These are the best cheap gaming laptops you can buy in 2022

These are the best cheap gaming laptops you can buy in 2022

Finding a cheap laptop that does everything you want it to do is not an easy task. Buying something at an affordable price inherently means corners have to be cut, so you have to look hard for something that fits your needs. That’s all the more true for gaming laptops, which need to have certain expensive components inside, like dedicated GPUs. We’re here to help with that, and we’ve rounded up the best cheap gaming laptops you can buy today.

What constitutes a cheap laptop varies depending on the category we’re looking at. In general, the best cheap laptops we recommend cost $700 or less, but it would be very hard to find a good gaming laptop at that price. For this list, we’re considering the best cheap gaming laptops that cost under or around $1,000 (at writing time). That gives you a fair bit of choice and some great laptops already. Depending on discounts, you may be able to upgrade certain parts of these laptops and stay within that budget, but we’re focusing on the base configuration so you can explore possible from there.

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Best overall: HP Victus 16t

An image showing the HP Victus gaming laptop

HP debuted the Victus line of laptops this year, offering a mix of a premium and sleek design with solid gaming specs. The Victus 16t is the Intel-powered version of this laptop (we’ve reviewed the AMD version available in India), and it’s a great one at that, covering all the basics you could want in a gaming laptop.

First off, the HP Victus 16 is powered by Intel’s 11th-generation Core processors, starting with a Core i5-11400H. That’s a 6-core, 12-thread CPU that can boost up to 4.5GHz, and it’s already a very fast processor to start with. You can go up to a Core i7 if it fits your budget, though. Backing that up is an NVIDIA GeForce RTX 3050 Ti, and that’s also a modern and fairly powerful GPU, so you can run pretty much any modern game on this laptop without much of a problem. Aside from that, the laptop starts with 8GB of RAM and 256GB of SSD storage, and these are the things we’d recommend upgrading first if you can afford it.

As the name suggests, the Victus 16 has a 16-inch display, giving you some extra screen real estate without being overly big. The resolution is Full HD (1920 x 1080) it has a 144Hz refresh rate out of the box. That gives you an extra-smooth gaming experience, making good use of the graphics power of the RTX 3050 Ti GPU. The base model has 250 nits of brightness, though you can upgrade to a 300-nit panel.

Predictably, the HP Victus 16t comes with a 720p webcam that does not include support for Windows Hello facial recognition. If you don’t know by now, the webcam is one of the first components to suffer when it comes to budget devices, and that’s all the more true on gaming laptops. Unfortunately, not even a fingerprint reader is available here, but that too is common for affordable gaming laptops.

The HP Victus 16t has a very sleek design for a gaming laptop in this price range, which is nice to see. It comes in either black or dark blue color options, so it looks fairly subdued, and there’s nothing garish about its design. However, it does have the weight and thickness of a gaming laptop, starting at 5.44lbs and measuring 23.62mm thick. That’s to be expected with cheap gaming-focused laptops, even the best ones.

As for ports, you get one USB Type-C (3.2 Gen 1) port, three USB Type-A (3.2 Gen 1) ports, HDMI 2.1, gigabit Ethernet, a headphone jack, and a full-size SD card reader. That’s a setup that covers all the basics, and it clearly focuses more on important gaming specs like HDMI 2.1 and fast Ethernet. However, the USB ports aren’t extremely fast, and there’s no Thunderbolt support, which may be a bummer to some users.

The HP Victus 16t offers a great balance of performance, a smooth display, and a sleek design plus it has a wide variety of ports for almost all your needs. We’d say it’s one of the best cheap gaming laptops out there, and potentially your best option overall.

    Packing the latest Intel processors, RTX graphics, and a 144Hz display, the Victus 16t is a great choice for an affordable gaming laptop.

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Most powerful GPU: MSI GF65

MSI GF65 Thin product image

If you want the most power you can get in a cheap gaming laptop, the MSI GF65 is your best option right now. At writing time, it’s slightly over our $1,000 budget, but it’s only by a small margin and it’s seeing a major discount, so we definitely recommend it.

