Video games are big business across the United States with nearly half of Americans saying that they play them regularly. If you play games, particularly on consoles, chances are you’ve heard stories about how much better the playing experience is when you’re using a PC.
PC gaming makes for an outstanding experience in that there’s no controller setup more accurate than a keyboard and a mouse. Furthermore, no console can push a game’s graphics further than a computer so long as it’s sporting good desktop or gaming laptop specs.
Speaking specifically about laptops, it can be hard to purchase a cheap gaming machine that will run titles well. To help you shop for an affordable portable gaming system you can be proud of, below, we share tips on what to look for in a laptop and how to get one at a great price.
Which Gaming Laptop Specs Are Most Important to Your Experience?
Computer specs embody everything from monitor size to RAM speed. You’ll find that with gaming laptop specs, there are a handful of key elements that can make or break your experience.
These elements include the following:
A Dedicated Graphics Card
The piece of hardware that’s most commonly cited as being what separates gaming laptops from standard laptops is a dedicated graphics card. Graphics cards (or GPUs) have one job. That job is to process complex visuals.
Popular graphics card creators include NVIDIA and Radeon. The more memory your graphics card has, the better it will be able to render graphics on a screen.
General system memory is also important to ensure that your game can run well. Most laptops today, gaming or not, will come with 4GB (gigabytes) of ram. We recommend that your gaming machine pack at least 8GB to give you the best chance of running today’s titles.
After all, your RAM will be engaged in running multiple background processes outside of your game so only a portion of what you have will go towards benefiting your gaming experience.
A Solid Processor
Your computer’s processor is akin to the human brain. It manages all of the tasks that your computer is running and coordinates the information coming from your hard drive, RAM, GPU, and other components.
CPU’s are notoriously hard to shop for due to all of their different iterations. Our advice is to make sure that your gaming laptop specs sport an i5 (Intel) current-gen processor or better. You could alternatively invest in an AMD processor equivalent.
An SSD or Hybrid Drive
SSD’s are the hard drives of choice seeing as how they’re up to 20x faster than their legacy, HDD counterparts. Unfortunately, they’re also a lot more expensive so if you’re having trouble picking up an SSD that’s large enough to game (at least 256GB), consider buying a laptop that has a smaller SSD for games you’re currently playing and a larger HDD for deep storage.
How to Find Cheap Gaming Laptops
Now that you know what to look for in a gaming laptop, the next big question is how to find a laptop that ticks the boxes without taking all of your money. That can be a challenge seeing as how gaming machines are notoriously expensive.
Fortunately, you can employ the following strategies to locate savings.
Shop During Sale Periods
Popular sales periods like Black Friday create opportunities to save hundreds of dollars off of gaming laptop’s sticker prices. These sales can be found through most popular electronics dealers including Best Buy, Fry’s, Walmart, and more.
Check Out eBay
Year-round, eBay is our favorite place to find discount gaming laptops. Laptops sold through eBay are usually managed by small-time sellers that work from home and have much lower overhead. Lower overhead means lower prices.
Furthermore, eBay is one of a handful of places where you can find good gaming laptops under 300 dollars that are used and refurbished. So long as those machines come with some sort of warranty, if the price is right, they’re worth trying out.
Give Other Online Retailers a Try
While eBay is, again, the best place to find great gaming laptop deals, other online retailers occasionally have value to add to the conversation.
Websites like Newegg.com and TigerDirect are both places that are worth exploring. As an aside, Amazon has, in our experience, turned out to be very non-competitive in the gaming laptop space.
Head Over to Craigslist
Craigslist gets a bad rap because of the risk you run using the platform. While that risk is real, 9.5/10 times, if you exercise common sense, you’ll be safe and come up with the absolute best deals you can get on gaming laptops.
The downside is that a laptop purchase through Craigslist isn’t going to come with any guarantees so you’ll want to test it extensively before purchasing.
Buy a Cut-Rate Laptop and Upgrade
A final creative way to save money on gaming laptops is to purchase a laptop that doesn’t have the specs you want and then, purchase parts to bring it up to snuff. Note that your laptop’s motherboard has limitations that may make it so you can’t upgrade your machine to the point you want.
Therefore, you’ll want to make sure that the base laptop you’re purchasing for the purpose of upgrading can get you to where you want to go.
The Right-Gaming Laptop Specs at the Right Price Equals the Best Gaming Experience
Now that you know what gaming laptop specs to look for when buying your machine and where you can get the best bang for your buck on those specs, all that’s left to do is head out and make your purchase.
Believe us when we say that armed with a great gaming laptop, you’ll experience today’s top video game titles in a way that you’ve never seen them before!
If you find yourself in need of more advice on all things entertainment, check out the newest content on our blog.