Gaming on a budget – even competitively – isn’t hard. But yes, you will have to make some sacrifices. From $800 to $1000, you can expect some high-end specs with a few compromises. But under $800, some components will start be midrange and not comparable to high-end rigs. You may have to make compromises on resolution, FPS and graphic settings, but it doesn’t mean you won’t get a good experience if you choose well.
Solid, cheap gaming laptops are available. This article is going to tell you what to look for when buying one and where to make sacrifices.
To have a clear picture and impressive gaming visuals, you will need to stick to 1080p laptops. Unless you are a very casual gamer, 1080p laptops will give you a clear visual without being too power-hungry. It’s also important to stick to IPS and NTSC panels wherever possible. This will ensure that you get anti-glare qualities at whichever angle you are viewing the screen.
The panel’s refresh rate is another crucial factor. 60Hz is the most common on a budget. These allow most games to play at high frame rates equaling that of your display. You will rarely find a cheap gaming laptop with NVIDIA’s G-Sync, a software which lets your graphics card set your laptop’s refresh rate.
Portability is a key issue with gaming notebooks. 17-inch laptops are cumbersome and may never leave your desktop. 14-15 inches is the sweet spot as it is not so bulky to be a pain if you are in transit to your friend’s place every other day, but big enough to accommodate less expensive graphics chips and to get a good visual when playing.
The sad truth is that the smaller the form factor the exponentially more expensive a gaming laptop is. If you want some meaty power in your laptop without breaking the bank, size is a crucial sacrifice.
If you want a slim laptop but without sacrificing graphics, you may want to look for a notebook with Max-Q. This technology allows fitting of an even smaller graphics card to improve portability in gaming laptops.
Battery life is not a core concern when looking for a cheap gaming laptop. Almost all laptops will slow down when working under battery life only. If you want the best performance out of your gaming laptop, be sure to plug in in when playing competitive games that require twitch reactions, otherwise your game will suffer.
Gaming creates heat. This means that your laptop will need a proper cooling solution. It works hand-in-hand with the cooling technology engineered in the notebook. Some models will have multiple fans and vents. They will give you fluid gaming without lags or the risk of being downclocked. A powerful laptop without vents is as slow as a less powerful one with hyper-efficient cooling.
Some manufacturers, like MSI, include proprietary cooling technology with their laptops. From unique fan setups to liquid cooling, to custom engraved heat distribution channels, manufacturers always look for ways to transfer heat away from delicate and heat-sensitive components.
You might not get mechanical keys and full RGB lighting on a budget, but you definitely want high responsiveness and smooth entry of commands. Always look for decent actuation force so that your key presses are more tactile. A squishy and mushy keyboard will make you second guess if you pressed a key.
Let’s talk about sound. It is a feature we often ignore, but if you are playing games filled with chaos, you will need to listen to the background as well as what’s happening in the front action. You will find this out when playing games like Counter-Strike and Battlefield.
Good audio gives you an immersive gaming experience such that you will have an advantage when playing multiplayer games. Thankfully, most gaming laptops come with perfectly serviceable sound chips.
Online gaming is reliant on your connection. A poor connection will cost you wins. It is crucial to look for a laptop that can support intensive online gaming. This is in line with 802.11ac WiFi for smooth gaming. This protocol means that your notebook is 5G ready and it can bypass busy bands for faster transmission.
Even at under $1000, you can expect remarkable graphics as well as capable processors if you choose the right device. By avoiding the small form factor, focusing on a powerful CPU and graphics chip, and making sure the display is serviceable, you’ll be able to have a great, and competitive, gaming performance out of a budget laptop.