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The best cheap gaming laptops to buy in 2021
Great gaming laptops don’t have to be expensive. Whether you have a tight budget or you can’t bear to spend thousands of dollars, there are a plethora of budget gaming laptops that will suit your needs.
Each device here comes in at around $1,000 or less, features a 15.6-inch or 17.3-inch display, and is listed in no particular order. We’ve chosen some brand new deals, renewed options, and older laptops that still hold up.
Best cheap gaming laptops:
Editor’s note: We’ll add and remove cheap gaming laptops to this list as new machines are released or updated with tweaks.
1. HP Omen 15
Though you can still track it down, it’s becoming quite challenging to find an HP Omen 15 for under $1,000. Luckily, we’ve managed to do so from Amazon, and it’s even the 2020 refreshed version.
HP typically lists the Omen 15 at just over $1,000, but the machine is on sale right now and just barely makes weight. You get the powerful AMD Ryzen 7 4800H CPU, and you get an Nvidia GeForce GTX 1660 GPU, 8GB RAM, and 512GB SSD storage option.
The Omen 15 was already an amazing laptop, but for under $1,000, this thing is a steal.
Like all of the devices on this list, the battery life isn’t terrific if you’re gaming while unplugged, but the 70.9WHr battery makes it one of the better options. It also features plenty of ports, including an HDMI port, an audio jack, a mini display port, an ethernet port, three USB-A 3.1 ports, one USB-C Thunderbolt 3 compatible port, and an SD card reader.
It also features Bang & Olufsen speakers, so sans-headphones media consumption is pleasurable; more than a lot of the competition can say! If you are in the market for a budget gaming laptop, then you need to check out the options on the HP Omen 15.
2. HP Pavilion Gaming Laptop
The next budget gaming laptop we have on this list is the HP Pavilion Gaming Laptop. HP punches well above its weight with this beast, and we’ve updated this listing to the latest model, which starts at around $800.
For that money, you get a 15.6-inch 1080p 60Hz display, a newer Intel ninth-generation i5 CPU, and Nvidia’s GeForce GTX 1650 GPU. You also get a USB-C port (not Thunderbolt 3), three USB-A 3.1 ports, an HDMI port, an ethernet port, and an audio jack.
HP punches well above its weight with this device.
The laptop has 12GB of RAM and a 512GB SDD, both of which are upgradable. The switch to SDD will make a big difference over the older generation HP Pavilion gaming laptop. The 52WHr battery isn’t terrible but leaves something to be desired. Still, if you step back and look at the whole picture, you are definitely getting your money’s worth with this one.
See also: The best HP computers you can get
It’s sturdy, the green accents aren’t overwhelming, and like the previously mentioned HP Omen 15, this budget gaming laptop rocks Bang & Olufsen speakers. You should consider the HP Pavilion Gaming Laptop when you go shopping for your next gaming laptop.
3. Asus TUF FX505
Like the last two cheap gaming laptops, the Asus TUF FX505 features a 15.6-inch 1080p display. Instead of a 60Hz display, Asus managed to add a 120Hz display to this $900 machine, giving it quite the competitive advantage. Asus also added an ethernet port, an HDMI port, one 2.0 and two 3.0 USB-A ports, and an audio jack.
Instead of an Intel CPU, Asus added the AMD Ryzen 5 3550h CPU to this device. They also threw in Nvidia’s GeForce GTX 1650 GPU, 8GB of RAM, and a 256GB NVMe SSD, plus 1TB HDD. The RAM is further upgradable, too, but 8GB of RAM will be fine for gaming. One more exciting thing, this laptop offers MIL-STD-810G compliance, which is a standard for toughness and means it’ll survive a drop, fall, or harsh conditions. That’s not the standard and goes with the ‘TUF’ branding.
You get quite a bit for your money with this device. The only real downside is the battery life (again). Sometimes, corners need to be cut when manufacturers design budget offerings. The 48WHr battery is, unfortunately, the corner Asus decided to cut when they developed the FX505. You will probably want to leave it plugged for anything other than short gaming sessions.
Other than that, the device is impressive for what you are paying. It looks good, has excellent performance, and the 120Hz display is the icing on the cake. This machine is getting harder to find in 2021, but the 120Hz element arguably makes it better than some 2020 versions of this laptop we’ve seen, which trades the 120Hz display back to 60Hz and runs you $500 more.
4. MSI GF75 Thin
MSI is known for being one of the best PC gaming companies in the world. It becomes very apparent why the moment you look at the 2020 version of the MSI GF75 Thin. You would never guess that it was a budget gaming laptop! It’s sleek, the bezels are skinny (hence the name), and it comes in at an unbelievable $800.
Just by looking at the GF75, you would never guess that it was a budget gaming laptop.
The device features a 17.3-inch 1080p 120Hz matte display, Intel’s tenth-generation i5-10300H CPU, and Nvidia’s GeForce GTX 1650 GPU. It also has three USB-A 3.0 ports, a USB-C port (not Thunderbolt 3), separate headphone and microphone jacks, an HDMI port, and an ethernet port, plus extra cooling and heat pipes. The major upgrade is switching from the eighth to the tenth-generation Intel CPU, which will improve performance and efficiency.
The 51WHr battery is decent, and the device includes 8GB of RAM and a 512GB NVMe SSD out of the box. Even better, this is upgradable, and there is an extra 2.5-inch drive bay if you want to add even more storage later. Personally, I would also pick up the Samsung 860 QVO 1TB SSD or something similar. Even with that extra $100, you keep just within the budget territory.
