Buying a laptop, regardless of what it’s going to be used for, comes with many prerequisites. For instance, if you want a simple but reliable machine you can use for everyday tasks, you need to look for multitasking capabilities, the quality of the video display and the audio, and battery life. Alternatively, gamers typically look for CPU and GPU performance, along with storage capacity.
Of course, there are also laptops that give you the functionality of both everyday usage and gaming, but these are harder to find and can cost extra bucks. That said, it’s certainly not impossible, and even at the $600 price point, you’ll find quite a few laptops featuring decent resolutions, latest generation processors, and decent SSD storage.
If you want to find the gaming laptop under $600, read on further!
There’s quite a list of factors you need to consider when choosing a gaming laptop if you want to make sure you’re buying the perfect machine that you’re getting the best value for your money. We’re talking about a capable laptop that delivers exceptional gaming performance, and is also suitable for various other tasks like photo and video editing, animation, and coding.
To make sure that your laptop can do all these things and more, follow these recommended system requirements:
The CPU is the most important hardware of any laptop, particularly in terms of operating power, high frame rates, and overall performance.
When it comes to gaming laptops under $600, you’ll see Intel processors like the Intel i5-1035G1 and Intel i3-1005G1, and AMD Ryzen CPUs such as the Ryzen 3 3200U and Ryzen 5 3500U. There’s not much difference with these processors in terms of performance, so any of them should be fine.
That said, you’ll also need a competent graphics card especially if you’re playing graphics-intensive games like Final Fantasy XV on high settings. In these cases, you should opt for a dedicated GPU that can maximize frame rates even on medium or high settings, such as the Radeon RX540, NVIDIA GTX 1050, MX350, MX 250, or MX 150.
Otherwise, if your favorite games aren’t picky on the GPU, you might be able to make do with an integrated graphics card. Good examples are the AMD Radeon 610, Radeon Vega 3, 5, or 8, Intel HD 620, and Intel UHD. these would work decently on FPS and MOBA games at +60fps and medium settings.
Having lots of RAM is a surefire way to minimize lag spikes and enhance performance. Unfortunately, with $600 gaming laptops, you’ll hardly find 8GB RAM; instead, 4GB is your best bet, which is quite limiting when you’re not playing FPS/MOBA games. Some of the laptops we’ll review below have 8GB RAM, but for the rest, you can try upgrading for better performance.
The golden rule when it comes to storage is to get a Solid State Drive- especially if you don’t have enough CPU or GPU power. It doesn’t matter what kind, aka whether it’s a PCIe NVMe SSD or a SATA III SSD. As long as it’s not a slow and clunky hard disk drive, you’re good to go.
Ideally, the best is a full high definition IPS display, but that’s hard to find with $600 gaming laptops. Instead, you should expect full HD TN displays, which, even though they’re not as pretty, are actually better for gaming since they can handle refresh rates better thanks to low response times. Just make sure to stay away from HD+ or TN/HD screens and you’ll be fine.
Our Top Picks for the Best Gaming Laptops under $600
Without further ado, here are the best gaming laptops under $600 in 2021 that are sure to make for the most unforgettable gaming experience. (Note that these laptops are priced at or below $600 at the time of writing this review, and current prices may change without notice.)
Snagging the first spot for the best laptop under 600 dollars is the Asus VivoBook 15 Thin And Light Laptop, which comes from a well-known laptop brand. This gaming laptop boasts of all the must-have gaming specs you’d want, including a powerful CPU, a dedicated GPU, a solid state drive, and ample RAM. Of course, it’s also budget-friendly.
The AMD R5-3500U processor is a quad-core CPU that features multi-threading capabilities to handle heavy-duty and complex processing tasks. Meanwhile, the RX Vega 8 GPU can run the most demanding games smoothly and lag-free.
But, the icing on the cake is this laptop’s slim and lightweight construction, which is something you very rarely get on powerful gaming laptops. In fact, at 3.5 pounds, it’s probably one of the lightest laptops you’ll ever come across. Not to mention, its nano edge frameless display and slim bezels help enhance your gaming experience.
- 15.6” 4-way nano edge full HD display
- AMD Quad Core r5-3500u CPU
- Amd Radeon Vega 8 discrete GPU
- 8GB DDR4 RAM, 256GB SSD
Ranking second is the Acer Aspire E 15 Laptop, which is made to stand out from the crowd. As Acer’s flagship gaming laptop, it’s a definite powerhouse that’s guaranteed to fulfill your every gaming need, especially with the upgraded graphics card in the form of the NVIDIA MX150 that ensures intensive optimization and better framerates for gaming.
