With graphics cards and new CPU shortages making it extremely difficult to upgrade your desktop right now, you might be thinking of buying a whole new gaming laptop instead, especially if you've been looking for a more portable way of enjoying your favourite games around the house. The good news is that you're in the right place, as I've rounded up the best gaming laptop deals in the UK and US that cost less than £1000 / $1000. Most laptops in this price range won't be able to play games on max settings at 60fps, admittedly, but there are still a couple of well-specced gaming laptops to be found out there, as well as plenty with high refresh rate displays. So, to help you get the best budget gaming laptop deal, we've put together this list of what we think represents the best value for money. Whatever you're after, these are the best budget gaming laptop deals happening in the UK and US right now.
A lot of the very best gaming laptops still cost several thousands of pounds / dollars these days, but as long as you're happy playing games on lower quality settings or just want something that will let you tend to your Stardew Valley crops on the go, then you can do all that and more on a machine that costs a heck of a lot less.
Naturally, the more you spend on a gaming laptop, the more you'll be able to get out of it, as more expensive models have more powerful components. At this end of the price spectrum, most gaming laptops tend to come with an Nvidia GeForce GTX 1650 or GTX 1660 Ti graphics chips, although there are still a few with more powerful RTX 2060 / RTX 3060 chips to be found if you look hard enough.
That said, both of the GTX chips should be more than enough for popular online shooters and 2D indie games, as well as older 3D titles as long as you keep the quality settings in check. We're also starting to see more entry-level AMD-powered gaming laptops in this price range, too, thanks to their increasingly common RX 5500M and RX 5600M graphics chips. You'll also find more information about what to look out for in a gaming laptop at the bottom of the page, but for now, here are the best budget gaming laptop deals around right now.
Best budget gaming laptop deals in the UK
Down from £729, this is a great set of specs for the money, especially when you compare it to the similarly-priced MSI GF63 Thin below. The 120Hz refresh rate is particularly appealing here, even if its RX 5500M graphics chip won't be able to make full use of it all the time. You'll feel the benefit if you regularly play lots of online, competitive shooters, but otherwise you're looking at very similar sorts of performance to the MSI below.
If you're looking for a thin and light gaming laptop, this MSI GF63 is one of the lightest 15.6in laptops around under our £1000 budget mark. It's not the most powerful machine in the world, but its 10th Gen Intel Core i5 CPU should give it plenty of punch for everyday desktop tasks, and its GTX 1650 graphics chip should be able to handle 2D indie games without much trouble at all.
For an extra £50, however, you can get more storage and a more powerful graphics chip with this HP Pavilion. At 2.3kg, it's a bit heavier than the MSI above, but given we're all stuck indoors at the moment, an extra 500g probably isn't going to be a huge deal breaker right now.
Lenovo's series of Legion laptops are some of my favourite gaming laptops of recent years, and this RTX 2060-powered 5i model is a real bargain for £899. it's rare to see an RTX 2060 chip for this kind of money, and you're also getting a 120Hz display, decent storage and a healthy 16GB of RAM, too. It's a great buy for under £1000 - although it's also worth noting that some of Nvidia's new RTX 30 series laptops will be available soon for just under £1000 (£995.95, to be precise) if you want to really make the most of your budget.
Down from £1236, this MSI doesn't have an RTX graphics chip like the similarly priced Lenovo above, but it does have a more powerful processor and a higher refresh rate display. It's quite a bit lighter, too, making it easier to lug around the house. A GTX 1660 Ti should still be perfectly capable of playing games on High to max settings at 1080p, though, and its more powerful processor will be a better fit for creative media tasks, too.
It only just about squeaks in to our £1000 budget, but if you want the latest and greatest when it comes to gaming laptop tech, this Gigabyte G5 is about as good as it gets. Not only does it come with one of Nvidia's brand-new RTX 3060 graphics chips, but it also has a 240Hz display to go with it.
A very similar spec to the Gigabyte G5 above, only this one comes with an even better processor (and equally new) processor. The 8GB of RAM is a bit of a fly in the ointment, admittedly, as is the downgrade to a 144Hz display, but personally I'd rather take the lower refresh rate if it meant getting a more powerful processor.
Best budget gaming laptop deals in the US
Like the GF63 Thin in the UK, this laptop isn't going to blow you away with its performance, but if you value a laptop that's thin, light and can do a bit of on-the-go gaming, then this GTX 1650 Max-Q-powered laptop is well worth considering. Its processor is a bit dated, but this is still a very competent laptop for the money.
