You want to get a gaming laptop, but you’re under the tight heel of a budget?
No problem! There are a number of interesting options you can pursue with the right eye for specs. A gaming laptop doesn’t necessarily have to be over a thousand dollars just to play the latest Blizzard game. Let’s get into some more economic options below.
#1 - Lenovo IdeaPad
15.6" HD (1366x768)
AMD A6-7310- 2 Ghz
AMD Radeon R4
#2 - Lenovo Thinkpad 440
Best Value for Money
14" HD (1366x768)
Intel i5-4300U- 2.9 Ghz
Intel HD 4400
Windows 10 Pro
#3 - Acer Aspire 1
Best for Resolution
14" HD (1920x1080)
Intel Celeron N3450- 2.2 Ghz
Intel HD 500
32GB Internal Storage
Windows 10 Home
Table of Contents
Best Gaming Laptops Under $300 - Comparison Table
|Picture||Brand & Model||Resolution||RAM||Processor||Graphics Card||Weight||Buy Now|
|Lenovo Built High Performance Quad Core||1366x768||4GB||Celeron N3710- 2.56 Ghz||Intel HD||5.6 lbs||Buy At Amazon|
|Dell A6-9220e||1366x768||4GB||Intel i5-3330s- 2.5 Ghz||AMD Radeon R4||2.65 lbs||Buy At Amazon|
|Lenovo Thinkpad T440||1366x768||4GB||Intel i5-4300U- 2.9 Ghz||Intel HD 4400||5.65 lbs||Buy At Amazon|
|HP 14-ax040wm||1366x768||4GB||Intel Celeron N3060- 1.6 Ghz||Intel HD||5 lbs||Buy At Amazon|
|Acer Aspire 1||1920x1080||4GB||Intel Celeron N3450- 2.2 Ghz||Intel HD 500||3.64 lbs||Buy At Amazon|
|Dell A6-9200||1366x768||4GB||AMD A6-9200- 2 Ghz||AMD Radeon R4||2.65 lbs||Buy At Amazon|
|Lenovo Ideapad||1366x768||4GB||AMD A6-7310- 2 Ghz||AMD Radeon R4||5.51 lbs||Buy At Amazon|
|Asus L402SA||1366x768||4GB||Intel Dual Core- 1.6 Ghz||AMD Radeon R2||3.6 lbs||Buy At Amazon|
|Lenovo Built High Performance Dual Core||1366x768||4GB||Intel Celeron N3050- 1.6 Ghz||Intel HD||2.2 lbs||Buy At Amazon|
|Dell Inspiron Dual Core||1366x768||4GB||Intel Celeron N3050- 1.6 Ghz||Intel HD||5 lbs||Buy At Amazon|
#1. Lenovo Built High Performance Quad Core
Let’s start with what I consider to be Lenovo’s best offering on this list of great gaming laptops under $300.
The Quad Core offers a solid 2.56 Ghz processing speed, the second-highest on our list. This is a critical part of any laptop that’s going to be playing games, as processor speed is a metric for how quickly a computer can calculate things, and games are one of the most intensive operations a computer can do.
The laptop has standard RAM, so you’re good there. This is one of the heavier laptops out there but it comes with a number of extra features that are always nice to have: a webcam and 1 terabyte of hard drive space. That’s a good thing, since games take up a lot of memory.
This is one of the best laptops you can find for under $300. It’s quick enough that you’ll be able to play most games, although I’d shy away from some of the more graphically-heavy titles like Anthem. However, the good processor and standard RAM combination ensure that you’ll be able to play a good range of games with medium graphics settings.
What Could be Better
Intel’s HD graphics are not the best, and they are very poor when it comes to the fine-tuning department. Often, certain games are hard on your laptop and messing with the graphics settings can solve some of those problems. The Intel graphics are notorious for being exclusive, secure and tamper-proof. You’d basically better hope that the graphics settings Intel allowed for you are going to be good enough.
#2. Dell A6-9220e
This is one of Dell’s better performance laptops on the market. It’s lighter than our previous Lenovo model and it has almost the same processing power, clocking in at 2.5 Ghz. This is a good range for laptops that will game when you’re on a budget. It comes with standard specs otherwise, like 4GB of RAM and the usual 1366x768 resolution.
What it also boasts is an energy-efficient LED backlight that allows the laptop to run for longer without draining its battery. This is a neat little addition that adds some utility to the A6-9220e. It’s graphics card is a Radeon, which puts it firmly ahead of most Intel graphics cards.
