You’re an enthusiastic gamer but also know that you should save your money for other things in your life? You’ve come to the right place! Sure, gaming on a laptop of $500 or less is a pretty hard thing to do, but it’s still possible.
Fortunately, we’re in an era where plenty of online games and smaller titles run on little resources and provide great gaming experiences still. And if you’re especially knowledgeable in the area of parameters and in-game settings, you could even manage to run some well-known titles, and make all your friends jealous that you paid half the price for a laptop that runs the same game. Saving big bucks and ending up with pretty much the same result on screen can often be a very satisfying experience.
Gaming laptops are more expensive compared to normal laptops because they require superior hardware to run heavy gaming applications. In fact, they can cost as much as $2000. But what if you only have a budget of $500 or less? Does this mean you can never enjoy a good computer game? The good news is that it’s not entirely impossible to find a good gaming laptop for less than $500. All it takes is some planning and research and you could get a decent gaming laptop. In this article, we take the guesswork out of choosing a gaming laptop under 500. Read our review of the top 6 gaming laptops under $500.
Here Are The Six Best And Affordable Gaming Laptops Under 500 For Serious Gamers
Thanks to its AMD A10-8700P quad core processor, this little 15.6” laptop packs quite a bit of punch in terms of graphics horsepower. It has one of the best graphics solutions that you will find on a laptop for less than 500 bucks, and the quad core processing unit ensures reliable and versatile performance across a multitude of applications, including content creation and gaming. If you’re a fan of games such as Counter Strike, League of Legends, Dota 2, or Team Fortress, then the A10-8700P APU should be more than enough to deliver a smooth and highly playable experience at 1080p on medium settings. Yes, you definitely can build a budget PC for the same price that will perform better in games, but you can’t exactly carry a 20 pound box on your back around the college campus, neither can you take it with you over to your friend’s house or even the room next to you in your dorm in case you and your buddies want to have as little LAN party.
The A10 8700P runs on a base clock of 1.8 GHz, and can turbo boost up to an impressive 3.2 GHz in times of need, capable of matching the performance of an Intel core i3 quite easily. In games, the Radeon R6 built-in graphics chip that is a part of the APU itself, and can perform at the level of a low-end NVIDIA GT 600 (610-630, 630+ will beat it) series dedicated graphics chip, and should even be able to run some last gen AAA titles on minimal settings at 1080p.
Talking of resolution, the display on this little laptop is a full HD 1080p LED backlit LCD. This is not an IPS panel, and you shouldn’t expect anything more than a TN unless you’re willing to shell out 1000+ dollars. It comes with 8 GB of DDR3 RAM, and a 1 TB hard drive, as well as the usual assortment of USB ports, SD card readers, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, etc. Battery life while gaming is rather low, around 1-1.5 hours depending on the type of game. While watching movies, or browsing the net, this laptop will easily run up to 3+ hours on the battery even on max brightness.
The F555LA-AB31 is dirt cheap, packs a 5th generation Intel Core-i3 processor, and comes with Windows 10 Home preinstalled. For less than 400 dollars, we think this is a great deal, even though the RAM is limited to 4 GB, and you get a 500 GB hard drive. First of all, think to yourself- what purpose is this laptop going to serve? If the answer is gaming, then let’s get one thing out of the way- with a processor and graphics solution of this level, you won’t be able to get any advantage whatsoever if you had 8 gigs of RAM instead of 4. Honestly, you’re probably going to be playing at low- medium settings anyways, and most games, even the hardcore AAA titles will not use more than 4 GB of RAM if you play on low settings.
But let’s say you want to do some photo editing and lightweight video work, or you want to watch 1080p movies in your dorm room at night after a busy day at college. Well then, you can always insert a second 4 GB stick of RAM by removing the bottom panel on the laptop. It is super easy and if you can’t do it, just tell your roommate or any tech guy to do it for you, they will gratefully oblige. RAM sticks barely cost 10-15 dollars for a 4 GB module, and you can even upgrade the hard drive like you can upgrade the RAM.
With an i3-5010U, you should be easily getting 6+ hours of battery life in balanced mode, with 60-70% brightness. While playing games, don’t expect dramatic performance on the latest titles. However, this processor and its built-in Intel graphics should be more than enough for Minecraft, online games, League, DOTA 2, Counter Strike, and some last-gen titles. One of the best features of this 15.6” ultra-slim laptop is the fact that it comes with the latest 802.11 a/c Wi-Fi.
HP makes some really great back-to-school laptops and their Pavilion 15-ay013nr is one of those cute little 15.6” sub-$500 laptops that you definitely need to look up if you’re on a limited budget and desperately need something that is capable of playing games on low-medium settings. While it does boast a 6th gen Intel Core-i5 6200U processor, the main things to notice over here are the 8 GB of DDR RAM and the 128 GB SSD. The SSD pushes this little budget machine to deliver ultrabook-level performance. It actually has a low voltage “U” processor which may not be the best for running heavy games, but we don’t expect it to run AAA titles at all, for this price it is more suited to running MOBA’s, MMO’s, etc. Warcraft, League and similar games will run absolutely fine at low settings.
The 8 GB of RAM will come in handy if you want to multitask or watch movies on the 15.6” 1080p display. Other standard features include 2 USB 3.0 ports, a USB 2.0 port, a DVD drive, 802.11 a/c Wi-Fi, and preinstalled Windows 10 Home. The battery life is definitely amazing (8-9 hours on standard usage), thanks to the U-series ultrabook processor and SSD.
