Gaming on a budget has become a lot easier to do in recent years thanks to the innovation of small form computer components and advancement in processor tech. Components that would have cost thousands of dollars ten years ago now cost hundreds, or even less.
This article is here to help you find a gaming laptop in the budget range, specifically, under $300. We do the work and the research and narrow down your options to save you time and money.
Now in this price range, you obviously can't expect to get a beastly machine that can handle all of today's modern games at high quality. However, you can get a machine that can run most games, as long as you are willing to sacrifice a little on video quality settings and load times.
Laptops around this price point will be perfect for kids and adults who lightly game—those who spend a couple of hours a week gaming. Anything more and you might want to look at a slightly more expensive laptop.
***Please note that some gaming laptop models may vary in price and be slightly over $300 with some retailers.
Gaming Laptops Under $300 Compared
Buying Guide: What to Look for in Gaming Laptops Under $300
The first thing to check and consider when deciding to purchase any kind of gaming laptop is the processor speed. The processor is the bridge of the ship, the place where all of the decisions are made. Your processor is your captain, guiding your other components and giving orders so that they can all co-operate with each other.
The faster your processor and the more up to date it is, the better. Luckily, there isn't much competition. All good processors are either Intel or AMD. The best thing to do is to aim for as high up the list and as recent as possible.
Your RAM is the memory for your other components. When they make a decision/process, they will save a bit of data, almost like a cheat sheet inside the RAM. This means that when that decision needs to be made again, it can access that cheat sheet and make it much more efficient.
Your RAM is the key support player for the entirety of your laptop. The more RAM you have, the smoother everything else will run, and the better the experience you will get.
Your GPU is your Graphics Processing Unit or Graphics Card. This is the component that you will probably automatically associate with gaming. This component controls how games display on your screen, making it one of the most important aspects of any gaming rig.
The more powerful your GPU, the better the graphics, the smoother the gameplay, and the easier you will find it to play games in general. Dedicated cards are always better than factory-installed integrated ones, so if possible, look for that.
The storage space of your computer is like a vast filing system. Everything that you have personally installed onto your laptop, every file you have downloaded, and every image you have ever saved will be kept in your storage space. This also includes downloaded games.
Storage space comes in two forms: HDD and SDD. HDD stands for Hard Drive and is the oldest of the two. It is capable of storing huge amounts of data and is cheap to make. HDD's only have one major drawback, their speed.
SSD's are the new kids on the block, here to usurp the HDD. They are lightning-fast and a lot more efficient. They are also a lot more expensive and usually come in much smaller sizes.
Screen Size & Display
The quality of your screen will be important for gaming. You don't necessarily want to go for the highest resolution here, as it will take a lot more power and money to provide a smooth, seamless experience.
For budget gaming rigs, you want a nice bright screen with a good refresh rate so that your frame rates stay high in games. While this may not be as visually attractive, it will be a lot more fun to play on.
Battery Type & Life
Unfortunately, gaming laptops are notorious for having awful battery life. Running games takes a lot of power, which means that unless you are willing to fork out a lot of money for a high-end machine, you will most likely have to sacrifice battery life for performance at this price range.
If you have narrowed your options down to multiple laptops with similar specs, the only thing that might win you over may be the additional features. Additional features can include fingerprint scanners and 2 in 1 tablet functionality.
Other features can include fast charging and full-sized keyboards.
You never know the power of a good warranty until you need one. Most of us have found out the hard way, stuck with a broken laptop that isn't covered by some strange warranty loophole.
We make sure that we only suggest laptops that come from a brand with a good reputation for customer service. This means that when your laptop has problems, you will be looked after.
5 Best Gaming Laptops Under $300 Reviewed
1. Acer Swift 1 SF114-32
- Ultra Portable and Ultra-thin design with...
- Manufacturer refurbished with 90 Day Warranty...
- Windows 10 in S Mode (Switchable to W10...
- 4GB DDR4 memory; 64GB High Speed eMMc;...
best laptop under $300 for light gaming
The laptop we have decided should take the top spot as the best laptop under $300 for light gaming is the Acer Swift 1.
Acer has been in the game for a long time and has incredible laptops. Their dedicated gaming department has been bringing innovative solutions and new technology to gaming laptops for years, and luckily, this has trickled down into the laptops lower down the chain.