This is a slick little laptop that’s great for taking to game in a café or over to a friend’s. I could see this getting good use when traveling, too, thanks to its light weight and small size. It runs fairly quiet but it does get hot; I would recommend getting a lap fan for it if you’re going to keep it on for long sessions where air flow is at a premium. AMD’s processors usually allow more tinkering than Intel, too.
What Could be Better
I do think the look of the laptop is really plain, which doesn’t really gel with the gamer aesthetic. It looks like a business laptop, although it really can play many of the games coming out nowadays at middling graphics settings.
#3. Lenovo Thinkpad T440
Refurbished? For gaming! Fear not, as some models of refurbished laptops actually offer better bang for your buck. Think about it; a refurbished laptop comes with better specs than new models in the price range we’re going for. Let’s dive in.
The Thinkpad offers the highest Ghz on our list at 2.9. This is really great for a laptop under $300.
It also has Intel HD 4400 Graphics, which are a cut above the standard graphics package that they ship most of their desktops and laptops with. The laptop only comes with 500GB of hard drive space, which isn’t bad, but if you want to install a lot of game’s you’re going to run out of space, fast.
This is one of my top picks. It was definitely a more expensive machine when it was manufactured but now it’s available as a steal. The processor and RAM together give it a good pace and steady power for playing games like Overwatch on lower graphics settings. This laptop is a great selection if you take advantage of what Steam has to offer, too.
What Could be Better
The low hard drive space really sours the package a bit. You can always uninstall games you no longer play, but the hassle of keeping track of that is definitely a minus on an otherwise great deal. Aesthetically, this laptop, just like the previous Dell, looks more like it belongs in an office than for playing games. Then again, we are trying to take the best we can get under a budget, so it’s not that big of a deal.
#4. HP 14-ax040wm
Here we have HP’s only offering on our list, and it’s fairly average, as far as its specifications go. It has pretty middling processing speed at 1.6 Ghz and regular resolution. It has the normal RAM and resolution settings for laptops of this caliber. Finally, it only has 32GB in terms of hard drive space; this is a pitiful amount of space, particularly for gaming, so if you pick this laptop you’ll need to be uninstalling games you’re no longer playing regularly. It is one of the cheaper models, so it has that going for it.
I will say that the screen is fairly bright, but for long gaming sessions this is actually not a perk, since your eyes will become tired more easily. Gamers need screens that aren’t too intense, even if that seems counter intuitive at first.
I’d probably pass on this laptop, to be honest. There’s no doubt it could get the job done and play great staples like Stardew Valley quite well, but there are other laptops, for cheaper prices, that offer more in every category. I would move on.
What Could be Better
The hard drive space, in my opinion, really secures the final blow against the HP, since almost every other laptop we have on our list does everything better. The graphics aren’t anything to write home about, either, just the same, unmodifiable Intel HD package that I complained about a few laptops ago.
#5. Acer Aspire 1
This is a much better offering than the HP. This has a pretty good processor rating of 2.2 Ghz and comes with Intel Graphics, also this card is the HD 500 series so it can handle harder jobs than the unnumbered HD package. This laptop does offer the best resolution of all the laptops here, at 1920x1080. This is a great feature for a gaming laptop; after all, being able to see a crisper image is all too crucial when you’re trying to snipe your enemies across the game map.
The Acer Aspire 1 isn’t too heavy, and perhaps as a result it suffers from the same 32GB hard drive problem that the HP did. This means your hard drive space is very valuable and should be saved for your favorites; investing in another hard drive might be a wise choice, since this laptop is definitely below $300.
I don’t know if the extra resolution would really compel me to choose this laptop over some of the others, but I can’t deny that it’s tempting. I really like the look of this machine, too, especially compared to many of the earlier laptops with their boxy black silhouettes.
The battery life of 9 hours is pretty great, too, so I’d firmly rank this model in the middle of the pack, so to speak. Personal preference might sway you one way or the other regarding the resolution vs. hard drive space trade-off.
What Could be Better
If this model did have more hard drive space, it would jump up to near the top, certainly. That’s the biggest thing holding it back; even its graphics card is good enough that I could run some favorite games with it.
#6. Dell Inspiron A6-9200
The Inspiron 9200 is a slightly-cheaper variant of the other A6 we reviewed above. It has a few crucial differences that warrant its place here, however.
