The Best Affordable Gaming Laptops Under $1,000 In 2024

Gaming can quickly become an expensive pastime, especially if you want to keep up with the latest hardware. However, if you’re on a tight budget, there are still great options available. Nowadays, you can find reliable CPU and GPU performance for less than $1,000. While you may have to lower the graphics settings on some machines, you can still achieve a smooth 60fps gaming experience. The key is to make smart compromises, and that’s where our list of the top gaming laptops under $1,000 can help you.

Please be aware that the prices of laptops can vary, and there may be occasions when the cost of one of our recommended options exceeds $1,000.

Reasons to trust us: Our name says it all – PCWorld. We take great pride in our extensive knowledge and experience with laptops. Since 1983, we have been dedicated to covering PCs, and we currently evaluate over 70 laptops annually. Each of the recommendations below has undergone thorough testing and scrutiny by our team of experts. They not only assess performance benchmarks but also adhere to strict usability standards. Furthermore, we are committed to reviewing PC laptops across various price ranges, ensuring that you can find a suitable machine within your budget.

Looking for the Best Affordable Gaming Laptops? We’ve got you covered.

Please take note of the following update as of January 1, 2024: For those seeking an affordable gaming machine, I recommend considering the Acer Nitro V 15, which has been recently reviewed. In terms of performance, it is quite comparable to the MSI Thin mentioned below, but it comes with a 13th-generation Intel Core processor and offers additional connectivity options. However, the MSI Thin still stands out in terms of portability, which is why it remains on the list and the Nitro V 15 does not replace it.

The Asus TUF Gaming A16 Advantage Edition is the ultimate choice, offering unparalleled performance and features.

Asus TUF Gaming A16 Advantage Edition

Pros

  • Outstanding all-day battery life
  • Gorgeous and smooth FHD+ 16:10 display
  • Robust chassis with US military-grade certification

Cons

  • Left-side port orientation won’t suit left-handers
  • Keys feel a bit soft and fatiguing
  • The 720p HD camera isn’t the best

The Asus TUF Gaming A16 Advantage Edition stands out for its exceptional performance, long battery life, and other impressive features. Unlike most gaming laptops, which tend to have poor battery life and quickly drain when unplugged, this laptop defies expectations.

Equipped with a massive 90-watt-hour battery, it lasted an astonishing 11 hours in our tests. While intensive gaming will naturally reduce this duration, you can still expect around seven hours of continuous 1080p gaming without needing to plug into an AC outlet. This is a remarkable achievement considering that most gaming laptops typically offer only three to six hours of battery life. Additionally, its robust chassis and sturdy design ensure that it can withstand accidental bumps or knocks while on the move.

In terms of performance, the A16 is no slouch. With its combination of a Ryzen 7 processor and AMD Radeon RX 7600S graphics card, it effortlessly handles 1080p gaming. During our benchmark tests, it outperformed more expensive competitors in games like Shadow of the Tomb Raider. All of these factors make the A16 an excellent choice for 1080p gamers who want to enjoy gaming on the go without being tied down.

MSI Thin GF63 (2023) – Most portable

MSI Thin GF63

Pros

  • Reasonably priced
  • Decent 1080p gaming
  • Well made
  • Attractive red keyboard backlighting

Cons

  • Disappointing screen
  • Not the most powerful
  • Poor battery life

The MSI Thin GF63 is an excellent choice if you’re in the market for a portable gaming laptop that can handle 1080p gaming with ease. Weighing just over four pounds, it’s remarkably lightweight, making it perfect for gaming on the go. In terms of performance,

this budget gaming machine packs a punch with its Intel Core i7-12650H CPU, Nvidia GeForce RTX 4050 GPU, 8GB of RAM, and 512GB of SSD storage. With these specifications, you can expect to run most games on the Medium or High graphics preset. However, for more demanding titles that prioritize speed, it’s advisable to adjust the settings accordingly. The 15.6-inch display boasts a resolution of 1920×1080 and a refresh rate of 144Hz.

While it may only reach 300 nits of brightness, which is typical for a budget gaming laptop, the high refresh rate ensures smooth gameplay. Although the screen may not be the most vibrant or color-accurate, it is still satisfactory, especially considering its price point of under $1,000. If you’re willing to make some compromises, the MSI Thin GF63 is an excellent budget-friendly option that caters to the needs of most gamers.

