The Best Budget Gaming Laptops in 2024

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The best budget gaming laptops might not be as powerful as their more expensive counterparts, but many are still beefy enough to play demanding titles, like Spider-Man 2 and Diablo 4, at high settings. So, even if you don’t have the cash for a juggernaut gaming PC, you can still enjoy nearly any game you want with stable frame rates.

For buyers looking for the best budget gaming laptop value, I recommend the Acer Nitro 5, which is bulky but offers fantastic graphics for a low price. I also love the Dell G15, which features high-end hardware and a bright screen. And if you want something more unique, check out the Asus ROG Ally, a portable gaming PC shaped like a Nintendo Switch.

Here are six of the best budget gaming laptops on the market right now. Each one offers its own balance of power, features, and price, but they’ll all let you play great games without breaking the bank.

Note: Many of our best budget gaming laptop picks are available in various configurations with different specifications. Performance and price will vary depending on the specs you pick. For some of our picks, we’ve highlighted a specific configuration that we recommend most. 

Our top picks for the best budget gaming laptops

Best overall: Acer Nitro 5 – See at Acer

Best with an RTX 4060: Gigabyte G5 – See at Amazon

Best for vibrant visuals: Dell G15 – See at Amazon

Best for battery life: Asus TUF A15 – See at Amazon

Best gaming Chromebook: Acer Chromebook 516 GE – See at Best Buy

Best laptop alternative: Asus ROG Ally – See at Best Buy

Best overall

Acer Nitro 5 Gaming Laptop (RTX 4050)

The Acer Nitro 5 is a budget gaming laptop that can play modern games with ease, and comes at a price that’s hard to beat. Despite some design flaws, it’s a solid choice for any gamer looking to save some cash.

The Acer Nitro 5 is an affordable gaming laptop that offers powerful hardware for a low price, which helps cement it as our top pick overall for the best gaming laptop on a budget.

Nitro 5 models offer one of the cheapest ways to snag 30- or 40-series Nvidia RTX GPU. The 15.6-inch model we highlight here sells for less than $1,000 and has an RTX 4050 — that’s strong enough to run nearly any game at stable frame rates. It also supports ray tracing in most games, which isn’t always a guarantee on cheap gaming laptops. You can find even cheaper options if you’re willing to step down to an RTX 3050 card. 

This isn’t to say that the Nitro 5 can run every game at the highest settings. In our testing with an RTX 3060 configuration, some intensive titles like Cyberpunk 2077 lagged no matter how much we turned the graphics down, especially when other apps were open. But others, like Marvel’s Spider-Man Remastered and Halo Infinite, stayed stable. And popular games with simple graphics, like Fortnite and Valorant, always ran wonderfully.

The NitroSense app on an Acer Nitro 5 laptop.

With its balance of affordability and power, the Acer Nitro 5 is our top pick for gamers on a budget.

William Antonelli/Business Insider

The Nitro 5’s biggest flaw is its hardware design. The HD (1920×1080) screen on the 17.3-inch model we reviewed is dim, and the colors are dull. Coming in at six pounds (along with another one-pound charger), it’s also heavy. The Nitro 5 works best when kept stationary and connected to a brighter external monitor.

One warning we will make about the Nitro 5, though: It’s available in over a dozen different configurations with 15.6- 16-, and 17.3-inch screen options, each one with its own unique combination of hardware and price. If you’re buying a Nitro 5, double-check that you’re buying the right configuration for your needs before you commit. But also know that no matter the configuration, they all offer great value.

Check out our full Acer Nitro 5 laptop review (17.3-inch model).

Best with an RTX 4060

Gigabyte G5 Gaming Laptop

The Gigabyte G5 offers top-tier graphic performance for its price range. It’s one of our favorite budget gaming laptops, and this deal makes it even better.

Gigabyte is known for reliable, no-frills PC gaming hardware, and the 2023 version of its Gigabyte G5 laptop is a perfect example of that philosophy. The G5 doesn’t look great in design, but it’s powerful, and at a typical street price of around $950, it’s one of the most affordable RTX 4060-equipped laptops around.

