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If you’re in a hurry and don’t want to read the complete guide, here are my best picks for the best cheap gaming laptop.
Personal Best Pick
My pick on the laptops on this list is the Asus TUF Gaming A17 laptop. Boasting an AMD Ryzen 5 CPU with a base speed of 3GHZ, six cores, and a dedicated graphics card, gaming has never been so easy and affordable.
While the most expensive laptop on this list is well worth the cost as you will enjoy gaming with top graphic quality, a 144Hz refresh rate, and no lag as the powerful CPU keeps everything flowing.
Overall Best Pick
Overall best pick for gaming laptops under $800 has to go to the Acer Nitro 5. Boasting an impressive CPU and GPU, you will be hard-pressed to find a better gaming laptop.
Alongside its powerful CPU and GPU, it comes with 512GB of storage and 8GB of RAM, so it is easy to see why I chose it as the overall best laptop.
Budget Best Pick
For the best budget pick, I chose the HP Pavilion 16 because it still delivers plenty of punch for an enjoyable gaming experience while being on the cheaper side.
With its dedicated graphics card and 8 GB of RAM, the HP Pavilion 16 is a good choice and will have little trouble running most games.
While it is not the best laptop on this list, for its price, you are getting a laptop that will last you a good while.
Value Best Pick
When it comes to the best value for an $800 budget, the MSI GF63 Thin gaming laptop is one of the best. It has a slick and lightweight design, giving it a futuristic feel.
Like every other MSI laptop, the GF63 thin delivers high-end gaming experiences while costing nearly 25 – 50% less than most high-end gaming laptops.
Finding a great yet cheap gaming laptop within the $800 price range can be a struggle, especially if you do not know what you are looking at.
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It can become overwhelming extremely quickly, and the next thing you know, you have purchased a $1,200 laptop that won’t play the latest games.
But worry no longer!
I am here to explain exactly what you are looking for in a gaming laptop and how to understand the various specifications like graphics processing units (GPU) and central processing units (CPU).
Are you ready? Let’s get started!
Can You Even Get A Good Gaming Laptop For Under $800?
Surprisingly, yes! While computer companies often make it seem like you need the most expensive option, you can get some great gaming laptops for under $800.
You will not get all the fancy bells and whistles, but I will let you in on a little secret.
Do you know all those flashing lights and fancy designs on more expensive gaming laptops?
Well, most of what you are paying for with a gaming laptop tends to be for that cool and sci-fi feeling design. You can just as easily find a powerful gaming laptop at an affordable price if you know what to look for.
So if you already know what you are looking for in a laptop, feel free to jump down to the Best Gaming Laptop section, where I share my top-budget gaming laptops.
What to Look for In an Affordable Gaming Laptop?
While there are many different specs to look at and consider when choosing a laptop, there are only four you have to focus on. They are the computer’s GPU/graphics card, CPU, RAM, and storage.
While those are the only ones you must focus on, you should also consider the computer’s battery life, screen/display, and the number of ports. But if you feel overwhelmed by the basics, then focus on the big four.
The first thing to consider is one of the big four: the GPU. The GPU is the part of the laptop that renders your games’ graphics and helps you have a seamless and enjoyable gaming experience.
You may experience poor graphics without a strong GPU when playing games like Minecraft, Call of Duty, Overwatch, and more.
Now, when looking at computers, you will notice two types of graphics cards: integrated and dedicated. Integrated graphics cards are good for beginners, but if you want to play graphic-intensive games, you need dedicated graphics cards.
The difference between the two is that integrated graphics cards are worked into your CPU and thus use the CPU’s resources and RAM to process graphics.
On the other hand, dedicated graphics cards, like NVIDIA and AMD, are separate from the CPU. They are given their own processing power and RAM, freeing up your CPU to focus on everything else.
A dedicated GPU is important if you want to enjoy your games at a decent frame rate!
