the-best-gaming-laptops-of-2024-for-every-budget

The Best Gaming Laptops Of 2024 For Every Budget

Table of Contents Let’s be real: PC gaming offers the best possible experience for gamers. High-end gaming computers pack more graphical and processing power than any home console, and they offer a level of freedom in terms of customization and game choice that you’re just not going to find anywhere else. But when it comes down to it, do you want your gaming sessions tied to your desk?

Are gaming laptops worth it?While desktops deliver elite performance, the best gaming laptops fit into the modern lifestyle more smoothly. It’s so convenient to take your gaming rig with you on the go – whether that’s to a friend’s place or just to another room. Plus, there’s a gaming laptop to fit every type of player. Whether you’re looking for a powerhouse that supports eye-popping visuals, a lightweight notebook to fit snugly in your backpack, or hoping to find the best budget gaming laptop, we promise there’s a machine for you.

Where to buy the best gaming laptop?You can find great gaming laptops at pretty much any big-name retailer nowadays. Amazon, Best Buy, Walmart, Target, GameStop, B&H, and others all have large selections of gaming laptops across a wide variety of brands that you browse and buy from. These retailers are where you’ll find a lot of the good sales during popular shopping holidays like Prime Day and Black Friday.

However, there is a benefit to shopping directly with gaming laptop brands — their sites often allow a lot more customization while you shop, letting you pick out the exact specs you want before checking out. At bigger retailers, most of their gaming laptops are already pre-specced, and you’ll need to filter out the ones that come closest to the configuration you want.

Which brand of laptop is best for gaming?There are a lot of fantastic gaming laptop brands out there, so we can’t really choose just one. But, we can absolutely tell you our favorites: Razer, Asus, Lenovo, Acer, and MSI are all included in our top picks, so definitely keep an eye out for those brands. We’ve also tried out some great units from Dell and Asus in the past.

Testing the Razer Blade 14 gaming laptop for this guide. Credit: Dylan Haas / Mashable

What’s the best cheap gaming laptop, and is it worth it?When it comes to gaming laptops, it’s totally fine to not immediately spring for the top-of-the-line, $2,000-plus powerhouse. Plenty of gaming laptops fall below the $1,000 mark and are well worth the money. But, we would advise against going too cheap. You really do get what you pay for, and if you do buy that bottom of the barrel machine, you’re not going to be able to run many of the games that you want to play.

Although, if you’re looking to keep a tight budget and don’t mind playing via cloud streaming, the Acer Chromebook 516 GE is a great option (more details on that laptop below). And if you’re looking to spend even less, the Lenovo Gaming Chromebook 16 is another solid cloud gaming laptop, which you can read about in our guide to the best laptops under $500.

What are the best gaming laptops?Finding the best laptop for your needs and budget can be tricky. They may be easier to parse than their desktop counterparts, but gaming laptops still require a fair bit of careful spec scrutinization. These are no consoles — you can’t just pick the latest generation system off the shelf and get playing. Choosing between the many graphics cards, processors, storage sizes, and screen types can be a real head-scratcher. And that’s where we come in.

Mashable Shopping experts have tested and reviewed a lot of gaming laptops over the years, and we know exactly what to look for. Read on to find our recommendations for the best gaming laptops of 2024.

Our Pick

Who it’s for:A fantastically powerful machine that’s priced more competitively than similar portable rigs, the Lenovo Legion Slim 7i is the best gaming laptop for most people.

Why we picked this:Its Nvidia RTX 3070 and Intel Core i7-11700H combo might be a generation behind, but it can still comfortably handle the latest, most graphically intensive triple-A titles. Battery life is generous, and the screen is wider than standard and brighter than many. Its fans won’t deafen you when they spin up, either. While you might be tempted to splash out extra on a newer Legion Pro model with an Nvidia RTX 4090, we’d recommend sticking with the cheaper Slim 7i. Unless you’re a glutton for high fidelity, rest assured you’ll be blown away by this machine.

Bear in mind, this type of performance doesn’t come cheap. However, it is priced significantly lower than equivalent laptops equipped with RTS 40-series GPUs. It’s an investment, for sure, but a more sensible one than most. If the $2,100 price tag is outside your budget, you can often find this gaming laptop on sale for up to $300 off.

