Any gamer will tell you that gaming is not a cheap hobby. If you want to be serious about getting a proper gaming rig you need to be prepared to fork out some serious dollar. That said, for the budget oriented noobie finding a gaming laptop under $500 to play mid to entry level modern games is not impossible, and there are some great deals online on laptops from a host of leading manufacturers that will give you a decent gaming experience without completely breaking the bank.
Smart gaming laptops are gaming laptops that have the right balance between hardware speed and reliability. You will always want a laptop with a dedicated graphics card, usually Radeon on the more budget end of the spectrum. Be cautious as most laptops within this price range only have Intel HD graphics which are suitable for watching movies and general media consumption at best. Sites like LaptopNinja offer condensed lists of the best gaming laptops under $500 that feature dedicated graphics drivers – this should help make your work a bit easier. Aim for a laptop with a Radeon somewhere in the 7 series (eg. a 7420G) or the 8 series as these are the more modern chips.
Other hardware to consider are the CPU as well as the RAM. Don’t go for anything less than a dual core (shouldn’t be too difficult) with at least 4GB of RAM. Ideally try and find a laptop with option expandable memory, that way you can fork out a few extra bucks and upgrade to 6GB or 8GB of RAM. Most people would be surprised at what a huge difference extra RAM will make to performance relative to it’s price. Sreen wise you are obviously going to want something 15 inches or bigger, though good luck trying to find a 17 incher within this price range. That is of course unless you plan on playing browser games all day on an 11 inch Netbook – don’t even bother wasting your time in that case.
The last thing to keep in mind is build quality and the manufacturers in question. Some manufacturers such as Toshiba have excellent records as budget gaming kinds, whereas other manufactures may not be as ideally suited. Reading enough reviews on any laptop on question however should give you a good idea of what you’re looking at. The most important thing is to put in the time to do the right research – it will pay dividends in the long run.