Back in 2008. when I started my gaming journalism career the word “budget gaming laptop” was representing an oxymoron. I mean, sure, you had a few Toshiba and Alienware models on the market, featuring dedicated GPU’s which could drive some of the top games of that era, but you had to sell your kidney to afford one.
Luckily, 10 years later the market completely changed and the above mentioned oxymoron is right now a trending keyword within the tech industry. The same trends created a completely new category, which also represents the focus of our today’s article: budget gaming laptops under $1000.
Although the whole fun started out at the end of 2017., at this point, with 2019. knocking on our door, we have several last and current gen models available, some of them are also heavily discounted at this time of the year, which makes the purchase even more interesting.
But, buying a good cheap gaming laptop can be challenging if you’re not familiar with the current trends and your own requirements, so let me quickly go over those details before you jump in to the top list.
What you should aim for when buying a gaming laptop
There are two major points, two secondary and one bonus point when it comes to buying a budget gaming laptop. As you can already guess, the major points are the GPU and the CPU, which are the main heavy lifters which push the frames of your video game. The secondary points are the RAM and Hard Drive, while the bonus point is the screen – is it a TN or an IPS panel, does it have a high refresh rate or not (144hz vs 120Hz vs 60hz) and so on.
You can obviously sacrifice the resolution, RAM and Hard Drive, since the industry standard for gaming laptops is a 1080p screen, 8GB of RAM and either a 128 GB SSD, a 1 TB HDD or both – depending on the manufacturer. But what you *shouldn’t* sacrifice is the CPU and GPU.
To explain this part better, I formed a short overview of the current trends within the industry, just to help you out if you didn’t have the time to go through it. Let’s first start out with the GPU.
First, target the best GPU which you can afford
This category of budget gaming laptops has three main GPU configurations: GTX 1060 as the strongest model, followed by the GTX 1050 Ti as your second option and the regular GTX 1050 as your last resort. My own suggestion would be to target laptops with the GTX 1060 or the GTX 1050 Ti, because both of them can drive most (if not all) games in 60 FPS on high settings. The regular GTX 1050, mentioned as the last resort, is still a good option if you’re going with the minimum budget, but keep in mind that you will have to lower the details in newer games.
If your budget is a bit flexible, I would definitely recommend the GTX 1060 as your primary choice.
Second, get a quad core Intel processor, doesn’t have to be the newest
Let’s be honest, most of the games which we’re used to, including all of the esports titles of this year, can’t use all of the resources of a six core processor or extend the usage to threads within it. Sure, there are unicorns which benefit from more cores, but we’re talking about budget gaming, and when it comes to this price point the only thing which matters is having 4 cores, regardless of the generation or type of processor. Even the last generation of quad Core i5 and Core i7 gaming laptops can push newer games to their limit, especially if paired with a GTX 1060 or a GTX 1050 Ti.
So, don’t worry about the name of the processor, just focus on the best GPU which you can get for the money you have, and pair it with a Quad Core CPU.
Third, if the budget allows it, go for a 144hz screen
If you’re not already owning a separate 144hz Gaming Monitor, then you should definitely invest the extra $200 in to a 144hz gaming laptop. The difference is huge and, unfortunately, you can’t upgrade from a 60hz screen to a 144hz screen later on, so think about it – I was blown away by the technology. Currently most of the laptops between $1000 and $1200 feature it, so you can easily get a cheap 144hz gaming laptop if you’re looking to pump up your experience.
Last, don’t worry about the RAM and Hard Drive
For starters, the only thing which you need is 8 GB RAM and a drive where you can install your games, everything above that is just a bonus. If you can get 16GB RAM within your price range – get it, good stuff. If not, don’t worry about it, you can upgrade it on the next salary for $50-$100 without any sweat. Hard Drive? Again, try to target and SSD, the current standard is 128 GB, but if not, go for an HDD and try to put some money aside for a proper SSD later in the year, it’s also user upgradeable.
Best Gaming laptops Between $1000 and $1200
To first explain you what you should target – when looking at gaming laptops around $1000, what you want is a GTX 1060 laptop paired with a six core Core i7, since the budget allows it. Other factors, like the RAM and SSD, are more of a standard here, and you can easily find 16 GB models with a smaller SSD preinstalled. If possible, my own recommendation within this price group would be that you try to go with a 144hz or 120hz gaming laptop, since it’s quite worth it.
Our top pick would be the CUK N857VR Gaming Laptop
Although quite new on the market, the CUK N857VR is the only model which features a 144hz 1080P IPS display, paired with a six core Intel i7 processor, GTX 1060, 8 GB of RAM and a 256 GB SSD. To further sweeten the deal, included in to the deal is also a full Windows 10 Home license. A truly high end setup for less then $1200.
With this setup you will be able to drive all of the current generation of video games on high settings and 60 fps or medium settings and 144 fps – depending on your own preferences. The only thing which will need an upgrade end of the year is an additional stick of RAM, just to round it up to 16 GB for a more fluent Windows experience.
For a peace of mind, CUK is also providing you with a 3 year CUK warranty, and you can check other details, including the current price, over at their Amazon listing under this link: CUK N857VR Gaming Laptop
The MSI GP63 Leopard-602 Gaming Laptop as our second choice
The above mentioned CUK is quite machine, especially the six core CPU paired with the GTX 1060, but there is one more contender within this game which owns a high refresh screen – and that’s the Leopard-602.