Who it’s for:The Razer Blade 14 sits right at the intersection of gaming laptops and productivity laptops. The battery performs well in both departments, and we can definitely see it being a gamer’s “do it all” machine. If you’ve got the budget and you want a gaming laptop that is both powerful and portable, the Razer Blade 14 might be your dream gaming laptop.

Why we picked this:In a world filled with chunky gaming laptops, the Razer Blade 14 stands out. It is, by far, the best thin and compact laptop we’ve tested. Now, you’d probably think that the Blade sacrifices some power to get it as portable as it is, but that couldn’t be farther from the truth. This laptop is an absolute powerhouse, and not just for its size, but for any gaming laptop. During our testing period, it ran beautifully whether we were streaming via the cloud or playing demanding titles natively. It stayed relatively cool throughout gameplay, too.

Another big highlight of the Razer Blade 14 is the device’s battery life. Gaming laptops are known to have extremely short battery lives, but the Blade is well above-average in that department. We got around four hours of heavy gameplay (non-cloud) before needing to recharge, which might not sound like a lot, but when most other gaming laptops are putting up numbers in the one- to two-hour range, it’s a very welcome upgrade. When you do end up needing a charge, the device re-ups quickly and gets you right back in the game.

With the Blade 14, you’ll also get access to the Razer Synapse app, which is a great tool for tailoring your experience with the machine. You can use it to further optimize your battery and component usage, which may get you some extra juice, as well as customization for RGB lighting, key mapping, and more. We also thought that the display was totally stunning.

Our gripes with the Razer Blade 14 come down to just two points. One might deter you from picking one up at all, and it’s the cost. The build we tested — which was decked out with all the highest possible specs — comes in at a steep $2,699. While we absolutely loved this laptop, we hope the next iteration isn’t so overkill on the sticker price. You can opt to go for the lower-level specs, but that’ll come out to a total of $2,199. The other point, though much smaller, is the laptop’s touchpad. It felt just a little too tough to press down, but you may not have the same issue.

Read Mashable’s full review of the Acer Nitro V 15.

Who it’s for:There aren’t many gaming laptops under $1,000 that are actually worth buying, but the Acer Nitro V15 (formerly known as the Acer Nitro 5) is one of our favorites in this price range. If you’re looking to save some cash but still want a high-quality gaming laptop, this is the one you should check out.

Why we picked this:The laptop’s low price wouldn’t mean anything if it wasn’t also a rock-solid performer, which it totally is. In fact, it has a lot of the same inner components as a few of the more expensive options in this roundup, and it exceeded our expectations when running demanding games like Cyberpunk 2077. Mashable Tech Editor and reviewer Kimberly Gedeon praised the Nitro V 15’s performance but also marked the laptop’s thermals and quiet, balanced keyboards as highlights. We were also impressed with the device’s wide variety of port options and enjoyed the overall design.

The Acer Nitro V 15 does come with some downsides, though. Most notably, the display doesn’t get all that bright, which undercuts the laptop’s great performance by hindering the visuals. It’s also a bit of a fingerprint magnet, but a lot of laptops are these days. It runs pretty loud and the battery life isn’t anything to write home about, but these cons are to be expected when picking up a budget-level device. All in all, the Acer Nitro V 15 is a fantastic choice for anyone who wants a high-performing laptop for under $1,000. 

Read Mashable’s full review of the MSI Cyborg 15.

Who it’s for:The MSI Cyborg 15 is a great gaming laptop for those who fall in the middle of the road when it comes to budget. Meaning, you don’t want to get the cheapest laptop possible, but you don’t necessarily want to shell out for the priciest one, either.

Why we picked this:Mashable Tech Editor Kimberly Gedeon reviewed the MSI Cyborg 15, scoring it a 4.2 out of 5. Highlights from her hands-on review include the device’s surprising performance for the price, variety of ports, cooling ability, and halfway decent keyboard. While most gaming laptops at this price point will struggle with ultra-demanding games like Cyberpunk 2077 and Red Dead Redemption 2, the Cyborg 15 had little issue.

“I’ve seen machines buckle under the great stress Cyberpunk 2077 puts them through,” wrote Gedeon in her review of the machine. But after running a few benchmark tests, she came to the conclusion that the MSI Cyborg 15 can “handle some complex graphics rendering, particularly if you toggle on the right settings.” That’s great news for those who want to run processor-heavy games without having to stream via cloud, and also don’t want to spend over $2,000.

