If you go out searching for just the best gaming laptop in 2021, you could easily find yourself spending thousands of dollars. While the hardware on such expensive gaming laptops is legitimately impressive, those types of uber gaming laptops are typically outside the needs and the financial means of the majority of gamers. Despite some common misconceptions, you don’t need to spend a small fortune to buy a laptop for games.
To prove that, we’ve rounded up 10 of the best gaming laptop models available for under $800. They aren’t going to provide you with cutting-edge performance on the latest games, but they’re all a reasonable entry into serious gaming. And since shopping on a budget means shopping smarter, we’ll even help you understand what to expect for under $800.
TL;DR - Best Gaming Laptops Under $800:
- MSI GF63 Thin 9SCX-005 FHD Gaming Laptop
- HP OMEN 15″ Gaming Laptop
- Acer Nitro 5 15.6″ FHD Laptop
- Lenovo Ideapad L340 Laptop
- ASUS TUF FX705DY-EH53 Gaming Laptop
- Dell G3 15 3579 Gaming Laptop
- Asus 15.6” TUF FX505DT Gaming Laptop
- HP Pavilion 15.6″ FHD IPS Premium Gaming Laptop
- Lenovo Legion Y7000 15.6″ FHD IPS Gaming Laptop
- Acer Nitro 5 15.6″ FHD Gaming Laptop
1. MSI GF63 Thin 9SCX-005 FHD Gaming Laptop
Powerhouse with Serious Graphics Credibility
MSI is a brand known to devote almost all of their resources to producing computers and hardware for gaming, so it's only natural that an MSI laptop would be a top contender for the best gaming laptop under $800. The i5 processor draws from Intel's ninth generation architecture for an extra boost without a lot of added cost, and MSI has had the good sense to pack in a NVIDIA GeForce chip for better gaming performance.
But just because it's a powerful laptop doesn't mean that you need to worry about it running hot or noisy to get the latest and best gaming experience. This laptop makes use of an efficient and smartly designed cooling system that keeps everything operating just as it should even when running resource-heavy apps. And whether you prefer to play casual games, indies, or AAA releases, they're all accessible through the MSI app player.
2. HP OMEN 15″ Gaming Laptop
Reliable Performance with Strong Sound
The first thing you'll notice off the bat with the HP Omen is how good it looks in action. With its curved design, gun metal finish, and red-backlit keyboard, it's a laptop that leaves a real impression, but the specs here are more by the book than the exterior would suggest. With its i5 Core processor and NVIDIA GeForce GTX graphics card, this laptop delivers some solid and practical balance for under $800.
Those specs alone would be enough to justify a purchase of under $800, but HP has a few tricks up their sleeve with this laptop. The speakers are actually rock solid and offer you an immersive listening experience without having to invest in extra speakers. And despite the fact that it only promises a refresh rate of 60 Hz, it supports NVIDIA G-SYNC technology for smoother frame rates and better overall performance.
3. Acer Nitro 5 15.6″ FHD Laptop
Laptops With Serious Upgrade Potential
The Acer Nitro sports a design sensibility very similar to the HP Omen. That's a good sign, as the Omen regularly shows up on our best-of lists, but what Acer does especially well is understand the limitations that come from building a gaming laptop for under $800 and try to minimize those liabilities as much as possible. The specs here are relatively standard for the under $800 price point, but they're well-tuned to make sure as few of your resources are wasted as possible.
And while the memory and storage on the Acer Nitro 5 aren't going to be up to snuff for the needs of the most serious gamers, it's at least easily accessible so you can make upgrades or replace hardware when you need to. There's also a ton of different ports, so you'll have full compatibility with a wide variety of different devices.
4. Lenovo Ideapad L340 Laptop
Reliable Fundamentals with Impressive Color Reproduction
Lenovo understands that the ideal laptop doesn't need to overcompensate with a lot of flash and little substance. The IdeaPad L340 is instead focused on providing you with all the fundamentals you need to have the best experience possible. The keyboard is highly responsive if a little stiff, and blue backlighting means that you won't have any trouble excelling at your favorite games even in a dark room.
Where this laptop really succeeds is in single-player gaming. With its above-average contrast ratio and excellent color reproduction, vivid landscapes like the jungle of Rise of the Tomb Raider will look more vibrant, and the retro animation of games like Cuphead will stand out in starker black and white. While this is an entry-level gaming laptop through and through, the hardware is well configured and can compete comfortably with other budget gaming laptop models.
5. ASUS TUF FX705DY-EH53 Gaming Laptop
A Rugged and Durable Laptop
It's a surprise that more gaming laptops don't make use of an AMD chipset. While Intel is the top dog once you get into the most powerful processors, an AMD CPU/GPU combo is one of the most efficient ways to keep the price of a gaming laptop under $800, and the ASUS TUF is proof that it works. A Ryzen 5 and a Radeon chip are both packed into this one-inch thick gaming laptop.