For $100 less you can get a 120 Hz 3ms IPS display paired with a Six Core Intel i7 processor, the NVIDIA GTX 1060, 8 GB of RAM and a 1 TB HDD (no SSD unfortunately.) The reason why it’s cheaper then the above mentioned CUK is because it features a 1 TB HDD instead of the 256 GB SSD and a 120Hz screen instead of a 144Hz. Although you can’t change the screen refresh rate, the good news is that both models are user upgradeable when it comes to RAM or the Hard Drive.
The MSI GP63 Leopard-602 can be purchased through Amazon for $1099, where you can choose between two models at the same price – the 15″ and the 17″. Since both feature the same qualities, it’s just up to the end user on what screen size he prefers.
Third option, without a high refresh screen, last gen Acer Predator Helios 300
Now, don’t get me wrong, we’re talking about a really good configuration here, the only issue is that the device doesn’t come with a 120 or 144Hz screen, which is quite a deal breaker if you’re already within this price point, but it’s still worth the money if you already own a separate 144hz display and just need a beast to power it up. And although it lacks within the display department, it makes up for it with extra RAM.
Also, keep in mind that the reason why this model costs only $1049 is because it’s the last gen model, the one with a quad core i7, not the six core i7 – which shouldn’t be a deal-breaker if you can’t afford the above mentioned models, it’s still a high end device paired with 16 GB of RAM, a 256 GB SSD and a GTX 1060 on top. Also, since it’s the last gen model, expect to get an even lower price on it in the upcoming months, so be sure to check his listing: Acer Predator Helios 300
Best Budget Gaming Laptops Between $800 and $1000
Still quite a good budget for a decent and affordable gaming laptop. From my own experience there is only one proper choice here, the below mentioned Dell, but in case you don’t like the brand or just don’t want to go with it for some reasons, then what you want is a laptop which has either a GTX 1060 or a GTX 1050 Ti, paired with a quad core CPU, regardless of generation. My own suggestion would be the last generation of Core i7 processors or the current generation of Core i5’s, since they offer hyper threading. But, before you jump in to the research, hear me out when it comes to this Dell:
Dell G5587-5859BLK PUS G5 as our only choice
If your budget is limited to below $1000, you just can’t go wrong with the Dell G5587 series of gaming laptops. It’s the newest model presented just half a year ago, and it offers an aluminum chassis paired with the current gen hardware. So, not only will you get a really stylish looking laptop, but it also sports a current gen Core i5 with 4 cores and 8 threads, paired with an GTX 1060, 8 GB of RAM and a 128 GB SSD.
Unfortunately, you can’t expect a high refresh screen laptop within this price point, but if you’re looking for a laptop below $1000, this is our first recommendation, especially if you’re planning on upgrading it later in the year, since both the RAM and SSD can be replaced.
You can find it for as low as $940 over at Amazon, just be sure to take the next generation Core i5-8300H, since the difference is only $50, and for those few bucks more you get 8 threads.
Best Cheap Gaming Laptops below $800
The trick within this price range is to find the best budget laptops of 2017 and implement them in to your current year plan. Newer models can’t be found, so you will have to deal with older ones, which is certainly not an issue. You should target either the GTX 1050 Ti or the regular GTX 1050 paired with a Quad Core CPU, doesn’t matter which one, as long as it’s a Quad Core. Most of the devices mentioned below come with 8 GB of RAM and an HDD with preinstalled Windows, so you’re good to go as soon as you get it in to your room.
Our top pick would be the MSI GV62 8RD-200
The GV62 gaming laptop is packing quite some hardware for $799, not only does it offer the current generation of the core i5 processor with 4 cores and 8 threads, it also pairs it with a GTX 1050Ti and 8 GB of RAM. When it comes to the hard drive, there’s one small difference here between the first and second pick – the MSI GV62 features an Intel Optane Modul.
Basically it’s like a small 16 GB SSD placed within the laptop which can speed up your traditional 1 TB HDD. Quite an interesting technology which is still quite new, but a welcomed additional within this price range.
A Windows 10 64 bit license and a three year warranty is also included, making this 15.6 beast a bargain for that price. You can check it out under this link: MSI GV62 8RD-200
Our second pick, the last gen Acer Nitro High Performance
I wanted to find a laptop for less then $700 that can cover the cheap gaming laptop segment, and the only way of finding the right model is to go over to the last generation of gaming laptops from the year 2017. Don’t get me wrong, those laptops are still good, especially the ones suited up with a GTX 1050, like our Nitro fella here.
So, through my research I stumbled on the Acer Nitro High Performance gaming laptop,currently priced at $699. It offers the last generation Quad Core i5, the 7300HQ, which is paired with the above mentioned GTX 1060, 8 GB of RAM and with a traditional 1 TB HDD. As with most models, you’re also getting a full Windows 10 license, all that for only $699!
So, if you dived in to the market in search for the best gaming laptop below $700, then this model is definitely worth a look, check it out here: Acer Nitro High Performance 15.6″ FHD Gaming Laptop PC
To conclude, it’s the passion which makes you a gamer, not the hardware
I guided you through three different categories, six different recommendations and now we’re coming to a single conclusion – you shouldn’t worry to much about your gear. Sure, an 144Hz and stable 144 FPS make the game more fun to play, but it’s not what makes you a gamer. By just joining the community, playing the same games, communicating and, most importantly, not being a jerk on the servers and within game, is what makes you a gamer – regardless of the hardware or skill.
So, buy the device which fits your budget the best, power it up, turn on your game and join in the fun, everything else is not important.