a noticeable flex in the chassis.

With a decent array of specs, you get upwards of 60 FPS in games at 1080p with mid-to-high settings.

In terms of ports, you have many of them, including the latest HDMI 2.1, USB 3.2 Gen 2 in both type-C and Type A, and Thunderbolt 4 support. Plus, there’s a headphone/mic combo jack and a LAN port.

Our Take

The Acer Nitro 5 delivers a decent CPU and a 1080p sweet spot GPU for true budget gaming joy. But you’ll not see a pretty sturdy build quality.

PROS
  • Affordable than competitors
  • Elegant and minimal looks
  • A robust selection of ports
CONS
  • Sub-par build quality

4. Gigabyte AORUS 15 XE4 – An Absolute Budget Powerhouse

The Gigabyte Aorus 15 XE4 is a powerful gaming laptop that prioritizes providing as much power as it can provide to consumers. Starting things off, for Processor, you have an Intel Core i7 12700H 14 Core 20 Thread CPU and a powerful Nvidia RTX 3070ti.

For the screen, you get a QHD IPS Anti-glare panel (cause why not) with a 165Hz refresh rate in a slim bezel frame. So, it is clear that Gigabyte made sure you can enjoy the raw power pumped out by your CPU and GPU on an excellent screen.

In terms of RAM and Storage, Gigabyte has hooked you up with 16GB of DDR4 RAM and 1 TB of fast NVMe SSD (Both are upgradeable).

This laptop is equipped with a massive 99Wh Li-Polymer battery, which is the maximum you can carry on a Plane with you.

In terms of I/O, there’s nothing too flashy here. Pretty standard selection with 1 x Thunderbolt 4 Type-C, an HDMI 2.1, 1x USB 3.2 Gen1 (Type-C with DP), 1x USB 3.2 Gen1 Type-A, a LAN port, and an Audio Combo Jack. The thing to criticize here is only one Type-A port.

Another caveat we’d like to mention is the lack of a MUX-Switch because when you have hardware like this, you want to squeeze out every last bit of your graphical performance.

Our Take

The Gigabyte 15 XE4 is the absolute pinnacle of performance you can get without spending a disgusting amount of money. It delivers more powerful hardware than any competitor at this price point to make it the ultimate (somewhat) budget-friendly gaming laptop.

PROS
  • A monstrous Core i7 and RTX 3070ti combination
  • Sharp visuals with a 1440p panel
  • Good battery life for a gaming laptop
CONS
  • No MUX-Switch
  • Only one USB-Type A port

5. MSI Pulse GL66 – Great Alternative to Gigabyte

MSI Pulse GL66 is an excellent alternative to the Gigabyte Aorus laptop. It’s equipped with almost the same hardware and offers pretty competitive gaming performance to that laptop.

It’s got an Intel 12700H and an RTX 3070 GPU, and a 1080p 144Hz IPS panel. And there’s the difference from the Gigabyte XE4. Instead of a 1440p screen, MSI went with 1080p. Honestly speaking, it’s a pretty smart move by MSI. With this config, you can get more FPS than a QHD panel and gain a competitive edge in gaming. Plus, this makes this laptop cost a little less.

Regarding RAM and storage, there are 16GB of DDR4 and 512 GB of NVMe storage. That’s another difference here. And this one is possibly a bad one. 512GB of storage can be a little challenging for avid gamers to manage as you can’t load up more than 3 or 4 AAA games in the system. But you can always upgrade it when you need to in the future.

The design language of this laptop is pretty sturdy, and it also delivers that gamer vibe from the exterior looks.

What’s sad about this thing is the battery life. It drains out rapidly even when it’s not under full load. So, you might need to pull in the charger a lot.

Our Take

The MSI Pulse GL66 is an absolute choice for those who want a competitive edge in 1080p high FPS gaming and the power of the latest hardware. It’s also got a pretty eye-catching design that gamers will love. But the battery life of this thing isn’t something to like.

