The best budget gaming laptops for 2024

Almost everything geared towards gamers has a premium attached to it, but it is possible to get a capable rig without draining your bank account. Today, you can find plenty of affordable gaming notebooks that have solid performance and hit decent frame rates in modern games. Besides, not everyone needs a NVIDIA RTX 4080 GPU or a blazing fast 500Hz screen to begin with. Cheaper machines are best for high school or college students who don’t have a ton of cash to spare but still want a solid gaming experience from a machine that could even pull double-duty as their daily driver. These laptops are also good options for younger gamers, who, in our view, may not be ready for the responsibility of a premium, $2,000 notebook. After testing a number of gaming laptops, these are our favorites that all come in under $1,250.

What is a budget gaming laptop?

To get a high-end gaming experience, you can easily spend $5,000 on a fully tricked-out notebook like the Razer Blade 18. But when it comes to the best budget gaming laptops, we’re focusing on the other end of the pricing spectrum: laptops under $1,000. It used to be tough to find a decent gaming option at that price point but, as PC prices have fallen, they no longer seem like unicorns.

Stepping up a bit to systems between $1,000 and $2,000 puts you firmly in mid-range territory, which is beyond the scope of this guide. Still, it’s worth keeping an eye out for sales that can push those PCs below $1,000. Be sure to check out our guide to the best gaming laptops for a general overview of what to look out for in these more expensive systems.

Are cheap gaming laptops worth it?

Cheap gaming laptops are definitely worth it if you’re trying to save money and are being realistic about what you can get at this price range. You can expect to find Intel and AMD’s latest (but not greatest) CPUs, as well as entry-level GPUs like NVIDIA’s RTX 3050. Budget models are also typically paired with 1080p screens running at 120Hz or beyond. There are some exceptions though: Dell’s G16 (currently discounted to $900) is notable for its 16-inch quad HD+ screen.

Many cheap gaming laptops also skimp on specs like RAM and storage. We’d recommend getting at least 16GB of RAM and a 512GB SSD. Modern games need a decent chunk of memory to run, and they also tend to be large, so you wouldn’t be able to fit much alongside Windows 11 on a 256B SSD. You might be tempted to jump on one of those dirt-cheap gaming laptop deals from Walmart or Best Buy, but it’s just not worth it if you’re stuck with 8GB of RAM or a tiny SSD.

As for build quality, expect to find more plastic than metal on budget systems. Still, the best cheap gaming laptops we’re recommending should be sturdy enough to last a few years. Affordable systems will also be heavier and thicker than mid-range and premium models, and they typically don’t have great battery life. These are worthwhile trade offs if you’re looking to save money, though, and even the priciest gaming laptops struggle with battery life.

This article originally appeared on Engadget at