This article is updated regularly. Bookmark it (Ctrl + D) to get redirected to the latest version.

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 Both: 4 cores / 8 threads AMD CPU/GPU, 8GB RAM, 1080p IPS
For Both: Faster AMD CPU/GPU, 256GB SSD, lighter, longer battery life

For Both: Ryzen 5 3500U, 128GB SSD+1TB HDD, available in 5 colors
For Both: Intel Core i5-8300H +  GeForce GTX 1050 Ti
For Gamers: Core i5-8300H + GeForce GTX 1650
For Creative Pros: Core i7-8750H 6 cores + GeForce GTX 1050 Ti 4GB
For Both: Core i7-9750H + GeForce GTX 1650

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 August 9th 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 Both: Quad-Core AMD CPU and Graphics

Lenovo – 330S-15ARR

128GB SSD: – Click here to see the price on Amazon
256GB SSD + 1TB HDD: – Click here to see the price on Amazon
512GB SSD + 2TB 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 3 options:
– 128GB SSD only
– 256GB SSD and 1TB hard drive
– 512GB SSD and 1TB hard drive

If you’re tight on money, you can get the 128GB SSD only option and simply add a hard drive 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. 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, 3D, VR or any particularly demanding tasks. You won’t get GPU acceleration in Adobe apps. 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: 128, 256 or 512GB high-performance SSD storage
  5. On the second or third model: 1 or 2TB 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: 5 hours
  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.

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

Lenovo Flex 14

– Click here to see the price on Amazon

Compared to the model above, you get an higher performance CPU, with the latest generation AMD Ryzen 5 3500U. With slightly higher frequencies and slightly optimized architecture, you can expect about 10% higher CPU performance compared to the model above. For gamers, you get the same GPU, but with a 100MHz higher frequency.

You also get a better build quality, a touchscreen that can be flipped, with an included pen and a better battery life, at up to 8 hours, with QuickCharge technology.

It’s also more portable, with a 14″ display and a weight of 3.52lbs.

Storage is on the lower side, at 256GB, but it’s high-performance PCIe NVMe SSD storage. Want more storage or a colored laptop? See the ASUS model below, it’s equipped with the same CPU/GPU/RAM, but you get a 128GB SSD + 1TB HDD instead.

Pros:

  1. Equipped with AMD Radeon Vega 8 graphics.
  2. AMD Ryzen 5 3500U Quad-Core 8 threads, 2.1-3.7GHz CPU
  3. 256GB high performance PCIe NVMe SSD.
  4. 8GB of DDR4 RAM Dual Channel (2 x 4GB, 4GB is soldered, the other 4GB is in a slot)
  5. Fingerprint reader
  6. Physical webcam shutter, for privacy
  7. 14″ Touchscreen with 1920 x 1080 resolution.
  8. Backlit keyboard
  9. Good keyboard layout, good keyboard feeling
  10. Screen equipped with an IPS panel: Good contrast, accurate color reproduction and great viewing angles.
  11. 3x USB ports: Two full size Type-A and one USB Type-C.
  12. Good build quality, metal, solid hinges.
  13. 1 x HDMI output.
  14. Bluetooth
  15. Fairly decent sound, stereo speakers
  16. 802.11ac WiFi
  17. Windows 10 home
  18. Good battery life: Up to 8 hours
  19. Memory card reader
  20. Included active stylus pen

Cons:

  1. No optical drive
  2. No RJ-45 port
  3. No 2.5″ drive bay: You cannot add a 2.5″ hard drive or 2.5″ SATA SSD.

Ryzen 5 3500U, 128GB SSD+1TB HDD, available in 5 colors

ASUS F512DA-EB55-CL

Available in 5 colors!
– Click here to see the price on Amazon

Compared to the Lenovo Flex 14, this ASUS offers similar performance.
What you gain is
– Additional storage, with a mix of a 128GB SSD and 1TB hard drive.
– The choice between 5 colors, if you’d like a colored laptop.
– A larger 15″ display, but the laptop still weights the same 3.5lbs as the Lenovo with its 14″ display.
– An additional USB port. 3 full-size USB 3.0 port and one USB Type-C port

Another big pro is ASUS 1 year Accidental Damage Protection warranty. Register within 60-days from purchase date and you get coverage against damages such as: liquid spills, electrical surges, and drops.
Pros:

