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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 Both: 4 cores / 8 threads AMD CPU/GPU, 8GB RAM, 1080p IPS
Creative Pros: Core i5-8265U, 1080p IPS, 9.5 hrs battery, 256GB SSD
For Both: Core i5-9300H + GeForce GTX 1650
For Creative Pros: Core i7-8750H 6 cores + GeForce GTX 1050 Ti 4GB
For Both: Core i7-9750H + GTX 1650, 256GB SSD + 1TB HDD

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 December 11th 2019. 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 + 1TB HDD: – Click here to see the price on Amazon
512GB 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 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 (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, 3D, 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: 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.

Creative Pros: Core i5-8265U, 1080p IPS, 9.5 hrs battery, 256GB SSD

Acer Aspire 5 A515-54-51DJ

– 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 1.6-3.9GHz Intel Core i5-8265U.

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 i5-8265U Quad-Core 8 threads, 1.6-3.9GHz CPU
  2. 256GB high performance SSD
  3. 8GB of DDR4 RAM
  4. Windows 10
  5. Numpad
  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. Backlit keyboard
  10. Decent speakers
  11. 720p HD webcam
  12. Good battery life: Up to 9.5 hours
  13. 802.11ac WiFi
  14. Bluetooth 4.2
  15. Total of 4 USB ports!: 1x USB Type-C, 2x USB 3.0 and one USB 2.0
  16. Ethernet RJ-45
  17. Fingerprint reader
  18. 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:

Lenovo Ideapad L340 81LK00HDUS

– Click here to see the price on Amazon

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 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 512GB 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. 512GB 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. Three USB ports, including one Type-C
  12. 802.11ac WiFi
  13. Bluetooth
  14. HDMI
  15. Windows 10 home
  16. Lightweight for a gaming laptop: 4.84lbs
  17. Battery life of up to 9 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 Creative Pros:
Core i7-8750H Six-Core + GeForce 1050 Ti 4GB:

MSI GF63 Thin 8SC-030

– $729.00 at B&H (Worldwide Shipping)

For Creative Pros:
Compared to the Lenovo above, equipped with the Core i5-9300H Quad-Core/8 threads 2.4-4.1GHz 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), isn’t as powerful, but still plenty powerful for most Creative Pro tasks. For most, a more powerful CPU matters more.

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 IdeaPad L340 81LK000QUS

– $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 is only one RAM slot, occupied by the 8GB stick, so to upgrade you must replace it. 8GB of RAM is the bare minimum that I recommend for basic photo/video editing. Consider 16GB, or even better, 32GB, which is the maximum.

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 RAM
  6. 1920 x 1080 resolution.
  7. IPS panel for better color reproduction, wide viewing angles and better contrast.
  8. Backlit Keyboard
  9. 802.11ac WiFi 2×2 MU-MIMO
  10. Windows 10 Home
  11. 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
  4. There is only one RAM slot, occupied by the 8GB stick, so to upgrade you must replace it.

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.