Gedeon encountered two snags in the review process: the laptop’s display and speakers. The display’s max brightness was simply too low, which is a bummer for those who want to see their games in full, vivid color. The speakers’ max volume was also a bit too low, but if you’re playing with a gaming headset, you shouldn’t have any issues.

Ultimately, if you’re OK with not shopping from the top shelf, the MSI Cyborg 15 is a more than solid choice. As Gedeon put it, “If you’re a practical gamer who wants bare bones specs – acceptable frame rates, a 1080p display, and a comfortable keyboard – the MSI Cyborg 15 is ideal. Plus, you get it all for a great price.”

Who it’s for:The budget Acer Chromebook 516 GE promises its users a fantastic cloud-based PC gaming experience, and in our testing, it definitely delivers. At this price point, great gaming laptops are hard to come by, but the Chromebook 516 GE breaks that mold by offering top-notch performance during gaming and general use, a beautiful display, killer perks, and more for just $649 (we’ve already seen them go on sale for only $499). If you’re looking for the intersection of quality and value, you’ll find it here.

Why we picked this:If you’re not familiar with cloud gaming yet, it’s the equivalent of watching content through an app like Netflix: You’ll be streaming games rather than downloading them or owning a physical copy. That means no load times to start playing, no downloads, and no updates. Sometimes, this can result in poor game quality and super choppy performance, but this laptop doesn’t have those problems. We used Xbox Game Pass as our cloud platform of choice during testing, and we had an overall great experience (we also used an Xbox Elite Series 2 controller, which connected easily).

We played single-player games like Yakuza: Like a Dragon, Rollerdrome, and Cyberpunk 2077, as well as online multiplayer games like Sea of Thieves, Mortal Kombat 11, and Fortnite — all of which require fast and responsive performance to play as intended. We’re happy to report that every game we booted up ran swimmingly, save for a slight loss in fidelity (which is extremely common with cloud gaming). We also experienced zero input lag or stuttering, an impressive feat.

Luckily, you won’t be beholden to Game Pass. Along with your purchase, you can redeem three free months of NVIDIA GeForce Now at the Priority level, which grants you access to NVIDIA’s high-end cloud servers with enhanced resolution and frame rate. You get other perks, too, including three months of YouTube Premium, a year’s worth of Google One cloud storage, and a month of access to Boosteroid. Like we said, the value for your money here is stellar.

Aside from the gaming-centric features, the Acer Chromebook 516GE is also a really solid laptop in general. The build quality feels durable and sturdy like a gaming laptop should, and it features a nice RGB keyboard with anti-ghosting tech that’s incredible to type on. You’ll also get a bevy of ports, including USB-C, HDMI, and Ethernet. The real showstopper is the laptop’s display — the 16-inch, 1600p screen looks fantastic and boasts clear, bright, and vibrant colors. It also supports a 120Hz refresh rate, which is amazing for a budget gaming laptop. The only knock we have against the device is the battery life. It clocked in at around six hours of heavy gaming for us, so you’ll probably want to plug it in during marathon gaming sessions.

Mashable Staff or contributors have hands-on tested every gaming laptop recommendation in this shopping guide. When choosing our top picks, we considered specs such as:

Processor: The central processing unit, or CPU, is responsible for how fast your laptop can complete a given task. High-end CPUs will be able to handle multiple demanding tasks at once, whereas more budget-friendly options may be better solely for basic tasks like web browsing and document editing. For a gaming laptop, you’ll want to get a decent CPU or else you’ll end up having a pretty choppy experience.

Graphics processor: The graphics processing unit, or GPU, is responsible for rendering clear and detailed visuals. It’s especially important for gaming and photo/video editing, so if that’s something you’ll be using your laptop for, pay close attention to GPU specs while you shop. If you want to keep up with the latest releases, spare no expense when it comes to your graphics card.

RAM: A laptop’s RAM is where active application data is temporarily stored to assist the CPU. Essentially, if you have more RAM, you’ll be able to run more applications at the same time. For a gaming laptop, we recommend 16GB and above.

Storage: This is where your laptop saves long-term data like files and downloads. Keep in mind that SSD storage is faster than eMMC flash and regular hard drive storage. For gaming laptops, we recommend starting at 256GB of storage and above, but you can probably get away with 128GB if you mostly use cloud storage or don’t normally have that many files saved on your device at once. As for the type of storage you should get, we say go for SSD.

