10 Best Gaming Laptops Under $1500 2020
Smooth gaming at spectacular prices
Until not too long ago, gaming on a laptop was a distant dream. People preferred desktops for the sheer magnitude of processing power, superior specs and high-quality graphics—something that seemed impossible to attain in a laptop. With time, however, not only have gaming laptops become a reality, but they have also become very popular. Today, you can play most high-end games on laptops and experience desktop-level enjoyment. While many of these devices are expensive—upwards of $2000 or $2500—some can be purchased at less than $1500 as well.
In the bid to offer capable computers on a budget, many manufacturers have deepened their commitment to intelligent design. The product lines, of course, vary vastly across brands.
For instance, while HP is committed to a secure, dependable computing experience, Asus is keen on staying abreast of the latest advancements in the gaming landscape. Companies like Razer go the extra mile to bring you immense power and visuals so grand it is almost desktop-class.
Thanks to this abundance of choices and priorities, gaming audiences can take their pick according to their specific requirements.
In this article, we discuss the ins and outs of cheap—well, relatively so—gaming laptops to help you arrive at a considered decision regarding their purchase. We have also assembled some of the finest options in the marketplace today that deliver excellent performance at a budget-friendly price.
Computers, in their atavistic avatars, may have been used exclusively for number crunching and data computation. But in modern times, one of their core purposes in life is helping you escape reality by immersing yourself in an alternate, fascinating world. Or, in other words: gaming.
With more and more computer manufacturers jumping on the video-game bandwagon, the marketplace is replete with gaming laptops that help you contest with foes on the battlefield and emerge as the victor.
For a gaming device to offer you a competent mix of performance and A/V merits, it must have both a high-speed processor and a display with an optimal refresh rate.
While the former helps you run the latest AAA titles, complete with all the CPU-heavy paraphernalia they require, the latter is essential to minimize stutter and ensure that the games get rendered as the makers intended them.
It is in achieving this combo that many brands struggle. This is why locating a high-performance gaming laptop with a refresh rate of 144Hz, and a price tag that doesn’t burn a hole in your wallet is an immensely tall order.
Most of these laptops are from the stables of reputed computer manufacturers and promise sustainable, reliable gaming experiences.
But before we dive into this mesmerizing world, let us find out something crucial about the world of gaming: the importance of refresh rate and how to locate a computer that knows it too.
- What is Refresh Rate & Why is it Important in a Gaming Laptop?
- Quick Checklist for a Top-notch Best Gaming Laptops Under $1500
- Pros and Cons of Affordable Gaming Laptops
- Should You Purchase a Cheap Gaming Laptop?
- What to Look for in an Under $1500 Gaming Laptop
- Our Picks: 10 Best Gaming Laptops Under $1500 2020
- 1. Acer Predator Helios 300 PH317-53-7777
- 2. MSI GP65 Leopard 9SD-226
- 3. Acer Predator Helios 300 PH315-52-78VL
- 4. ASUS ROG Strix G GL531GV-PB74
- 5. Omen by HP 17-cb0070nr
- 6. MSI GE65 Raider-431
- 7. Dell G7 15 7590 Gaming Laptop
- 8. Alienware m15 Gaming Laptop
- 9. Asus ROG Strix G GL731GT-PH74
- 10. MSI GL75 9SEK-056
- Final Word
What is Refresh Rate & Why is it Important in a Gaming Laptop?
The refresh rate of a laptop is defined as the number of times in one second that the screen updates itself.
A higher refresh rate is preferable for gaming because it lets you see more frames per second. The result will be a smoother video with higher precision and more responsiveness.
So, while the standard refresh rate for laptops is 60Hz (which means 60 times in one second), you are likely to find this lacking for heavy-duty gaming. For the latter, the recommended metric in 2020 is 144Hz.
But wait—can the eye really detect a difference between a monitor with a 60Hz, 120Hz and 144Hz display? You bet! Yes, if you don’t intend to use your laptop for serious gaming and only ever play low-key games without fast-moving objects, you might get along fine with a 60Hz display.
