If you're strapped for cash but still want to make your way onto the PC gaming scene, then you might want to consider a budget gaming laptop. However, budget gaming systems have major drawbacks, especially when it comes to the display and keyboard. So, which brand should you trust to carry you through your favorite PC games? A Tom's Guide forum user asked us a similar question.
Anon888 writes, "Hey guys. Im very confused between purchasing laptops here. I have [the] Acer Nitro 5, Dell G3 and Asus TUF in my mind. I was just going to [purchase the] Acer Nitro 5, but I heard that Acer's service is not good and [the] product build quality isn't good that's [why] it's cheap, so I need some expert's suggestion here.”
Don't worry, Anon888, we've fully reviewed and benchmarked each laptop that you're struggling to choose between, and we've also recently tested the tech support of the brands in question.
Acer Nitro 5: Best Display
The Acer Nitro 5 (5.1 pounds, 1.1-inches thick) that we tested costs $799 and comes outfitted with an Intel Core i5-8300H processor, an Nvidia GeForce GTX 1050 Ti GPU with 4GB of VRAM, 8GB of RAM and a 256GB SSD. Its CPU took 17 minutes and 22 seconds to transcode a 4K video to 1080p on the HandBrake benchmark, and its GPU ran the Hitman benchmark (Ultra, 1080p) at 42 frames per second.
Its 15.6-inch, 1920 x 1080 panel covered only 69 percent of the sRGB color spectrum and hit 257 nits of brightness, so it's not great. To top it off, its keyboard feels soft and spongy, despite its deep 1.6mm of key travel landing between our 1.5 to 2.0 mm comfort zone. On the flip side, its battery life isn't horrible for a gaming laptop, surviving 4 hours and 44 minutes on a charge.
While the Nitro 5 is made of plastic, we found that the build quality felt pretty solid — the display hinge was sturdy and we didn't notice any keyboard flex.
Dell G3 15: Best Graphics and Battery Life
The Dell G3 15 (5.2 pounds, 0.9 inches) that we reviewed runs for $899 and features a Core i5-8300H CPU, a GTX 1050 Ti GPU, 8GB of RAM, 128GB SSD and a 1TB 5400-rpm HDD. It took a much shorter 13 minutes and 16 seconds to complete the HandBrake benchmark and ran Hitman at a smoother 45 fps.
However, its 15.6-inch, 1080p display covered a dull 61 percent of the sRGB color gamut and emitted a dim 231 nits of brightness, which is slightly worse than the Nitro 5. The keyboard is also disappointing, too, as its keys couldn't deliver that satisfying click with its low 1.2 mm of travel. But surprisingly, the G3 15 outclassed the Nitro 5’s battery by lasting 6 hours and 37 minutes on our battery test.
This machine is also made of plastic, but it has a much smaller profile than the Nitro 5, and the chassis didn't have any give when we attempted to flex it.
Asus TUF FX504: Best Keyboard and Performance
Last but not least, the Asus TUF FX504 (5.1 pounds, 1-inch thick) that we reviewed runs for $699 and features a Core i5-8300H CPU, a GTX 1050 GPU with 2GB of VRAM, 8GB of RAM and a 1TB 5400-rpm HDD. Surprisingly, it completed the HandBrake benchmark in a speedy 11 minutes and 15 seconds. We didn't run the Hitman benchmark on this system, but the TUF ran Middle-earth: Shadow of War (Medium, 1080p) at 41 to 47 fps. However, its GPU is weaker than the G3 15 and Nitro 5's.
Meanwhile, the TUF's 15.6-inch, 1920 x 1080 panel is as bad as the G3 15's, covering 66 percent of the sRGB color gamut and averaging an even dimmer 220 nits. Despite some bounciness, the TUF FX504's 1.4 mm keyboard was actually comfortable and we didn't feel like we were bottoming out when we typed on it. However, its battery lasted only 3 hours and 57 minutes on our test.
The TUF FX504 is also made of plastic, so you can expect similar build quality to its budget competitors
Overall, our top pick among these budget gaming machines is the Dell G3 15. It has the best performance, battery life and even offers better storage packed into the slimmest profile.
If you're looking to save the most money, go with the Asus TUF FX504. It'll give you the better keyboard and overall performance, but you'll have to deal with a lackluster GPU. And the only good thing you'll get with the Acer Nitro 5 is its slightly better display.
While the Dell G3 15 is the most expensive, it's the best budget gaming laptop among the three.
Credit: Laptop Mag
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Rami Tabari is an Editor for Laptop Mag. He reviews every shape and form of a laptop as well as all sorts of cool tech. You can find him sitting at his desk surrounded by a hoarder's dream of laptops, and when he navigates his way out to civilization, you can catch him watching really bad anime or playing some kind of painfully difficult game. He’s the best at every game and he just doesn’t lose. That’s why you’ll occasionally catch his byline attached to the latest Souls-like challenge.