The Best Gaming Laptops For Your Money?

By that, I mean the laptops that offer the best gaming performance at a given price. Because if you’re about to buy a gaming laptop, you want the one that offers the best performance possible for your budget, right?

If you have the time to do research… but who does?

You don’t have the time to read or the knowledge to understand detailed laptop reviews and specifications and just want the answers? In other words, what you want to know is:
What’s the best gaming laptop for my budget?

So if you don’t have the time, don’t worry. We’re here to help you with this article.

The features that we evaluate in order to make our recommendations:

1. Price
2. Performance: CPU, RAM, Storage, Video Card and Wireless Adapter
3. Screen: Size, Resolution, Finish, Panel type, Brightness, Contrast, Viewing Angles and Color Accuracy
4. Portability: Dimensions, Weight, Real-life battery life during average web browsing?
5. Usability: Keyboard: Layout, Key size, Travel/Pressure, Key Shape and any additional Function keys. Touch pad quality, trackpoint, backlit keyboard, numpad, Operating System, which ports are offered, Webcam resolution, sound quality, optical drive, noise levels.
6. Reliability: How solid is the chassis and the screen hinges? Are the temperatures under load reasonable? Is the keyboard spill-resistant? Overall manufacturer long-term reliability? Is it easy to service the laptop?
7. Warranty: Warranty length? What does the warranty cover?

We then recommend laptops that offer the best overall features, at various price points.

Alternatives recommendations:

We also sometime suggest alternative recommendations, with clear explanations as to why they are interesting alternatives. That way, you can easily choose the best laptop to answer YOUR needs and desires.

Put all of this together and you get this article: The Best Mid-Range Gaming Laptops!

A reminder:

My recommendations in this article are based on the prices that I saw on March 4th 2017. Prices and availability change all the time. While I can’t keep up with ever changing prices, I do recommend to you what are in my professional experience the best laptops around a price point.

Leave a comment if you have a question, a suggestion and/or any feedback that you want to share.

Summary

Click on any of these links to jump to the section that interests you, or scroll down to see them all, in this order.

The Best Gaming Laptop for:

  1. Less than $900
  2. Less than $1050
  3. Less than $1250

Upgrade your laptop:

  1. Upgrade the RAM
  2. Upgrade the hard drive or the SSD
  3. USB DVD and Blu-ray External Burners
  4. The Best WiFi Routers, WiFi Adapters and Bluetooth Adapters

Best Gaming Laptop for $900

About the Eluktronics N850HK1

Capable of handling most games at 1080p (1920 x 1080 / Full HD)

With this gaming laptop, you can play most games at 1080p, although you may have to cut down visual quality to get good enough frame rates, depending on how demanding the game is. I’d recommend scrolling down to a model with a Geforce GTX 1060 if you want to game at 1920 x 1080 with maximum visual settings and high frame rates.

Nvidia Geforce GTX 1050 Ti + Intel Core i7-7700HQ:
Equipped with a Nvidia Geforce GTX 1050 Ti, (4GB VRAM GDDR5) dedicated graphics card and a powerful latest generation Intel Core i7-7700HQ CPU, the Eluktronics N850HK1 offers unheard of gaming performance at this price point.

The newer 10xx generation of Nvidia graphic cards, for notebooks, offer significantly better graphic performance than the previous 9xx series, allowing you to run games with higher levels of visual quality, higher framerates and higher FPS rate, thanks to the new Nvidia Pascal architecture featured in the Geforce 10xx series.

To give you an idea, the Geforce GTX 1050 Ti is comparable to the old Geforce 970M!

The new 10xx series graphic cards are much closer to their desktop counterparts in terms of performance as opposed to the previous series which had to be significantly cut down in performance to be integrated into gaming laptops.

Available in multiple configurations:

What I love about this laptop is that you can buy it in multiple configurations, allowing you to choose the configuration that you prefer!

1. 15.6″ or 17.3″ screen
You can get either the more portable model with a 15.6″ screen or the model with a larger 17.3″ screen if you prefer larger screens and don’t mind the additional weight.

It’s also available with a 4K (3840 x 2160) screen, but I don’t recommend, unless you do high resolution photo or 4K video editing: 4K is too demanding for a Geforce GTX 1050 Ti video card for gaming (you’ll want to play at 1080p), it’s more expensive andit drains the battery faster.

2. 8GB (1x8GB) or 16GB (2x8GB) of RAM
8GB is still good enough for gaming. You can easily add another 8GB stick of DDR4 2400MHz SODIMM RAM if you want to upgrade in the future.