If ray-tracing is important to you, you’ll need a laptop with an Nvidia GeForce RTX GPU or similar (RTX means the card supports raytracing).
Laptops with RTX are hard to find for less than $800, so I recommend you look here instead, which still has some affordable options.
The CPU is the second main computer spec you must consider when choosing a laptop. If you are strapped for cash, getting a strong CPU with integrated graphics can work, but you should always attempt to get a laptop with both a CPU and GPU.
There are currently two main processors on the market: the Intel and the AMD Ryzen series. Both are good CPUs, but AMD will cost you a bit more because they have a slight edge over Intel overall.
If you just want a good gaming experience and do not care about having the most powerful computer, it is better to go with an Intel i5 or Intel i7 with a dedicated graphics card.
Once you have settled on either Intel or AMD Ryzen, you need to look at the clock speed and the processor count. For the best gaming experience, you will want a quad-core processor with a clock speed between 3.1 GHz and 4.5 GHz at the minimum.
You should not go lower than a quad-core and 3.1 GHz because you will likely experience lag when playing most games.
The third of the big three, RAM, is your computer’s working memory. So everything you do at a given time is using RAM.
You’ll often see names like DDR4 or DDR5 associated with RAM. The higher the number, the faster the RAM.
Don’t worry too much about this, though. Sure, you’ll get slightly better performance with DDR5, but the RAM series is not as important as the GB DDR RAM amount when looking to buy an affordable laptop. You can play all your favorite video games as long as the PC has at least DDR4 (and most do).
How much GB of DDR RAM you need depends on what you do and how many tasks you run simultaneously.
When playing a game, your computer will use a lot of RAM, so you want to ensure you have plenty to use. I recommend at least 8GB of RAM for a gaming laptop and 16GB if you want to run demanding games.
You will be hard-pressed to find 32GB of RAM on a computer for under $800, but getting more GB RAM is never a bad idea if you are willing to spend a bit more.
However, you can easily enjoy most AAA games with only 8GB if you have a strong CPU with a dedicated GPU. Otherwise, you will run into lag and a poor game experience overall.
The fourth specification of the big four to consider when purchasing a gaming laptop is storage. You want to purchase a computer with enough space for your needs, though if you plan to play only a few games, you can skimp out on the storage space a bit.
Before settling on the number of GBs of storage you want, you need to decide if you want a Hard Disk Drive (HDD) or a Solid State Drive (SSD). SSDs are faster and smaller than HDDs but are currently more expensive. They are cheaper, but you will spend more if you want one.
If you only need a small amount of storage for casual PC games, I recommend getting a 128 GB SSD. A 128GB SSD is fast, provides you with plenty of room for everyday use, and does not cost much more than an HDD.
On the other hand, if you know you will be downloading a ton of games, you may be better off getting a 512GB HDD or larger. 256 GB of SSD storage can also work, but if you are going for sheer storage, get at least a 512 GB HDD.
Also, consider the type of games you want to play. Casual or older games usually don’t take up much storage. But many modern games that have a lot of fancy graphics take up A LOT of space. So if you plan to play a lot of RPGs, racing, or flight simulation, you need lots of storage.
Screen / Display
While not one of the big four when choosing a gaming laptop, choosing a computer with a large screen is still essential. If you plan on traveling a lot with your laptop, a 15.6” screen will be perfect for your needs.
On the other hand, if you keep your computer in one place most of the time, finding a 17” screen will improve your gaming experience.
While choosing a laptop with a large screen is excellent for gaming, you need to remember the actual display settings. Look for laptops with a 1920×1080 resolution (also known as a 1080 p display or a Full HD display) and a 144Hz high refresh rate.
Your graphics will look much sharper and smoother, which, as everyone knows, improved graphics equals improved gaming ability, right?
When looking at gaming laptops, taking a look at their battery life is always a good idea, especially if you plan on traveling a lot.