  1. Equipped with AMD Radeon Vega 8 graphics.
  2. AMD Ryzen 5 3500U Quad-Core 8 threads, 2.1-3.7GHz CPU
  3. 128GB high performance SSD
  4. 8GB of DDR4 RAM Dual Channel (2 x 4GB, 4GB is soldered, the other 4GB is in a slot)
  5. Fingerprint reader
  6. Windows 10
  7. 1TB high capacity hard drive
  8. Numpad
  9. Screen with a 1920 x 1080 resolution.
  10. IPS display for a good color reproduction, great viewing angles and contrast
  11. HDMI Output
  12. Windows 10
  13. Decent keyboard for typing
  14. Decent speakers
  15. 720p HD webcam
  16. micro SD card reader
  17. 802.11ac WiFi
  18. Bluetooth
  19. Total of 4 USB ports, including one USB 3.1 Type-C and three USB 3.0 Type A
  20. Backlit keyboard
  21. Up to 8 hours battery life
  22. ASUS 1 year Accidental Damage Protection warranty

Cons:

  1. Trackpad doesn’t have dedicated buttons.
  2. Keyboard layout could be better. For example, the arrow key are half size. The power button at the top right of the keyboard could be an annoyance for some.
  3. Hard drive is a 5400rpm variant
  4. Build quality is average, it’s a plastic body

For Both: Core i5-8300H + GeForce 1050 Ti:

Acer Nitro 5

8GB RAM, 256GB SSD: – Click here to see the price on Amazon
16GB RAM, 256GB SSD + 1TB hard drive: – Click here to see the price on Amazon
16GB RAM, 256GB SSD + 1TB hard drive: – Click here to see the price on Amazon

I recommend two configurations: The first one is a bit less expensive and you can add the hard drive of your choice if you want more storage capacity.
The second one is a great deal, with enough RAM and storage to satisfy most users. Note that there’s two listing of the second configuration, pick whichever is less expensive.

For gamers:
This is the least expensive gaming laptop that I recommend that features a dedicated graphic card. Note that yes, you can get gaming laptop with a much lower performance GeForce MX150 for roughly 600$, or one with a GTX 1050 for $640. But I don’t recommend neither: They both have lower performance CPUs, so you’re much better off spending a bit more to get the higher-end GeForce GTX 1050 Ti and a better gaming CPU.

For Creative Pros:
You get an high-performance, high frequency Intel quad-core CPU, that can handle 8 threads. Compared to the AMD Ryzen 5 3500U, you can expect roughly 20% more performance.

The dedicated graphic card, a Nvidia GeForce GTX 1050 Ti, is equipped with 4GB of VRAM. It will accelerate Adobe and other apps.

8GB of RAM is the bare minimum that I recommend for basic photo/video editing. Consider 16GB, or even better, 32GB.

Pros:

  1. Equipped with the Nvidia Geforce GTX 1050 Ti with 4GB of VRAM
  2. Powerful Intel Core i5-8300H 8th gen Coffee Lake Quad-Core + Hyper-Threading 2.3-4.0GHz CPU
  3. 256GB SSD for fast boot, a responsive laptop and fast application launch
  4. 1st model (256GB SSD only): Empty 2.5″ drive bay to add a hard drive. Easy to access.
  5. 2nd model only: 1TB hard drive gives you plenty of storage capacity for your games.
  6. 8GB or 16GB of DDR4 RAM
  7. RAM can be upgraded to 32GB (2 x 16GB of DDR4 RAM )
  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
  12. Bluetooth
  13. Windows 10 home
  14. Full size arrow keys
  15. Highlighted ASWD keys (for gaming)

Cons:

  1. No optical drive
  2. No dedicated mouse buttons.
  3. On the heavier side, 5.95lbs
  4. Battery life is on the short side, up to 5.5 hours

For Gamers
Core i5-8300H + GeForce 1650:

MSI GF63 Thin 8SC-030

– Click here to see the price on Amazon

For gamers:
Compared to the Acer Nitro 5, equipped with the GTX 1050 Ti, gaming performance, with the GTX 1650 Max-Q in this laptop, should be roughly 20% higher, on average.