16GB (2x8GB) means that you get dual-channel memory, for twice the memory bandwidth. Gaming performance will get a slight boost (~5%) but applications that benefit from more memory bandwidth (think workstation type applications, rendering, 3D, video/photo editing, etc.) will get a significant boost in performance.

16GB will also ensure that you have enough memory to run multiple applications without running out of memory. If 16GB isn’t enough for your needs, you can upgrade to 32GB (2x16GB).

3- Storage
The laptop is equipped with both a M.2 slot (for SATA III or PCIe M.2 SSDs) and a 2.5″ drive bay (for 2.5″ hard drives or a SATA III 2.5″ SSD).

It’s available with a 1TB or 2TB hybrid hard drive (small SSD like cache, for faster boot up) or a 256GB or 512GB M.2 SATA III SSD

Pick what you prefer and keep in mind that you can add a M.2 SSD if you pick a model with an hard drive

Pros:

  1. Nvidia Geforce GTX 1050 Ti dedicated video card with 4GB of GDDR5 memory.
  2. Highly powerful Intel Core i7-7700HQ 7th gen Kaby Lake Quad-Core + Hyper-Threading 2.8-3.8GHz CPU
  3. Depending on your configuration you get either 1x 8GB or 16GB (2 x 8GB) of DDR4 2400MHz RAM.
  4. Depending on your configuration you get either a 1 TB or a 2TB high capacity hard drive.
  5. Hard drives are the hybrid type, with a small SSD-like cache, for faster boots and improved responsiveness. It’s no SSD, but better than the average hard drive.
  6. Available configurations with a 256GB or 512GB SSD which greatly improves the laptops responsiveness and booting speed.
  7. M.2 slot support both the lower cost M.2 SATA III SSDs and the higher performance, but more expensive PCIe M.2 SSDs
  8. Matte screen that doesn’t reflect sunlight.
  9. RAM can be upgraded to 32GB (2x16GB DDR4 2400MHz). See our recommended RAM upgrades toward the end of the article.
  10. 1x USB 3.0 Type-C, 2x USB 3.0 and 1x USB 2.0 ports
  11. RGB backlit keyboard
  12. Numpad
  13. Dedicated left and right click buttons on the trackpad.
  14. Ethernet RJ45 port.
  15. Fingerprint scanner for extra security
  16. SD card reader
  17. 1x HDMI and 2x Mini DisplayPort 1.2 outputs.
  18. Windows 10
  19. 1080p 2MP Full HD webcam
  20. 1920 x 1080 1080p Full HD display
  21. IPS display panel which means you get a more accurate color reproduction, better contrast and large viewing angles
  22. 802.11ac WiFi by Intel: highly reliable
  23. Bluetooth 4.2
  24. Removable battery, which is quite rare nowadays.

Cons:

  1. No optical drive
  2. Keyboard layout could be better. For example, the arrow keys overlap with the numpad which can be bothersome.

Get the Eluktronics N850HK1

8GB RAM, 1TB HDD : – Click here to see the price on Amazon
8GB RAM, 256GB SSD : – Click here to see the price on Amazon
16GB RAM, 2TB HDD : – Click here to see the price on Amazon
16GB RAM, 512GB SSD : – Click here to see the price on Amazon

Get the 17.3″ Eluktronics N870HK1

8GB RAM, 1TB HDD: – Click here to check the price on Amazon
8GB RAM, 256GB SSD : – Click here to see the price on Amazon

16GB RAM, 2TB HDD: – Click here to see the price on Amazon
16GB RAM, 512GB SSD : – Click here to see the price on Amazon

Best gaming laptop for less than $1050

MSI GP62MVR Leopard Pro

msileopard1060$1049.00 at B&H (Worldwide Shipping)

With this gaming laptop, you get a powerful Intel Core i7-6700HQ CPU, a Nvidia Geforce GTX 1060 graphic card with 3GB of VRAM graphic card, a 1920 x 1080 IPS screen, 16GB of RAM and a 1TB 7200rpm hard drive.

Compared to the recommendation above, you get a good gaming performance upgrade thanks to the more powerful Nvidia Geforce 1060 3GB graphic card. While it is not as powerful as the GTX 1060 6GB, it is still a good upgrade over the Geforce GTX 1050 Ti.

While you might be worried about having 3GB of VRAM, that is still enough for the vast majority of modern games. Worse case scenario, you’ll just have to turn down visual details by a notch. With this graphic card, you can run most newer games on max details with a decent FPS rate.