If you want better battery life, you will need to find a gaming computer with a 60Hz refresh rate, which lasts around 4 hours on average compared to 2 hours from computers with a 144Hz refresh rate.
On average, if you are not using a laptop for intense gaming, it will have a battery life of between 6 – 8 hours. Some laptops can reach 10 hours, but that is still pretty rare as of the time of this writing.
Ports and Connectivity
Ports are the final specs to pay attention to when looking at gaming laptops. At a minimum, your computer should have two USB and one HDMI port.
That is just the bare minimum, though, as the more ports you have on your laptop, the better. More ports allow you to attach more accessories to your computers, such as external hard drives, mice, keyboards, and more.
Best Laptops under $800 right now
Now that you know exactly what to look for in a gaming laptop, I have compiled a list of some of the best gaming laptops at this price point. Each one is under $800, so you do not have to worry about breaking your wallet when purchasing one of them.
1. Acer Nitro 5 – Best buy for the average gamer
- GPU: NVIDIA RTX 3050 (Dedicated)
- CPU: AMD Ryzen 5 (3.30GHz)
- Cores: Hexa-core (6 cores)
- RAM: 8GB
- Screen/Display: 15.6”; 1920×1080 resolution; 60Hz refresh
- Storage: 512GB SSD
- Ports: 4 USB ports; 1 HDMI port; Audio Jack
The Acer Nitro 5 is a great choice for under $800 because while it runs cheap, it does not fail to deliver on power.
It has a dedicated NVIDIA RTX 3050 graphics card and an AMD Ryzen 5 processor and offers a great gaming performance and enough power for daily tasks.
You can download all the games you want on this laptop without issues, thanks to its 512GB SSD, and then enjoy them with no lag.
Even though the 15.6-inch display only comes with a 60Hz refresh rate, the graphics card provides fluid graphics so as not to break your immersion through poor graphics.
Are you someone who burns through space like there is no tomorrow? If so, the Acer Nitro 5 may be perfect for you, thanks to its 4 USB ports. You can hook up an external hard drive, mouse, and keyboard and still have an extra port for anything else.
Weighing in at only around 4 pounds, it is perfect for carrying around and taking with you. The only issue with taking it on the go is that it has a poor battery life and, like other gaming laptops, only lasts around 2 – 3 hours when playing a game.
Outside of gaming, though, it has low power consumption and will last you a solid 5 – 6 hours on battery alone. No more lugging it between power stations when you are on the go, so long as you only use it for non-gameplay activities.
There are some issues with the Acer Nitro 5, primarily the display and the speakers. There is no bass, and the sound comes out sounding mushy.
While gaming laptops are typically used with headphones to get the best sound, you will be greatly disappointed if you do not use them on the Acer Nitro 5.
Check out my guide to the best white headsets for gaming here.
Besides the speakers, the display has a matte design, making the colors look muddy at low brightness levels. That is why many gamers recommend using an external monitor with this laptop.
You get to enjoy impressive computing power while at the same time enjoying unaffected graphics at lower brightness levels.
The last downfall of this laptop is that the keyboard and trackpad are not created for people with larger hands. While not necessarily a dealbreaker, if you have trouble using smaller-sized laptops, you should look for a different one.
Special Acer Nitro Extra Features
Besides the impressive specs on this laptop, there is another specific feature I especially enjoy about this laptop. That feature is NitroSense which is built-in software that comes with the Acer Nitro 5.
It allows you to control your fan speeds while monitoring and adjusting your CPU and GPU fan speeds. This allows you to choose between temperature and sound when gaming, so you can choose not to deal with loud fan noises.
But adjusting your fan speeds is not the only thing that NitroSense does. It also records your computer’s temperature and loads over time, which can be useful when troubleshooting hardware problems.
