Acer Nitro 5Source: Windows Central

Best budget gaming laptops Windows Central 2022

We've looked at the best gaming laptops, but not everyone has $2,000 (or more) to drop on a new notebook. You're going to be paying a premium for gaming laptops because of the dedicated GPU and how the notebook internals need to be designed. We've rounded up some of the best budget gaming laptops right here that don't cost too much but can play your favorite PC titles.

Best overall: Acer Nitro 5

Acer Nitro 5Source: Windows Central

The best gaming laptops have traditionally been expensive, bulky, and sluggish in actual games. But this all changed with the advancement of technology, allowing companies to make laptops like the excellent Acer Nitro 5. This is a mid-range notebook but has some impressive specifications for playing the latest PC games.

Inside, choosing this specific model, we've got an Intel Core i5-10300H processor, NVIDIA GeForce RTX 3050 GPU, 15.6-inch 144Hz 1080p display, 8GB of DDR4 RAM, and a 256GB NVMe SSD. The RAM and SSD aren't particularly amazing, but you can upgrade both components with your own purchased hardware.

This laptop won't win any awards in benchmarks, nor will it allow you to play games with all visual settings set to maximum. The battery life is fairly decent, and you've got enough performance to play all games so long as you're conservative with the settings.

Pros:

  • 10th Gen Intel CPU
  • Dedicated RTX 3050 GPU
  • Good value
  • 15.6-inch 144Hz display

Cons:

  • Only has 8GB RAM
  • Limited 256GB SSD

Best overall

Acer Nitro 5

Acer Nitro 5

Best overall budget pick

If you want a mid-tier gaming laptop with a dedicated GPU, look no further than the Acer Nitro 5. It's well reviewed and doesn't cost much.

Runner-up: Dell G15

Dell G15Source: Dell

Dell makes some of the best Windows laptops around, including the exceptional Dell XPS 13. The company makes gaming notebooks too and is responsible for the Alienware series of products. The G15 isn't quite at the level of Alienware laptops, but Dell managed to throw in some killer components for gaming on the go.

Inside, you'll find an 11th Gen Intel Core i7-11800H CPU for this model specifically. As well as that 8-core processor with 24MB of cache, you've got a dedicated NVIDIA GeForce RTX 3060 graphics card with 6GB of GDDR6 RAM. Then there's the 16GB of DDR4-3200 RAM and 512GB PCIe NVMe SSD.

You'll easily play your favorite games without issue on this laptop. The most important component for gaming is the graphics card, and even the mobile version of the RTX 3060 is a great little GPU.

Pros:

  • 11th Gen Intel CPU
  • Dedicated RTX 3060 GPU
  • 16GB DDR4 RAM
  • 512GB NVMe SSD
  • Gorgeous design

Cons:

  • Doesn't compare well

Runner-up

Dell G15

Dell G15

The power of RTX

This Dell G15 may not be an Alienware laptop, but it has a capable Intel CPU and NVIDIA RTX 3060 GPU. It's a great companion.

Best value: MSI GF63 Thin

MSI GF63Source: MSI

Like the Acer Nitro 5, MSI made a great budget laptop that can easily be upgraded by the owner. The MSI GF63 Thin is an attractive budget-friendly gaming laptop with plenty to love. If you want to spend as little as possible, but still walk away with a dedicated GPU inside the notebook, this is about as good as you'll get.

This was one of MSI's first laptops to contain 9th Gen Intel processors, which is precisely what we're getting here. It's an Intel Core i5-9300H, an older yet still capable CPU. The GPU is the trusty mobile NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1650, and you get 8GB of DDR4 RAM, as well as a 256GB NVMe SSD.

The RAM may sound like not enough, but this can be upgraded to a maximum of 64GB. This can transform the MSI GF63 Thin into one awesome gaming laptop.

Pros:

  • Dedicated GTX 1650 GPU
  • Great value
  • Solid design

Cons:

  • 9th Gen Intel CPU
  • 60Hz 1080p display
  • Limited RAM and SSD

Best value

MSI GF63 Thin

MSI GF63 Thin

Save money and game on

This MSI gaming laptop has plenty of features for the price, including an Intel Core i5-9300H CPU and NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1650 GPU.