In terms of the processor, the MSI GF65 is actually packing an older CPU than some other models on this list, but that doesn’t mean you should disregard it. This is an Intel Core i5-10500H, which has 6 cores, 12 threads, and boost speeds up to 5GHz, so it’s still a very capable processor that will serve you well for a long time. You’re not missing out on much, and truth be told, the GPU is more important here. That’s why you get an NVIDIA GeForce RTX 3060 here, which is a big step up from both the RTX 3050 and 3050 Ti, with 6GB of video memory (instead of 4GB), and far more processing power in general. Rounding things out, you get 8GB of RAM and a 512GB SSD, which you can upgrade after the fact.

The MSI GF65 comes with a 15.6-inch panel and Full HD resolution (1920 x 1080), which is fairly standard at this point. It also has a 144Hz refresh rate for extra smooth gaming, making good use of the more powerful graphics card inside. You should be able to enjoy just about any modern gaming, and many of them at high frame rates, with this laptop.

Not one to go against the current, the MSI GF65 sticks to the tried and true 720p camera we’ve seen in other laptops, and there’s no Windows Hello facial recognition, either. In fact, there’s no Windows Hello support of any kind, and that’s also par for the course at this point.

Looks-wise, the MSI GF65 manages to look both subtle and undeniably gamer-like. It comes in a brushed black finish and with a red MSI logo on the lid, which kind of give it away without being too flashy. On the inside, the keyboard is backlit in red, and the light shines through the red edges of the keys, which is what truly makes this look like a typical gaming laptop. It deserves credit, though, because it’s easily the lightest laptop on this list, weighing a mere 4.1lbs, making this far more portable than all the other laptops we’ve seen so far. It’s also one of the thinner models, measuring in at 21.59mm.

It doesn’t skimp on the ports, either. You get two USB Type-c (3.2 Gen 1) ports, two USB Type-A (3.2 Gen 1) ports, HDMI 2.0, gigabit ethernet, and a gold-plated headphone jack with support for Hi-Res Audio. It’s a solid supply of ports, though it’s lacking something like Thunderbolt support, or a faster USB Type-C port in general. Still, this is a great setup, and better than many others on this list.

The MSI GF65 is kind of the perfect blend of performance and a sleek design, while also having a great port setup and a smooth display. It actually could be the best cheap gaming laptop you can buy right now, but because it goes over our budget at MSRP, we left it out of the top spot.

    The MSI GF65 is the most powerful and sleekest laptop on this list, but it manages to fit in our budget thanks to an ongoing discount. For $900, this is the obvious choice to go with.

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Best 17-inch gaming laptop: Lenovo Legion 5 Gen 6

Lenovo Legion 5 Gen 6 17 inch laptop

Gaming can be a lot more immersive with a big display, and the Lenovo Legion 5 delivers a great experience if you want a 17-inch laptop. It’s got the powerful specs needed to play the latest games and a clean chassis with tons of ports for all the connectivity you could want. At writing time, it costs a bit over $1,000, but we’ve seen it go below that mark, and it’s a great laptop at that price.

Starting with performance, the Lenovo Legion 5 comes packing an AMD Ryzen 5 5600H processor, featuring 6 cores, 12 threads, and boost speeds up to 4.2GHz. That’s already a powerful processor, giving its Intel competitor a run for its money. That processor is backed up by an NVIDIA GeForce RTX 3050 graphics card, so you’re going to be able to run just about any game you want, including modern titles, on this laptop. In addition to these components, the Legion 5 includes 8GB of RAM in the base configuration, as well as 512GB of SSD storage, giving you a fair bit of space for your games.

Naturally, the display on the Lenovo Legion 5 is a 17.3-inch panel, and it too comes in Full HD (1920 x 1080) resolution. The base configuration here has a 60Hz refresh rate, though you can upgrade to a 144Hz panel. It’s got 300 nits of brightness by default, and it supports AMD FreeSync Premium to help prevent screen tearing while playing games.

