Budget Gaming Laptops Buying Guide
Let us remind you that laptops when used for basic work and simple operation will not require as much processing power as compared to when it is used for gaming. A laptop gets it power mainly from its processor and along with a powerful processor, a lot of memory is needed too.
These two main factors play an important role in the price of a laptop. When a laptop has high grade hardware, it will perform better but unfortunately also cost you more. As we are talking about budget gaming laptops in this post, we must inform you in advance that you cannot expect anything highly impressive or extremely high grade.
The laptops we covered are all great laptops for everyday computing and most of them actually carry more value for the price but they are not fully designed to run all sorts of games. Our listed laptops may be good enough to play certain types of games but may fall short of the power and specs needed to be able to play games that require very high settings.
And we think that is fair enough and well expected given the low price tags. Now, to make things easier for you, we have included a buying guide that covers all the aspects of the $300 price range. This guide will help you pick the best gaming laptop under 300. Ready? Let’s go.
CPU and Graphics
The brain behind all the works of a laptop is the Central Processing Unit (CPU). A fast working CPU will provide you with smooth operation and enable you to play games, surf the web and edit photos faster.
Intel– Without a doubt Intel processors are the most preferred processors currently, mostly because of their speed and high powered performances. While Intel processors are found in wide ranges, from the very best Intel Core i5 / i7 H Series to the lowest performing Intel Atom Series, you will mostly find the Intel Celeron and Intel Pentium on the budget models.
Celeron and Pentium CPUs are ideal for web surfing and isn’t that great for gaming but as they are budget-minded processors, they are the most common kinds to find in laptops that cost around $300 to $400.
The base clock ranges from anywhere between 1.6 GHz to 2.1 GHz with maximum turbo of 2.5 GHz. In terms of GPU, most Pentium and Celeron models come with HD graphics or HD 400/ 510.
AMD– These processors are also good but if you want the best AMD processors then expect to spend a lot more than $300 on your gaming laptop. One of the most budget friendly models is the AMD A6- 7310 which is a quad-core entry level processor.
It works on a clock speed of 2.0 GHz but can be upped to 2.4 GHz with the help of the TurboCore function. The integrated GPU, AMD Radeon R4 is equipped with 128 Radeon cores and operates at a clock speed of up to 800MHz. When compared to an Intel graphic card, the AMD Radeon R4 is more or less equivalent to the Intel HD Graphics 4200.
Gaming isn’t all that great but it is just about okay to play games that are less demanding and require less power in settings.
If your core interest in a laptop is to use it for gaming purposes then the RAM has to be sufficient enough. For the most reliable gaming experience you will need at least 6 gigabytes and DDR3 or DDR4. Keep in mind that integrated graphics (most common in budget laptops) will use the unit’s RAM so having low memory will affect the performance by a great deal.
Unfortunately budget gaming laptops usually have around 4GB of RAM. If you can exceed your budget and afford something around the $400 line and above then you can expect 8GB of RAM without any tension.
This is particularly important if you like to store a lot of data in your laptop. The good news is that most of the laptops listed above have at least 500 GB of storage capacity on the hard drive. This is enough to keep your favorite movies, tons of photos and music all loaded in your laptop accessing anytime without any networking.
The Lenovo Ideapad 320 has an amazing 1TB storage space, something worth mentioning considering its low price tag. Larger storage also enables you to install more games, so that is something to look at if you wish to store your favorite games for offline gaming.
You can go for small display sizes if you want a smaller laptop or notebook in general. They are more portable and weigh less, making them ideal for when you hit the road or need to carry them around in your hand. Displays can be as small as 10 inches to somewhere around 17 inches and more.
Having a larger display will give you a better experience in viewing movies, photos and playing games where the characters and images look bigger and more realistic. However, the most common display size in budget- friendly laptops is around 14 to 15.6 inches, maybe 16 inches at the most.
Bigger displays mean heavier laptops so keep that in mind if you want something light weight and portable.
This is the measurement of the pixels on screen, positioned horizontally and vertically. A 14 inch display may have a screen resolution of 1366 x 768 and so can a 15.6 Inch display but in this case the 15.6 display will have its pixels stretched over a bigger panel compared to the 14 inch display, resulting in lesser quality screening.
For example the ASUS VivoBook 14” laptop has a screen resolution of 1920 x 1080, which is considerably high for its smaller display, thus giving you better picture quality. Higher resolution also gives you more desk-top space as the icons appear smaller. But if you like bigger icons and texts then you can go for lesser screen resolutions.
Having LED back lighting is a good way to save the battery as it consumes less energy and also delivers better contrast. Opposite to the LED back light, compact fluorescent tubes may sit behind LCD panels which do not do much for the lighting quality.
Most users who use their laptops outdoors and under the sun prefer to have this technology on the screen as it makes viewing easy and comfortable. Anti-glare displays are matte or have very little gloss on the screen’s coating, whereas shiny displays have glossy coatings.
A glossy display will provide you with better contrast and brightness but it isn’t the best option for the outdoors on a bright and sunny day.
You will want your laptop to have wireless networking which is essential for almost every task these days. Be it for downloading movies and games, or just replying to emails, you will need to have Wi-Fi support. The most common these days in laptops within a lower price range is the 802.11 b/g/n or the much faster 802.11 a/c Wi-Fi.
Another important feature is Bluetooth compatibility as this allows you to connect your mobile phone, camera and other Bluetooth activated devices.
If you wish to plug your laptop to a wired network then you can do so only if the unit comes with an Ethernet port which connects the cable to the unit.
Quite common in laptops these days, built-in Optical drives enable you to play DVDs and CDs without having to invest in an external DVD drive. Some can even read, write and burn DVDs/CDs which is a good option to have.
Although gaming does not require a webcam and having one will not be of any advantage during play but it is still a nice feature to have for a number of other reasons. A webcam allows you to make video calls to family and friends when you cannot go see them personally. It is also great for interviews through Skype and for other official and personal uses.
The built-in speakers will either provide you with crisp and clear sound or dull and low sound depending on the quality. The speakers are very important if you truly want to enjoy playing games because with the correct sound effects and surroundings you will have a better experience. This also applies to when watching movies or listening to music on the laptop.
The whole point of selecting a laptop for whatever task is because of its portability and convenience and having a good battery is crucial in that matter. Remember that playing games will kill battery life like no other so you need a high quality battery with longer running time.
Battery life can range from as low as 3 hours to anywhere above 12 hours depending on the model of the laptop. From the list above, the ASUS VivoBook claims to have a 12 hour battery life where as the Dell Inspiron i3552-4042BLK is said to have a battery that lasts for 8 hours.
Anything above 5 hours is satisfactory although it depends on usage.
Tags: buy, buying guide, gaming
Categorised in: Budget Gaming Laptops