But for gameplay at high frame rates—where the fun truly belongs—you need a monitor that can update itself swiftly and let your eyes track movements realistically. This becomes almost imperative to play shooter and fighter games; it is less significant for strategy-oriented games.
Note that the refresh rate is distinct from the response time which is the number of milliseconds it takes for a pixel to change color. But yes, this is also a crucial metric for a gaming laptop.
If your display has a high response time and a low refresh rate, but you try to play a game at maximum frame settings, you are setting yourself up for stuttering and screen tearing.
Quick Checklist for a Top-notch Best Gaming Laptops Under $1500
While hunting for a 144Hz gaming laptop, ensure you also have your eye on:
- A high-speed processor (Intel Core i5 and above): This is critical to fuel your high-adrenaline gaming sessions. A high refresh rate won’t serve you well unless your CPU can back things up.
- A dedicated GPU: Integrated graphics are unlikely to be ample for fast-track gaming. Look for a laptop with a dedicated GPU (e.g., NVIDIA GTX). If you have the budget, you can also explore NVIDIA RTX GPUs and experience brilliant visual effects with real-time ray tracing.
- An anti-glare screen and an IPS panel: Since you are investing in a high-refresh-rate monitor, chances are you will be staring at the screen for long hours. An anti-glare panel and IPS compatibility (In-Plane Switching) will keep your experience strain-free and comfortable across viewing positions.
- Anti-stutter technology (NVIDIA G-SYNC or AMD FreeSync): While the best way to avoid screen tearing or stuttering is to invest in a laptop with an optimal refresh rate (144Hz or at least 120Hz), you can also explore technologies like NVIDIA G-SYNC or AMD FreeSync. These technologies reduce screen tearing and ghosting by synchronizing the display panel with the graphics card. So, the monitor will update only when the card sends a frame, thereby keeping the two in sync irrespective of the frame rate.
- A superior sound system: Games with fast-changing movements tend to rely heavily on sound for building realistic, captivating worlds. A laptop with acoustics that complements the 144Hz display will help you derive the best results.
Pros and Cons of Affordable Gaming Laptops
Gaming on a laptop is a premise that was unfathomable only a couple of years ago. With the advent of superior design and intelligent technologies of heat management, it has become possible to perform complicated multimedia tasks on compact devices. Let us do a quick assessment of inexpensive gaming laptops and see what they bring to the table.
- Many inexpensive gaming laptops now provide the processing power to support games such as Fortnite and Overwatch at moderate to high settings.
- Manufacturers have risen to the needs of modern audiences and equipped cheap gaming laptops with many premium features. For instance, it is possible to experience the glamour of NVIDIA RTX graphics and a high refresh rate on an under-$1500 gaming machine. You can also get fine-tuned audio by Bang & Olufsen as well as surround sound in your headphones.
- You save precious dollars that you can then invest in gaming paraphernalia such as controllers, external devices and mice.
- Many gamers like to embrace the latest trends and acquire new laptop models as and when available. If you get a budget-friendly notebook now, it leaves you with greater flexibility to purchase a fresh model a few years down the line. You won’t have to make two hefty investments close on each other’s heels.
- Inexpensive gaming laptops can frequently double up as excellent multimedia devices for film enthusiasts, editors, photographers, artists, and other creative professionals. They can be used for creating and editing multimedia content, thus expanding their usability. Effectively, you did not rob a bank to acquire a gaming laptop, but you did end up getting a versatile, multipurpose machine, nonetheless.
- You will have to be extra cautious while selecting a gaming laptop in the budget-range. Many picks tend to have poor design, cheap-quality keyboards, and flimsy construction.
- Upgradeability is not usually high among laptops in the budget aisle. You are stuck with the specifications you buy, and, if your needs change, the likelihood is that you will have to buy a new laptop.
- It is still difficult to get the desktop-league experience on gaming laptops, especially ones that are cheaper than $2000. Part of this is due to the cooling mechanism—desktops almost always have a better airflow, thus enjoying more sustainability and long-term performance. (Laptops are working on equaling this through technologies like anti-dust and adjustable fan speeds.)
Should You Purchase a Cheap Gaming Laptop?
