Nowadays people want everything to be convenient and practical but when it comes to gaming you don’t want portability to compromise the gameplay performance. A positive to buying a gaming laptop would be its ability to play games on the move, unlike a desktop gaming PC that requires a connection to a power supply.
However, how do you know you’re still going to be able to get a high-end experience when a laptop is so much smaller in terms of the components that can be implemented?
The Best 9 Gaming Laptops for Less than $1200 (Updated May 2020)
Shopping for a gaming laptop can be totally dependant on your budget and the quality or specifications that come with how much you wish to spend. Whether you are looking for something simple that performs well or something that has an aesthetic appeal to match its performance.
Here is the GizmoFusion list of the best gaming laptops under $1200 in the market at this present time.
ASUS TUF (Top Choice)
CPU: Quad-core AMD Ryzen 7 R7375OH | GPU: Nvidia GeForce RTX 2060 | RAM: 16GB DDR4 | Screen: 15.6-inch (1,920 x 1,080) | Storage: 512GB SSD | Battery: 48 Whr | Dimensions: 14.2 x 10.3 x 1 inches | Weight: 4.85 lbs
Extended lifespan thanks to anti-dust features
Quality, sleek aesthetic
Portable but high-quality performance
Makes a lot of noise when running
Not the best in terms of battery life
The ASUS TUF combines quality performance with the practicality that comes with it being such a compact package, thanks to its thin and lightweight design it is an extremely portable laptop, suitable for mobile gameplay without sacrificing performance and quality.
The quad-core CPU and NVIDIA GPU can handle the more modern games to a high standard rivaling that of desktop setups with ease, making this the perfect choice for those looking for a gaming laptop to suit a busy lifestyle but that still provides that high-end gaming experience.
As well as a high-class performance quality this laptop is extremely power optimized. Although this model rivals the performance of a full gaming desktop setup, its power consumption is minimized so you don’t have to worry about the running costs so much.
In terms of output options there is a variety included on this device such as the 3.5mm audio jack, USB 3.0 gen 1, USB 2.0, HDMI 2.0 and RJ45 JACK, meaning this would be a viable option for many of you due to the varied output options that come with the ASUS TUF, to ensure compatibility with any current devices you own.
The sound matches its gameplay performance with its high-quality sound system and virtual surround sound audio. This adds to the immersiveness of the device ensuring the high-end gameplay is maintained throughout and again reflecting how performance is not compromised for the size and practicality.
With the latest intel 802.11 ac and WiFi 5 the data transfer rates are increased to 1.7 Gbps setting this model apart from others on the market, especially under this price bracket, ensuring you are getting value for money should you purchase this model as it comes fully equipped with the higher-end specifications.
This model also includes an anti-dust cooling system to aid in dispersing high temperatures to ensure the best gameplay and keep the graphics sharp and quick. Thanks to the anti-dust feature this model maintains itself, keeping the interior clean and increasing the lifespan by expelling dust to avoid any buildup that could induce more serious issues down the line.
Should you buy this gaming laptop you can be sure to get a reliable device and thanks to the inclusion of more current components and the anti-dust cooling feature it should last a long time without the need for major repairs or replacement.
Lenovo Legion Y7000 (2nd Best Option)
CPU: Intel Core i7 – 8750 processor | GPU: Nvidia GeForce GTX 1060 | RAM: 16GB DDR4 | Screen: 15.6-inch (1,920 x 1,080) | Storage: 256GB SSD + 1TD HDD| Battery: 57 Whr | Dimensions: 14.2 x 1.1 x 10.51 inches | Weight: 5.17 lbs
Balance between performance and portability
System kept cool while remaining quiet
Long battery life
Mediocre sound capability
Unusual port placement
The Lenovo legion Y7000 offers a good balance between performance and portability. With its high-quality GPU and 16GB of DDR4 RAM this laptop provides high-quality gameplay that can handle the higher end games at max settings to a high standard.
The speeds that this laptop reaches is increased further by the latest generation Intel CPU and the re-engineered dual-channel cooling system. By including the latest CPU, buying this laptop is an investment that will last a long time without the need for an upgrade.
Furthermore thanks to the advanced cooling system the temperature of the laptop is kept low and regulated to avoid any issues with overheating and maintain the sharp and swift gameplay.
Thanks to the sleek aluminium design the Y7000 is optimized to ensure when in use the temperature is controlled and the noise the device makes is kept to a minimum. Unlike other models on the market the inclusion of the more high-end strenuous features can increase the noise the device makes when running. However, with this model, this isn’t the case making this a practical option if you are in the market for a quality gaming laptop.
