12 Best Gaming Laptops Under $300 in 2018
Gaming laptops are rather expensive, let’s face it. If you want to play an AAA title and stay portable on your laptop, you may need to take out a small loan. That said, there are plenty of options if you don’t need to run the latest and greatest at the maximum framerate.
There are several price points to consider with portable gaming rigs, but finding the best gaming laptop under $300 is like finding a needle in a haystack. There are hundreds of options in that range, but performance is going to vary depending on what lies under the hood.
With any budget-friendly laptop, corners are going to be cut which leaves us to focus on a few key areas. Unfortunately, the display isn’t one of them as you will need plenty of RAM and a fast processor to ensure you’ve got a shot at playing your favorite title.
If you are just looking to play Indies on Steam or games in your browser things open up considerably. That said, you won’t find any MacBooks or Chromebooks on our list as Windows is a universal platform for gamers.
Top 12 Gaming Laptops Under $300 Table
|Design||Name||Optical Drive||Display||Rating (1-5)|
|1. 2017 ASUS Premium High Performance 14″ Full HD 1920×1080 Flagship Laptop||No||14”||4.1|
|2. HP 14-an013nr 14-Inch Notebook||No||14”||4.0|
|3. 2017 HP Pavilion x2 Detachable Premium 2-in-1 Laptop Tablet||No||14”||4.0|
|4. ASUS L402SA Portable Lightweight Laptop PC||No||10.1”||4.0|
|5. Lenovo N22 11.6-inch High Performance Laptop Notebook||No||14”||3.9|
|6. 2017 HP 15.6″ HD WLED Backlit Display Laptop||No||11.6”||3.8|
|7. HP 15-F222WM 15.6″ Touch Screen Laptop||Yes||15.6”||3.7|
|8. Lenovo Ideapad 310 15.6″ Laptop, Black||No||15.6”||3.7|
|9. Dell i3552-3240BLK 15.6″ HD Laptop||Yes||15.6”||3.6|
|10. Lenovo Flex 3 11.6″ TouchScreen 2-in-1 Laptop PC||Yes||15.6”||3.5|
|11. 2017 Lenovo Premium Built High Performance 15.6 inch HD Laptop||No||11.6”||3.5|
|12. Lenovo IdeaPad 15.6 Inch HD Laptop||Yes||15.6”||3.4|
Shopping Tips for Gamers
These laptops may not play Dying Light or GTA V at the maximum settings, but they do offer up plenty of punch for the price.
If you have a particular game in mind that you want to play, check the system requirements. Every title will have minimum and maximum system requirements listed, which gives you a rough idea of how your system will perform. If your favorite title needs an Intel i7 and 6GB of RAM at the minimum… well, none of our picks are going to make that cut. The best gaming laptops under $300 are mainly geared towards lighter fare including browser-based games, classics, and indies on Steam.
That said, there is a bit of wiggle room, as you do not have to run everything at a full frame rate. Many games also allow you to dial things down a few notches by adjusting in-game settings. The more high-quality the game, the more you can adjust. You can turn down the shaders and tinker with other settings like lighting, distance, and textures. You may get an extra boost by overclocking, one feature that some models in the budget-friendly class still support.
- RAM – Otherwise known as memory, this is the place where your processor can read and write data randomly. It is also the opposite of ROM, which we will get to shortly. The more RAM you have, the better off you are as it allows your PC to run at full speed without being slowed down by other tasks.
- Processor – This is your horsepower. When looking for the best gaming laptop under $300, get familiar with AMD and Intel dual-core chips. Quad-core processors are what you will want to shoot for in this class with the Intel i3 and i5 series being your best bet. The rule of thumb is the more “cores,” the better and always go for Intel if it’s within your range.
- Storage – While not quite as important as our first two areas of concern, you still need plenty of storage. If you have a machine capable of running a high-end game, there is a good chance that game takes up a whole lot of space. That could be anywhere from 2GB to 200GB depending on the title. Expansions and updates can take up room as well.
On the plus side, every laptop on our list has a USB port which means you can expand. Some laptops even allow you to easily swap the hard drive through a plate in the bottom or slot on the side. It varies by model and manufacturer, but storage is the one area you can always upgrade to a degree.
