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This is one of 3 articles dedicated to laptops for Gaming and Creative Pros:

1. Best Budget Low-cost Gaming Laptops (this article)
2. Best Mid-Range Laptops for Gaming and Creative Pros
3. Best High-End Laptops for Gaming and Creative Pros

Are you a Creative Pro that wants an Apple Macbook?

No problem, we have articles to help you find the best Macbook for your needs:
1. How you can choose the best Apple Macbook 12
2. How to choose the best Apple Macbook Air
3. How to choose the best Apple Macbook Pro 13
4. How to choose the best Apple Macbook Pro 15

Summary:
Best Budget Laptops for Gaming / Creative Pros

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

– For Creative Pros: Quad-core Intel CPU, iGPU, lightweight
For Creative Pros: AMD CPU/GPU, SSD, lighter, long battery life

For Gamers: Intel Core i5-8300H + GeForce GTX 1050 Ti 4GB
For Gamers/Creative Pros: Core i7-8750H 6 cores + 1050 Ti
For Gamers wanting a larger 17.3″ display

Upgrade your laptop:

Upgrade the hard drive or the SSD

The Best Laptops For Your Money?

By that, I mean the laptops that offer the best 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 laptop for my needs and 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 Budget Laptops for Gaming and Creative Pros!

A reminder:

My recommendations in this article are based on the prices, in USD, that I saw on January 31st 2019. 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.

For Creative Pros: Quad-Core CPU, Lightweight

ASUS VivoBook F510UA-AH51

– Click here to see the price on Amazon

With an Intel quad-core CPU, the Core i5-8250U, a decent display, 8GB of RAM, a 1TB hard drive and a good build quality, weighting in at only 3.7lbs for a laptop with a 15.6″ display, the ASUS VivoBook is a great entry-level laptop for creative pros.

It’s a fine choice for editing photos, but keep in mind that it’s still an entry-level laptop, with integrated graphics: It’s not meant to be used for video, 3D, VR or any particularly demanding tasks. You won’t get GPU acceleration in Adobe apps. Need more performance? See alternatives below.

This variant doesn’t include a SSD, for higher storage performance and faster program launch. There is a M.2 slot, so you can add a M.2 SSD. There’s also a variant of ther ASUS Vivobook with a 128GB SSD, but I recommend another laptop at that price point.

Pros:

  1. Intel Core i5-8250U Quad-Core + Hyper-Threading 1.6-3.4GHz CPU
  2. Windows 10
  3. 8GB DDR4 RAM.
  4. RAM can be upgraded to 32GB (2x16GB). See our recommended RAM upgrades toward the end of the article.
  5. RAM and hard drive are easy to access, if you want to upgrade them.
  6. 1TB hard drive
  7. Empty M.2 slot allows you to add a SSD
  8. Screen with a 1920 x 1080 resolution.
  9. Screen has a matte finish, doesn’t reflect light
  10. IPS display for a good color reproduction, great viewing angles and contrast
  11. Fingerprint reader
  12. HDMI Output
  13. Windows 10
  14. Decent keyboard for typing
  15. Decent speakers, especially for the price
  16. 720p HD webcam
  17. SD card reader
  18. 802.11ac WiFi with MU-MIMO support.
  19. Bluetooth 4.1
  20. Total of 4 USB ports, including one USB 3.1 Type-C, one USB 3.0 Type A and two USB 2.0

Cons:

  1. Intel Integrated graphics: No GPU acceleration for Adobe programs.
  2. Battery life on the shorter side: 5 hours
  3. Trackpad doesn’t have dedicated buttons.
  4. No LAN port
  5. Keyboard isn’t backlit.
  6. Keyboard layout could be better. For example, the up and down arrows are half size. The power button at the top right of the keyboard could be an annoyance for some.

For Creative Pros: AMD CPU/GPU, SSD, lighter, long battery life

Huawei MateBook D

– $629.00 at B&H (Worldwide Shipping)

Offering a build quality and high performance PCIe SSD storage usually found in higher priced models, the Huawei Matebook D offers outstanding value.

The build quality and design are similar to an Apple Macbook, which is a good thing, with a solid unibody aluminum chassis. This laptop will fit in any work environment, unlike some flashy gaming laptops.

Compared to the model above, you get a CPU that offers better performance when it comes to heavily threaded programs, the kind that you encounter as a creative pro.

