In this guide, we will discover: 5 Best Gaming Laptops Under $1500 – Easy Beginners Guide
Gaming laptops have undergone a revolution in price to performance in recent years. They’re a good deal now, if you value the unique advantages of laptops and gaming hardware.
In the $1500 or less budget segment, you’re spoilt for choice and are solidly in the “next-gen” part of the gaming laptop spectrum. If you’re looking for one device that can replace your business laptop, console, and gaming desktop in one go, this is the place to start.
What We’re Looking For in a $1500 Laptop
Gaming laptops are generally more expensive on a dollar-to-performance basis than their desktop counterparts. While a $1000 desktop gaming system can be decently powerful, a $1000 laptop will exchange a significant chunk of performance for size, portability, and convenience.
At the $1500 mark, we’re moving into the sweet spot for gaming laptops. These machines offer enough gaming grunt that you won’t feel like you’re sacrificing much in mainstream gaming performance. While we don’t expect $1500 gaming laptops to be flawless, this is where you want to be for a gaming PC that can run contemporary AAA games at 1440p 60fps with a mix of high and even ultra settings.
If you’re looking for something to use with a 4K external display (4K screens in laptops aren’t really worth it for gaming), then you may find that GPU VRAM is a real issue at this budget bracket. You’ll also have to settle for a mix of medium and high settings at 4K, or dynamic resolution scaling up to 4K in games that support it.
Our expectations for build quality at this price point are moderate. Most laptops will have plastic bodies and a noticeable (yet irrelevant) amount of flex. We don’t expect the best keyboards, and internal speakers aren’t too important since you need headphones to cancel out the fan noise anyway.
Likewise, we’re not particularly looking for flashy gamer gimmicks such as RGB lighting or sports car air vent designs. These can be nice if they don’t come at the cost of performance and functionality but are superfluous.
Battery life is a tricky thing to assess in the gaming laptop space. To be blunt, no one plays video games on these laptops running on battery power. The cuts to CPU and GPU performance are too severe, and legal limitation to battery size means you’ll barely get a decent gaming session before the battery counter hits zero. Instead, the best you can hope for is good battery life when using the laptop for other things, like work or watching videos. If the laptop can get you through most of a typical workday without needing to be plugged in, that’s a win in our book.
Please note that we’re focusing on laptops priced between $1200 and $1500 here. If you’re looking for something at or below $1200, check out the Best Gaming Laptops Under $1200. If you’re on an extremely tight budget, you’ll love our best budget gaming laptop roundup, and if you’re unsure whether a gaming laptop or desktop is best for you, our roundup of the best gaming computers under $1000 has a mix of options.
Best Sub-$1500 Gaming Laptop: ASUS ROG Strix G16 (2023)
This is the most modern laptop in our roundup and, at the time of writing, the only laptop we could find in stock with the latest 13th-gen Intel CPU and 40-series graphics card from NVIDIA. The RTX 4060 should match typical 3070 Ti laptop GPUs, with the added benefit of better DLSS, ray tracing, and DLSS3 frame generation technology. So it’s solidly future-proof.
The Intel Core i7 13650HX CPU has 14 cores, 6 of those being high-performance units, more than enough to tackle modern games. The eight efficiency cores can handle background tasks from the OS, or when you’re not gaming, these little cores stop the battery from draining too quickly.
You also get snappy DDR5 RAM but only a 512GB SSD, which we can’t complain about. The screen is “only’ 1080p Full HD (FHD), but with these specs under the hood getting to that 165Hz refresh rate should be no problem. If we had to buy a laptop purely for gaming at this budget point today, this is the machine we’d get for ourselves.
If The Strix G16 Is Out of Stock: Alienware M15 R6
While the R6 has a CPU two generations behind and a GPU one generation back, thanks to decent price cuts, this is an absolute powerhouse for $1500 and offers an excellent gaming experience for the money. Eight high-performance CPU cores, a chunky NVIDIA GeForce RTX 3070 mobile GPU, 32GB of RAM, and a 360 Hz 1080p display.
Having a 1080p resolution is perfectly fine at 15.6” for the screen, which means this system can push eSports titles such as CS:GO all the way up to the maximum refresh rate of 360hz. If you want to turn up the eye candy in single-player games, we can’t think of any current modern title that wouldn’t run at 60 FPS or higher on this display with a mix of high and ultra settings.
If you want to hook this laptop up to a 1440p or 4K display, you can still use DLSS in games that support them. Since it seems virtually all major new and upcoming games have DLSS support, this laptop’s performance will likely stay relevant for quite a few years to come.
As for the design of the laptop, it’s classic Alienware, which is to say that it looks pretty sharp but not overdone. Ultimately this is a Dell product, but that little bit of corporate conservativeness is a positive here, as the M15 looks sophisticated, while still being just the right amount of cool.
This machine from the previous CPU generation slipped into this price bracket but still holds its own without breaking a sweat. Thanks to AMD’s less expensive CPUs, this laptop offers excellent performance while being comfortably below the $1500 mark.
The 2560×1600 screen may be a little too high in resolution for the NVIDIA GeForce RTX 3060 to push games at high settings, but if you factor in DLSS or are happy with a mix of medium and high settings, it should be just fine, and crisp at this screen size.
Speaking of which, the taller 16:10 aspect ratio also makes this an excellent laptop for work. This is the same ratio favored by laptops like the MacBook, which might be a major selling point for many of you.
We almost had to do a double take when looking at the specs for this Strix G15. Leaving enough room in our budget for a decent gaming mouse, this plucky machine packs properly fast components. The RX 6800M should make short work of 1440p games at high/ultra settings, and the AMD Ryzen 9 5980X CPU should have no problem keeping those 1% low frame dips at bay.
If you don’t mind the lack of DLSS and AMD’s rather middling ray tracing performance, the Strix G15 is hard to say no to. Its design is somewhat reserved (for a ROG product) despite the bright red accent panel and giant ROG angry eye on the back of the lid.
This particular Helios 300 uses an older 11th-gen Intel CPU paired with an RTX 3060. Coupled with a 1080p 144Hz refresh rate screen, you’ll be playing current-generation games at great settings and decent frame rates, but that’s not what caught our eye.
No, this laptop is notable because it packs 32GB of RAM, a 1TB PCIe NVMe SSD, a 2TB mechanical HDD, and a Thunderbolt 4 port. That makes this an excellent machine for those who want to do serious work that benefits from lots of RAM, storage, and a strong CPU and GPU.
Think of it as a bargain little workstation that doesn’t look quite as boring. Alternatively, there’s just a ton of room to download games and media. Either way, it’s a great mix of attributes, and that Thunderbolt 4 port opens up the possibility of an eGPU as well!
The Changing of the Guard
At the time of writing, gaming laptops are undergoing a generational shift, especially with their GPUs. This predictably creates market chaos as great deals on last-gen systems and stock shortages on cutting-edge machines make it hard to know what to choose.
Our advice is to compare the performance of current and last gen laptops within the same price range. Then decide whether a higher-performance discounted last-gen laptop is better for you than more power-efficient newer machines with new tricks (such as DLSS 3 or efficiency cores for longer battery life), which may not have the same raw performance. Finally, keep an eye on clearance discounts on sites like Amazon, and you could get the deal of the decade on last-gen high-end laptops!