When gaming laptops were initially launched, they were met with an array of exciting but skeptical questions.
Would they be as powerful as gaming desktops? Would they be affordable for the masses?
Over time, not only have gaming laptops emerged as a popular choice for both casual and professional players, but they have also adapted to different price brackets.
Today, while you have top-notch gaming laptops that cost upwards of $2000, you also have budget picks that come in at as little as $500 or less. What is fortunate is that this latter category does not skimp on essential features or take quality for a toss.
- How Have Gaming Laptops Become Cheaper?
- Must-Have Features in an Affordable Gaming Laptop
- Our Picks: Best Gaming Laptop Under $500 2021
- Final Word
How Have Gaming Laptops Become Cheaper?
Numerous ongoing developments have contributed toward bringing down the prices of gameplay devices. Many budget computers don’t offer dedicated graphics cards or display panels with high refresh rates.
The basic premise of such devices is to allow you to play non-demanding games like Counter-Strike and League of Legends without needing to purchase a desktop.
Affordable laptops also tend to offer less storage and memory, but frequently make up for it with free cloud-based storage and easy upgrades.
Must-Have Features in an Affordable Gaming Laptop
Most picks in this space lean towards being all-purpose laptops that can be used for gaming but promptly double up as work- and play devices. Here are the must-haves to look for:
- Powerful processing: Select a laptop with at least an Intel Core i3 CPU or equivalent so you can run many contemporary games on low to moderate settings. You also need at least 4GB RAM and 128GB memory, preferably an SSD.
- Immersive display: Any gaming laptop must offer a bright FHD monitor with good color support, minimal external interference, and an absorbing screen-to-body ratio.
- Superior sound: Look for picks that use fine-tuning technologies to deliver clearer, louder sound output.
- Long battery life: Many gamers like to use budget laptops as their go-to gaming companions while traveling. Good battery backup of 8 hours or more comes in handy here.
- Lightweight build and design: Most inexpensive gaming machines prioritize portability. Look for a body weight under 4-5lbs and a profile that measures less than 1”, so that you can easily slip your laptop into a backpack.
- Good connectivity options: Look for a bunch of USB ports, HDMI, card readers, and internet connectivity. Some laptops in this range come with Wi-Fi 6 and USB Type-C ports as well.
A note of caution for ardent gamers: Don’t expect budget gaming laptops not to cut any corners when it comes to processor strength, graphics cards or build. You will find that an under-$500 gaming device doesn’t let you play at high graphics resolutions. It may also miss out on capturing swift transitions due to an inadequate refresh rate. However, given the price bracket, such laptops can still hit the sweet spot for playing at reduced settings unless you are a professional gamer looking at a top-of-the-rung product.
Our Picks: Best Gaming Laptop Under $500 2021
The abundance of players in the gaming laptop market has ensured a plethora of devices that break the gaming-is-a-luxury myth and how.
Gaming Laptop Under $500 – Recommended Specs
|Processor||AMD Ryzen 5 5500U CPU|
|Graphics||AMD Radeon 7 Graphics|
|Memory||8GB DDR4 RAM|
|Display||15.6″ FHD (1920 x 1080)|
14″ FHD (1920 x 1080)
|Weight||Under 5 lbs.|
|Battery||Up to 10 Hours|
|OS||Windows 10 Home|
Many of these also come with easy-upgradability options that let you ramp up the storage and memory depending upon your needs and budgets.
Presenting the best gaming laptops under $500 that deliver competent all-round performance without making a hole in your wallet:
1. Lenovo IdeaPad 3 14 Gaming Laptop Under $500
The Lenovo IdeaPad 3 14 Run by an AMD Ryzen 5 5500U processor, AMD Radeon 7 graphics, 8GB RAM, and a 256GB SSD, this laptop is both flexible and suitable for light multimedia activities.
It provides an FHD touch monitor for convenient use. The operating system – Windows 10 Home – boosts the overall security as well as productivity since it only runs applications from the Microsoft Store.
This laptop can support unplugged usage for about 9.5 hours, making it useful as an on-the-move companion. Note that this machine weighs 3.1lbs – a tad lighter than some others on this list.
On the sound front, Lenovo offers two speakers with Dolby Audio Plus to elevate your audio experience during gaming. Keeping you connected is support for 802.11ax Wi-Fi and Bluetooth.
2. HP 14-fq1021nr Gaming Laptop Under 500
When looking for a cheap gaming device, it is impossible not to come across an AMD Ryzen one such as the 14” HP 14-fq1021nr laptop.
This one is powered by an AMD Ryzen 5 5500U, 8GB RAM, and a 256GB SSD. An FHD display with a 79% screen-to-body ratio, micro-bezel design and anti-glare is ideal for enjoying multimedia activities to their fullest.
