Many people still buy desktops if they want a top-end gaming experience. While the best desktops remain superior to either laptops or consoles, desktops cost thousands of dollars. Not everyone interested in playing new graphically intensive games wants to spend thousands of dollars on a top-end gaming desktop.
For this reason, gaming laptops are more popular than ever before. For less than a thousand dollars, you can have a computer capable of running new and impressive games without slowing down. You might need a desktop to run the latest games on the highest settings, but there is less of a difference between a new desktop and a new laptop than you might think.
The ticket is to buy a laptop that is good for gaming and not merely for general purposes. A gaming laptop needs a powerful graphics card to run newer games. A fast laptop with a lot of RAM is not any good for gaming unless it has a powerful graphics card as well. A computer’s main CPU is not efficient at processing graphics. The CPU is too general purpose. A specific purpose graphics card can do the job much better.
Other things to take into consideration are battery life, screen size, durability/reliability, warranties, and price. RAM and CPU speed surely matter very much. If two gaming laptops are similar in overall quality, one might have some exciting additional features that make it the better choice.
As is the case for buying any product, you want to do your research. A laptop that isn’t worth its price can still sell, as enough people will buy a poorly priced product. You want to get the best deal you can with a gaming laptop as it is not a very small expense and is not something you buy often. Make sure that the features you are getting justify the price.
Best Gaming Laptops Under $800
1) MSI GV62
An excellent gaming laptop has a powerful graphics card, and the MSI GV62 certainly has a high-end graphics card for a laptop that costs less than 800 dollars. The power of the graphics card on its own makes this laptop a good deal. The MSI GV62 also offers a powerful modern processor and an Intel Optane memory system.
The MSI GV62 can boast that those who play competitive eSports use the MSI. The laptop’s graphics card, the GTX 1050 Ti, is new and powerful. The MSI offers a better frame rate with graphically intensive games than at least most other comparable laptops can offer.
There is no shortage of ram (8 gigabytes) or memory (1 terabyte). You won’t have to break the bank to buy an MSI either. Therefore, this is one of the best options if you are looking for a new gaming laptop. If one tries to run very advanced games on a more basic laptop, it may overheat. The MSI also offers an advanced cooling system and is not likely to heat up too much. Remember, this laptop is taken seriously in eSports. Professional gamers would want nothing to do with it if it would overheat quickly.
On the downside, the MSI GV62 does have a weak battery that runs out quickly. If one likes to use a laptop away from a power outlet often, then they should either avoid the MSI or buy a power bank. Power banks that are strong enough to charge laptops can be pricey, so you might be better off with a different laptop if you think battery life is very relevant. Another disadvantage is that the laptop is expensive. While it costs less than a thousand dollars, it still costs you $700 – one can buy a reasonably powerful gaming laptop for less money.
- High graphics card; superior to what many other new gaming laptops offer
- Large hard drive and lots of RAM
- Powerful CPU
- Innovative Optane memory system
- Relatively expensive
- The battery runs out quickly
2) Dell Inspiron 15-7000
While forms of VR have been around for decades, VR games were until recently were unimpressive and not an improvement over displaying games on a screen. Today, we are truly in the VR age. Gaming with a VR headset can be much more immersive than gaming on a monitor or television screen. VR gaming is a whole new form of entertainment, with all sorts of new styles and genres of games appearing for the VR medium.
Dell designed the Inspiron with virtual reality games in mind. Dell made the Inspiron as an affordable laptop capable of running VR games. It is the laptop to go for if you are highly interested in VR gaming. There may not be any other laptops in this price range that can easily handle VR.
The Dell Inspiron may also be the right choice for people who want a gaming laptop in general and not necessarily a VR gaming laptop. One innovative feature that helps the Dell Inspiron stand out from the competition is its above-average memory system. The Inspiron offers hybrid memory, which is a mix of ordinary hard drive memory (slower but more storage) or solid-state memory (faster but less storage).
