The laptop of today is a sophisticated and advanced machine that can handle a range of different functions – including PC gaming. Gamers have traditionally rejected laptops in favor of consoles and high-powered desktop computers, which give the display and performance needed for modern video games. However, the tide is turning and laptop developers are creating exciting new computers which can comfortably handle complex game engines and high-end displays. Find the best gaming laptops under $300 – around the same price as a current-gen console – with our in-depth guide below.
Points to consider when choosing a gaming laptop:
Games require a lot of power to run and put a lot of pressure on your CPU. The more advanced our games get, the harder computers need to work in order to load all the maps, characters and content onto your machine. Traditional laptops have to streamline their capabilities to fit into lightweight, practical machines. Dedicated gaming laptops and multi-function computers are now able to deliver far higher power through more efficient designs. Look for a high-performance laptop that can handle your gaming content comfortably.
Of course budget matters – we all want a great deal and nobody likes spending over the odds. A good gaming laptop will certainly set you back a little, but if you look for the right deal you can actually get a decent computer for under $300. Online outlets are a good place to start, because they provide discounts on last season’s models and also offer refurbished or second hand computers at cheaper rates. If you want to keep costs down without compromising on function and if you don’t mind not having the very latest model, our reviews and suggestions below could provide some answers.
Many of today’s games require an internet connection, so you should be looking for a laptop with good Wi-fi performance. You also want a disk drive if you plan to buy physical content rather than downloading your games. Storage is often short with gaming laptops, so if you play a lot you may want to consider an external hard drive. Make sure your chosen laptop has enough USB ports and memory card slots to meet your personal requirements.
If style is something that matters to you, keep reading! Just because you have a budget to consider, there is no reason you should miss out on a great-looking gaming laptop! There are a range of manufacturers out there, many with custom colors and stylized cases to suit your tastes. Even when keeping costs down, you can still spot a great deal on a good-looking computer. Make sure you choose a practical lightweight design which will be easy to carry, and keep those specifications in mind so you don’t get swayed by a pretty cover!
The best gaming laptops for players on a budget
Acer Chromebook CB3-131-C3SZ 11.6-Inch Laptop
- Display: 11.6 inches; 1366 x 768 pixel resolution; Intel HD Graphics
- Power: 2.16 GHz Intel Turbo N2840; 2GB RAM; 16GB internal drive; Chrome OS
- Size: 8.03 x 11.57 x 0.73 inches; 2.4 pounds
This neat little Acer model is a top budget choice because it is an all-rounder: it can manage your work, leisure and gaming functions together without the need for separate devices. The memory drives are fairly standard, but you get USB 2.0 and 3.0 ports plus a HDMI connection so you can increase storage space with an external drive. The impressive 11.6″ HD display utilizes ComfyView technology for brighter, bolder game displays and HD audio is also supported. Recent updates have brought the Play Store and app compatibility to this model, so mobile gamers can bring their favorite handheld titles to the PC screen. While you may miss the disk drive and find the 2.16 GHz Intel Turbo N2840 engine a little slow on large games, this is one of the top budget picks out there.
Dell CRM3120-1667BLK 11.6-Inch Chromebook
- Display: 11.6 inches; 1366 x 768 pixel resolution
- Power: 2.16 GHz Celeron N2840; 2GB RAM; 16GB drive; Chrome OS
- Size: 0.8 x 11.69 x 8.57 inches; 2.7 pounds
If you play a lot of games on the go or during the day, this Dell model could be a winner for you. The 180-degree LCD hinge and anti-glare HD 11.6″ LCD screen are stand-out features – in all but the brightest sunlight, you’ll be able to see the gaming action clearly. It is a fairly simple machine and not the best for serious gaming, but the casual gamer will get hours of fun out of it. In particular, the battery life is impressively long so you can hit up your top titles for hours on end before you run to grab the charger. Mobile gamers who want the next level of tech but not the big investment might enjoy this cheap, cheerful machine. Steam gamers beware, however – content is not currently supported on this model.
Samsung Chromebook 3 XE500C13-K01US 2 GB RAM 11.6″ Laptop
- Display: 11.6 inches; 1366 x 768 pixel resolution;
- Power: 2.16 GHz Celeron N3050; 2GB RAM; 16GB internal drive
- Size: 11.37 x 8.04 x 0.7 inches; 2.5 pounds
Online gamers will find the Samsung Chromebook a good choice as it offers fast connectivity and a long battery life, thanks to patented Samsung tech inside the machine. The Intel integrated graphics look stunning on the HD display with 180 degree screen recline function, so choose your brightest and most colorful games to play on this bargain laptop. The smart and simple design may not thrill you but the low prices certainly will – this is one of the cheapest laptops we reviewed at well under $200 in many places online. It is slightly smaller than similar models and lightweight enough for younger gamers to handle.
Lenovo 80S60000US Laptop
- Display: 11.6 inches; 1920 x 1080 pixel resolution; Intel Integrated Graphics
- Power: 1.6 GHz Intel Celeron; 2GB RAM; Windows 7 Professional OS
- Size: 16.8 x 2.7 x 10.8 inches; 2.8 pounds
Keep it simple with this truly budget buy from the cheaper end of the Lenovo range. Cute and minimalist, the 80S is not going to excite many serious gamers but it will do the job when funds are tight. Ideal as a first laptop or a casual entertainment device, the Windows 7 operating system will support many older top titles played online or downloaded. Graphics and sound offer surprising high clarity and quality, with movies and games playing out clearly and comfortably on the 11.6″ display. Of course, you will be making a big compromise on storage as the Lenovo 80S does not offer an internal drive: use the USB 3.0 ports to connect your own external drive instead.
Lenovo 80E301Y6US G50 AMD A8-Series 15.6″ Laptop
- Display: 15.6 inches; 1366 x 768 pixel resolution; integrated graphics
- Power: 2 GHz A8-6410 processor; 4GB RAM; 1024GB internal drive; Windows 10
- Size: 15.12 x 10.43 x 0.98 inches; 5.5 pounds
Believe it or not, you can pick up a high end machine for hardcore gaming that will set you back less than a console will. This Lenovo computer is one such model. Our top pick from this ‘under $300’ collection, it offers everything you need to run the latest titles in full HD glory, whatever format you choose. From mobile app games to Stream downloads and disk content, this is an all-round laptop that suits any player. It comes in at much larger and heavier than the other choices in our list, and has the internal power to justify it, but still meets those important budget restraints. The high-speed wireless LAN port and Bluetooth capabilities allow you to connect on a local scale or reach out wider – perfect for MMORPG players and social gamers.
Products above are available through Amazon.com – prices correct at time of writing
Image credit: Daniel Benavides via Flickr