Best Budget Gaming Laptop From Acer
As mentioned previously, Acer doesnt tend to push the envelope too far in either direction. They dont have a lot of laptops that push past the $2500 mark, and at the same time, they dont have any that drop below $1000. The Nitro 5 is the cheapest gaming laptop in production from Acer this year, and its only about 10-15% less expensive than the Triton 300.
A big part of that is down to the fact that its budget specification boasts an Nvidia 3050, which is, again, pretty uncommon for laptops at this price point. The processing power and memory are surprisingly good as well, even if it is using a previous-gen CPU. This is barely a budget gaming laptop, but it is a very good laptop, especially for something this close to $1000.
Its also worth mentioning that Acer also offers a version of the Nitro 5 with the Nvidia RTX 3080 GPU, and currently, its the absolute cheapest laptop with such a powerful video card.
One of the most common things youll see Acer do with their Nitro series products is cutting back on flashy features and build quality, and the Nitro 5 is no exception. As mentioned, the performance per dollar is fantastic but there are no flashy features and the build quality is also sub-par. However, for the price, you cant really complain.
Wed still say that if you can scrape together the extra cash that the Triton 300 is a more exciting machine, but if you cant there is absolutely no reason to be disappointed with the Nitro 5, especially as a starter laptop.
How Much Memory And Storage Should I Get
This all depends on what you intend to do with your laptop. Most users will be fine with 16GB of RAM and 256GB of storage, but if youre doing video editing or need to store a lot of large files, you may want to go even higher. Upgrading the storage and memory will quickly drive up the cost of your laptop, so youll have to balance your needs with your budget. And with cloud-based PC solutions such as Microsofts Windows 365 Cloud PC subscription, you may not need to max out on your physical hardware, as your laptop will serve as the thin client to stream a desktop thats hosted in the cloud. Be sure to check out our laptop buying guide to get an idea of what to look for and what to expect in 2022.
Alienware M17 R4 Performance
Intel hasnt started rolling out its 11th Gen H-series processors for gaming laptops yet. For now, well have to make due with the Alienware m17 R4s 10th Gen Core i9-10980HK processor with 32GB of RAM and dual 1TB PCI m.2 SSDs in RAID 0 configuration. Its not all bad since this chip is plenty powerful and overclockable to boot. To prove its strength, the notebook easily ran 50 tabs while I played Control. I was tossing Hiss left and right without any hiccups.
The laptop also had a good showing during our synthetic tests, starting with Geekbench 5.0. The m17 R4 scored 8,051 on the overall performance test, beating the 7,333 premium laptop average. Powered by a Core i7-10870H CPU, the Aorus 17G notched 7,895 while the Legion and Blade Pro 17 obtained 6,012 and 5,776, respectively. However, the Raider, powered by its own i9-10980HK processor, ultimately nabbed the win with 8,379.
On the Handbrake video transcoding test, the m17 R4 transcoded a 4K video to 1080p in 6 minutes and 44 seconds, incinerating the 8:24 average. The Raider was hot on its tail at 6:59. The Aorus 17G, Legion and Blade Pro 17 all fell below the average with times of 8:33, 9:09 and 9:33, respectively.
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Asus Rog Strix G15 Ports
You want ports? You got ports. The Strix G15 has a pair of USB 3.2 Gen 1 Type-A ports and a headset jack on the left of the laptop, leaving the right bare. The rest of the ports reside in the rear with another USB 3.2 Gen 1 Type-A port, a USB 3.2 Gen 2 Type-C port, a HDMI 2.0 port, an RJ-45 jack and a power port.
Do You Need A High Refresh Rate Display
High refresh rate displays are a great way to improve your gaming experience, especially if you’re playing esports or older games at higher frame rates. With a high refresh rate display and a high frames per second, you can enjoy smoother animations and a more responsive gaming experience, with limited input lag. That means that as well as making your games look and play better, it can actually make you play better too, giving you a light performance advantage in competitive gaming.