Weighing in at about 4.5 pounds, the 15.6-inch Gigabyte G5 we recommend here is outfitted with an RTX 4060 graphics card and a 12th-gen Intel i5 CPU. Though the processor is a bit old, finding an RTX 4060 at this price range is rare, and these specs should deliver stable frame rates in nearly any game. RTX 40-series cards also support Nvidia’s AI-powered Deep Learning Super Sampling (DLSS) feature, which can massively boost frame rates in supported games without straining your hardware. This is accompanied by a Full HD 144Hz screen and a great trackpad and keyboard.

In terms of other specs, the G5 isn’t perfect. It only comes with 8GB of RAM, which isn’t enough to play some intensive games without lag. Call of Duty: Warzone, for instance, recommends at least 12GB. But luckily, the RAM is customizable, meaning you can add up to 64GB later. Just remember to account for that in your budget.

It’s got some flaws in design, too. The G5’s thermals ensure that you won’t burn your thighs while gaming, but its fans get incredibly loud. The battery life is poor as well. And when it comes to aesthetics, the G5 isn’t pretty — it’s essentially a plain black box with the word “Gigabyte” stamped on it.

The Gigabyte G5 is simple. But for gamers wanting great performance on a budget, it’s absolutely a standout pick.

Best for vibrant visuals

Dell G15

With powerful hardware and a bright screen, the Dell G15 is one of the best budget gaming laptops on the market.

The Dell G15 is a popular 15.6-inch budget laptop, and for good reason: It’s an inexpensive option that offers both great graphics and some of the best laptop CPUs you can buy.

Depending on your budget, you can buy the Dell G15 with an RTX 3050, 4050, or 4060 GPU, which are all great options. But the G15’s processor is where it truly shines: The Dell G15 is one of the only budget laptops to use 13th-generation Intel CPUs. These are leagues faster than most laptop CPUs on the market, turning this inexpensive device into a multitasking beast. There are AMD versions available as well that are nearly as fast.

That’s not the G15’s only surprising feature. The RTX 4050 model can be configured with 16GB of RAM and a full terabyte of solid-state storage, both of which are fantastic for the price. And unlike other budget laptops, it has a great screen: Full HD options are available with up to a 360Hz refresh rate, nearly double the industry average. The 165Hz and 360Hz configurations also deliver vibrant visuals with a brighter image than the 120Hz option. The 165Hz model we reviewed is one of the few budget gaming laptops that doesn’t suck to watch movies on.

Someone playing the game Valorant on a Dell G15 laptop.

The Dell G15 is best for users interested in better visuals.

William Antonelli/Business Insider; Riot Games

However, it’s not a perfect laptop. The onboard speakers are mediocre, it only comes with a single USB-C port, and the trackpad is small. It can also run hot and loud under load, but that’s a given with most gaming laptops, especially at this price point.

The Dell G15 earns its popularity with great hardware and a price that’s hard to beat. We’re excited to see how Dell improves it in 2024 and beyond.

Note: Specs vary slightly between the Amazon and Best Buy listings we link to, and Dell’s site allows you to customize certain specs.

Check out our full Dell G15 review.

Best for battery life

It isn’t just the name — the Asus TUF A15 is a sturdy budget laptop that can survive drops, bumps, and more, all while letting you play nearly any game at the highest settings. It’s got excellent battery life, and we’ve yet to find a gaming laptop that beats it there.

The TUF A15 is built to “military grade” standards that give it an incredible amount of protection against impact damage and extreme temperatures. If you need a laptop that’ll hold up to a rigorous traveling schedule, then the TUF A15 is a perfect choice. This sturdy construction is backed up with a massive battery that can last upwards of eight hours on a single charge if run with power-saving modes on.

It’ll hold up to the most intensive games and apps, too. The 2023 TUF A15 is built with an RTX 4050 GPU and an AMD Ryzen 7 7735HS, powerful enough to compete with Intel’s 13th-gen chips. A version of the TUF A15 exclusive to B&H upgrades this hardware to an RTX 4060 and a blazing-fast Intel Core i9, which is an unbelievably good deal for around $1,200.

