June 4

The 5 Best Gaming Laptop Under $800

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Table Of Contents

I remember the very first laptop I ever used. It was this really old-school Dell that didn’t even have a mousepad, but rather just a tactile response ‘dot’ in the middle. It wasn’t the best but it was really awesome for me, especially since at that point I had only ever seen desktops, and it just blew my mind.

Nowadays though, laptops are pretty common. Especially powerful gaming laptops. The idea that you can carry around hardware strong enough to game on still amazes me and the fact that you can get this hardware this cheap is even more amazing.

Of course, cheap-ish gaming laptops are not that amazing, and we still have a few years yet before we start powerful performance and good battery life, but hey, I can’t really complain.

So, what is the best gaming laptop under $800? 🎮 🖥️

Best Choice: Acer Nitro 5 AN515

Pros & Cons

  • Fans not too loud
  • GTX 1050 Ti
  • Speakers could be better

Specifications:

  • CPU: Intel Core i5-8300H
  • GPU: GeForce GTX 1050 Ti 4GB
  • RAM: 8GB DDR4
  • Screen: 15.6″, Full HD, 60 Hz, IPS
  • Storage: 256GB SSD
  • Battery: 3220 mAh

Acer Nitro 5 AN515 Review

Starting off our list is a reasonably great gaming laptop. Even though it’s cheap, it manages to have some pretty sweet hardware.

Most impressively, the Nitro 5 comes with a GTX 1050 Ti, which while not being the best card around, is certainly a good mid-range graphics card. While it’s true you won’t likely to be able to play all the latest AAA games on high settings, you should be able to run some of them reasonably well. As for games like Fortnight and DOTA 2, they should be relatively easy to run.

Next up is the screen, which surprisingly is an IPS screen as you don’t always tend to see IPS screens at this price point, especially since they’re pretty expensive.

Color reproduction is rather good, even for a below $800, although you can chalk a lot of that up to the panel type. Unfortunately, it does only run at 1080p at 60Hz, but for this price, I’m not gonna complain (too much).

We’ve talked about the GPU, but I should also mention that the CPU is also pretty good. It’s not an i7, which I wouldn’t expect anyway, but it is a late-gen i5, which definitely puts it up there in terms of processing power.

You almost certainly will be able to do at least some basic editing work, although the 8GB of RAM will likely cause a bit of a bottleneck, and might merit an upgrade.

Another thing which is somewhat lacking and that you’ll probably have to upgrade is the internal storage, which is a 256Gb SSD. I’m not really sure why manufacturers insist on putting such small storage in gaming laptops, especially with how big they’ve started getting.

Thankfully, it does have an extra  2.5” bay if you want to stick in some extra storage, although that does mean it takes a hit in terms of pricing. Battery life is ok, and you’ll probably get 3-4 hours on general browsing and an hour or two of gaming. That’s pretty much on par for what to expect in terms of gaming laptops.

Finally, cooling is excellent here, with the fans doing an excellent job of dispersing heat. That being said, it seems the thermal paste Acer uses isn’t that great, so you’ll want to get your own thermal paste and re-apply it on the processors.

So, other than a couple of issues here and there, the Nitro 5 is actually a great little gaming laptop. Granted, you won’t be able to run The Witcher 3 at 60fps, but you might manage 30fps, which isn’t bad for a gaming laptop that just a little under $700.

Premium Pick: MSI GV62 8RD

Pros & Cons

  • IPS screen
  • Intel Optane Memory
  • Battery life not great

Specifications:

  • CPU: Intel Core i5-8300H
  • GPU: GeForce GTX 1050 Ti 4GB
  • RAM: 8 GB DDR4
  • Screen: 15.6″, Full HD, 60 Hz, IPS
  • Storage: SSD: 16 GB Intel Optane Memory; HDD: 1 TB

MSI GV62 8RD-200 Review

There are a lot of similarities between the 8RD-200 and the Nitro 5, with the main difference being the storage.

In terms of CPU and GPU, they’re the same with the late gen i5 and 1050 Ti, so both should be relatively equal in terms of graphical power. Similarly, the screen is also a 60Hz IPS screen on both. Finally, they both have 8Gigs of ram.

So, with the similarities out of the way, let’s look at the big difference: The massively bigger storage on the 8RD-200. Compared to the Nitro 5, this laptop has a whopping 1TB HDD, although you’ll notice it isn’t an NVME SSD. That’s not a problem though, because the 8RD-200 has a 16 GB Intel Optane Memory.

If you aren’t familiar with this tech, what it essentially does is it speeds up the performance of an HDD by being a sort of ‘quick access interface’ between the RAM and the HDD. In a way, it aims to upgrade the performance of HDDs to SSD levels, without having to hit SSD prices.

Now, whether those two options are equal is very much up to debate, but at the end of the day, the 8RD-200 has four times the memory of the Nitro 5 at roughly the same performance.

Finally, cooling performance is great for both the CPU and GPU. Unfortunately, the throttling of the CPU when the laptop isn’t plugged in is quite drastic, much more so than most gaming laptops. This isn’t a big issue, just something you should be aware of.