Higher refresh rates are often a more beneficial upgrade than a higher resolution, especially on the smaller displays on most gaming laptops. While you won’t see a huge difference between 1080p and 4K on a 15-inch screen, you will be able to tell the difference between 60Hz and 144Hz. The difference between that and 240Hz or 360Hz isn’t as pronounced, but you should still be able to feel it, even if it isn’t super obvious.
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Which Gaming Laptop Is Right For You
When it comes to gaming laptops, generally the more you pay, the better performance you should expect. This comes in the form of better specs: a faster processor and graphics card, more RAM, a screen with a faster refresh rate, and so on. Your budget will factor into this balancing act — a higher one will allow you to make fewer compromises as you spec out your rig.
There are other factors beyond what’s inside your laptop, however. Selecting a screen size is a critical decision as it will impact the portability of your system. While most gaming laptops include a 15.6-inch display, many gamers prefer a bigger screen, such as 16 inches or 17.3 inches. The expansion in screen real estate increases the notebook’s dimensions and weight and can also impact battery life. Quality gaming laptops can now come in smaller sizes, too, even with displays as small as 13.3 inches portability will improve, but larger components will need to be eschewed and, of course, you’ll need to game on a tinier platform.
What To Look For In A Keyboard And Trackpad
A new trend in gaming laptops is the offset trackpad, which is more conducive to gaming than a dead-center trackpad. The concept is sound, but anyone who actually cares about PC gaming will just plug in a mouse. The worst thing about that offset trackpad is when you try to use it for non-gaming purposes.
As far as keyboards go, the most important gaming feature is n-key rollover. This means the keyboard physically scans each key separately. If you wanted to, you could press 20 keys simultaneously and theyd all register, as each is independently wired. That probably sounds excessive, but keyboards that lack this feature can suffer missed keystrokes, which both ruins gameplay and hurts in everyday tasks. Anyone whos used an Adobe product that might require a left-Alt, left-Shift, left-Ctrl plus two more keys to do something may have run into the limitations of non-n-key keyboards.
Other keyboard considerations include LED backlighting and mechanical keys vs. membrane. Mechanical keys are excellentbut are available on only a handful of laptops that usually weigh a ton. We have seen a few designs with low-profile mechanical keyboards, but even we admit they can be an acquired taste.
With the massive size of todays games, make sure the SSD in your laptop is large enough.
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What Do I Need To Know About Screen Size And Refresh Rate
And then there are the screens. All the major companies bumped their flagship 1080p configurations to 360Hz, but for many a gamer, they’re not essential: 240Hz max should be fine for those few times you can get frame rates above 240fps. Even 144Hz will do for many people, but artifacts like tearing, caused by the screen refresh rate becoming out of sync with the frame rate, depend on your games as much as your laptop brand and hardware.
We’re also seeing a lot more 120Hz 4K screens in the flagship models in both 17- and 15-inch sizes and a ton of 165Hz and 240Hz QHD options. The latter are my favorites, balancing higher resolution — certainly enough on a laptop screen — with gaming-friendly refresh rates.
Do I Really Need A Gaming Laptop
Gaming laptops aren’t a necessity for anyone, especially if you don’t do much gaming at all. In fact, if you don’t plan to use your new laptop primarily for gaming, you’ll get a lot more value for money by looking at more mainstream laptops without a dedicated GPU: their battery life is better and they tend to have more vibrant displays designed for movies and office work.
If you are a gamer, though, and want to spend most of your time on your laptop gaming, then you should definitely consider it. The latest gaming laptops offer amazing performance that rivals some powerful desktops, and they almost all come with fast displays so you get a smoother and more responsive gaming experience.
They also come with handy features like smart power switching technologies that maximize efficiency and performance so make sure your games are playing at their best without sapping too much battery life or outputting too much heat. Speaking of which, most gaming laptops have excellent cooling, too, to make sure your system stays relatively cool and doesn’t get too noisy while playing .
