Best budget gaming laptops for under $1,000


Lenovo Legion Slim 5 16" Gaming Laptop
ASUS ROG Zephyrus G14 2023

Asus ROG Zephyrus G14 (2023)

The best compact budget gaming laptop


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Acer Chromebook 516 GE
Dell G15 Advantage Edition

Dell G15 Advantage Edition

The best budget gaming laptop under $800


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Asus ROG Ally
asus TUF A16 16'' FHD 165Hz Gaming Laptop, AMD Ryzen 7-7735HS, Radeon RX7600S V8G Graphics, 16GB DDR5 RAM, 512GB PCIe SSD, RGB Backlit Keyboard, Wi-Fi 6, HD Camera, Black, Win 11 Pro, 32GB USB Card

Asus TUF A16 Advantage Edition

The best all-AMD budget gaming laptop


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You begin your quest for the best gaming laptop only to be met with a harsh reality: Gaming laptops come with hefty price tags. Even midrange options can soar past $2,000, while flagship models may demand a wallet-draining $3,000 or more. Who can afford these astronomical prices?

Fear not, for we’ve compiled a list of the top budget gaming laptops, allowing you to indulge in your favorite games without breaking the bank. In this guide, our focus is on laptops priced at or below $1,000, specifically highlighting gaming notebooks that offer exceptional value for your hard-earned cash.

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The Lenovo Legion Slim 5 Gen 8 gaming laptop on a white background.

Lenovo

Lenovo Legion Slim 5 Gen 8

The best budget gaming laptop

Pros

  • Great CPU performance
  • Good battery life for a gaming laptop
  • Value for money
  • Efficient thermals

Cons

  • No USB 4 or Thunderbolt
  • Display could be better

Lenovo is expected to phase out its Legion ‘Slim’ series this year, but the existing models offer excellent value for your money. Specifically, if we talk about the 16-inch Slim 5 Gen 8, it is currently selling at a price that you should not miss.

The base configuration comes with an AMD Ryzen 5 7640HS CPU and an Nvidia RTX 4050 GPU, along with 512GB of storage and 16GB of DDR5 memory. This is priced at $960 on Lenovo’s online store. However, you can grab the same laptop with an RTX 4060, which is a more powerful GPU, for $900 on Best Buy. This configuration originally sells for $1,350, essentially saving you $450!

The notebook isn’t made for ground breaking performance, but you should get plenty of juice for productivity and gaming. If you can go beyond the $1,000 price, the Slim 5 is available with a sharper 2560 x 1600 resolution IPS panel with a 165Hz refresh as opposed to the standard 1200p 144Hz.

Lenovo Legion Slim 5 16" Gaming Laptop

Lenovo Legion Slim 5 Gen 8

The best budget gaming laptop

Screen on the Asus Zephyrus G14 gaming laptop.

Jacob Roach / Digital Trends

Asus ROG Zephyrus G14 (2023)

The best compact budget gaming laptop

Pros

  • Premium design
  • Vivid display
  • Compact design
  • Rock solid performance

Cons

  • Poor thermals when under load

Asus’ popular ROG Zephyrus G14 is too expensive for this list. However, you can find last year’s model for very cheap, and if you can pick one up on sale, it’s easily the best deal on a gaming laptop you can find.

We’re talking about the 2023 model, which is powered by the Ryzen 9 7940HS processor and Nvidia RTX 4060 graphics card. It retails for $1,600, but it is currently selling at $1,000, and it offers performance that easily beats the other options on this list.

The ROG Zephyrus G14 earns its stripes as the best 14-inch gaming notebook due to premium features. Not only does it look great, but you’re getting a gorgeous quad-HD 165Hz display and features like USB-C charging that are normally seen on high-end machines like the Razer Blade 14.

ASUS ROG Zephyrus G14 2023

Asus ROG Zephyrus G14 (2023)

The best compact budget gaming laptop

acer chromebook 516 ge review on railing outdoors

Aaron Leong

Acer Chromebook 516 GE

The best budget gaming Chromebook

Pros

  • Performance and endurance
  • Great display
  • Good price for the specs
  • Well-built
  • Play AAA games without your lap turning into lava

Cons

  • Gaming-related bugs and crashes
  • No touchscreen
  • Could use customizable keys

Chromebook gaming is still a long way away, but the Acer Chromebook 516 GE provides a hint of the future. It’s a high-end Chromebook, offering great battery life and a fantastic screen, but it doesn’t offer peak performance.

