Gaming laptops have seen vast improvements over their counterparts from years and decades past. What once were bulky, heavy devices with poor performance and even worse battery life, are now sleek and fast with plenty of juice to last you through hours of high-speed gaming. It wasn’t that games weren’t all that demanding, wither. Back in 2004, for example, we had games like the classic Flight Simulator X, which is still used as a benchmark today. That game was indeed the Cyberpunk 2077 of its day. Then for about ten years straight we had the Crysis series, which has always been a game you could warm your hands on. Games come and go in terms of how graphically intensive they are, and with even the best optimisation, some games are just huge resource hogs. But there is one constant that hasn’t really changed: price.
Just like gaming desktops, gaming laptops can be expensive if you opt for one with the most high-end of components, the best screen, or the fanciest paint job. But that doesn’t mean you can’t have a great gaming experience on something a little cheaper. In fact, the best cheap gaming laptops can be surprisingly capable machines. You just need to know what features you’re looking for.
Value for money
What’s affordable to one person will be different for someone else, and what’s considered “cheap,” will be different for different potential buyers. Value for money is the key factor, however, and as long as you get everything you need within your budget constraints, you’re going to be happy with your purchase.
The types of games you want to play will also play a major part in your choice of laptop spec. If you’re looking to play AAA games on the cheap, you may have to make further sacrifices to get what you want. If you want to play indie or classic games, then you might be able to save even more.
Whatever your budget though, there is an economical gaming laptop out there for you.
Picking the right components
Whenever it comes to affordable gaming, you need to temper your expectations a little. Just as you can’t expect to buy a desktop PC that can handle 4K gaming with ray tracing at 100+ FPS on a limited budget, you can’t expect the same on a laptop. Since you’re buying all the input options, display, and battery in the same bundle too, there are some sacrifices that you have to make for affordable gaming.
But if you know the right place to trim the fat, the right components and features to focus on, you can get a great, affordable gaming laptop that plays your favourite games without difficulty.
The first place we can look to make some savings in finding the best cheap gaming laptop is in the components under the hood. Tailoring them to the games you want to play now and in the near future is a great way to save money. You don’t need a laptop with a high-end graphics chip if all you’re doing is playing indie games from the late 2000s.
GPUs are one of the major expenses in gaming laptops and are a contributor to both lower battery life, increased weight and noise levels due to the additional cooling capacity required. If you’re only looking to play Esports, indie games, or classic titles in your Steam or GoG library, then you might consider skipping a dedicated gaming chip altogether.
If you do want to play some AAA games at lower detail settings, or Esports games at high frame rates, a discrete GPU is worth paying for, but you don’t need to buy something super expensive or high-end. The NVIDIA RTX 3050 is a fantastic mid-level gaming GPU which will cover all your bases without costing the earth. The Chillblast Phantom 14″ laptop pairs that chip with a fantastic fourteen-core Intel Core i7-12700H CPU, a FHD display, fast DDR4 memory, and SSD storage for a snappy and responsive gaming laptop experience. All for under £1,300.
If you need even more graphical power, Chillblast also offers laptops with NVIDIA RTX 3060, 3070 Ti, and 3080 graphics options, but they do tend to raise the price significantly. So, be sure to only buy what you need if your focus is on getting the best cheap gaming laptop.
The display and other quality of life extras
Another component that can help lower costs and improve battery life is the display. While it might be nice to play even lower detail games at 1440p or 4k, higher resolutions demand a lot from whatever GPU you have (whether it’s discrete or onboard the CPU) and that means lower frame rates, potentially lower detail settings to maintain a playable experience, and a greater drain on your battery. It also bumps up the cost.
If you want to find the best cheap gaming laptop, you want to stick to a 1080p screen. 99% of pro gamers choose 1080p because it offers the most balanced gaming experience, leaving nothing to chance, and maintaining the highest possible framerates.
Other cost savings you can make when buying an affordable gaming laptop is to stick to smaller quantities of storage (a small SSD and larger HDD are a great way to enjoy the benefits of both) and to restrict yourself to eight, or at most, 16GB of RAM. You definitely won’t need more than that unless you’re doing something intensive like video editing as well as gaming, and more will only add to the cost unnecessarily.
Quality of life extras like keyboard backlighting and thinner bezels are a nice touch too, but leaving them off your eventual laptop choice can help save you a little more too.
Intel vs AMD
A major considering in any laptop purchase is the CPU. While that won’t have as great an impact on your gaming and cost as some other components, it does contribute, especially at 1080p, and there are some extraneous factors worth considering too.
When it comes to raw gaming power, Intel CPUs tend to come out on top – but often only when paired with a dedicated gaming graphics chip. Intel’s UHD 600-series graphics are far from stellar, even in the more high-end eighth and ninth-generation CPUs. 11th-generation Iris Pro graphics in its 10th-generation Ice Lake processors are far more capable, but those only tend to be available in more expensive, modern laptops.
If you’re opting for a budget build without a dedicated gaming GPU, an AMD CPU may be a better choice. AMD’s mobile processors all offer dedicated graphics based on its Vega architecture, which in the Ryzen 4000 and Ryzen 5000 generations are impressively capable – typically far more so than the Intel alternative. Ryzen 6000 series graphics rely on a more solid foundation, with the CPU being more than capable at multi-tasking, and handling your background applications while you kill the next wave of alien scum. Although even they still aren’t going to stack up well against a discrete graphics chip (even an entry-level option), Vega onboard graphics will offer playable frame rates in indie games, older AAA games, and Esports titles at reasonable detail levels.
You’ll find similar processor configurations in our AMD gaming desktops. While that might not be what you’re looking for, if you’re on a tight budget, it’s always worth considering a desktop. You might need to pay for a monitor and keyboard/mouse separately, but the components can be a lot more powerful and cost effective. It’s where AMD shines too, so if you’re on team red, check out our custom AMD desktop system configuration and select the components you want and need most of all.
When all is said an done, if you’re reading this on a Chillblast blog, it is probably because you prefer premium value for money – and not cheap. You already know that we only select the best performing chips of the most recent generations in our gaming laptops, and you already know our build quality is the best in the country.
So it will come as no surprise when we tell you that Chillblast Phantom and Defiant laptops house Alder Lake processors that come with Thread Director for intelligent handling of tasks and applications. This is to ensure you get the best bang for buck when pairing it with your choice of graphics card. On top of that, we only build laptops that have the cooling capacity for the hardware, ensuring a smooth gaming experience and better battery life. These laptops are not cheap: they are pure value for money at a premium level.
Buy the best cheap gaming laptop for you
Everything here is purely a recommendation as only you will know exactly what you want to do and what you need. But this guide should give you some starting points for your own buying journey. Focus on what you need, more so than what you want, and you should come away with the best cheap gaming laptop you can buy.
If you need any more help, Chillblast system builders and gaming laptop experts are on hand at all times to answer your calls and questions. Get in touch, and we’ll walk you through the whole process, from component selection, to custom software options and overclocking for those who want a little more performance for their money.
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