You’ll find that most gaming laptops have good quality keyboards too, as a responsive keyboard can make all the difference in some games. You’ll probably still want to add in a gaming mouse too, though, as touchpad gaming is notoriously difficult.
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What To Look Forward To
At CES 2022, both Acer and Asus announced new models for their budget gaming laptop lineups. Acers new Nitro 5 laptops start at $1,050 and come with RTX 30-series GPUs and 12th-gen Intel or AMD Ryzen 6000-series CPUs. Asuss new TUF gaming laptops will also offer these processors and GPUs. The new models are expected to be released this spring, and we will evaluate them and update this guide with more information soon.
Lenovo, too, will be releasing new versions of its budget gaming laptops, the IdeaPad Gaming 3i and IdeaPad Gaming 3. Both models will come in 15- and 16-inch sizes, with the 15-inch laptops starting just under $1,000. The IdeaPad Gaming laptops are expected to launch this spring, and well assess them for our next round of testing.
Is A Gaming Laptop Worth The Money
If you are looking to play games on your laptop more than anything else, then yes, absolutely. You’ll get much better performance out of a gaming laptop than you will a more general-purpose laptop. On top of that, gaming laptops will also give you a much more responsive and fluid gaming experience, with high refresh rate and low response time displays helping to reduce input lag, ghosting, and screen tearing, which can be a real problem on non-gaming laptops.
Gaming laptops are also future proofed where non-gaming laptops aren’t. With a powerful graphics chip, the best gaming laptops of today will still be able to play the latest games in years to come. While they might not be able to hit the highest detail settings anymore, non-gaming laptops without a decent GPU just don’t be able to play them at all.
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Best Budget Gaming Laptop From Asus
Lets rip the bandaid off right away: budget is an extremely relative term when it comes to gaming laptops, and that goes double for dedicated gaming brands. If youre looking at the 2022 gaming laptops, youre not going to find very many that are below $1000, but your best bet is going to be the TUF Gaming A15.
The A15 is extremely simple in its construction and design but still manages to pack a decent, although more budget-friendly, amount of power into it. The A15 mostly takes advantage of the lower price and previous generation components, with most of its models coming equipped with 20 series Nvidia GPUs and 10th gen Intel processors.
If youre getting this as your first gaming laptop, thats still going to seem extremely fast, and its going to be forward compatible for several years still.
This, like most budget options, is going to be good for a starter laptop or could be a good option for someone who has sunk most of their money into a desktop battle station but wants something that can do a lot of gaming on the go.
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Best Thin And Light Gaming Laptop
Pros: Excellent build quality, very compact, excellent battery life
Cons: Performance is limited, expensive, gets hot
If you want a gaming laptop that’s thin and portable, then the Razer Blade Stealth 13 is worth considering. Featuring a gorgeous design with a classy black aluminum finish that will fit in comfortably in the office, this ultraportable boasts a stunning display and offers solid performance for work or play.
At 11.99 x 8.27 x 0.6 inches and 3.1 pounds, this is the thinnest and lightest gaming laptop in our guide. The Razer logo on the lid and green highlights on the USB ports are the only details that distinguish the Razer Blade Stealth from a regular laptop.
The Razer Stealth 13 pairs an Intel Core i7-1165G7 processor with a GeForce GTX 1650 Ti graphics processor, 16GB of RAM, and a 512GB SSD. As for the display, you get a 1080p one with a 120Hz refresh rate.
While the specs are decent, the Razer Stealth 13 is not the right gaming laptop if you plan to run AAA games on the highest settings. Most games will be playable, but you’ll have to play at less graphically demanding settings to really take advantage of that 120Hz refresh rate. This laptop will serve just fine for multiplayer games, like Overwatch or Fortnite.
