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 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
– Creative Pros: 2.65lbs, 6 cores CPU, 11.5hrs battery life
For Both: Core i5-9300H + GeForce GTX 1650 4GB
For Gamers: Core i5-10300G + GeForce GTX 1660 Ti 6GB
For Creative Pros: AMD 8 cores CPU + GeForce GTX 1650 Ti 4GB
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 November 17th 2020. Click on Amazon links to see prices. Prices and availability are subject to change.
Disclosure: I only recommend products I would use myself. This post may contain affiliate links so that, at no additional cost to you, I may earn a commission. As an Amazon Affiliate I earn from qualifying purchases.

Leave a comment if you have a question, a suggestion and/or any feedback that you want to share.

For Both: 4 cores / 8 threads AMD CPU/GPU, 8GB RAM, 1080p

Lenovo IdeaPad 3

– Click here to see the price on Amazon

With an AMD Quad-core/8 threads Ryzen 5 3500U CPU, AMD Radeon Vega 8 integrated graphics, a 1920 x 1080 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.

It’s a fine choice for everyday tasks, editing photos, lightweight gaming, etc. but keep in mind that it’s still an entry-level laptop, with integrated graphics: It’s not meant to be used for 3D creation, VR or highly demanding tasks.

It’s also highly portable, weighting in only 3.3lbs.

The display has a TN panel, resulting in smaller viewing angles (still fine if you are facing your laptop) and lower color space coverage, so if you’re a pro doing color-critical work, consider choosing another laptop or rely on an external display. Still, it’s a lot better than some aweful TN panels, being fine for everyday tasks.

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. 256GB high-performance SSD storage
  5. Screen with a 1920 x 1080 resolution.
  6. HDMI Output
  7. Windows 10
  8. Great keyboard for typing
  9. Decent speakers, especially for the price
  10. Webcam
  11. SD card reader
  12. 802.11ac WiFi with MU-MIMO support.
  13. Bluetooth 4.2
  14. Lightweight: 3.3lbs
  15. 3 USB ports

Cons:

  1. No USB Type-C
  2. Battery life on the shorter side: Up to 8 hours (text editing, no WiFi, lower screen brightness), expect 3-6 hours of web browsing
  3. TN display panel results in average viewing angles
  4. Maximum brightness and color accuracy aren’t great. Still very good for the price.
  5. No backlit keyboard
  6. Trackpad doesn’t have dedicated buttons.
  7. No LAN port
  8. No numpad
  9. Keyboard layout: The up and down arrow keys are half size.

Creative Pros: 2.65lbs, 6 cores CPU, 11.5hrs battery life

256GB SSD: – Click here to see the price on Amazon
512GB SSD: – 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 very lightweight (2.65lbs) laptop that has an up to 11.5 hours of battery life. Despite its low weight, it is a well made solid laptop.

Gamers:
You’ll get better performance with a dedicated graphic card, see my recommendation below.

Creative Pros:
Performance wise, 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.

Also, keep in mind that the display, despite being an IPS panel, can only cover 35% of the AdobeRGB and 56% of the sRGB colour spaces, so if you need to work on color-critical content, use an external monitor or choose another laptop.

Pros:

  1. AMD Ryzen 5 4500U Six-Core 2.3-4.0GHz CPU
  2. AMD Radeon 6 CU integrated graphics
  3. LPDDR4 RAM
  4. 256GB or 512GB M.2 NVMe high-performance SSD storage
  5. Screen with a 1920 x 1080 resolution.
  6. IPS display for great viewing angles and contrast
  7. HDMI Output
  8. Windows 10
  9. Up to 11.5 hours of battery life
  10. Good keyboard for typing
  11. Backlit keyboard
  12. Decent speakers, especially for the price
  13. 720p HD webcam
  14. WiFi 6 802.11ax
  15. Bluetooth 5.0
  16. Fingerprint reader
  17. Lightweight: 2.65lbs
  18. Total of 3 USB ports, including one USB Type-C with Displayport and Power Delivery

Cons:

  1. Maximum brightness is average (250nits)
  2. RAM is soldered, cannot be upgraded
  3. No card reader
  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 power button at the top right of the keyboard could be an annoyance for some.
  8. Despite the use of an IPS panel, color coverage is low: 35% of the AdobeRGB and 56% of the sRGB colour spaces.