Lenovo's Legion 5 gaming laptops are excellent mid-range gaming machines, and this AMD-powered model has a generous set of specs for the money. Other GTX 1660 Ti laptops I've tested have been able to run big blocksbuter games at 60fps on High settings, and the Legion 5 should be no exception in this regard.
Currently $80 off, this Acer Nitro 5 may have a slightly dated 9th Gen Intel processor, but the rest of this laptop's specs are pretty tempting for the money. As well as a 144Hz refresh rate display, you get a powerful RTX 2060 graphics chip and a decent-sized SSD for storing your games. It'snot massively heavy, either, and it comes with plenty of USB ports, too.
You'll need to apply for a rebate card to get this laptop below the $1000 line, but this AMD-powered laptop is a great bargain - especially when you can opt to get a free MSI headset and mouse mat for your trouble as well. This laptop has it all - a great graphics chip, a great processor, a healthy supply of RAM and buckets of storage. It's arguably a much better use of your money than the Acer Nitro 5 above, especially when it's only another $50 extra.
How to get the best budget gaming laptop deal:
To help you get a great budget gaming laptop deal, there are several things you might want to consider before clicking that buy button.
Size: Generally, gaming laptops come in two sizes - 15.6in and 17.3in. You may think that bigger is better, but we'd caution you against this. After all, the whole point of getting a gaming laptop rather than a desktop is portability, and 17.3in models just aren't that portable. They're fine if you're after a proper desktop replacement that you're not likely to move on a regular basis, but they do tend to be more expensive as a result.
CPU: Then there's the age-old Intel vs AMD debate. As a rule of thumb, AMD CPUs tend to be (slightly) slower and (much) cheaper, while Intel CPUs are more expensive but nippier. Still, if it's a choice between a Ryzen 5 and an Intel Core i3, then you should opt for the former. Intel CPUs are much more common in gaming laptops, but we're starting to see more and more AMD processors coming through thanks to their brand-new line of Ryzen 4000 chips. It's also important to watch out for the age of the processor.
Intel are currently on their 10th generation of mobile chips, such as the Core i5-10300H, but there are still plenty of older 9th Gen chips around if you're after a bit of a bargain. These are styled like the Core i5-9300H. AMD, meanwhile, are on their 4th generation of Ryzen chips, which you can identify by the number '4' in model names such as the Ryzen 5 4600H. Again, older laptops with 3rd Gen chips will be cheaper, but try and find a newer one if you can.
GPU: As for graphics chips, it's a similar picture between Nvidia and AMD, too. Once again, AMD is the cheaper option here, but Nvidia chips are a lot more common (and more powerful to boot). We'd recommend a minimum of an AMD Radeon RX 5500M or an Nvidia GeForce GTX 1660 Ti if you want your laptop to last a good couple of years playing games at decent speeds and quality settings.
RAM: You should also look for a laptop that has at least 8GB of RAM, and ideally 16GB if you can find one, although they do tend to be quite rare under £1000 / $1000. If you do opt for 8GB, dig into the details and see if you can add another 8GB stick yourself later on. This is the difference between a laptop with accessible RAM slots and those that have RAM soldered on.
Storage: Finally, it's important to think about storage. Pretty much all gaming laptops come with fast SSD storage these days, but the amount included can vary wildly. Getting a 256GB model will undoubtedly be cheaper, but think about the kind of games you want to play and see how far that will take you. If you can, try and get one with two drives or a large, single SSD so you can have lots of games installed at the same time.
Displays: Gaming laptop displays also tend to be pretty weak on budget gaming laptops, even if their specs sound reasonable. If we haven't reviewed the model ourselves, then look at customer reviews and see if common complaints emerge - screen ghosting, colour accuracy or low contrast.
Generally, IPS displays tend to have the best colour reproduction, while TN panels are fast and often considered better for esports and competitive games, but often aren't as accuracy as their IPS counterparts. You can read more about all the different types of panel in our Gaming monitor panel types explained article if you want to find out more.
Then there are other niggles like fan noise or excessive heat under the WASD keys. Again, if we haven't reviewed it, look at other customer reviews to see if these are particular problems. There's no gaming laptop that runs completely silently, but some are much louder than others. These are all things that might make you wish you'd spent a bit more in the long run.
Finally, while gaming laptops are great for portability, you may want to treat it like a desktop replacement when you're at home. If you do, then make sure to read our best gaming mouse, gaming keyboard and gaming headset guides to make sure you're kitted out with the best peripherals to help you make the most of your new laptop.