Top 5 Best Gaming Laptop Under $300 Reviews
The first thing you will notice about the ASUS Premium HD laptop is the fact it is very thin. Measuring only .8”, it will leave a small footprint and won’t weigh you down at only 3.2 lbs. It may be lithe, but it still has a large 14” TrueLife LED display with a resolution of 1,920 x 1,080. The company also managed to cram 4GB of RAM and 32GB of storage under the hood as well.
As you might suspect, staying slim comes at a bit of a cost. In this case, it’s the optical drive that has been cut, so we hope you don’t plan on using any older CD or DVD games. The processor ensures this one won’t be able to handle anything too meaty regardless as it’s a dual-core Celeron N3060. In a nutshell, it has the guts of a smartphone in the body of a laptop.
This laptop runs the 64-bit version of Windows 10 out of the box and has all the standard bells & whistles as well; this includes a webcam, a couple of USB ports (one 3.0), and HDMI port, Bluetooth and 802.11BGN Wi-Fi. As mentioned, this will not be able to handle any top-tier games but won’t break the bank and is perfect for Steam-based Indies, browser games, and titles with lower requirements.
HP is known for putting out affordable PC’s whether they sit on your desktop or lap. The HP 14-an013nr notebook fits that bill and slides into the top spot as the best gaming laptop under $300. As mentioned, a few corners have been cut with this model, but before we get to that, let’s talk about what it brings to the table.
As the name implies, this is a 14-inch laptop, and the resolution is solid at 1,920 x 1,080. By comparison, that’s the same resolution as most mid-range smartphones which means web-based games and even top-tier titles will look sharp. There is 4GB of RAM under the hood, but the processor is an AMD E2-7100 APU which is a quad-core chip not known for its gaming prowess. The same can be said for the graphics which are integrated, and there is no optical drive.
On a positive note, you do get DTS Studio Sound with this model, so you will be able to hear bullets whiz past your head in FPS games or swords hitting shields in your favorite RPG. Other perks include an HD webcam, Windows 10 and a battery that will provide around 5 hours of juice.
While the first two laptops on our list are of the traditional variety, we are switching things up with the HP Pavilion X2 Laptop. This one is a convertible 2-in-1 device meaning you can detach the top from the keyboard to game untethered if you so choose. As for the types of games, you will be able to play; your selection is going to be somewhat limited due to the innards.
The Pavilion X2 only comes with 2GB of RAM, which is a significant drop from the standard 4GB we see on most laptops these days. The processor is a quad-core Intel Atom x5-Z8350 clocked at 1.44GHz but can be “bumped up” through a Turbo Boost to 1.9GHz. The graphics are about what you would expect with the Intel HD setup, but you will get a 32GB SSD drive under the hood and a Type-C USB port.
The nature of this one means a few more corners had to be cut as it is small and geared more towards gamers on the go. It still has all the basic features you could ask for, however, and also sports a 10.2-inch IPS touchscreen with a resolution of 1,280 x 800 and 10-finger touch.
Asus has produced scores of lightweight laptops over the years including the L402SA. This particular device made the cut due to the fact is sports a solid 14” display with a resolution of 1,366 x 768. The display is of the LCD variety and will get the job done when it comes to general use or gaming. It also saves a bit on the battery life as this thin laptop only tops out at around 6 hours before you will need to look for a wall socket.
The L402SA rocks a dual-core processor from Intel and comes with 4GB of RAM and 32GB of storage space. As a gamer, the full-size Chiclet keyboard may come in handy along with the audio setup. It has dual speakers with large 9cc chambers directly under the palm rest. The light little laptop is available in Blue and Gold running Windows 10 out of the box.
When it comes to looks, the Lenovo N22 does not look like it belongs anywhere near the gaming scene. It’s small at only 11.6-inches and is a little heavy in the bezel department as well. Don’t let the looks fool you. The N22 lives up to its high-powered name with 4GB of RAM and an Intel dual-core chip clocked at 1.6GHz. It also has a 64GB SSD, which is larger than some laptops in its class and faster than a typical SSD.
You’re not going to get an optical drive on the N22, but you will get an HD webcam, SD card reader and HDMI slot and two USB ports – one of which is a 3.0. The webcam rotates 180-degrees, and while the audio is integrated, the stereo speakers are loud and clear. Another perk is its water resistance. You don’t want to toss it in the pool, but the keyboard can withstand spills. It’s the lightest laptop on our list at only 2.8 pounds and will run the 64-bit version Windows 10 Pro.