At the end of the day, whether you go for the 8RD-200 or the Nitro 5 is completely up to your specific needs. If you have a relatively large and high quality external hard drive, the Nitro 5 is a good option and will save you about $100.

On the other hand, if you don’t have that storage option, going with the larger internal storage is probably a better idea, unless you can get a deal on a 1TB HDD for less than $100. If you’re interested in investing even a little more money, check out our guide on the best gaming laptops under $1000.

Best Value: ASUS TUF Thin & Light Gaming Laptop

Pros & Cons

  • Amazing price
  • AMD tech for AMD fans
  • Screen can be a bit dull
  • Small Storage

Specifications:

  • CPU: AMD Ryzen 5 3550H
  • GPU: AMD Radeon Rx 560X
  • RAM: 8 GB DDR4
  • Screen: 15.6″, Full HD, 60 Hz, IPS
  • Storage:  256GB PCIe Nvme SSD
  • Battery: 48 WHrs

ASUS TUF Thin & Light Gaming Laptop Review

If you’re looking for an awesome gaming laptop under $500, the ASUS TUF should give enough power to run some great games. Actually, I’m pretty happy to see an AMD CPU and GPU, since they don’t appear often, even though AMD is doing really well in mid-range hardware.

The GPU is actually a really good graphics card at this price point, so much so that another one of our writers, Courtenay, chose to include it in a list of best graphics cards for gaming. While you can check out that article for a bit more on the graphics card, for quick reference the RX 560X is roughly equivalent to a GTX 1050.

As such, you’ll get some good gaming performance out of the 560X and while you won’t be running everything on max, you should be able to hit 60 frames on low settings and all for just under $600.

The Ryzen 5 3550H CPU is also reasonably good, and equivalent to the Intel Core i5-8300H although at a much lower power draw (35w vs 45w), which is pretty good. Unfortunately, the single thread performance on the 3550H isn’t great. That being said, the 3550H doesn’t have the same throttling issues that the i5-8300, so it’s six of one, half a dozen of the other.

Moving on from the internals a bit, and the fact that it only has 256gigs of storage, let’s look at the screen. Comparable to other laptops on this list, it’s a 1080p, 60hz, IPS screen which is pretty good for the price point. Unfortunately, build quality isn’t great, and you might notice some twisting and bending if you’re handling the laptop a little bit roughly.

Finally, battery life is pretty good and it can last anywhere between 4-6 hours in general use and half of that in gaming. This isn’t surprising considering how energy efficient AMD’s GPU and CPUs are.

All in all, the Asus TUF is a really impressive laptop. It has comparable specifications nearly equal to the higher end laptops in the bracket, and yet draw less power and cost $100-$150 less. It’s also easy to upgrade so that extra money you’re saving could go towards adding more storage or some more RAM.

Best APU: Lenovo Ideapad 15ABR

Pros & Cons

  • Ok performance
  • Really cheap
  • 720p
  • Screen isn’t that great

 Specifications:

  • CPU: AMD A12-9720P 2.70 GHz
  • GPU: AMD Radeon R7 (Bristol Ridge)
  • RAM: 8 GB DDR4
  • Screen: 15.6″, 720p, 60 Hz, TN
  • Storage:  1TB SSD

Lenovo Ideapad 15ABR Review

If you’re looking for a dirt cheap laptop that can just run some games, then the Ideapad 15ABR will suit you well.

If you aren’t familiar with an APU, it stands for Accelerated Processing Unit and basically, it’s a CPU that’s had some GPU cores added to it. As such, laptops and mobile devices with an APU don’t actually have an onboard or dedicated GPU and instead rely on the GPU cores inside the CPU to do graphical processing.

Of course, while combining both processing units into one body makes it cheaper and takes up less space, it does come with the downside of being very much underpowered compared to having a graphics card.

In this case, the CPU is an AMD A12-9720P, and if you aren’t familiar with that model, it’s comparable to an i3, which isn’t that powerful. As for the GPU cores, they use Radeon R7 which is equivalent to a GTX 970M. As you can tell, this is a pretty underpowered machine, although the GPU part of the APU can certainly hold its own.

That doesn’t ultimately matter though, because the screen is only 720p, which means that even if you did have better hardware, you couldn’t do much with it. Now, you will be able to play games like Fortnite, or anything that came out around 2015/2016, but don’t expect to play anything modern. Oh, also the screen isn’t that great in that it could be a bit brighter.

Interestingly, the battery life here is about average for gaming laptops, running at around 3-4 hours general use and 1-2 hours with gaming, even though it has much less power hungry hardware. This aspect is probably the most disappointing in this laptop and doesn’t allow it to compete in the general use category, where it would arguably do pretty well.

Alright, for the most part I’ve been pretty harsh on the Ideapad 15ABR, but the truth is it’s not that bad. When you consider that you absolutely can play games on a laptop that costs the same as mid to high-end gaming monitor alone, it’s actually quite impressive what Lenovo delivers on.

If you’re on a super tight budget and need or want a gaming laptop, go for this one. Otherwise, save up an extra $250 and get yourself the ASUS TUF. You should check out our picks for the best budget gaming laptops as well.