Built for regular home and school usage the ASUS X540-LA is a super lightweight (4.4 pounds) and slim 15.6” laptop. It packs a dual core 2.2 GHz Intel Core-i3 5020U processor and 4 GB of DDR3 RAM. The 1 TB hard drive is actually quite good in terms of storage space, even though it is not very fast, as it is just a normal 5400 rpm laptop drive. You can store all your favorite albums, movies, and photos in the 1 TB drive, and still have plenty of space left over for software, games, e-books, documents, reports, etc. This laptop comes pre-loaded with Windows 10 Home, so you just need to power it up and enjoy.
For less than $350, you get a processor that can run most modern MOBA’s and MMO’s at low-medium settings, and the 4GB of RAM should be enough for all your daily multimedia and entry level gaming needs. Hyperthreading assists with multitasking, so you can browse the web, listen to songs, and work on a spreadsheet, while downloading a new movie to watch on the 15.6” 768p screen. Battery life is phenomenal, and is around 7-8 hours on regular usage (web browsing, movies, songs, etc.). It comes with USB 3.0 ports, and Wi-fi.
The HP Probook 455 comes with the same AMD A10-8700P APU that can be found in the ASUS X555DA, but unlike the X555 this one does not have a 1080p FHD screen. However, we found that this could actually result in better performance during games, since you will be limited to a 768p resolution and as long as you play with the details turned down, you should even be able to play some high-end AAA titles on this sub-$450 notebook.
The R6 graphics unit inside the quad core 1.8 GHz APU delivers much more raw graphics computing power than even an Intel Core-i5 processor, and we are not even talking about U-series low voltage processors. We mean the regular, full voltage i5 CPU’s and those are used in gaming laptops that cost twice as much. Also, HP was kind enough to include a generous 16 GB of RAM which should be more than what you need, be it gaming, multitasking, photo editing, or whatever it is that you plan to do on your budget laptop. And the goodies don’t end there- there is a 1 TB hard drive in this laptop, and it comes preinstalled with genuine Windows 10.
Let’s say you need a laptop that weighs around 5 pounds, is less than 2” thick, has a 15.6” screen and a quad core processor along with preinstalled Windows 10 Home. And you want all that for less than 400 bucks. Well, the X552-WA DH41 might just be the right deal for you. It comes with the full assortment of ports that you’ll find on a large laptop, such as an RJ45 Ethernet port, a couple of USB 3.0 ports, a single USB 2.0, card reader, DVD drive, and 802.11 Wi Fi.
At the heart of this laptop lies the AMD A4-7210 quad core APU that packs a Radeon R6 graphics unit inside. The 1.8 GHz quad core CPU works beautifully with the R6 GPU and 4 GB of DDR3 RAM to give you an amazing entry level gaming experience. Running low-end titles such as League, DOTA, Warcraft, and Counter Strike, should be really simple. Just put them on medium settings and enjoy your 40-60 fps on the 15.6” 1366 x 768 anti-glare display. There is a 500 GB 5400 rpm hard drive inside, and it comes preloaded with genuine Windows 10 Home edition.
Few Things to Consider:
The fact that gaming laptops cost more than normal laptops doesn’t mean that you cannot enjoy playing games if you have a small budget. If you do your homework well, it is possible to find a good laptop that will let you enjoy your game with no abandon. The above laptops are the best you can ever find for a budget of $400-$500.
You get what you pay for. On a price below 500, you should expect some weakness these cheap gaming laptops show so that you know what you’re dealing with. First, the processor contained in these laptops is often the bare minimum (or close to it) for what is needed to run the operating system on it. So, multi-tasking and gaming becomes pretty complicated. You want to run the smallest number of programs at one time, for sure. Then, the graphic card in these cheap laptops is often one that we could consider “on-board”, meaning that it’s meant to fulfill everyday graphical needs – browse, watch video content, etc. Pretty much anytime you will be running a game, you will be testing the laptop’s limits.
So anyway you can, lower the settings and resolution of your games. You can also go in your computer configuration panel, select the graphic card (you might need to be the administrator to do this) and notice the different tabs in front of you.
Several of them might allow you to reduce the quality of your graphics even more (to in consequence improve the speed you notice in your games) and get even more value out of your purchase. Of course, experts can also try to overclock their computer, although that sometimes involves a little more risks.
In the case of the mini-laptops that are found in most stores, those have processors that are actually below the performance needed to run the operating system optimally, so take that in consideration before you pick the cheapest machine off the shelf. That being said, the options under $500 are pretty impressive and range from a pretty wide selection of companies.
You should remember that an extended warranty really represents an extra expense that you shouldn’t really take in most instances, simply because replacing your investment (in the event of a break past the included one-year warranty) could prove to cost an amount pretty close to the warranty itself… or at least the ratio probably won’t be worth it.
Sometimes you can even negotiate your warranty when it comes to theses cheaper laptops – it’s obvious that you’re on a budget when you buy these models and the seller should take that into account when he makes his best offer to you. Also, the great thing about buying a gaming laptop under 500 dollar is that it’s not because the laptop is cheap that it won’t last as long. Your small investment could last several years and if you play simple games it could be all you need to game for a very long time.
Surely, the guy at the store won’t tell you to buy a laptop of under $500 for gaming, but the reviews on these products say otherwise. Don’t forget that you can (and should in fact) lower your graphic settings and resolution to get more frames-per-second in your more demanding games. Playing with the settings is key to playing great computer games on a cheaper laptop. Happy shopping and have fun gaming on the go!