The Best Gaming Laptops For Your Money?

By that, I mean the laptops that offer the best gaming 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 gaming laptop for my 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 Mid-Range Gaming Laptops!

A reminder:

My recommendations in this article are based on the prices that I saw on March 12th 2018. 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.

Summary

Click on any of these links to jump to the section that interests you, or scroll down to see them all, in this order.

The Best Gaming Laptop for:

  1. Less than $1000
  2. Less than $1350

Upgrade your laptop:

  1. Upgrade the RAM
  2. Upgrade the hard drive or the SSD
  3. USB DVD and Blu-ray External Burners
  4. The Best WiFi Routers, WiFi Adapters and Bluetooth Adapters

Best Gaming Laptop for less than $1000

About the Dell 15.6″ Inspiron 15 7000

Capable of handling games at 1080p (1920 x 1080 / Full HD) with high visual details.

With this gaming laptop, you can play pretty much any game at 1080p, with high or max details in most games. You may have to cut down visual quality a bit to get good enough frame rates, depending on how demanding the game is.

Nvidia Geforce GTX 1060 6GB + Intel Quad-Core CPU:
Equipped with a Nvidia Geforce GTX 1060, (6GB VRAM GDDR5) dedicated graphics card and a powerful Intel Core i5-7300HQ or Core i7-7700HQ Quad-Core CPU, the Dell Inspiron 15 7000 offers unheard of gaming performance at this price point.

The newer 10xx generation of Nvidia graphic cards, for notebooks, offer significantly better graphic performance than the previous 9xx series, allowing you to run games with higher levels of visual quality, higher framerates and higher FPS rate, thanks to the new Nvidia Pascal architecture featured in the Geforce 10xx series.

To give you an idea, the Geforce GTX 1060 6GB outperforms the old Geforce 980M!

The new 10xx series graphic cards are much closer to their desktop counterparts in terms of performance as opposed to the previous series which had to be significantly cut down in performance to be integrated into gaming laptops.

Available in multiple configurations:

What I love about this laptop is that you can buy it in multiple configurations, allowing you to choose the configuration that you prefer!

1. Core i5-7300HQ or Core i7-7700HQ CPU
Both are quad-core CPUs. There are two differences between them:

The first difference is that the Core i7 CPU offers Hyper-Threading, so that it can handle 8 threads, while the Core i5 doesn’t have Hyper-Threading and is limited to 4 threads. That makes no difference in gaming performance, but if you plan on also using your gaming laptop for demanding programs, such as photo or video editing, 3D rendering, etc., getting the model with the Core i7 will provide additional performance.

The other difference is the frequency: The Core i5-7300HQ runs at 2.5-3.5GHz. The Core i7-7700HQ runs at 2.8-3.8GHz, so it will offer slightly better performance in gaming and other applications that don’t take advantage of Hyper-Threading.

2. 8GB (1x8GB) or 16GB (2x8GB) of RAM
8GB is still good enough for gaming. You can easily add another 8GB stick of DDR4 2400MHz SODIMM RAM if you want to upgrade in the future.

16GB (2x8GB) means that you get dual-channel memory, for twice the memory bandwidth. Gaming performance will get a slight boost (~5%) but applications that benefit from more memory bandwidth (think workstation type applications, rendering, 3D, video/photo editing, etc.) will get a significant boost in performance.

16GB will also ensure that you have enough memory to run multiple applications without running out of memory. If 16GB isn’t enough for your needs, you can upgrade to 32GB (2x16GB).

3- Storage
The laptop is equipped with both a M.2 slot (for SATA III or PCIe M.2 SSDs) and a 2.5″ drive bay (for 2.5″ hard drives or a SATA III 2.5″ SSD).

All configurations are available with a 1TB 5400 RPM hard drive, as well as a 128GB or 256GB SSD.

Get the Dell Inspiron 7000

Core i5-7300HQ, 8GB RAM, 128GB SSD +  1TB HDD : Click here to see the price on Amazon
Core i5-7300HQ, 8GB RAM, 256GB SSD + 1TB HDD : Click here to see the price on Amazon
Core i7-7700HQ, 16GB RAM, 128GB SSD + 1TB HDD: Click here to see the price on Amazon or B&H ($1099.00) – Worldwide Shipping

Pros:

  1. Nvidia Geforce GTX 1060 dedicated video card with 6GB of GDDR5 memory.
  2. Powerful Intel Core i5-7300HQ Quad-Core 2.5-3.5GHz or
    Core i7-7700HQ 7th gen Kaby Lake Quad-Core + Hyper-Threading 2.8-3.8GHz CPU
  3. Depending on your configuration you get either 1x 8GB or 16GB (2 x 8GB) of DDR4 2400MHz RAM.
  4. 1 TB high capacity hard drive.
  5. Available configurations with a 128GB or 256GB SSD which greatly improves the laptops responsiveness and booting speed.
  6. M.2 slot support both the lower cost M.2 SATA III SSDs and the higher performance, but more expensive PCIe M.2 SSDs
  7. Matte screen that doesn’t reflect light.
  8. RAM can be upgraded to 32GB (2x16GB DDR4 2400MHz). See our recommended RAM upgrades toward the end of the article.
  9. 1x USB 3.1 Type-C, with Thunderbolt 3 and Displayport 1.2 output
  10. 3x USB 3.0 ports
  11. Backlit keyboard
  12. Numpad
  13. Ethernet RJ45 port.
  14. SD card reader
  15. 1x HDMI 2.0a with support for 4K output at 60Hz
  16. Windows 10
  17. 720p HD webcam
  18. 1920 x 1080 1080p Full HD display
  19. IPS display panel which means you get a more accurate color reproduction, better contrast and large viewing angles
  20. 802.11ac WiFi
  21. Bluetooth 4.2
  22. Great keyboard layout

Cons:

  1. No optical drive
  2. Hard drive is a 5400RPM hard drive : slower than 7200RPM drives and SSDs
  3. Battery life is on the lower side, expect 5-6 hours of web browsing.