Cheap gaming devices span a wide spectrum of prices—from as little as $500 to $1500 or $2500. When you get home a laptop close to $1500, you are investing in the moderately-priced range, which means you will still get access to many top-of-the-rung features. Powerful processing and engaging graphics—the two mainstays of gaming—are in full form in such laptops. This makes them great picks for anyone who loves gaming but also wishes to save some money.
The pros notwithstanding, cheap gaming machines are not suitable for everyone. You should buy a budget gaming companion only if:
- You like gaming, but are not, let us say, obsessed with experiencing the highest level of gameplay attainable.
- You are willing to compromise on some specifications, such as the refresh rate, available storage or portability. For instance, few budget gamers can offer a refresh rate of 240Hz, more than 512GB of storage or an ultra-light chassis of 4–5lbs.
- You are open to the idea of upgrading to a pricier laptop in the near future if and when your requirements change.
- You are not a stickler for immersive sound. While some laptops under $2000 now offer distortion-free audio, it remains a challenge for most gaming notebooks. This can in no small part be attributed to the high-speed fans that laptops require for heat dissipation. Desktops and premium laptops tend to have more efficient (and less noisy) cooling systems, which contribute to better audio.
- Note: Surprising as it is, you can also find gaming laptops in the range of $800–$1000. Some of these devices are simply everyday computers that you can also use to play some games—at moderate settings at best. But it would be pushing it too far to expect such devices to give you the adrenaline rush of immersive graphics or the breakneck speeds that form the backbone of many AAA games.
What to Look for in an Under $1500 Gaming Laptop
Truth be told, these laptops are not really “budget”. However, they are relatively inexpensive when compared to the higher end of the spectrum with computers exceeding $2500 in pricing. That said, they still need to deliver ample power for your gaming pursuits. When you are out looking for a gaming laptop that can meet your needs, ensure that it satisfies these criteria:
- A competent CPU: Most laptops in this space have an Intel Core i7 processor, which proves capable of supporting contemporary games like PUBG and Fortnite. You can also look for an AMD equivalent; AMD processors are especially gifted at multitasking and also come in cheaper. It is important not to settle for a mediocre processor since doing so will seriously limit your gameplay and the range of settings you can enjoy. It is also helpful if the CPU supports overclocking. As for the number of cores, you can settle for a processor that has four or six; there is little point in doing overkill here.
- Adequate RAM and storage: Aim to get at least 16GB RAM and 512GB of storage. Ideally, the laptop should offer an SSD (solid-state drive) for superior read/write speeds and swift loading. SSDs also tend to have more longevity and quick booting, both of which are helpful for intensive pursuits like gaming. An even better option is to get a mix of SSD and HDD (hard disk drive). That way, your primary gaming files that can benefit from a quick boot-up can rest on the SSD, while the rest of your stuff can go on the HDD. However, not many under-$1500 laptops offer this combination storage yet.
Some laptops offer easy upgradeability for the memory and storage through easy-to-access slots. This comes in handy when you wish to upgrade the specs of your laptop but avoid investing in a whole new device—a scenario all too common for gamers.
- Effective heat dissipation: Gaming is a CPU-draining pursuit and generates immense heat. Unless the laptop has a functional heat dissipation mechanism, the build-up will affect your experience. Look for cooling systems that utilize good airflow. Innovations such as anti-dust keep the innards cool and working at their optimum. Some laptops in this league offer aeroblade fans for faster air circulation.
- Dedicated graphics card: This is pretty much mandatory if you wish to play high-end games at high-end settings. Integrated graphics simply won’t cut it for games that involve multiple transitions, details, special effects, etc. While an NVIDIA GTX card can support many contemporary games, you can also look for an NVIDIA RTX card. Some under-$1500 gaming laptops do offer the grandeur of RTX, complete with real-time ray tracing, better performance, and artificial intelligence.
- Vivid display: A bright and engaging display is a prerequisite for a laptop to qualify as a gamer. Look for an FHD display with a narrow-bezel design for minimal external interference. It is recommended to get a 15.6” screen (at least) or a 17” one, depending on your requirements. While the former is more portable and better suited to outdoor events, the latter is closer to a desktop experience. Also, check that the screen has an IPS panel (In-Plane Switching). This will be important to let you view the screen from various angles/positions, without encountering distortion.
