Gaming is a hobby shared by millions of people across the world, but there is such a thing as a barrier to entry- you need a PC with certain minimum specifications in order to play the latest and most demanding games, and if you are deciding to game on a laptop, you might need to spend at least 1000 dollars to get a somewhat decent gaming laptop.
But not everyone has that kind of money to spend on a personal laptop, and there are casual gamers who find enjoyment in simple/ older games such as the Half Life series, L4D, Age of Empires, etc. For people with a small budget and a taste in older, simpler games, we have put together a list of laptops that cost under 300 dollars. The laptops we have chosen are not Chromebooks, they are notebook PCs that run Windows 10.
The pleasant thing about these laptops is that they are not only cheap, but also extremely portable because of their slim profile and small size. Since all of the laptops in this list run on Intel Celeron or AMD APUs, they consume much less power than a traditional notebook PC or gaming laptop, and the battery life should last for at least 5-6 hours on most of them. Not only are these laptops good for casual gaming, but they can also be used as student notebooks/ office laptops. If you are looking in this price range, you might also consider looking at gaming tablets, as they can offer a similar experience for the price, and are even lighter and easier to carry. However even these more affordable laptops will often have a bit more raw power than a tablet, as well as larger screen sizes, so it’s worth considering both options.
What Types of Games Can You Expect to Play on These Laptops?
Before we begin the list, you must understand that these laptops are not comparable to actual gaming PCs, nor will they be able to run the latest AAA games such as Witcher III, Assassins Creed, GTA V, Prey, Wolfenstein 2, etc. Those games require a dedicated graphics card from the last 3-4 years, along with a moderately powerful CPU and ample amount of RAM. The laptops which we have listed in this article are geared towards people who are either casual gamers, or just got into the PC gaming culture.
You can play older games from 6-7 years ago, such as Left 4 Dead, Half Life 1 and 2, Counter Strike 1.6, any Need for Speed game released prior to 2010, older Call of Duty and Assassins Creed games from 2007-2009, etc. You can also try to run certain esports titles such as DOTA 2, LOL, or StarCraft, although the settings would have to be reduced down to the absolute minimum in order to maintain a smooth framerate.
Now that we have given you an idea of the types of games that you can expect to run on these budget laptops, let us dive straight into the reviews.
One of the few models in this price range which is actually equipped with a somewhat decent graphics chip, this 15.6” laptop from Lenovo is an excellent choice for gamers on a budget. It is powered by an AMD APU, which is essentially a combination of a CPU and GPU into one chip. The display resolution is 1366 x 768, but we don’t have any problems with it since the contrast ratio and brightness are so much better than most laptops we see at this price. There are ample connectivity options, including a multi-format SD card reader and 802.11 b/g/n WIFI.
At the heart of this 15.6” Lenovo laptop, you will find the AMD A6-7310 APU. It is a quad-core advanced processing unit and combined a CPU + GPU into a single die. This results in lowered costs, along with simplified cooling and overall lower power requirements. The A6 7310 packs 4 physical cores, each core can process 1 thread at a time since there is no hyperthreading on this particular architecture from AMD.
Still, 4 threads of processing power should be more than enough to deal with everyday tasks such as casual gaming, movies, web browsing, document work, etc. The A6 7310 has a base clock speed of 2 GHz, and a boost speed of 2.4 GHz. It is assisted by 4 GB of DDR3 RAM, which should be enough for playing older games (DX9 or DX10 games).
The RAM can be upgraded by adding an additional 4GB DDR3 module, if you need extra multitasking power. Storage is handled by a 500 GB 5400rpm HDD, which is preloaded with a copy of Windows 10 Home edition. The 15.6” 1366 x 768 SVA BrightView WLED-backlit display is driven by an AMD Radeon R4 onboard graphics chip, integrated into the A6 7310 APU.
This graphics core is not comparable to a dedicated graphics solution, but is still more powerful than the Intel HD graphics found on Pentium or Core i3 laptop processors. We recommend that you play older games or esports titles only, since the A6 7310 APU isn’t exactly designed for serious gaming.
