Gaming laptops have come a long way in recent years. Where once they were vastly inferior to PCs, contemporary gaming laptops are equipped with components that no longer sacrifice performance for build. Today, more people are using laptops as their preferred way to game, with a recent report finding that the global market for gaming laptops is valued at almost $11 billion USD (13.81 billion CAD). There are a wide range of laptops on the market, and a top-end gaming laptop can easily set you back $3,000 or more. However, for those who want to play top-tier games on the move but don’t want to spend over $2,000, there is also a good selection of models.
What Makes a Good Gaming Laptop?
Different panel types are mostly based on colour preference and viewing angle. But you’ll likely be facing front because you’re gaming. So what you need to look for is a low response time (less than 10 milliseconds) combined with a high refresh rate (above 60 Hz). Low response time means your screen reacts quicker and displays changes in less time. Meanwhile, refresh rate is measured in Hertz to show how many times per second your screen can display a new image.
Good Battery Performance
Gaming laptops are meant to take a beating in terms of running demanding applications. So you want to have a robust motherboard and battery combination. The last thing you want is a sudden shutdown. Make sure the power integrity of the device’s internal electronic components can withstand the heat and currents that will be produced by your gaming. This makes your gaming laptop less likely to die on you mid-game. It’s also best to look at battery life under load, lasting over two hours unplugged.
Your processor, RAM, and GPU need to be powerful enough to handle the demands of recent AAA titles. This is especially the case as developers continue to create more demanding releases like Control and Cyberpunk 2077 from the last few years. Processors need to be powerful in both single- and multi-core operations. RAM should be at least 8GB. It’s also best to have a dedicated graphics card rather than going integrated.
Best Options Under $2,000 Today
The following models are among the best for their performance and component value. Each model includes a Windows 10 OS and has an IPS display.
This thin-bezel MSI laptop can be found at this price range online and boasts a 15.6-inch (1920 x 1080) screen with a 120Hz refresh rate and 3ms response time. It’s also lightweight at 4.1 lbs. There are different variants with changing components, but the best features you can get for this price are as follows:
CPU – Intel i7-10750H 2.6 GHz / Intel i5-9300H 2.4GHz
Storage – 512 GB SSD
Memory – 8 GB DDR4-2666 Mhz, upgradeable up to 64GB
Graphics – Nvidia GeForce RTX 2060 6GB / Nvidia GeForce GTX 1660 Ti 6GB
This model is a flagship entry from Dell and is available at just a little under $1,000 when ordered directly online. Its 15.6-inch (1920 x 1080) display clocks a 120Hz refresh rate and 3ms response gray to gray. It’s a little heavier at 5.39 lbs but compensates with a thermal design with dual air intake. This is helpful for cooling internal temperatures under heavy loads. Again, there are different variants but here are the best choices for this price range:
CPU – Intel i5-10200H 2.4Ghz / AMD Ryzen 5 5600H 3.3 GHz
Storage – 512 GB SSD / 256 GB NVMe SSD
Memory – 16GB DDR4 3200MHz / 8GB DDR4 3200 MHz (both upgradeable to 64GB)
Graphics – Nvidia GeForce GTX 1650 4GB / Nvidia GeForce RTX 3050 4GB
The Nitro 5 is a bit hefty at 5.94 lbs, but amply supports its 15.6-inch (1920 x 1080) screen. The monitor boasts a 144Hz IPS display with a 3ms response time. This model’s $999 variant starts with older specs than the previous two to lower its price, but can still take on today’s games. It also provides more storage space, a higher refresh rate, and longer battery life. There are other new computers from Acer with better features, but those come at a slight price increase and reduced storage space. Here are this model’s specs:
CPU – Intel i5-7300HQ 2.5 GHz
Storage – 1 TB HDD
Memory – 8 GB DDR4 2666MHz, upgradeable to 32GB
Graphics – Nvidia GeForce GTX 1050 Ti 4GB
Each model in this selection serves up something different, giving users great choices for gaming without spending a fortune. When you find the model that best fits your preferences, you should be able to happily game with the right balance of budget and performance.