An important parameter of the display is the refresh rate or the number of times in a second that your screen refreshes. A good metric is 144Hz; you will be hard-placed to find 240Hz laptops in this price range. Also, aim to get a rich color gamut (100% sRGB is superb), a quick response time (close to 3ms) and a screen resolution of 1920 x 1080.
- Connectivity options: Gaming is an endeavor that needs plenty of connections—from controllers and mice to keyboards and external displays. Ensure that the laptop you purchase has an assortment of USB ports, HDMI, display ports, and compatibility with Wi-Fi and LAN. Some notebooks support Killer Wi-Fi that helpfully optimizes your internet bandwidth, directing it toward your game.
- Rich audio output: What is a great game without terrific sound? Since much of modern gameplay relies on high-quality audio, the laptop should support good sound, rich bass, and ample volume. In the under-$1500 range, you can find laptops with Bang & Olufsen audio, DTS: x Ultra surround sound and fine-tuning technologies for minimal distortion and noise. Even when the laptop is compact and portable, smart design can ensure that sound quality does not get affected.
- Gaming-friendly keyboard: A full-purpose keyboard with smart keys, anti-ghosting, and backlighting can make gaming more enjoyable. You can find laptops with per-key backlighting even in this price range, though more choices abound in the zonal-lighting segment. Also, check that the keyboard is sturdily built and torture tested since it will be getting plenty of animated activity during gaming.
- Dependable build and construction: If portability is important to you, it is possible to find cheap gaming laptops weighing 5–6lbs. Otherwise, even if the laptop is heavy and space-consuming, it is paramount to check that it is dependably built, with well-made hinges and components, and long-lasting polish. Nothing is a worse eyesore than a gaming laptop, supposedly all-powerful, with shoddy design and a flimsy chassis. If aesthetics matter to you, search for accents and highlights, brand logos, and stand-out patterns. Some laptops have metallic top covers for extra glamour.
The above parameters are essentials in any gaming laptop worth its salt. No matter how budget-conscious the purchase, you should guarantee that these criteria are met so that you can enjoy fluid and uninterrupted gameplay. Remember that you may have to give up on certain features that are characteristic of portable laptops, such as long battery life. Or, you may not get too many color choices that are common with some contemporary notebooks focused on style.
Our Picks: 10 Best Gaming Laptops Under $1500 2020
We have designed the list to suit a variety of need and priorities—from cost-effectiveness and superior battery life to additional gaming features sought out by pros.
1. Acer Predator Helios 300 PH317-53-7777
But the Acer Predator Helios 300 PH317-53-7777 successfully combines powerful Intel i7-9750H processing, a fantastic refresh rate of 144Hz, and brilliant sound (Waves MAXXAudio). Equipped with 16GB RAM, a 512GB SSD, and NVIDIA GTX 1660 Ti graphics, this laptop is well-capable of supporting modern AAA games.
Additionally, it offers a battery life of six hours and Killer DoubleShot Pro for optimal bandwidth utilization.
This all-rounder gaming laptop supports portability to a reasonable extent with an RGB-backlit keyboard and a lightweight (for its screen size) build of 6.61lbs.
2. MSI GP65 Leopard 9SD-226
The 15.6” MSI GP65 Leopard 9SD-226 proves to be cost-effective too, offering an Intel Core i7-9750H processor, a 100% sRGB color gamut, and a refresh rate of 144Hz—all under $1500. This laptop supports NVIDIA GTX 1660Ti graphics and is equipped with up to 64GB RAM.
The FHD display has not only an IPS panel but also a rapid response time of 3ms to ensure that your gameplay experience is engaging.
Note: Since this gaming laptop weighs only 5.07lbs, it is quite portable and well-suited to outdoor gaming events.
3. Acer Predator Helios 300 PH315-52-78VL
One of the finest all-rounder gaming laptops in this budget is the 15.6” Acer Predator Helios 300 PH315-52-78VL.