This graphics card is really all you need for playing anything from average-level to AA games, and you’re sure to enjoy a smooth, lag-free run each time. Plus, with a 15-hour battery life, you can take this laptop anywhere to work and play on the go.
It also features an eighth generation Intel i5 processor and 8 gigabytes of RAM, both of which are rare gems in gaming laptops under $600. More importantly, these two together gives the laptop the ability to handle complex processes, multiple functions, and intensive workloads without much issue.
- 15.6” full HD IPS display
- Intel Core i5-8250U CPU
- NVIDIA GeForce MX150 GPU
- 8GB DDR4 RAM, 256GB SSD
In third place is the HP Pavilion Gaming Laptop, which offers the best blend of looks and powerful performance to allow you to have fun playing your favorite games in style. The full HD micro-edge IPS display is anti-glare and boasts of high 144Hz refresh rates to deliver an unbeatable visual quality.
You’ll also love the 8th gen quad core Intel i5 processor as it comes with a base clock speed of 2.3GHz, but with turbo boost, can reach as high as 4.0Ghz. This is complemented by the 8GB RAM that, together with the CPU, maintains a lag-free performance throughout your hours-long gaming sessions.
Even the NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1050 Ti GPU is quite impressive at delivering optimal graphics especially at this price point. Furthermore, with the impressive storage capacity of 1TB, you can comfortably download all your beloved MMORPG games and more.
- 15.6″ full HD IPS display
- Intel Core i5+8300H CPU
- NVIDIA GTX 1050Ti GPU
- 8GB RAM + 16GB IOM, 1TB HDD
We also highly recommend the HP 15-ef0022nr HD Laptop, which isn’t exactly a gaming laptop if we’re talking technical terms, but it certainly looks and feels like one, and even features powerful internal configurations to handle light to moderate gaming.
For starters, this laptop comes with the AMD Radeon RX Vega 10 GPU to deal with your everyday gaming needs. When it comes to processing power, this laptop features the AMD Ryzen 7 3700U CPU capable of reaching clock speeds of 2.3 to 4.0GHz. To help speed things up and make operations smoother, there’s also 8GB RAM, along with 256GB of ultra-fast SSD.
Moving on to the display, it’s not the best by any means. Size is good, you also get more visuals with the micro-edge display, and it’s BrightView, which is a nice plus, but its 1366 x 768 resolution is less than ideal. Still, there are other noteworthy features such as the automatic health check and recovery, and the 45-minute fast charging technology.
- 15.6” WLED-backlit HD display
- AMD Ryzen 7 3700U CPU
- AMD Radeon RX Vega 10 GPU
- 8GB RAM RAM, 256GB SSD
Another amazing option for gaming laptops under $600 is the Lenovo IdeaPad 3 14″ Laptop, which is well loved by gamers from all around the world thanks to its sturdy build, budget-friendly price tag, and powerful performance that is highly capable of handling some of the most demanding games ever played.
Now, in terms of design, this laptop is fairly ordinary. That’s not to say that it’s a bad thing, mind you. Besides, there are quite a few unique features here that you might appreciate, such as the unique blue color chassis, the slim body with rounded edges, or the full HD resolution on its 14-inch screen.
Going beyond appearances, you’ll see that this laptop packs the AMD Ryzen 5 3500U CPU, which is popular among gamers. The AMD Radeon Vega 8 GPU is also commendable and ensures trouble-free gaming. All things considered, it’s a great choice for a $600 gaming laptop.
- 14” full HD display
- AMD Ryzen 5 3500U CPU
- AMD Radeon Vega 8 GPU
- 8GB RAM, 256GB SSD
You might also want to check out this alternate version of the VivoBook we discussed earlier. The Asus VivoBook M570 15.6” FHD Laptop is a worthy choice not just for gaming, but also for some intense studying and all-day computer work. In fact, like the VivoBook 15, the M570 is designed to cater to the needs of serious gamers.
Delivering enormous performance are the powerful, latest generation internal configurations in the form of the quad core AMD R5-3500U CPU and the NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1050. These two guarantee smooth, lag-free gameplays even with the most demanding games.
Meanwhile, in terms of design, the VivoBook M570 showcases a stunningly rugged gaming look with its full high definition (1920×1080) display enclosed in a slim yet robust chassis. Along with the backlit keyboard, it’s sure to take your visual experience to a whole new level.
- 15.6” full HD display
- AMD Quad Core R5-3500U CPU
- NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1050 GPU
- 8GB DDR4 RAM, 512GB SSD
Last but definitely not the least is the Acer Swift 3 Thin & Light Laptop, which, just as the name suggests, functions exceptionally swift. Truth be told, you’ll be surprised with the sheer number of people raving about this masterpiece of a laptop. It’s not only a great 600 dollar gaming laptop, it’s also suitable for other purposes such as designing, blogging, and more.