You also get far better graphic performance, with AMD Radeon Vega 8 graphics, which can handle GPU acceleration in Adobe apps. This is not a gaming laptop, but it can still handle less demanding games with low graphic settings.

You get far higher performance storage, with a SSD instead of an hard drive, resulting in a much snappier laptop that boots quickly, apps that launch faster and files that load and save faster. SSD are also much more shock resistant and reliable than hard drives.

Not only is it a SSD, but it’s the higher performance PCie variant, resulting in read speeds of over 2500MB/s and write speeds of over 1800MB/s, far above regular SATA SSD usually found in budget models, not to mention hard drives.

Weighting in at 3.5lbs, it’s reasonably lightweight. Fitting a 14″ display in a 13″ body, thanks to thin bezels, it’s highly portable.

To top it off, you can get up to 12 hours of battery life, perfect for when you work on the go!

Pros:

  1. Equipped with AMD Radeon Vega 8 graphics.
  2. AMD Ryzen 5 2500U Quad-Core 2.0-3.6GHz CPU
  3. 256GB high performance PCIe SSD.
  4. 8GB of DDR4 RAM
  5. Fingerprint reader integrated in the power button.
  6. 14″ Touchscreen with 1920 x 1080 resolution.
  7. Backlit keyboard
  8. Good keyboard layout, good keyboard feeling
  9. Screen equipped with an IPS panel: Good contrast, accurate color reproduction and great viewing angles.
  10. 3x USB ports: Two full size Type-A and one USB Type-C.
  11. Charging through the USB Type-C port, allowing for a large variety of charger, not stuck with an expensive proprietary charger
  12. Charger can be used to charge other USB Type-C devices, like a smartphone
  13. Great build quality, unibody aluminum chassis, minimal flex.
  14. 1 x HDMI output.
  15. Bluetooth 4.1
  16. Fairly decent sound, stereo speakers
  17. 802.11ac WiFi 5
  18. Windows 10 home
  19. Long battery life: Up to 12 hours, expect 9-10 hours of web browsing with medium brightness.
  20. Only one Huawei program: No bloatware

Cons:

  1. No optical drive
  2. No RJ-45 port
  3. No card reader

i5-8300H + GTX 1050 Ti 4GB

HP Pavillon 15-cx0056wm

8GB RAM, 1TB Hard Drive:
– Click here to see the price on Amazon

Customize RAM and Storage options:
– Click here to customize it on Amazon

Equipped with a Nvidia Geforce GTX 1050 Ti 4GB dedicated GPU and the high performance 8th generation Intel Core i5-8300H CPU. This is a 4 core, 8 threads CPU, with frequencies of 2.3 to 4.0GHz. This CPU is much more powerful than U-series, low-power Intel CPUs, such as the Core i5-8250U.

Gamers:
With a laptop like this, most video games should be playable at a resolution of 1920 x 1080 with medium, high or maximum details.

Creative Pros:
With a more powerful Intel Quad-core CPU and a dedicated graphic card, this is a more powerful entry-level laptop. On the downside, battery life is shorter and its gaming focused design might not fit in a professional work environment.

Despite being a budget laptop, this laptop comes with an IPS anti-glare panel, which offers better color reproduction, wider viewing angles and better contrast than low-quality TN panels.

There’s no SSD in this laptop, but the 1TB hard drive is a 7,200rpm model, so it’s not as awful as 5,400rpm models. That said, there is an empty M.2 slot, so you can add a SSD yourself. Otherwise, you can pick the second option and have your laptop customized as you’d like.

Pros:

  1. Lowest cost for a gaming laptop with a good dedicated video card, good CPU and a good display.
  2. Nvidia Geforce GTX 1050 Ti dedicated video card with 4GB of GDDR5 memory.
  3. Intel Core i5-8300H Quad-Core + Hyper-Threading 2.3-4.0GHz CPU
  4. Windows 10
  5. 8GB DDR4 2666MHz
  6. RAM can be upgraded to 32GB (2x16GB). See our recommended RAM upgrades toward the end of the article.
  7. RAM, M.2 slot and hard drive are easy to access, if you want to upgrade them.
  8. 1TB high capacity hard drive
  9. Hard drive is a 7200rpm variant
  10. Numpad
  11. Screen with a 1920 x 1080 resolution.
  12. Screen has a matte finish, doesn’t reflect light
  13. IPS display for a good color reproduction, great viewing angles and contrast
  14. HDMI Output
  15. LAN RJ-45 port
  16. Windows 10
  17. Decent keyboard for typing
  18. Decent speakers, especially for the price
  19. 720p HD webcam
  20. SD card reader
  21. 802.11ac WiFi with MU-MIMO support.
  22. Bluetooth 5.0
  23. Total of 4 USB ports, including one USB 3.1 Type-C and three USB 3.0 Type A
  24. Backlit keyboard
  25. Up to 8.45 hours battery life