Battery life: Not many gaming laptops have “good” battery lives. On the high end, you’ll get around four to five hours of gameplay out of one. For that reason, we recommend you just play with the laptop plugged in at all times (which means you don’t have to focus too hard on this spec).

Portability: Smaller laptops will be easiest to take on the go, but they are usually less powerful than their counterparts. But, when it comes to gaming laptops, you’ll find that most of them are pretty chunky no matter what you do. (The Razer Blade 14 is a good option if portability is your biggest concern, though.)

Price: Gaming laptops can cost a pretty penny, but luckily you’ll have some options if you’re on a tighter budget. We tried to include a good range of pricing in our roundup picks.

Display: That nice GPU you bought will be wasted if you don’t have a nice display to marvel at its brilliance. You’ll mainly want to look for three things here: resolution, refresh rate, and size. For our money, we say go for a 1080p resolution with a 60Hz refresh rate at minimum. That said, the higher the frame rate, the smoother the action. The size, however, is up to your preference.

Keyboard: The keyboard is another vital part of your overall experience with a gaming laptop. Comfort is definitely a factor, but you’ll also want to decide whether you want full-range RGB backlight settings (totally fine to skip out on the fancy stuff here), and if you like the layout of the keys themselves.

Frequently Asked Questions For our money, we believe the Lenovo Legion Slim 7i is the best laptop for gaming in 2024, though the Razer Blade 14 is mighty impressive if your budget allows for it. However, with the high sticker price, we know many shoppers are looking for a more entry-level option. So if you’re looking for budget gaming laptops, then we recommend going with the Acer Nitro 5 or Acer Chromebook 516 GE instead.

Here’s some good news: virtually every gaming laptop worth its salt can now handle virtual reality gaming. If you’re playing VR through a PC, you’re likely going to be using a Meta Quest 2, Valve Index, or HTC Vive Pro 2. Thankfully, none demand particularly high PC specs.

The Meta Quest 2 and Meta Quest 3 are standalone headsets that can render games using its onboard processor. However, you can wire it up to a computer if you want to play PC VR games, too. To do that you’ll need a USB-C cable and a computer powerful enough to support the tech. The exact PC requirements are listed here, but every laptop on this list meets them.

The same goes for the Valve Index, which requires at least a GTX 970 and a dual-core processor, as well as the HTC Vive Pro 2, which asks for a slightly beefier Intel Core i5-4590 and Nvidia GeForce RTX 2060. Again, these picks sail past those requirements.

There’s one other obvious difference between a gaming laptop and a gaming desktop: portability. Gaming laptops have all the usual benefits you’d expect of them, alongside powerful hardware that’s capable of rendering and running games. But you pay for that expanded portability with a higher price tag. A gaming laptop will always be more expensive than an equivalent desktop PC, as manufacturers have to redesign graphics cards and all the other stuff to fit inside a small chassis.

That price difference doesn’t necessarily apply to custom-built gaming computers, however. Even the most specced-out gaming laptops will save you money compared to a powerful custom PC gaming rig. As of 2022, the average custom PC gaming setup cost more than $3,500, and prices just keep going up. The best pre-built PC gaming computers are much more affordable, but they also take a lot of the fun out of building your own.

There’s nothing a gaming laptop can’t do that a desktop can, and vice versa. However, you may want to opt for a desktop for longevity’s sake.

This is another key difference between gaming laptops and desktops. A desktop rig can serve you for life if you keep the core parts around forever, and gradually replace individual components as they slow down, become obsolete, or break. Laptop users don’t have that luxury. There’s no chance to swap out a laptop’s CPU or GPU when it becomes old and clunky, as those components are made bespoke for each model. While you can sometimes replace storage drives or RAM sticks, you’re essentially stuck with what you first bought — so make sure you pick a good one.

Dylan Haas is a Lead Shopping Reporter for Mashable, where he covers all things gaming, pets, fitness, sleep, and shopping events like Black Friday and Prime Day. Before joining the team at Mashable, Dylan received a B.A. in Communications from Pace University and contributed to publications like Paste Magazine, Bandsintown, and others following a brief stint as a marketing and management assistant in the music industry.

When he’s not writing or testing products, you can find Dylan playing lots of video games, working out, spending time with loved ones (especially his dog, Stevie), or watching reality TV. Follow him on X at @iamdylanhaas, or send him an email at [email protected].