On the other hand, if you are looking for a model that can do VR or want a GTX 1060 with 6GB of VRAM so that your laptop is more future proof, I recommend going for my next recommendation instead.

Pros:

  1. Equipped with the Nvidia Geforce 1060 3GB GDDR5 graphic card
  2. Intel Core i7 6700HQ 6th gen Skylake Dual-Core + Hyper-Threading 2.6-3.5GHz CPU
  3. 16GB of DDR4 RAM so you can multi-task easily.
  4. RAM can be upgraded to 32GB (2x16GB DDR4). See our recommended RAM upgrades toward the end of the article
  5. RAM, 2.5″ drive bay and hard drive are easy to access, if you want to upgrade them.
  6. M.2 slot support both the lower cost M.2 SATA III SSDs and the higher performance, but more expensive PCIe M.2 SSDs
  7. Matte screen that doesn’t reflect light.
  8. 1920 x 1080 1080p Full HD display
  9. IPS display panel which means you get a more accurate color reproduction, better contrast and large view angles
  10. 1 TB hard drive so you have plenty of space for your games and all your content.
  11. Hard drive is a 7200rpm model, so it’s not as slow as 5400rpm hard drives.
  12. Pretty light for such a powerful gaming laptop: 4.8 lbs
  13. Numpad
  14. 720p HD webcam
  15. Fairly sturdy build
  16. Good keyboard for typing
  17. Backlit keyboard
  18. Characters on the keyboard have a large font, making them easy to read.
  19. Dedicated left and right mouse buttons on the trackpad.
  20. Bluetooth 4.0
  21. RJ45 Ethernet port
  22. 802.11ac WiFi
  23. HDMI and Mini DisplayPort output.
  24. Windows 10
  25. 4 USB ports: 1x USB 2.0, 2x USB 3.0 and 1x USB 3.1 (Type C) ports.
  26. SD card reader

Cons:

  1. Keyboard layout could be better. For example, the right arrow key overlaps with the Numpad on the right. This can be annoying for some people.
  2. No optical drive.
  3. Poor battery life : Expect 1.5 hours while gaming.

Best gaming laptop for less than $1250

MSI GE62VR Apache Pro VR

– Click here to see the price on Amazon
– $1299.99 at B&H (Worldwide Shipping)
– $1249.00 at Newegg

With this gaming laptop, you get a powerful Intel Core i7-6700HQ CPU, a Nvidia Geforce GTX 1060 graphic card with 6GB of VRAM graphic card, a 1920 x 1080 screen, 12GB of RAM, a 128GB SSD and a 1TB hard drive.

We’re talking about high-end performance at a mid-range price. It is considered a VR (Virtual Reality) ready laptop. This laptop will be able to run pretty much all games with maxed out details in a 1920 x 1080 resolution.

Compared to the recommendation above, this is a significant upgrade when it comes to gaming performance, thanks to the Geforce GTX 1060 6GB graphic card.

Don’t be fooled by the name: The Geforce GTX 1060 6GB is unlike the 3GB variant offered in the model above. It not only offers twice the RAM but also higher performance, thanks to a better configuration. In other words, its performance isn’t similar to models with the Geforce GTX 1060 3GB, it’s better!

You’re also getting a 128GB M.2 PCIe SSD, which is about 4 times faster than regular SATA III SSDs, which are more responsive than a regular hard drive and greatly improves booting speed. This is high-end storage performance.

You also get slightly less RAM with 12GB instead of 16GB, but this isn’t going to affect gaming performance. You can always upgrade to 16GB (2x8GB), 24GB (16GB + 8GB) or 32GB (2x16GB).

This is the best mid-range gaming laptop for your money as of today.

Pros:

