When some video games are making more money than big-budget Hollywood movies, then it’s pretty obvious that gaming is big business. More popular than ever, gaming has become one of the most popular hobbies in the world, and some people are even making careers out of their game-playing skills.
With the likes of PewDiePie and Markiplier creating a storm on YouTube, gaming can be a moneymaking business. Of course, if you wish to follow in their footsteps, then you’ll need a gaming laptop of your own. PCs, unlike consoles, are comprised of multiple components such as the processor and the graphics card, whereas a console has a set standard so that you can play games.
If you’re a newbie thinking about getting more into gaming, or you’re on the lookout for a new gaming machine, then budget is obviously going to be an important factor. If you think that $600 is not going to be enough money to get you a decent gaming experience, then Choosist are happy to show you exactly what you should be looking for so that you don’t go over budget.
Use this guide to help you decide the on the best possible laptop for you.
Not only are there more games available than ever before, and more people playing those games, there are also more ways that you can play. Your machine of choice will depend on the types of game that you want to play and what your budget is. While hardcore gamers will generally tend to opt for desktop PCs for their main gaming time and only use laptops when they’re out and about, the growing power of laptops is shortening that divide. If budget isn’t a factor then you may want to get one of the machines listed on the Choosist best gaming laptops list, but the best gaming laptops under $600 will let you a play a lot more than you think.
There are three main gaming consoles and they each have their own unique positives and negatives. The main reason why people with a budget tend to drift to consoles like the PlayStation 4 or Xbox One is due to the lower costs. You can get a PlayStation 4 now for about $300, but don’t think that the lower price is that much of an advantage.
Laptop and PC gamers get access to Steam catalogs with thousands of games of all types and prices. You could very easily make your money back over a year by investing in the best gaming laptop under $600 and buying plenty of Steam games. Of course, laptops also have the added bonus of being portable, and that is a huge advantage that they have over both consoles and PCs.
If you're a dedicated hardcore gamer (or you’re hoping to become one), then the fact is that you simply will not be able to play the top tier AAA games with even the best laptop under $600. If you want to play the latest Batman game or Rise of the Tomb Raider, then a laptop under $600 is most likely not going to be able to handle it. If those AAA games are the ones that you want to play, it might be worth checking out this Choosist review of the best gaming laptops under $1000 and waiting until you can increase your budget.
However, don't panic. Even with your budget restrictions, there’s still entire worlds of gaming that you can enjoy, and you’re not going to be limited to Candy Crush either. Gaming laptops under $600 are going to be able to play a massive number of games, including some greats. As long as you’ve got at least 4GB of RAM, then you can easily play:
Those are some brilliant games, and it should be pointed out that some of the above games are very new. So don’t get trapped into thinking that you’re going to be limited to classic games only. Even with a laptop under $600, you will still have an almost endless choice when it comes to finding a great game to play.
Don’t worry if you don’t know your RAM from your GPU. Here’s a guide for your gaming laptop that highlights exactly what you should be looking when it comes to the basics. With even the best laptop under $600, you're going to have to make compromises, but there’s an easily achievable balance that is perfectly possible. The more that you know about your laptop requirements, the more likely that you will get exactly the kind of gaming experience you're hoping for. Let’s dive in.
Games are primarily judged on how awesome they look. If you're on a budget then you might not be able to get the latest and most powerful graphics cards available, but that doesn’t mean that you can’t get some real quality options. A decent graphics card can even help you play games that are a little out of the power range of your laptop, although this will usually mean tinkering with the in-game settings a bit.
If you are planning to play AAA titles on the current Top 10 charts, then you will need to check that they are compatible with the graphics card that you have in your laptop.
Within this price bracket you could expect graphics cards such the AMD Radeon R5 M430 or Intel UHD 620. Both are integrated graphics cards which can handle most regular computing needs but not hard core gaming. They will carry you if you’re playing less demanding (non-AAA) titles such as Football Manager or Minecraft. You might be able to squeeze in Fortnite but with lower in-game settings.
This is one of those technical terms that non-experts usually just glance at and then move on, none the wiser. The good news is that you don’t have to understand what a processor is or how it works, even if you're shopping for a laptop right now.
Your processor (or CPU) will play a big part in the speed and smoothness of your gaming, so it’s best to get it right. Don’t go any lower than the Intel Core i3, and use that as a baseline. The better your CPU (e.g. an Intel Core i5 or i7 from the 6th, 7th or even the current 8th generation), the better your game playing will be, and whether that’s a bash at Minecraft or a real-time strategy game like Civilisation V, always take some time to look for specs that will not hinder your gaming unexpectedly.
