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The 3 Best Budget And Cheap Gaming Laptops - Spring 2023 Reviews

Best Budget Gaming Laptops

Shopping for a gaming laptop can be challenging, as gaming is a demanding task with many requirements. First and foremost, you need to look for a system with a powerful CPU, a dedicated GPU, and a good cooling system to reach high, consistent frame rates. You also want a laptop with a high-quality display to see a clear image in fast-paced games, a comfortable keyboard that won't cause fatigue on long gaming sessions, and a fast SSD to reduce loading times. These things add up, making gaming laptops far more expensive than your typical thin, light ultraportables. That said, good budget options are available, costing around $1,000 or less. We've made a list of a few that we've tested below to get you started. The list is short for now but will grow as we review more laptops.

We've tested more than 70 laptops, and below, you'll find our recommendations for the best budget gaming laptops you can get. You can also check out our recommendations for the best budget and cheap laptops, the best laptops for college, and the best gaming laptops.

  1. Best Budget 14-Inch Gaming Laptop

    The best budget gaming laptop we've tested in a 14-inch size is the ASUS ROG Zephyrus G14 (2022). It isn't a budget model per se; however, because it was released in 2022, and ASUS has released a newer model, it's often on sale for around $1,000, putting it squarely in the budget category. If you missed the sale, it's worth looking around or waiting a bit, as it's a really good deal at its sale price. It has a fast AMD Ryzen 9 6900HS CPU, and you can choose between an AMD Radeon RX 6700S or 6800S GPU. Both configurations provide a smooth gaming experience in AAA titles at 1440p.

    The display is a 16:10 QHD+ IPS panel with a 120Hz refresh rate. It has a fast response time to deliver a clear image in fast-moving scenes and supports FreeSync to reduce screen tearing. Above the display sits a 720p webcam, doubling as a Windows Hello facial recognition camera for quick logins. There's only a single 1TB storage option, but it's user-replaceable, meaning you can add more later. The battery lasts only around an hour or so when gaming; this is normal, as gaming is a pretty intensive task. The only other complaint is that this laptop gets hot and loud under load.

    See our review

  2. Best Budget 15-Inch Gaming Laptop

    If you want a gaming laptop with a larger 15-inch screen, go with the Lenovo Legion 5 Gen 6 15 (2021). It isn't very portable, as it's a little bulky and heavy, but it feels very well-built, especially for a gaming laptop in its price range. You can configure this laptop with an AMD Ryzen 5 5600H or Ryzen 7 5800H CPU, and there are multiple GPU options, from an entry-level NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1650 to an RTX 3070. If you want to play games with ray tracing on, we recommend getting a model with an RTX 3060 or 3070, as the RTX 3050 and 3050 Ti can't maintain high frame rates due to ray tracing's high-performance cost. Memory and storage max out at 32GB and 1TB, respectively, and both are user-replaceable.

    As for the display, you also have multiple options. The 165Hz 1080p or 1440p panel will provide the best visual experience, as they have the fastest response time and support variable refresh rate to reduce screen tearing; however, make sure you pair it with a GPU that can take advantage of the high refresh rate, like the RTX 3060 or 3070. The keyboard feels great to type on and won't cause fatigue during those long gaming sessions, and it's backlit, so you can locate your keys when gaming in the dark. Ports include four USB-As, two USB-Cs, an HDMI 2.1, and an Ethernet port. The USB-C port doesn't support Thunderbolt 4 since this is an AMD system.

    See our review

  3. Best Cheap 15-Inch Gaming Laptop

    Our pick for the best cheap gaming laptop in the 15-inch category is the Lenovo IdeaPad Gaming 3 (2021). You can configure this laptop with an AMD Ryzen 5 5600H or Ryzen 7 5800H CPU, both powerful enough to handle AAA titles. GPU options range from an NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1650 to an RTX 3060. The GTX 1650 is an entry-level GPU that'll give you a good 1080p gaming experience at 60 fps, albeit with low graphical settings. If you want better visuals or higher frame rates, get a configuration with an RTX 3050, 3050 Ti, or 3060.

    All of the available displays have a 1080p resolution. The 165Hz display is the best, not only because it has the fastest refresh rate and response time but because it gets brighter to combat glare and doesn't look as washed out as the other panels. Unfortunately, this laptop gets hot and loud under load, and like most laptops with a dedicated GPU, the battery life is very short, so you'll have to play with the laptop plugged in most of the time. Port selection is passable; you get two USB-As, a USB-C, an HDMI, and Ethernet.

    See our review

Notable Mentions

  • ASUS TUF Dash F15 (2022): The ASUS TUF Dash F15 (2022) is a good alternative to the Lenovo Legion 5 Gen 6 15 (2021). It's available with faster Intel 12th Gen. CPUs, but its GPUs run at a lower TGP (Total Graphics Power), meaning they won't perform as well as the same GPUs on the Lenovo. Also, it doesn't support variable refresh rate to reduce screen tearing and has fewer USB ports for peripherals. See our review
  • HP Victus 15 (2022): The HP Victus 15 (2022) is a good alternative to the Lenovo Legion 5 Gen 6 15 (2021). It's available with newer and faster Intel 12th Gen. CPUs; however, there are fewer GPU options, and none of the displays support variable refresh rate to reduce screen tearing. See our review
  • Dell G15 (2022): The Dell G15 (2022) is one of the best cheap gaming laptops we've tested and a good alternative to the Lenovo IdeaPad Gaming 3 (2021) if you only care about performance. It doesn't feel as well-built as the Lenovo, though, and it isn't as portable because it's bulkier and heavier. Also, the display doesn't support variable refresh rate to reduce screen tearing. See our review

Recent Updates

  1. May 16, 2023: Verified that all picks are valid and still available. No change in recommendations.

All Reviews

Our recommendations above are what we think are currently the best budget gaming laptops you can get. We factor in the price (a cheaper laptop wins over a pricier one if the difference isn't worth it), feedback from our visitors, and availability (no laptops that are difficult to find or almost out of stock everywhere).

If you prefer to make your own decision, here’s the list of all of our laptop reviews. Keep in mind that most laptops are available in various configurations, and the table only shows the results of the model we tested, so it’s best to see the full review for information about other variants.