As well as the quality performance this laptop provides users with a stylish aesthetic including a fully backlit keyboard and aluminium detailing to give the laptop a look that matches its performance. As this model is extremely thin and light its extremely compact so it’s good for traveling and gaming on the go, making this laptop perfect for those of you that value aesthetics as well as performance and portability.
ASUS ROG G531GT (3rd Best Option)
CPU: Intel 6 core i7 processor | GPU: Nvidia GeForce GTX 1650 | RAM: 32GB DDR4 | Screen: 15.6-inch (1,920 x 1,080) | Storage: 1024GB SSD | Battery: 48 Whr | Dimensions: 14.2 x 10.8 x 1 inches | Weight: 5.3 lbs
Value for money compared to similarly priced models
Huge 1 TB of SSD memory
Compatible with a range of graphics cards
Sleek design and lighting
No thunderbolt support
No SD card reader
Average battery life
The Asus ROG displays a lot of potential with its use of the Intel i7 CPU and with the GTX 1650 GPU, this is an extremely good gaming laptop. Due to the fact that the latest i7 CPU is being used this laptop should last a long time and not be in need of an upgrade anytime in the near future.
The CPU performs to a high standard matching that of higher budget models meaning you do get good value for money with this laptop. As well as a good performing CPU you are also getting a huge 1 terabyte of SSD memory, which when the budget is considered is more than would be expected for this caliber of laptop.
Another great part to this laptop is that it comes with a massive 32GB of DDR4 ram. 32GB of RAM is more than enough for running high-end games and will also allow you to stream at the same time.
The Asus ROG also utilizes ROG RangeBoost technology to enable an even stronger WiFi signal so the connectivity should not present an issue and make for excellent online gameplay quality.
This model also comes fully equipped with a good quality cooling system with a well-ventilated exterior and self-cleaning interior module to ensure high temperatures are dispersed with ease and dust cannot collect inside.
The cooling system reduces the risk of overheating issues and improves the overall running quality of the laptop during gameplay and any other tasks you may be performing, and the self-cleaning ability ensures there isn’t an internal build-up of dust that extends the life of this already very reliable device.
As well as its excellent performance this gaming laptop has a certain style and flair with glowing accents on the front and side of the laptop and a backlight on the keyboard, this appeals to those of you looking for something that has the aesthetic appeal to match the performance.
The display doesn’t let the laptop down either providing a great display for gaming and as this laptop doesn’t use PWM to adjust brightness the system remains comfortable even for longer gameplay sessions.
Newest MSI (4th Place)
CPU: 9th Gen Intel Core i7 processor | GPU: Nvidia GeForce GTX 1050 ti | RAM: 12GB DDR4 | Screen: 17.3-inch (1,920 x 1,080) | Storage: 128GB SSD + 1TB HDD | Battery: 51 Whr | Dimensions: 15.6 x 10.2 x .9 inches | Weight: 4.85 lbs
High clock speed
The Newest MSI is futuristically designed with thin and light aluminum hair brushed detailing with a metal top and keyboard cover to really offer a unique aesthetic that sets this laptop above the others in terms of how it looks.
The graphics performance really excels on this gaming laptop too, by using a high-quality GPU the laptop can handle even the more strenuous of games to a high standard rivaling the gaming quality of the gaming desktop models, showing that like many of the options on this list performance has not been compromised for how the gaming laptops perform.
The GPU included in this laptop can have its speed increased by overclocking it, meaning you do get a significant shelf life on the Newest MSI graphics wise. With its 17 inch screen in such a compact chassis and the high clock speed that comes with the latest CPU you really will get a high-end gameplay quality with this laptop without spending silly money.
The gameplay on this device can be described as immersive thanks to its 88 percent screen to body ratio and enhance in-game 3D surround sound audio boost. The quality of graphics and sound make for an exceptional experience in terms of how the games will look and sound on this laptop.
The built-in audio and power amplifier allows for an increase of up to 30 percent compared to similar mid-range gaming laptops on the market, making it a viable option for many of you looking for a gaming laptop, whether it be for a beginner or someone looking to upgrade from their current setup.
Finally, in terms of compatibility, this laptop comes with a wide range of output options such as the USB 3.2 Gen2 Type-C, USB 3.2, HDMI, Headset AMP, and Gold Flash Jacks, RJ45. Thanks to the variety of connectivity options you can be sure that many of you would be able to implement this laptop into whatever pre-existing gaming devices you already own such as headsets, extra screens, and controllers, making sure you get the most out of your gaming experience by building upon what you already own rather than replacing it.
