Best gaming laptop 2020… but on a budget!

Best gaming laptop 2020 on a budget!

In Computers & components, Gaming by Rex TiwaryLeave a Comment

If you are a serious gamer, you don’t just game - you game everywhere you can. A good gaming laptop that delivers immersive gameplay on the go doesn’t have to break the bank.

Choose just 2 or 3 components to splurge on and prices drop significantly without sacrificing speed or realism. I did the hard work to find the best affordable laptops so you can spend more time gaming.

Here are my picks for the best laptop 2020 for gaming on a budget. Each cheap gaming laptop sports a 15.6-inch screen, a 1920x1080 Full HD screen and 8GB of RAM, all for less than $1,500. 

Hottest pick

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The most affordable gaming laptop surprisingly also topped the list! It edges ahead powered by a quad-core Ryzen 5, NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1650, speedy 512 GB SSD and a blistering 120 Hz display.

Acer manages to achieve the perfect balance between gamers’ needs and their budgets with the Nitro 5. Its GeForce GTX 1650 GPU is a proven performer and pairs up with a commendable Ryzen 5 chip. This rig’s 512 GB PCIe NVMe SSD ties for largest on the list but the true wonder is its 120 Hz display.

While the internals will make short work of processing top-end games, you will hardly ever be short of juice with its 10-hour battery. Despite the biggest tank, Acer somehow keeps the Nitro 5 at just a shade over 2 kg.

Also hot

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Somehow, Dell found a way to include both an i7-9750H processor and a GeForce RTX 2060 GPU in a gaming laptop for a budget price, complete with a 128GB SSD and 1TB SATA drive.

Dell’s entry on the hot list just barely lost out for first place but it was a razor-thin finish. With a 6GB RTX 2060 at the imaging helm and a ninth generation i7 leading the processing charge, it is hard to believe that this setup actually falls within the budget realm.

Bundled with an electrifying 180W charger, the most powerful on our list, this G5 is a veritable juggernaut of extended gameplay on the go. It all comes together for a deadly combination that ticks all the right boxes for a budget gaming laptop.

Top 5 best (insert product category)

Specifications

  • Ryzen 5 3550H (4 cores)
  • GeForce GTX 1650 (4 GB GDDR5)
  • 8 GB DDR4 RAM
  • 512 GB PCIe® NVMe™ SSD

Reasons to buy

  • Amazing value at sub-$1,300
  • 120 Hz screen refresh rate, best on the list
  • Massive 512 GB SSD, tied for the largest on the list

Reasons not to buy

  • Not bundled with a SATA hard drive
  • AMD Ryzen chip instead of Intel i5 or i7
  • Keyboard could be better

Our verdict

It is difficult to complain about the Acer Nitro 5. Not only does it make the budget list but tops it despite being the cheapest gaming laptop of the 5 finalists. Its NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1650 with 4 GB of GDDR5 RAM is a respectable unit that will handle all but the most demanding games at mid-tier resolutions.

Acer tamped down costs with two main factors: the AMD Ryzen processor and by leaving out a SATA drive. Most people in the budget gaming universe will find it hard to distinguish between Ryzen 5 and Intel i5 performance. The Ryzen unit does a good job of delivering for the 120 Hz display.

Meanwhile, the lack of a regular hard drive can be seen as a positive for the mobile gamer. At 2.2 kg, the Nitro 5 is the second-lightest budget gaming laptop here. Another positive is that the 4-cell Lithium-ion battery promises up to 10 hours of gaming, beating all the competition.

There have been some complaints that the red-backlit keyboard looks dated and is hard to read. I would say that it does its job - the Nitro 5 is a gaming laptop and it looks the part. At less than $1,300, you would need a better reason to say no.

Ranks & verdicts by trusted sources

by LaptopMag.com

“Acer's strongest addition to the Nitro 5 series offers casual gamers stellar performance at an affordable price.”Read the full article here

by TechRadar.com

“The Acer Nitro 5 is a gaming laptop win for budget-minded gamers, whose options are severely limited if they want a cheap laptop that can still handle the more demanding PC games right now.”. Read the full article here

by PCWorld.com

"A great budget-conscious laptop, at least for the moment It's a great option if you enjoy light gaming and wouldn't mind upgrading in a few years." Read the full article here





Psst. At ChiliRank we value trustworthiness and expertise before profit which means our advice is never influenced by financial gains. We just thought you like to know that.

How I chose the best laptop 2020 for a budget (The reliable way to decide)

Shopping online can save you a ton of money. Unfortunately, we have all ended up unsatisfied with products that received great online reviews. I work with ChiliRank because the whole aim is to take the guesswork out of online shopping.

Over the past 20-odd years, I have gone through almost 20 laptops and about 10 desktop PCs. Many of them were budget rigs just like the ones in this article. Still, I found a way to make them perform almost as well as more expensive ones. In some respects, they performed better! The key is to look past the glitzy ads and focus on the essentials.