- Backlit Keyboard
- Large storage space
- Plenty of ports for all your needs
- Low battery life
- Touchpad lacks precision
2. Asus TUF Gaming A17 – Impressive performance for the price
- GPU: NVIDIA GeForce GTX (Dedicated)
- CPU: AMD Ryzen 5 (4.0GHz)
- Cores: Hexa-core (6 cores)
- RAM: 8GB
- Screen/Display: 17.3” screen; 1920×1080 resolution; 144Hz refresh rate
- Storage: 512GB SSD
- Ports: 3 USB ports; 1 HDMI port; Audio jack
Maximizing its graphics power, the Asus TUF Gaming A17 is one of the best gaming laptops under $800 currently on the market. It has a dedicated NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1650 graphics card and an AMD Ryzen 5 processor. With that combination, you do not have to worry about running your favorite games on this laptop.
Like most laptops on this list, the Asus TUF Gaming A17 comes with a 512GB SSD, allowing enough space for any game you want. And on top of that, it is fairly easy to hook up an external hard drive.
One of the best features of this laptop, though, is its 17.3” screen and 144Hz refresh rate. The screen also comes with Asus Eye Care technology which helps prevent eye strain, a common problem with long hours spent in front of a screen.
Also, the big screen and the dedicated graphics card make this a great laptop for video editing.
Gone are the days of struggling to see your opponents on the edge of your screen. Your gaming experience will be seamless graphics, no lag, and crushing your opponents in battle.
Another great feature about this laptop, while making it heavy, is its MIL-STD-810H military standard construction. The keyboard and body have been reinforced to handle accidental drops and prevent the insides from damaging.
The primary issue with the Asus TUF Gaming A17 laptop is that it is built bulky due to its numerous drives. Also, this beast weighs an impressive 6 lbs compared to the usual 4 lbs most laptops weigh. So get a good backpack for it!
Besides its weight, there is very little not to like about this laptop. It has high-quality processors, amazing graphics, good speakers, and excellent battery life. You will be hard-pressed to find a reason not to like this laptop once you start using it.
- High-end quality display
- Great battery life
- Powerful CPU and dedicated GPU
- Large screen
- Heavy and kind of clunky
- Not built for travel
3. MSI GF63 Thin – Best budget laptop with good performance (and a nice keyboard!)
- GPU: NVIDIA GTX (Dedicated)
- CPU: Intel core i5 (2.5GHz, up to 4.0GHz)
- Cores: Hexa-core (6 cores)
- RAM: 8GB
- Screen/Display: 15.6” screen; 1920×1080 resolution; 60Hz refresh rate
- Storage: 512GB SSD
- Ports: 3 USB Ports; 1 HDMI port; Headphone and Microphone jack
Next up on the list is the MSI GF63 Thin, built specifically for gaming and does away with any unnecessary software.
While it may not boast top-of-the-line processors and drives, it more than makes up for it by using what it does have to the maximum. It does not bother with useless bells and whistles and focuses on its one job, delivering a great gaming experience.
It can handle most games without trouble with an Intel Core i5-10300H CPU and a dedicated NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1650 graphics card. And even though the base clock speed is only 2.5GHz, it comes with Intel Boost technology that can turbo boost it all the way to 4.0GHz.
You will not experience any lag with this laptop, and with 512GB of storage, you can download dozens of games to enjoy. This laptop is a beast with an unassuming design, but trust me when I say this is one of the best gaming laptops on the market.
While the screen and display are decidedly average, the keyboard is quite impressive. It has built-in LEDs, lighting up your keys and giving it that futuristic gaming vibe. With well-spaced-out keys and anti-ghosting technology, the MSI GF63 is comfortable to play for long periods of time.
There are only a few minor issues that come with this laptop. First is the low battery life, which, if you plan on being on the go a lot, this laptop will require a lot of charging. Secondly is the refresh rate. Most laptops come equipped with 144Hz refresh rate screens nowadays, and while 60Hz is still playable, you may experience slight graphical issues here and there.
Finally, is that this laptop does not come with a Thunderbolt port. While not necessarily a huge deal, it can still lead to having to get extra cords if you have already fully switched over to Thunderbolt technology.