That’s because you’re not supposed to run games on the Chromebook 516 GE. Its Intel Core i5-1240P processor can handle light games you find through the Google Play Store, but you’re meant to use the device primarily with cloud gaming services like GeForce Now and Xbox Game Pass.

Thanks to the Wi-Fi 6E module, you can easily run even the most demanding games through the laptop without much latency. Don’t ignore the display, either. Even the cheapest Chromebooks are capable of cloud gaming, but the exceptional 2,560 x 1,600 screen makes them look far better on the Chromebook 516 GE. You can even drive the full 120Hz of the display with apps like GeForce Now.

Of course, your experience with the Acer Chromebook 516 GE is entirely dependent on your internet connection. The machine sets you up for success with its wireless connectivity, though, and if you’re experiencing stutters, you can tether it directly to your router with the Gigabit Ethernet jack.

Acer Chromebook 516 GE

Acer Chromebook 516 GE

The best budget gaming Chromebook

Dell G15 (2023) sitting on a coffee table.

Jacob Roach / Digital Trends

Dell G15 Advantage Edition

The best budget gaming laptop under $800

Pros

  • Affordable configurations
  • Better battery than Intel variant
  • Unique plastic chassis design

If you’re on a strict budget and need a new gaming laptop, the Dell G15 is tough to beat. For only $800, it offers the 8-core AMD Ryzen 7 7840HS, along with an Nvidia RTX 4050, 16GB of DDR5 memory, and a 512GB SSD. It’s not a top performer, but it’s a great option for 1080p gaming with very little compromise.

Similar to the Lenovo machine we recommended, this one blows past the competition with great build quality. It’s mostly plastic, but Dell makes the most of the material to make the G15 feel robust. It also comes with a decent cooling solution, so it’s not too loud or hot when pushed.

The keyboard is much better than what you normally find at this price, too. It’s not the best keyboard we’ve seen on a gaming laptop, but it doesn’t come with the mushy feeling and sticky keys you find on most laptops around $700.

Dell also offers other configurations where you can buy the G15 with an AMD Ryzen 5 7640HS, GPU options of Nvidia’s RTX 3050, 4050 or 4060 and faster a 1080p display with a 165Hz refresh rate and support for Nvidia G-Sync.

Dell G15 Advantage Edition

Dell G15 Advantage Edition

The best budget gaming laptop under $800

after four months rog ally going back steam deck asus review 15

Jacob Roach / Digital Trends

Asus ROG Ally

The best handheld gaming laptop

Pros

  • Solid performance
  • Acceptable battery life
  • Beautiful, 120Hz screen
  • Flexible control scheme
  • Support for basically any PC game

Cons

  • Turbo mode drains battery quickly
  • Windows has a lot of quirks
  • Armoury Crate is a utility, not an OS

OK, hear me out. No, the Asus ROG Ally isn’t technically a laptop. But it also kind of is a laptop. It doesn’t come with a keyboard and trackpad, and the screen is small, but the ROG Ally is basically a laptop with a controller strapped on.

It’s not great for taking around and browsing the internet, but it works wonders for gaming on the go. And when you’re back at your desk, you can use a USB-C hub to connect a keyboard and mouse, monitor, and any other peripherals you have.

The best use is to hook it up to the XG Mobile for a full desktop experience. It’s an expensive accessory for the ROG Ally, so it doesn’t quite fit the budget mold, but it’s a good place to aspire to.

The hardware inside the ROG Ally is basically an efficient gaming laptop chip. The Ryzen Z1 Extreme comes with eight Zen 4 cores, along with AMD’s Radeon 780M graphics. Together, they can run most games at 1080p above 60 frames per second (fps), though it’s worth noting that the ROG Ally isn’t as powerful as some of the proper laptops on this list.

Asus ROG Ally

Asus ROG Ally

The best handheld gaming laptop

The Asus TUF Gaming A16 gaming laptop on a white background.

