Go ahead, Google “best gaming laptop for $XXX,” and see what you come up with. Odds are that many of the results you find will be forums filled with people saying “go build a desktop” or “you’re joking, right?” I recently set out to find a budget laptop that would allow me to be up-to-date until I get a very nice one for college. My criteria included a fast processor, 8GB of RAM, and some sort of discrete graphics card.
I knew already that most good gaming laptops, such as Alienware and MSI (however, one MSI did make my shortlist), are very expensive ($1,250+), so the general question of the existence of gaming laptops can be settled quite easily, but the problem comes with finding one for $XXX.
Problem Solved? Yes, with a few trade offs.
If you want a 1080p (1920×1080) display with discrete graphics, you need right around a grand, so with that in mind, this is out of the question.
You are also not going to get the best of the best for $XXX obviously. As of the time of this writing the best budget laptop discrete GPUs are the 630M (if you have to), 640M (LE too), 645M, 650M (what I got), and the 660M (high-end of the range). Yes, some of these have been renamed from last year’s generation, but they are still very good.
For processors, I found that one could easily get a quad-core Core i7 for $650+ or a Core i5 for $500+. Keep in mind the model numbers of CPUs. You don’t have to memorize all the digits, unless you are comparing, but remember this, 2xxx is Sandy Bridge (2011′s CPUs), 3xxx is Ivy Bridge (latest as of this writing).
So did I find a gaming laptop? Yes. For $729 (Black Friday sale, normal price is around $750) I bought the Lenovo Ideapad Y480. Core i7 3630QM with a GT 650M and 8GB RAM. The display is 1366×768, though. Sure, if I try to max out games (insert BF3, Crysis, etc. here), it will probably not want to handle it, but MW3, Starcraft 2, Just Cause 2 (maybe), etc. should run just fine. For some basic framerates and benchmarks, check this out.
The link for the particular laptop is below. The fact is you can get a good gaming laptop with power in just the $700 range.
I will be posting lots on here including benchmarks and etc. of the Lenovo Ideapad Y480 when I receive it, so stay tuned to TTE!
Lenovo Ideapad Y480