This is all about the memory of your machine, and it’s what lets your gaming laptop run different processes simultaneously. For gaming, your laptop is going to want to be able to do a lot of things at the same time, so RAM is one of the most important technical bits to get right. Again, you don’t need to understand how it works or even what it’s an acronym for (Random Access Memory), all you need to know is that the number needs to be as high as you can get. With the best laptops under $600, you should aim for a minimum of 4GB. You might be able to get 8GB, which is considered the gaming standard, but even with 4GB you will be able to play some of the more popular games available. Remember, the higher your RAM, the smoother your gameplay.
Laptops come with a choice of a hard disk drive (HDD) or solid state drive (SSD). The one that you opt for will have a noticeable impact on your gaming experience.
An HDD is more likely at this price range, although this will mean that you get slower loading times. The problem is that SDDs are more expensive, and will increase the overall price of your laptop. If you’re looking for a gaming laptop that fits the RAM and graphics cards requirement, then this is a compromise that you’ll probably have to live with. For the actual game engines themselves, an HDD will be more than good enough. Having slightly slower loading times is a small price to pay for more important aspects like the RAM and the graphics card. Prioritize those before getting too worried about your storage.
You’re going to be using your keyboard a lot, so if you can get the chance to have a play with the laptop models that you’re considering, that would be ideal. If that’s not possible, then check out online reviews from people that are using the laptop for gaming. You’ll need to consider how much force it takes to press a key, whether there’s that wonderful clicking sound when it’s pressed, and whether your model allows for multiple buttons to be pressed simultaneously. That last aspect is going to be very important if you’re planning to play fighting games like Mortal Kombat or Tekken.
Button bashing will be considerably more effective if your laptop will register those multiple button presses. You might even consider the fact that compromising on the keyboard specs now doesn’t have to be a long-term thing. You can always get yourself a separate keyboard later and simply use that as an alternative option.
While audio is very important in gaming, the fact is that for most people it all comes down to the visuals. That’s why you need to really think about what kind of screen you’re going to need. A small screen will mean that your laptop is more portable (the overall machine will be smaller and the weight will be noticeably less), but you will be trading portability for imagery. If gaming is your goal, then you will be better off with a bigger screen. Obviously, the larger the screen size you go for, the more you will have to compromise on your RAM and processor, so finding the right balance will be important. Ultimately, the more screen size you can get for your laptop, the better the gameplay experience. Missing out on kills and missions because your screen size is too small will quickly become frustrating.
There are a few areas to consider when it comes to sound. It used to be that laptop speakers were awful, but there has been a shift in that over the last few years. You might not get studio quality sound from your laptop speakers, but they are more than good enough for you to get more from your gaming. However, when it comes to sound there is one major factor to think about that far too many forget: the fan.
Laptops come with internal fans to keep the machine cool, but those fans can get very noisy indeed. Hardcore gamers will most likely avoid this issue by opting for headphones.
More and more games are using binaural recordings these days, so headphones are becoming the standard. Binaural sound means that you can hear where the sound is coming from, and whether it’s Mr. X in the new Resident Evil stalking you through corridors, or an Alien hunting you through Isolation, having that directional sound effect makes for a much more intense gaming experience.
A good gaming headset may be an additional cost, but it is becoming increasingly worth it. This is especially true if you’re planning to play online games like Fortnite or World of Warcraft, where being able to listen and collaborate clearly is so important. If you do decide to dive into a headset, then you need to consider the following:
Remember, a headset is not a requirement, and you will be able to have a great gaming experience without one. Don’t prioritize a headset if you’re already limiting your budget to under $600. However, being aware of how much you'll benefit from a good headset will probably make you keen to invest sooner rather than later.
One of the most important things to remember when looking at a new gaming laptop is that the brand name should not be a major factor. There are so many laptop brands and they each offer a variety of models with different specs. Don’t worry too much about the name on your laptop, and focus instead on the internal stuff. It’s no good having a top name laptop if your RAM isn’t up to standard or it comes with a slow graphics card.
Gaming is more popular than ever, and with estimates that the video game market is set to be worth around $90.1 billion by 2020, that popularity is clearly growing. With the rise of esports as well, it’s never been more tempting to get into gaming. Top players are even earning huge sums of money, although you might have to get a lot of practice hours in before you can start to compete.
If you’re looking for the best gaming laptops under $600, then this list from Choosist should help you make an easier decision. If you have any questions about gaming laptops, check out the Choosist Wizard, and you could be loading your first game before you know it.
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