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  • Writer's pictureRay Campbell

I Tested And Ranked The Best Gaming Laptops Under $1500

After a long in-depth research, I finally ranked the best gaming laptops under $1500 you can buy on Amazon right now.

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FYI, prices and ratings are accurate as of time of writing.

1. Acer Nitro 5 - Best Overall

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Highlight: When heavy use requires an added boost, Acer CoolBoost technology increases fan speed by 10% and CPU/GPU cooling by 9% compared to auto mode, overall increasing thermal performance by 25% for better gaming comfort.

Helpful review: "Good sub-$1000 gaming laptops are hard to find, but The Nitro 5 gives great value without breaking the bank. The 10th Gen Core i5 processor is 2 generations old at this point, but it has plenty of power to run pretty much all modern games at a decent setting. The Nvidia RTX 3050 graphics processor is an entry level to the new Ray-Tracing sexiness that's the next big thing in graphics.
On newer games you probably won't be able to get past the 60fps barrier at 1080p with the settings cranked, but dialing the details down a bit will give you better rates. The display is rated for 1080p and 144hz, and while it's not the brightest or most vibrant screen out there, it's fine for this price point. There is also a (full size) HDMI out, but I have not had occasion to connect this to an external monitor yet.
The cooling fans do a good job of keeping this machine within temp specs... but do note they can get pretty loud under load (honestly that's almost inevitable on a gaming laptop, it's hard to keep things cool in such a small box. Anyone who games on a laptop should invest in a good headset IMHO.)
I have opened this computer up to install a few upgrades (more on that below) and I will say I'm pretty impressed with the build quality for a computer in this segment. The components are reputable makes rather than mystery off-brands (WD for the SSD, looks like Micron on the single 8gb RAM stick). All the panels fit together nice and go back together easily after disassembly, making upgrades something you don't have to dread.
Speaking of those upgrades... for a computer at this price point you have to live with a few compromises and here is where they may be found. The storage this model comes with is a paltry 256gb m.2 drive... If you do plan on gaming on the Nitro, either be ready to upgrade this quickly or learn to love delete-ing and re-installing games and apps constantly.
Fortunately, there is a second un-used m.2 PCIe slot on the motherboard to accommodate an upgrade (this processor and motherboard supports PCIe up to gen-3 speeds). There is also an open 2.5 inch bay for an SSD. Memory-wise, this unit comes with a single 8gb DDR4 SODIMM RAM stick installed. This should be fine for most gaming- if you don't run big apps in the background. But since this has two slots total for an upgrade I removed it and installed 2 8gb sticks of Kingston FURY Impact DDR4 RAM, just for a bit of extra headroom. The max speed the i5 10300H will operate memory at is 2933 Mhz, so it's not worth it to spend more on faster RAM.
All in all, this is a fine machine for someone who's interested in a good no-fuss entryway into PC gaming, or a seasoned gamer who wants an inexpensive but capable machine to go mobile with. Highly Recommended!" — M. Hall

Get it from Amazon now: $819.00 & FREE Returns


2. MSI Katana GF66 - Best for First-Time Buyers

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Highlight: Most realistic ray-traced graphics and cutting-edge AI features.

