Where To Buy Gaming Laptops
You’ll find plenty of gaming laptops up for grabs at a range of retailers in both the US and UK, though some do specialize in certain price ranges and brands. However, in general, you should be able to find RTX 3060 laptops, RTX 3070 laptops, and RTX 3080 laptops readily available on the shelves.
Lenovo Ideapad Gaming 3i Specs
|Boot Drive Capacity||512 GB|
|0.98 by 14.13 by 9.83 inches|
While Lenovo courts hardcore gamers with its Legion line, more affordable gaming laptops are available under the IdeaPad brand. The IdeaPad Gaming 3i is a wallet-friendly offering with the latest parts from Intel and Nvidia. The 3i’s physical build is solid, its keyboard is comfortable, and its CPU is up to the task, but its Nvidia GeForce GTX 1650 GPU is a bit underwhelming. Comparable or lower-priced gaming rigs deliver the same or better graphics performance, while some slightly pricier laptops deliver substantially higher frame rates. The MSI Bravo 15 is a superior value at the same price point, while the Acer Predator Helios 300 is our pick at the top end of budget pricing.
How We Test Gaming Laptops
When we bring a laptop into our laboratory, our goal is to see how it would work if you brought it into your home or office. While we use a number of industry standard benchmarks such as Geekbench and 3DMark, we focus heavily on real-world tests that we have developed in-house. But in the case of gaming laptops, we also make sure to run a number of synthetic gaming benchmarks, using our chosen titles integrated tests. We also game for several hours to established real-world results.
To test endurance, the Laptop Mag Battery test surfs the web at 150 nits of brightness until the system runs out of juice. To judge pure processing power, we use a giant spreadsheet macro that matches 65,000 names with their addresses, a video transcoder that converts a 4K video to 1080p and the Geekbench 4 synthetic test. We measure graphics prowess with both 3DMark Ice Storm / Fire Strike and a series of actual game titles.
We use a colorimeter to measure screen brightness and color gamut while other instruments help us determine a laptop’s key travel and ambient heat. See this page on How We Test Laptops for more details on our benchmarking procedures.
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Large Screen Low Price
Specs: Display: 17.3 inches | CPU: Intel Core i5-10300H | RAM: 8GB | Storage: 512GB | Graphics Card: Nvidia GeForce GTX 1650 Ti | Weight: 5.7lbs | Battery Life: 6 hours
Though most laptop screens run 15.6 inches or smaller, a subset of users prefers a larger display. On this list, the HP Pavilion offers a slightly bigger screen at 16.1 inches, but for gamers who desire even more screen real estate, the Asus TUF Gaming F17 could be your choice. It provides a 17.3-inch display, which translates roughly to 20% more screen area than a 15.6-inch display possesses .
Given the larger display, it’s no surprise that the Asus is the heaviest laptop listed here, though it still manages to weigh under 6 lbs. Specs are otherwise similar to the lower-end systems here — though you do get twice as much storage — but you’re paying more for the larger display.
How Much Should I Spend On A Cheap Gaming Laptop
Again this is completely subjective based on your requirements, but in our opinion the best bang for the buck machines tend to sit around the $700 to $900 price range.
You can of course go lower but you’ll often encounter machines that simply aren’t designed for gaming or quite frankly up to the task. It can be tempting to pick up a cheaper ultrabook with a Core i7 or Ryzen 7 processor and tons of RAM but remember these don’t come with the dedicated graphics card or cooling requirements you’ll need for proper gaming.
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Lenovo Ideapad Gaming 3i Design
The Lenovo IdeaPad Gaming 3is Onyx Black chassis is unassuming. I wouldnt have guessed it was a gaming laptop at first glance due to the lack of any symbols or icons apart from a simple Lenovo logo in the top left corner. Whats unique about the design is that instead of featuring a simple square shape, the corners curve slightly inwards, and the lid ever so gently curves downward, like the hood of a car.
Unfortunately, the interior isnt as discreet due to the light blue keyboard font mixed with the light blue backlighting. The power button is centered just above the keyboard, and theres a blue IdeaPad Gaming logo on the hinge. While the bottom and top bezel are a little thicker than Id like, the side bezels are pleasantly narrow. Surprisingly, the webcam is not only above the screen, it also features a privacy shutter.
At 4.8 pounds and 14.13 x 9.83 x 0.98 inches, the IdeaPad Gaming 3i is relatively slim for a 15-inch laptop. The HP Gaming Pavilion 15-dk0046nr , Acer Nitro 5 and Dell G5 15 SE are all heavier than the IdeaPad.
Best Budget Pc For 1440p Gaming
CPU: AMD Ryzen 5 3600 | GPU: Nvidia GeForce RTX 3060 | RAM: 16GB DDR4 | Storage: 1TB PCIe SSD | Weight: 33.2 pounds | Size: 8.3″ x 17.9″ x 16.4″
Nvidia’s RTX 3060 is a great partner for 1440p gaming, but it’s unfortunately difficult to get your hands on directly from retailers. But, if you’re looking for an entire computer that can give you that 1440p gaming greatness, then the SkyTech Shadow 3.0 is an excellent option.
