10 Best Budget Gaming Laptops of 2018
Finding the best budget gaming laptop on the market in 2018 is really easy, generally speaking. All that a consumer has to do is to find the most expensive one with the best hardware built into it. While this may be a valid method for a small percentage of us, many people will have the biggest restriction will be their budget. Laptops in this price range are difficult to differentiate between sometimes, and finding the best laptops can be somewhat tricky.
Luckily for us, there is a burgeoning middle of the road, 2018 midrange selection of laptops that maximizes performance in the class of hardware that they are being contested at. This means that for less money, more enjoyment can be extracted from the best laptops chosen our list of the best budget gaming laptop.
Best Budget Gaming Laptop Reviews
- 1. ASUS ZX53VW 15.6″ Gaming Laptop, NVIDIA, GTX 960M
- 2. Eluktronics N850HK1 Pro Premium Gaming Laptop
- 3. Acer Aspire R 15 Convertible Laptop, 7th Gen Intel Core i7
- 4. Acer Aspire E5-573G 15.6-Inch Gaming Laptop
- 5. Dell Inspiron 15.6″ Gaming Laptop
- 6. PROSTAR Clevo Gaming Laptop N850HK1 15.6″ FHD IPS
- 7. Acer Aspire VX 15 Gaming Laptop, 7th Gen Intel Core i7
- 8. MSI Computer GL62 6QF-1446 Core i7-6700HQ Gaming Laptop
- 9. ASUS K501UW-AB78 15.6-inch Full-HD Gaming Laptop
- 10. Acer Predator Helios 300 Gaming Laptop, Intel Core i7
The best way that this is accomplished, is by using hardware from previous versions of flagship hardware. This is possible because flagship hardware is normally overclockable and tweakable, meaning that these products are fine tuned for the best performance for laptops. Laptops that seem to sell the best in 2018, especially the best budget laptops, will have the best mix between performance and affordability.
Another way that these products make themselves affordable is by using cheaper, more efficient versions of a gaming hardware platform. These laptops offer fantastic value for money for gamers that are on a tight budget. We will look at 10 of the best budget gaming laptops.
Buyers Guide Questions
Do all Gaming Laptops come with Integrated Graphics Cards to Handle all Games?
Unfortunately, the answer here is a resounding ‘no’. While this would be the case in an ideal world, integrated (and standalone) graphics solutions present many challenges when they are chosen to be used in a laptop. The first and most obvious is the cost of the unit. Because a GPU is so advanced and packed full of features, using one adds significantly to the cost of manufacturing a gaming laptop, and as with all things in life, the higher the quality, the higher the cost.
The next consideration is heat dissipation. Once a graphics card kicks into high gear, it generates a lot of heat, which needs to be absorbed and ejected from the system. This is done a few different ways, normally by using copper heat pipes, heat spreaders and heat sinks, in conjunction with a high volume fan to move hot air out of the system. In premium laptops, water cooling solutions are often employed, but this is much less common in laptops, and is more relevant to gaming desktop PCs.
These added components add additional complexity and cost to a laptop, so manufacturers will often include only a very basic and rudimentary GPU that is physically soldered onto the motherboard, as part of the system’s chipset. These graphics cards have difficulty rendering graphics in 3D and are more suited to 2D applications such as productivity suites like Microsoft Office and internet browsing (click here for a full guide on wifi adaptors), or watching videos online.
Luckily for you though, we have put together a decent list of some of the best in budget gaming laptops, so that you, the consumer, can make the best decision when selecting your budget gaming laptop.
What are the Different Displays Usually Found on Gaming Laptops?
When it comes to finding the best gaming laptops of 2018, there are many different types of displays to consider when trying to find one that suits your particular needs. We have LCD (Liquid Crystal Displays) being the most common, due to its low cost and ease of manufacture, so we will look at the different variants of this type that are available, mainly the coatings that cover the screen.
IPS is perhaps the most desirable and the best of the two as it offers better color reproduction and vibrancy of colors, while also giving better viewing angles at the same time, but there is a reduction in frame rates which means that gaming can be affected in some rare instances, but this is not necessarily true of all IPS panels.
TN coating is the panel type that you are probably looking at right now while reading this article, if you are an average laptop user, anyway. It provides a duller, less vibrant color representation, with more acute viewing angles, and is seen as being the cheaper of the two. This screen type does provide better refresh rates and also frame rates seem be quite stable on these displays. Laptops are starting to feature some pretty amazing screen technologies, making laptops an indispensable tool in the modern day gamer’s arsenal.
