Welcome to our weekly updated pro guide to the best cheap gaming laptops available for under $500 based on sales, pure hardware power, retailer discounts, professional reviews, and benchmarks.
Cheap gaming laptops are a rare breed and finding them online can be a real chore. We spend hours of research every week scouring the web for the best gaming laptops under $500 and list them right here for anyone on the hunt for a new mobile gaming laptop.
If you are new to computing we suggest reading our beginners laptop buying guide for a low down on some questions you should be asking yourself before you make your final decision.
Please Note: If you plan on playing newer games we’d strongly recommend investing something with better graphics performance in the sub-$600 range or higher as graphics performance in this price range will usually offer much better value for money.
Best Gaming Laptop Under $500 – Top Pick
MSI’s budget GV15 Thin 11SC-633 15.6-inch, while priced above $500, is well worth forking out the extra few dollars over. Unlike many of the other laptops in this guide, it ships with a dedicated GPU as opposed to discrete, and for this reason the price is slightly higher.
The GV15’s the black brushed chassis is made of aluminium with the familiar red MSI logo sitting on the centre-top of the lid. With a maximum thickness of 0.85 inches and 4.10 pound weight, it is portable, especially considering the powerful components that it houses. Flipping open the lid reveals a 15.6-inch 1080p display with a blazing fast refresh rate of 144 Hz. MSI has also opted for a non-reflective display that makes use of IPS technology, meaning your viewing angles are decent and you won’t be bothered by peskey reflections. The red backlit keyboard is great for dimly lit environments, but is without a numpad. The touchpad is pleasant to use according to most users, offering decent feedback.
Under the hood, you will find a 6 core 11th-Gen Intel Core i5-11400H with a base clock speed of 2.20 GHz, while being able to reach 4.50 GHz. It also comes with a respectable 8GB of DDR4 RAM that can easily be upgraded to 64GB using the additional two slots. The 8GB of RAM is sufficient to run multiple programs at the same time, such as video or photo editing software, office programs, streaming, etc. The 4GB NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1650, while mostly an entry-level card, is a major step up from discrete GPUs that usually ship with laptops under $600. This card is an entry into the world of AAA gaming, and will allow you to run titles such as Cyberpunk 2077, Call of Duty: Warzone and Elden Ring at decent settings while getting high frame rates at 1080p resolution.
In terms of battery life, MSI claims that you will be getting around 7-hours on a single charge, however you are likely to get closer to 5 hours with the amount of power these components will draw. Under load, the machine also runs hot and the fans work hard to cool off the internals, and as such it can get loud.
- Incredible value for money
- Stylish look
- Strong performing components
- Wi-Fi 6
- Runs hot
- Fans can get loud
- No ray tracing
- 15.6 inch, 1920 x 1080 pixels
- Windows 11 S
- 7 hours battery life
- 4.1 lbs
Summary & Score
The MSI GV15 Thin 11SC-633 15.6-inch laptop is one of the most affordable gaming laptops on the market. Shipping with a dedicated GPU, a strong CPU and a decent amount of RAM makes it only suited to gamers, but also towards creative content creator types as well as productivity users looking for a powerful laptop for office use.
Top Gaming Laptops Under $500 – Runner-Up
Much like the MSI GV15 Thin 11SC-633 gaming laptop, the ASUS TUF Gaming F15 FX506LH-AS51 15.6-inch laptop is priced above $500, however with the deals on these laptops it is worth forking out a few extra bucks to get a machine with a dedicated GPU.
MSI have opted for a less aggressive design, going for a brushed matte black all-plastic casing that is incredibly sturdy. In fact, The TUF Gaming FX506LH-AS51 meets military standards of durability, so it can withstand bumps, drops and temperature fluctuations. The Full-HD display has a blazing fast refresh rate of 144 Hz, so it is super responsive, and it is an anti-glare IPS panel.
Where this laptop shines is in its components. Thanks to its Intel i5-10300H CPU and respectable 8GB of DDR4 RAM, day-to-day task handling is largely effortless. Couple this with its 4GB NVIDIA GTX 1650 and you get a machine that is geared towards gamers looking to get the most out of their favourite modern AAA titles, content creators looking to edit videos on demanding editing software, or alternatively those looking for a suitable laptop for office purposes. Bear in mind that while the PCIe 512GB SSD is spacious for most users, game libraries aren’t known to be small, so if you are a serious gamer looking to have everything installed on your hard drive, you may need to upgrade your storage. It should be noted that the CPU is a generation behind our top pick, the MSI GV15 Thin 11SC-633, which ships with a 6 core i5-11400H, while the Intel i5-10300H CPU only has 4 cores. A more detailed comparison can be seen here.
