The Best Gaming Laptop Under $400: A Surprising Find
When it comes to gaming laptops, we often associate high performance with a hefty price tag. However, there are hidden gems out there that defy this convention. In this article, we’ll explore a gaming laptop that packs a punch for under $400 USD. Yes, you read that right – a budget-friendly gaming laptop with impressive specs that won’t break the bank.
Unveiling the Budget Gaming Laptop
This gaming laptop, which I managed to acquire for a mere $400 USD, has exceeded my expectations. What sets it apart from the crowd is its inclusion of Nvidia RTX 3050 graphics. This means you can enjoy a significant FPS boost in many games, thanks to DLSS (Deep Learning Super Sampling) technology.
To put things in perspective, RTX 3050 gaming laptops are currently retailing for a starting price of $650 on Best Buy. That’s a substantial difference in cost, and it’s worth noting that I didn’t purchase this laptop second hand. Micro Center, a reputable retailer in the US, recently had a similar Gateway laptop on sale for $399, further proving that a brand new RTX 3050 laptop at the $400 mark is a real possibility. Please note that prices can fluctuate, but this is precisely why websites like gaminglaptop.deals exist – to keep you updated on the latest deals and help you save money on your next laptop purchase.
Meet the Gigabyte G5: A Budget-Friendly Beast
The laptop that I have in my possession is the Gigabyte G5. It boasts a 6-core Intel processor, Nvidia RTX 3050 graphics, 16GB of RAM, and a fast 144Hz screen. I snagged this laptop for $400, and it’s arguably one of the best gaming laptops you can find in this price range, at least in Australia. However, what’s truly remarkable is that you can find similar specs in a brand new gaming laptop in the US, provided you catch the right sale.
Putting it to the Test: Gaming Performance
Now, let’s dive into what really matters – gaming performance. I conducted tests on three popular games, namely Cyberpunk 2077, Red Dead Redemption 2, and Control, all running at 1080p with high settings.
With DLSS enabled, our $400 gaming laptop saw a staggering 50% FPS boost. Even without DLSS, it outperformed the ASUS ROG Ally, a $700 handheld gaming console. This showcases the immense value of having an RTX 3050 graphics card in your gaming laptop.
Red Dead Redemption 2
In Red Dead Redemption 2, DLSS contributed to a 26% FPS boost, pushing the G5 to a playable 60 FPS at high settings. While the older and cheaper GTX 1660 Ti outperformed it slightly, it’s essential to note that GTX laptops don’t support DLSS, making the RTX 3050 a more attractive choice for gaming enthusiasts.
Control demonstrated a similar trend. Our budget-friendly gaming laptop was 25% faster than the same GPU in MSI’s GF63, a laptop that often costs more and offers inferior build quality. Once again, DLSS made a significant impact, pushing the G5 beyond 60 FPS.
In summary, the $400 gaming laptop consistently delivered around 60 FPS with DLSS enabled in these three demanding games. Moreover, it consistently outperformed the ASUS ROG Ally, a more expensive option.
Beyond Gaming: A Closer Look
Gaming laptops are more than just gaming machines; they need to meet various other criteria to be considered a good purchase. Here’s an overview of what the Gigabyte G5 offers outside of gaming:
While the G5 is constructed from plastic and may feel a tad cheap, this is expected at its price point. The lid does exhibit some flex, but it remains stable during typing, making it comfortable to use. Surprisingly, the keyboard deck feels sturdy, even under pressure.
The G5 is relatively lightweight compared to most gaming laptops and comes with a compact 150W charger. However, it is undeniably thick – a characteristic that may be reminiscent of older gaming laptops.
Keyboard and Touchpad
The keyboard, while suitable for typing, can feel somewhat mushy due to its removable nature. It also features RGB backlighting with a limited color palette. The touchpad, although a bit smaller than newer laptops, functions adequately, with the only gripe being the left and right click buttons.
In terms of connectivity, the G5 impresses with its port selection, boasting USB Type-A and C ports on both sides, along with an SD card slot and even a Mini DisplayPort – a rarity in modern laptops. The Mini DisplayPort connects directly to the Nvidia graphics, offering an additional FPS boost when using an external monitor.
Despite its budget-friendly nature, the G5’s display holds its own, covering around 90% of the sRGB color space and reaching 300 nits of brightness. This is a commendable result for a laptop in this price range, and it certainly outshines more expensive competitors in this aspect.
The G5’s internals offer impressive upgradability, with two RAM slots, two M.2 storage slots, space for a 2.5″ SSD, a removable Wi-Fi module, and even a removable battery at the back. This level of versatility sets it apart from many pricier laptops.
One area where the G5 falls short is battery life. The 49Wh battery barely lasts over 3 hours during YouTube video playback. When subjected to gaming, it struggles to maintain playable framerates, making it advisable to use the laptop while plugged in whenever possible.
The laptop’s front-facing speakers leave much to be desired, offering muffled and tinny sound quality devoid of bass. For a better audio experience, consider using headphones or external speakers.
Cooling and Performance
The G5 can run hot, potentially requiring a thermal paste replacement to mitigate thermal throttling. During stress tests, both the CPU and GPU exhibited thermal throttling, but the keyboard deck remained relatively cool. Fan noise, thankfully, is not excessively loud compared to some other gaming laptops.
In Cinebench tests, the G5 demonstrated performance similar to laptops featuring Intel’s i5-11400H. While there are more premium options on the market, the G5 competes well with laptops in its price range.
Webcam and Microphone
The laptop is equipped with a 720p camera above the screen, and its microphones offer decent audio quality. Here’s how they look and sound in action.
Final Thoughts: A Gaming Bargain
In conclusion, the Gigabyte G5 is a remarkable find in the world of gaming laptops under $400. While it does have its shortcomings, such as subpar speakers and limited battery life, its exceptional gaming performance, upgradability, and surprisingly good display make it a compelling choice for budget-conscious gamers. The G5 proves that affordable gaming laptops are beginning to offer more bang for your buck.
I purchased this laptop as part of a competition with fellow YouTubers to find the best $400 laptop. You can check out their videos to see their takes on budget gaming laptops. In my humble opinion, the G5 stands out as a winner in the gaming department, but the final judgment is yours to make. Happy gaming!
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