Best Gaming Laptop for the Money

Jason Loomis
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Ever since I got my gaming laptop I don’t play games anywhere else. Whether it’s a desktop PC game, or an online multiplayer game I play only on my laptop.

It’s not just the performance or the huge screen that I love. I also enjoy the lightweight and compact size of the best gaming laptop for the money.

But how can you pick the best gaming laptop for you? How can you even know if you’re getting the best bang for your buck. Well, I’m here to help.

Gaming laptops come in so many different shapes, sizes, specs and price points, yet it’s not always clear what you should really pay for.

With so many brands, specs, prices and opinions out there it is difficult to know.

That is why I'm here to help you with your first big investment on a gaming laptop.

Read on to find the best gaming laptop for the money and learn how to make the best choice.

NameCategoryProduct
Dell 15.6-Inch Gaming LaptopBest OverallDell 15.6-Inch Gaming Laptop
MSI GS30 SHADOW-001 13.3-Inch Ultra Portable LaptopBudget PickMSI GS30 SHADOW-001 13.3-Inch Ultra Portable Laptop

1. Dell 15.6-Inch Gaming Laptop

Our rating: 9 / 10

Dell 15.6-Inch Gaming Laptop

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Pros:

  • The latest 6th generation Intel quad-core processor
  • Contains 8GB DDR3 RAM and 6GB Nvidia GeForce GTX 960M
  • It has a high performance power VREngine GT900
  • 128GB SSD + 1TB HDD
  • Thin, fast and full HD display
  • 15.6-inch display with 1920 x 1080 display resolution

Cons:

  • The display flickers when you are changing the brightness
  • The screen is very bright
  • You cannot open the graphics driver unless you get a new window
  • It’s a bit heavy
  • The speakers are not that great

This laptop has a high performance quad-core i5 processor. This processor is very fast and very easy to use. The Laptop also has an HD display which is 1080p. The laptop’s display makes it easy to use and gives you a clear look at what you are doing.

If you are looking for a cheap, affordable and a good quality gaming laptop, then you should go with this one.

2. MSI GS30 SHADOW-001 13.3-Inch Ultra Portable Laptop

Our rating: 8 / 10

MSI GS30 SHADOW-001 13.3-Inch Ultra Portable Laptop

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Pros:

  • Phenomenal build quality
  • Offers high-end laptop features at lower price point
  • Great gaming performance
  • Lightweight, compact design

HDD & MSI GT72 Dominator Pro G-1531 Laptop, 17.3 inch Gaming Laptop Intel Core i7-4710HQ, 16GB RAM, 128GB SSD + 1TB HDD GTX 860M 2GB with G-Sync LCD Display and Backlit Keyboard

Since 2013 the MSI SHADOW series has been going strong. It’s one of the least expensive gaming laptop series out there, but still offers incredible performance and high end features that are usually only found in flagship laptops.

The MSI GS30 is the latest addition to the series and we’re quite impressed by what MSI has created. The high quality casing looks good, is lightweight, and offers more than enough protection for a 13-inch laptop.

3. Acer Predator 17 X Gaming Laptop

Our rating: 7 / 10

Acer Predator 17 X Gaming Laptop

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Pros:

  • Very powerful and great value
  • Solid build quality
  • Features wide viewing angles and solid contrast
  • Powerful speakers
  • Solid performance
  • Plenty of ports available
  • Highly responsive touchpad

This is our pick for a reason. With an Intel Core-i7 6820HK processor, NVIDIA GTX 980M graphics, 32GB of DDR4 RAM, and a massive 1TB SSHD, the Acer Predator 17 X packs some serious performance in addition to a solid design.

If you take a look at the specs, you’ll notice a lot of similarities to the MSI GS70 and Asus G501 models on this list. With that said this is still a great laptop and a solid value.

The only reason we’re giving the MSI GS70 and Asus G501 models the edge is due to their superior build quality and overall chassis design. They also have sharper displays with more vivid colors. However, if you’re a gamer who wants raw performance, the Acer Predator 17 X is a great choice. While its design is boring and its plastic chassis lacks premium features, this machine still gives you high-end performance and reliability.

4. GIGABYTE P35Xv5-SL3

Our rating: 4 / 10

GIGABYTE P35Xv5-SL3

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Pros:

  • First up we have a 15,6-inch screen which is ideal for both first person shooters and many other kinds of games.
  • The i5-6300HQ quad-core 2.3Ghz hyperthreading processor, which tops out at 2.8Ghz, is backed up by a massive 8MB cache on this laptop. This means that the processor is able to have a much faster ramp up time and will in turn have better single-core performance
  • The GTX 980M is pretty much in the same category as the desktop equivalents but is clocked a bit lower. This will not have much of an impact on the performance of the GPU and may actually be better for laptops since they have to deal with much more heat than their desktop counterparts.
  • 16GB of RAM is quite standard for a mid-range gaming laptop and should be more than enough to handle your gaming needs.
  • The 1TB HDD is more than enough to hold all your game files but it can be swapped for a high-speed SATA based SSD if you want to be more competitive in your games. The difference in read and write speed is massive and your load times will almost be non-existent if you get the right SSD.

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Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

What is the best gaming laptop for the money?

When deciding what computer is best for you, the first thing to consider is what your primary needs are for a computer:

  • If you need to do a lot of photo editing and video editing, not to mention video streaming, having a nice big hard drive might be more important than the graphics. A good video graphics card might be more important than all-out gaming graphics.
  • If you usually use the computer to work in an office setting, having one with a higher resolution display will give it a crisp, clean look rather than a crowded, cluttered look. Having a good processor and memory can also be more important than having a really nice graphics card.
  • If you will be using your computer for gaming, the graphics card is most important. The more memory your computer has, the better. Having a big hard drive can be helpful too.

What gaming laptop should I buy?

There are many considerations when deciding on a laptop. Any time someone asks me what laptop they should buy, I ask them what they are going to be using the laptop for. If they tell me they want to play games, I ask them if they can run these games at their desired settings. If playing on airplane mode is not an option, then what settings can they play at? Knowing this information helps a lot when you know what to look for. If possible also try to test the game without the graphics settings super high to get an idea of how the system runs before you buy it.

Are gaming laptops good?

So, are gaming laptops good for their intended purpose? Yes, they are mostly the same as their desktop counterparts in performance. But even when gaming laptops are an inch thick, they are still a lot more efficient than a desktop for both power consumption and heat output.

Gaming laptops do have one main disadvantage: they are much more costly. To get the same power as a desktop version, you’re going to have to pay a lot more for the laptop.

Once you have this computer, though, it is an amazing investment. If you’re planning on keeping the computer for a long enough time, you’ll find that you’re getting your money’s worth back, plus some.

What Laptops are good for gaming and work?

I recommend checking out this blog post that sorts through the specs of gaming laptops.

The post's author does a really good job of breaking down the specs and what they actually mean rather than just providing numbers and charts. The article includes something that is important to think about when comparing gaming laptops, which is battery life.

Conclusion

Using your laptop to play games is an enjoyable experience that you can have almost anywhere you want. All you need is a good computer, an internet connection, and a high definition monitor or a big TV. Regardless of where you’re playing from, there are factors that you’ll need to consider to help you find the best gaming laptop for the money.

Our Recommendation

NameCategoryProduct
Dell 15.6-Inch Gaming LaptopBest OverallDell 15.6-Inch Gaming Laptop
MSI GS30 SHADOW-001 13.3-Inch Ultra Portable LaptopBudget PickMSI GS30 SHADOW-001 13.3-Inch Ultra Portable Laptop