You'll have a hard time not getting immersed when you're sitting in front of this screen. Its clear and crisp display is over 17 inches from corner to corner, and the cooling system also makes use of anti-dust technology for a healthier gaming laptop over the long term. And as the name would suggest, this is a tough laptop. Both the chassis and the keyboard are designed to withstand a beating.
6. Dell G3 15 3579 Gaming Laptop
A Truly Balanced Gaming Laptop
The G3 series from Dell doesn't try to be the best of everything, but that can actually be one of the best options for a laptop under $800. By opting for an i5 rather than i7 processor, Dell has managed to pack a pretty decent GeForce GTX 1050 graphics processor into this gaming laptop, and the anti-glare display makes it much easier to read the battlefield even when you're in a brightly lit environment.
That focus on slightly lower hardware specs also means Dell has been able to lavish attention elsewhere. There are a ton of ports built into the side of this slim gaming laptop, and there's a dual fan in place to siphon off any unnecessary heat while still running smoothly and silently. The G3 even comes with Waves MaxxAudio Pro speakers so you don't need to invest in dedicated gaming speakers unless you want to.
7. Asus 15.6” TUF FX505DT Gaming Laptop
Great Balance of Performance and Battery Life
The ASUS TUF FX505DT is more living proof that AMD can hang with Intel when it comes to gaming laptops under $800, although it's not a full AMD machine. Instead, the inclusion of an NVIDIA GeForce graphics card adds a little extra power to your graphics performance in-game. And whether you're looking to broadcast a battle royale on the big screen, connect a PS4 controller, or hook it directly to your modem, there's a port for it.
But the TUF's value as a gaming powerhouse extends simply beyond the raw hardware specs. This is a gaming laptop that will automatically measure your power needs against your battery life to ensure no interruption even during extended sessions of gaming. And like every gaming laptop in the TUF series, this is a masterfully built frame - utilizing a heavy-duty chassis tested to military toughness standards and sporting a keyboard with an exceedingly long life.
8. HP Pavilion 15.6″ FHD IPS Premium Gaming Laptop
Sleek Design With Some Serious Muscle
"HP Pavilion" may not be the toughest sounding name for a gaming laptop, but it actually has some muscle beneath its milquetoast name. A full-sized island-style keyboard is packed into this gaming laptop without having a major impact on its form factor, and it's fully backlit for better accuracy even in the dark. HP has paired a pretty standard AMD chip with an NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1050 processor, and the impact can definitely be felt in the graphics of more recent AAA games.
Moving away from hardware, the design here is one of our favorites. The curved corners lend an extra level of sleekness to an already compact laptop, and it alludes to gaming laptop sensibilities without being so ostentatious to look out of place at the office. What's more, the battery will provide you with a decent life of about six hours while gaming.
9. Lenovo Legion Y7000 15.6″ FHD IPS Gaming Laptop
Equal Measures Sleek and Vibrant
We're frankly a bit surprised about how much Lenovo has managed to pack into the latest version of their series of Legion gaming laptops. The design is a sleek mix of red and black sharp lines and curves, and it's a step up from many gaming laptops under $800 in terms of graphics. The GTX 1050 Ti is a nice step up from the standard GTX 1050, and it's well complemented by an eighth-generation core processor.
And while it's just an FHD display, the vibrancy on this gaming laptop is exceptional. You can expect brighter and more vibrant experiences when you dig into your favorite games. Keeping pace with those hefty specs is a dual-channel cooling system, and that quality craftsmanship extends all over the body. The keyboard in particular deserves praise for its responsiveness and long potential life span.
10. Acer Nitro 5 15.6″ FHD Gaming Laptop
Great All-Around Performance
The Acer Nitro 5 leans hard into its loyalties to AMD - but the truth is, it works. The combination of both an AMD GPU and CPU means better performance all around, and it comes with both a substantial internal hard drive and an additional external hard drive free of charge. USB 3.0 and USB 3.1 are both supported, and the number of cores at work here is perfectly tailored for multitasking.
The screen resolution is great, too. Just like basically all the other laptops, this is a Full HD panel, but Acer has taken some measures to make sure that it can edge out the competition. The ComfyView technology helps cut back the impact of reflections on your screen, and the fact that it's an IPS display means that it also looks great from a wide variety of different angles.
Gaming Laptops Under $800 Buyer’s Guide
We’ve talked at length elsewhere about the demands of a gaming laptop, and the truth is, the very best models are going to cost you significantly more than $800. That means when you’re tracking down a cheap gaming laptop, you need to have an especially strong understanding of the specs so you can stretch your budget out as far as possible. Below we’ll talk about what you should look for in cheap laptops for gaming and discuss the sort of expectations you should have for laptops under $800.