This PC comes pretty well kitted out, boasting an AMD Ryzen 5 3600 paired with 16GB of DDR4 memory clocked at 3,000MHz. That’s definitely enough horsepower to keep your system running smooth. Factor in the RTX 3060, and you’ll be gaming with the best of them. The CPU might not hit 300fps at 1080p and the GPU might not fare much better at 4K, but they’ll strike a great balance in 1440p that can net you quality visuals and smooth frames for a great gaming experience.
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The Best Cheap Gaming Laptops Of 2021
The Dell G15 is the company’s latest budget-orientated machine for 2021 – replacing the excellent G3 and G5 ranges with a single consolidated, highly customizable, option. New features include your choice of the latest RTX graphics cards, 11th gen Intel Core i5 and i7 processors, and a new chassis that’s actually reminiscent of the super-premium Alienware laptops from Dell – albeit with muted shades of grey and fewer bells and whistles. Options also exist for AMD-based components, and, depending on whether there are seasonal sales over at the Dell site, incredibly compelling discounts all year round. In short, you can’t go wrong with one of these machines if you’re strictly on a budget.
The MSI G563 Thin is one of the cheap gaming laptops to beat, alongside the Nitro 5 and Legion 5. It generally sits comfortably in the lower price brackets alongside its aft mentioned competitors but somehow manages to pack everything into an attractive, part metal chassis – a rarity at this price point. Specs are around the ballpark you’d expect with an entry-level machine – starting at a 10th Gen Intel Core i5 CPU and an Nvidia Geforce GTX 1650, 8GB of RAM, and a 256GB SSD. With a design that’s essentially been unchanged for 2021, these machines have a fairly chunky bezel now and the processor options are a little older too. That said, don’t discount them – they’re still great value and come packed with the latest RTX 3000 cards on the higher specs.
Read our full review: Acer Nitro 5
Lenovo Ideapad Gaming 3i Software And Warranty
Thankfully, the only real app that Lenovo shoves in the IdeaPad Gaming 3i is Lenovo Vantage, which packs a ton of performance features for gaming, such as status updates on your CPU, GPU, RAM and storage. You can customize your fan speed, Wi-Fi settings and even charging settings. The app also includes a section for warranty support as well as the option to initiate hardware scans and system updates.
Apart from that app, theres also some Windows 10 bloatware, such as Candy Crush Friends, Farm Heroes Saga and Disney Magic Kingdoms.
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Lenovo Ideapad Gaming 3i Keyboard And Touchpad
Typing on the IdeaPad Gaming 3is shallow keys wasnt as unpleasant as I expected, as each key delivered a somewhat clicky feedback. The keyboard was comfortable to type on thanks to the way it dips into the chassis and the texture of the palm rests below.
I sped through 77 words per minute on the 10fastfingers.com typing test, which is just short of my current 78-wpm average. The keys felt pleasantly heavy to click on, but would have benefited from more key travel.
Unfortunately, the keyboard doesnt have any RGB-key lighting. Instead, it is stuck with one color: a light blue, which matches the font of the keyboard. The color isnt bad, but when the font of the keyboard matches the backlighting, it tends to look gross .
The touchpad was pleasantly soft and smooth and offered a decent click on top of that. Windows 10 gestures, like two-finger scrolling and three-finger tabbing, worked well thanks to the Windows Precision drivers.
Why Trust Laptop Mag
Laptop Mag has been testing and reviewing laptops for over two decades. We test over 150 different models per year, subjecting each system to a series of rigorous benchmarks that provides a complete picture of performance, battery life and usability.
Our expert reviewers also use each product to see how it looks and feels in everyday situations. Because we see so many different notebooks, we can compare each to its direct competitors and give you an idea of how it stacks up to the average laptop in its price band.
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Lenovo Ideapad Gaming 3i Battery Life
For a budget gaming laptop, the IdeaPad Gaming 3i offers a decent enough battery life. It continuously surfed the web over Wi-Fi at 150 nits of brightness and stopped after 5 hours and 40 minutes, which is slightly longer than the 5:17 budget gaming laptop average. The Pavilion 15 and Nitro 5 didnt last quite as long, while the G5 15 kicked ass for an hour longer, surviving 6:53.
Our Pick: Flaws But Not Dealbreakers
Asuss Armoury Crate software allows you to choose among four performance modesPerformance, Turbo, Silent, and Windowsbut offers no way to simply blast the fans for maximum cooling as our other picks do. We prefer more control over a laptops fans, but since the A15 keeps its most-touched surfaces cool enough, this drawback is not a dealbreaker.
As with most gaming laptops, the A15s fans can get pretty loud during intense gaming. We found that the fan noise was about average among the laptops we tested this year, with a bit of an annoying high-pitched timbre when the fans were running at their peak.
Although the A15s trackpad was responsive for gestures, clicks, and taps in the vast majority of our testing, we found a few complaints in owner reviews about the trackpad stuttering or failing to respond. We were able to re-create the problem by doing lots of tasks at once while trying to move the trackpad pointer, but we didnt encounter any issues with an external mouse in the same situation. It seems like a driver problemone that we hope Asus fixes in a future updatebut its infrequent and easy enough to work around that we dont consider it a dealbreaker.