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Apple Best For Apple Fans
You cannot talk about the best laptop brands without mentioning Apple. The MacBook Pro and MacBook Air laptops have a league of their own. The company has the third biggest market share in the US, according to Statista.
Prior to 2020, Apple was using Intel processors in all Mac models, including MacBooks. However, now its making its very own processors, starting with the M1 chip. However, Intel still claims that its 11th generation Intel Core processor is better than the M1 processor.
You simply cannot beat the level of precision, quality, and reputation Apple has managed to build with its laptops. They are razor-thin, feather-light, and very powerful. We all know how amazing Apples infrastructure security is, so these laptops are way less susceptible to viruses than Windows laptops.
Thanks to the Touch Bar, the MacBook Pro series are even more user-friendly. While MacBook Pro is more advanced in terms of technology, MacBook Air still qualifies as a high-tech laptop with many advanced features.
These laptops are ideal for those who already rely on the Apple ecosystem with iPhones and iPads. Also, if youre used to Mac computers, you might not find transiting to a Windows laptop so easy. However, MacBook Pro and MacBook Air are not for gamers.
The highlights of Apple MacBooks
- Beautiful design with ultra-sleek body
- AMR M1 chip
- High-end pricing
- Ease of use and portability
Alienware M17 R4 Software And Warranty
Alienware has outfitted the notebook with its regular suite of branded software. First, you have Command Center, which lets you launch games, create macros and even overclock the CPU and GPU in addition to programming the backlighting and toggling the audio presets. The m17 R4 also has Alienware Mobile Connect, which lets you access your smartphone from the notebooks 17.3-inch screen.
Alienware Update keeps your BIOS, drivers and firmware are up to date while Digital Delivery keeps your Alienware and Windows 10 software updated. Theres also My Alienware, which has Alienware Support, a tool that puts you in touch with a tech support representative in case youre experiencing any problems.
Killer Control Center and Nvidia GeForce Experience are third-party gamer-centric apps that let you prioritize network bandwidth and optimize your games’ settings for gameplay.
There are a few pieces of bloatware including Hulu, Roblox, Solitaire and Hidden City: Hidden Object Adventure.
The Alienware m17 R4 comes with a one-year limited warranty. See how Alienware fared on Tech Support Showdown and Best and Worst Brands, our annual special reports.
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How Much Ram Do I Need For Gaming
There are many gaming laptops that start you off with an 8GB DDR4 memory, which is the minimum these days. However, that might not be enough for a speedy performance.
If you play a lot of demanding AAA titles, at least 16GB is recommended for the smoothest experience. If you can afford to splurge, a 32GB memory will give you the smoothest, most immersive experience.
What Do I Need To Know About A Gaming Laptop’s Gpu
The fastest graphics card currently available in a laptop is the Nvidia GeForce RTX 3080 Ti with the usual Max-Q variants. The Max-Q versions run at slower frequencies than their full-size siblings — that keeps down the noise and heat and allows them to fit into thinner designs. RTX models also accelerate ray-traced rendering and provide intelligent upscaling where it’s explicitly supported. If your favorite games don’t use it, the lower-end Nvidia GTX 1660 Ti incorporates Turing, the last generation of Nvidia’s technology, without the extra cost or power burden of the RT cores.
The problem with the Max-Q, though, is that with its last-generation Optimus technology that’s still used by a lot of laptops, you have to reboot to switch between a dedicated GPU mode and a power-saving mode, which only uses the GPU for accelerating, not actually drawing the screen .
That means it can’t take advantage of adaptive refresh-rate technologies and it can negatively affect frame rates. So why not leave it on the GPU mode all the time? Because you’ll frequently get poorer CPU performance and even lesser graphics performance in games that balance CPU and GPU usage rather than going all-out on the GPU.
You can spot systems that require a reboot, both AMD- and Nvidia-equipped models, when they say they offer a MUX switch. That just means it’s more convenient than the next-step-down alternative, which is having to manually change it in the BIOS.
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