Gaming laptops can be expensive, especially if you’re on the hunt for one that can run every triple-A game. However, many games can run on a mid-range gaming laptop under $500 as long as you turn your settings down and have the right combination of RAM, graphics, and processor in your device.
These gaming laptops provide you with the best possible features with a price tag under or just around $500.
What to Look for When Buying a Budget Gaming Laptop?
A gaming laptop under $500 isn’t going to have it all so it’s important to find the best combo of specs that can run the most games. This normally means that you should have a laptop with at least 8GB of RAM and a recent generation Intel Core i3 processor or a slightly older Intel Core i5 or any equivalent to those.
Another thing to look at is storage space. While the amount of storage space you have determines how many games you can directly install on your laptop, this can be remedied by having an external storage drive. However, you still need to have SSD storage on your laptop to make sure it runs the OS well.
Budget vs. Long-Term Value
It’s fine if your budget only lets you purchase a gaming laptop under $500, but if you can save up for a slightly bigger budget, it may be worth it for the extra options and features you get. Frankly, it’s hard to find a gaming laptop under $500 that can run games other than DoTA or League of Legends, to name a few, since not all of them have dedicated graphics cards that can handle high-spec games.
Having said that, gaming laptops under $500 can still be pretty decent, especially if you like indie games and older games. However, it’s best to manage your expectations right off the bat since these aren’t exactly “gaming laptops” but are more of “laptops that can run games”.
HP 15.6″ Laptop
- Runs on Windows 11
- Integrated AMD Radeon Graphics
- Decent amount of SSD storage
- Shallow keyboard
- 8GB RAM
- 256GB NVMe SSD
- AMD R5-5500U
The HP 15.6″ Laptop is a great device for most of your daily needs, including gaming. It’s not going to outperform, or even match, a proper gaming laptop, but at a price point under $500, it’s a good deal for the specs you get.
The device uses an AMD Ryzen 5 processor that provides you with decent performance and can keep up with any upgrades you make in the future. Its 8GB of RAM lets you run all of the popular free-to-play games as well as many popular classic games. The SSD storage helps make this laptop run faster, but you’ll have to double-check the graphics requirements for your games since it only has an integrated AMD Radeon GPU.
HP 15.6″ Micro-Edge HD Laptop
- Small bezels maximize viewing space on the screen
- Good performance
- HD screen resolution
- Touchpad keys are a bit too stiff
- 16GB RAM
- 256GB SSD
- Intel Core i3 11th Gen
The HP 15.6″ Micro-Edge HD Laptop offers more RAM in exchange for a less powerful processor, but if you aren’t a big fan of multitasking with your laptop, it’s going to be a better choice for you compared to the previous gaming laptop under $500.
This laptop ships with an Intel Core i3 11th Gen processor that’s a tad below the processor requirements for newer Triple-A titles, but isn’t completely unplayable either. It comes with 16GB of RAM and 256GB NVMe SSD storage to make running your games smoother and faster. The device has multiple ports, including HDMI, so you can connect your laptop to a TV screen while you play.
Lenovo IdeaPad 3 Laptop
- 4k resolution capable GPU
- Larger storage space
- Large, 17-inch HD display
- Speakers could be better
- 8GB RAM
- 512GB SSD
- AMD Ryzen 5 5500U
For good graphics and all-around decent performance, there’s no better budget option than the Lenovo IdeaPad 3 Laptop which comes with an AMD Ryzen 5 processor, 8GB of RAM, and a 512GB SDD storage. All of this makes the Lenovo IdeaPad 3 a fairly nimble device that can run any game as long as it doesn’t require a higher RAM.
What sets this gaming laptop apart, though, is the AMD Radeon 7 Graphics which is one of the best cards AMD has released so far. This allows the laptop to support games at 4K resolution and takes pressure off of your processor and RAM so you get a better gaming experience.
ASUS TUF F15 Gaming Laptop
- Great WiFi 6 connectivity
- Decent dedicated graphics
- 144Hz display
- A bit pricey
- 8GB RAM
- 512GB PCle SSD
- Intel Core i5 10th Gen
Unfortunately, this is one of the gaming laptops that are a tad over the $500 mark, however, it’s still priced at a similar range and offers good features that make the laptop worth it.
For one, it comes with a top-notch 144Hz IPS display that ensures you get a vibrant look into the worlds of your favorite open-world games and get better response times for your FPS games. It’s also equipped with a GTX 1650 GPU that can support just about any game from mid to high settings. The laptop’s Wifi ^ gives you the best possible wireless connection to your internet so you don’t have to worry about lag.
2022 Acer Aspire 5 Slim 15.6″
- Lightweight, perfect for playing on the go
- Crystal clear and vibrant display
- Comes with a fingerprint reader
- No SD card slot
- 8GB RAM
- 256GB SSD
- AMD Ryzen 3 3350U
In all honesty, the Acer Aspire 5 Slim sacrifices a lot of other desirable specs with its relatively weak Ryzen 3 processor and measly 8 GB of RAM, but when it comes to display and portability, it’s the clear winner on this list.
As you can guess, this is a surprisingly lightweight device with thin bezels and a low-profile keyboard. It comes with a fingerprint reader that you can connect to multiple social media and gaming platform accounts so each log-in is as effortless as possible, getting you in-game faster than with a regular laptop. Like the previous sub-$500 gaming laptop, it’s WiFi 6 equipped so you don’t have to blame lag every time your team loses.
Its screen is an IPS 15.6-inch display with a crystal clear resolution of 1920 x 1080.
HP Pavilion Gaming 15.6″
- Overall great specs
- Fairly efficient cooling
- Dedicated NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1050 GPU
- Pricier compared to other options on the list
- 8GB SDRAM
- 256GB SSD
- Intel Core i5 9th Gen
If you’re willing to spend a little over your budget for a truly gaming-ready laptop, the HP Pavilion Gaming 15.6″ laptop is worth a few extra dollars to get a better gaming experience. Admittedly, it only has 8GB SDRAM, but it does come equipped with an Intel Core i5 9th Gen processor and 256GB SSD storage which makes this a more than competent gaming laptop versus the others on this list.
Of course, you may be wondering why you should choose this one when earlier laptops mentioned to have more RAM or storage, but that comes down to what the laptop is built for the other laptops on this list are primarily general use laptops that can be used for gaming, not gaming laptops designed for the full wear and tear of gaming. Since it’s a little less compact and has better ventilation, it’s better able to keep up with the heat generated by your device during gaming.
Frequently Asked Questions
Does a gaming laptop last long?It depends on how often you use your laptop and how accident-prone you are. Gaming laptops, in general, are meant to be used for years and you can realistically expect about 3-5 years of use if you play on yours frequently.
Can a gaming laptop be used for school?Absolutely. Gaming laptops have higher specs and as such, they're usually more powerful than the average laptop. You'll be able to use yours for both classes and gaming.
Are MacBooks good for gaming?They're not ideal, but they're not terrible either. Apple laptops are often thinner and more compact than other laptops, even those that aren't explicitly meant for gaming. This means that cooling your laptop down takes more work when you have a MacBook, but it doesn't make your MacBook work any less well compared to other laptops with similar specs.