Wireless connectivity is taken care of by an 802.11 b/g/n WIFI adapter. There is a RJ-45 Ethernet port on the side, along with a Multi-format SD card reader slot. Lenovo even managed to fit in a SuperMulti DVD/CD burner. The VGA webcam isn’t exactly great in terms of picture quality, but it is to be expected from a sub 300-dollar laptop. The other ports include- HDMI, USB 2.0 (2x), USB 3.0 (1x), and a 3.5mm headphone/ microphone combo jack. Battery life with moderate usage should be around 5-6 hours.
AMD A6 7310 quad-core APU (2 GHz base, 2.4 GHz boost)
4 GB DDR3 RAM
500 GB HDD
Full sized keyboard
DVD burner, 802.11 b/g/n WIFI, Ethernet, USB and HDMI ports
VGA webcam delivers poor image quality
Touchpad isn’t very responsive
One of the most powerful laptops you can buy for less than 300 dollars- the Acer Aspire 3 15.6” notebook is available in varying configurations, but this particular model was chosen based on its price-to-performance factor and positive user reviews. It is powered by an AMD A9 9420 dual core APU (3 GHz base, 3.6 GHz boost). There is more RAM than you will find on most budget laptops, and the Radeon R5 built-in graphics is more powerful than Intel HD iGPUs found in similarly priced laptops.
Few laptops offer this much performance for such a low price- there is an AMD A9-9420 dual core APU powering this 15.6” notebook, and the Radeon R5 onboard graphics handily outclasses anything Intel has to offer in terms of onboard graphics at this price range. The A9 9420 APU is based on an older architecture, and doesn’t pack the multitasking power of a Core i3 or i5, but still delivers more than enough processing power for general tasks such as web browsing, document work, programming, etc.
You can play older games, indie games, and certain esports titles such as CS GO, DOTA 2, LOL, etc. on this laptop. You must turn down the settings to the absolute minimum on certain games in order to enjoy a smooth gameplay experience. The 1366 x 768 resolution WLED backlit display isn’t exactly great, but we weren’t expecting a 1080p IPS panel at this price.
You will find that the 15.6” screen size is about as far as you can go with the 1366 x 768 resolution, images don’t appear as sharp when compared to 1080p screens, but that shouldn’t affect you if you only use this laptop for gaming, since you will be playing on low settings anyways, and the lower resolution lowers load on the APU, allowing the laptop to run the game on higher framerates. Remember- gameplay over visuals, which is why we believe that having a 1366 x 768 display on a budget gaming laptop is actually beneficial.
There is ample storage space onboard, thanks to a 1 TB 5400 rpm HDD that comes preloaded with a copy of Windows 10 Home edition. The 6 GB of RAM is more than enough for light multitasking and gaming, and ensures that everything runs smoothly when there are 8 or 10 windows/ browser tabs opened at the same time.
The 802.11 ac WIFI adapter ensures super-fast wireless connectivity, couple that with Bluetooth 4.0 and you are all set. There are 2 USB 2.0 ports and a single USB 3.0 port, along with an Ethernet port and a 3.5mm headphone/ microphone combo jack. The 2-cell Li-Ion battery (4810 mAh) ensures an average battery life of around 5.5 hrs.
AMD A9 9420 dual core APU
Radeon R5 graphics
6 GB of DDR3 RAM, a 1 TB 5400 rpm HDD
802.11 ac WIFI and Bluetooth 4.0
1366 x 768 resolution display
Powered by an Intel Celeron N3450 processor, the Acer Aspire 3 15.6” laptop is a very power efficient machine, perfect for students and casual gamers who need a light machine that lasts all day long. It also sports a brilliant full HD (1080p) display, which makes it better than most budget laptops for watching movies or editing photos.
The Acer Aspire 3 15.6” notebook is perfect for students, programmers, office workers, and casual gamers. It is a very slim and power efficient laptop, with a gorgeous 1080p full HD display that enhances your multimedia experience, and allows you to play certain older games/ indie games on full HD resolution.
The graphics chip on this laptop is an Intel iGPU, and is definitely one of the weaker GPUs you will find on laptops at this price. But that doesn’t stop you from running older games such as Call of Duty- World at War, Left 4 Dead, CS 1.6, NFS Most Wanted, etc. Those games from 2005-2009 should run absolutely fine on this laptop despite its mediocre graphics chip, thanks to the somewhat decent Intel Celeron N3450 processor.
