Best Cheap Gaming Laptop Under $1000 for 2022
The best gaming laptops under $1,000 include branded models known for their high quality, so your hobby doesn’t have to cost an arm and a leg. That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t be careful when shopping, though. There are plenty of cheap gaming laptops you’ll want to avoid that aren’t known for their quality and longevity. It can be difficult to know which models are really good value. That’s why we’ve rounded up some of the best cheap gaming laptops under $1,000, with some models starting closer to $700.
This means you’re not limited to low-res gaming on cheap gaming laptops and can have an immersive experience playing games like Fortnite, Minecraft, Apex Legends, CS:GO, and PUBG. It still costs a pretty penny to get what’s considered an affordable gaming laptop, but thrifty gamers can save even more money if they shop around for the best cheap laptop deals on a refurbished option. or open box like AmazonMicro Center and woot.
Read more:How to buy a gaming laptop
The recommendations below are based on our reviews and tests. Our goal is to help you get your ideal gaming experience on a cheap laptop. And if you want to improve your gaming and working from home experience, you might want to look for inexpensive gaming hardware to help you do that. We’ll update this list of the best cheap gaming laptop options as we review new products. Plus, if you need help deciphering what specs to look for in a good, cheap gaming laptop, we’ve got some tips below.
Dell has streamlined its G-series gaming laptops from three models to one – and that’s for the best. Instead of having to decode the various features and quality differences between them, there’s only one chassis available with a variety of configurations with either an 11th Gen Intel processor or an AMD Ryzen 5000 H-series processor, although that these models start at over $1,000. All processors can be paired with up to 6GB of Nvidia GeForce RTX 3060, 8GB of DDR4 RAM or 16GB of DDR4 RAM and a 256GB SSD or a 512GB SSD. It’s basically a more economical version of those of its Alienware division, but still capable of playing the latest AAA titles. Prices have been rising and falling lately due to supply issues, so if you’re a player on a budget, you might have to wait to get the best deal. This gaming laptop has eight USB ports and the laptop comes in two colors.
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The Acer Nitro 5 is the best affordable gaming laptop available in 17.3 and 15.6 inch sizes. A cheap 17-inch gaming laptop is a rarity with entry-level gaming laptops; most gaming laptops under $1,000 have 15.6-inch screens, and Acer’s larger screen allows the gamer to sink in and get lost in the world of their chosen game. Unfortunately, larger screens currently cost just over $1,000. This inexpensive gaming laptop comes with an 11th Gen Intel Core processor with 8GB of RAM and 256GB of SSD.
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It’s the garish green backlit keyboard that really shows that HP’s 15.6-inch Pavilion Gaming laptop isn’t just a normal mid-size laptop. Sure, there are fairly large rear fan vents, but otherwise the chassis is pretty tame and all black save for a slight green tint to the HP logo on the lid. Inside the gaming laptop is an excellent mix of components that are equally suited to gaming and work.
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The Legion 5 is an updated version of the Y540, which was one of our favorite gaming laptops for its design and best gaming laptop value. There are a few design changes to this machine from game, but it’s mainly what’s inside that has changed, including the choice between AMD (Legion 5) and Intel (Legion 5i) processors. Pricing still starts at just under $1,000 for AMD models, but if you can spend closer to $1,300, you’ll get more for your money. If you’re a gamer who needs to cut costs, the company’s IdeaPad Gaming 3 gaming laptop starts at around $750.
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Frequently Asked Questions
Are budget gaming laptops worth it?
You can find a good cheap gaming laptop, but they definitely have performance limitations compared to more expensive laptops. The components needed for an enjoyable PC gaming experience are expensive, which means even entry-level gaming laptops typically cost between $700 and $1,000. Also, because these models use low-end components, the gaming performance they will have on today’s demanding AAA games might not hold up for future titles.
Inexpensive gaming laptops are worth considering if you usually play older games or games that aren’t graphically demanding or are fine with gaming at reduced graphics quality to maintain fast frame rates. They’re also a decent option if you’re looking for a laptop for work or school, but with enough graphics power for casual gaming during your downtime.
What should I look for in a cheap gaming laptop?
For the best gaming experience with a budget gaming laptop, you want to make sure you get the most affordable graphics power from the get-go, because it can’t be upgraded later like memory or to storage.
A cheap gaming laptop with an entry-level Nvidia GTX 1650 normally starts around $700, although today’s chip shortage has high prices and low supplies. This chip gives you enough graphics performance to play the latest demanding games at medium settings. Spending between $800 and $1000 (or maybe a little more) will get you a laptop with a GTX 1650 Ti, 1660 Ti, or even a 3050 Ti for a better gaming experience.
If you’re on a tight budget when buying a cheap gaming laptop, go for an Nvidia GTX 1650 graphics chip again. If you can afford to spend close to $1,000, you’ll be better off in the long run because you can play more demanding games now and later.
What other components should I look for in a cheap gaming laptop?
With processor, memory, and storage, your choices are a bit more flexible for a budget gaming laptop, especially the latter two. Since many games such as first-person shooters rely more on the graphics chip than the CPU, you don’t necessarily need the fastest one available. Going with a more mid-range processor like an Intel Core i5 or AMD Ryzen 5 is a safe bet.
Additionally, gaming laptops, especially the cheaper ones, allow you to easily expand or upgrade your memory and storage. If you’re going to skimp, this is the best place to do it hoping you’ll end up upgrading and putting your money into the GPU and CPU instead.
Beyond the graphics chip, look for:
- A 10th, 11th, or 12th Gen Intel Core i5 or i7 processor, or AMD Ryzen 4000 or 5000 series.
- At least 8 GB of memory (aka RAM) and the ability to add more after purchase.
- At least one 512 GB solid-state drive or a combination of 256 GB solid-state storage and a larger hard drive.
Do budget gaming laptops have good screens?
Most of your money goes to the components, so the other parts – the screen, keyboard and trackpad and the build quality – are going to be okay, but not fantastic. That’s why I lean towards models like the Dell G15, which has its power input and other ports on the back for a cleaner setup when connected to external devices. It also has decent battery life, which is usually left out on budget gaming laptops.
That said, display quality has improved on entry-level gaming laptops over the past couple of years, especially when it comes to refresh rates. It is now common to find 120Hz or 144Hz displays, which will make fast movements in your games smoother and give you a more responsive experience. However, it’s not worth paying the extra, unless the GPU is also capable of faster frame rates for your games.
The review process for laptops, desktops, tablets and other computing-like devices consists of two parts: performance testing under controlled conditions at CNET labs and extensive hands-on use by our expert reviewers. This includes evaluating the aesthetics, ergonomics and functionality of a device. A final review verdict is a combination of both these objective and subjective judgments.
The list of benchmarking software we use changes over time as the devices we test evolve. The most important baseline tests we currently run on each compatible computer include: Primate Labs Geekbench 5, Cinebench R23, PCMark 10, and 3DMark Fire Strike Ultra.
A more detailed description of each benchmark and how we use it can be found on our How We Test Computers page.
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