Great gaming laptops don’t have to be expensive. Whether you have a tight budget or you just can’t bear to spend thousands of dollars, there are a plethora of budget gaming laptops that will suit your needs.
Editor’s note: Each device here comes in at around $1,000 or less, features a 15.6-inch display, and is listed in no particular order. Each of these stands for a good deal that we’ve investigated, with some brand new deals, renewed options, and older laptops that still hold up. We’ll add more cheap gaming laptops to this list as new machines are released or updated with tweaks.
Best cheap gaming laptops:
1. HP Omen 15
Both Micro Center and Amazon feature $1,000 or so variants of the HP Omen 15, one of the best cheap gaming laptops you can buy. The Omen 15 was already an amazing laptop, but for around $1,000, this thing is a steal.
The Amazon variant sports a 15.6-inch 1080p 60Hz display, Intel’s latest tenth-generation i7 CPU, and Nvidia’s GeForce GTX 1650 Ti GPU. The RAM and storage are upgradeable, and this model comes with 8GB of RAM, and a 512GB SSD. We recommend a RAM upgrade as your first move!
Over at Micro Center, you get a better device with some tweaks that just tip it over $1,000. You keep the latest Intel tenth-generation i7 CPU, but you get a slightly better Nvidia GeForce GTX 1660 Ti GPU, and 16GB RAM, and keep the same 512GB SSD storage option. Better GPU, more RAM, and only for about $100 more. The RAM upgrade alone is worth the extra cost.
The Omen 15 was already an amazing laptop, but for around $1,000, this thing is a steal.
Like all of the devices on this list, the battery life isn’t amazing if you’re gaming while unplugged, but the 70WHr 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. 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, newer Intel ninth-generation i5 CPU, and Nvidia’s GeForce GTX 1050 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 8GB of RAM and a 256TB SDD, both of which are upgradable. The switch to SDD is going to make a big difference over older generation HP Pavilion gaming laptop. The 52WHr battery isn’t terrible, but definitely 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.
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 definitely 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. But, 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.
The FX505 has quite the competitive advantage.
Instead of an Intel CPU, Asus added the AMD Ryzen 5 3550h CPU to this device. Alongside that, they 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 interesting 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 definitely the corner Asus decided to cut when the developed the FX505! You will probably just want to leave it plugged for anything other than short gaming sessions.
Other than that, the device is amazing for what you are paying. It looks good, has great performance, and the 120Hz display is the icing on the cake. This is getting harder to find in 2020, but the 120Hz element arguably makes it better than some 2020 version of this laptop we’ve seen which trade the 120Hz display back to 60Hz, and run you $500 more.
4. MSI GF63 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 GF63 Thin. You would never guess that it was a budget gaming laptop! It’s sleek, the bezels are incredibly thin (hence the name), and it comes in at an unbelievable $899.
Just by looking at the GF63, you would never guess that it was a budget gaming laptop.
The device features a 15.6-inch 1080p 60Hz matte display, Intel’s ninth-generation i5-9300H CPU, and Nvidia’s GeForce GTX 1650 Max-Q 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 from 2019’s model is the switch from the eighth to ninth-generation Intel CPU, which will improve performance and efficiency.
The 51WHr battery is decent, and the device includes 8GB of RAM and a 256GB NVMe SSD out of the box. Though the NVMe SSD is a nice touch, it’s really unfortunate that it’s so small. Thankfully, 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 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 laptop 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 i7 CPU, and (up to) Nvidia’s GeForce GTX 1650 GPU. The upgradable 8GB of RAM, and 256GB SSD, plus 1TB HDD in some models, are suitable for most gaming situations, even if the 45WHr battery falls a little short.
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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 the outstanding performance, and you have one of the best budget options for work and play.
Note: In 2020, 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 Y540
The Lenovo Legion Y540 is one of the best cheap gaming laptops you can buy. They have some of the thinnest bezels in their category, and the design is both unique and professional. In 2020, the very latest Y540 is a great choice, but it’s hovering at around the $1200 mark at the moment.
The Lenovo Legion Y540 is one of the best-looking gaming laptops on the market.
The late-2019 edition of the Legion Y540 is still fantastic and it’s closer to $999. It comes with Intel’s ninth-generation i7 CPU, Nvidia’s GeForce GTX 1660 Ti, 16GB of RAM, and a 256GB NVMe SSD. You get a Full HD 15.6-inch display with a 144Hz 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 Y540 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.
The Acer Nitro 5 is a great budget-friendly laptop.
In 2020, it features a 15.6-inch 1080p display, a ninth-generation i5 CPU, and a GeForce GTX 1050 Ti GPU. It comes pre-configured with 8GB of RAM and this model has a 1TB HDD, but it features extra 2.5-inch and NVMe drive slots for expandable storage, plus there are other models with SSD for roughly the same price. 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 as well.
If you want to spend close to $1,000, then the Acer Nitro 7 is a great option. But for those of you that 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 isn’t lacking 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 120Hz display — an upgrade from the typical 60Hz displays. It comes with the 9th Gen Intel i5 CPU, a GeForce GTX 1650 GPU, and 8GB of RAM. It also features a 512GB NVMe SSD and 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 RGB light strip surrounding the base. Like so 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 just isn’t enough to power this hardware for long. Still, it’s better than a lot of the competition.
Looking at the Asus ROG Strix G, it’s really hard 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 it’s 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 when 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 2020. We’ll add more laptops to this list as new hardware comes to market.