Now this is a real challenge someone emailed to me the other day. To find best gaming laptops under $500 dollars or less. The problem in this sort of bracket is not usually the RAM. You can get laptops for gaming with decent speed RAM for less than $500 and also with a decent amount of GB.
The biggest problem is the suck that the graphics takes on processing power. This problem is multiplied if the graphics card or chip set is not up to the job. Yes you can drop the game graphics, shadows, anti-liaising, blood effects, smoke effects, fog and resolution, but there comes a point where you think What is the point.
You have lost the beauty of the programming and experience you have paid for
Top Laptops for Gaming Under 500
Alienware M14X 14 Laptop
The best gaming laptop to me is Alienware. Of course these laptop are not under $500, in fact you can look at 3-4 times that so there has to be some compromise. Whether that compromise is worth it is something you and your bank account have to decide.
The Must Have Features
Now even if you are trying to get a cheap gaming laptop under $500 dollars you still need to understand the essentials.
- The Hard Drive. Not so much of a problem as it used to be, hard drive are generally bigger and faster than they used to be. Even so you are looking for a big one. A minimum of 500-600GB is a must. Even with this you will be limited as to the number of high end games you will be running. Strategy games such as Total War are massive these days and they access the hard drive more than pure first person shooters. The bigger the better. Remember you might still need room for normal stuff as well.
- Graphics cards & Chip Set. If you see a cheap laptop and you want it for gaming, likelihood is that it has an integrated chip set such as the standard Intel one. If this is the case forget about serious or even semi-serious gaming. It just wont cut it. What you nee are seriously powerful stuff like the ATI Radeon serious or NVidia range of graphics. The higher the memory on these cards that you can afford the better. This is the heart of your gaming experience, so don’t compromise much. Now finding gaming notebooks under 500 with these in is hard, so expect a long search.
So Are Gaming Laptops Under $500 A Reality Or Fantasy ?
Now that is the loaded question that you have to wrestle with. If the question was: ” So are new gaming laptops under 500 dollars a reality or fantasy?”. The answer would be a lot easier : “It would be that it is a lot more fantasy then reality. You might find one occasionally.”
For example I just looked at Amazon. The cheapest one I can find is an Asus X54C-BBK3 laptop which new is $543. The specification is okay at first glance.
- 4GB DDR3 which is the low end for performance,
- it does have an Nvidia GeForce 540M which isnt bad,
- but is let down by a 320GB hard drive which is really too low.
The Real Alternatives
So lets get back to planet reality and look at the choices for us ordinary mortals who cant afford $2k for a notebook for gaming. The first choice is to save up some more money and increase your budget to say $800 or more. This is an area where we can probably do some serious business. You suddenly open up a lot more choices.
The second option if really looking for cheap laptops that cost less than 500 is to bite your pride and look at new or refurbished ones. Its something I have been pushing people to for some time.
The age of just buying the latest releases in anything is gone. We have to protect our money more than ever and make it work harder and smarter in this day and age.
Read also: best college laptops
Used & Refurbished Laptops For Less Than $500
So lets have a look at what we can find first of all in this price range.
Ah now there’s something rather sleek, sexy and grabs my attention straight away:
Dell 17 XPS M1730
Of course the name suggests what it is built for and the look is pretty cool if that appeals to you. With a few minutes of searching on Amazon.com I found these used laptops for gaming for sale at under $500.
Well I cheated a bit as they are selling for $500. What did I like about them?
- 17″ screen. Bigger than the normal 15 or so laptop screens.
- This is going to enhance my gaming experience and make those graphics more enjoyable and immersive. The maximum res goes up to 1920 x 1200 pixels, which is pretty good.Of course this makes the graphics work that much harder and slower, but I know my top end now.
- NVidia GeForce 8700M GT 512MB graphics card. Now thats not bad at all. Half a gig graphics should be fine and give a great gaming experience without toning down too much.
- 500GB hard drive. Yes this is on the minimum line, but if you stick to buying laptops under $500 then this is better than most of the alternatives.
To my mind, not every thing is perfect or top of the range or capabilities that you want for a cheap notebook for gaming. But the combination is pretty impressive and stacks up well. In fact, its better than most of the other new and used alternatives which all have one area of real weakness.
I hope this has shown you that if you do look hard and consider other alternatives then it is possible to get gaming laptops cheaper than the new top of the range mega-machines and much better than what else is on offer for less than $500.
My advice is to bide your time
If you cant find anything like the Dell laptop above, don’t settle for a poor cousin. Listings are changing all the time so wait it out and you can find some real gems.