In addition to these options, there are also options when it comes to LCD screens: Matte vs Glossy finishes. These two options are widely seen as being the most important screen characteristics when it comes to gaming on the go, as a matte screen is generally seen as the best when it comes to reducing glare when outside or near a big window. Glossy displays are great for presentations and for general productivity, and offer greater clarity in some cases, making colors pop.
Higher end gaming displays are now employing NVidia’s GSYNC technology, which prevents frame tearing and on-screen artifacts from appearing mid game, and this allows gamers to enjoy a more seamless and clear graphical experience on-screen.
Ultimately these decisions will come down to personal preference and what feels like a better fit for the consumer, but these tips will help you find what works best for you, and will help you to find the best in laptops for 2018.
Do you need to buy an External plug-n-play Keyboard and Mouse with the Gaming Laptop?
The keyboard end of this question is up for debate. There are many people that consider the laptop keyboards that their system comes equipped with as being more than sufficient, while PC gaming purists may find the idea of gaming on a laptop keyboard as being less than ideal.
Having a gaming keyboard that is connected to your laptop is not a bad idea, if you have hands that are bigger than usual and find that the confines of a laptop keyboard are not working for you, but this is not necessarily a problem for everyone. If you have a big enough laptop bad for carrying an external keyboard around with you then it shouldn’t be too much of an extra burden for you to manage, but it probably won’t be necessary.
Using the trackpad for gaming is not really an option as it was not designed to be used as a gaming peripheral. Even with multi-touch enabled trackpads there just isn’t enough versatility to allow players to get the most out of their experience with a track-pad. In this instance it is definitely worth the extra effort of carrying around a primary gaming mouse that you can connect up to your laptop’s USB port, or if you have a Bluetooth mouse, you can connect wirelessly to your laptop.
Carrying a mouse around in your laptop bag is not much of a hassle, so this is definitely recommended for anyone that finds themselves needing to game a little while they are out and about. Laptops are not meant to be used as gaming controllers, so a mouse and keyboard is a must.
There are many great gaming mouse models on the market, and many of them feature advanced features such as macros and DPI sensitivity settings that can be used in real time while you are in-game, which means that you can adapt your style of play while without having to interrupt the gaming action.
Do Laptops have all the Features Required for Gaming?
No. Many laptops have only the most basic functions built into them. This is because laptops are more likely to be used as a business tool or a home office/educational tool than for gaming. This is especially true with the lower costing laptop models on the market, as they ship with fewer features and their build quality and style are normally very plain, and are aimed at basic computer users.
A gaming laptop must have a great processor (Central Processing Unit) in order to load games and application quickly. Many newer games are finally starting to use multi-threaded tasking, which allows for games to take advantage of multiple processor cores. Having multiple cores working in unison creates a parallel work flow within your system, which means that tasks can be run simultaneously. This allows your laptop to run faster and finish loading games and applications much, much quicker.
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Another major requirement for a gaming laptop is a decent graphics card (Graphical Processing Unit) which is the single most important component when it comes to rendering your games’ graphics in 3D. Your GPU uses advanced mathematical equations and formulas to help it to calculate advanced geometrical shapes such as polygons, which are the building blocks of modern graphics in PC games.
Fast system memory (Random Access Memory) is another important factor that is needed for a gamers laptop. The frequency that the RAM runs at is also known as a clock speed, just like your graphics card and CPU, and the higher this clock speed or frequency runs, the more cycles of operations it can complete per second. RAM also needs to be plentiful, the more RAM in your gaming laptop, the better. That is why laptops should not consider anything less than 8GB of RAM to run games smoothly.
What are the Ideal Specs for Gaming Laptops?
Unfortunately, there is no ‘one size fits all’ solution to this problem, and it comes down largely to what your personal preferences are, as well as what you are wanting to do with your laptop, other than gaming.
Generally speaking, an Intel Core i5 CPU should be fine for casual game-play on your laptop. An i5 possesses all of the features that a PC gamer needs, multiple cores, great system cache and high clock speeds. If gaming is the not the only thing that you are doing with the system then you should be looking at a more powerful CPU like an i7, especially if you are doing a lot of processor intensive operations such as CAD and other design software.
RAM for playing should be a minimum of 8GB with the way that today’s modern titles are designed, with many games seeing benefits from as much as 16GB of RAM. Anything above 16GB starts to become a bit too subjective for people to accurately see any benefits while playing, and benchmarking software yields similar results.
Gamers will want their graphics card to be the single most powerful component in their laptop. This is because not many laptops allow for graphical upgrades, because most of the time the GPU is built into the motherboard and is not a replaceable component.