Most laptops offer only one or the other. The Inspiron offers both at once, allowing you to use a solid-state drive plus a larger but slower ordinary hard drive. These new hybrid drives can make your experience better and are not yet a standard feature that most modern gaming laptops have.
In some ways, this laptop is less advanced than some of its other competitors. The graphics card is a GTX 1050, which is good enough for most purposes, but not the same as the new GTX 1050 Ti. It is also has a seventh-generation rather than an eighth-generation processor. Nonetheless, the Inspirion does perform well for gaming purposes in general and performs excellently for VR games.
Many laptops sacrifice battery life to keep the price down, and this is no exception. One cannot get a laptop that offers everything for less than $800. Battery life is one of the things that companies often sacrifice to make their laptops more affordable. If a weak battery is a fatal flaw from your point of view, you want to look elsewhere. The Inspirion can handle heat well enough, but the fan will become quite loud when playing games that heat up the computer.
- Hybrid hard drive allows for both a small amount of lightning-fast memory and a lot of storage space
- Ideal for and specifically designed for VR gaming
- Elegant appearance with an excellent red and black color scheme
- The fan goes very fast when playing some games
- The processor is standard rather than above standard
- Graphics card is conventional rather than above standard
- Speakers are slightly unimpressive although some people don’t notice the slightly lower sound quality
3) Dell G3
Dell is a very respected company in the laptop world. You can count on dell products to last, and generous warranties protect them. The Dell G3 is an excellent choice with no serious flaws. For less than $800, you get an eighth-generation processor. The graphics card is not quite top of the line but is competitive with other gaming laptops. The graphics card has 4 gigabytes of ram, and the computer has 8 gigabytes of ram.
The laptop offers 128 gigabytes of SSD (solid-state drive) memory as well as one terabyte worth of HDD (hard disk drive) memory. The Dell G3 does not make you choose between a faster but smaller solid-state drive and a slower but higher memory hard disk drive. While the laptop does cost close to $800, you will not need to invest in an external hard drive. The Dell G3 also has a reasonably good battery life, so you will not need to buy external power storage either.
One unusual and probably negative feature of the Dell G3 is its keyboard. The keyboard is not a typical design. The keys are flat and not similar to the larger keys one might be used to with other laptops. Most people do not like the unusually flat keys. The glare-resistant screen is another excellent feature. The screen quality is excellent in general and provides somewhat more vivid colors than the usual standard. As a whole, this is an excellent choice, unless you hate flat keyboards or want something a bit cheaper.
- Both SSD and hard disk drive memory
- Very advanced processor
- Glare resistant screen
- People do not like the unusual keyboard
- Almost $800
4) Acer Aspire 7
The Acer Aspire is above par for its graphics card (GTX 1050AI) and for its processor, which is an eighth-generation CPU. The Acer Aspire 7 also has 8 gigabytes of ram, a large high-resolution screen, and the uncommon feature of a fingerprint reader.
Unfortunately, the Acer Aspire 7 is one of the more flawed products on this list. It is one of the lower quality gaming laptops that people commonly buy for a little under $800. The computer may have manufacturing defects or may be damaged by the time it gets to the customer.
In spite of the impressive technical specifications, the Acer Aspire 7 runs slowly with many games on high settings. While many people have no problem getting a lot of performance out of the laptop, many people find it slower than its impressive technology would suggest.
When you buy the Acer Aspire 7, the touchpad sometimes doesn’t work. If the touchpad does work at first, it may stop working fairly quickly. It does not seem to be a solidly built or durable laptop. The screen may also be slightly damaged before you get it.
On the plus side, Acer is a real company that does back its products with warranties. If your laptop shows up broken, even if it is only a small amount of damage to the screen, the warranty will protect you. However, you should probably avoid buying a laptop that is poorly manufactured and is arguably not as fast as comparable gaming laptops.
