The end of summer brought, including and even . While the new tech is exciting, it also makes it a , especially as the holiday shopping season approaches. You might not find one running one of Nvidia’s higher-end , but again, that new gear drives down the prices of last-gen tech.
Prices on older laptops with Nvidia’s GeForce GTX 10-series GPUs started dropping long ago and you can get a well-configured 15.6-inch laptop for $1,000. And their graphics hardware isn’t their only good quality, either. Laptops with an entry-level GTX 1050 card start around $600, which gives you enough graphics performance to play the newest demanding games at low-to-medium settings. Spending $1,000 or a little more will get you a laptop with an upper-midrange Nvidia GeForce GTX 1060. Plus, with the 6GB version of the card, you canavailable with RTX cards. In between those are the GTX 1650 or 1050 Ti GPUs that can be found in laptops for around $800 or less and can handle medium-to-high settings depending on the game.
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Our recommendations based on our reviews and testing are below. But, if you know what you’re looking for and want to start shopping, here are the best deals we’ve found currently available from major retailers starting as low as $680.
Gaming laptop deals from $800 to $1,000:
Gaming laptop deals for $799 or less:
Dell G5 15
Best overall mainstream gaming laptop
Dell’s G-series gaming laptops are cheaper than those from its Alienware division, but still capable of playing the latest AAA titles. There are three separate models — the G3, G5 and G7 — available in 15- and 17-inch sizes. The 2018 G3 15 was slimmer in design than the G5 and G7, which were styled more like a gaming laptop. The 2019 G3 leans more toward the G5 and G7 design, too.
The midrange G5 15 hits the mark with an excellent price-to-performance ratio, build quality and design. You can find it for $800 with a 6GB GTX 1060. And if you’re willing to go to $1,200, you can get it with a new RTX 2060.
Lenovo’s Legion Y530 and Y730 gaming laptops can be found for $900 or less, so it really comes down to what components and design features you want in it. The Legion Y530 is currently the best deal, but it lacks a few of the gaming-focused extras of the Y730 like an RGB backlit keyboard. Also, we just got done testing the updated version of the Y530, the Y545, which starts at $1,000. Our system performed really well with its Nvidia GeForce GTX 1660Ti and ninth-gen Core i7 hitting more than 70fps for Far Cry V and Shadow of the Tomb Raider tests.
Acer announced a new Predator Helios 300 with ninth-gen Intel processors and Nvidia RTX graphics and a smaller, thinner body. The 2-year-old Helios 300 is available in the meantime with a 15.6-inch full-HD IPS display with a 144Hz refresh rate, an Intel Core i7-8750H CPU, Nvidia GTX 1060 GPU with 6GB of memory, 16GB of system RAM and a 256GB NVMe SSD on Amazon for $973. We reviewed the 17-inch version, which we liked for its unique features.
The company’s mainstream Nitro 5 is also getting a refresh, but like the Helios, the old models are still around. It isn’t as polished as Dell’s or Lenovo’s offerings and Acer doesn’t offer it with a GTX 1060 GPU. But $670 gets you one with AMD Radeon RX 560X graphics right now.
HP’s Pavilion Gaming Laptop is similar to Dell’s G series, giving you a mainstream option instead of shelling out for a pricier PC from its Omen gaming brand. An interesting vent design and green backlit keyboard and accents are the only real giveaways that it’s not your average laptop. Prices start at $780 on HP’s site with Nvidia’s 2GB GeForce GTX 1050, but an Amazon exclusive config with a 4GB GeForce GTX 1050 Ti and a six-core Intel Core i7-8750H processor is available for $999 and its performance didn’t disappoint.
Gaming laptops in disguise
Between the integrated graphics you find in most nongaming laptops and in the Nvidia GeForce GTX 1050 are Nvidia’s MX family of discrete graphics processors, with the MX150 at the top of the line.
Frame rates aren’t going to be fast enough for enjoyable play on high-detail settings with newer graphically demanding games. In our tests, however, older games such as Bioshock Infinite were playable, as were popular online games such asand . Below are a couple of our favorites, but if you’re a casual gamer keep an eye out for the MX150 elsewhere.
For $600, the E 15 is an absolute bargain for a desktop replacement. Along with the MX150 graphics and an eighth-gen Intel Core i5 processor, you get a good 15.6-inch full-HD display, a bevy of ports — new and old — and even a DVD burner for those still working in the world of physical media.
While all the other laptops here are big 15.6-inch models and weigh around 5 pounds each, the $980 ZenBook 13 is a gorgeous 13.3-inch ultraportable. In fact, when it launched it was the world’s thinnest 13-inch laptop with discrete graphics, making it a good choice for a little light gaming on the go in between meetings or classes.
Buying tips for cheap gaming laptops
You’ll want to make sure you get the most graphics power you can afford from the start since this can’t be upgraded later, unlike memory or storage. If you’re on a strict budget, go with one of Nvidia’s Geforce GTX 1050 or 1050 Ti graphics cards, which will give you good performance on newer games at medium or high settings with prices starting down around $600. If you can afford to spend closer to $1,000, you’ll be better off, in the long run, getting a laptop with an Nvidia GeForce GTX 1060 with 3GB or 6GB of memory. We’re also starting to see systems with Nvidia’s new, which falls between the 1050 Ti and 1060 in performance.
Beyond the graphics chip, look for:
- Seventh- or eighth-gen Intel Core i5 or i7 processor
- At least 8GB of memory (RAM)
- At least a 256GB solid-state drive (SSD), a combo of a 128GB SSD and hard drive or a large solid-state hybrid drive (SSHD)
Most if not all gaming laptops let you easily expand or upgrade your memory and storage, so again, it’s best to put your cash into the GPU and processor. Sure, you’ll get more for your money with a gaming desktop, but if you don’t have room for one or you must have mobility, these budget-friendly laptops are worth the investment.