Above the display, the Lenovo Legion 5 has a 720p webcam, which is standard for affordable gaming laptops like this. There’s no Windows Hello facial recognition support, as you’d expect, and there’s no fingerprint reader, either. Windows Hello support is a bit of a privilege on gaming laptops, so this shouldn’t surprise you.

Design-wise, the Lenovo Legion 5 looks sleek and simplistic, without much in the way of flair. There’s no RGB lighting, and even the keyboard only has a white backlight, so it looks clean and professional. Of course, some things are unavoidable, so this is still a big laptop. It’s 26.3mm thick at its thickest point, and it starts at a very significant 6.57lbs of weight, so carrying it around will be a bit of a challenge.

One of the most impressive things about the Lenovo Legion 5 is its port setup, which isn’t lacking in any way.  The left side of the laptop has one USB Type-C (3.2 Gen 2) port and a headphone jack, while the right side has one USB Type-A (3.2 Gen 1) port and a full-size SD card reader. Most of the ports are on the back of the laptop, though – three USB Type-A (3.2 Gen 1) ports, one USB Type-C (3.2 Gen 2) port, HDMI 2.1, and gigabit Ethernet. That’s an incredibly complete setup that covers just about anything you could ever need, though of course there’s no Thunderbolt since this is an AMD laptop.

If you want a big display on your laptop, the Lenovo Legion 5 is a powerful laptop that gives you a ton of connectivity options and a fairly sleek design. It’s one of the best cheap gaming laptops you can buy today, especially at this size.

    The Lenovo Legion 5 is a powerful laptop with a 17-inch display and tons of connectivity options.

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Intel-based alternative: ASUS TUF Gaming F17

ASUS TUF Gaming F17 laptop

If you want a laptop powered by Intel processors instead, the ASUS TUF Gaming F17 laptop is another great 17-inch option. It’s not quite as powerful as the Legion 5, but it’s also cheaper, and even at that lower price, it still has some advantages.

In terms of performance, it’s not packing the latest hardware anymore, but it’s not a slow laptop by any means. It’s powered by an Intel Core i5-10300H processor, which has four cores, eight threads, and boost speeds up to 4.5GHz, so it’s far from a slow processor. For graphics, you get an NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1650 Ti, and again, that’s not the latest hardware, but it can still run the vast majority of games out there. Additionally, you get 8GB of RAM and a 512GB SSD, giving you a decent amount of memory and storage for your games and other files. Both RAM and storage are upgradeable later on, too.

The ASUS TUF Gaming F17 also comes with a 17.3-inch Full HD (1920 x 1080) display, but this model already includes a 144Hz refresh rate panel, so you can get a smoother gaming experience in some games. Considering the $850 asking price, that’s very nice to have in a large laptop like this.

Keeping in line with what we’ve seen so far, the webcam above the display is another 720p camera, and once again, there’s no Windows Hello facial recognition support here. It should come as no surprise that there also isn’t a fingerprint reader, so Windows Hello support is out of the question entirely.

Unlike some other laptops on this list, the TUF Gaming F17 doesn’t do much to hide its gaming-oriented nature. The lid features some angular design patterns and a textured finish that make it very obvious it’s a gaming laptop, plus a red accent on the sides of the lid. The keyboard is RGB backlit, though, so it may also get some attention in public, but that’s the extent of it. All things considered, this is actually a fairly light laptop for its size, weighing 5.73lbs, and it measures 26mm at its thickest point. That’s one of the positives of this laptop compared to the Legion 5, which is significantly heavier.

As for ports, there’s a solid supply overall. You get one USB Type-C (3.2 Gen 2) port, three USB Type-A (two 3.2 Gen 1, one USB 2.0) ports, HDMI 2.0b, RJ45 Ethernet, and a headphone jack. That covers most of the basics, even giving you wired internet if you absolutely need a lag-free experience. Of course, being an AMD laptop means there’s no Thunderbolt support, but the USB Type-C port is still fairly capable.