The CPU (Core i5-8300H), RAM (8GB) and storage (256GB SSD) are identical as the Acer Nitro 5. There’s also a 2.5″ drive bay, for you to add a hard drive or 2.5″ SATA SSD, if you want to.

There are two RAM slots, only one is occupied by the  so you can easily add a 8GB stick to get 16GB of RAM.

Compared to the Acer Nitro 5, this MSI laptop is also significantly lighter, weighting in at only 4.1lbs, compared to 5.95lbs for the Acer Nitro!

Creative Pros:
See my recommendation below.

Pros:

  1. Equipped with the Nvidia Geforce GTX 1650 with 4GB of VRAM
  2. Intel Core i5-8300H 8th gen Coffee Lake Quad-Core + Hyper-Threading 2.3-4.0GHz CPU
  3. 256GB 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. IPS panel for better color reproduction, wide viewing angles and better contrast.
  9. Backlit Keyboard
  10. 802.11ac WiFi 2×2 MU-MIMO
  11. Windows 10 home
  12. Lightweight for a gaming laptop: 4.1lbs
  13. Full-size arrow keys
  14. Battery life of up to 9 hours, expect about 5.5 hours of web browing

Cons:

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

For Creative Pros:
Core i7-8750H Six-Core + GeForce 1050 Ti 4GB:

MSI GF63 Thin 8SC-030

– $779.00 at B&H (Worldwide Shipping)

For Creative Pros:
Compared to the Acer Nitro 5, equipped with the Core i5-8300H Quad-Core/8 threads 2.3-4.0GHz CPU, CPU performance, with the Core i7-8750H Six-Core / 12 threads 2.2-4.1GHz in this laptop, is significantly higher, up to 50% more in heavily multi-threaded tasks!

The graphic card (GTX 1050 Ti 4GB), RAM (8GB) and storage (256GB SSD) are identical as the Acer Nitro 5. There’s also a 2.5″ drive bay, for you to add a hard drive or 2.5″ SATA SSD, if you want to.

There are two RAM slots, only one is occupied, so you can easily add a 8GB stick to get 16GB of RAM. 8GB of RAM is the bare minimum that I recommend for basic photo/video editing. Consider 16GB, or even better, 32GB. The maximum is 64GB (2 x 32GB).

Gamers:
See my recommendation above, or below.

Pros:

  1. Equipped with the Nvidia Geforce GTX 1050 Ti with 4GB of VRAM
  2. Intel Core i7-8750H 8th gen Coffee Lake Six-Core + Hyper-Threading 2.2-4.1GHz CPU
  3. 256GB 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. IPS panel for better color reproduction, wide viewing angles and better contrast.
  9. Backlit Keyboard
  10. 802.11ac WiFi 2×2 MU-MIMO
  11. Windows 10 Home

Cons:

  1. No optical drive
  2. No dedicated mouse buttons.
  3. Up and down arrow keys are half-size
  4. Battery life of up to 7 hours

For Both:
Core i7-9750H + GeForce 1650:

Lenovo 15.6″ IdeaPad L340

– $949.00 at B&H (Worldwide Shipping)

For Both:
Basically the best of the two laptops above, this laptop combines the GeForce GTX 1650 4GB and an even higher performance Intel Core i7-9750H 9th gen Six-Core + Hyper-Threading 2.6-4.5GHz CPU.

The higher performance CPU will boost both performance for Creative Pros and gamers alike.

There are two RAM slots, only one is occupied by the  so you can easily add a 8GB stick to get 16GB of RAM. 8GB of RAM is the bare minimum that I recommend for basic photo/video editing. Consider 16GB, or even better, 32GB. The maximum is 64GB (2 x 32GB).

Storage wise, you also get the best of both worlds, with a 256GB SSD and a 1TB hard drive.

Pros:

  1. Equipped with the Nvidia Geforce GTX 1650 with 4GB 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. 1TB hard drive
  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. IPS panel for better color reproduction, wide viewing angles and better contrast.
  9. Backlit Keyboard
  10. 802.11ac WiFi 2×2 MU-MIMO
  11. Windows 10 Home
  12. Battery life of up to 9 hours

Cons:

  1. No optical drive
  2. No dedicated mouse buttons.
  3. Up and down arrow keys are half-size

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.