As surprising as this might be after the past few years, it is a great time to buy a new PC. The new chips and video cards will be coming out later this year, but if you don't need to be on the bleeding edge, now is a fantastic time to get great value for your money on a gaming laptop. There is an excess of supply of current generation hardware, so things are going on sale across the industry. The discounts could be more as the year goes on, but you can get a solid gaming laptop for under $1500 right now.
There are some components that you should expect to find in a gaming laptop in this price range.
First of all, the most important feature is the graphics chip. The CPU doesn't matter that much, overall, but the video card absolutely does. In this category, the best card is going to be NVIDIA RTX 3070, RTX 3060, or RTX 3050ti. The higher up that rung you can go, the better. If you want to go with an AMD card, you can usually get a Radeon 6800m, which will have better framerates than the 3060.
1080p resolution is what you can expect and high or ultra video quality within a game, with 40 or so FPS. Changing some of the settings will have an impact on that framerate. Turning on ray tracing will lower the framerate while lowering quality or resolution will increase it. You don't want to go below 30 FPS, as even digital video is 30 FPS standard. Below 30 FPS is barely playable, while 60 or higher is what you're going to want for competitive gaming situations.
All of these laptops will also have a high refresh rate. Most will offer 120 Hz while others can go up to 165 Hz. That rating is the maximum refresh rate possible for the screen, but not necessarily what you will achieve during gameplay. The screens will usually vary to the refresh rate of the game or the video card setting for the video being delivered.
In this price range, what you can expect is an SSD in the 500 GB to 1 TB range. If you go under $1000, you can expect that size to drop significantly to 256 GB. You're definitely not going to want to go that low, as modern games take up a lot of storage space. Some can be over 100 GB, meaning they will use around half of the available space (after the Windows installation).
As for RAM, these systems should come with 16 GB standard. In the lower price range, however, you can expect the RAM to drop in half to 8 GB. Once again, 8 GB isn't going to be enough for actual gaming, so the lower RAM option will want to be a last resort.
Many of the laptops are upgradable, especially for the SSD. If you get stuck with a poor drive, or you're willing to go to the trouble, you can purchase an SSD on the market and swap the included drive with the larger and cheaper drive. Some laptops will also allow you to upgrade the RAM, so take a look at the options on that PC before you decide.
Here are some of the best deals as of the date of publication, but you should be able to find others in case these prices change.
Scott is a developer who has worked on projects of varying sizes, including all of the PLUGHITZ Corporation properties. He is also known in the gaming world for his time supporting the rhythm game community, through DDRLover and hosting tournaments throughout the Tampa Bay Area. Currently, when he is not working on software projects or hosting F5 Live: Refreshing Technology, Scott can often be found returning to his high school days working with the Foundation for Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology (FIRST), mentoring teams and helping with ROBOTICON Tampa Bay. He has also helped found a student software learning group, the ASCII Warriors, currently housed at AMRoC Fab Lab.
Avram's been in love with PCs since he played original Castle Wolfenstein on an Apple II+. Before joining Tom's Hardware, for 10 years, he served as Online Editorial Director for sister sites Tom's Guide and Laptop Mag, where he programmed the CMS and many of the benchmarks. When he's not editing, writing or stumbling around trade show halls, you'll find him building Arduino robots with his son and watching every single superhero show on the CW.