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Best cheap gaming laptops 2022: the 5 top affordable gaming laptops

PRICE
VERDICT
REASONS TO BUY
REASONS TO AVOID
VERDICT
REASONS TO BUY
REASONS TO AVOID
Gamer playing on a gaming laptop
(Image credit: Acer)

The best cheap gaming laptops on the market offer a surprising amount of power to go along with their affordability. They may not come equipped with flagship components – after all, those tend to cost quite a bit, especially with the global silicon shortage – but they still come with robust internals that can get you up and running in your favorite games in no time as long as you’re willing to lower some settings. So, even if you’re working with a limited budget, you’ll be able to game to your heart’s content.

Since these are machines that go for less than the majority of gaming portables, there will be some compromises. When looking at budget gaming laptops, it’s important to keep in mind that a lot of them won’t be able to keep up.

While we avoid any bias concerning brands, you’ll find plenty of solid machines from well-known manufacturers like Asus, Lenovo, Dell, and Acer. Value is the most important feature here so we don’t let a brand’s name sway what we include on this list. Speaking of value, you'll find options ranging all the way from around $600 to $1,000 with our choices, with plenty of options should you want to spend a little more to score yourself one of the machines reviewed on our gaming laptop buyers guide.

If at any point you get stuck or need a bit of additional guidance, simply scroll down to our cheap gaming laptop deals FAQ section. Right there you'll find completely unbiased advice and expertise from TechRadar's experts to get you up to speed if you don't know your Nvidias from your AMDs. It'll also help you out if you're not sure how much to spend.

Two Dell G3 15 against a gray background

(Image credit: Dell)

1. Dell G3 15

A stylish approach to cheap gaming laptops — just don’t look too close

Specifications

CPU: Intel Core i5-8300H
Graphics: Nvidia GTX 1050 GPU
RAM: 8GB
Screen: 15.6-inch FHD
Storage: 128GB SSD, 1TB 5,400 RPM HDD

Reasons to buy

+
Great performance for the price
+
Sleek design

Reasons to avoid

-
Plastic chassis feels flimsy
-
Large bezels

When you’re buying a cheap gaming laptop out of an office supply catalog, you probably shouldn’t expect top of the line gaming performance, but the good news is that the Dell G3 15 rises above those low expectations and provides a quality gaming machine at an affordable price point. With an Intel Core i5-8300H processor, 8GB RAM, 1TB 5,400RPM hard drive, and an Nvidia GTX 1050 GPU, the Dell G3 15 is more than capable of keeping up with most of your gaming needs. There are trade-offs, however. Being built entirely out of plastic, the design of the laptop looks good but feels flimsy with bezels you can fire a rocket through with room to spare. 

Read the full review: Dell G3 15

Acer Nitro 5 against a white background

(Image credit: Acer)

2. Acer Nitro 5

Handling your most demanding PC gaming, but not without issue

Specifications

CPU: Intel Core i7-8750H
Graphics: Nvidia GeForce GTX 1050
RAM: 16GB
Screen: 15.6-inch FHD
Storage: 128GB SSD, 1TB HDD

Reasons to buy

+
Good performance
+
Affordable

Reasons to avoid

-
Large bezels
-
Poor trackpad

The Acer Nitro 5 is squarely aimed at the portable PC gamer who doesn’t need every bell and whistle on their machine and might not be able to afford them even if they did. Still, it packs some quality hardware under the hood with an Intel Core i7-8750H processor, Nvidia GeForce GTX 1050 with 4GB video memory, 16GB RAM, 1TB HDD and 128GB SSD. The design has a rather generic gaming laptop aesthetic, however, and the bezel on the display might as well be letterbox. As affordable as this system is, expect to invest in a portable mouse as well because the trackpad is likely inadequate for most of your gaming needs.

Read our full review: Acer Nitro 5

HP Omen 15 against a white background

(Image credit: HP)

3. HP Omen 15

A high performance machine that might melt in your lap

Specifications

CPU: 9th-Gen Intel Core i7
Graphics: Nvidia GeForce RTX 2070
RAM: 16GB
Screen: 15.6-inch FHD
Storage: 512GB SSD, 1TB HDD

Reasons to buy

+
Great gaming performance
+
Solidly built

Reasons to avoid

-
Below average webcam quality
-
Extremely poor thermal performance

The HP Omen 15 has a number of configurations that can put it in the cheap gaming laptop category but prices can vary considerably depending on the specs. That said, a system with a 9th Gen Intel Core i7 CPU with an Nvidia GeForce RTX 2070 GPU can come in at under a thousand bucks or quid, packing a ton of gaming performance without a hefty price tag. That said, all that power comes at the expense of middling power management which you can literally feel in your lap and not in the tingly sense either. If you can stand the heat – or can at least put your system on a table while you play – then the HP Omen 15 will give you some fantastic gaming performance.

Read our full review: HP Omen 15

MSI Alpha 15 against a white background

(Image credit: MSI)

4. MSI Alpha 15

When “cheap gaming laptop” is a relative concept

Specifications

CPU: AMD Ryzen 7 3750H
Graphics: AMD Radeon RX5500M
RAM: 16GB
Screen: 15.6-inch FHD
Storage: 512 SSD

Reasons to buy

+
Powerful hardware
+
Good solid state storage capacity

Reasons to avoid

-
Relatively expensive as far as budget gaming laptops go

MSI has long been a staple of PC gaming hardware and their gaming laptops are among the best on the market. The MSI Alpha 15 is loaded with an 2nd-Gen AMD Ryzen 7 processor clocking in at 2.30GHz, a 512GB SSD with 8GB RAM, and a Radeon RX 5500M GPU. It has a slim-ish chassis with 15.6” 1080P 120Hz thin-bezel display that can output up to 4K at 60Hz via its HDMI port. All that for just – and we do mean just – under $1,000. 

MSI GF63 against a white background

(Image credit: MSI)

5. MSI GF63

Premium specs in a thin profile at an affordable price point

Specifications

CPU: Intel Core i7-8750H
Graphics: Nvidia GeForce GTX 1060
RAM: 16GB
Screen: 15.6-inch FHD
Storage: 256GB SSD, 1TB SSHD

Reasons to buy

+
Sharp, colorful bezel-less display
+
Very affordable

Reasons to avoid

-
Not upgradable

The MSI GF63 is a thin, 15.6-inch gaming laptop running a 9th Gen Intel Core i5 CPU and an Nvidia Geforce GTX 1650 with 4GB video memory, 8GB RAM, a 256GB SSD and a 1TB FireCuda solid state hybrid drive – all at an approachable price. The limited storage space might require carefully managing which games are installed on the system, but whichever game you do have installed will run beautifully on this machine. While the design is fairly basic as far as cheap gaming laptops go, it is still thin, fairly light, and not something that you’ll have to hide under a book when other adults are in the room.

John Loeffler
John Loeffler

John (He/Him) is the US Computing Editor here at TechRadar and he is also a programmer, gamer, activist, and Brooklyn College alum currently living in Brooklyn, NY. 


Named by the CTA as a CES 2020 Media Trailblazer for his science and technology reporting, John specializes in all areas of computer science, including industry news, hardware reviews, PC gaming, as well as general science writing and the social impact of the tech industry.


You can find him online on Twitter at @thisdotjohn


Currently playing: EVE Online, Elden Ring.