Best Battery: HP Pavilion 15 15-cx0056wm

Pros & Cons

  • Good battery life
  • Strong build quality
  • Made of plastic and looks outdated

Specifications:

  • CPU: Intel Core i5-8300H
  • GPU: GeForce GTX 1050 Ti 4GB
  • RAM: 8GB DDR4
  • Screen: 15.6″, Full HD, 60 Hz, IPS
  • Storage: 1TB HDD
  • Battery: 52.5 Wh

HP Pavilion 15 15-cx0056wm Review

Battery life has always been an issue with gaming laptops and while this HP Pavilion won’t blow the competition out of the water, it might just give it the edge in this category.

As you can probably tell from even a quick glance at the specs, the hardware is pretty similar to our top 3 picks in this category. It features an i5-8300H and a GTX 1050 Ti, which together should easily run games at lower graphical settings, with them beginning to struggle once you try and go to the mid to high range.

In terms of storage and RAM, it’s pretty good and very much standard for this price point, although it would have been nice if there was a bit more ram, and they replaced the 1TB HDD with a 500GB SSD.

Unfortunately, the Pavilion 15 does have a bit of an issue, and that’s in its screen. While it is an IPS, 1080p screen, it really can’t compete with the other laptops on this list. The screen isn’t very bright and the color reproduction isn’t great, and therefore the overall screen is generally worse than what you’d usually find at this price point.

Another slightly more minor issue is that it’s built out of plastic and is very reminiscent of the 90’s aesthetic in terms of design. This isn’t necessarily a big problem, especially since the build is good, even though there is a bit of twisting. I mostly bring this up because it’s not very aesthetic, but if that doesn’t bother you, that isn’t an issue.

Finally, we come to the big selling point of the Pavilion 15, which is its battery life. At 52.5Wh, you can get yourself a whopping 6 hours of general use out of this laptop, and about 3-4 hours or so from gaming.

This might not seem like much if you take general use laptops into account, but for a gaming laptop, that’s actually pretty excellent and means that you don’t really have to be constantly looking for a power outlet.

At the end of the day, the Pavilion is a great laptop but in a different way. While you do compromise a bit in the build, aesthetics and screen quality, you get some excellent battery life in return. Considering it’s similarity in hardware and price to the Nitro 5, you’ll have to decide whether battery life and storage are more important or not.

 

Gaming Laptops Under $800: Buying Guide

Choosing a low-end gaming laptop doesn’t differ much from choosing a high-end gaming laptop, with one exception and a couple of things to consider.

CPU/GPU

Truth is that at this price range, almost all laptop comes with an i5-8300 and a GTX 1050. Even the laptops that use AMD hardware tend to feature GPUs and CPUs that are roughly equivalent to the Intel-Nvidia setup.

So, if you aren’t happy with those CPUs/GPUs, then you’re better off saving up and going for a more expensive choice, like the best GTX 1080 gaming laptop.Acer Nitro 7 Laptop

 

One thing I will mention though is that at this price point and lower, you’ll probably start seeing more APUs. These CPU/GPU combinations save a lot of space and money, but at the same time, they aren’t that powerful as processors.

Storage and RAM

Unfortunately, at this price point, RAM and Storage are not that great. For RAM, you’re almost always going to find 8GB and you’re likely going to want to upgrade it at some point. As for storage, the option is either going to be a 258GB SSD NVME, or a 1TB HDD, most likely spinning at 5200RPMs.

The Dell Inspiron 15 7000

I’m not sure why they don’t go with a middle-ground option such as a 512GB SATA SSD, especially with how big games have been getting the past few years. Either way, keep in mind that the compromise is either better performance or better storage.

Battery

Truth is that battery life for laptops is absolutely terrible. General use won’t last you more than 3-4 hours, and gaming will almost always be half of that. Unfortunately, while battery performance has gotten better, it hasn’t reached the point where you won’t have to worry about being close to a power outlet.

Screen Size

Most popular laptops are known 15-inch ones. However, you might find a great 17-inch laptop for gaming if you know where to look. It really depends on your personal preferences.

If portability is your main concern – smaller is better. On the other hand, if you want a laptop that feels more like a desktop computer, go for a model with a larger screen than what is the average.


Frequently Asked Questions

Are Gaming Laptops Worth It?

If you travel a lot and want to game wherever you go, absolutely. On the other hand, if you mostly work from home, maybe a desktop might be better.

Do Gaming Laptops Last Long?

Absolutely, just as long as a desktop does. Manufacturing techniques for desktop and laptop hardware is essentially the same and the only thing that could affect their life is how much you take care of them.

Are Gaming Laptops Only Good for Gaming?

No, they aren’t! They’re really good for pretty much anything whether it’s video editing, photo manipulation, audio production or programming. Granted, you can probably get some good, high-end laptops that are specific to production, but those are generally very expensive and aren’t necessarily made with gaming in mind.


Conclusion

Cheaper gaming laptops do certainly have their issues. Whether it’s terrible storage, not that great screen quality, or bad battery, there is always some form of compromise you’re going to have to make. Hopefully, though, I’ve made the choice a little bit easier, or at the very least, much clearer.


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