  1. Equipped with the Nvidia Geforce 1060 6GB GDDR5 graphic card
  2. Intel Core i7 6700HQ 6th gen Skylake Dual-Core + Hyper-Threading 2.6-3.5GHz CPU
  3. One stick of 8GB and one stick of 4GB (12GB) of DDR4 RAM. You easily upgrade to 16GB if you want by replacing a 4GB stick with a 8GB stick.
  4. RAM can be upgraded to 32GB (2x16GB DDR4). See our recommended RAM upgrades toward the end of the article
  5. RAM, 2.5″ hard drive and M.2 SSD are easy to access, if you want to upgrade them.
  6. Matte screen that doesn’t reflect sunlight.
  7. 1920 x 1080 1080p Full HD display
  8. IPS display panel which means you get a more accurate color reproduction, better contrast and large view angles
  9. 1 TB hard drive so you have plenty of space for your games and all your content.
  10. Hard drive is a 7200rpm model, so it’s not as slow as 5400rpm hard drives.
  11. Numpad
  12. HD webcam
  13. Fairly good build quality, metal build
  14. Good keyboard for typing
  15. Keyboard can be customized with multiple backlit colors and programmed with personalized macros.
  16. Characters on the keyboard have a large font, making them easy to read.
  17. Dedicated left and right mouse buttons on the trackpad.
  18. Optical drive
  19. Bluetooth 4.0
  20. 802.11ac WiFi
  21. HDMI and Mini DisplayPort output.
  22. Windows 10
  23. Thunderbolt 3 (USB Type-C) connectivity
  24. 4 USB ports: 1x USB 2.0, 2x USB 3.0 and 1x USB 3.1 (Type C) ports.
  25. SD card reader

Cons:

  1. Keyboard layout could be better. For example, the right arrow key overlaps with the Numpad on the right. This can be annoying for some people.
  2. Poor battery life : Expect 2-3 hours

Upgrade your Laptop:

Upgrade your RAM:

RAM can easily be upgraded on most gaming laptops. A quick google search should provide that info. Feel free to ask me in the comment section if you aren’t sure and can’t find the info.

Visit The Best Computer Memory (RAM) article for my recommendations. Note that you’ll want SODIMM RAM DDR4. Double-check the frequency (in MHz) of the RAM in your laptop and pick the same frequency for the RAM sticks that you’ll buy.

Upgrade your hard drive:

You can upgrade your hard drive to a faster and/or a larger hard drive. See our article on The Best Hard Drives (HDD) For Your Money and scroll down to the best 2.5″ hard drives for my recommendations.

Some laptops accept hard drives with a 7mm height, others with a 9.5mm height, so double-check that before buying a hard drive.

Upgrade to a SSD or upgrade your current SSD to get higher capacity and/or higher performance!

A SSD (Solid State Drive) is far faster than a hard drive (See our SSD FAQ) and it also consumes less power than a hard drive, so replacing a hard drive by a SSD will slightly boost your laptop’s battery life.

If you want to upgrade your hard drive to a SSD, I recommend that you read our ‘The Best SSDs (Solid State Drives) For Your Money‘ article.

I also recommend getting an external hard drive enclosure, so you can put your hard drive in it and use it for additional storage

When you replace the hard drive that your laptop came with, I recommend putting it in the Sabrent USB 3.0 2.5″ SATA Hard Drive Enclosure from Amazon or from B&H (Worldwide Shipping)

This particular enclosure comes with a retractable cable that is connected to the enclosure, so you don’t lose/forget it and it makes the whole package more compact too. It comes with an extension cord if you need it.

Looking for a different external case or need a specific cable? Leave a comment if you need assistance with finding what’s best for your needs.

USB DVD and Blu-Ray Drives

If your laptop doesn’t come with an optical drive and you want one, here are my recommendations for external USB optical drives.

USB DVD Burner

The LG GP60NB50 8x, from Amazon or from B&H (Worldwide Shipping), is the one with the best customer reviews.

USB Blu-Ray Burner

I recommend three USB Blu-Ray burner. Make sure to plug them in an USB 3.0 port to get the maximum speed possible.

In order of price and burning speed:
Pioneer BDR-XD05S 6x, from Amazon or $74.99 at B&H (Worldwide Shipping)

– ASUS BW-12D1S-U 12x from Amazon or $99.95 at B&H (Worldwide Shipping)

OWC Mercury Pro External USB 3.0 16x Blu Ray reader/writer, $129.50 at B&H (Worldwide Shipping)

WiFi routers, WiFi Adapters and Bluetooth adapter:

Need a WiFi router, an USB WiFi adapter or an USB Bluetooth adapter for your laptop? Check out our recommendations for The Best WiFi Routers, Best WiFi Adapters and Bluetooth Adapter.

Conclusion

I hope that you’ve enjoyed this article on the Best Mid-Range Gaming Laptops!

I invite you to leave a comment, let me know what you thought of this article.

Do you think that I forgot a pro or a con for a laptop?

Perhaps you believe that there’s a better option than my recommendation and want my professional opinion.

A laptop might no longer be available or you may have some questions.

Just leave a comment below now and I’ll get back to you.