Its RGB chiclet-style keyboard features highlighted WASD keys as well as full numeric keys. Many found that each stroke has good feedback, and the multi-gesture touchpad is responsive. You also get a decent selection of ports, including three USB-A 3.2 ports, one USB Type-C 3.2 port, and the usual HDMI 2.0b, 3.5 mm audio jack and Ethernet port. The Wi-Fi 6 means you’ll be able to maintain a reliable connection to your internet, and you also get the latest Windows 11.
- Incredible value
- Snappy performance
- Spacious 512GB SSD
- Responsive 144Hz FHD display
- Runs hot under load
- Entry-level GPU
- , 1920 x 1080 pixels (IPS)
- Windows 11 S
- 7.25 hours battery life
- 5.07 lbs
Summary & Score
There are fewer better deals than the ASUS TUF Gaming F15 FX506LH-AS51 15.6-inch laptop, with its dedicated NVIDIA GTX 1650 GPU, the quad-core Intel i5-10300H CPU and 8GB of RAM, making it a great option for those looking to play more demanding games at 1080p settings.
The Acer Aspire 5 Slim A515-43-R19L is a bestselling budget laptop with a Full-HD high quality IPS display and high quality audio engine as well as AMD Vega 3 Mobile Graphics.
Unfortunately, it’s integrated AMD graphics card won’t be able to handle newer games that are more demanding. That said, many top tier titles from 2017 or earlier will be able to run fine at acceptable framerates medium settings at 1366×768 resolution. These include popular games such as Dota 2, League of Legends and CS:GO. For more playable titles be sure to check framerates at the link below.
If you are happy playing older titles, then this Acer Aspire 5 Slim model has the best looking screen you can get for the price. To boot it features a low key premium lightweight design including a backlit keyboard.
On the down side, some reviewers were critical of a below average touchpad (no problem for gaming on a mouse) and slightly shorter than advertised battery life.
Overall, if screen quality is top of your gaming requirements and you’d like to enjoy older games, the A515-43-R19L will get the job done. Otherwise you may be better off looking at some more pricey alternatives for gaming.
- High quality IPS display with good contrast
- Lightweight design with aluminium top cover
- Backlit keyboard
- Graphics only suitable for older games
- Flimsy touchpad
- Limited storage space out the box
- 15.6 inch, 1920 x 1080 pixels (IPS)
- Windows 10 Home
- 7.5 hours battery life
- 3.97 lbs
Summary & Score
The Acer Aspire 5 Slim A515-43-R19L provides enough graphics to run for older games on low settings and snappy Windows performance at a bargain price.
AMD’s introduction to the laptop market has resulted in high quality and powerful components being fitted into machines that end up selling at incredibly decent prices. Take the HP 14-fq1021nr 14-inch laptop for example. It ships with an incredible 2.1GHz AMD Ryzen 5 5500U CPU, which features 6 cores and 12 threads; a generous 8GB of memory, which is fitted in one of the two slots; and integrated AMD Radeon graphics. While this isn’t as powerful as a machine like the Lenovo IdeaPad Gaming 3 that features a dedicated GPU, it will undoubtedly run old games well, and newer titles at reasonable settings, especially when fitted with an additional 8 GB of memory. An Amazon reviewer noted that once he added extra RAM, games such as Doom Eternal, Empire Sin, and Anno 1880 were all hitting between 30 – 60 fps at 1080p.
The laptop is compact, but the plastic body feels cheap and flimsy, so you would need to be cautious when you are on the go. At 12.76 x 8.86 x 0.71 inches and 3.77 lbs it is a great travel companion however, and the 7 hours of battery under light use is pretty decent for a machine that comes with these components. The 14-inch 1080p display is IPS, so you’re getting decent viewing angles.
Port selection includes a blazing fast USB-C port, two USB 3.0 ports and an HDMI 1.4b for an additional monitor. The latest Wi-Fi 6 technology ensures that you’re getting the most up-to-date connectivity options. Its cooling is also said to be impressive, and even under stress manages to run at a decent temp.