PROS
  • Powerful build and impressive looks
  • Incredible performance at 1080p
  • Equipped with the latest hardware
CONS
  • Rapid battery draining
  • Modest Storage capacity

6. Lenovo Legion 5 Pro – Ryzen Alternative to MSI

If you don’t like Intel Laptops for some fair reasons(higher power draw and more heat), this can be a powerful pick for you.

The Lenovo Legion 5 Pro comes with an AMD Ryzen 7 5800H 8-core CPU and RTX 3070 GPU. So, there’s big gaming muscle here too. There’s 16GB DDR4 RAM and a 1TB SSD for storage. That’s pretty ample.

On the screen side, there’s the remarkable 1440p, 165Hz IPS panel with Nvidia G-Sync. This makes this laptop’s screen more potent than any other on the list.

And due to having a Ryzen CPU, which does not chew up battery like Intel processors, it’s got a decent 8 hours of battery life.

In terms of its chassis, the build quality is excellent, as you’d expect from Lenovo. But the design looks incredibly dull. To add insult to injury, the weight of this thing is also heavier than competitors.

Aside from all the raw power that his laptop has, there’s also an incredible level of I/O. For starters, we have 2 x USB 3.2 Gen 2 Type-C, an Audio Combo Jack, 4 x USB 3.2 Gen 1 Type-A (now we’re talking), an HDMI 2.1, and an ethernet port.

Our Take

The Legion 5 pro from Lenovo is a powerful machine for a budget laptop. It delivers the best possible screen in this segment and lots of I/O. But, the design and weight of this thing might not be appealing.

PROS
  • Pure gaming fidelity with 1440p and G-Sync
  • Incredible amounts of connectivity
  • Excellent battery life for a gaming laptop
CONS
  • Dull Design
  • It’s a heavy boy

7. MSI Katana GF66 – A solid Mid-Ranger

Here we have another laptop from MSI. This time, a generation older but still a capable enough machine to satisfy at 1080p.

Kicking things off for the hardware, here we have an Intel Core i7 11800H CPU paired with the Nvidia RTX 3050ti, which is a pretty optimized combination if you ask us.

That output is seen on an FHD, 144Hz IPS panel with a 15.6-inch size. You get the generic 16GB RAM and 512GB SSD for now.

That 3050ti will do remarkably well in almost games at 1080p, and turning DLSS on can also boost up frame rates by nearly two times the number.

As far as looks go, it looks nice and minimal, but it’s mostly made out of plastic which is a way to cut costs.

Aside from everything, the battery life is shockingly low. Even though it’s not loaded with the highest-end hardware, it still eats battery much quicker than the competition.

Our Take

The MSI Katana GF66 is an incredible bang for the back regarding raw performance. It loaded up enough to deliver vivid 1080p gaming sessions without any trouble. But you might need the charger more often than expected.

PROS
  • Aggressively priced from the competition
  • Solid 1080p gaming
  • Vivid and smooth display
CONS
  • Battery drains quickly
  • Not a strong body

8. Dell G15 5520 – A Cheap Future-Proof Option

Dell isn’t a newbie to the gaming market. Nor is their G-series of gaming laptops.

The Dell G15 5520 offers the latest Intel i5 12500H, an RTX 3050 GPU, and a 1080p 120Hz screen. Even though the refresh rate isn’t relatively that high, it’s right where it needs to be for this configuration of CPU and GPU. I mean, you can’t go 165Hz with an RTX 3050.

The RAM is slightly underwhelming at just 8GB, but it’s DDR5. Then again, DDR4 to DDR5 isn’t even a noticeable difference in performance. However, Dell is the company that consistently gives room for upgradability so you can increase the RAM in the future.

The same goes for the modest 512GB of SSD. But you can upgrade the SSD in the future.

The build quality and design are right on point with this laptop. There’s a decent selection for ports and I/O, including USB type-C and multiple USB Type-A.

Our Take

Overall, a pretty future-proof yet budget-friendly laptop in terms of CPU and GPU. But the RAM and Storage will certainly need upgrading in the coming days.

PROS
  • Intel 12th Gen CPU with 12 cores
  • Decent ports selection
  • Impressive build quality
CONS
  • Modest RAM and Storage capacities

Choosing the Best Budget Gaming Laptop – Buying Guide

When you have a limited budget but still want to pick up a gaming laptop that can deliver enjoyable frame rates in your favorite AAA titles, you need to keep some key points in mind.