You also get to enjoy stellar sound during your gaming experience, thanks to the specially tuned dual speakers.
HP delivers on long battery life – over 9 hours – that is great for those always on the go. A lightweight build (3.77lbs, 0.71”) and several connections make this device a complete package to carry your world around. The ports include USB Type-C, USB Type-A and HDMI.
This laptop comes with a 720p HD camera (HP True Vision) – helpful for collaborating with colleagues and peers.
Related: Top 10 Best AMD Ryzen Laptops 2021
3. Acer Aspire 5 A515-56-363A
Equipped with an eleventh-gen Intel Core i3-1115G4 CPU, the 15.6” Acer Aspire 5 A515-56-363A is an excellent gaming laptop under $500.
It comes with 4GB RAM and a 128GB SSD as well as up to 8.5 hours of battery capacity to let you game on for long hours.
The FHD IPS display offers an impressive screen-to-body ratio of 82.58% to make your multimedia experiences immersive and free from extraneous interference.
This device well understands the need for connections in a gaming laptop and comes with a USB Type-C port, two USB 3.2 ports, and an HDMI. The Wi-Fi 6 allows you to connect to the internet and enjoy high-speed connectivity for online gaming.
Design wise, a significant bonus of this laptop is its ergonomic hinge design that makes it more comfortable to use the backlit keyboard. The multiple cooling modes keep the innards cool amidst CPU-intensive tasks. It also has a compact, lightweight design – 3.64lbs and 0.70″ – that makes it convenient to game on the go.
4. Acer Aspire 5 A515-44-R93G
Another Acer on this list is the 15.6″ Acer Aspire 5 A515-44-R93G – an affordable and robust pick that is perfect for gaming enthusiasts who don’t wish to spend a fortune.
This one is powered by an AMD Ryzen 3 4300U processor, 4GB RAM, a 128GB SSD, and as much as 10 hours of battery backup.
An FHD monitor with Acer Color Intelligence technology and a blue light filter make it brilliant not only for gaming but also for other multimedia pursuits like content editing.
This one is also an incredibly portable device, weighing only 3.97lbs and just 0.71” thick. Moreover, the host of connectivity options such as USB Type-C, USB 3.2, Wi-Fi 5 and HDMI allow you to work or play from anywhere without missing out on your devices or gaming equipment.
An aluminum top cover, a fingerprint reader, and a backlit keyboard add to the overall style and ease of use of this laptop.
5. ASUS VivoBook 15 F512JA-AS34
With an absorbing screen-to-body ratio of 88% and impressive sound, the 15.6” ASUS VivoBook 15 F512JA-AS34 is a great choice for budget-watching gamers.
Inside the processing chamber is an Intel i3-1005G1 processor, 8GB RAM, and a128GB SSD – adequate for many multimedia activities.
The ASUS SonicMaster technology provides deeper bass that works well to enhance your auditory experience during gameplay.
Like most VivoBooks, this one is also sleek and light at 3.75lbs and comes with an ergonomic lift-design for comfortable use.
It provides multiple connections too, including HDMI, USB 3.2 Type-C, Type-A, USB 2.0 and Gigabit Wi-Fi 5. Other features that push up its flexibility of use are a backlit keyboard that allows you to work or play in low lighting and a fingerprint reader for enhanced security and accessibility.
Thanks to the fast-charging battery, you needn’t fret about being close to a charging station amidst an exciting gaming session.
- Top 10 Best Laptops Under $700
- 10 Best Budget and Cheap Gaming Laptops
- The RTX 3050 Gaming Laptops 2021
From VivoBooks and IdeaPads to other full-purpose laptops that can fuel gaming sessions, the market is much better than before for anyone who wishes to play without breaking the bank.
But while purchasing a cheap gaming laptop, it is crucial not to make too many compromises. For instance, inevitably look for a high-performing CPU that can support a reasonable amount of gaming, good-quality graphics, efficient heat dissipation and clear sound.
These are imperatives without which a gaming laptop wouldn’t be worth its weight. You will also most likely use this laptop for work or school, so it is wise to ensure that it offers features like compact build and reliable internet connectivity.
It is a good idea to keep all your priorities highlighted while making a purchase decision (say, unplugged usage or portability).
A pick like the Lenovo IdeaPad 3 14 is perfect for convenience of use. If you need a full-purpose laptop with superior cooling and ergonomic design, you might be better off selecting an option like the Acer Aspire 5 A515-44-R93G.
With many gaming laptops now available at reasonable prices, the arena has become more accessible and enticing. Considering the rising competition and the burgeoning population of keen gamers, the times to come should bring forth more such choices for budget-watchers.