If anything, it’s surely luxurious for its price. With a magnesium alloy chassis and aluminum lid, you’re getting a design that is nothing but sophisticated and stylish. Not to forget, it’s also durable, reasonably lightweight, and won’t burn a hole through your pockets.
Most importantly, this laptop boasts of some serious hardware specs with its 10th generation Intel Core i5 processor that is supported by 8 gigabytes of RAM to efficiently and smoothly run even the most demanding video games. You’ll also get a decent AMD Radeon graphics card, 512 gigabytes of speedy SSD storage, and 7 hours of battery life.
- 14” widescreen LED-backlit full HD IPS display
- AMD Ryzen 7 4700U Octa-Core CPU
- AMD Radeon Graphics GPU
- 8GB RAM, 512GB SSD
Factors To Consider When Buying a $600 Gaming Laptop
Earlier, we talked about what specs you should get for your laptop in order to make sure that it can satisfactorily run your desired PC games. But, what exactly makes these hardware specs important, and what other features do you need to take into account so you can find the best gaming laptop under $600?
We’ll talk about each of these factors shortly, but first, it’s important that you understand a few key things:
There are different ‘levels’ of gaming laptops, with each level offering specific capabilities and functionality. For instance, the best gaming laptops under $1500 will give you a machine that can handle AA to AAA games, with higher-end models able to, say, take on more expansions and modifications for Sims 4.
However, with a $600 gaming laptop, you’re quite limited in terms of frame rates, game settings, graphics, and even the kind of games you’ll be able to play without crashing your machine. Go even cheaper and you might only be able to play Pac Man and some online games. Just kidding; even cheap gaming laptops are pretty impressive in what they can do, but still…
The CPU or central processing unit is the brain of your laptop. In a sense, it’s the computer itself, and when it comes to gaming, the processor is what determines your laptop’s ability to run your favorite games.
As such, your gaming laptop should ideally have the latest generation and most powerful processor that comes with a decent core combination. This way, the laptop can operate at lightning fast speeds and run even the most power-hungry programs.
Therefore, it’s a must that you make sure your laptop has a secure processor to save you the trouble of dealing with issues you get from a weak CPU, like jamming, errors, and interruptions. At the 600 dollar price range, you can expect Intel i3 to i5 CPUs, as well as AMD Ryzen 3 and 5. These will do a good job and deliver uncompromised performance for most tasks.
Another integral hardware component of a gaming laptop is the graphics card. It plays a huge role when it comes to productivity, smooth operations, excellent visuals, and good overall gameplay, especially when it comes to graphics-intensive games.
Simply put, a competent graphics card will give you mind-blowing visuals on screen, smooth-sailing gameplays, and an improved overall laptop performance. And, by competent, we mean a decent dedicated GPU- stay away from the integrated ones if you want to play any PC game from the last decade.
There are quite a few suitable choices for a gaming laptop graphics card. The best laptop under 600 dollars would feature the AMD Radeon RX540 or NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1050, but plenty of other options are available also from NVIDIA and AMD. Just keep in mind that if it’s Intel, it’s an integrated GPU, and while that may work for various tasks, it’s not suitable for most games.
The RAM or random access memory is the partner-in-crime of the processor when it comes to performance. To put it simply, the processor and RAM work together in order to deliver smooth and swift operations. As such, both these things have to be robust, especially when playing FPS, MOBA, and MMORPG games.
In particular, the RAM is what acts as the laptop’s working memory, which means it temporarily stores your data so it can be processed in real time. What this means is that the bigger the size of your RAM, the better your multitasking capabilities and real-time speed will be. Additionally, a decent RAM size also eliminates freezes and glitches when playing games.
It’s always advisable to go for as much RAM as you can. 8GB is enough for most games, but most 600 dollar gaming laptops only come with 4. In this case, one way to maximize processing power is to either look for a laptop with two 4GB RAM sticks, or update your existing setup with identical size and brand/ model sticks to allow for dual-channeling.
Learn more about dual channeling by reading this article on Single Channel vs Dual Channel RAM.
Even your on-board storage can influence your gaming experience. More specifically, poor storage capacities can make your gameplay falter, while great storage (good type and size) can make your laptop’s computing ability sky-rocket in terms of speed and efficiency, and the same goes for playing video games.
What we mean is, leave HDDs in the past, and opt for faster Solid State Drives. SSDs offer at least twice the read and write speeds of Hard Disk Drives, which won’t only affect your everyday workflow, but also the way you play your games.
Besides, SSD storage isn’t terribly expensive nowadays, and even if they are, they’re certainly worth the cost. You don’t even need lots of space unless you’re storing a million different things on your laptop. And, in any case, you can choose to go for a dual SSD+HDD storage option. This will give you faster boot ups and load times, and the ample storage you’re looking for.
