10 tips on buying the right budget gaming laptop

By Vignesh Giridharan | Updated Aug 10 2018
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Buying a gaming laptop under budget? How do you know what's important and what's not? Read on to find out.

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1. Choose GPU over CPU

Despite what you may have read and believed, remember that it's always better to get the gaming laptop that has a better GPU than the one that has a better CPU. You won't lose much if you choose an Intel Core i5 over a Core i7 CPU, but you will lose a lot more if you compromise on GPU. Go for the best GPU money can buy. For example, choose a laptop with the Nvidia GTX 1050 Ti over the GTX 1050 even if it has a Core i5 CPU.


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2. Choosing between RAM and SSD? Choose upgradeability instead

We understand you're gunning for a gaming machine with both of these qualities: ample RAM and a fast SSD. We also understand that it's not always possible to get both, especially when shopping on a budget. If you can't choose between what you want more, simply ensure the laptop you're buying is RAM- and SSD-upgradeable. That way, you can always add more RAM or switch to a suitable SSD for better speeds in the future when you feel up to it.

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3. Display: Look beyond resolution and finish

That you should get a display with an IPS LCD panel and Full HD resolution is a given. But there's a lot more to be considered apart from those parameters. Look for a display with high brightness. Aim for a max brightness value of 130 nits or more. Also look for a display with highest possible refresh rate and lowest possible response time because you don't want to see laggy action scenes in your games. Aim for a refresh rate of at least 60Hz and a response time of 5ms or quicker. Look for the Nvidia G-Sync logo on your laptop brochure so you avoid screen tearing and ghosting.

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4. The keyboard has got to be solid

The keyboard on a gaming laptop has got to do more than just light up and blink like a Christmas tree. The keys on it have got to have sufficient travel and ample resistance. A minimum key travel of 1.5mm is recommended. At the same time, the keyboard must be free of flex so you don't feel uncomfortable or unsure while striking down the WASD keys hard. Look for a keyboard with an anti-ghosting feature to use multiple keys at the same time without any hiccups.

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5. Thermal management: stay on top of the heat

The last thing you want to see is your gaming machine dropping frames during that all-important boss fight. That's the effect of thermal throttling, something that happens when the CPU gets too hot. A good gaming laptop comes with efficient thermal management, which consists of well-placed fans and a software designed to keep CPU temperatures in check. A boost feature in the laptop's fans will help keep things cool during intense action scenes.

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6. Invest in the Intel Optane advantage

Intel's newest Optane technology is a smart memory that works between the laptop's SSD and HDD to speed up the applications you use the most. If you're the type who stores and plays multiple games at a time, consider investing in a laptop with Intel Optane technology. To make use of Optane the laptop has got to have a seventh-generation Intel Core CPU or newer.

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7. Wi-Fi standards: get with the programme

You might be in or get into the habit of online multiplaying and game-streaming. Don't be left out in such a case. Ensure your budget gaming laptop has the latest Wi-Fi standards available. An ideal budget gaming laptop includes support for Wi-Fi 802.11ac with a 2x2 MIMO antenna setup.

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8. Lose the touchscreen

You don't need a touchscreen display for gaming. Touchscreen displays drain more battery than non-touchscreen displays, something you can do without when you're running on battery and need that extra half an hour of juice. Besides, gaming laptops aren't known for battery life anyway. It's best not to deepen that notoriety any further then.

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9. Don't be charmed by the sound

We imagine you'll be gaming with your headphones on most of the time, or connect your laptop to a proper speaker setup. Don't let promises of speaker prowess through big brand names like 'Bang & Olufsen' and 'Maxx Audio' influence your laptop-buying decision. Your money is better spent on things you can't upgrade in the future, like a crisp, bright Full HD display.

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10. Take advantage of online sales

Online shopping sites like Flipkart and Amazon have regular sales. They're the best time to buy a gaming laptop because the final price drops considerably. You might be able to get your trembling hands on a laptop with an Nvidia GTX 1050 Ti GPU instead of one with a GTX 1050 during these sales.

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