For one, it comes with a DVD drive. This is old-school of me, but some games I only have in disk format. This allows me to play them. Secondly, it has decent hard drive space at 500GB, so there’s room to store said games.
But it also has a Radeon Graphics card instead of Intel. Radeon cards are generally better for gaming than Intel’s chips, so any laptop that has this graphics package has a bonus point in my eyes. Beyond these points it has the usual assortment of 4GB Ram and standard resolution. The weight for this model is the same as the other Dell A6, under 3 pounds.
I think, given the option, I would pick this A6 model over the other, even if its total maximum Ghz is a little lower (2 Ghz versus 2.5 for the other). The fact of the matter is that a laptop’s graphics card matters just as much as processing speed when it comes to playing good-looking games at graphics levels that make the experience enjoyable. That firmly puts it above its more-expensive cousin, at least to me. The DVD drive is another big plus.
What Could be Better
More hard drive space is always a great idea, especially with how data-heavy games are becoming these days. I think that bumping up the resolution for this laptop would have been a nice addition, too, since it has the nice Radeon card to make the games really pop.
#7. Lenovo Ideapad
This is the only Lenovo on our list that comes with Radeon graphics, so right off the bat that puts this laptop up higher than its peers. It comes with a processor with 2 Ghz maximum speed and the usual amounts of RAM, 4 GB, and resolution, 1366x768.
It also has a DVD-drive, which I love. I can’t understate how useful that drive is. You aren’t always connected to the internet to download a new game, right?
It’s a little on the heavier side, but I’m willing to allow that due to the drive I mentioned. It comes with 500GB of hard drive space; a serviceable amount that a lot of laptops are stuck with, but you can always buy more if you need it, I suppose.
This is Lenovo’s best, I think, purely because of the Radeon graphics card and the DVD drive. They combine to elevate the rest of the model, which is decent-to-average in its specifications. There are other laptops, other Lenovo’s, that have better processors but that’s not the only factor to consider when you start getting into games that need a decent rig to even show up on the screen. I think I’d take the ability to play more games reliably than the ability to play more games with terrible quality.
What Could be Better
That being said, if this laptop did have slightly higher maximum processing speed it would be the best on the list, no question. The weight is an unfortunate drawback but under 6 pounds isn’t so heavy that I could take it where I needed. There are all kinds of good laptop cases, after all.
#8. Asus L402SA
This is the only Asus we have on our list and, unfortunately it’s a bit underwhelming. It clocks in with a very average 1.6 Ghz from its processor and only has the usual 4GB of RAM and standard resolution.
It does come with Radeon graphics, although this card is an earlier, weaker model than the cards built into some of the models I reviewed earlier.
It’s not too heavy as they come, but it’s not particularly good-looking either. It’s not as blocky and office-bound as some of the earlier laptops but it’s not sleek or really says “gamer”.
I’m left generally unimpressed by this laptop and would probably forgo it for something else. It offers really bland specifications and the design doesn’t inspire any kind of aesthetic pleasure.
There are no bonus perks for it, like a DVD-drive or a webcam. It comes with a 1-Year subscription to Office 365, but we’re looking at these laptops for gaming, not school. I’ll pass.
What Could be Better
More hard drive space! 32GB was really poor for the other laptops that received low marks and it’s low here, too. There’s just not really a good selling point on this laptop when it comes to playing video games, even if the Radeon graphics could get the job done for a lot of modern games.
#9. Lenovo Built High Performance Dual Core
Lenovo’s last offering on our list comes with a 1.6 Ghz-max processor built in, along with Intel Graphics and the usual RAM and resolution specs. It’s one of the lighter machines we’ve reviewed, so that makes it great for transporting or gaming on the go, although the combination of its actual machine power leave something to be desired. It has poor hard drive space at 32GB, but it does have a webcam built in if that kind of bonus is something you’re after.
I think this is among the weakest of Lenovo’s laptops. The specifications that it comes with aren’t good enough to outshine many of the other models we looked at and it comes with a small amount of space to install games. The only perk it has going for it is a webcam, which is nice but not important.
What Could be Better
If this rig came with Radeon graphics, or even a higher tier of the Intel suite, it would get higher marks. But since it’s going to run games with that pre-built package that’s hard to modify and fine-tune, it suffers as a whole. It’s definitely in the lower-tier as far as our options go, here.
