Choosing the best gaming laptop, especially in the $1,500 price point, isn’t easy. There are many choices in the midrange market. It is not easy to narrow down the options and find the features you need. Are you looking for the latest AAA games at 1080p and ray tracing? Do you need a notebook that is portable enough to be used for work or play?

If you’re not sure where to begin, we can help. In order to take the stress out of shopping for a gaming laptop on a budget, we’ve curated a list of excellent gaming machines that all come in under $1,500. Our recommendations are based on extensive testing and years of experience. Let us now show you the best options.

Learn more about our selection process to find the best gaming notebooks. Check out our roundup with the best gaming notebooks at all price points. Or, if you’re looking for a way to save even further, our top gaming laptops under $1000.

Updated 11/09/2022 The Asus Vivobook Pro 15OLED is our choice for the best budget option. Check out our review below to find out more.

Check out our new review of Acer Predator Triton 300SE. Although it offers a good mix of professional and gaming features, it suffers from some issues with build quality that make it inferior to other models. Our review of the HP Envy 16 is also available. It has strong mid-range performance, thanks to its i9/RTX3060 combo, but it’s still quite expensive compared to premium models.

1. HP Victus 16 (16-d0097nr) – Best overall

Pros

Excellent value

Amazingly comfortable keyboard

Large 16-inch 1080p LCD screen with a high refresh rate of 144Hz

Cons

Budget RTX GPU

Audio doesn’t feel quite right

Display hinge is a little fragile

When it comes to the HP Victus 16, you’re getting a lot of bang for your buck. The 16-inch 1080p display is extremely bright and has a high refresh rate at 144Hz. The keyboard is also very comfortable and offers a wide variety of configuration options. Although the laptop’s GeForce RTX 3050 Ti GPU falls on the lower end of the spectrum, it still delivers solid 1080p gaming performance. The laptop’s subtle design makes them a good choice for both work and play.

The top-tier configuration was still quite affordable at $1250. These models can be as low as $730, as we mentioned in our review. The older GTX 1650 GPUs are used in the cheaper models, but they lack ray-tracing and DLSS support. These laptops still offer decent gaming performance, even at lower graphics settings.

Please read our complete guide
Review of HP Victus 16 (16 d0097nr).

2. Asus Vivobook Pro 15 OLED – Best budget option

Pros

Good productivity performance

Amazing display

Rugged design

Battery life is amazing

Cons

Boring aesthetics

Unimpressive webcam 720p

Unreliable fingerprint scanner

Poor port selection

The Asus VivoBook Pro 15 LED is a great choice for those who want to buy a laptop but still have enough money for amazing peripherals. It’s a little cheaper than some of the other options on this list but still offers great performance. It comes with a Ryzen7 5800H CPU, and a GeForce RTX3050 GPU. This combination is sufficient to run your favorite games at decent frame rates while also completing all your productivity tasks. The OLED display at 1080p is the real highlight of this laptop. It has exceptional color accuracy and performance. Although it might not be the most visually appealing laptop, the VivoBook Pro 15 is a great choice for those who want to enjoy this level of performance and an OLED display.

Please read our complete guide
ASUS VivoBook Pro 15 OLED Ultra Slim Laptop review

3. Acer Predator Triton 300 SE – Most portable

Pros

Design slim, under 4 lb

Solid gaming and raytracing performance

Backlighting of three-zone RGB keyboards

Amazing battery life

Cons

No G-Sync support

No wired Ethernet

The Acer Predator Triton 300 SE laptop is a great choice for both work and pleasure. Gaming and raytracing performance are excellent. The battery life is remarkable for a gaming laptop. The battery failed to last nine hours during our battery test that loops 4K video. That’s definitely more than a full work day. This machine is lightweight at just over three pounds. The Triton is a great laptop for work and travel due to its slim profile, good battery life, and excellent performance. The design is also subtle. You wouldn’t mind taking this into a work meeting with you, as the minimalist aesthetic doesn’t draw much attention to itself.

Check out our complete article
Acer Predator Triton 300SE Review

4. Swift X (SFX14-41G-R1S6) – Best for students

Pros

Stellar ultraportable performance.

Gaming laptop with RTX3050T graphics.

High-end parts have a remarkable battery life.

Cons

Displays feel cramped for creative work.

Fan gets loud during heavy workloads.