Cons:

  1. Trackpad doesn’t have dedicated buttons.
  2. Keyboard layout could be better. For example, the up and down arrows are half size. The power button at the top right of the keyboard could be an annoyance for some.
  3. Low performance storage: No SSD
  4. Build quality is average

For Creative Pros: Core i7-8750H 6 cores + 1050 Ti:

ASUS 15.6″ TUF Gaming FX504GE

– $899.00 at B&H (Worldwide Shipping)

Compared to my recommendation above, you get an even more powerful CPU, which will improve gaming performance, as well as overall performance if you run heavy applications, such as photo, video or 3D editing. The Core i7-8750H is a six-core CPU, running at 2.2-4.1GHz, with Hyper-Threading support, so it can handle up to 12 threads at the same time.

With the combo of a 128GB PCIe NVMe high-performance SSD storage (for Windows and programs) and a 1TB hard drive (for games/file storage), you get the best of both worlds when it comes to storage technology: High performance and high capacity.

Pros:

  1. Equipped with the Nvidia Geforce GTX 1050 Ti with 4GB of VRAM
  2. Powerful Intel Core i7-8750H 8th gen Coffee Lake Six-Core + Hyper-Threading 2.2-4.1GHz CPU
  3. 128GB PCIe NVMe SSD for fast boot, a responsive laptop and fast application launch
  4. 1TB hard drive gives you plenty of storage capacity for your games.
  5. 8GB of DDR4 2666MHz RAM
  6. RAM can be upgraded to 16GB (Add a second 8GB stick) or 32GB (2 x 16GB of DDR4 RAM )
  7. 1920 x 1080 resolution.
  8. IPS panel for better color reproduction, wide viewing angles and better contrast.
  9. Red Backlit Keyboard
  10. Matte screen that doesn’t reflect light.
  11. 802.11ac WiFi 2×2 MU-MIMO
  12. Windows 10 home
  13. Nvidia Optimus technology allows you to switch between integrated graphics (maximum battery life) and dedicated graphics (maximum performance)
  14. Fairly lightweight for a gaming laptop: 4.7lbs
  15. Full size arrow keys

Cons:

  1. No optical drive
  2. No dedicated mouse buttons.

For Gamers wanting a larger 17.3″ display
Core i7-8750H 6 cores + 1050 Ti:

Dell G3779-7934BLK-PUS

– Click here to see the price on Amazon

Compared to my recommendation above, performance should be nearly identical, with the same CPU, RAM and graphic card.

I only recommend it if you want a gaming laptop with a larger 17.3″ display.

Otherwise the ASUS above is lighter and has a longer battery life.

Pros:

  1. Equipped with the Nvidia Geforce GTX 1050 Ti with 4GB of VRAM
  2. Powerful Intel Core i7-8750H 8th gen Coffee Lake Six-Core + Hyper-Threading 2.2-4.1GHz CPU
  3. 128GB SSD for fast boot, a responsive laptop and fast application launch
  4. 1TB hard drive gives you plenty of storage capacity for your games.
  5. 8GB of DDR4 2666MHz RAM
  6. RAM can be upgraded to 16GB (Add a second 8GB stick) or 32GB (2 x 16GB of DDR4 RAM )
  7. 1920 x 1080 resolution.
  8. Large 17.3″ display
  9. IPS panel for better color reproduction, wide viewing angles and better contrast.
  10. Backlit Keyboard
  11. Matte screen that doesn’t reflect light.
  12. 802.11ac WiFi 2×2 MU-MIMO
  13. Windows 10 home

Cons:

  1. No optical drive
  2. No dedicated mouse buttons.
  3. Half size arrow keys
  4. Heavy: 7.2lbs

Upgrade your Laptop:

Upgrade your hard drive:

You can add or 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.

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.

Conclusion

I hope that you’ve enjoyed this article on the Best Budget Laptops for Gaming and Creative Pros!

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.