The A15 comes with a typical amount of bloatwareits not overwhelming, as on our budget pick, but we still recommend removing the junk either one program at a time or via the Windows Refresh tool. If you choose to start fresh, you may need to and software from Asuss website.
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Should I Get A Gaming Laptop Or A Gaming Pc
The primary difference between a gaming laptop and a gaming PC is portability. If you want a gaming computer to set up at a battle station, never to be moved again, then you should probably spring for a gaming PC deal instead. Since gaming PCs are bigger, they can hold more hardware, use bigger fans, and be easily customized. Laptops have the advantage of moving with you. To that end, a gaming laptop can be more than just a gaming laptop. You can take it to lecture classes for notes or use it as a work computer.
Rtx 2060 And Gtx 1660 Ti Options
In our tests, the WASD keys on the Lenovo Legion 5i with a GTX 1660 Ti graphics processor ran at least 10 degrees warmer than those on the Asus TUF Gaming A15 and the HP Omen 15, and its not possible to max the fans using Lenovos included software. In addition, the model we tested, with a six-core Core i7 processor and 8 GB of RAM, posted weaker performance in our tests compared with our top picks, which had eight-core Ryzen 7 processors and 16 GB of memory.
The Asus ROG Zephyrus G15 has RTX 2060 Max-Q graphics and similar performance to our top picks. But its surface temperatures were uncomfortably warm and its fans sounded sickly, and although maxing the fan speeds in Asuss software is possible, its unintuitive.
The successor to our previous pick, the Acer Predator Helios 300 posted by far the best performance for the price of all the models we tested this year. But its WASD keys also ran about 10 degrees hotter than those of our top picks, and its keyboard has a dealbreaking flaw: Unless you press firmly in the middle of each key, it may not register the keystroke. We had issues typing and gaming on two different units, and we found numerous reports of the same problem in owner reviews.
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Acer Nitro 5 17 Gaming Laptop
- CPU: Ryzen 7 5800H Mobile Processor
- RAM: 16GB DDR4
- Display: 17.3 FHD IPS 144Hz WLED-backlit
- GPU: NVIDIA GeForce RTX 3060 6GB GDDR6
- Battery: Up to 9-hours
- Weight: 5.95 lbs
The Acer Nitro 5 gaming laptop is an excellent product for people who want to game, but also need to get work done. The model comes with a 17-inch screen, which is plenty of screen space for games and productivity.
The Acer Nitro 5s IPS panel provides rich colors and crisp images with its 17-inch full HD 1920 x 1080 resolution display with 144Hz refresh rate. It will satisfy both casual gamers as well as those who demand perfection from their displays.
This powerful gaming notebook comes with up to 1TB PCIe SSD and 16GB DDR4 RAM to handle your favorite resource-hungry applications like Photoshop or video editing software. With an Nvidia GeForce RTX 3060 graphics card and AMD Ryzen 7 5800H processor, it has enough power to run most games on the market today at medium settings.
The Nitro 5 features Dolby Audio Premium which provides immersive audio for your games and movies. It also includes two front-facing speakers providing high-quality sound with minimal distortion at high volume levels. The laptop features the full range of connectivity ports, including HDMI 2.1 and the newest USB 3.2 standard with Gen 1 and 2 support.
No Longer The Lone Amd Wolf
The Alpha 15 was almost alone among gaming notebooks when it was released for using all-AMD hardware, but the later launch of AMDs Renoir chips changed that. Dells G5 15 SE is one Renoir-based newcomer, running about $200 more than the Bravo 15 with the Radeon RX 5600M , the next GPU up AMD’s mobile-graphics stack from the Radeon RX 5500M and the competitor of the GTX 1660 Ti.
Nvidia’s new laptop-only 4GB GeForce GTX 1650 Ti is the closest comparison to the Radeon RX 5500M in the Bravo 15. Its currently not all that common, which will inevitably change, though Amazon and Newegg show a fair number of GTX 1660 Ti notebooks for around the Bravo 15s price. Such notebooks are usually saddled with an entry-level CPU and just 8GB of RAM to get there. Thus, the Bravo 15 strikes a better balance between performance and price.
Lets see how the Bravo 15 stacks up against its predecessor and several other budget-friendly gamers
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System Memory: In This Range Go Eight
Given an around-$1,000 budget, 8GB is the minimum RAM you should settle for. Most sub-$1,000 machines with dedicated graphics won’t go any higher, but that’s an adequate amount for most moderate use and mainstream gaming. The occasional cheap gaming laptop manages to squeeze in 16GB of memory these days, but it’s still the exception to the 8GB norm in this price range.
Whether the laptop’s RAM is user-upgradable later on, and what the ceiling is, are further facets to investigate. That said, even if you can upgrade the memory, the laptop may come with memory modules occupying both slots, which would mean replacing them both when upgrading later. It’s best to get what you need up front.