Help Me, Laptop: I Need a Cheap Gaming Laptop for Dad

If your parents are jumping on the Fortnite bandwagon, then they'll need a relatively reliable gaming laptop to be able to run it at decent frame rates, even on lower settings. A Tom's Guide forum user asked us to find a cheap gaming laptop for their dad for that specific reason, while still providing enough productivity power to get everyday work done.

some_username asked us for a laptop within a 500 ($568; £449) budget that can handle some light gaming. Spec-wise, they want at least a 1080p panel, a 500GB HDD and a CPU capable of handling art software.

Before we get started, thank you very much for detailing what you need the laptop for. Now, throw out any illusion that you'll find a competent gaming laptop at that price. While Fortnite isn't graphically demanding by the looks of it, it's so poorly optimized that it's going to take more of a toll on your system than it should. Don't worry; we won’t stretch your budget too thin.

Dell G3 15 Gaming: Best Battery Life and Performance

The $849 configuration (1.099 on Dell’s Belgium website for a similar config) of the Dell G3 15 Gaming that we tested comes with an Intel Core i5-8300H processor, 8GB of RAM, 128GB SSD, 1TB HDD and a Nvidia GeForce GTX 1050 Ti GPU with 4GB of VRAM. It nailed 13,227 on the Geekbench 4 overall performance test and 159,006 on 3DMark Ice Storm Unlimited.

The budget one you'll be aiming for costs 799 ($699) and drops you to a GTX 1050 GPU with 4GB of VRAM and a 256GB SSD. It'll have the same performance, and while it has slightly less graphics power, it’ll be enough to get decent frame rates on Fortnite at Medium settings.

The G3 15's 15.6-inch, 1080p panel doesn't look that great, however, as it covered 61 percent of the sRGB spectrum and emitted 231 nits of brightness in our tests. However, the G3 15's battery life is impressive for a gaming notebook, lasting 6 hours and 37 minutes on the Laptop Mag Battery Test.

MORE: How to Buy a Cheap Gaming Laptop: 7 Essential Tips

The keyboard could be better, as it only offers 1.2 millimeters of travel and bottoms out frequently. We typically prefer key travel in the 1.5 to 2.0 mm range.

Asus TUF Gaming FX504: Best Graphics and Keyboard for the Money

The TUF Gaming FX504 that we tested costs $829 and is outfitted with a Core i5-8300H CPU, 8GB of RAM, a 1TB HDD and a GTX 1050 GPU with 2GB of VRAM. It clocked in 12,038 on Geekbench 4 and 147,174 on 3DMark Ice Storm Unlimited.

However, NewEgg's Belgium site sells the FX504 with a GTX 1050 Ti GPU with 4GB of VRAM and 1TB SSHD (slightly faster than HDD) for just 615, so you're technically getting more graphics power than the G3 15 Gaming that we recommended, but you're also sacrificing some CPU performance.

Asus' 15.6-inch, 1080p screen is basically just as bland as the G3 15's, hitting 66 percent of the sRGB gamut and averaging 220 nits of brightness. While that's par for the course with gaming laptops, so is its awful 3:57 battery life.

With 1.4 millimeters of key travel, the TUF Gaming's keyboard is a lot punchier to type on than the Dell G3 15's, despite being a little bouncy.

Acer Aspire 5: Meets Budget

The Aspire 5 that we tested with the closest specs was a 17-inch laptop that ran for $999 (£789) and came with Intel Core i7-8550U, 12GB of RAM, a 256GB SSD, a 1TB HDD and a MX150 GPU with 2GB of VRAM. It hit 12,187 on Geekbench 4 and about 60 fps on Overwatch at Low settings.

Its 15.6-inch sibling actually goes for 557 on NewEgg (the closest thing we could find to your budget) and drops you to 8GB of RAM and a 128GB SSD (still combined with a 1TB HDD). The MX150 GPU should be enough to push past 30 fps on Fortnite at Medium settings.

We did test the 15.6-inch display on the Aspire 5 and it produced a measly 65 percent of the sRGB color gamut and 209 nits of brightness. The battery lasted only 4 hours and 43 minutes on a charge, which is pretty bad for a non-gaming laptop.

MORE: What to Look for in a Gaming Laptop - Buying Guide for Gamers

The Aspire 5's keyboard provides a similar bottoming-out sensation to the G3 15 Gaming, as it offers only 1.3 millimeters of travel.

Bottom Line

In terms of performance for the money, the Asus TUF Gaming FX504 is the way to go. You'll be hard-pressed to find a laptop with decent specs and a GTX 1050 Ti GPU that close to your budget.

However, if you're absolutely confined to your budget, we'd recommend getting the Acer Aspire 5, considering it'll be able to handle what you're dad plays just fine. Unless you absolutely need over 6 hours of battery life and slightly better performance, then it's probably best to avoid the Dell G3 15 Gaming. It's overpriced on Dell's Belgium site compared with other markets.

Overall, the TUF Gaming FX504 offers solid performance and graphics packed into a sleek chassis with the best keyboard of the bunch.

We hope that this helped. Let us know which you decide to go with!

Credit: Laptop Mag

Rami Tabari

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.