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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
– For Both: Lightweight, 6 cores AMD CPU, 16GB RAM
For Both: Core i5-9300H + GeForce GTX 1650
For Gamers: Intel Quad-Core + GeForce GTX 1660 Ti GB
For Both: AMD 8 cores CPU + 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 July 2nd 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

ASUS Vivobook 15

256GB: – Click here to see the price on Amazon
512GB: – $549.99 at B&H (Worldwide Shipping)

With an AMD Quad-core/8 threads Ryzen 5 3500U 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 two options:
– 256GB SSD
– 512GB SSD

If you’re tight on money, you can get the 256GB SSD option and simply add a hard drive (or 2.5″ 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 3500U Quad-Core + Hyper-Threading 2.0-3.7GHz CPU
  2. AMD Vega 8 integrated graphics
  3. 8GB DDR4 RAM (4GB soldered onboard + 4GB stick)
  4. Depending on the model: 256GB or 512GB high-performance SSD storage
  5. Empty 2.5″ drive, allowing you to add a 2.5″ hard drive or SSD
  6. Screen with a 1920 x 1080 resolution.
  7. IPS display for great viewing angles and contrast
  8. HDMI Output
  9. Windows 10
  10. Decent keyboard for typing
  11. Backlit keyboard
  12. Decent speakers, especially for the price
  13. 720p HD webcam
  14. microSD card reader
  15. 802.11ac WiFi with MU-MIMO support.
  16. Bluetooth 4.2
  17. Fingerprint reader
  18. Lightweight: 3.53lbs
  19. Total of 4 USB ports, including one USB Type-C

Cons:

  1. Battery life on the shorter side: Up to 5 hours (text editing, no WiFi, lower screen brightness), expect 3-5 hours of web browsing
  2. Maximum brightness and color accuracy aren’t great. Still very decent for the price.
  3. Trackpad doesn’t have dedicated buttons.
  4. No LAN port
  5. Keyboard layout could be better. For example, the arrow keys are half size. The “0” key on the numpad is also half-size. The power button at the top right of the keyboard could be an annoyance for some.

For Both: Lightweight, 6 core AMD CPU, 16GB RAM

– Click here to see the price on Amazon

Based on the newer AMD 6 cores Ryzen 5 4500U CPU and with updated AMD Radeon integrated graphics, you get both significantly higher CPU and GPU performance compared to the laptop above.

Not only that, but you get it in a lightweight (3.63lbs) 2-in-1 laptop that has an up to 10 hours of battery life.

Gamers:
You get AMD’s latest integrated graphics, allowing you to play older games at 1080p or even newer games at 1080p with the lowest level of graphic details.

Still, these are integrated graphics, so you really want higher gaming performance, see my recommendations with dedicated graphic cards below.

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

Pros:

  1. AMD Ryzen 5 4500U Six-Core 2.3-4.0GHz CPU
  2. AMD Radeon 6 CU integrated graphics
  3. 16GB DDR4 3200MHz RAM in dual-channel
  4. 256GB M.2 NVMe high-performance SSD storage
  5. Screen with a 1920 x 1080 resolution.
  6. 10 point Touchscreen with digitizer
  7. Included digital pen, with 4,096 levels of pressure sensitivity and includes two customizable buttons.
  8. IPS display for great viewing angles and contrast
  9. HDMI Output
  10. Windows 10
  11. Up to 10 hours of battery life
  12. Quick charge: 80% battery charge in one hour
  13. Good keyboard for typing
  14. Backlit keyboard
  15. Decent speakers, especially for the price
  16. 720p HD webcam with built-in physical privacy shutter
  17. SD card reader
  18. 802.11ac WiFi
  19. Bluetooth 4.2
  20. 3x USB ports: 1x Type-C, 2x Type-A
  21. Fingerprint reader
  22. Lightweight: 3.63lbs
  23. Total of 4 USB ports, including one USB Type-C

Cons:

  1. Maximum brightness is average (250nits)
  2. RAM is soldered, cannot be upgraded
  3. Limited storage capacity: 256GB, but it can be upgraded
  4. Trackpad doesn’t have dedicated buttons.
  5. No numpad
  6. No LAN port
  7. Keyboard layout could be better. For example, the arrow keys are half size. The “0” key on the numpad is also half-size. The power button at the top right of the keyboard could be an annoyance for some.