There is 4 GB of DDR3 RAM onboard, and a 32 GB SSD for the OS and core software programs. The 32 GB SSD comes preloaded with a genuine copy of Windows 10 Home, and it should be just enough to hold a few of your favorite indie games or esports titles. The internal storage can be augmented with an external HDD, allowing you to store your movies, photos, and games in one place.
Multitasking isn’t the strong suit of this laptop, but programs such as Excel, Word, Media Viewer, etc. will run just fine. The processor is powerful enough to handle web browsing and movies, along with some light gaming.
It is not the most powerful of laptops, but certainly packs a long battery life- up to 9 hours on full charge, thanks to the 2-cell (4810 mAh) Lithium Ion battery. The Intel HD 500 onboard graphics system is not very fast, but is extremely power efficient just like the dual core Celeron N3450 CPU. We love the fact that this super affordable laptop is equipped with the latest in WIFI standards- a 802.11 ac WIFI adapter, with dual band support (2.4 GHz and 5 GHz).
It is optimized for work and play on the go, and the ultra slim form factor (13.5 x 9.7 x 0.7 inches) along with the light weight of just 3.6 pounds makes this 14” notebook a compelling purchase option for students, casual gamers, travelers, and programmers.
Intel Celeron N3450 processor (dual core, up to 2.2 GHz)
Intel HD 500 graphics
4GB DDR3 RAM
1080p full HD 14” display
Up to 9hr battery life
802.11 ac WIFI with dual band support (2.4 GHz and 5 GHz)
0.7” thick, weighs 3.6 pounds
The internal SSD isn’t enough to cover all your storage needs, although it does help significantly with boot times and loading speeds
Touchpad feels flimsy and gestures don’t work well
One of the few laptops at this price which come with a little bit of everything. The Lenovo 110 series of laptops are designed to provide reasonable performance and a solid feature set at an affordable price. This particular model is powered by an Intel Pentium 4405U, which is not a powerful CPU by any stretch, but gets the job done.
The laptop we have over here is a model from the recently launched Lenovo 110 series, and it is engineered to provide reasonable performance along with features found in a standard notebook at a very affordable price. Powered by the Intel Pentium 4405U dual core processor (Turbo up to 2.1 GHz), this laptop is more than capable of handling standard workloads such as web browsing, casual gaming, movies, document work, or even programming.
It features a 1366 x 768 WLED backlit display, which is bright enough for outdoor usage, and the colors feel accurate for a laptop in this price range. The HD webcam mounted on top of the screen is a step up from the VGA webcams found on most competitors, and this assists massively with video chats or web conferences.
There is 4 GB of DDR3 SDRAM onboard, along with a 500 GB 5400 rpm HDD that is preloaded with Windows 10 Home edition. The 4 GB of RAM is sufficient for most daily tasks, but if you wish, an extra 4 GB module can be added to improve multitasking and gaming performance by a small amount. The Intel HD onboard graphics isn’t comparable to a dedicated GPU, but it’s all you can get at this price and should be enough to run older games (pre-2010 era), or even some recent esports titles such as CS GO, DOTA 2, LOL, etc.
There is an optical disk drive, a card reader, a webcam, Ethernet, 802.11 AC WIFI, and pretty much all the ports that you would find on a standard notebook which costs much more than this particular Lenovo. It includes USB 3.0 (1x), USB 2.0 (2x), HDMI, VGA out, and a 3.5mm headphone/ microphone combo jack. The dual 1.5 W stereo speakers are louder than we expected, and although there isn’t much bass or clarity to talk about, they are good enough to pass off as acceptable.
Intel Pentium 4405U dual core (up to 2.1 GHz turbo)
4GB DDR3 SDRAM, 500 GB HDD
802.11 ac WIFI, Bluetooth 4.1, Optical Disk drive, card reader
Battery doesn’t last very long compared to other similarly sized laptops at this price (3-4 hours battery life with moderate usage)
Display resolution is only 1366 x 768
Powered by a highly efficient AMD 7th generation APU, the HP 14-bw010nr 14” notebook is both highly functional as well as sleekly designed. It is capable of running for up to 6hrs and 15 minutes with mixed usage, and up to 4hrs and 45 mins with video playback.
The 14” display doesn’t have a 1080p panel, but we came to the conclusion that a lower resolution display is actually better at this price range if your primary interest is gaming, because the low-end processors and graphics chip will deliver higher framerates at 1366 x 768 resolution.