- Backlit keyboard
- Built sturdy and to last
- Great performance for its price
- Low battery life
- Average 60Hz refresh rate
4. HP Pavilion 16 – Best choice for casual gamers
- GPU: Intel UHD Graphics (Integrated)
- CPU: Intel Core i5 (2.5GHz, up to 4.0GHz)
- Cores: Quad-core (4 cores)
- RAM: 8GB
- Screen/Display: 16.1” screen size; 1920×1080 resolution; 60Hz refresh rate
- Storage: 256 SSD
- Ports: 3 USB Ports; 1 HDMI port; Audio Jack
While not nearly as impressive as the other laptops on this list, the HP Pavilion 16 still makes for a great intro gaming laptop. It comes with an Intel Core i5 processor and Intel UHD integrated graphics, which, while alright, are not great for high-end gaming.
You can still enjoy most basic games, but if you want to play Overwatch, Call of Duty, etc., with high-end graphics, you will need a different laptop. On top of that, you may experience minor lag with those games due to the HP Pavilion 16 with only four cores.
While the CPU and GPU are not that impressive, this laptop comes with a backlit keyboard that is comfortable for long periods of time. The keys are easy to press and make a great clicking sound when you type on them.
Another nice aspect of this laptop is its anti-glare display. Couple that with the slightly larger screen size, and you can enjoy your gaming inside or outside without worrying about being blinded by the sun.
While the HP Pavilion 16 does not have major issues, it is not suited for serious gamers because of its CPU, GPU, and display. Now, while the display is not bad, it has anti-glare and is a 16.1” screen; the refresh rate is only 60Hz.
Another aspect some gamers may have mixed feelings about regarding the HP Pavilion 16 is the design. Instead of incorporating the usual flashy lights and sci-fi-looking chassis, it is a fairly unassuming design with a Shadow Black color and a basic backlit keyboard.
Finally, the speakers are less than great. The sound is underwhelming, the bass sounds tinny, and occasionally, you may get audio distortions at higher volume sounds. So, just like the Acer Nitro 5, you will want to use headphones for the HP Pavilion 16 to enjoy the best audio quality.
- Full-sized backlit keyboard
- Slightly larger than average screen
- Good Graphics
- Average processor
- Graphics are Integrated instead of Dedicated
- Only a 60Hz refresh rate
While finding a new gaming laptop can seem like a struggle, if you keep the advice and recommendations above in mind, you will have a much easier time! I hope you also found some of the laptop deals and suggestions useful.
If you found this article helpful, check out some of our other guides, like this one on the best computers for Minecraft! Until next time, happy gaming!
Q: Do I need a specific gaming laptop?
A: In truth, no. You do not need a laptop labeled as a gaming laptop; you can use any type of computer or laptop for gaming. However, gaming laptops are built specifically with gaming in mind, so their systems are designed to work together to provide the best gaming experience you can have.
So if you know you will be gaming most of the time, the better option is always to get an actual gaming laptop versus a high-end notepad.
Q: I want to play VR on my laptop; how do I know if it supports it?
A: If you plan on using your laptop to run VR games, you will need to visit the manufacturer’s website to learn if it supports VR. Remember, though, that most laptops do not have the necessary hardware. If your laptop can support Virtual Reality but does not have the necessary hardware, you can typically purchase external hardware.
Q: How do I know if my computer can run the games I want to play?
A: When looking for a gaming laptop, if you already know what games you want to play on it, you should check out the game’s minimum and recommended specifications. You can usually find those directly on a game’s website or, if it is a steam game, near the bottom of the game’s store page.
Q: Should I get an SSD or an HDD laptop?
A: As SSDs become more prominent and come with more storage space, HDDs are starting to become a thing of the past. SSDs are faster, do not heat up due to no moving parts, and provide a better general experience. However, HDDs are slightly cheaper, but you are better off paying a bit more to get the SSD.