For those looking for a cheap 17-inch gaming laptop, the ASUS TUF Gaming F17 is still one of the best options out there, and it’s one of the more affordable options too.

    The ASUS TUF Gaming F17 is a great option if you want a larger screen at a lower price, while still getting the perks of a gaming laptop.

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Best AMD-powered gaming laptop: HP OMEN 16z

HP OMEN 16

AMD-powered laptops have become more and more prominent in recent years, and they’re often just as good if not better than Intel counterparts. The HP OMEN 16z is a great example of a fantastic AMD laptop that’s also highly customizable to your tastes.

Starting with performance, the OMEN 16z is powered by AMD’s Ryzen 5000 series processors starting with a Ryzen 5 5600H. That’s a 6-core, 12-thread processor and it can boost up to 4.2GHz. For graphics, the base configuration comes with an NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1650 GPU, though you can upgrade to a GeForce RTX 3050 Ti and still be within the budget (at writing time, at least). Additionally, you get 8GB of RAM and a 512GB SSD in the base configuration, which is a pretty solid combination to start with. You can still upgrade further from there if you want to.

In the display department, the OMEN 16z has a 16.1-inch panel and it comes in Full HD resolution (1920 x 1080) like most of the laptops on this list. In the base configuration, the display is a 60Hz panel and it has 300 nits of brightness, but you can upgrade to a 144Hz refresh rate for just $30, which we’d say is worth it if it fits your budget.

As per usual, the webcam on the OMEN 16 is a 720p camera, and it also doesn’t support Windows Hello facial recognition. A fingerprint sensor is also not included, which shouldn’t come as much of a surprise at this point. All of these cameras are serviceable. but they won’t stand out in any way.

Moving on to the design, the OMEN 16 shares a lot of the DNA of the Victus line, so it looks classy and sleek. In fact, it looks even more so in some ways, while also leaning into the “gamer aesthetic” a bit more. The biggest difference is that the keyboard is backlit in red in the base configuration, or you can choose an RGB keyboard with four different lighting zones. Thankfully, the light only shines through the labels on the keys, so it’s still subtle enough that it won’t get too much attention in public. The OMEN 16 is also lighter than the Victus, though, starting a 5.09lbs. It’s also a bit thinner, measuring 22.6mm.

Even with that smaller chassis, the OMEN 16z doesn’t sacrifice ports. You get one USB Type-C (3.2 Gen 2) three USB Type-A (3.2 Gen 1), HDMI 2.1, gigabit Ethernet, a headphone jack, and a full-size SD card reader. That’s a very solid setup with just about any port you could want for connecting peripherals, external displays, and so on.

The OMEN 16z is a more premium version of the Victus laptops, and while its official price is over $1,000, it’s currently discounted to around $770, so it’s definitely one of the best cheap gaming laptops you can buy right now. You can even squeeze in a few upgrades to get a better experience out of the box.

    The HP OMEN 16 is a premium-feeling gaming laptop with AMD processors and other powerful specs, plus plenty of ports.

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Also great: Dell G15

Dell G15 gaming laptop

Dell is no stranger to making some of the best laptops out there, and the G15 gaming laptop is another great choice for AMD fans. It has similarly powerful specs and a design that’s arguably more unique than most gaming laptops on this list.

First off, the Dell G15 comes with the same AMD Ryzen 5 5600H processor as the OMEN 16z, with 6 cores, 12 threads, and boost speeds up to 4.2GHz. This is part of AMD’s latest lineup, and it’s a powerful CPU at that. For graphics, you get an NVIDIA GeForce RTX 3050, giving you baseline RTX support and solid performance so you can run just about any modern game on this laptop. Finally, you get 8GB of RAM and a 512GB SSD in this configuration, which is a pretty good setup, and you can always make some upgrades down the line as your budget allows.

The display on the Dell G15 is a 15.6-inch panel, and it comes in at — unsurprisingly — Full HD resolution (1920 x 1080). his model includes a 120Hz refresh rate by default, though, which is great if you want a smoother experience for gaming and in general. It’s just 250 nits of brightness, so you won’t want to use it outdoors, but it’s not like you’d want to carry this around everywhere anyway.