Poorly placed pg-Up and down buttons

Don’t judge a laptop by its chassis. The Swift X may not look all that threatening at first glance, but under the hood you’ll find some seriously powerful components. This ultraportable features an AMD Ryzen7 5800U processor, Nvidia GeForce GTX 3050 Ti GPU and 512GB PCIe NVMe SSD storage. In our review, the Swift managed “48 frames per second at the Highest preset” when running Shadow of the Tomb Raider at 1080p. There are some drawbacks. The keyboard is a bit warm and the fans can get very loud under heavy loads. But if you can live with those shortcomings and you’re looking for strong CPU and GPU performance, the Swift X will definitely deliver.

Please read our complete guide
Swift X (SFX14–41G-R1S6) Review

5. HP Envy 14 14t-eb000 (2021) – Longest battery life

Pros

Excellent value for money

Incredible battery life

Quiet fan, with no discernable performance throttling

Thunderbolt 4 support

Cons

Layout of the keyboard is a little quirky

Webcam’s signature feature is ineffective

The HP Envy 14 makes a great choice for small gaming and content creation. The configuration that we tested featured an Intel Core i5-1135G7 processing unit and an Iris Xe/Nvidia GeForce GTX1650T Max-Q graphics card. The most remarkable thing about this laptop, however, is its battery life. Gaming laptops generally aren’t known for having good battery life, so the Envy 14 really breaks the mold here. It ran for about 15 hours on one charge in our tests. The Envy 14 doesn’t produce much fan noise, either. In our review, we found that it ran “extremely quiet during both CPU- and graphics-intensive loads.”

Please read our complete guide
HP Envy 14 14t-eb000 (2021) review

6. Nitro 5 17-inch (2021) – Largest display

Pros

Strong CPU/GPU combination for the price

Large 1TB SSD with ample space to add a second drive

Cons

Plastic chassis is bulky

Dim display

Terrible webcam

MSRP:

$2099.99 As Revealed| $2099.99 as reviewed

If you’re looking for a decent value, the Acer Nitro 5 17 is a good option. It offers decent graphics performance and a variety of ports. Acer even includes the bits and bobs (i.e. screws), for changing out the storage and RAM. That said, the bulky plastic chassis won’t have anyone mistaking this for a premium product and the display is fairly dim. There are always sacrifices to make, as with most budget gaming laptops. If those trade-offs don’t bother you much, then the Nitro 5 is definitely worth considering. The entry-level model starts at just over $1,400.

Check out our complete article
Nitro 5 17-inch (2021) review

7. Asus ROG Strix G15 Advantage Edition – Best if you’re able to stretch your budget

Pros

Every CPU in rival laptops outperforms it

In conventional gaming, Radeon RX GPU is more powerful than comparable-priced GeForce GPUs.

Surprisingly good audio quality

Cons

There is no webcam

Very heavy 280-watt power brick

Nvidia GPUs are superior to Radeon for content creation and ray tracing.

The Asus ROG Strix G15 Advanced Edition all-AMD laptop delivers high CPU and GPU performance at a low price. It’s packing an AMD Ryzen 5900HX processor, an AMD Radeon RX 6800M GPU (with 12GB of GDDR6), 16GB of RAM, and 512GB of SSD storage. According to our review, the GPU “doesn’t outpace higher-wattage RTX 3080 laptop GPUs, but it’s a worthy competitor for conventional gaming tasks.” Unsurprisingly, the Strix G15 is one chunky machine, measuring 28mm at its thickest part. Although the additional thickness allows more space for cooling components, it’s not very portable. That said, so long as you don’t plan on taking this laptop everywhere you go, it’s a powerful gaming rig that’s well worth the money.

We understand that the $1,650 price tag isn’t “cheap” in the traditional sense, but this all-AMD laptop costs significantly less than other laptops of comparable power. If you look on Best Buy or Nvidia’s website for 3080 machines, they cost upwards of $2,200 to $3,000.

Check out our complete article
Asus ROG Strix – G15 Advantage Edition review

How we tested

Each Windows laptop is subject to a series benchmarks by the PCWorld team that tests its GPU and CPU performance, as well as battery life. The idea is to push the laptop to its limits and then compare it against others we’ve tested. Below, you’ll find a breakdown of each test and the reasons why we run them.

