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 February 9th 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: 4 cores / 8 threads AMD CPU/iGPU, 8GB RAM, 1080p
– Both: 6 cores AMD CPU, faster AMD iGPU
Both: Ryzen 5 4600H + GeForce GTX 1650 4GB
Gamers: Core i7-10750H + GeForce GTX 1660 Ti 6GB
Creative Pros: AMD 8 cores CPU + GeForce GTX 1650 Ti 4GB
Both: AMD 8 cores CPU + GeForce GTX 1660 Ti 6GB

Upgrade your laptop:

Upgrade the hard drive or the SSD

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

Lenovo IdeaPad 3

– Click here to see the price on Amazon
Same laptop, other listing:– 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.

Alternatives:

ASUS 15.6″ VivoBook 15 F512DA:
256GB: $499.99 at B&H (Worldwide Shipping)
512GB: $549.99 at B&H (Worldwide Shipping)

The ASUS 15.6″ VivoBook 15 F512DA offers identical specifications, same CPU/GPU/RAM (4+4GB) and SSD, along with a fingerprint reader and a backlit keyboard, while being available from B&H, who offers worldwide shipping.

ASUS 14″ VivoBook 14 F412DA: – Click here to see the price on Amazon

Pretty much the same laptop as the Vivobook 15 F512DA above, but more portable and lighter, with a 14″ display.

Both: 6 cores AMD CPU, faster AMD iGPU

– 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.

It comes with 8GB of RAM (soldered onboard), but there’s an empty RAM slot, so you can add a 8GB or 16GB SO-DIMM stick to have a total of 16GB or 24GB of RAM.

It has up to 10 hours of battery life and it is quite lightweight for a 15.6″ laptop, weighting in at 4.19lbs.

Gamers:
While it is a step up in performance compared to the model, 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 4500U Six-Core 2.3-4.0GHz CPU
  2. AMD Radeon 6 CU integrated graphics
  3. 8GB of DDR4 2400MHz RAM soldered onboard
  4. Empty RAM slot
  5. 256GB M.2 NVMe high-performance SSD storage
  6. Display with a 1920 x 1080 resolution.
  7. IPS display for great viewing angles and contrast
  8. HDMI Output
  9. Windows 10
  10. Up to 10 hours of battery life
  11. Good keyboard for typing
  12. Backlit keyboard
  13. Numpad
  14. Decent speakers, especially for the price
  15. Dual array integrated microphones
  16. 720p HD webcam
  17. WiFi 5 802.11ac
  18. Bluetooth 5.0
  19. Total of 4 USB ports, including one USB Type-C
  20. LAN Rj-45 port
  21. Fairly lightweight for at 15.6″ laptop: 4.19lbs

Cons:

  1. Maximum brightness is average (250nits)
  2. No fingerprint reader
  3. No card reader
  4. Trackpad doesn’t have dedicated buttons.
  5. Keyboard layout could be better. The up and down arrow keys are half size, power button at the top right of the keyboard

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 getsa 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

Alternative:

Lenovo 15.6″ IdeaPad Gaming 3:
– $699.99 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 i7-9750H + 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

Alternative:

Acer 17.3″ Predator:
– $899.99 at B&H (Worldwide Shipping)

The Acer 17.3″ Predator can be an interesting alternative for some of you, seeing as it offers a larger 17.3″ display, a RGB keyboard and it is available from B&H, who offers worldwide shipping.

On the downsides, the display refresh rate isn’t as high (60Hz) and you get a slightly older CPU, which still offers nearly as much gaming performance.

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 for best performance.

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

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

Lenovo Legion 5

– Click here to see the price on Amazon

Gamers:
The model recommended for gamers above offers higher gaming performance, thanks to the higher Turbo frequencies of the Intel Core i7-10750H.

That said, you get nearly as much gaming performance with the Ryzen 7 4800H, while gaining 2 cores, offering higher performance if you broadcast/stream your gaming sessions, as well as faster performance for photo/video editing.
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.

You also get a display with slightly above average brightness (~330 nits) and 100% sRGB color space coverage.

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. 512GB 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. 144Hz refresh rate
  11. 330 nits display brightness
  12. 100% sRGB color space coverage
  13. Backlit Keyboard
  14. Excellent keyboard
  15. Full size arrow keys
  16. 4x USB ports, including one Type-C with Displayport output
  17. HDMI 2.0b
  18. 802.11ac WiFi 5 2×2 MU-MIMO
  19. Bluetooth 5.0
  20. Windows 10 Home
  21. Dedicated mouse buttons

Cons:

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

Worldwide alternative

ASUS TUF506IU-ES74

– $999.99 at B&H (Worldwide Shipping)

Compared to the model above, you get the same great AMD 8 cores CPU, the Ryzen 7 4800H and the same the GeForce GTX 1660 Ti 6GB.

You gain a larger 90Wh battery, dedicated left and right trackpad buttons and of course, the fact that it is available from B&H, who offers worldwide shipping.

On the downside, the display brightness is lower (~250 nits) and color accuracy/color space is not as good as the Lenovo Legion 5 above.

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. 512GB 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.