In terms of flaws, some reviewers have had issues with the AMD CPU, claiming that programs can lag if more than a couple are active at once. Keep an eye on the TUF A15’s Task Manager to avoid this. It’s also outfitted with a dim 15.6-inch screen, meaning it can be hard to see in well-lit environments.

The Asus TUF A15 is the definition of “reliable,” and it’s a great choice for gamers who know they’ll put their hardware through its paces.

Best gaming Chromebook

Acer 516 GE Gaming Chromebook

Although it won’t win any awards for power, the Acer Chromebook 516 GE has the best screen and chassis of any Chromebook, making it an affordable way to enter the growing world of cloud gaming.

Chromebooks aren’t known for their beefy specs, but they can be an excellent, affordable option for people who just want to play cloud gaming services.

When you play a game using a cloud gaming service, the game is actually running on a high-end computer somewhere else, and the game’s visuals get sent to your computer as a video stream. All you need is a strong internet connection to receive those visuals and send your controller inputs. The rise of services like Xbox Game Pass, Amazon Luna, and Nvidia GeForce Now has done a lot to make cloud gaming more popular.

If you only plan on using cloud gaming apps — or if you’re on an extremely tight budget — consider the Acer Chromebook 516 GE. Chromebooks don’t use Windows but instead run on Chrome OS, a unique system where nearly every app operates through the web browser. It’s not as flexible or customizable as Windows and can’t run anywhere near as many programs, but it’s great for users who only need basic computer features.

What sets the 516 GE apart from other Chromebooks is its design. It’s outfitted with a bright 16-inch screen with a 120Hz refresh rate and 2560 x 1600 resolution, making it better for gaming than other Chromebooks. The keyboard is lined with RGB lights, giving it a sleek and colorful look. And it’s one of the few Chromebooks with a built-in Ethernet port, which is necessary for maintaining a fast and stable internet connection. All of this is backed up by a solid 12th-generation Intel i5 and a long-lasting battery.

The Acer Chromebook 516 GE carries a list price of $650. That’s cheaper than nearly any modern gaming laptop but actually relatively expensive for a Chromebook. We consider the 516 GE to be the best Chromebook available for gamers — but if you don’t care about the design or can put up with a weaker CPU (and possibly worse cloud gaming performance), cheaper options are available.

Best laptop alternative

Though it’s not a laptop in the traditional sense, if you’re exclusively interested in playing PC games, then the Asus ROG Ally is definitely worth a look.

The ROG Ally is a “handheld gaming PC” — it’s shaped like a Nintendo Switch or Steam Deck, but runs on a completely standard version of Windows 11. This means you can run any app and play any game that you’d be able to on a regular laptop. This includes game libraries like Steam and Xbox Game Pass, browsers like Google Chrome, and even productivity apps like the Microsoft 365 suite. The ROG Ally also has the processor and GPU to back this feature up, handling intensive games like Forza Horizon 5 at stable speeds. Battery life is pretty mediocre, though.

An ASUS ROG Ally standing against a red background, playing the game Elden Ring.

The ROG Ally is shaped like a Steam Deck or Nintendo Switch.

William Antonelli/Insider

Of course, this isn’t to say that you’d want to run every Windows app on the ROG Ally. The joysticks and touchscreen are much better suited to games than editing Excel spreadsheets. And the steps to remap your controls to fit each game you want to play can be confusing at first. But if the need arises, you can use a USB-C hub to connect the ROG Ally to an external mouse, keyboard, and even monitor, turning it into a real computer.

The ROG Ally is a unique little device. It’s not a laptop, but it’s hard to find a more portable gaming PC, especially for the price.

Check out our full Asus ROG Ally review.

How we pick budget gaming laptops

Someone playing Valorant and watching a YouTube video on separate monitors, using an Acer Nitro 5.

William Antonelli/Insider

We write all our laptop guides using a combination of in-depth testing, research, comparison, and past experience with gaming hardware. 

When reviewing units, we evaluate the best budget gaming laptops using a variety of different criteria, including price, graphical power, build quality and portability, multitasking performance, and more. Which laptops are using the newest generation of CPUs and GPUs, and which ones are lagging behind? Which companies are charging more for outdated or underpowered hardware? The best budget gaming laptops need to excel across categories to make it onto our list of recommendations.

