HP OMEN 15Source: Windows Central

Best Cheap Gaming Laptops Windows Central 2020

Cheap gaming laptops are still relatively pricey compared to affordable notebooks in general, thanks to the inclusion of discrete GPUs. To play games, you'll need a dedicated GPU, and that's where the majority of the cost goes. Still, we've rounded up some of our favorite affordable gaming laptops that save you money without leaving you high and dry when all the action kicks off.

Best Overall: HP Pavilion 15t

HP Pavilion 17tSource: HP

The HP Pavilion 15t is the company's more budget-friendly collection of laptops, and the gaming variants follow suit. You've got an attractive price, but some serious hardware that makes this worth considering if you simply want a good gaming laptop for 1080p.

The CPU is a beefy Intel Core i7, and the GPU is an NVIDIA GTX 1650 with 4GB of VRAM. That's a pretty good mobile graphics card and one that should be able to handle modern games at decent settings and frame rates. It's not the best-looking laptop out there, nor will it win any medals in benchmarks, but for the price, it's a killer.

Pros:

  • Intel Core i7 CPU
  • NVIDIA GTX 1650 GPU
  • 8GB RAM
  • Good design
  • Fantastic 1080p gaming

Cons:

  • Bezels
  • Fairly bulky and heavy

Best Overall

HP Pavilion 15t

Great value gaming

HP not only created a gaming laptop that looks good and doesn't cost much, but they managed to throw in an Intel Core i7 CPU and GTX 1650 GPU for a solid 1080p gaming experience.

Runner-up: Dell G3 15 (3950)

Dell G3 15 (3950)Source: Dell

Dell offers plenty of gaming laptops at different configurations and price points. The G3 15 (3950) is an affordable gaming notebook with a more subtle design than what you'd expect to see in a product aimed at gamers. It's tin, light, and packs a punch where it matters most: the internals.

We'd recommend the $800 configuration, which comes with an Intel Core i5-9300H, NVIDIA GTX 1650, 128GB SSD with 1TB HDD, and 8GB of RAM. There's a more affordable option than this, but you downgrade from the 1650 GPU to a 1050, and we believe the $50 to be well worth it in the long run.

The only drawback to this solid laptop is the display, which is a little weak in terms of brightness and color punch.

Pros:

  • Great subtle design and build
  • Intel Core i5-9300H CPU
  • NVIDIA GTX 1650 GPU
  • Upgradable
  • Lightweight

Cons:

  • Display a little weak

Runner-up

Dell G3 15 (3950)

Sleeper gaming laptop

Not everyone wants "gamer" design elements with striking colors, red accents, and aggressive styling. That's where the moderately powerful G3 from Dell comes in with its gorgeous, subtle looks.

Best AMD: ASUS TUF FX505

ASUS TUF 15Source: ASUS

AMD didn't have the best of launches with the Ryzen 3000 mobile series. The processors aren't terrible, but they simply aren't good enough to take on Intel's own offerings. Still, the ASUS TUF FX505 with an AMD Ryzen 7 3750H CPU, GTX 1660 Ti GPU, 16GB of RAM, and 1TB of HDD storage with a speedy 256GB SSD is a great gaming setup.

At around $1,000, it's a good buy if you're looking for one of the most affordable GTX 1660 Ti laptops that will be good in-game. The included 1080p 120Hz panel is perfectly matched by the CPU and GPU combo, allowing you to crank settings up in-game and enjoy the butter-smooth performance.

The available 1TB of HDD storage space means you can install as many games you desire from your libraries. Just don't try and go up against equally equipped Intel laptops.

Pros:

  • Great value
  • NVIDIA GTX 1660 Ti GPU
  • AMD Ryzen CPU is good enough
  • Upgradable internals
  • 120Hz display

Cons:

  • Not quite as good as Intel counterpart

Best AMD

ASUS TUF FX505

AMD-powered gaming

While the Ryzen 3000 series CPUs for notebooks didn't earn a good rep, this TUF laptop from ASUS is still a capable machine, rocking a GTX 1660 Ti GPU and 16GB of RAM.

Best 15-inch: HP OMEN 15t

HP OMEN 15tSource: Windows Central

The HP OMEN 15t is a serious gaming machine. It's not the most expensive, nor the most affordable. You've got at least a GTX 1650 GPU and Intel Core i7-9750H CPU, but these can be upgraded up to an RTX 2080 and Core i9-9880H, respectively. For the base price and model configuration, this is good enough for most mobile gamers.