Best Gaming Laptop for less than $1350

About the Acer Predator

Perfect for handling games at 1080p  (1920 x 1080 / Full HD)

With this gaming laptop, equipped with the powerful Geforce GTX 1070 8GB, you can play pretty much any game, old and new, at 1080p at a or close to maximum visual settings.

You also get a powerful Intel i7-7700HQ Quad-Core CPU and 16GB of RAM, this laptop can handle any demanding tasks you throw at it.

If you are looking for an even more powerful gaming laptop, check out The Best High-end gaming laptops.

 

– Click here to see the price on Amazon

Pros:

  1. Nvidia Geforce GTX 1070 dedicated video card with 8GB of GDDR5 memory.
  2. Highly powerful Intel Core i7-7700HQ 7th gen Kaby Lake Quad-Core + Hyper-Threading 2.8-3.8GHz CPU
  3. 16GB of DDR4 2400MHz RAM.
  4. 1 TB high capacity hard drive.
  5. 256GB SSD which greatly improves the laptop responsiveness and booting speed.
  6. M.2 slot support both the lower cost M.2 SATA III SSDs and the higher performance, but more expensive PCIe M.2 SSDs
  7. Matte screen that doesn’t reflect sunlight.
  8. Screen with Nvidia G-Sync and a 75Hz refresh rate.
  9. RAM can be upgraded to 32GB (2x16GB DDR4 2400MHz). See our recommended RAM upgrades toward the end of the article.
  10. 1x USB 3.0 Type-C, 4x USB 3.0 ports
  11. RGB backlit keyboard
  12. Numpad
  13. Dedicated Macro keys on the left side of the keyboard
  14. Dedicated left and right click buttons on the trackpad.
  15. Ethernet RJ45 port.
  16. SD card reader
  17. 1x HDMI and 1x DisplayPort output.
  18. DVD Drive
  19. 4 speakers for a fuller and more powerful sound
  20. Windows 10
  21. 720p HD webcam
  22. 1920 x 1080 1080p Full HD display
  23. IPS display panel which means you get a more accurate color reproduction, better contrast and large viewing angles
  24. 802.11ac WiFi
  25. Bluetooth 4.2

Cons:

  1. Hard drive is a 5400RPM hard drive: slower than 7200RPM drives and SSDs
  2. Limited battery life
  3. Thick and heavy: It’s a powerful 17.3″ gaming laptop.
  4. Refurbished, but directly from Acer.

Upgrade your Laptop:

Upgrade your RAM:

RAM can easily be upgraded on most gaming laptops. A quick google search should provide that info. Feel free to ask me in the comment section if you aren’t sure and can’t find the info.

Visit The Best Computer Memory (RAM) article for my recommendations. Note that you’ll want SODIMM RAM DDR4. Double-check the frequency (in MHz) of the RAM in your laptop and pick the same frequency for the RAM sticks that you’ll buy.

Upgrade your hard drive:

You can 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, so double-check that before buying a hard drive.

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

When you replace the hard drive that your laptop came with, I recommend putting it in the Sabrent USB 3.0 2.5″ SATA Hard Drive Enclosure from Amazon or from B&H (Worldwide Shipping)

This particular enclosure comes with a retractable cable that is connected to the enclosure, so you don’t lose/forget it and it makes the whole package more compact too. It comes with an extension cord if you need it.

Looking for a different external case or need a specific cable? Leave a comment if you need assistance with finding what’s best for your needs.

USB DVD and Blu-Ray Drives

If your laptop doesn’t come with an optical drive and you want one, here are my recommendations for external USB optical drives.

USB DVD Burner

The LG GP60NB50 8x, from Amazon or from B&H (Worldwide Shipping), is the one with the best customer reviews.

USB Blu-Ray Burner

I recommend three USB Blu-Ray burner. Make sure to plug them in an USB 3.0 port to get the maximum speed possible.

In order of price and burning speed:
Pioneer BDR-XD05S 6x, from Amazon or $74.99 at B&H (Worldwide Shipping)

– ASUS BW-12D1S-U 12x from Amazon or $99.95 at B&H (Worldwide Shipping)

OWC Mercury Pro External USB 3.0 16x Blu Ray reader/writer, $129.75 at B&H (Worldwide Shipping)

WiFi routers, WiFi Adapters and Bluetooth adapter:

Need a WiFi router, an USB WiFi adapter or an USB Bluetooth adapter for your laptop? Check out our recommendations for The Best WiFi Routers, Best WiFi Adapters and Bluetooth Adapter.

Conclusion

I hope that you’ve enjoyed this article on the Best Mid-Range Gaming Laptops!

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.