Helpful review: "First off, I pulled the trigger as soon as I saw it had made it's way to Amazon. I'm glad I didn't wait, because the next day the price had jumped by $300. The following day, the price went back down, only to go up again the following day. As of this writing, the price is nearly $400 more than it was at it's debut. I'm not sure why the price is fluctuating so much, so do your homework before jumping on it.
I am not a heavy gamer, but I needed a laptop that could handle most games without grinding to a halt. I wanted something that could be used as an all-purpose machine. I also wanted a screen that these aging eyes could read without squinting or connecting a larger monitor. The number pad has been vanishing from a lot of machines, so I was glad they kept it. Also the visually adjustable backlit keyboard was a must as well. This machine checked all those boxes and more.
To be honest, from prior builds I knew MSI to be a top name in motherboards and other hardware, but I was not aware they were in the laptop business. I have always been satisfied with their components, so it was a reasonable assumption that their systems would also be of a higher quality. So far, I am not disappointed.
I have been pushing the laptop to see how it handles graphically intense games, and the 3060 has run everything smoothly. I can't go deep into specific stats, since the only criteria I have is that the machine can run my games and apps without noticeable lag. The laptop itself is thick and heavy for a "thin" model, but considering what is under the hood, that is expected.
It feels solid and there's nothing cheap looking about it. The matte finish keeps the fingerprints away. The keys have a good feel to them, although the Windows key is oddly located on the right side of the space bar, not on the left side where I am used to finding it. The display is a thing of beauty. It looks bigger than it is due to the thin bezel. The viewing area is very wide and the experience of viewing movies and videos is a pleasure to the eyes.
The few cons I have found are really nit-picking. The font on the keys is...odd. The built-in speaker output is not good since they decided to put them underneath the laptop?! Also, the lack of a manual is common now, but I still prefer to read the instructions and detailed specs, such as RAM and HD locations, on paper. The biggest complaint so far is the fan noise.
Most of the time it is quiet, but when you start gaming it sounds like a Boeing is taking off under the keyboard. Headsets are a must while playing. And the vents do get quite warm.
I will update the review upon further use, but my initial impression is a very positive one. For a gaming laptop, it is very good. Maybe not a Goliath killer, but it will play what you want at a decent level. And as an everyday machine, it is stylish and performs exceptionally." — Brennan B.

Get it from Amazon now: $1,349.00 & FREE Returns


3. ASUS TUF Dash 15 - Best Mid-Tier Gaming Laptop

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Highlight: A MUX Switch lets the GPU communicate directly with the display, increasing performance and decreasing latency.

Helpful review: "I am a programmer and gamer, who was very hesitant to switch from desktop to laptop given the amount of time I spend on a computer. Recently at work I got switched to a MacBook pro and a thunderbolt docking station and that has been revolutionary for me. Since this laptop can plug right into my dock I finally felt comfortable to take the leap. And I am very pleasantly surprised! Only a few weeks into ownership and I am not only growing fond of this little machine but I even was able to sell my desktop and JUST use this.
The laptop itself is fast. Great at multitasking. Never runs out of juice with 10 cores. I can game, and review code simultaneously. It does run a bit warm when gaming though. Especially the CPU. I personally found turning off turbo via throttle stop to be the best solution and it didn't affect my game quality at all, running 50-70°c during 6 hour game sessions. Otherwise, I'd still recommend a cooling pad and limit fps. Before turning boost off, and repasting, it was running 75-100°c (thermal throttle).
After repasting it runs 70-90°c normally during gaming PC. Now, as far as gaming goes: pretty much any game on high to ultra settings, 1080p or 1440p and 60fps is a breeze for this thing. I play far cry 5, halo infinite, Forza horizon 5, etc... WiFi is blazing fast. I'm pulling 340mbps download in steam which is what I got on my wired PC. Screen is decent. Looks good but could be Brighter.
The big con of any laptop under $2-2500. But it's brighter than my previous msi laptop so I'm happy. Battery is good for what it is. ~4-5 hours web browsing or YouTube, 1-1.5 gaming depending on settings but charges lighting fast. Overall very thin, very light, very good looking laptop and the build quality feels great. With a dock it truly becomes a portable workstation.
Getting this item on Black Friday sale really helped the Value proposition. Laptop performs as the spec sheet details, no compromises. 105TDP for the 3060 is a good average performer. The screen looks great, but is not the brightest, and has been reviewed to not have the complete color space - if you are looking for a graphics professional calibrated display, there are likely better options. Easy to update to maximize the usable lifespan of the laptop, 2 SODimm slots, 2 NVMe slots. Keyboard is good and tactile, I liked getting the 10-key complete keyboard. Arrangements of the ports, all on the Left side is a little odd, but not a deal breaker when you get TB4.0, Full Size HDMI and Ethernet. Lastly, not much bloatware preinstalled and it wasn't terribly hard to remove...!" — Craig

Get it from Amazon now: $1,299.99 & FREE Returns


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