Dell G16 – Best for work and play

Dell G16

Pros

  • Strong performance for the price
  • Versatile and bright 16-inch 16:10 QHD display
  • Thunderbolt 4 on board

Cons

  • Bulky, boring design
  • Mushy keyboard, tiny touchpad
  • Grainy 720p webcam
  • Lots of fan noise

The Dell G16 is an exceptional laptop suitable for both work and play. It outperforms its competitors in terms of processing power, making it ideal for various everyday tasks such as office productivity, video chatting, checking emails, and more. Additionally, it achieved an impressive 131 FPS while running the Rise of the Tomb Raider benchmark. In terms of hardware,

it boasts an Intel Core i7-12700H CPU, an Nvidia GeForce RTX 3060 GPU, 16GB of RAM, and 512GB of PCIe NVMe SSD storage. Although the G16 may appear simplistic in terms of design, it excels in delivering the essentials, which is what truly matters. If you’re in search of a laptop that seamlessly combines work and play capabilities, the G16 is undoubtedly the top choice.

Dell Inspiron 16 Plus – If you’re willing to spend a little more…

Dell Inspiron 16 Plus - If you're willing to spend a little more...

Pros

  • Great performance for a wide array of tasks
  • Big, high res, fast refreshing screen
  • Good quality metal build
  • Convenient, fast fingerprint reader
  • Reasonable price
  • Good battery life

Cons

  • Skimps on ports
  • Gets warm to the touch and loud under load
  • Heavy, big power bricks needed for high-performance scenarios

If you’re willing to increase your budget by an additional $200 or so, the Dell Inspiron Plus 16 7630 is worth considering. It has quietly become a popular choice due to its impressive features. With this laptop, you can enjoy a long-lasting battery, a sturdy build, a high refresh-rate display, and reliable performance.

Equipped with an Intel Core i7-13700H CPU and an Nvidia GeForce RTX 4060 GPU, it offers a significant boost in power. Whether you’re using multimedia applications, handling day-to-day tasks, or even gaming, this machine can handle it all. In fact, it achieved an impressive 109 frames-per-second during our benchmark test with Shadow of the Tomb Raider.

This is certainly commendable. While there are few downsides to this device, such as limited port selection and the tendency to get loud and warm under heavy workloads, these are minor issues. Overall, considering its price, the Dell Inspiron Plus 16 7630 is a solid choice for gamers.

How we tested

The team at PCWorld conducts a comprehensive set of benchmarks on every Windows laptop, evaluating its GPU and CPU performance, battery life, and more. The objective is to thoroughly assess the laptop’s capabilities and subsequently compare it to other models we have tested. Below, we provide a detailed overview of each test and the rationale behind conducting them.

Windows laptops

  • PCMark 10: PCMark 10 is the benchmark we employ to assess the laptop’s performance in handling less demanding activities such as web browsing, word processing, spreadsheets, and similar tasks.
  • HandBrake: HandBrake is a more demanding benchmark compared to PCMark 10 as it primarily evaluates the processing time of a laptop’s CPU when encoding a substantial 30GB file.
  • Cinebench: Cinebench is a concise evaluation that puts stress on the CPU cores. This is achieved by rendering a 2D scene within a limited timeframe.
  • 3DMark: 3DMark assesses the consistency of 3D performance by executing graphic-intensive clips to ensure its stability throughout time.
  • Gaming tests: We evaluate the performance of every gaming laptop by testing it with multiple gaming titles.
  • Video rundown test: To assess the duration of the battery, we continuously play a 4K video on Windows 10’s Movies & TV application until the laptop’s power is depleted.

What you should look for in a budget gaming laptop

When it comes to selecting the appropriate gaming laptop, your choice largely depends on your intended usage. Will you be playing lightweight indie games such as Stardew Valley (which I adore), or do you prefer visually demanding titles like Cyberpunk 2077? Additionally, do you plan on using the laptop for work purposes as well?

While it is possible to obtain reliable performance from a gaming laptop that costs less than a thousand dollars, it is crucial to carefully consider the individual components. For games like Fortnite, a powerful GPU is not necessary. Even with entry-level graphics cards, you can achieve excellent performance at 1080p resolution by adjusting the in-game visual settings from Ultra to High or Medium.

To achieve a smooth 60 frames per second in modern games on a gaming laptop under $1,000, you will likely need to make these adjustments. However, the good news is that the games should still look impressive, especially on a laptop display.