Just like every other laptop on this list, the Dell G15 has a typical 720p webcam, and it doesn’t support Windows Hello facial recognition. It also doesn’t seem to include a fingerprint sensor, despite the Best Buy page claiming there is one built into the power button.

The Dell G15 definitely has a unique look compared to other laptops on this list. The chassis uses a combination of silver and black, but the grey portion has dark speckles sprinkled throughout, giving the laptop a bit more identity without being overly flashy. You’ll also see a red G logo on the right side of the laptop, and a textured pattern on the lid does make it obvious this isn’t a work laptop. The Dell G15 isn’t particularly portable, weighing 5.39lbs and measuring 24.89mm in thickness.

You do get a good supply of ports with this laptop, though. It has one USB Type-C port (3.2 Gen 2), three USB Type-A ports (one USB 3.2 Gen 1, two USB 2.0), HDMI 2.1, 2.5Gbps Ethernet, and a headphone jack. While some of the USB ports are a bit slow, you can use them for peripherals without much issue. On the other hand, the inclusion of 2.5Gbps Ethernet allows you to have super-fast wired internet connectivity so game downloads and online games should be a breeze. If fast internet is your priority, this is one of the best options on this list.

The Dell G15 packs modern and relatively powerful specs and a smooth display, while also having one major advantage over most laptops on this list: super-fast wired internet. If you want a laptop that can play modern games, particularly esports titles, this is a great option.

    The Dell G15 is great cheap gaming laptop with AMD Ryzen 5000 processors and RTX graphics, plus a fast Ethernet connection.

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Extra cheap gaming laptop: HP Pavilion Gaming 15z

HP Pavilion Gaming 15 laptop

If your biggest priority is to buy something on the cheap, the HP Pavilion Gaming 15z is the best laptop to cover your basic gaming needs at a low price. It still packs modern specs, but it cuts corners in some areas to make it more accessible.

Starting with performance, the Pavilion Gaming 15z comes with an AMD Ryzen 5 5600H processor, which we’ve seen on many AMD-powered gaming laptops already. It’s a 6-core, 12-tread CPU, and it can boost up to 4.2GHz, so you won’t be missing out on a ton of performance here. The bigger sacrifice comes in the form of the GPU, which is an NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1650, with no option to upgrade from there. This setup should still run most games with some tweaked settings though, so it’s not as bad as it might sound. It rounds things out with 8GB of RAM and 256GB of SSD storage in the base model, but you can upgrade both of those beforehand or later on.

The display on the Pavilion Gaming 15z is a 15.6-inch panel and it comes in Full HD resolution (1920 x 1080), so it’s not far behind other laptops in that regard. The base model comes with a 60Hz refresh rate and 250 nits of brightness, but both of those aspects can be upgraded in HP’s configurator depending on your budget, going up to 144Hz and 300 nits of brightness.

It’s getting somewhat repetitive at this point, but yes, the HP Pavilion Gaming 15z also comes with a 720p webcam above the display, and as usual, there’s no facial recognition built-in. There’s also no fingerprint reader, so Windows Hello support isn’t a possibility out of the box.

In terms of the design, the HP Pavilion Gaming 15z embraces the gamer look a bit more than some others on this list, featuring a green HP logo on the lid and green backlit keyboard keys. You can change that to white for an extra $10, which helps the laptop look a bit more subdued and professional. Surprisingly, the Pavilion Gaming 15z is lighter than most laptops on this list, weighing in at 4.37lbs. It measures 23.62mm in thickness, so it’s not overly thin, but we’ve also seen worse.

Finally, we have the ports, and the supply of them here is not that bad, frankly. We get one USB Type-C (3.2 Gen 1), two USB Type-A (one 3.2 Gen 1, one 2.0) ports, HDMI 2.0, a headphone jack, gigabit Ethernet, and a full-size SD card reader. It doesn’t have as many ports as some others, but it still covers most of the basics, so it’s honestly not a huge downgrade from some of the more expensive models on this list.