It is fueled by a ninth-gen Intel Core i7-9750H processor, 16GB RAM, a 256GB SSD, and NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1660 Ti graphics.
This beauty of a machine is adept at supporting most popular AAA games. It packs in an FHD display with a refresh rate of144Hz, a response time of 3ms, and Waves MAXXAudio technology for sound.
All three contribute toward creating a smooth gaming experience even when the gameplay involves swift transitions and special effects. The screen resolution offered is an optimal 1920 x 1080, with a brightness of 300 nits for a pleasant viewing experience.
Besides providing gamers with a competent processing chamber and a glorious display, this Acer laptop also offers a well-connected playing environment, complete with Killer Ethernet, Killer DoubleShot Pro Wireless-AC, and several USB and display ports, including a Type-C one.
Take note, if you are planning on getting a gaming machine to take to marathons and outdoor events, this one can pass muster. It weighs a fairly manageable 5.07lbs and has a thickness of 0.9”. Plus, it can last unplugged for about six hours, which is decent for a laptop with these specs.
|Acer Predator Helios 300 PH315-52-78VL Specs|
|Processor||9th Gen Intel Core i7-9750H (Up to 4.5GHz)|
|Graphics||NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1660 Ti 6GB|
|Memory||16GB DDR4 2666MHz|
|Storage||256GB PCIe NVMe SSD|
|Display||15.6-inch Full HD (1920 x 1080)|
|Battery Life||Up to 6-hours|
4. ASUS ROG Strix G GL531GV-PB74
ASUS has lent this laptop a top-notch cooling mechanism that uses thin fan blades (33% thinner than standard designs) to increase the airflow and dissipate pent-up heat faster. Not only that, but this laptop also has anti-dust tunnels that help improve its overall useful life significantly.
With this kind of investment toward keeping things sustainable, it’s no wonder that the processing configuration is top-rung too.
You will find an Intel Core i7-9750H CPU, 16GB RAM, a 512GB SSD, and NVIDIA GeForce RTX 2060 graphics. Bonus: You can switch among Turbo, Balanced, and Silent modes of operation depending upon the ongoing task. Talk about a laptop with intuition!
What about the display? Overall, the FHD screen with an IPS panel (to support distortion-free viewing from various angles) makes for pleasant viewing.
The one downside is the refresh rate of 120Hz—a tad less than some others on this list. This can become a limitation if you typically tend to play games with frequent transitions and minute details.
This ASUS ROG Strix is also slightly bulky at 5.28lbs and 1”, although it does offer good connectivity options to maintain portability.
|Processor||Intel Core i7-9750H Processor|
|Graphics||Nvidia GeForce RTX 2060|
|RAM||16GB DDR4 2666 MHz|
|Storage||512GB PCle SSD|
|Display||15.6″ FHD (1920×1080)|
|Dimension||14.2 x 10.3 x 1 in|
|OS||Windows 10 Home|
|Keyboard||Illuminated Chiclet 4-Zone RGB|
5. Omen by HP 17-cb0070nr
The 17” Omen by HP 17-cb0070nr offers a great mix of competent processing—an Intel i7-9750H processor—with NVIDIA GeForce RTX 2060 graphics.
You get 16GB RAM and 512GB of storage to fuel your multimedia endeavors. Plus, since the memory and storage are easily upgradeable, you can play the latest AAA games with zero sweat.
This 7.08lbs laptop has a great display too, with a screen resolution of 1920 x 1080 and a refresh rate of 144Hz.
The sound department is especially awe-inspiring—DTS: x Ultra surround sound and Bang & Olufsen combine to generate stellar audio.
6. MSI GE65 Raider-431
Packed with an Intel Core i7-9750H CPU, 16GB RAM, and a 1TB SSD, this notebook is adept at speedy gameplay. The combination of NVIDIA GTX 1660Ti graphics and a refresh rate of 144Hz make the display engaging and well-suited to games with special effects or minute details. With a response time of 3ms and a color gamut of 100%sRGB, this laptop aces it on the visual front.
MSI does particularly well with the gaming keyboard: an RGB-backlit one with anti-ghosting and per-key lighting.