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

Acer Nitro 5

128GB SSD + 1TB hard drive: – Click here to see the price on Amazon
512GB SSD: – $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 150/250/350 and the like. You’re better off spending a tad more to get far better gaming performance.

CPU wise, you get 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 there’s an empty RAM slot to add more.

Storage wise, you get get a 128GB SSD with a 1TB hard drive or a 512GB SSD with an empty 2.5″ drive bay, allowing you to upgrade yourself.

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. 128GB or 512GB SSD for fast boot, a responsive laptop and fast application launch
  4. 1TB hard drive or empty 2.5″ bay, depending on which model you choose
  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
  14. RJ-45
  15. HDMI
  16. Windows 10 Home
  17. Battery life of up to 8 hours

Cons:

  1. No dedicated mouse buttons.
  2. On the heavier side: 5.51lbs
  3. Power button, at the top right, is part of the keyboard

For Gamers:
Intel quad-core + GeForce GTX 1660 Ti 6GB:

MSI GF65 Thin

– $899.00 at B&H (Worldwide Shipping)

For Gamers:
Compared to the model above, you get an higher performance graphic card, the GeForce GTX 1660 Ti.

You also get a 120Hz display, for a smoother gameplay.

CPU wise, you get 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.

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 GeForce GTX 1660 Ti with 6GB 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 M.2 slot, for you to add a second SSD if you wish to.
  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. IPS panel for better color reproduction, wide viewing angles and better contrast.
  10. Backlit Keyboard
  11. Full size arrow keys
  12. Lightweight for a gaming laptop: 4.1lbs
  13. 802.11ac WiFi 2×2 MU-MIMO
  14. Windows 10 Home
  15. Battery life of up to 8 hours

Cons:

  1. Surface is prone to fingerprints
  2. No dedicated mouse buttons

For Both:
AMD 8 cores CPU + GeForce 1660 Ti 6GB:

MSI GF65 THIN 9SD-252

– $999.99 at B&H (Worldwide Shipping)

Gamers:
You get even higher gaming performance, thanks to the higher-end AMD Ryzen 7 4800H 8 core CPU and the Nvidia GeForce GTX 1660 Ti with 6GB of VRAM.

The display has a 144Hz refresh rate

Creative Pros:

The 8 core CPU offers higher multithreaded performance compared to the quad or 6-core CPUs in the models above.

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

You get 16GB of RAM and a 5126GB NVMe PCIe SSD. There are two RAM slot, an available M.2 slot and also an empty 2.5″ drive bay, so you can upgrade this laptop.

On the downside, the display brightness is average and color accuracy/color space coverage poor, so if you’re doing color-critical work, choose another laptop.

Pros:

  1. Equipped with the Nvidia Geforce GTX 1660 Ti with 6GB of VRAM
  2. AMD Ryzen 7 4800H Eight-Core + Hyper-Threading 2.9-4.2GHz CPU
  3. 256GB PCIe NVMe SSD for fast boot, a responsive laptop and fast application launch
  4. Empty 2.5″ bay
  5. Empty M.2 slot
  6. 16GB of RAM: 2x 8GB of DDR4 RAM
  7. RAM can be upgraded to 16GB, 32GB or 64GB
  8. 1920 x 1080 resolution.
  9. IPS panel for better wide viewing angles and better contrast.
  10. Backlit Keyboard
  11. 4x USB ports, including one Type-C with Displayport output
  12. HDMI 2.0b
  13. 802.11ac WiFi 5 2×2 MU-MIMO
  14. Bluetooth 5.0
  15. Windows 10 Home
  16. Dedicated mouse buttons

Cons:

  1. Expect about 6 hours of battery life for web browsing.
  2. Average screen brightness
  3. Poor color coverage and poor color accuracy
  4. Half size arrow keys

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.