Windows laptops

PCMark 10PCMark 10 is used to determine how well the laptop can handle tasks such as web surfing, word processing, spreadsheets and so forth.HandBrakeHandBrake is more intense than PCMark 10 It basically measures how long a laptop’s CPU takes to encode a beefy 30GB file. CinebenchCinebench is a quick stress test of the CPU cores. Cinebench renders a 2D scene in a very short time.3DMark3DMark tests 3D performance by running graphic-intensive clips. Video rundown: To gauge battery life, we loop a 4K video using Windows 10’s Movies & TV app until the laptop dies.What you should look for in a budget gaming laptop

The best gaming laptop is the one that you choose. Do you intend to play lightweight indie titles such as Stardew Valley (no shading, I love that game) or something more demanding like Cyberpunk2077? Do you plan to use the machine for both work and play? It’s possible to get reliable performance out of a gaming laptop that costs under a grand, but you’ll need to take a hard look at the individual components. You don’t need a powerful GPU for something like Fortnite. My friends, the guts. That’s what matters.

GPU: The thing about the GPU is that it can’t be swapped out and upgraded later, so you need to be real choosy about which one you pick, as this component will determine how well your machine runs games. Luckily, you don’t need the best of the best to get reliable gaming performance. The GTX 1650 is an entry-level GPU that’s affordable and good enough for 1080p gaming with mid-to-high graphics settings. You can expect slower frame rates with newer titles. If you’re looking for a bit more power, we recommend opting for a GTX 1660 Ti or higher, or a more current RTX 30-series GPU. CPU: Like the GPU, the processor can’t be upgraded either, so you’ll want to be selective. We recommend the 11th-gen Intel Core i5 and i7 processors for Intel. For AMD, you’ll want to spring for a Ryzen 4000 or 5000. A processor with at most four cores is a good choice, but six cores and more is better. RAM: You’ll want at least 8GB of RAM. If you can afford 16GB of RAM then go for it. Memory can usually be upgraded so you can always swap it for more later.StorageStorage can limit the number of games and apps you can install on your laptop. Storage is like RAM and can be upgraded later. As AAA titles tend to eat a lot of space, you should aim for at minimum 512GB SSD storage. SSDs load games much faster because the data is stored on chips, not spinning disks.DisplayYou can expect to pay 1080p for this price range. Budget gaming laptops don’t always have the best displays, as that’s where manufacturers tend to cut corners to keep the cost low. If you’ve got a dim display, you can always pick up an external monitor to plug into. Battery life Gaming laptops are notorious for having low battery life. That’s because they use a ton of power. Because they require more space to house heatsinks and other cooling elements, they tend to be heavier than most laptops. Depending on their use, they will last between four and six hours on a single battery. There are some exceptions to this rule. During our battery testing, the HP Envy 14 (pictured below) exceeded the 15-hour mark. FAQ 1.
Are Chromebooks good gaming laptops for gaming?

It all depends on what type of gaming you are doing, but it is most likely not. Chromebooks are capable of handling both web and Android games. But if you’re looking to play the latest high-powered AAA games, a Chromebook won’t cut it, because a) it doesn’t run Windows, and b) it probably doesn’t have sufficient graphics power.With that said, Google is trying to bring cloud gaming to Chromebooks and it will likely be available in the future. Cloud gaming services stream games to a Chromebook from a remote console or PC. Chromebooks will not be able enter the gaming arena until that service is operational.

2.
Can you play integrated graphics?

Modern PC games can be run on modern processors that have integrated graphics. Intel’s new Iris Xe line of processors with integrated graphics, for example, have been shown to run some of the latest games at 1080p and 30fps. It is important to note that not all integrated graphics can do the same things.

Intel and AMD’s integrated graphics have made huge leaps in recent years with regard to gaming performance. If you’re on a budget or looking for an ultra thin laptop with integrated graphics you can still enjoy some gaming as well. Check out our article about Intel’s Core 12th-gen Iris Xe and AMD’s brand new Ryzen 6000 RDNA 2 for more.

3.
Which size laptop is the best?

It all comes down to personal preference and the intended use. A small ultraportable laptop that is around 13 to 14 inches would be ideal if you plan on traveling a lot. If gaming is your primary focus, then you should consider something in the 15-to-17 inch range. Also, don’t forget to check the weight of the laptop before you buy it. Ultra thin laptops may weigh only 2 pounds, while heavy gaming computers can weigh three to four times as much.



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