For those who want to save as much as possible while still getting a serviceable gaming experience, the HP Pavilion Gaming 15z is a great starting point. With a price that’s often discounted to just $600, it gives you plenty of bang for the buck, and it’s one of the best cheap gaming laptops you can find.

    The HP Pavilion Gaming 15z is the cheapest laptop on this list, but it still packs a punch with modern specs and a relatively lightweight design.

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Also great: Acer Nitro 5

Acer Nitro 5

Another great option if you want an extra cheap gaming laptop is the Acer Nitro 5, which is packing some similar specs, but also some differences. It’s a little more expensive, but it’s still a great choice.

Starting with performance, the Acer Nitro 5 has an Intel Core i5-11400H, which is pretty much on par with Ryzen 5 5600H. It’s a 6-core, 12-thread processor, and it can boost up to 4.5GHz, so performance won’t be a problem. Similar to the Pavilion Gaming 15z above, you also get an NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1650 GPU with 4GB of memory, so you should be able to run most games, even if it requires tweaking some settings. Rounding out the specs, there are 8GB of RAM and a 256GB SSD, though you can upgrade the RAM and storage later on if you want to.

The display on the Acer Nitro 5 is a 15.6-inch panel and just like other laptops on this list, it’s a Full HD (1920 x 1080) panel. It sports a 144Hz refresh rate out of the box, though, which makes it a bit more appealing if you want a smooth gaming experience.

Once again, we’re looking at a standard HD/720p webcam above the display, and no Windows Hello facial recognition support is included. Beyond that, there isn’t a fingerprint reader, either, so there’s no Windows Hello support at all. That’s the last time we’ll say that in this article, though.

The design of the Acer Nitro 5 makes it immediately obvious that it’s a gaming laptop thanks to some angular designs on the lid and a bid red accent on the rear where the fan exhaust is. The inside is also a dead giveaway — the keyboard is backlit in red, including the edges of the keys, making it obvious this isn’t a professional laptop. At 4.85lbs, the Acer Nitro 5 isn’t the lightest laptop on this list, but it’s also not the heaviest. It measures 23.88mm, which also puts it somewhere along the middle of this list in terms of portability.

The port setup on this laptop is quite solid, though — it’s the only laptop on this list with a Thunderbolt port, which immediately makes it that much more interesting compared to any other laptop on this list. That means you can connect anything from external displays to external GPUs and Thunderbolt docks.  On top of that, you get three USB Type-A ports (one 3.2 Gen2, two 3.2 Gen 1), HDMI, gigabit Ethernet, and a headphone jack.

Being the only laptop with a  Thunderbolt port on this list already makes the Acer Nitro 5 a very interesting device, but when you factor in the low price, a solid port selection and a relatively lightweight build, this is a very solid option.

    The Acer Nitro 5 is an extra affordable gaming laptop, but it still has a lot going for it, including the only Thunderbolt 4 port of any laptop on this list.

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Those are, in our opinion, the best cheap gaming laptops you can buy today. We gave the overall pick to the HP Victus 16 because it’s a solid balance of a sleek design, powerful and modern specs, and a price that falls in our range, even when it’s not discounted. The MSI GF65 is arguably packing better hardware, but since it usually costs more than $1,000, it’s a bit more dependent on whether you can stretch your budget that far.

At CES 2022, a handful of new gaming laptops were announced, and even more should be on the way with new components from Intel, AMD, or NVIDIA. While they might not show up here right away, they could bring down the prices on older models that are still great.

If you have a bigger budget, consider checking out our list of the best gaming laptops in general. There are some fantastic options there. Or stop by our list of the best laptops if gaming isn’t a big focus for you.

About author

Pranob Mehrotra
Pranob Mehrotra

A Literature and Linguistics graduate with a keen interest in everything Android. When not writing about tech, Pranob spends most of his time either playing League of Legends or lurking on Reddit.

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