That is the approach I used here. All the performance-specific information presented is from leading sites and channels with good reputations. I have included direct links so you can read or watch them in detail.

If you believe I’ve missed out on a good rig, disagree with the content or just want to add your two cents, I’d love to hear from you in the comments. Ultimately, I want to help you and others like you get the best gaming laptop for the lowest price possible. That’s the whole purpose of ChiliRank.

Why did the Acer Nitro 5 and Dell G5 top the ChiliRank hot list?

For me, the line in the sand that earns a laptop the ‘gaming’ tag is a discrete graphics card. Each of the rigs on this list has a dedicated GPU to render images quickly so a serious gamer can play to win.

The processor is also important and I limited the hot list to gaming laptops that come with at least a 9th generation Intel i5 or the Ryzen 5 series. Naturally, accessories like the right gaming chair can also improve your gameplay.

While the G5’s i7-9750H outperforms the Nitro’s Ryzen 5, the latter has a better overall package. Acer’s Nitro has a 120 Hz display, double that of the others, and the frame rate contributes to smoothness and even gaming accuracy.

My emphasis on balancing GPU and CPU processing power is intentional. A good combination here future-proofs your gaming rig for at least a few years as more demanding games are released. Both devices boast this feature.

Of course, in trying to find a cheap gaming laptop, the more pressing factor for many is the cost. All the laptops I considered are priced at less than $1,500. The lower limit is important as well for a balance between ‘budget’ and ‘gaming’. Ultimately, all the 10 or so finalists fell in the $1,300-$1,500 range.

The Acer Nitro 5 and Dell G5 just did it with a better complete system than the rest.

The best gaming laptop on a budget in Singapore – Final Word

If you are on the hunt for a cheap laptop, Singapore is one of the best places to get a great deal. This hot list gives you the most compelling options that satisfy both the ‘gaming’ and ‘budget’ tags.

Besides the 5 winners here, we had several contenders from renowned brands like MSI Singapore and Razer laptop Singapore. They almost made the cut for best budget gaming laptop but fell short for a variety of reasons.

If you want us to do a specific review or comparison for best laptop 2020, tell us in the comments.

What are the most important features for a cheap gaming laptop Singapore?

The most important criteria for choosing the best gaming laptop are:

  • Graphics card – The GPU is the main performance bottleneck
  • CPU – The processor is (almost) as important as the GPU
  • The screen – Consider size (15.6’’ or larger); resolution (1920x1080 or better); refresh rate (90 Hz or more); and type (IPS).

Your choice of these 3 components is essential as they cannot be upgraded in a laptop. To balance cost and gaming ability, spend as much as possible on the GPU paired with a good compatible CPU. This future-proofs your rig as more demanding games are released.

Other components like the hard drive and RAM can be upgraded or supplemented with faster units of larger capacity without breaking the bank.

There are also secondary factors that can improve your gameplay:

  • Keyboard – A backlit keyboard with ‘zoned’ colours and prominent WASD setup is ideal
  • Storage – An SSD retrieves data quickly but large internal SSDs are expensive, so you can consider an external unit.

Excessive gaming can be bad, though. Why not don a smartwatch or fitness tracker to keep track of your activity levels for the best of both worlds?

Where to buy gaming laptop in Singapore?

We strongly recommend that you look online before you venture into a retail store when buying a gaming laptop (or any other electronic device for that matter!) Platforms like Lazada and Shopee allow you to compare your options without stepping outside.

Also, be sure to check out the manufacturer sites. They will give you a good idea of a device’s actual price so you don’t get conned by the ‘huge discount’ banners elsewhere.

If you can, take a trip down to Sim Lim for a hands-on with the rig of your choice. It will help you make the final decision as well as check out accessories like cheap wireless earbuds. In fact, many of the shops there have online stores on Lazada so you can make your final decision of best budget gaming laptop right there and not have to wait for delivery.

What is the best screen size for a gaming laptop?

While you can find some laptops in the 14-inch category, there aren’t many. 17-inch gaming laptops are much more common, the majority come in the ‘Goldilocks’ 15-inch range.

The best size for you comes down to your reason for choosing a laptop instead of a desktop for gaming. Conventional wisdom would say ‘bigger is better’ but that is more true for a desktop rig than a mobile laptop.

If you favour mobility, remember that 17-inch laptops weigh considerably more. Coupled with their larger power bricks, it can be a chore lugging them around even after you find a suitably large bag.

Most gaming laptops come with an FHD 1920x1080 native resolution but some manufacturers are testing the 3840x2160 segment. Note that the difference is virtually indistinguishable even in top-end machines and will likely be negated in the budget segment.

Go for a 15-inch screen that covers all the basics like IPS, LED backlight and anti-glare.