  • Look for the maximum CPU, GPU, and Screen horsepower you can get under your budget.
  • Be modest in terms of RAM and Storage capacity as these can be upgraded in the future.
  • Ignore the gimmicks and premium features that contribute to the laptop’s gaming performance.

That said, let’s look deeply at what you want to have precisely for each part.

CPU

The Processor plays a massive role in gaming performance alongside your GPU. But the fact is that as much tempted as you’d be to have a laptop with 14 freaking cores, it’s utterly unnecessary for gamers.

For now, and for the foreseeable future, PC games won’t require more than eight cores in a CPU.

An Intel Core i5 from 11th or even 12th gen or on AMD’s side, the Ryzen 5 5600H and the Ryzen 7 5800H are all you need for satisfying 1080p gaming fidelity.

GPU

As modern AAA games are becoming more graphically demanding, it should be no surprise that the GPU has become the single most crucial part of gaming.

We’d say go for the highest possible config you can afford in this category because this will directly impact your in-game performance.

In our budget category, examples of good future-proof GPUs would be anything from the RTX 3050 to even an RTX 3070.

Unfortunately, there aren’t many AMD Radeon options in the budget machines.

Laptop Screen

We can’t forget this part because we need to feed our eyes with the absolute bliss the CPU and GPU can muster in games. In this sense, the screen becomes just as crucial as the GPU.

There are three significant factors to discuss in the laptop screen; the resolution, the refresh rate, and the response times.

As for resolution, 4k is impossible here, period. 1440p is a rare case. So that leaves us with the most viable option, 1080p. In a laptop screen, it’ll be sharp enough to heave pleasure in gaming.

The refresh rate will decide how much FPS can gain, so keep a keen eye on this. In our price-point, upwards of 120Hz and mostly 144Hz are seen. Any higher than that is extremely rare and stretches the boundaries of what we call budget-friendly.

As IPS panels are Norm, the response times will be relatively quick, but just not the fastest.

RAM

Games are becoming more intense, and more resources must be loaded into memory.

Considering that 8GB is the absolute minimum, we recommend having around 16GB for max performance. So don’t rush to the maximum capacity possible.

Most brands would also allow you to upgrade this feature in the future.

As for DDR4 vs. DDR5, the simple answer is it doesn’t matter. DDR5, at most, will get five more FPS, but this will cost almost a hundred dollars more than DDR4. So, for now, DDR4 is good.
Just make sure you’re taking advantage of the Dual Channel bandwidth by using two sticks of RAM.

Storage

Just like RAM, if you have to compromise on the capacity for, let’s say, a better GPU, then do it because you can also upgrade it(in most cases) in the future when you desire more and have the cash for it.

Always prioritize a laptop with an NVMe SSD because that will speed up game loading times, your Windows booting times, and your overall system performance.

512GB is what you’ll often get under this price segment. It’s not much, but manageable if you don’t cram half a dozen games at once in it. But, remember, you can buy a high-capacity drive for less than what OEMs offer and easily upgrade the storage.

Best Cheap Gaming laptops – Frequently Asked Questions

Do we need the latest gen CPUs?

Not quite. Even though the Intel 12th is impressive, the previous 11th gen is still an excellent choice for gaming laptops. As for the AMD 6000 series, it hasn’t entirely made its way into budget laptops. But same here. The 5000 Ryzen processors are still pretty strong. Most of the games will be limited by our GPU’s max performance before being bottlenecked by the CPU.

Is 1080p good enough for a gaming laptop?

For a laptop screen of 15-17″, 1080p is a good resolution. The screen is not large enough to notice major improvements in image quality offered by 1440p, but you will notice the better frames at 1080p.

Does more RAM increase performance?

Not really. You see, games can only use so much RAM. Most games max at 16GB today, and others are not even reaching that mark. So, after 16GB, it’s challenging to get any improvement in games by increasing the memory.

You do get better performance from using two RAM sticks instead of one, taking advantage of the dual channel bandwidth.

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