Six affordable laptops that can game, without costing an arm and a leg

Six affordable laptops that can game, without costing an arm and a leg
  • Not everyone can buy a high-end gaming laptop which sports a six figure price tag. Here are some affordable ones that can do fairly well with most games.

The urge to game on the laptop can pretty much overwhelm anyone at any given point of time. Be it the excitement of checking out the latest Need for Speed title, or just play F1 2012 to show off that you are more of a team person than Sebastian Vettel. This story is strictly relevant for someone who needs a laptop primarily for work or home use, with a bit of gaming sprinkled in between. Or someone who wants to game more regularly, but either does not have the budget for more expensive options, or also wants the portability aspect to remain intact.

The biggest problem, at least what is perceived, is that gameplay-worthy notebooks cost a lot of money. For example, the Alienware M14x, with all its flashy lights and the bling, costs around Rs 1,40,000 in the market. The Asus ROG gaming laptops also cost above Rs 1,00,000.

Yes, there is absolutely no doubt that gaming laptops are pretty much unmatched in terms of the experience and performance. This is mostly because they have the hardware and the optimization done in that regard. For example, the Asus ROG G75VW-DS71 packs in a NVIDIA GeForce GTX 660M (2GB-GDDR5) graphics card. But equally, while some specs look outlandish and unmatchable, you have the Alienware M14x that has an Nvidia GeForce GT 650M (2GB) graphics chip that is now also found on some laptops that cost half as much.

The reason to buy a proper gaming laptop is primarily because you want that full experience, be it in single player mode, or at the so-called LAN parties. But all this comes at the cost of sacrificing the primary tenet behind laptops – portability. And to a certain extent, battery life. With more traditional laptops, both of these aspects are pretty much intact, giving you more flexibility in usage.

What we have here is a listing of the best laptops that you can buy, depending on your budget, that offer fairly good gaming performance, whilst still maintaining battery life and portability.

Lenovo IdeaPad Y500
Market Price: Rs. 65,000

In what is Lenovo’s attempt at making a gaming laptop, the Y500 signifies a fairly anxious effort. You do get the feeling that Lenovo wanted the Y500 to look like a proper gaming notebook, but seems like they were a tad concerned about certain things, including possibly the brand perception. The generally understated design is a clear indicator that the Y500 is meant to appeal to a wider demographic. But, you do know about the intentions when you switch it on and the keyboard greets you with red LED backlighting! The aggressive coloured cooling vents are the other subtle hint. If you need any more hints, the Nvidia GT650M graphics and the Intel Core i7-3632QM processor should put all doubts to rest. The gaming benchmark tests put it at the undisputed top step of the podium. Additionally, this is one of the rare laptops that have a Full HD display.

Lenovo IdeaPad Z500
Market Price: Rs. 50,000

The successor to the very competent IdeaPad Z580, the Z500 trades down from the predecessor’s Core i7 – 3612QM to a Core i5 – 3210M processor, but critically, bumps up the graphics from an Nvidia GeForce GT630M to an Nvidia GeForce GT640M chip. The gaming performance comparisons between the two machines indicate that little bit extra performance advantage for the Z500, which makes all the difference. It holds the second place behind the Nvidia GeForce GT650M, pipping the AMD Radeon HD7670M seen in some machines by a whisker.

HP ENVY dv6-7206tx
Market Price: Rs. 65,000

At almost the same price as the Lenovo IdeaPad Y500, the HP ENVY dv6 comes with a slightly more powerful processor – Intel Core i7-3630QM, but lower spec graphics – Nvidia GeForce GT630M. One of the reasons is that the ENVY dv6 is slimmer and lighter than the IdeaPad Y500, appealing to a wider demographic for whom portability is critical. We recommend this for a fairly stable gaming performance, packed inside a very well-built chassis. By far the best keyboard and touchpad among all the machines listed here.

Dell Inspiron 15R Turbo – 7520
Market Price: Rs. 59,990

The AMD Radeon HD7730M chip in the Inspiron 15R Turbo is scoring just lower than the Nvidia GeForce GT630M in the benchmark tests, but is a fairly competent machine for playing most games anyway. There are fairly staunch Dell fans out there, and they would swear by the Inspiron 15R Turbo. While the performance is fine, we must say we are slightly disappointed by the build quality and the keyboard usage experience on this machine.

Sony VAIO S-series (SVS151115FNB)
Market Price: Rs. 69,000

True to the way Sony markets its products, there are no budget, mid-range or gaming machines, the way a lot of manufacturers do it. At least, there is no discrimination for the lower priced versions! Which is why the S-series VAIO we are talking about here packs in a GeForce GT640M graphics chip, and yet comes across as the most docile and conventional machine on the outside. Surprisingly, it scores less than the GT630M on the ENVY dv6, but that could always be attributed to a one-off problem with either that particular machine or even with the OS. It is a very well-built notebook, with the very thin but reinforced lid allowing a full HD resolution IPS panel. Consider this, mostly for the display. 

HP Pavilion G6-2227tu
Market Price: Rs. 34,000

We were as surprised as you are! The HP Pavilion G6 is what can surely be called an affordable laptop, and has the Intel Core i3 processor. However, the AMD Radeon HD7670M graphics chip is really putting the cat amongst the pigeons. The gaming tests scores are up there among the best, and we double checked everything to make sure neither was a freak reading. The Pavilion G6-2227tu may well end up being ‘the first laptop’ for a lot of buyers, and what a delightful proposition it must be. There is mostly plastic around the chassis, but fairly good quality at that. The display is better than almost all the rivals in the price category it fights in. One can consider this a very powerful affordable laptop.

Vishal Mathur

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