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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 to choose the best Apple Macbook Air
2. How to choose the best Apple Macbook Pro 13
3. How to choose the best Apple Macbook Pro 16

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 Both: 4 cores / 8 threads AMD CPU/GPU, 8GB RAM, 1080p IPS
Creative Pros: Core i5-10210U, 1080p IPS, 9.5 hrs battery, 256GB SSD
For Both: Core i5-9300H + GeForce GTX 1650
For Gamers: AMD Ryzen 7 3750H + Radeon RX5500M 4GB
For Both: Core i7-9750H 6 cores + GeForce GTX 1660 Ti 6GB

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:

Prices for B&H as of April 15th 2020. Click on Amazon links to see prices. Note that I get commissions for purchases made through links in this post. Prices and availability are subject to change. 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 Both: Quad-Core AMD CPU and Graphics

Lenovo – 330S-15ARR

128GB SSD: – Click here to see the price on Amazon
256GB SSD: – Click here to see the price on Amazon
256GB SSD + 1TB HDD: – Click here to see the price on Amazon

With an AMD Quad-core/8 threads Ryzen 5 2500U CPU, AMD Radeon Vega 8 integrated graphics, a 1920 x 1080 IPS display, 8GB of RAM and SSD high-performance storage, what you have here is a solid entry-level laptop, both for gaming and creative pros.

Storage wise, it’s available with 2 options:
– 128GB SSD only
– 256GB SSD only
– 256GB SSD and 1TB hard drive

If you’re tight on money, you can get the 128GB or 256GB SSD only option and simply add a hard drive (or SSD) later on. You can also go down this road if you’re trying to save money, as upgrading it yourself will result in a less expensive solution. Mind you, this is an easy upgrade; seeing as Windows is stored on the SSD, you don’t need to clone a drive or transfer any data. Just put the hard drive or 2.5″ SSD in the drive bay and that’s it, you’ll have an additional drive, with no additional setup required. See our articles on The Best Hard Drives (you’ll want a 2.5″ drive) and The Best SSDs for my recommendations.

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 editing, 3D creation, VR or any particularly demanding tasks. Need more performance? See alternatives below.

Pros:

  1. AMD Ryzen 5 2500U Quad-Core + Hyper-Threading 2.0-3.6GHz CPU
  2. AMD Vega 8 integrated graphics
  3. 8GB DDR4 RAM.
  4. Depending on the model: 128GB or 256GB high-performance SSD storage
  5. On the third model: 1TB hard drive
  6. Screen with a 1920 x 1080 resolution.
  7. IPS display for a good color reproduction, great viewing angles and contrast
  8. HDMI Output
  9. Windows 10
  10. Decent keyboard for typing
  11. Decent speakers, especially for the price
  12. 720p HD webcam
  13. SD card reader
  14. 802.11ac WiFi with MU-MIMO support.
  15. Bluetooth
  16. Lightweight: 4.12lbs
  17. Total of 3 USB ports, including one USB 3.1 Type-C

Cons:

  1. Battery life on the shorter side: Up to 7 hours (text editing, no WiFi, lower screen brightness), expect 3-5 hours of web browsing
  2. Trackpad doesn’t have dedicated buttons.
  3. No LAN port
  4. Keyboard isn’t backlit.
  5. 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.

Creative Pros: Core i5-10210U, 1080p IPS, 9.5 hrs battery, 256GB SSD

Acer Aspire 5 A515-54-59W2

– Click here to see the price on Amazon

Creative Pros:
Compared to the model above, you get an higher performance CPU, with the 4 cores / 8 threads 1.6-4.2GHz Intel Core i5-10210U.

You get 8GB of RAM and a 256GB SSD.

You also get a 1920 x 1080 IPS display, along with a backlit keyboard and fingerprint reader.

To top it off, battery life is pretty good, at up to 9.5 hours.

Gamers:
See the model above or below.

Pros:

  1. Intel Core i5-10210U Quad-Core 8 threads, 1.6-4.2GHz CPU
  2. 256GB PCIe NVMe high performance SSD
  3. Empty 2.5″ drive bay allows you to add a 2.5″ hard drive or SATA SSD
  4. 8GB of DDR4 RAM (4GB soldered onboard + 4GB stick)
  5. RAM can be upgraded to 20GB (4GB soldered onboard + 16GB stick)
  6. Windows 10
  7. Numpad
  8. Screen with a 1920 x 1080 resolution.
  9. IPS display for a good color reproduction, great viewing angles and contrast
  10. HDMI Output
  11. Backlit keyboard
  12. Decent speakers
  13. 720p HD webcam
  14. Good battery life: Up to 9.5 hours
  15. Intel Wi-Fi 6 AX201 802.11ax
  16. Bluetooth 4.2
  17. Total of 4 USB ports!: 1x USB Type-C, 2x USB 3.0 and one USB 2.0
  18. Ethernet RJ-45
  19. Fingerprint reader
  20. Lightweight for a 15.6″ laptop: 3.97lbs

Cons:

  1. Trackpad doesn’t have dedicated buttons.
  2. Storage is limited: 256GB

For Both:
Core i5-9300H + GeForce 1650:

MSI GF63 THIN 9SCX-005

– $699.00 at B&H (Worldwide Shipping)

This is the least expensive laptop that I recommend that has a dedicated graphic card. Sure, there are some models that are $50 or $100 less with dedicated graphic that offer poor performance, such as the GeForce MX 150/250 and the like. You’re better off spending a tad more to get far better gaming performance.

You also get a faster CPU, the Core i5-9300H. This is a quad-core / 8 threads CPU that runs at 2.4-4.1GHz. This is a H series CPU (Core i5-9300H) meaning that it is rated for higher power usage/dissipation than a U series CPU, meaning that it can maintain higher frequencies under a sustained load.

