Disclosure: I only recommend products that I would use myself. This post contains affiliate links so that, as an Amazon and B&H Affiliate, I earn from qualifying purchases, at no additional cost to you. Prices for B&H as of July 28th 2021. Click on Amazon links to see current prices. Prices and availability are subject to change.

This is one of three articles dedicated to Gaming laptops that can also be used by Creative Pros:

1. Best Budget Low-cost Laptops for Gaming and Creative Pros (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?

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

The Best Budget Laptops for Gaming and Creative Pros?

Many don’t have the knowledge to understand detailed computer specifications and just want to know: “What’s the best laptop for my needs and budget?

By the best, I mean reliable laptops that offer the best performance at prices from $470 to $1000.

With 20 years of experience with computer hardware, keeping up with new products and ever-changing prices, I’m here to help you find the best deals. See my About page.

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, Color space coverage 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, 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?

A worldwide guide!

B&H offers worldwide shipping, while Amazon links should direct you to your local Amazon site (USA, UK, Germany, etc.)

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.

Both: 6 cores / 12 threads AMD CPU/iGPU, 8GB RAM, 256GB SSD
– Both: 6 cores / 12 threads AMD CPU/iGPU, 16GB RAM, 512GB SSD
Both: Ryzen 5 4600H + GeForce GTX 1650 4GB
Gamers: Core i7-10750H + GeForce GTX 1660 Ti 6GB
Both: AMD 8 cores CPU + GeForce RTX 3050 Ti 4GB

Upgrade your laptop:

Upgrade the hard drive or the SSD

Both: 6 cores / 12 threads AMD CPU/iGPU, 8GB RAM, 256GB SSD

– Click here to see the price on Amazon

With an AMD 6 core/12 threads Ryzen 5 5500U CPU, AMD Radeon ntegrated 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 3.77lbs.

How to double gaming performance and improve overall performance!
This laptop is equipped with a single 8GB stick of RAM. Integrated graphics performance will double and overall performance will greatly improve by adding a second 8GB stick of RAM, which will enable dual-channel RAM. I recommend this inexpensive and highly reliable 8GB DDR4 3200MHZ SO-DIMM stick from Crucial.

Don’t want to bother with upgrading RAM and would rather have a laptop that comes with 16GB of RAM out of the box and twice the storage? See my recommendation below.

Pros:

  1. AMD Ryzen 5 5500U Six cores / 12 threads 2.1-4.0GHz CPU
  2. AMD Radeon integrated graphics
  3. 8GB DDR4 RAM (1x 8GB + 1x empty slot)
  4. Empty RAM slot to easily upgrade to 16GB by adding a 8GB stick
  5. 256GB high-performance SSD storage
  6. Screen with a 1920 x 1080 resolution.
  7. Anti-glare display
  8. IPS panel for wide display angles, contrast and color output
  9. HDMI Output
  10. USB Type-C
  11. Windows 10
  12. Top fired speakers that are decent, especially for the price
  13. Webcam
  14. Full size SD card reader
  15. 802.11ax WiFi 6
  16. Bluetooth 5.0
  17. Lightweight: 3.77lbs
  18. 3 USB ports
  19. Close to 10 hours of battery life
  20. Fast charge: Get 50% battery life (~5 hours) with 45 minutes charge

Cons:

  1. No backlit keyboard
  2. Trackpad doesn’t have dedicated buttons.
  3. No LAN port
  4. No numpad
  5. Keyboard layout: The up and down arrow keys are half size.
  6. Storage is limited to 256GB

Both: 6 cores / 12 threads AMD CPU/iGPU, 16GB RAM, 512GB SSD

– Click here to see the price on Amazon
$599.99 on B&H (Worldwide Shipping)

Compared to the laptop above, you get twice the RAM (in dual channel), so overall performance goes up a notch.

You also get twice the storage with a 512GB SSD.