- You may also enjoy our best budget gaming laptop guide
- See how the $800 laptop specs compare to these $1000 gaming laptops
- If your budget can stretch, see our guide on the best gaming laptop under $1500
Let’s get one thing out of the way right off the bat. If you have less than $800 to spend on gaming laptops, you’re only going to be looking at a Full HD display. While the standard for modern resolutions is trending more toward 4K, it’s just not feasible to deliver that for less than $800 and still maintain the graphics and smooth gaming experience. But that isn’t nearly as bad as it may seem. The distinction between 4K and Full HD on a laptop model isn’t that different, and most gaming laptops will look just fine at 1080p.
The other thing to consider is the size of your display. Most gaming laptops under $800 utilize a 15.6-inch screen, but displays can be a couple of inches smaller or larger. Obviously, your graphics and general gaming experience are going to benefit from a larger screen, but you need to balance the fidelity of your graphics with the practicality of seeking out laptops that are portable enough to take with you anywhere.
The cost of hardware is largely standardized, and that means that the specs on these cheaper gaming laptop models are going to be pretty similar to one another. But no two budget models are exactly alike, even in terms of the CPU. The standard CPU for gaming on a laptop under $800 is the Intel Core i5. Anything less is really not built for gaming, but the Intel Core i5 does a decent job of playing modern AAA games. There are a few i7s in the mix too, and you should definitely consider them if you want to run your favorite games at the highest settings.
No matter what CPU a laptop uses, you should always try to get a model within the past couple of generations. Right now, we recommend not investing in gaming laptops that are earlier than eighth-generation if you want the top gaming experience.
Graphics are obviously going to be one of the most important things to pay attention to when shopping for the top gaming laptop. If you’re spending a few hundred dollars, you’re going to be better off with a discrete graphics card. Since it doesn’t have to share memory or any other resources with the CPU, a discrete graphics card is the best choice for gaming laptops. In fact, it’s practically a necessity.
Of course, the graphics card you’ll be able to get for under $800 will be a little bit limited. The most common graphics card for a laptop under $800 is the NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1050, but some of the best gaming laptops under $800 on our list use the NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1060. We generally recommend NVIDIA over AMD graphics cards, except in a few instances of gaming laptops that run on an AMD CPU.
If you do decide to expand your search beyond gaming laptops under $800 and towards the best gaming laptops in general, you’ll want to raise the stakes a little. The NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1050 Ti offers a small spike in performance over the standard 1050, but you’ll really start to see serious improvement to your graphics if you make the step up from the NVIDIA GTX series to the RTX graphics card series.
If you find your graphics card isn’t up to the job later down the line, you may want to consider investing in a good eGPU.
Windows 10 is really the only operating system for gaming laptops. While more game developers are creating ports for Linux and Mac, the majority of games are still built to run on Windows 10, and that means that the best gaming laptops are going to be designed to run on Windows 10. That’s true for all gaming laptops, both under $800 and over $800.
RAM (short for Random Access Memory) is one of the most important components of a laptop, but when looking for gaming laptops under $800, you can cut some corners. But what exactly is RAM? When your central processor needs access to information to render graphics or run algorithms, it normally has to draw that information directly from the hard drive.
RAM provides a more efficient solution. It predicts the sort of data that your CPU will most regularly need when working on a specific task, and it will store it in the RAM card so it can be more readily accessed. RAM can help with the overall performance of a laptop, but there is a point where it starts to show diminishing returns.
We recommend that most gamers seek out a laptop with at least 8 GB of RAM, but you don’t need to be too concerned if the RAM capacity on your laptop is a little weak. Even the best gaming laptops have disadvantages, and RAM is one of the easier pieces of hardware to replace.
Speaking of the easiest parts of hardware to replace. Laptop storage is the space used to hold all of your digital information. That can mean everything from family pictures and network TV shows to email archives and backup files. Modern games can take up a whole lot of space on a laptop, and while the best gaming laptops offer a terabyte or more of storage, it shouldn’t be a make or break component when shopping for a new laptop. You can pretty easily upgrade the existing storage on your laptop by installing an internal drive or even just hooking up an external hard drive or flash drive to the USB slot on your laptop.
Keyboard and Track Pad
Less easy to replace is the mouse and keyboard, and that’s a big deal since these are your main ways of interacting with your games. Even the best gaming laptops wouldn’t be worth much if you can’t navigate them, after all. And while you can invest in a wireless external mouse or keyboard, that largely defeats the point of having a laptop in the first place. We’d highly suggest that you take the time to check out different keyboards personally so you can figure out the level of resistance that’s right for your style of gaming.
It wasn’t that long ago that the idea of a laptop for gaming was somewhat absurd, and that’s before even taking into consideration the notion of picking up such a laptop for less than $800. But things have changed. Most of these models on our list can offer respectable performance even when playing the latest and most technologically advanced games. In any case, our guide should provide you with some perspective on what to expect from a budget laptop and help provide you with some guidance on your search.If you liked our article on gaming laptops under $800, please share and comment below what your favorite product is.