The Acer Swift 1 is just one example of this. This laptop is ultra-slim, weighs hardly anything, and comes with enough power to play a huge variety of games. Under the hood, there is an N5000 Quad-Core Intel processor capable of 2.7GHz clock speed. Supporting this is 4GB of DDR4 RAM.
These components power the IPS ComfyView 1080p display, which has incredible viewing angles and a bright, vibrant screen that looks great in low light situations.
The Swift 1 is full of extra features that make it a great everyday laptop too. It has a fingerprint scanner for security, a webcam, and a high precision touchpad. The speakers are really good for a budget laptop, also, with TrueHarmony stereo drivers.
The keyboard is really comfortable to type on, too, with every key having an excellent level of feedback and throw. This means that after a couple of hours of gaming, my wrists were still comfortable, and I didn't feel any strain.
Finally, this particular deal even comes with a pair of Acer Predator gaming headphones. All in all, this is an absolute bargain for the price and rightfully wins our top spot.
2. Acer Chromebook 314
- Chromebook runs on Chrome OS - an operating...
- All the Google apps you know and love come...
- Get access to more than 2 million Android...
- Chromebooks come with built-in storage for...
best budget gaming laptop under 300 for students
The winner of our best budget gaming laptop under 300 for the student's spot falls to another Acer. This time, however, this isn't a notebook but a Chromebook. A Chromebook is a laptop that utilizes the Chrome OS operating system.
This means that it is very stripped back in some ways, utilizing cloud storage and Wi-Fi to perform most of the tasks you need it to. This allows it to run a lot more smoothly and with a lot more power than a bloated laptop.
This Chromebook, in particular, comes packed with an Intel Celeron N4000 Quad-Core processor. This is more than enough to power this laptop and makes load up times ridiculously quick. There is also Gigabit Wi-Fi technology onboard, which gives one of the most stable internet connections available.
The 14" full-HD screen looks glorious to behold; it has complex and vivid colors and deep dark blacks that make it a joy for gaming and watching movies/videos alike.
Another reason why Chromebooks are so popular is their weight/portability appeal. By stripping back the components, you get a much lighter laptop. This makes it a perfect choice for those that are on the move, like a student. You also get an operating system that automatically updates and is very hard to hack.
The battery life is impressive, too, reaching up to 12 hours of conservative use. This means that you can easily last the whole day away from an outlet. One gripe we have about this laptop is the feel of the keyboard. The feedback is slightly squishy here and may not be to everyone's taste.
3. ASUS VivoBook L203MA
- Efficient Intel Celeron N4000 Processor (4M...
- 11.6” HD (1366 x 768) Display with HD...
- Compatible with Google Classroom; run Google...
- 64GB emmC Flash Storage and 4GB LPDDR4 RAM
best Asus gaming laptop under 300
Many people like to turn to the brand they love, and we often get asked what the best Asus gaming laptop under $300 is, so here you go. The winner of this category is the Vivobook.
The Vivobook is an 11-inch ultra-lightweight laptop with dual-core Celeron processor technology on board. For those that like portability, you don't get much better than this.
This laptop isn't much bigger than your average tablet, meaning you could take it out and connect it to your phone internet and play games on the bus or the train. It is only 0.7" thick and weighs a measly 2.2lb.
It doesn't lack in the component compartment either. You have 4GB of DDR4 RAM and 10 hours battery life as well as 64GB high-speed storage on board. You also get a good HD webcam that is clear and well-positioned.
As it is an 11" laptop, the keyboard is small and may be hard to use for those with larger hands, for example. You also get a 180-degree hinge, which allows the laptop to be laid out flat, making it a great addition to a meeting at work or design work.
If you love Asus, you will find a lot of their handiwork evident here, which makes it the easy winner for our top laptop from Asus for under $300.
4. Acer Aspire A115-31-C23T
- This Certified Refurbished product is...
- A 64 GB Flash Drive means storage space is...
- Multitasking is easy with 4 GB of Ram.
- With 3 USB Ports and an HDMI Port, a...
best refurbished gaming laptop under $300
Another winner for Acer, this time we look for any bargains that allow us to get a laptop that is worth more than $300 for less. To do this, we like to look at Amazon's refurbished section. This is where laptops that have been on display or had the boxes opened are re-sold, often without ever being used, for less than the retail price.
The winner of the best-refurbished gaming laptop under $300 falls to the Aspire One. This is a laptop from the tier above and usually comes with a price-tag around $400.