You get 8GB of RAM and a 256GB NVMe PCIe SSD. There’s an empty RAM slot and also an empty 2.5″ drive bay, so you can upgrade this laptop.

Pros:

  1. Equipped with the Nvidia Geforce GTX 1650 with 4GB of VRAM
  2. Intel Core i5-9300H Quad-Core + Hyper-Threading 2.4-4.1GHz CPU
  3. 256GB PCIe NVMe SSD for fast boot, a responsive laptop and fast application launch
  4. Empty 2.5″ bay
  5. 1x 8GB of DDR4 RAM
  6. Empty RAM slot
  7. RAM can be upgraded to 16GB, 32GB or 64GB
  8. 1920 x 1080 resolution.
  9. IPS panel for better color reproduction, wide viewing angles and better contrast.
  10. Backlit Keyboard
  11. Four USB ports, including one Type-C
  12. 802.11ac WiFi 5 Dual-Band 2×2 MU-MIMO
  13. Bluetooth 5.0
  14. RJ-45
  15. HDMI
  16. Windows 10 home
  17. Lightweight for a gaming laptop: 4.1lbs
  18. Battery life of up to 7 hours

Cons:

  1. No dedicated mouse buttons.
  2. Half-size up and down arrow keys
  3. Power button, at the top right, is part of the keyboard

For Gamers:
AMD Ryzen 7 3750H + Radeon RX5500M 4GB:

MSI ALPHA 15 A3DD-003

– Click here to see the price on Amazon
– $899.00 at B&H (Worldwide Shipping)

For Gamers:
Compared to the model above, you get an higher performance graphic card, the AMD Radeon RX5500M 4GB. Gaming performance wise, it slots between the GeForce GTX 1650, recommended in the model above, and the GTX 1660 Ti, recommended in the model below.

You get twice the storage, with a 512GB PCIe NVMe SSD. There is an empty 2.5″ bay, for you to add a 2.5″ hard drive, or SATA SSD.

You also get a 120Hz display, equipped with AMD FreeSync, for a smoother gameplay.

As for the CPU, the AMD Ryzen 7 3750H, a quad-core 8 threads CPU, offers performance that’s similar to the Intel Core i5-9300H Quad-Core/8 threads 2.4-4.1GHz CPU,

There are two RAM slots, only one is occupied, so you can easily add a 8GB stick to get 16GB of RAM, which is a wise choice for gaming performance, with higher performance thanks to dual-channel RAM.

Creative Pros:
See my recommendation above, or below.

Pros:

  1. Equipped with the AMD Radeon RX5500M with 4GB of VRAM
  2. AMD Ryzen 7 3750H Quad-Core / 8 threads 2.3-4.0GHz CPU
  3. 512GB PCIe NVMe SSD for fast boot, a responsive laptop and fast application launch
  4. Empty 2.5″ bay, for you to add a hard drive, or 2.5″ SATA SSD
  5. 8GB of DDR4 2666MHz RAM
  6. RAM can be upgraded to 16GB (Add a second 8GB stick), 32GB (2 x 16GB of DDR4 RAM ) or 64GB (2 x 32GB)
  7. 1920 x 1080 resolution.
  8. 120Hz refresh rate
  9. AMD FreeSync for smoother gameplay
  10. IPS panel for better color reproduction, wide viewing angles and better contrast.
  11. Backlit Keyboard
  12. Dedicated mouse buttons
  13. Full size arrow keys
  14. 802.11ac WiFi 2×2 MU-MIMO
  15. Windows 10 Home

Cons:

  1. Expect a battery life of 4-5 hours for web browsing

For Both:
Core i7-9750H + GeForce 1660 Ti 6GB:

MSI GF65 THIN 9SD-252

– $999.00 at B&H (Worldwide Shipping)

Gamers:
You get even higher gaming performance, thanks to the higher-end Intel Core i7-9750H 6 core CPU and the Nvidia GeForce GTX 1660 Ti with 6GB of VRAM.

Creative Pros:

The 6 core CPU offers at least 50% higher multithreaded performance compared to the quad-core CPUs in the models above. This is a H series CPU (Core i7-9750H) meaning that it is rated for higher power usage/dissipation than a U series CPU, meaning that it can maintain higher frequencies under a sustained load.

With the GeForce GTX 1660 Ti 6GB, you can handle heavier video editing, along with some 3D and photo editing as well.

You get 8GB of RAM and a 256GB NVMe PCIe SSD. There’s an empty RAM slot and also an empty 2.5″ drive bay, so you can upgrade this laptop.

Pros:

  1. Equipped with the Nvidia Geforce GTX 1660 Ti with 6GB of VRAM
  2. Intel Core i7-9750H 9th gen Six-Core + Hyper-Threading 2.6-4.5GHz CPU
  3. 256GB PCIe NVMe SSD for fast boot, a responsive laptop and fast application launch
  4. Empty 2.5″ bay
  5. 1x 8GB of DDR4 RAM
  6. Empty RAM slot
  7. RAM can be upgraded to 16GB, 32GB or 64GB
  8. 1920 x 1080 resolution.
  9. IPS panel for better color reproduction, wide viewing angles and better contrast.
  10. Backlit Keyboard
  11. 802.11ac WiFi 5 2×2 MU-MIMO
  12. Bluetooth 5.0
  13. Windows 10 Home
  14. Lightweight for a gaming laptop: 4.1lbs
  15. Full size arrow keys

Cons:

  1. Expect about 5 hours of battery life for web browsing.
  2. No dedicated mouse buttons

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.