7. Dell G7 15 7590 Gaming Laptop
Powered by an Intel Core i7-9750H processor, 8GB RAM, and a 128GB SSD (with a 1TB HDD), this computer well showcases Dell’s commitment to gaming. Included is a dedicated GPU—the NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1660 Ti with 6GB of dedicated memory—and a dual-fan heat dissipation system. Particularly noteworthy is the Nahimic Sound Center that delivers audio aligned with your game. Yes, including in-game visual sound tracking!
The Dell G7 also scores points for being robust and street-smart. It has a premium metal finish and sleek body weighing 5.5lbs. The battery supports quick charging, thereby letting you power up when on the move.
Note: While the default battery is a 60Whr one, you can also opt for 90Whr for extra mileage. Another great addition to this laptop’s gaming armory is the support for Killer Networking.
The result is next-to-none jittering or lagging during gameplay. If you are passionate about online gaming, you can also experience content prioritization so that nothing takes precedence over your game. (This translates into an edge on the battlefield when you are participating in competitive gaming.)
8. Alienware m15 Gaming Laptop
The Alienware m15 brilliantly combines several modern-age gaming technologies including, per-key RGB LED lighting (AlienFX), Tobii eye-tracking, and a superior cooling system with 8-phase voltage regulation. The eye-tracking is especially delightful, allowing gamers to utilize subtle motions like head pose and eye position.
If you are likely to be using your computer for long hours, the heat dissipation system with specially designed fan blades will come in handy. (There is a 10% and 20% diameter increase in the CPU and GPU fan blades respectively).
This Dell laptop is powered by an Intel Core i5-9300H processor, 8GB RAM, a 256GB SSD, and NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1660 Ti graphics.
But the stand-out is the gorgeous display. You can opt for the 240Hz panel which comes with a 100% sRGB color gamut and 300-nit brightness. Or, how about an OLED 4K display? The cherry on the cake: this Alienware maintains a high degree of mobility with a weight of 4.7lbs and a resilient industrial design.
This makes it perfect as an all-rounder gaming laptop that also suits anyone looking for a multimedia- or design partner.
9. Asus ROG Strix G GL731GT-PH74
It is driven by a speedy Intel Core i7-9750H CPU, 16GB RAM, a 512GB SSD, and NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1650 graphics.
The FHD screen is fitted with an IPS panel for optimal viewing comfort. Asus has equipped this laptop with two 12V fans with adjustable fan modes to ensure efficient cooling and long-term sustainability.
Thanks to anti-dust technology, the inner components of this computer stay protected from wear and tear even after charged up gaming.
10. MSI GL75 9SEK-056
It is also an Intel Core i7-9750H device, supported by up to 64GB RAM and a 512GB SSD. On the display front, you get an FHD screen with an IPS panel.
The refresh rate and color gamut are somewhat dampening at 120Hz and 45% NTSC, respectively, but this should be adequate for fairly comfortable gaming.
On the plus side, this laptop is fitted with an NVIDIA RTX 2060 graphics card, which opens up access to real-time ray tracing, thereby uplifting your game play by several notches.
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Have you decided on your gaming laptop yet? As times change and video games evolve further, gaming machines are also working harder to deliver gratifying experiences.
The market is resplendent with productive competition, where giants like Dell, MSI and HP are matching wits with innovative players like ASUS and Acer.
It isn’t straightforward to offer dazzling performance with engaging graphics at a budget-friendly price. However, the evolution of design technologies and architectures has helped bridge the gap between cost and future-friendliness to a large extent.
When shopping for your gaming soulmate, a good way to start is by enlisting your priorities.
For instance, you might covet a gaming machine that, along with cost effectiveness and a 144Hz display, also adapts well to outdoor marathons and peer-events.
In this case, you should zero down on a laptop with good battery back-up (#8). If casual gaming is more your cup of tea, you can save some precious dollars by getting #7 or #3. For a future-ready gaming machine equipped with stellar features for professionals and competitive gamers, we would recommend #1, #2 or #4.
Whatever you do, remember this: once skill and tact are accounted for, your game can only be as good as your gaming machine.