Once we publish a guide, we don’t stop testing or reviewing. We keep a close eye on new releases and reevaluate guides multiple times per year, updating the picks as needed. This helps us give you, the reader, the most accurate and well-rounded recommendations possible.

Budget gaming laptop FAQs

An HP Victus laptop on a desk


What are the differences between a budget gaming laptop and a midrange or high-end gaming laptop?

The best budget gaming laptops are more powerful than ever. But the absolute most powerful gaming laptops will still cost hundreds of dollars more.

Right now, the best graphics card you can get in a budget laptop is an RTX 4070, and even that’s incredibly rare. If you want an RTX 4080 or RTX 4090 — the kind of cards that can run games at high settings in 4K and run virtual reality titles without a stutter — you’ll need to open up your wallet.

These more expensive laptops will also have better CPUs, meaning apps and files will open and load faster; better screens with higher refresh rates and clearer speakers, which help your games look and sound better; and more storage space, meaning you can have more games and apps installed at once. Depending on the model, they might be able to do all this while having better battery life and lighter frames.

Some will also include extra bonuses, like the mechanical keyboards built into high-end Alienware models or the customizable chassis featured on some Asus laptops.

What kind of games will I not be able to play on a budget gaming laptop?

There are very few, if any, games you outright won’t be able to play on even the cheapest laptops we’ve featured here. That includes hyper-intensive titles like Cyberpunk 2077, Forza Horizon 5, and Far Cry 6.

But if you’re only using an RTX 4060 or older, don’t expect to play those intensive titles at the highest settings without any stuttering, especially if ray tracing is enabled. That’s doubly true if you plan on connecting the budget laptop to a 4K monitor, which will put extra stress on the GPU.

RTX 40-series cards support Nvidia’s Deep Learning Super Sampling (DLSS) feature, which uses AI to artificially increase your frame rate in some games. But even this feature isn’t perfect and is prone to lag spikes.

Is it worth buying a gaming laptop with an Nvidia GeForce RTX 20-series or 10-series graphics card?

This is a complicated question. If you’re looking for a budget gaming laptop with the highest amount of graphical power possible, then no, you should stick with an RTX 30-series graphics card or higher.

But older gaming laptops with RTX 20-series and 10-series cards aren’t bad — they can still handle most games at medium-to-high settings and are cheaper than ever. And spending less money on the GPU means you’ll have more money to spend on the CPU, RAM, storage space, and other features, which can be equally as important to some users.

You also shouldn’t discount gaming laptops with AMD graphics cards! We haven’t recommended any here simply because we feel Nvidia offers more value per dollar in laptops. Nvidia cards are also better at ray tracing and exclusively support DLSS. But new AMD cards, like those from the AMD Radeon RX 70-series, are still incredibly capable for most games. Check out our AMD vs. Nvidia graphics card guide for more details on how the brands stack up. 

How will budget gaming laptops change in 2024?

2024 is set to be a big year for PC gaming.

As of this writing, Intel has just released its new lineup of Intel Core 14-series laptop processors, along with a line of Intel Core “Ultra” processors that are specially made for premium laptops. And later in 2024, we’re expecting to see even more new Intel laptop CPUs with features geared toward AI enthusiasts. For more details, check out my guide to Intel’s 14th-generation Core and Core Ultra CPUs.

And although release dates haven’t been confirmed yet, analysts are also expecting a new line of AMD Ryzen CPUs and AMD Radeon graphics cards, along with the next line of Nvidia GeForce RTX 50-series graphics cards.

Once these new CPUs and GPUs come out, the gaming laptops that feature current-gen specs will likely go down in price — that includes many of our picks for the best budget gaming laptops, which will get even more affordable.

Some budget laptops, like the Dell G15, will eventually get updates that let you buy them with the newest cards. Despite this, we don’t expect their prices to increase significantly.

In short, as gaming laptops get more powerful, the budget models that you can already purchase right now — which are already pretty fantastic — will become even better buys.