- Great priced for an AMD 5-series
- Impressive performance
- Respectable battery life
- Good quality display
- Decent cooling
- Flimsy feeling
- Quality control
- Average keyboard quality
- 14 inch, 1920 x 1080 pixels
- Windows 10 Home
- 9 hours battery life
- 3.77 lbs
Summary & Score
Students and working professionals would be cautioned against overlooking the HP 14 14-fq1021nr, which packs quite a decent punch for a laptop of this size. This is in part made possible by the affordability of AMD’s powerful 6-core CPU.
The Acer Aspire 5 A515-56-36UT, a very popular budget laptop that carries up-to-date components in a reasonably compact 0.7-inch body, is well suited to the needs of kids or college students thanks to its durable design and awesome price-to-performance ratio.
The Aspire 5’s aluminum lid offers some level of protection against day-to-day bumps and houses a sharp 1080p 15.6-inch display. The matte display is said to be dim during daylight hours, and it is better suited to rooms that are poorly lit. It fortunately has pretty decent color saturation, which helps with improving the vibrancy of movies and photo viewing.
The laptop is said to be easily upgradable and weighs in at around 4 pounds, which is light enough for lugging around with you on any given day. The 11th generation Intel Core i3-1135G4 processor, 4GB of RAM, and the built in Intel UHD graphic card means it packs some power, and it will run processes such as video calling, MS Office applications, as well streaming and basic video and photo editing fairly well. Additionally, it delivers a decent gaming experience too, with the reviewer below doing a thorough analysis of its gaming performance. Amazon does offer a range of customization for this model, so should you require more power, the options are always there.
The 128GB SSD storage is decent considering that most popular laptops in this price range have storage options of 32 or 64 GB, and the fact that it is a 128GB NVMe SSD means your laptop and programs will boot up in a matter of seconds, and in combination with the Intel Core i3-1135G4 processor and 4GB of Ram, your laptop will be highly responsive.
The chiclet full-sized keyboard with a numpad on the right-hand side should accommodate even the largest hands comfortably, and the backlighting allows you to use it in dimly lit areas. While Acer claims the laptop has 8 hours of battery life, customers have noted that it only pushes around 5 hours on a single charge. The built-in speakers are also said to be too soft for some users, however, a bluetooth speaker could mitigate this issue. Additionally, port selection is solid. You get three USB-A ports, a USB-C port, as well as an Ethernet and HDMI port for connecting an external display.
- Responsive performance
- Solid price-to-performance ratio
- Great port selection
- Decent storage considering the price
- Poor built-in speaker volume
- Dim display
- 15.6 inch, 1920 x 1080 pixels (TN)
- Windows 10 S
- 8 hours battery life
- 4.19 lbs
Summary & Score
The Acer Aspire 5 A515-56-36UT houses components that allow day-to-tasks to be carried without much effort, making it suited to power and casual users alike, however, the display could be improved and the built-in speakers leave a lot to be desired.
- TechRadar Cheap Gaming Laptops Under $1000
- PCMag Cheap Gaming Laptop Guide
- LaptopMag Cheap Gaming Laptop Guides
If you want an overview of some other options our best gaming laptops overall guide offers some more options to suit any budget. We also strongly recommend checking our gaming laptops under $600 guide which usually offers laptops with substantial gains in gaming performance. Digging deeper more power users may will want to check out our guides to the best gaming laptops under $1000, the best gaming laptops under $1500, our, if you can afford it, our guide to the best VR-Ready and high-end gaming laptops featuring gaming laptops powerful enough to max out more demanding games.
If you are on a mean budget then our best gaming laptops under $300 guide may also help, though we strongly recommend upping your budget if you plan on playing any newer games. If you aren’t a gamer then you’ll want to head over to our standard guide to laptops under $500 for non-gaming laptops or forever hold your peace.
If you are still not sure on getting a gaming laptop or a desktop gaming pc, our guide to the best cheap gaming desktops over on our sister site DesktopNinja may also help.
Gaming Laptops Under $500 – Honorable Mentions
For work and play, look no further than the Lenovo IdeaPad 3 14-inch laptop. At its current discounted price, it makes our top pick on this list of budget gaming laptops given its decent selection of hardware for those on a tight budget.