Gamers:
While, out of the box, it is a step up in performance compared to the model above, thanks to having twice the RAM which runs in dual channel, if you can afford it, 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 and the average Youtube video, 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 more demanding tasks. Need more performance? See alternatives below.

Pros:

  1. AMD Ryzen 5 5500U Six cores / 12 threads 2.1-4.0GHz CPU
  2. AMD Radeon integrated graphics
  3. 16GB of DDR4 RAM (8GB soldered onboard + 1x8GB stick)
  4. 512GB M.2 NVMe high-performance SSD storage
  5. Display with a 1920 x 1080 resolution.
  6. IPS display for great viewing angles and contrast
  7. HDMI Output
  8. Windows 10
  9. Fingerprint reader
  10. Backlit keyboard
  11. Numpad
  12. Decent speakers, especially for the price
  13. microSD card reader
  14. 720p HD webcam
  15. WiFi 5 802.11ac
  16. Bluetooth 4.1
  17. Total of 4 USB ports, including one USB Type-C
  18. Fairly lightweight for at 15.6″ laptop: 3.97lbs
  19. Metal support brace underneath the keyboard strengthens the hinge joint, which is a common weak point of laptops

Cons:

  1. Trackpad doesn’t have dedicated buttons.
  2. Keyboard layout could be better. The up and down arrow keys are half size, power button at the top right of the keyboard
  3. No RJ-45 LAN port

More powerful alternative if you don’t mind adding RAM

Out of the box, this variant of the ASUS VivoBook 15 M515 (Click here to see the price on Amazon) isn’t as powerful as the one above, seeing as it comes with 8GB (4GB onboard + 4GB stick) of RAM instead of 16GB.

However, it comes with the more powerful 8 cores AMD Ryzen 7 5700U CPU and a more poweful integrated graphics, so if you don’t mind taking a few minutes to replace the 4GB SODIMM RAM stick with either a 8GB DDR4 3200MHZ SO-DIMM or 16GB stick, you’ll end up with a more powerful laptop.

For Both:
Ryzen 5 4600H + GeForce 1650:

8GB RAM/256GB SSD: – Click here to see the price on Amazon
8GB RAM/512GB SSD: – Click here to see the price on Amazon
16GB RAM/256GB SSD + 1TB HDD: – Click here to see the price on Amazon
Customize RAM and storage: – Click here to customize it 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 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 Ryzen 5 4600H. This is a 6 cores / 12 threads CPU that runs at 3.0-4.0GHz. This is a H series CPU (Ryzen 5 4600H) 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.

With the base model, you get 8GB of RAM and there’s an empty RAM slot to add more. It’s also available with 16GB or 32GB of RAM.

Storage wise, the base model gets a 256GB PCIe NVMe SSD. There is an empty 2.5″ drive slot to add a hard drive if you want more storage.
512GB, 1TB and 2TB SSD models are available, as well as models with a 1TB hard drive.

Pros:

  1. Equipped with the Nvidia Geforce GTX 1650 with 4GB of VRAM
  2. AMD Ryzen 5 4600H 6 Cores / 12 threads 3.0-4.0GHz CPU
  3. Base model: 256GB PCIe NVMe SSD for fast boot, a responsive laptop and fast application launch. 512GB, 1TB and 2TB SSD options available
  4. Base model: Empty 2.5″ drive bay to add a hard drive or SATA 2.5″ SSD. 1TB hard drive upgrade available
  5. 1x 8GB of DDR4 RAM. 16GB or 32GB RAM options available
  6. Base model: 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. Matte display finish to minimize reflections
  11. Backlit Keyboard
  12. SD card reader
  13. Numpad
  14. Three USB ports, including one Type-C
  15. 802.11ac WiFi 5
  16. Bluetooth 5.0
  17. HDMI
  18. Windows 10 Home
  19. Decent battery life for a laptop with a dedicated graphic card, up to 8 hours
  20. Good cooling design
  21. Lightweight for a gaming laptop: 4.37lbs