The HP 14-bw010nr is a laptop that has a bit of everything- performance, efficiency, portability, and storage. It is as versatile as any laptop can get in this price range, and the 14” 1366 x 768 screen is one of the better-looking displays that we have come across. It is bright, the contrast is good, and colors appear accurate. The AMD dual core E2-9000e 7th generation APU is optimized for elevated levels of power efficiency, and is capable of running older games at a satisfactory framerate.
The Radeon R2 graphics is sufficient for playing games like L4D, Half Life, CS 1.6, League of Legends, etc. This processor has a base clock speed of 1.5 GHz and a boost speed of 2.0 GHz. There is 4 GB of DDR3 SDRAM onboard, along with a 500 GB 5400 rpm HDD that is loaded with a copy of Windows 10 Home. The battery life is really good, averaging about 6 hours with moderate usage, and nearly 4.5 hours with heavy usage (video playback, gaming, etc.).
In terms of connectivity, there are sufficient options- HDMI, USB 2.0 and 3.1 Gen 1, a Multi-format card reader, 802.11 ac WIFI, Bluetooth, and a webcam. There is even a VGA output and RJ-45 Ethernet connector. This HP laptop measures 9.4 x 13.4 x 0.9 inches, and weighs just 3 pounds- meaning that it is perfect for students and travelers.
AMD 7th generation APU- E2 9000e
4GB DDR3 SDRAM and 500 GB HDD
HMDI, USB 3.1 Gen1, VGA, 802.11 ac WIFI
Keyboard doesn’t have a numpad and the arrow keys are not designed for gamers
Speakers aren’t very good
With an AMD A6 7310 quad core processor and Radeon R4 graphics, the Lenovo Ideapad 15 is the perfect budget gaming laptop that you can buy for under 300 dollars. It is equipped with all the connectivity and I/O options found on standard laptops, and is still pretty portable at just 0.9” thick, and 4.85 pounds in weight. Comes with Windows 10 home preinstalled.
The AMD A6 7310 APU is one of the best quad core processors you can find in any laptop under 300 dollars- not only does it pack 4 threads of processing power, but it also comes with the Radeon R4 graphics chip built into the APU. This means that you can possibly try to run games released as recently as 3-4 years ago, although you will probably be running them on minimum settings in order to maintain a smooth framerate.
The display isn’t anything spectacular, but it gets the job done. Gaming, documents, web browsing, programming, and even some light photo/ video editing can be done with this laptop, thanks to its somewhat decent processor and 4 GB of DDR3 SDRAM.
The storage is handled by a 500 GB 5400 rpm HDD that comes preloaded with Windows 10 Home. Despite packing some serious punch, the battery life is actually quite good for a laptop that uses an AMD processor- around 4-5 hours with mixed usage, and nearly 6-7 hours with light usage on economy mode. The laptop itself is pretty slim, at just 0.9” in thickness and 4.85 pounds in weight.
The laptop comes with a full suite of I/O options- USB 2.0 (1x), USB 3.0 (1x), a 3.5mm headphone/ microphone combo jack, a card reader, and an optical disk drive. It is also equipped with a 802.11 ac WIFI adapter, and includes an HDMI output for connection to external displays. The keyboard is full-sized, meaning that it includes the numpad.
AMD Quad Core A6 7310 processor
Radeon R4 graphics
4 GB DDR3 SDRAM with a 500 GB 5400 rpm HDD
802.11 ac WIFI, HDMI out
Optical Disk Drive
Full sized keyboard
We hope this article provided you with the information necessary to make your budget laptop purchase, all the models on the list were chosen based on value and performance, as well as reviews from certified buyers. If all you care about is gaming performance, then go for the laptop with the most processing power- preferably one with an AMD APU since those are the best performing laptops at this price range.
An AMD APU is a combination of a processor and graphics chip in a single die, and its graphics performance greatly outclasses the onboard graphics found on any Intel Pentium or Celeron processor. A laptop with 4 GB of RAM is rare at this price point, since most laptops under the price of 300 dollars are designed for trivial tasks such as document work or web browsing. A good display (preferably one with a 1080p resolution) is important if you plan to watch movies on your laptops/ use it as a portable multimedia station wherever you travel.