Although prices for laptop computers have dropped enormously in the past few years, buying a gaming laptop on a budget can still be rather complicated. A budget gaming laptop can be defined as the cheapest and most basic laptop that has a dedicated graphics card. Almost all of the lower-end laptops have integrated graphics cards making them all but useless for gaming. A dedicated graphics card of the most basic specification will allow you to play most games currently on the market on low to medium settings and sometimes on high. Remember that since you will only be playing on a small screen, you won’t be playing the game in the high resolutions that you would if you were playing on a desktop computer with, for example, a 22 inch screen. This makes the requirements a great deal lower. As a rough guide, to play a game on full settings on a 14″ laptop screen at its native resolution will require a much lower specification than a desktop running the same game on the same settings at a resolution of 1680×1050.
How Much Should I Expect to Spend?
The absolute minimum that you can expect to get a budget gaming laptop for is around $700. If you buy one second hand or get one on a special B-grade stock offer, you may be able to save a little more. This amount can get you a machine that has a dedicated PCI-Express graphics card with up to 512 M B of memory. Such a machine will happily run most older games on high settings, but don’t expect adequate performance in demanding games such as Crysis For a machine that will play anything adequately at the native resolution of the computer and on high settings, you will need to spend upwards of $1200.
Don’t Be Encouraged by Big Numbers
Manufacturers often advertise their laptop computers putting a great emphasis on enormous hard disk or RAM sizes. However, these specifications have little to no influence on the performance of games. Almost everything that counts is the graphics card when it comes to playing games and this is especially the case with a laptop. A laptop that has even an entry level graphics card will have a dual core CPU and plenty of memory anyway. A laptop that has 4 GB of memory, a quad core CPU and a 500 GB hard drive is absolutely useless for gaming if it only has an integrated Intel graphics solution.
Best Budget Laptop Graphics
If money is your primary concern when it comes to buying a laptop for gaming, it may be best to go for a laptop that has a graphics card from one of the slightly older series. For example, the older generation of nVidia graphics cards including the 8600 and 8800 series can still perform adequately in most games. The new generation graphics chips including the 9800 are slightly better and the newest from the GT425 and upwards is better still, but far more expensive. In this case, the cost to performance ratio is less attractive.