The best part is the display choice. This OMEN 15t can be kitted out with a 4K panel, but we'd recommend the 144Hz or 240Hz 1080p screens to really enjoy this gaming laptop at its maximum potential. If you're all about saving money, the base model comes with a 60Hz display, which isn't brilliant.

The upgrade to a 144Hz display is well worth the $100 configuration fee.

Pros:

  • Great design
  • Up to an Intel Core i9 CPU
  • Up to an RTX 2080 GPU
  • Upgradable internals
  • Optional 240Hz display

Cons:

  • Base model has 60Hz display

Best 15-inch

HP OMEN 15t

Good looks and excellent performance

HP's OMEN 15t is a solid gaming machine. The base configuration comes equipped with an Intel Core i7 CPU and NVIDIA GTX 1650 GPU, but you can really splash out for a killer notebook.

Best Budget: Acer Nitro 5

Acer Nitro 5Source: Acer

Acer's Nitro 5 is a genuinely budget-friendly gaming laptop. Not only is it the most affordable laptop in our gaming round-up, but it still rocks a dedicated GPU. The NVIDIA GTX 1050 isn't spectacular, but at this price, you shouldn't expect miracles. Paired up with an Intel Core i5 processor, you've got an excellent platform for portable PC gaming.

This combination is ideal for 1080p gaming, which is precisely what the display allows for. It's not all great with the laptop, though. Aside from the speedy SSD and 8GB of RAM, the available storage space is limited to just 256GB, which isn't much when you consider this drive has to contain Windows, software, and all your games.

The GPU will struggle with demanding games, too, forcing you to turn down settings to maintain stable frame rates. Lastly, the display isn't particularly amazing to gaze at.

Pros:

  • Amazing value
  • Intel Core i5 CPU
  • NVIDIA GTX 1050 GPU
  • Good 1080p performance

Cons:

  • Sluggish GPU for demanding games
  • Limiting 256GB SSD

Best Budget

Acer Nitro 5

Best bang for your buck

When budget is the most critical factor in your purchasing decision for a gaming laptop, look no further than the Acer Nitro 5 with an Intel Core i5 and NVIDIA GTX 1050.

Best Convertible: Lenovo Flex 14

Lenovo Flex 14Source: Lenovo

The best part about convertible laptops is the ability to fold them into different modes. Want to use it like a normal notebook? No problem. Fancy using the touch screen and folding the display back and crate a stand? That's possible too. But that's not all. The Lenovo Flex 14 is also affordable and comes with an AMD processor and graphics.

Powered by the AMD Ryzen 5 3500U, it's not the best processor out there compared to Intel's offerings, but the additional bonus of this CPU is the integrated graphics. It's way better than Intel's UHD, and you'll be able to enjoy PC gaming on the Flex 14 without issue, so long as you don't expect to play at 1080p on maximum settings.

The 8GB of RAM is also pretty good for gaming, but it's a shame we can't say the same about the 256GB SSD. This will fill up very fast when installing all your favorite games, but this could be offset with an external HDD.

Pros:

  • Amazing value
  • AMD Ryzen 5 3500U CPU
  • Integrated Radeon GPU
  • Convertible design
  • Touch screen

Cons:

  • Sluggish GPU for demanding games
  • Limiting 256GB SSD

Best Convertible

Lenovo Flex 14

Use it any way you like

The Lenovo Flex is a great little notebook that has a strong enough hinge to fold all the way around so you can use the touch screen and laptop in a whole manner of modes.

Bottom line

Buying a gaming laptop on a tight budget, you need to keep in mind not only the fee you'll be paying but also what components you'll receive. To comfortably game on the go, your notebook will need to have dedicated NVIDIA graphics, or at least an AMD Ryzen CPU with integrated Radeon processing.

Our top recommendation goes to the HP Pavilion 15t, with its Intel Core i7 processor and NVIDIA GTX 1650 GPU. With 8GB or RAM, this is ideal for 1080p gaming and the laptop doesn't look bad either!

If you're on a really tight budget, you may want to look at the Acer Nitro 5. It's affordable, but still manages to pack inside an Intel Core i5 processor and NVIDIA GTX 1050 GPU with 8GB or RAM. The 256GB SSD is good, but too small for game storage so you may require the addition of an external drive, but it's cheap and cheerful.

Credits — The team that worked on this guide

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.

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, and you can follow him on Twitter and Instagram.

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