Best budget: HP Pavilion Gaming 15z

HP Pavilion 15zSource: HP

HP's Pavilion laptops may be more affordable than its premium family of notebooks, but they're still worth considering and are more than fine portable PCs. There are also a few gaming editions with dedicated GPUs if you fancy yourself some downtime after a hard day's work.

We've selected the base model of the HP Pavilion Gaming 15z with an AMD Ryzen 5 5600H CPU, dedicated NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1650, 8GB of RAM, and 256GB of SSD storage. This is more than enough for playing even more demanding games, so long as you don't mind turning the visual settings down a little.

If you are looking to buy this gaming laptop, we'd recommend that the base 60Hz 1080p display be upgraded to the 144Hz panel to really enjoy fluid gameplay.

Pros:

  • AMD Ryzen 5000 CPU
  • Dedicated GTX 1650 GPU
  • Solid design

Cons:

  • Limited RAM and SSD
  • Somewhat weak battery life
  • 60Hz 1080p display base model

Best budget

Pavilion Gaming 15

HP Pavilion Gaming 15z

Solid gaming on a budget

HP's Pavilion range of budget laptops also contains a few gaming models with dedicated GPUs. Here's a fine example at a super-low price.

Best performance: MSI GL66

MSI Pulse GL66Source: MSI

MSI not only makes mid-range laptops but also some high-end options. The GL66 has plenty going for it, including the latest Intel processors and NVIDIA GPUs. It's the perfect companion to take along with you to LAN events to enjoy some downtime with friends. It's also not bad looking.

Even though we're only looking at budget-friendly laptops, the MSI GL66 is here if you have a little more to spend. Inside is an Intel Core i7-11800H, NVIDIA GeForce RTX 3070 GPU, 16GB of RAM, and a 512GB SSD. This all powers content to a 144Hz 15.6-inch 1080p display, allowing you to enjoy some butter-smooth gameplay.

Pros:

  • 11th Gen Intel CPU
  • Dedicated RTX 3070 GPU
  • Impressive performance
  • 144Hz 1080p display
  • 16GB of RAM and 512GB SSD

Cons:

  • Bulky
  • Gets hot under load

Best performance

MSI GL66

MSI GL66

Greater power

If you don't mind spending a little over $1,400 on your gaming laptop, we'd recommend you consider the MSI GL66 with its RTX 3070.

Bottom line

Our top pick is the excellent Acer Nitro 5, which is available in a number of configurations. Our chosen model includes a 10th Gen Intel CPU, dedicated RTX 3050 GPU, offers great value, and you'll enjoy all your favorite games on the 15.6-inch 144Hz display. It has everything you need to game on the go.

But should you require something with a little power inside, there's always the Dell G15 with its stunning design, 11th Gen Intel CPU, dedicated RTX 3060 GPU, 16GB of DDR4 RAM, and 512GB NVMe SSD to store all your favorite games. It may not be as fast as the competition at the same price, but it's a great overall gaming machine.

Credits — The team that worked on this guide

Author:

Rich Edmonds is a staff reviewer at Windows Central, which means he tests out more software and hardware than he cares to remember. Joining Mobile Nations in 2010, you can usually find him inside a PC case tinkering around when not at a screen fighting with Grammarly to use British words. Hit him up on Twitter: @RichEdmonds.

Author:

Richard Devine Richard Devine is an Editor at Windows Central. A former Project Manager and long-term tech addict, he joined Mobile Nations in 2011 and has been found on Android Central and iMore as well as Windows Central. Currently, you'll find him covering all manner of PC hardware and gaming.

Author:

Cale Hunt is a staff writer at Windows Central. He focuses mainly on PC, laptop, accessory coverage, and the emerging world of VR. He is an avid PC gamer and multi-platform user and spends most of his time either tinkering with or writing about tech.

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