If you do buy the Acer Aspire 7 for whatever reason, it does offer a mix of SSD and hard disk memory. Many other laptops do, but many other new laptops do not. The combination of the two is always excellent. Often, it makes sense to choose a laptop because of its hybrid memory system.
However, the reputation for manufacturing defects is enough that you should avoid it. It is not an abysmal product, but there is a higher risk of the laptop showing up in a damaged state than for other laptops.
- Some users report excellent performance
- Advanced technology in general
- Top-end graphics card
- Warranties cover manufacturing defects
- May have manufacturing defects
- Might be broken right from the start
- May break shortly after one starts using it
- Mixed reputation for being able to run games on high settings
5) Asus FX504
As well as offering impressive technology, the Asus FX504 comes with new games and with free tech support. Age of Empires Definitive Edition, Gears of War 4, and amazon tech support are included in the purchase price.
The earlier Asus FX503 had 256 GB of SSD memory, which made the laptop run very fast. However, the old FX503 did not have any storage outside of the SSD memory that the older laptop offered.
This is no longer true, and the Asus FX504 offers one terabyte worth of hard disk storage. It does not offer a solid-state drive as the FX503 did, but it does offer Intel Optane memory, which is in some ways better.
One significant advantage of laptops over desktops is that they are much more portable. However, some laptops are less portable than others. An ideal laptop should be thin and durable; the sort of computer one can fit in a zippered briefcase pocket.
The Asus FX504 is, thankfully, thin and difficult to break. While all laptops are fairly delicate, the Asus FX504 is designed to be less fragile than most other options. It is also thin and light, easy to travel with if you want a laptop you can take from place to place.
Many people like to take their laptops to coffee shops and other locations away from home regularly. The Asus FX504 may be an ideal choice if you want to take your laptop away from home frequently.
The Asus FX504 is an excellent machine as far as its graphics card goes. You will get the top of the line GTX 1050 Ti instead of the standard GTX 1050 or a less advanced processor. The laptop also boasts an advanced active cooling system. Without excellent cooling, a laptop is not good enough for high-end gaming. A gaming laptop needs cooling just as much as it needs processing power.
Since the laptop is built for durability, the keyboard is excellent. The keyboard can handle very many keystrokes without taking any damage, even if one is somewhat hard on the keys.
- Great if you carry your laptop around often – both thin and durable
- Top-end graphics card
- Comes with free games and free tech support
- May run slow out of the box unless you reinstall some software
- No SSD memory, Optane is not one-sidedly better
- Screen color quality may be less than optimal
6) Acer Nitro 5
While the Acer Aspire 7 is a poorly made product, this is probably not true for the Acer Nitro 5. It has a considerably better reputation for durability and quality than the Acer Aspire 7 does. Some people do report manufacturing defects, but there is not an unusually high number of complaints about problems.
Warranties can save you with any Acer product, and the odds of defects might not be higher than usual for the Acer Nitro. Acer does not have as good of a reputation as Dell for delivering well-made products, but you can at least trust their warranties.
The stand out feature of the Acer Nitro 5 is its cooling system. The cooling system is as good as it gets for reasonably cheap gaming laptops. Even a long gaming session with a game that requires a huge amount of processing may not overheat the laptop.
Many gamers hate having their laptops overheat. The Acer Nitro might be the way to go if you have always had problems with your laptops overheating. The battery life is also excellent. It can last for nine hours a lot of the time, with some activities draining power faster than others. With the Nitro, you will not be bothered by overheating related crashes or short battery life.
The graphics card is impressive, but the processor not quite of the newest generation. The storage space may be lacking for many gamers. While 256GB worth of SSD memory allows the laptop to run very fast, there is no additional storage. The laptop does not offer a hard disk drive storage in addition to SSD memory.
Not all gamers will see the lack of storage as a fatal flaw. Every relatively cheap gaming laptop must make a few sacrifices to keep the price down, and the Acer Nitro 5 sacrifices storage space. It depends on how many games and other programs you want to have installed at the same time.