5. Lenovo Ideapad L340 Gaming
Sitting just below the $1,000 mark, the Lenovo Ideapad L340 is a budget gaming laptop in disguise. The blue backlighting is instantly eye-catching. Pair that with an appropriately understated chassis, and Lenovo has designed a computer that I would be comfortable bringing to a meeting without everyone thinking that I pwn noobs in Call of Duty.
The Lenovo Ideapad L340 is a budget gaming laptop in disguise.
The L340 features a 15.6-inch 1080p display, Intel’s ninth-gen i5 CPU, and (up to) Nvidia’s GeForce GTX 1650 GPU. The upgradable 8GB of RAM and 512GB SSD, plus 1TB HDD in some models, are suitable for most gaming situations, even if the 45WHr battery falls a little short.
Read also: The best Chromebook deals
The laptop sports an HDMI port, an ethernet port, two USB-A 3.0 ports, an audio jack, and a USB-C port (not Thunderbolt 3). The Lenovo Ideapad L340 is one of the most professional-looking budget gaming laptops, even if a little generic. Pair that with outstanding performance, and you have one of the best budget options for work and play.
Note: In 2021, we are seeing tighter availability of this particular device, but the L340 series remains super popular and has options at under $1,000.
6. Lenovo Legion 5
The Lenovo Legion 5 is one of the best cheap gaming laptops you can buy. It has some of the thinnest bezels in its category, and the design is both unique and professional. In 2020, the very latest Legion 5 is a great choice, and it’s hovering right at the $1,000 threshold at the moment.
The Lenovo Legion 5 is one of the best-looking gaming laptops on the market.
It comes with AMD’s Ryzen 5 4600H CPU, Nvidia’s GeForce GTX 1650, 8GB of RAM, and a 1TB NVMe SSD. You get a Full HD 15.6-inch display with a 120Hz refresh rate. It also has a decent selection of ports, including an audio jack, a USB-C port (not Thunderbolt 3), three USB-A 3 ports, an HDMI port, an ethernet port, and a mini display port. The display itself is quality, too.
All in all, the Lenovo Legion 5 is one of the best-looking gaming laptops on the market. It doesn’t try to be something it’s not, and it knocks performance out of the park at its price point.
7. Acer Nitro 5
Acer’s Nitro 5 and Nitro 7 are both respectable mid-tear gaming machines. The Nitro 7 is a solid laptop, but the Nitro 5 offers better cost-to-performance at its price point.
In 2021, it features a 15.6-inch 1080p display, a tenth-generation i5 CPU, and a GeForce GTX 1650 Ti GPU. It comes pre-configured with 8GB of RAM, and this model has a 256GB NVMe SDD, but it features extra 2.5-inch and NVMe drive slots for expandable storage. The Nitro 5 also features an HDMI port, three USB-A ports, a USB-C port (not Thunderbolt 3), an SD card reader, an audio jack, and an ethernet port. In that regard, the update in 2020 is mostly just Intel CPU-related, which will help efficiency and performance.
The slightly upgraded Acer Nitro 7 features an all-metal chassis compared to the Nitro 5’s plastic body. The Nitro 7 also has a far more color-accurate screen than the Nitro 5, making it a better choice for people who want to use it for content creation.
If you want to eclipse $1,000, then the Acer Nitro 7 is a great option. For those of you who don’t mind the lower-quality screen and plastic build, then the Acer Nitro 5 is a great budget-friendly laptop.
8. Asus ROG Strix G
The last cheap gaming laptop on this list is the Asus ROG Strix G, which surprised me the most. It’s slim, full of features, and it doesn’t lack in performance.
The ROG Strix G is one of the single best budget gaming laptops you can buy.
At just under $900, the ROG Strix G features a 15.6-inch 1080p 60Hz display. It comes with the 9th Gen Intel i7 CPU, a GeForce GTX 1650 GPU, and 8GB of RAM. It also features a 512GB NVMe SSD and an extra 2.5-inch drive slot for upgradability.
This laptop also features three USB-A 3.1 ports, a USB-C port (not Thunderbolt 3), an HDMI port, an ethernet port, and an audio jack. It also comes with a solid RGB keyboard and an RGB light strip surrounding the base. Like many budget gaming laptops that come before it, the ROG Strix G seems to fall short in battery life. Though it features a 66WHr battery, that isn’t enough to power this hardware for long. Still, it’s better than a lot of the competition.
See also: The best laptops you can buy in 2021
Looking at the Asus ROG Strix G, it’s tough not to recommend it. It’s one of the single best cheap gaming laptops you can buy, and in many cases, it’s better than several of its more expensive competitors.
Why you should consider open-box gaming laptops
Another option is to pick up a device with an open box. When customers return products or display models get taken down, retailers usually sell them at discounted prices. Companies like Amazon Renewed, Best Buy, Micro Center, and Newegg have a selection of open-box and refurbished devices that often get sold for hundreds of dollars off the sticker price.
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Sometimes you may have to physically pick these options up in-store, or they may have some minor wear and tear. But, if you keep your eye out, a well-placed deal can save you even more off of your budget gaming laptop or land you something more premium within your budget.
That’s it for our list of the best cheap gaming laptops to pick up in 2021. We’ll add more laptops to this list as new hardware comes to market.