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 September 1st 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
– Gamers: Intel Core i5-10300H + GeForce GTX 1650 4GB
Both: Ryzen 5 4600H + GeForce GTX 1650 4GB
Gamers: Core i5-11400H + GeForce RTX 3050 Ti 4GB 75W
Both: AMD 8 cores CPU + GeForce RTX 3050 Ti 4GB  95W
Both: Lightweight 14″ AMD 8 cores + RTX 3050 Ti 40W

Upgrade your laptop:

Recommended SSDs for upgrades

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

Gamers: Intel Core i5-10300H + GeForce GTX 1650 4GB

$614.95 on B&H (Worldwide Shipping)

Gamers:
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 i5-10300H. This is a 4 cores / 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.

You get 8GB of RAM and there’s an empty RAM slot to add more.

Storage wise, you get a combo of a 256GB SSD and a 1TB hard drive, giving you plenty of storage capacity for games.

How to easily improve overall performance!
This laptop is equipped with a single 8GB stick of RAM. Gaming 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.

Creative Pros: May or may not interest you, depending on your needs
If you care only about graphic performance, getting a dedicated graphic card sure does boost performance compared to the model above. However, CPU wise, you lose two cores, so if your workload is both CPU and GPU intensive, you’ll be better serve by recommendations below.

Pros:

  1. Intel Core i5-10300H Four cores / 8 threads 2.5-4.5GHz CPU
  2. Nvidia GeForce GTX 1650 4GB
  3. 8GB of DDR4 RAM (1x8GB)
  4. Empty RAM slot to easily add RAM
  5. 256GB M.2 NVMe high-performance SSD storage
  6. 1TB hard drive for additonal storage
  7. Display with a 1920 x 1080 resolution.
  8. IPS display for great viewing angles and contrast
  9. HDMI Output
  10. Windows 10
  11. Excellent keyboard and great layout
  12. Backlit keyboard
  13. Numpad
  14. Decent speakers, especially for the price
  15. 720p HD webcam
  16. RJ-45 Ethernet port
  17. WiFi 6 802.11ax 2×2
  18. Bluetooth 5.0
  19. Total of 3 USB ports, including one USB Type-C
  20. Fairly lightweight for at 15.6″ laptop: 3.97lbs
  21. Good battery life: up to 9.7 hours

Cons:

  1. Trackpad doesn’t have dedicated buttons.
  2. No fingerprint reader: To be expected at that price point
  3. No card reader
  4. Display refresh rate is limited to 60Hz: To be expected at that price point
  5. Maximum display brightness is limited to 250 cd/m2

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

For Gamers:
Core i5-11400H + GeForce RTX 3050 Ti 4GB 75W:

Gigabyte G5 MD

– 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 RTX 3050 Ti 4GB (TDP: 75W).

You also get a 144Hz display, for smooth gameplay. You get 100% sRGB color coverage for vibrant colors and X-Rite Pantone Certification, meaning that each laptop is factory calibrated for color accuracy.

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:
I’d get one of the two recommendations below, which offer a more powerful 8 cores CPU.

Pros:

  1. Equipped with the GeForce RTX 3050 Ti 4GB 75W TDP
  2. Intel Core i5-11400H Six-Core + Hyper-Threading 2.7-4.5GHz CPU
  3. 512GB PCIe NVMe SSD for fast boot, a responsive laptop and fast application launch
  4. Empty M.2 slot allows you to easily add storage
  5. 16GB of DDR4RAM
  6. RAM can be upgraded to 32GB (2 x 16GB of DDR4 RAM ) or 64GB (2 x 32GB)
  7. 1920 x 1080 resolution
  8. 144Hz refresh rate
  9. IPS panel for better color reproduction, wide viewing angles and better contrast.
  10. 100% sRGB color coverage
  11. Factory calibrated for color accuracy
  12. Good keyboard layout, except for the 0 on the numped
  13. Full size arrow keys
  14. Backlit Keyboard
  15. HDMI and Mini Displayport outputs
  16. 802.11ax WiFi 6 2×2 MU-MIMO
  17. LAN RJ-45 Ethernet port
  18. Bluetooth 5.0
  19. SD card reader
  20. 4x USB ports: 3x Type-A and 1x Type-C
  21. Windows 10 Home
  22. Dedicated mouse buttons
  23. Fairly lightweight for a gaming laptop: 4.8lbs
  24. Battery life: Expect 6-7 hours of web browsing

Cons:

  1. No fingerprint reader

Both: AMD 8 cores CPU + GeForce RTX 3050 Ti 4GB 95W:

Lenovo Legion 5

– Click here to see the price on Amazon

Gamers:
The RTX 3050 Ti in this laptop runs at a TDP of 95W, resulting in higher performance compared to the 75W RTX 3050 Ti in the model above.

You also get an higher end 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.

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

Creative Pros:

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

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

Both: Lightweight 14″ AMD 8 cores + RTX 3050 Ti 40W

Acer Swift X 14

– Click here to see the price on Amazon

Portability before performance:
Now let’s get this out of the way: If all you care about is performance, go with the laptop above, seeing as it has an higher performance variant of the RTX 3050 Ti and is capable of dissipating more heat, resulting in higher CPU performance too.

Now, if you don’t lower but still very good performance in order to get a 3.06lbs laptop with a 8 cores CPU and a dedicated GeForce RTX 3050 Ti 4GB graphic card, the Acer Swift X 14 is an excellent choice.

Pros:

  1. Incredibly light for such a powerful laptop: 3.06lbs
  2. Equipped with the Nvidia Geforce RTX 3050 Ti Ti with 4GB of VRAM
  3. AMD Ryzen 7 5800H Eight-Core + Hyper-Threading 3.2-4.4GHz CPU
  4. 512GB PCIe NVMe SSD for fast boot, a responsive laptop and fast application launch
  5. Empty M.2 slot
  6. 16GB LPDDR4X RAM: High frequency and low power consumption
  7. 1920 x 1080 resolution.
  8. IPS panel for better wide viewing angles and better contrast.
  9. 100% sRGB color coverage
  10. Backlit Keyboard
  11. Fingerprint reader
  12. 3x USB ports, including one Type-C
  13. HDMI 2.0
  14. 802.11ax WiFi 6
  15. Bluetooth 5.2
  16. Windows 10 Home
  17. Up to 12 hours of battery life

Cons:

  1. Refresh rate is limited to 60Hz
  2. RAM is soldered and cannot be upgraded
  3. No dedicated left and right trackpad buttons
  4. Half size arrow keys
  5. No RJ-45 port
  6. No numpad: This is a 14″ laptop

Upgrade your Laptop:

Recommended SSDs for upgrades:

Your laptop comes with a second M.2 slot and you want to buy a SSD to get more storage capacity but ain’t sure which one to get?
I invite you read our The Best SSDs (Solid State Drives) For Your Money article.

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.