Many gamers do not use anywhere near a terabyte of hard drive space at any point. They do not need nearly that many games installed at the same time. Other gamers use more than 256GB of storage. If you need more than 256GB, you will have to purchase external storage. Take the cost of external storage into consideration if you are going to need it. It can be more of a hassle to carry your laptop around if you must take external storage with it.
- Excellent cooling system, clearly above the usual standard
- Resistant to dust as well
- Runs fast
- Long battery life
- Relatively cheap
- Limited storage
- No DVD drive included
7) MSI GL62M
The MSI GL62M is another laptop that offers only SSD memory and not hard drive in addition to that. SSD memory is very fast, and one might not need any more than 256GB worth of storage. However, if you would prefer not to need external storage and want to install more than 256GB worth of games, the MSI might not be the best idea.
MSI has an excellent reputation in the laptops industry. You can count on MSI products to last for years without problems. The laptop casing is durable, and the keyboard is solid as well. The laptop is fairly small and light, being 10.2 by 15.1 inches. It is only 1.1 inches thick, not the thinnest laptop one can find but still light and portable.
The Intel CPU and the Nvidia graphics card are both up to the usual standard but not above it. In many ways, this a good but not great laptop. The graphics card, processor, battery life, and so on are better than many other laptops but below the level of many others.
If one is deciding between the MSI and a different laptop, considerer how much hard drive space you need. Do you want more storage? If so, you should go with another computer instead. You can also get a somewhat better graphics card if you buy a laptop that is at the top for this price range. Another drawback is that the speakers are at the back rather than the front of the computer. Putting the speakers at the rear reduces the quality of the sound you hear.
- High overall reliability and quality
- Fast startup time
- The fan is effective at cooling the machine, even if it is loud
- Durable and quiet keyboard
- Good but not great, no real stand out features
- Poor sound due to the location of the speakers
- Sort of expensive for something without impressive features
8) HP omen
The most impressive thing about the Amazon HP omen is its graphics card. The graphics card is a GTX 1650, which is usually only found in much more expensive laptops. A GTX 1050 is the standard, a GTX 1050 Ti is above average, and a GTX 1650 is particularly impressive. Since the graphics card largely determines how well a laptop can run games, the omen may be the right choice.
The Hp omen is impressive in other ways. The CPU is also ninth generation, with other affordable gaming laptops offering only seventh and eighth-generation CPUs. It is on the cutting edge of technology for laptops in its price range. Only more expensive laptops usually offer such new technology. In addition to the powerful technology, the Hp omen also offers a relatively long battery life.
The only tradeoff is that the omen does not have a large hard drive. It has 256GB worth of solid-state memory and no additional space. However, the omen is a great deal, perhaps even the best deal. At least most other gaming laptops in this price range are less powerful.
- Better graphics card than most other options
- Better CPU than most other options
- Attractive appearance
- Reasonably long battery life
- Relatively expensive
- Not a lot of storage
9) Asus TUF FX505DT
The Asus TUF is also a technically impressive laptop that offers a GTX 1650 graphics card. One could argue that you should only consider a gaming laptop that offers the GTX 1650. Other laptops in the price range have less powerful graphics cards, which strongly reduces their usefulness as gaming machines. A better graphics card is a huge plus because the graphics card largely determines a gaming laptop’s quality.
Unfortunately, some manufacturing problems appear for some users. The trackpad can also break after a few weeks in some cases. Warranties will protect you, and the TUF does not truly have a bad reputation as a machine that will break quickly. The Asus TUF can also be a technical hassle to use; for example, the computer may not recognize that it has a graphics card when trying to install a game.
The laptop is more durable than at least most others if it does not have any manufacturing defects. It is not easy to break an adequately made Asus TUF. The machine also offers powerful WIFI, a modern CPU, and a typical 8 gigabytes of ram. Depending on what you are playing, you may be able to max the graphics settings.