  • GPU: The GPU is an essential component that cannot be replaced or upgraded later, so it is crucial to carefully choose the right one. The performance of your machine in gaming largely depends on this component. Fortunately, you don’t necessarily need the top-of-the-line GPU to achieve reliable gaming performance. The GTX 1650, for example, is an entry-level GPU that is both affordable and capable enough for 1080p gaming with mid-to-high graphics settings. However, it’s worth noting that you may experience lower frame rates when playing newer titles. If you desire more power, the newer RTX 3050 and 3050 Ti are highly recommended options, commonly found in gaming laptops priced under $1,000. Occasionally, you might come across a deal on a laptop powered by an RTX 3060 under $1,000, but they are relatively rare.
  • CPU: The processor, similar to the GPU, cannot be upgraded, hence it is crucial to make a careful choice. In the case of Intel, we suggest opting for an 11th-gen Intel Core i5 or i7. On the other hand, for AMD, it is advisable to invest in a Ryzen 4000 or 5000. While a processor with a minimum of four cores is satisfactory, having six cores or more would be even more advantageous.
  • RAM: It is recommended to have a minimum of 8GB of RAM. If you have the means to invest in 16GB of RAM, it is advisable to do so. Typically, memory can be upgraded, allowing you to replace it and add more in the future.
  • Storage: Storage impacts how many games and applications you can install on your laptop. Like RAM, storage is often upgradable and can be swapped out later. However, you should aim for at least 512GB of SSD storage plus a hard drive, as AAA titles tend to eat up a lot of space. SSDs load games faster, as data is stored on chips rather than spinning disks.
  • Display: At this price range, you can anticipate a resolution of 1080p, with either a 60Hz or 144Hz (preferred) refresh rate. Manufacturers often compromise on the display quality of budget gaming laptops to maintain affordability. In case you have a dim display, you can easily connect an external monitor to enhance your viewing experience.
  • Battery life: In general, gaming laptops are notorious for their subpar battery performance due to their high power consumption. Additionally, they often have a heavier build compared to other laptops as they require additional space for effective heat dissipation through heatsinks and cooling components. Typically, these laptops can last anywhere between four to six hours on a full charge, depending on the intensity of usage. However, there are a few exceptional cases, such as the HP Envy 14 (mentioned above), which managed to achieve an impressive battery life of 15 hours during our battery test.

FAQ

Are Chromebooks good gaming laptops?

The suitability of a gaming laptop depends on the specific type of gaming you wish to engage in. However, in general, gaming laptops do not perform well. Chromebooks, on the other hand, are capable of handling web games and Android games effectively. Nevertheless, if you are interested in playing the latest high-powered AAA games, a Chromebook will not suffice. This limitation can be attributed to two factors: Chromebooks do not run Windows and they typically lack sufficient graphics power.

Having said that, Google is actively working on introducing cloud gaming to Chromebooks, which is expected to be available in the future. Cloud gaming services enable games to be streamed through the cloud onto the Chromebook, utilizing a remote PC or console. Until this service is fully operational, however, Chromebooks will not be able to compete in the gaming arena.

Can you game with integrated graphics?

In the present day, modern PC games can be run at reasonable settings by the latest processors equipped with integrated graphics. For instance, Intel’s newer Iris Xe processors have demonstrated the ability to run some of the latest games at 1080p and 30fps. However, it is important to note that not all integrated graphics possess the same capabilities.

Both Intel and AMD have made significant advancements in their integrated graphics, particularly in terms of gaming performance. If you are on a budget or seeking an ultra-thin laptop with integrated graphics, you can still enjoy some light gaming. For more comprehensive information, we recommend reading our article on Intel’s Core 12th-gen Iris Xe and AMD’s latest Ryzen 6000 RDNA 2

What size laptop is best?

It ultimately boils down to individual preference and intended purpose. If frequent traveling with your laptop is on the agenda, opting for a compact ultraportable size of around 13 to 14 inches would be most suitable. On the other hand, if your aim is to utilize it for gaming, a laptop within the 15- to 17-inch range would be the ideal choice. Additionally, it is crucial to consider the weight of the laptop before making a purchase. Ultra-thin laptops can weigh as light as 2 pounds, while robust gaming computers can tip the scales at three or four times that amount.

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