Although you can’t beat a desktop PC for gaming power, you’re limited to gaming in one room in one place, unless you fancy lugging the entire setup around. Gaming laptops are an answer to this problem but they don’t come without their drawbacks, the main ones being their expensive cost and the limitations on performance that a laptop size means.
This list goes over the best gaming laptops you can buy for around and under the $700 threshold, depending on your wants and needs. These selections come from a range of manufacturers and have different specs, but they all offer solid gaming performance for the price and would also make solid general use laptops too.
Before looking through each individual recommendation, we suggest that you look through the ‘Things To Consider’ section below. If you don’t find anything suitable on this page, have a look at our other guides for the best gaming laptops at each price point, which are recommended alongside this page. Also, check out our sister website Which Laptop for more detailed guides on the best gaming laptops for every budget.
Our Top Picks
The Best Gaming Laptops Of 2020 And 2021 For $700 Or Under
For a 120Hz 17.3 inch laptop at this price, the MSI GF75 is a bargain. For a gaming laptop it has relatively quiet fans and is quite light, given the size of its screen. It also comes with a 512GB SSD.
The MSI GF75 17.3 inch version is one of the cheapest laptops of this screen size you will get that you can legitimately call a ‘gaming laptop’. Although the NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1650 isn’t the most powerful GPU you can get at this price point, and the Intel Core i5-10300H processor does not match the AMD CPUs on this page for multi-tasking performance, it should be able to handle demanding games on the lower settings. Although the current RRP of this laptop is above the $700 mark, price reducing discounts bring it within this region, and for a 120Hz 17.3” display with 512GB SSD, its well worth going slightly over budget.
This iteration of the ASUS TUF Gaming Laptop comes with a 120Hz display with respectable max brightness and an Nvidia GeForce GTX 1650 GPU providing the power. A solid budget laptop if you can get it for a good price.
This 120Hz ASUS TUF Gaming Laptop comes with a weaker AMD Ryzen 5 R5-3550H processor but it still does the job for gaming at this level. The NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1650 GPU, whilst not the best graphics card on this page, is certainly adequate. The best thing about this laptop is of course the high refresh rate of the display, which also has decent max brightness. The battery life of the laptop could be better, but the weight and portability of the machine is about what you’d expect.
This ASUS TUF Gaming Laptop with 60Hz display packs a powerful (for the price) Nvidia GTX 1650 Ti graphics card and Intel i5-10300H CPU, making it great for budget play up to 60FPS.
Unlike its 120Hz cousin which is also listed on this page, this 60Hz version of the ASUS TUF Gaming Laptop comes with a more powerful GPU and CPU, specifically the Nvidia GeForce GTX 1650 Ti graphics card and Intel Core i5-10300H processor. This means that whilst you will be capped at 60FPS you will be able to run more demanding games on higher settings than you would the 120Hz version and expect a more consistent 60 FPS performance. Battery life is underwhelming on this machine and the color gamut could be better, however, the display does have an acceptable max brightness and a respectable contrast ratio.
This HP Pavillion is a 60Hz gaming laptop that comes with an impressive AMD Ryzen 5 4600H and a GeForce GTX 1650 graphics card. It has solid contrast ratio and a battery life that is well above average to boot.
This HP Pavillion Gaming Laptop may only come equipped with a 60Hz screen and a Nvidia GeForce GTX 1650 graphics card, as opposed to the more advanced Ti version, however if you’re looking for solid multi-core CPU performance it certainly delivers in this area. Again, the color gamut could be wider and also the maximum brightness leaves something to be desired, but it does have an above average battery life. As long as you’re okay with the 60FPS cap on performance (if your focus is more on singleplayer or strategy gaming for instance) this is a decent budget gaming laptop.
Realistic Expectations of Gaming Performance
The portability advantages of laptops, coupled with the engineering challenges of putting powerful components into a laptop’s chassis and effectively cooling them, mean you typically pay at least 50% more on a laptop compared to a desktop computer for the same Frames Per Second (FPS) in-game.
The unfortunate reality is that, when you reach as low a price as $700 for a gaming laptop, you cannot expect to get any sort of decent performance on the most demanding of games. Gaming laptops of this price range are generally limited to playing older games on higher settings, or newish games on the lower settings. You will generally have no problem playing undemanding strategy games like Crusader Kings III of course, even though they are new releases. If you need more than this from your machine then we would advise either spending more (take a look at our best gaming laptops for under $1,000 page) or alternatively consider a desktop PC you can build yourself for $700 or a prebuilt computer, for under $800.
Maximum Refresh Rate
Around the $700 mark, it becomes increasingly hard to find gaming laptops with a 120Hz refresh rate. Although laptops with 120Hz displays can be found at this price point, they often make sacrifices in other areas such as the GPU or CPU. The most common refresh rate you will find under $700 is 60Hz, and this is not suitable for competitive, fast-paced shooters – the maximum 60FPS will put you at a considerable disadvantage.
Although at higher refresh rates (between 240Hz and 320Hz for instance) the subjective difference becomes less noticeable, the difference between 60Hz and 120Hz is night and day. 100Hz laptops, if you can find them (they tend to be rarer) are definitely an acceptable compromise, even for playing online shooters, but we cannot recommend you go with a 60Hz laptop if this is the genre of game you play. For single-player RPGs or strategy games however – 60Hz should suffice for laptop gaming on a budget.
You won’t find a gaming laptop with a resolution above 1920 x 1080 for several hundred dollars more than this price point. 1080p remains the resolution most competitive gamers who play fast-paced online shooters use regardless though, so for many this won’t be much of a negative.
