Cheaper laptops are being built with more powerful processors and GPUs all the time, and games are getting more demanding. This year, affordable gaming laptops launched with the newest generation of graphics cards and processors from Nvidia, AMD, and Intel, and we don’t recommend buying a laptop with the previous generation of Nvidia 30-series GPUs, AMD Ryzen 6000–series CPUs and GPUs, or Intel 12th-generation processors until we’ve finished testing. We are aware of stock issues with our current picks, but if you want a gaming laptop right now, our budget pick is still available.
|Processor:||Intel Core i7-11800H||Screen:||15.6-inch 1920×1080 144 Hz|
|Graphics:||Nvidia GeForce RTX 3060 with 6 GB VRAM||Weight:||4.94 pounds*|
|Memory:||16 GB||Dimensions:||14.25 by 10 by 0.75 inches|
|Storage:||512 GB SSD||Tested battery life:||6.3 hours|
*Acer lists the weight at 4.41 pounds.
The powerful processor and graphics card at the heart of the Acer Predator Triton 300 (PT315-53-79FG) can run almost any game well on high settings. Most people won’t need more than the included 16 GB of RAM, and its 512 GB SSD has enough space to keep a few games installed. It’s also easy to pop open the lid and upgrade both the RAM and storage. The Triton 300’s battery life won’t last a full day of schoolwork or light web browsing, but few gaming laptops at this price will. If you want to run graphics-intensive games on it, expect the fans to be at maximum to keep it from overheating, which may drown out the quiet speakers.
|Processor:||Intel Core i7-11800H||Screen:||15.6-inch 1920×1080 240 Hz|
|Graphics:||Nvidia GeForce RTX 3060 with 6 GB VRAM||Weight:||4.89 pounds|
|Memory:||16 GB||Dimensions:||14 by 9.75 by 1.25 inches|
|Storage:||512 GB SSD||Tested battery life:||4.3 hours|
The beautiful display on the Gigabyte Aorus 15P (KD-72US223SH) has an impressive 240 Hz refresh rate, and it consistently delivered the highest frames-per-second (fps) rates of any laptop we tested across the board. It has the same great graphics card and processor as the Predator Triton 300, and both should be able to play games smoothly for years. However, the short battery life and unflattering webcam placement make the Aorus 15P less than ideal for leisure and work on the go. Also, the keyboard’s backlight shines only through the main letters and symbols on each key, which makes the secondary media keys and symbols that don’t light up a strain to read. Gigabyte doesn’t offer phone support, so the Auros isn’t a good choice if you aren’t comfortable doing some of your own troubleshooting, or waiting a few days for a response on a support ticket.
|Processor:||AMD Ryzen 5 4600H
or Intel Core i5-10300H
|Screen:||15.6-inch 1920×1080 60 Hz|
|Graphics:||Nvidia GTX 1650 with 4 GB VRAM||Weight:||4.8 pounds|
|Memory:||8 GB||Dimensions:||14.3 by 10 by 0.9 inches|
|Storage:||256 GB SSD||Tested battery life:||6 hours|
If you want the cheapest possible laptop that will play games decently, get the Acer Nitro 5 AN515-44-R99Q or AN515-55-53AG. Due to its less-powerful graphics hardware, the Nitro 5 can’t play the absolute newest, most demanding games at their highest settings, and it doesn’t support VR, but it’s powerful enough to play older games or less demanding modern titles for the next few years. The Nitro 5 keeps cool enough without blasting its fans. It also has a responsive keyboard and trackpad, and it’s easy to upgrade. But compared with our top pick, the Nitro 5 has a dimmer screen at the lower and more standard 60 Hz refresh rate. It also offers less storage for games and comes with a ton of bloatware installed.