It has a Quad-Core Celeron processor and 64GB of rapid flash memory. The main upgrade you are getting here is the build quality of the laptop. The Aspire comes in a sleek matte black shell that is a lot sturdier than our other options on this list.
You get UHD 600 graphics, too, with its own 2GB of RAM. This makes playing games on the 15.6" screen an absolute joy. We got high frame rates in all of our games and didn't experience any dropout or lousy frame rate issues while playing our favorite games.
If you are willing to take the plunge with a refurbished laptop, you won't be disappointed if you pick this laptop. It performs as well as any laptop on this list while feeling like a much higher-end laptop.
5. CHUWI HeroBook Pro
- Powerful Inside: Powerful and efficient Intel...
- Storage What You Need: 8GB RAM, 256GB SSD...
- Thinner and Lighter: CHUWI HeroBook laptop...
- Long Battery Life: A monstrous 38Wh polymer...
Value for money
In terms of raw value for money, you don't get much more price to performance than the VHUWI HeroBook Pro.
This laptop comes with 8GB of onboard RAM installed, which is incredible, but it doesn't stop there. You also get a whopping 256GB SSD storage and an N4000 Gemini Lake processor. This is all inside a tiny, lightweight, and thin laptop shell that makes the HeroBook look like a much more expensive piece.
You get a full-sized keyboard with a nice spacing system to stop mistyping too and a huge variety of ports that make this laptop extremely attractive. The 14nm processor even allows for 4K video decoding, which is unheard of in this price bracket.
The screen is beautiful, too, with glare-proof viewing angles and a comprehensive view with thin bezels. You would expect a screen like this to be a massive battery drain, too, but it doesn't seem to be. The battery life sits at 9 hours, and there are even fast-charge capabilities, which means an hour of charge can give you an 80% battery.
The only reason this laptop did not win our top position is due to the new reputation of the manufacturer. This laptop is seriously impressive on paper, but we don't have much experience in dealing with CHUWI.
If you are willing to take that plunge, this laptop is an excellent choice.
Laptop Care, Maintenance & Troubleshooting
Looking after your laptop is relatively simple. You should make sure that you keep any food and drink away and keep it away from any heat sources.
Leaving your laptop in the sun or radiator can cause it to overheat. You should also try to keep it away from dust, and every once in awhile, clean out the fans with an aerosol air cleaner; they only cost a dollar.
People Also Ask (FAQs)
Is it OK to charge a laptop overnight?
While it is perfectly okay to charge your laptop overnight, it isn't the most efficient way to prolong your battery life. The best way to do this is to fully charge your laptop and then unplug it.
You should then use your laptop until it is close to empty, then plug it back in. If you leave your laptop in overnight, you essentially overcharge the battery, and after a long time of doing this, your battery life will diminish.
Is it OK to buy cheap, used gaming laptops?
Secondhand laptops are like sports cars; you never know what had happened before you bought it. Gaming laptops are particularly bad for this as gamers tend to run their rigs at high load for long periods of time. We would advise you to stay clear of secondhand gaming laptops if possible.
What is the difference between a Chromebook and a laptop?
A Chromebook is simply a laptop that is running Chrome OS, which is an operating system designed by Google. A Chromebook functions a lot more like a tablet and has its own benefits and cons.
Chromebooks are usually really quick to load and don't bloat, but they do lose offline functionality that you get with a standard windows laptop.
What does Amazon refurbished/renewed mean?
Amazon Renewed is a place that sells a huge selection of smartphones, computers, video games, power tools, and even more products that work and look like new and are backed by the Amazon Renewed Guarantee. They may have been on display or simply had the box opened and returned.
Where's the best place to find good gaming laptops under $300?
For all things computing, we always head to Amazon. They have the best returns policy and make it really easy to shop around. They also competitively match prices, which means you can often get an amazing deal.
Hopefully, after reading this article, you have a good idea of what laptop you want to buy. The marketplace is flooded with budget laptops that promise to be the best, and we know how difficult it is to navigate. Now you have the tools, and you should find it a lot easier.
If you are still undecided, our top pick is the best laptop for the majority of users in the price-range.
Holly Curell is a US-based freelance writer & editor extraordinaire. With over a decade of writing technical manuals, blog articles, & even company communications, Holly has a passion for providing value to readers on everything she knows about tech-related topics. When she’s not writing, Holly enjoys reading, hiking, wine, & wandering the aisles of Trader Joe’s. Holly is currently based out of North Carolina, where she lives with her husband Ken & their three children.