Cons:

  1. No dedicated mouse buttons.
  2. No RJ-45 LAN port
  3. Display refresh rate is only 60Hz

Worldwide Alternatives:

Lenovo 15.6″ IdeaPad Gaming 3:
– $679.00 at B&H (Worldwide Shipping)

The Lenovo 15.6″ IdeaPad Gaming 3 offers similar gaming performance, with the same GeForce GTX 1650 graphic card. While the CPU is different, you lose 2 cores, but gain higher maximum frequency, so gaming performance should be similar, if not even a notch higher.

You get more storage, with the combo of a 256GB SSD and a 1TB hard drive.

Of course, it is available from B&H, who offers worldwide shipping.

For Gamers:
Intel Core i7-10750H + GeForce GTX 1660 Ti 6GB:

Lenovo Legion 5

– Click here to see the price on Amazon

For Gamers:
Compared to the model above, you get a 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 i7-10750H. This is a 6 cores / 12 threads CPU that runs at 2.6-4.8GHz. This is a H series CPU (Core i7-10750H) 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 i7-10750H Six-Core + Hyper-Threading 2.6-4.8GHz 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. 1920 x 1080 resolution
  8. 120Hz refresh rate
  9. IPS panel for better color reproduction, wide viewing angles and better contrast.
  10. Great keyboard
  11. Full size arrow keys
  12. Backlit Keyboard
  13. 802.11ax WiFi 6 2×2 MU-MIMO
  14. LAN RJ-45 Ethernet port
  15. Bluetooth 5.0
  16. SD card reader
  17. Windows 10 Home
  18. Battery life: Expect 6-7 hours of web browsing
  19. Good cooling: Runs relatively cool and isn’t overly noisy

Cons:

  1. No dedicated mouse buttons
  2. No fingerprint reader

Both: AMD 8 cores CPU + GeForce RTX 3050 Ti 4GB:

Lenovo Legion 5

– Click here to see the price on Amazon

Gamers:
The RTX 3050 Ti trade blows with the GTX 1660 Ti performance wise, so it’s a wash with the model above based on that only.

That said, you get a better CPU, with the 8 cores Ryzen 7 5800H, so you gain 2 cores, offering higher performance overall, even more so if you broadcast/stream your gaming sessions, as well as faster performance for photo/video editing.

You also get twice the RAM out of the box, with 16GB instead of 8GB with the model above.

So overall this laptop offers slightly better gaming performance and significantly better overall performance.

Creative Pros:

You get a better CPU, the 8 cores AMD Ryzen 7 5800H.

You also get twice the RAM, with 16GB out of the box.

You also get a display with 100% sRGB color space coverage.

Pros:

  1. Equipped with the Nvidia Geforce RTX 3050 Ti Ti with 4GB of VRAM
  2. AMD Ryzen 7 5800H Eight-Core + Hyper-Threading 3.2-4.4GHz CPU
  3. 512GB PCIe NVMe SSD for fast boot, a responsive laptop and fast application launch
  4. Empty M.2 slot
  5. 16GB of RAM: 2x 8GB of DDR4 RAM
  6. RAM can be upgraded to 16GB, 32GB or 64GB
  7. 1920 x 1080 resolution.
  8. IPS panel for better wide viewing angles and better contrast.
  9. 165Hz refresh rate
  10. 3ms display response time
  11. 100% sRGB color space coverage
  12. Backlit Keyboard
  13. Excellent keyboard
  14. Full size arrow keys
  15. Numpad
  16. 6x USB ports, including two Type-C
  17. HDMI 2.1
  18. Ethernet RJ-45 port
  19. 802.11ax WiFi 6
  20. Bluetooth 5.0
  21. Windows 10 Home

Cons:

  1. Expect about 5-6 hours of battery life for web browsing.
  2. No dedicated left and right trackpad buttons

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.