#10. Dell Inspiron Celeron Dual Core
For our final gaming laptop under $300, we have Dell’s Dual Core version, which is an altogether weaker choice than the quad-core we already reviewed. It’s got 1.6 Ghz maximum processing speed and standard RAM and resolution, but it’s heavier than some of the other machines. It comes with a DVD-drive, however, and that brings it up a tier in my eyes.
It comes with 500GB of hard drive space; the combination of this plus the drive makes the weight much more forgivable. However, it has the Intel HD graphics lowering its overall effectiveness.
This is a decent laptop that’s enriched by the options brought from the hard drive space and the DVD-drive. But its relatively low performance and the graphics package makes it more undesirable than some of the laptops we checked out above, many of which perform better with some or all of the extra perks. It is a thin, neat-looking laptop but I don’t know if the appearance is enough for me to ignore the middling processing speed and graphics card.
What Could be Better
Radeon graphics or a better processor would significantly improve this laptop. Those are its two biggest weaknesses, as in all other areas it measures up perfectly well.
Picking gaming laptops is first going to require a quick crash course in computer specifications. It’s easy to be swayed or persuaded by the fancy box-art in the store, but don’t be fooled; a lot of laptops have insides that matter much more than their outer skins.
Video games are intensive processes for all laptops, so we’ll get into detail about the specifications which most impact any given model’s ability to play them.
Keep in mind that we’re working with budgets below $300 here, so we’re not aiming for computers that can run the best games on the best settings. Instead, we’re looking for solid models that can provide good experiences with middling graphics settings for most games and titles, even new ones.
RAM is an acronym that stands for Random Access Memory. This is the memory that a computer uses to perform its moment-to-moment calculations. It helps to think of it as instinctual memory; you don’t have to think about things you know by heart.
For gaming, more RAM helps the laptop perform its actions more quickly. All of our laptops have a pretty standard amount of 4GB of RAM, but you might find better deals with more RAM elsewhere.
In general, this aspect is less important than processor type, because almost all laptops have enough RAM to run the vast majority of games.
This is another area related to speed. You can think of a laptop’s processor as its brain. The better its top speed, the better it can compute the game and the actions you’re inputting onto the keyboard. This is a critical piece when it comes to multiplayer titles, as well, since the computer needs to communicate with the server and get information about the other players at the same time as taking your inputs. More processing power is almost always better.
Dual-core versus quad-core is referencing how many cores a given processor has to work on operations simultaneously. Dual core is not always inferior, as some dual-core processors are better-made than poor quad-core ones. A good rule of thumb, regardless, is maximum Ghz, listed on our chart above for the models we reviewed. If you’re ever in doubt, higher numbers are usually better. Many games even have minimum Ghz requirements listed on their box.
Hard Drive Space
This is storage space, plain and simple. Many games require storage space above 50GB, so having plenty of this is necessary if you want to play many titles, or even just one of some of the more modern games with great graphics as a selling point.
This is the card dedicated to rendering the video game’s visuals on your screen. In general, Intel and AMD compete for most graphics card slots in laptops. AMD’s Radeon series is, in my experience, usually a better choice when compared to an equivalent Intel chip. Part of this is due to needs for modification.
You see, some of Intel’s cards are harder to modify when it comes to their settings. Some laptops and games require a little fine-tuning and alteration before they run smoothly together. So when Intel makes their graphics cards hard to tune, they might accidentally make your laptop unable to run a game you had in mind. For this reason, AMD graphics cards should be picked whenever possible.
Finding a laptop for gaming might seem impossible at first glance, but that’s far from the truth. Learning what makes a laptop tick and how its moving parts affect the playing of video games can help you find great deals for machines that have been ignored or refurbished by others. In fact, there are many laptops which can play all your favorite games for cheaper than you’ve been told elsewhere.
When you’re looking for your gaming laptop, determine the intensity of the games you want to play. For instance, are you looking to play older games that have weaker graphics? You can probably settle with a laptop with lesser graphics or a slower processor. Maybe you want to play an online game only and don’t need a lot of storage. A laptop without a big hard drive is going to be fine for you, then.
So determine what your gaming needs are, then check out each laptop in detail to see fi their specs are the right fit. That’s why they’re on the box, after all. And don’t worry if you’re on a budget; as we just demonstrated, there are multiple ways to play your favorite games on laptops less than $300!