Asus

Asus TUF A16 Advantage Edition

The best all-AMD budget gaming laptop

Pros

  • Military grade chassis
  • Excellent battery life
  • Good looking display

Cons

  • Poor webcam
  • Keyboard can be improved

The Asus TUF A16 Advantage Edition laptop is a powerful midrange gaming laptop that offers great performance and durability. Powered by AMD Ryzen 7000 processors and Radeon RX 7000 graphics, this laptop offers impressive processing power and graphics capabilities, making it ideal for gaming, content creation, and multitasking.

One of the key advantages of the TUF A16 is its rugged design, which is said to withstand the rigors of gaming on the go. It features a MIL-STD-810H military-grade construction, ensuring durability and reliability even in challenging environments.

Additionally, the laptop boasts a 165Hz high-refresh-rate full-HD+ display with Adaptive-Sync technology, delivering smooth and tear-free gaming visuals. The keyboard is designed for long gaming sessions, with customizable RGB lighting options, although it isn’t the best when it comes to comfort as the keys feel soft and mushy.

You can purchase the Asus TUF A16 powered by the AMD Ryzen 7 7735HS processor with Radeon RX7600S 8GB graphics, 16GB of DDR5 RAM, and 512GB PCIe SSD for about $950. The combination of AMD’s Ryzen CPU and Radeon GPU ensures a perfect balance of performance and efficiency and you can expect good battery life from the laptop as well.

asus TUF A16 16'' FHD 165Hz Gaming Laptop, AMD Ryzen 7-7735HS, Radeon RX7600S V8G Graphics, 16GB DDR5 RAM, 512GB PCIe SSD, RGB Backlit Keyboard, Wi-Fi 6, HD Camera, Black, Win 11 Pro, 32GB USB Card

Asus TUF A16 Advantage Edition

The best all-AMD budget gaming laptop

Frequently Asked Questions

Can you get a gaming laptop for $500?

It’s tough to find a gaming laptop for $500. The cheapest gaming laptops start around $800, and you can expect to spend around $1,000 if you want something that will last a while. However, you can frequently find gaming laptops around $600 if you shop sales or opt for last-gen models.

Can I use a cheap laptop for gaming?

The main thing you need to use a cheap laptop for gaming is a discrete graphics card. If you have a discrete GPU, there’s a good chance you can play games on your laptop, regardless of its price. Integrated graphics built into your processor can work for very lightweight games, but they’ll struggle with anything more demanding.

Are Chromebooks good for gaming?

Chromebooks aren’t great for gaming on their own due to having limited storage space and generally weak components. Most games aren’t compatible with the operating system, either. However, you can use cloud gaming apps like GeForce Now and Xbox Game Pass to stream games to Chromebooks with ease.

What are some disadvantages of budget gaming laptops?

While budget gaming laptops offer affordability and accessibility to gaming, they also come with some drawbacks.

Limited performance: Budget gaming laptops typically feature lower-tier components. This can result in lower gaming performance compared to high-end laptops, with reduced frame rates and graphical fidelity, especially in demanding games.

Build quality: To keep costs down, manufacturers may use cheaper materials and construction methods for budget gaming laptops. This can result in reduced durability and build quality compared to higher-end models, potentially leading to issues such as creaking chassis, flexing keyboards, or shorter lifespan.

Limited features: Budget gaming laptops often come with fewer ports, limited connectivity options, and fewer extra features compared to premium models. This may include fewer USB ports, absence of Thunderbolt support, or lack of advanced cooling systems and RGB lighting.

Display quality: Budget gaming laptops may feature lower-quality displays with lower resolutions, narrower color gamuts, and slower response times compared to premium models. This can result in less vibrant colors, reduced clarity, and increased motion blur during gaming.

Shorter battery life: Budget gaming laptops often prioritize performance over battery life, resulting in shorter battery runtime compared to ultrabooks or non-gaming laptops. This can limit portability and necessitate frequent charging, especially during gaming sessions.

Despite these disadvantages, budget gaming laptops can still provide a satisfactory gaming experience for casual gamers or those on a tight budget. However, it’s essential to consider these limitations and prioritize features based on individual needs and preferences when purchasing a budget gaming laptop

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