For Both:
Core i5-10300H + GeForce 1650:

Acer Nitro 5

256GB SSD/60Hz display: – Click here to see the price on Amazon
512GB SSD/144Hz display: – $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 either a 256GB or a 512GB M.2 PCIe NVMe SSD. There’s an empty M.2 slot to add another M.2 SSD as well as empty 2.5″ drive slot to add a hard drive or SATA 2.5″ SSD.

Note that the Amazon model has faster 802.11ax WiFi 6, but a display with a lower 60Hz refresh rate, while the B&H model has still perfectly capable 802.11ac WiFi 5 but a faster 144Hz refresh rate display.

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 or 512GB PCIe NVMe SSD for fast boot, a responsive laptop and fast application launch
  4. Empty M.2 slot to add another SSD
  5. Empty 2.5″ drive bay to add a hard drive or SATA 2.5″ SSD
  6. 1x 8GB of DDR4 2666MHz RAM
  7. Empty RAM slot
  8. RAM can be upgraded to 16GB, 32GB or 64GB
  9. 1920 x 1080 resolution.
  10. IPS panel for better color reproduction, wide viewing angles and better contrast.
  11. 144Hz refresh rate (B&H model) or 60Hz refresh rate (Amazon model)
  12. Matte display that doesn’t reflect light
  13. Backlit Keyboard
  14. Good keyboard, good layout overall, full size arrow keys
  15. Four USB ports, including one Type-C
  16. 802.11ax WiFi 6 (Amazon model) or 802.11ac WiFi 5 (B&H model) Dual-Band 2×2 MU-MIMO
  17. Bluetooth 5.0
  18. RJ-45
  19. HDMI
  20. Windows 10 Home
  21. Decent battery life for a laptop with a dedicated graphic card, up to 8 hours
  22. Good cooling design

Cons:

  1. No dedicated mouse buttons.
  2. On the heavier side: 5.51lbs

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

HP Pavillon 16

– Click here to see the price on Amazon

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

You also get a 144Hz display, for smooth gameplay. You get close to 100% sRGB color coverage

CPU wise, you get the Core i5-10300H. This is a quad-core / 8 threads CPU that runs at 2.5-4.5GHz. This is a H series CPU (Core i5-10300H) 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 i5-10300H Quad-Core + Hyper-Threading 2.5-4.5GHz CPU
  3. 512GB PCIe NVMe SSD for fast boot, a responsive laptop and fast application launch
  4. Empty 2.5″ drive bay, for you to add a hard drive or 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. 16.1″ display size for a slightly larger display than 15.6″ models
  8. 1920 x 1080 resolution
  9. 144Hz refresh rate
  10. IPS panel for better color reproduction, wide viewing angles and better contrast.
  11. Backlit Keyboard
  12. 802.11ax WiFi 6 2×2 MU-MIMO
  13. Bluetooth 5.0
  14. SD card reader
  15. Windows 10 Home
  16. Battery life: Expect 6-7 hours of web browsing
  17. Good cooling: Runs relatively cool and isn’t overly noisy

Cons:

  1. Half-size up and down arrow keys
  2. No dedicated mouse buttons
  3. No fingerprint reader
  4. Build quality is average: Plastic build

For Creative Pros:

AMD 8 cores CPU + GeForce 1650 Ti 4GB:

ASUS TUF506II-BS74

– $899.00 at B&H (Worldwide Shipping)

For Gamers:
See my recommendation above, or below.

Creative Pros:
The 8 core CPU offers far higher multithreaded performance compared to the quad core CPUs in the models above.

With the GeForce GTX 1650 Ti 4GB, you can some video editing, along with some 3D and photo editing as well. Need more graphic memory? See this laptop, with a 6GB GTX 1660 Ti, recommended below.

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, use an external monitor or choose another laptop.

Pros:

  1. Equipped with the Nvidia Geforce GTX 1650 Ti with 4GB 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

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

ASUS TUF506IU-ES74

– $999.99 at B&H (Worldwide Shipping)

As you may have guessed, this is the same laptop as above, but with a faster graphic card.

Gamers:
Compared to the models above, you get even higher gaming performance, thanks to the Nvidia GeForce GTX 1660 Ti with 6GB of VRAM.

Creative Pros:

You get the same great AMD 8 cores CPU, the Ryzen 7 4800H.

You gain a graphic card with more memory, the GeForce GTX 1660 Ti 6GB, so 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 or rely on an external display.

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.