Some other minor flaws are the trackpad not being particularly well designed and the speakers being too quiet. While this is a good laptop, the best choice might still be the HP omen. The HP omen has a somewhat better reputation for craftsmanship than the Asus TUF does.
- Technology is very advanced for this price range
- Graphics card is the best you can get for this price range
- Powerful WIFI
- May have manufacturing defects
- Fans are louder than for most other gaming laptops
10) Lenovo Ideapad L340 Gaming Laptop
One thing that makes the Lenovo stand out is that it offers 512 MB worth of solid-state memory. Even if you might run out of room with only 256 MB, 512MB is more likely to be enough. Applications load very fast and run smoothly if they are stored in solid-state memory. The lack of additional hard disk drive memory is not likely to be an issue as the Lenovo offers twice as much solid-state memory as usual.
Usually, if you want the audio to sound impressive with a laptop, you need external speakers. That is less true with the Lenovo Ideapad, which has a much above-average sound system. If you are using the computer for working or web surfing instead of gaming, you can switch the laptop over to quiet mode. In quiet mode, advanced features necessary for running games are disabled. This makes the fan stop, and the computer becomes very quiet.
Both the graphics card and the CPU are up to the highest standards available in this price range. Again, you do not necessarily want to consider a laptop that offers only a 1050 Ti. A GTX 1650 is considerably better and available in many, although not most models in this price range.
The monitor refresh rate is only 60Hz, which is a bit low. Many monitors refresh at 144Hz. Some people can tell the difference between a monitor that updates its image 144 times per second instead of 60 times per second. The battery is said to last nine hours; if you are playing a game with the graphics turned up, it will run out of power in more like two hours.
- Advanced graphics card and processor
- Far above average sound
- Plentiful solid-state memory
- Slow screen refresh rate
- Battery life is not much longer than standard
Gaming Laptop Buyers Guide
When buying a gaming laptop for less than $800, there are always going to be some tradeoffs relative to the most expensive gaming laptops. The best gaming laptops are still more expensive than those listed here. However, you can run reasonably graphically intensive games at moderately high settings on an affordable laptop if you know what to buy. You can do much better with an affordable laptop than some would assume.
One of the first things anyone buying a gaming laptop should avoid is a laptop that has only HDD memory and no SSD memory or Optane memory. If there is only hard disk drive memory, then the laptop cannot run new games on high settings. A computer that offers only HDD memory is a general-purpose laptop and should not be taken seriously as a gaming laptop.
Battery life is going to be short unless stated otherwise
For the most part, gaming laptops have their batteries run out quickly. Long-lasting batteries are expensive, so companies usually do not include long-lasting batteries. It is not considered worth the extra cost. Gaming is also a battery-draining activity. Any kind of game that gets the laptop’s hardware going will drain the battery quickly.
This does not mean that it is impossible to find reasonably long-lasting batteries in gaming laptops. You can have a battery that lasts if you seek out a computer with this feature. However, the usual standard is low. If you pick a laptop without knowing how long the battery lasts, expect a weak battery.
Get a laptop you can upgrade
Laptops are more difficult to upgrade than desktops, which is part of why desktops still sell. Many laptops cannot have their components changed. It is not always possible to take a laptop apart without breaking it. If you can upgrade a laptop, it is often only in a limited way.
Sometimes, one can find a gaming laptop that will let you swap out the RAM or storage after a better or cheaper option becomes available. Get a laptop like that if you have the opportunity. If you can upgrade it, it will save you money in the long run. You will not have to replace your laptop for nearly as long.
Get a good GPU
The last thing that you will be able to upgrade is your laptops’ graphics card. You will have to get a new laptop to get a better graphics card. Therefore, don’t start out with a graphics card that is already much out of date. New games that your laptop won’t be able to run at all will appear before long. Make sure that the graphics card is decent.