The Abyss Blue plastic casing, while cheap-feeling, has an understated, clean design that is both slim, measuring 0.78 inches thick, and light, weighing in at 3.11 lbs. The 14-inch 1920 x 1080 display is dim, however most have found that it is sufficiently bright for indoor use, and the fact that it is an IPS display means that it will offer decently wide viewing angles.
The IdeaPad 3 comes packed with decent hardware. The 256GB SSD will keep your machine feeling snappy and boot it will boot up in seconds. The 8GB of RAM and the decent 6-core AMD Ryzen 5 5500U processor run the show together with the AMD Radeon 7 graphics. You will run most older games at higher settings, while also allowing you to run some of the new titles at lower settings while hitting between 40 – 60 fps, including Fortnite, Valorant, and a few other popular titles.
The decent mid-range components also make this well suited to professionals looking for a laptop for office use or for college students. Video and photo editing applications will run reasonably well, as well as those looking to run slightly more resource-hogging programs, such as design programs like CAD.
- Excellent value for money
- Lightweight design
- Great day-to-day task handling
- Good battery life
- Dim display
- All-plastic design feels cheap
- Runs hot
- Flimsy feeling keyboard
- 14 inch, 1920 x 1080 pixels (IPS)
- Windows 10 Home
- 8 hours battery life
- 3.11 lbs
Summary & Score
Despite its shortcomings, the Lenovo IdeaPad 3 14-inch laptop is a reliable budget machine which has exceeded many users’ expectations with its, excellent value, snappy performance and solid battery life.
Buying Guide & FAQ
Before we continue we recommend that you read our laptop buying guide which is perfect for beginners and experienced gamers alike. It will help you get the lowdown on what you’ll need to know to make the smartest decision for on a gaming laptop for your needs.
Should I look for integrated or dedicated graphics for under $500?
One thing that might be tricky at this price level in the budget gaming laptop market is trying to choose between laptops with integrated graphics, which comes part of the CPU, or dedicated (discrete) graphics, which uses dedicated hardware to power your laptops graphics.
The answer is that dedicated graphics card is almost always better if cost will allow it. Unfortunately, you will very rarely find a gaming laptop under $500 with a dedicated graphics card. Only gaming laptops for under $600 or higher will offer dedicated cards so if you can afford it we highly recommend looking at one of our other guides.
Lately CPU manufacturers have also been improving integrated graphics enough that they can still be a viable option, though you will be limited to playing only older games. If going the integrated route lookout for AMD Ryzen CPU’s which offer the best in-class integrated performance.
How do I upgrade the RAM on my laptop?
Often budget gaming laptops will come with a minimum amount of RAM but offer easy upgrade options which are highly recommended. Upgrading RAM may seem like something out of a science fiction movie to some, but upgrading your RAM is actually very easy on most laptops and usually only takes a few minutes. Read our guide on boosting laptop performance by adding RAM for full notes and instructions on what to expect and to see if an upgrade is possible for your laptop.
How do I upgrade the hard drive on my laptop?
Upgrading your laptop hard drive is slightly harder than the RAM but is still relatively easy on most laptop models. What’s very important is to find out if there is an extra hard drive bay available for a new hard drive, or if you’ll need to take out your current one and replace it which also involves reinstalling Windows.
Some laptops will have a spare slot available, and older laptops with DVD drives can swap out the DVD drive for an additional hard drive caddy on most laptop models. The benefit of course is a lot of extra space for your files, and in the case of laptop SSD hard drive upgrades, a large boost in loading times and overall performance too.
This brings our list of the top cheap gaming laptops under $500 to a close. For those with a few more dollars to spend be sure to head over to our other guides covering the best gaming laptops for more powerful machines that will up the ante and take your gaming experience to the next level. Check back soon for more awesome laptop deals and gaming glory.
These affordable gaming laptops may not be able to play the most modern games on the highest settings, but that doesn’t detract from the glory of being able to game on the move without coming even close to breaking the bank. Either way relative to the amount of games out there (golden oldies and recent titles included) you’d be surprised how the amount of games you can play stacks up against those that you can’t. These top gaming laptops will cruise through popular games like Minecraft and DOTA 2 without breaking a sweat as well as many newer titles.