NVidia has been dominating the mobile GPU landscape for some time now, so any sincere recommendation on that fron would have to be one for the green team. Older graphics cards such as the GTX 960 and GTX 980 are still capable cards, but the risk with buying previous generation hardware is that your platform is that much closer to obsolescence than a current hardware platform. GTX 1050 Ti, GTX 1060 and GTX 1080 cards are the sweet spot currently in 2018.
How do you Choose the best Gaming Laptop on a Budget?
When looking to choose the best gaming laptop of 2018 on a budget, there are many factors to consider. The best approach to take is the one that we outlined previously, make sure that the graphics card in your system is the highest and best rated in the range that you are looking at. If there is an option between an i7 CPU with a lower rated graphics card, or an i5 with a higher rated graphics card, always go with the best rated graphics card option as this will provide you with the best gaming platform.
This will allow your games to run at the recommended resolutions and detail levels which will provide you with a better gaming experience overall. After you have narrowed your search by following these criteria, start to look at what your needs are for beyond 2018.
Will you require lots of drive storage for your movies and music? Or is speed a move valuable commodity for your laptop gaming requirements? If the latter is your main concern, then an SSD Hard Disk Drive will be the best option for you, while the former would necessitate the use of a standard SATA mechanical Hard Disk Drive with higher storage capacity.
Best bang for your Buck
The best 2018 budget gamer laptop for you will be the best overall package that is offered at a price that is compatible with your needs and your budget. Quality construction is also a concern, so make sure that the laptop that you decide to get will last you for the duration of its warranty, at the very least.
Choosing a unit with the best warranty is also an excellent idea, especially if you are worried about component failure, you really want your laptop to last long after 2018 has passed. Replacing hardware on a laptop that is out of warranty is an expensive exercise, so make sure that your warranty is in place and if you have the option to extend your warranty, it is probably for the best.
Make sure that the laptop that you choose is one that you really like, as a choice like this is apt to stay with you for at least a year or two past 2018. This is because even though we are looking at budget gaming laptops, they are still pricey items to fork out your hard earned cash for, so it is best to choose the laptop that suits you the best.
Our 2018 Top Pick comes in the form of the Asus ZX53VW 15.6 inch gamer laptop. It comes with an NVidia GTX 960M, an Intel Core i5 and 8GB of DDR 4, 2400MHz RAM. On the face of it, the Asus looks to be a great budget laptop, and the specs confirm it. The overall design of the laptop lends itself well to gaming, and the keyboard shows this with its great backlit keyboard.
The WASD keys are highlighted for extra precision when playing your favourite titles. It offers great cooling via its system fans, and there are wide air vents to help expel hot air as the system starts to warm up while gaming. There is also an optical drive that will allow for CDs and DVDs.
If glare on your screen is a concern, then you may be pleased to know that the Asus ZX53VW 15.6 inch Gaming Laptop features a matte LCD display. This is a capable gaming laptop, and with its reasonable pricing and great looks, gamers will be hard pressed to find another laptop with these specifications for the price.
Our 2018 Premium Choice appears to also be one of our best priced Intel Core i7-7700HQ quad core based budget gaming laptops. The Eluktronics N850HK1 Pro Premium Gaming Laptop has DDR 4 memory, which makes this one of the fastest laptops in our round up.
It offers a full HD IPS display, which is powered by a GTX 1050 Ti graphics card to provide all of the gaming graphical power that is needed to render 3D games at great frame rates and at optimal refresh rates.
The hard drive is a 256GB SSD which offers phenomenal read and write speeds for data transfers. That means that when booting up the PC into the Windows Operating System there will be almost no waiting time at all, with lightning fast load times. The laptop has a style that gamers will appreciate as it has a full RGB LED backlit keyboard that will provide many different lighting customizations.
The Acer Aspire R 15 Convertible Laptop, has a 7th Gen Intel Core i7 CPU and also runs with 12GB of DDR 4 RAM. This is an interesting laptop because it is the only one in our list that has a touch screen, as well as an almost 360 degrees of motion on the LCD hinge.
This means that it can be ‘folded’ into the shape of a tablet as well, making it a versatile and very useful gamer laptop. While it doesn’t have the most powerful GPU in our round up, the NVidia GeForce GTX 940MX is still able to play games at medium detail at Full HD resolutions. It has a dedicated 2GB of GDDR5 VRAM.
The touch screen is covered in a solid glass top that runs all the way across the screen, giving it a premium feel and a durable touch surface. The battery can last up to 9 hours which means that users can enjoy a full work day out of the device before having to charge it again.
Security is handled by a fingerprint reader, meaning that your device will be safe from prying eyes. The device’s versatility means that it can be used in 4 different configurations: Notebook, Display, Tent and Tablet.