Help Me, Laptop: I Need a Cheap Laptop for Minecraft

The holidays are upon us once again, and you have some last-minute shopping to do. What better present is there to offer your loved ones than the gift of Minecraft. Not outdated, unmoddable console-Minecraft, but glorious PC Minecraft. It just so happens that a Tom's Guide forum user asked our help in finding the best cheap laptop for Mojang's popular world-building game.

christinahoward24 writes, "Any recommendations for a cheap laptop or tablet that will mainly be used for playing Minecraft, Roblox, and watching YouTube. It's a Christmas gift for a kid. I was thinking about a Chromebook, but I read that you can't play Minecraft on a Chromebook.”

Don't worry, Christina, we got you covered. While Minecraft isn't graphically demanding, it devours RAM faster than Google Chrome does, so that'll be one of the main factors when choosing the right laptop. Also, you'll want to check out our top cheap gaming mice, since you can't game on a touchpad alone.

Minecraft System Requirements

Mojang's Minecraft: Java Edition system requirements are listed on its website as such:

  • CPU: Intel Core i3-3210 3.2 GHz / AMD A8-7600 APU 3.1 GHz or equivalent.
  • RAM: 2GB.
  • GPU (Integrated): Intel HD Graphics 4000 (Ivy Bridge) or AMD Radeon R5 series (Kaveri line) with OpenGL 4.4.
  • GPU (Discrete): Nvidia GeForce 400 Series or AMD Radeon HD 7000 series with OpenGL 4.4.
  • Storage: At least 1GB for game core, maps and other files.
  • Windows 7 and up / macOS: Any 64-bit OS X using 10.9 Maverick or newer / Linux: Any modern 64-bit distributions from 2014 onward.
  • Internet connectivity is required for downloading Minecraft files, afterward offline play is possible.

You may want to take these requirements with a grain of salt, mostly because this covers basic Minecraft, and that's about it. Popular mods, such as SkyFactory or All the Mods, are known to gobble up tons of RAM.

Acer Aspire E 15: Best Value for Playability

If you're going for the bare minimum, then the Acer Aspire E 15 will be more than sufficient, as it comes equipped with an Intel Core i3-8130U processor, 6GB of RAM, 1TB HDD and an Intel HD 620 GPU, all for $354.

The Aspire E 15 scored 7,468 on the Geekbench 4 overall performance test and 63,817 on the 3DMark Ice Storm Unlimited graphics benchmark, which means it can perform some decent multitasking as well as run basic Minecraft.

Its 15.6-inch, 1080p display is rather dull, however, as it reproduced only 62.3 percent of the sRGB color gamut and reached a maximum brightness of 227 nits. However, when we put the Aspire E 15 up against the Laptop Mag Battery Test, it lasted a solid 8 hours and 48 minutes.

The Aspire E 15's keyboard is a bit shallow with only 1.1 millimeters in key travel, but they felt surprisingly springy in our testing. We typically recommend key travel in the 1.5 to 2.0 mm range.

Acer Spin 3 (Core i5 - 2018): Best Battery Life

A step up from the Aspire E 15 is the Spin 3, which is armed with an Intel Core i5-8250U CPU, 8GB of RAM, a 256GB SSD and an Intel UHD 620 GPU, resulting in faster speeds all around for just $599.

The Spin 3 nailed 12,172 on Geekbench 4 and 61,440 on 3DMark Ice Storm Unlimited, which gives it more power than the Aspire E 15 to chug some of those heavier Minecraft mods.

Its 14-inch, 1080p panel is smaller than the Aspire, but it's also slightly nicer to look at, covering 68 percent of the sRGB color gamut and achieving 237 nits of brightness. On top of that, the Spin 3 held out for an impressive 9 hours and 12 minutes on our battery test.

Unfortunately, the Spin 3's keyboard is too shallow and not tactile enough to be comfortable, as its keys measured at only 1.2 millimeters.

Lenovo Legion Y530: Best Keyboard and Graphics

The Legion Y530 that we tested costs $899 and is outfitted with an Intel Core i5-8300H processor, 8GB of RAM, a 1TB 5400-rpm HDD, a 128GB SSD and an Nvidia GeForce GTX 1050 Ti GPU, which hit 13,866 on Geekbench 4 and 163,266 on 3DMark Ice Storm Unlimited. 

To meet your specific needs, we recommend getting the $849 configuration that comes with an Intel Core i5-8300H CPU, 16GB of RAM, a 1TB 5400-rpm HDD and a GTX 1050 GPU, making it more than capable of running a full-modded-out Minecraft (aka: the true way to play).

Its 15.6-inch, 1080p display isn't as colorful as we would have liked, reproducing only 80 percent of the sRGB color spectrum and averaging a decent 266 nits of brightness. Being a gaming laptop, the Legion Y530 lasted only 4 hours and 44 minutes on our battery test.

The Legion Y530's keyboard is incredibly comfortable to type on, with its solid 2.0 millimeters of key travel, but it still doesn’t have that tactile feedback you’d expect from a regular gaming keyboard.

Bottom Line

If you're on a tight budget, then the Acer Aspire E 15 ($354) will do fine in handling Minecraft's basic game and a few choice mods, as well as everyday YouTube viewing.

However, you may want to consider getting the Acer Spin 3 ($599) due to its increased RAM and performance, as the laptop will be able to handle even more mods in-game, which is how most people play nowadays. On top of that, you get 2-in-1 capabilities, so there are plenty of reasons for a growing artist to use this as well.

If you suspect that the person you're shopping for wants to get more into gaming beyond Minecraft, we recommend getting the Lenovo Legion Y530 ($849). It's capable of juggling demanding games at lower settings, and due to its 16GB of RAM, it can play Minecraft with more mods than you can imagine (the right way).

We hope that this helped narrow down your choices. 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.