Playing games is only fun if you can actually appreciate what you’re seeing on screen and you don’t have to hurt and strain your eyes staring at a poorly lit, pixelated, grainy, blurry, minute sized display. Fortunately, this isn’t a huge problem on most gaming rigs, even with cheap gaming laptops.
Typically, even at the lower end of the price range, you’ll see 14 to 17 inch screens, with the sweet spot being at 15.6 inches. This should suffice for gaming without being too small or too big and bulky.
Just as important as the screen size is the quality of the display, which factors in the resolution and other features like backlighting, thin bezels, anti-glare coating, and in-plane switching. These things all come into play in terms of determining your visual experience. Basically, your screen needs to be bright, sharp, and vibrant. At the very least, it must be full HD.
Want to upgrade to a better display for more immersive gaming? Check out this review of the best gaming monitors under $300.
Also important is keyboard quality. Now, there are a couple of things you need to check, such as build quality and durability to make sure your laptop keyboard does not wear out quickly and can last for a long time, but for the most part, it all boils down to personal preference.
For instance, heavy fingered gamers might prefer robust mechanical keyboards, while others lean towards more responsive and sensitive membrane keyboards. Whichever you prefer, however, make sure that:
- The keys should be laid out in such a way that you can press them easily without contorting your hand to weird positions,
- The keys should be responsive enough that you don’t need to exert too much pressure just to make sure your keystrokes will register,
- There should be anti-ghosting to ensure that every keystroke registers rather than resulting to an error when pressing multiple keys simultaneously,
- The keyboard is customizable and allows you to set up and make use of macro keys so that you can execute complex commands with a single stroke, and
- There should be backlighting to help you see clearly in dimly lit environments, but without being too harsh that it’s uncomfortable on your eyes after a while.
Here’s the thing when it comes to battery life: technically, you don’t really need to make it your priority if you will mostly use your laptop at home or in the office, like if you have a dedicated workstation or gaming rig.
But, having a decent battery life is never a bad idea, and it’s particularly useful if you do want to move about and take your laptop with you. Besides, regardless of how serious a gamer you are, you won’t really use your laptop exclusively for gaming, would you?
What’s important here is that you get a decent-sized battery that can power up your laptop for 4 to 8 hours of continuous usage, and charge fast enough so that you’re not stuck beside the power outlet for too long. That said, do expect that the more powerful the hardware your laptop packs and the more power-hungry the games you play, the faster that battery drains.
The beauty of a laptop is that it can operate on its own with built in mics, speakers, and so on. For example, unlike a desktop CPU, you don’t need to connect a monitor and keyboard, since the display is built into the laptop.
Still, having enough connectivity options with a good variety of ports can serve you well. For gaming alone, you’ll want to connect external Dolby Audio quality speakers or fancy gaming headphones even if your laptop can output reasonably good audio, and you’ll need appropriate ports for that. Maybe one for the headphones and another for a mic if you’re into streaming.
Most laptops also come with USB 3.0 ports and HDMI ports for your data and multimedia file transfers, but if you want more advanced systems for better transfer speeds and more reliable connections, you should look for Thunderbolt 3 and USB type-C ports.
Now, there isn’t really an absolute best laptop brand out there; rather, it’s more a matter of choosing which brand works best for your needs and preferences. That said, here are a few things to ponder on when shopping for gaming laptops under $600:
- Laptops come in a wide variety of colors, but in our opinion, neutral is better (you can show off your style and personality with laptop covers, sleeves, stickers, etc)
- Thin and lightweight laptops are better than heavy, bulky ones in terms of portability, but more powerful laptops will typically be on the heavier side
- Minimalist aesthetics are not only trendy; they also adapt to the times better, and are much more forgiving to customization
- An ergonomically designed laptop keyboard will make for a more comfortable and pain-free typing experience particularly during long hours of continuous work
- Customizability and upgradability are important for personalization, efficiency, and adaptability to future OSs and softwares
- System data access should be easy and straightforward to allow you to check things like processor and graphics card usage, as well as temperature and cooling
- Buying a laptop isn’t the end of your journey, so aside from the purchase price, you need to account for maintenance, repairs, and upgrades
- A brand that offers excellent customer service and online support, has a lot of accessible service centers, and provides great warranties on their products are always better
With a great gaming laptop under $600, you can get a budget-friendly powerhouse that can capably run most games smoothly and without any issue, even at high settings and frame rates. But, not all $600 gaming laptops are made equal, so be sure to make your choice wisely. This way, you can go home with the perfect gaming machine that satisfies all your gaming needs.