Hard drive and RAM
Besides the rare exception, 256Gb is the largest SSD you can hope for in a gaming laptop if your budget is limited to $700. Generally, we’d argue that 256GB for an SSD is too small a size to be practical: many games can need over 50GB to be installed on your computer, and this doesn’t leave a lot of room, particularly once you consider the space taken by the operating system. Consequently, we’d advise as a general rule upgrading your SSD to a larger one or adding an additional SSD or HDD.
The same is true for RAM – you won’t find higher than 8GB here and we’d strongly advise upgrading this to 16GB or higher.
Although you can get a decent enough color gamut for playing games on in this price range, 100% sRGB replication is unlikely, as is much expectation for color accuracy. This means that none of the laptops below would really be suitable for color-accurate design work in addition to gaming, even if they have the CPU power to run the applications well enough.
Best Gaming Laptops Under $700
17.3” display for a budget price
relatively quiet fans
narrow color gamut
At the time of writing the MSI GF75 17.3 inch version is out of the price range of this guide, however, we have seen it reduced to around the $700 level and if you can catch it at this price it is by far the best laptop listed on this page for fast-paced online gaming. The NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1650 graphics card is not as good as the GTX 1650 Ti listed on some of the 60Hz laptops on this page, however, combined with the Intel Core i5-10300H CPU it still does the job on most games, provided you don’t mind playing on medium-low settings.
There are however three big selling points to this laptop. Firstly, the 120Hz screen means for competitive shooters it has the capability to actually display the higher FPS needed. Secondly, the 17” screen is a rarity on this budget, and if you desire the extra real estate on your screen this is a great budget option. Thirdly, the 512GB SSD is again something you are unlikely to see come as standard on most sub-$700 gaming laptop. As we typically recommend upgrading any laptop that comes with a 256GB SSD, buying this admittedly more expensive laptop becomes a bit more cost-effective when you consider you don’t have to pick up another SSD separately.
The laptop has a narrow color gamut, but that is to be expected at this price range. If you want to upgrade the 8GB of RAM (something we generally recommend), be advised that this will void the warranty. The MSI GF75 does however have relatively quiet fans for a gaming laptop, and is also lightweight considering its larger display. All-in-all, if you can get this laptop for a price around the $700 mark, we cannot recommend it enough.
weaker AMD Ryzen 5 R5-3550H CPU
narrow color gamut
battery life could be better
As mentioned, 120Hz displays are hard to come by in gaming laptops at this price range, and if you can’t afford the MSI GF75 17.3”, then this ASUS TUF Gaming Laptop is a great alternative. The high refresh rate display also comes with a decent max brightness, although the color gamut of the screen could be wider. This makes it unsuitable for any graphic design work but for gaming purposes however, the color replication is perfectly serviceable.
Power-wise the Nvidia GTX 1650 GPU is the best you can expect at this budget. In terms of the CPU the AMD Ryzen 5 R5-3550H processor is of an older generation compared to others listed here; although the performance reduction is not significant, it is noticeable on CPU-intensive tasks – nevertheless, for games the graphics card will do most of the heavy lifting.
Portability and fan noise are around what you’d expect for this budget, though the battery life lags beyond some of the other competitors. The 256GB SSD and 8GB RAM aren’t ideal but again, to be expected on this budget, and both features are upgradable. All told, this 120Hz laptop is a good deal for gaming on a budget.
Nvidia GTX 1650 Ti graphics card
strong single core performance from Intel i5-10300H
good contrast ratio
only 60Hz display
narrow color gamut
battery life could be better
This 60Hz iteration of the ASUS TUF Gaming Laptop obviously suffers from being capped to an effective 60 FPS, making it unsuitable for fast-paced online competitive gaming, first-person-shooters in particular. Nevertheless the beneficial trade-off is that for this low price you get a more powerful GPU and CPU than the 120Hz examples on this page. The Nvidia GTX 1650 Ti graphics card and the Intel Core i5-10300H processor mean you will be better able to play games on higher settings at a consistent 60 FPS than on the 120Hz versions, so if your interests are limited mostly to RPG/strategy titles and the like, you will be able to get console-level performance out of this machine.
In terms of the display, the color gamut could certainly be wider, however, it does have a good contrast ratio – ultimately it will definitely suffice for playing games. The size, weight, and ports and sockets on this machine are all typical of what you’d expect at this price, although the battery life is not the best out there.
The 8GB RAM and 256GB SSD are standard for this budget, though we would recommend upgrading them Ultimately this is a solid 60Hz gaming laptop.
strong multi-core performance from AMD Ryzen 5 4600H
good battery life
decent contrast ratio
only 60Hz display
narrow color gamut
low peak brightness
The HP Pavillion Gaming Laptop with the AMD Ryzen 5 4600H CPU is a decent choice for those who want a bit of multi-core power for low-level workstation tasks alongside their gaming. The 60Hz display does cap performance to 60FPS, so for online competitive shooters it probably isn’t the best choice, but for those who want a budget machine with the power to play less demanding games at a solid 60FPS then this HP Pavillion can do the job with its Nvidia GeForce GTX 1650 GPU.
The laptop is about the size and weight you’d expect and comes with the usual limited array of ports you get at this price point, but the battery life is definitely above average and you can expect to get around 7 hours of strenuous, non-gaming usage out of it. The color gamut of the screen is fairly narrow, however, the contrast is fairly decent.
As per usual, we’d advise upgrading the 256GB SSD and 8GB of RAM you get which comes with the laptop as standard. Besides this though, the HP Pavillion is a cheap but solid option for a budget gaming laptop.
This has been our guide to the best gaming laptops in 2020 and 2021 for those on a $700 budget. We hope that this has helped you decide which gaming laptop is right for you. If you are somewhat more flexible on your budget, take a gander at our other laptop guides for different budgetary constraints which are listed in the recommended articles alongside this page.
If there are any specific laptops you want to see reviewed that we have not yet covered, do let us know in a comment below.