Don’t get a 4K screen just yet
If you are using your laptop to play games rather than movies, you are better off with a relatively low-resolution screen. The higher the screen’s resolution is, the harder it is to run games at a high number of frames per second. Soon there will probably be laptops that can run games at 4K resolution without slowing down, but the technology is not there yet. Go with 1920*1080 resolution for now, as that resolution is still noticeably faster on laptops.
Some keyboards are better than others
A keyboard you don’t like using can reduce the quality of your gaming experience. Some keyboards are also more durable than others. Usually, gamers want to avoid keyboards with very flat keys. Not everyone agrees on what an ideal keyboard is. Durability matters, you are going to be hitting and holding down some of the keys very many times.
How expensive are laptops with the best graphics cards?
A top-end gaming laptop can cost more than 3000 dollars. If you want to run anything, including any VR game on the highest settings, you need a cutting edge graphics card such as an RTX 2070. You cannot do this with gaming laptops that cost less than $800.
Laptops that cost more than $1000 but less than $2000 include medium-end graphics cards such as the GeForce RTX 2060. These medium-end cards will run most but not all graphically advanced games on the highest settings.
Lower end gaming laptops have lower-end graphics cards such as the GTX 1050, GTX 1050 Ti, or at the very best GTX 1650. There are a lot of limitations on what graphics and frame rates you can get with these cards. However, you can still have fast, smooth, and for some games visually impressive gameplay with laptops that cost less than $800.
Laptop screens are fairly similar in size. You will usually find 15, 16, or 17-inch screens, with smaller and larger screens being uncommon. Gamers do not always prefer bigger screens. Screen size is a matter of personal preference, with only some gamers wanting larger screens. Bigger screens make laptops heavier and less portable.
Don’t buy a low or excessively high-resolution screen
If the screen resolution is for some reason below 1920 x 1080, don’t buy it. That is very out of date technology and is not worth buying today. Not only is 4K too much, but 2560 x 1440 may be too much as well unless you have a powerful graphics card.
This is not quite as important as you might think, as the GPU matters more than the CPU for gaming. However, an old CPU can hurt you as well. A seventh-generation CPU is already out of date, and this will get worse in the future. Gaming laptops that cost less than $800 sometimes have 8th generation CPUs. Go with a reasonably modern CPU as you will not be able to upgrade it without getting a new laptop.
Games have minimum RAM requirements, and if your laptop has too little RAM, a game may run very slowly or not run at all. 8GB of RAM is still the usual standard in new laptops that cost under $800. You will have to buy a more expensive laptop if you want 16GB of RAM. A lot of the time, you can upgrade RAM on a laptop. Even if neither the graphics processor nor the CPU can be changed, you may still be able to change the ram.
Other features to consider
While some people consider having a CD/DVD/Blu-Ray drive as obsolete as having a floppy disk drive, others disagree. The USB stick is smaller and has more storage, but some people still use discs for many reasons. Many modern laptops do not bother with these drives. Find out in advance, and do not assume there will be a DVD drive.
Cooling also matters a lot. A laptop that overheats fast is not a great or even passable gaming laptop. Always make sure that the laptop you are planning to buy can handle gaming without overheating.
If you want a gaming laptop for under $800, there are going to be some tradeoffs. These laptops, with some unusual exceptions, cannot handle VR. Usually, you will have to spend more money if you want a laptop that can play VR games.
More than anything else, you should make sure you buy a laptop that will work properly for a long time. Some electronics are put together quickly and poorly, and you want to avoid companies that will ship you anything poorly made. Make sure that your laptop both has a reputation for durability and is backed by a robust warranty in case there is anything wrong with what you buy.
As long as the reputation for durability is good, the next most crucial thing is the graphics card. Nothing, not even the CPU, is as important as the GPU. A powerful GPU makes a powerful gaming laptop. After the GPU, the third most important thing might be cooling. If a computer overheats quickly, it is a terrible gaming laptop.