ASUS ROG Strix G
CPU: Intel Core i7 – 9750H processor | GPU: Nvidia GeForce GTX 1650 | RAM: 16GB DDR4 | Screen: 15.6-inch (1,920 x 1,080) | Storage: 1 TB SSD | Battery: 66 Whr | Dimensions: 14.2 x 10.8 x 1 inches | Weight: 5.28 lbs
Unique custom speed fans and cleaning system
1TB SSD memory
Aura sync RGB lights
No SD card reader
The Asus ROG Strix G gives users a fast and sharp performance thanks to it using the latest Intel i7 processor. This laptop is powerful enough to handle 1080p gaming on maximum settings meaning you still get the high-end gaming experience of a gaming pc while maintaining the portability that comes with a laptop. Although it doesn’t quite meet the specs of its desktop counterpart, it is still a viable option that provides good quality gameplay.
The laptop is kept cool thanks to its interior cooling system with 33 percent thinner fans than other similar models to ensure high temperatures are dispersed with ease ensuring quality gameplay is maintained and avoid overheating issues.
The fans included can switch between silent, balanced and turbo speeds so that you have the choice to choose when higher fan speeds are necessary and when they are not so that you don’t have to have a loud fan running all the time when it isn’t needed. As well as this the cooling system also has anti-dust tunnels so that the internal components are kept clean and problem-free extending the shelf life.
With its 60Hz high refresh display, 79.6 percent screen to body ratio and quality sound system this laptop makes for an immersive gameplay experience that is generally lag-free and sharp in terms of graphics. Should you invest in this laptop you can be sure to be getting a quality device that exceeds what is expected and what is already available within the budget.
As well as the exceedingly good gaming performance you get a gaming laptop that is as aesthetically pleasing as it performs coming with aura sync RGB lighting that is customizable to your preference. The keyboard is up to scratch too, offering users a backlit and precise design as well as excellent response times for quick commands and full N key rollover for accurate multi-use inputs.
However this gaming laptop does lack an SD card reader and webcam, so if these features are important to you this would not be suitable, but if these don’t matter so much then this could be a decent performing laptop.
Dell G5 5587
CPU: 8th Gen Intel Core i7 – 8750H | GPU: Nvidia GeForce GTX 1050 | RAM: 16GB DDR4 | Screen: 15.6-inch (1,920 x 1,080) | Storage: 128 GB SSD | Battery: 56 Whr | Dimensions: 10.82 x 15.32 x 0.98 inches | Weight: 6.28 lbs
Reasonable price point
Smooth 1080p gameplay
Lacks USB type C port
The Dell G5 5587 comes fully equipped with the Nvidia Geforce GTX 1050 GPU making for an extremely sensory experience during gameplay, rivaling what you would get with the larger scale desktop setups.
This 25mm system is a good reflection of how gaming laptops are both powerful and portable devices. Its front-firing speakers ensure any audio matches the quality created by the GPU so you can be sure the gameplay is going to be extremely immersive as the audio is powered by waves max audio to increase the overall running quality.
Furthermore, as this gaming laptop comes with the 8th gen Intel core this device has an extremely strong CPU perfect for loading games, transferring data, gameplay and any other tasks you wish to run are done as quickly and to the highest of quality that is possible within its capacity.
The quality CPU contributes to the faster performance of the machine and stretches the battery life making sure you are getting the most from each charge and reducing the running cost.
The precise keyboard and sleek design show no expense has been spared in this laptop’s construction reflecting the quality you will see when using it, even down to tapping the keys and how the laptop looks.
In terms of whether this laptop would be compatible with your existing hardware its wide range of output options such as USB 3.1 gen 1 type C supporting DisplayPort, power delivery and thunderbolt 3 support (up to speeds of 40 Gbps), and a 5k or dual 4k display output is supported, making this a viable option for many of you looking for an upgrade on your current setup without having to replace any of your other devices such as headsets or controllers.
ASUS Rog Strix Hero II
CPU: Intel Core i7 – 8750H | GPU: Nvidia GeForce GTX 1060 | RAM: 16GB DDR4 | Screen: 15.6-inch (1,920 x 1,080) | Storage: 256GB SSD + 1TB HDD | Battery: 66 Whr | Dimensions: 14.21 x 10.31 x 1.03 inches | Weight: 5.29 lbs
Powerful performance and CPU quality
Strong audio system
Above-average battery life
Issues with overheating
Low quality webcam
The Asus Rog Strix Hero II provides users with a sharp gameplay experience due to the 144Hz narrow-bezel display, improving the overall quality and standard of the on screen graphics.
This reflects how there is no need to sacrifice good quality graphics even though a gaming laptop is much more compact. With its gaming optimized keyboard layout and additional note keys to assign functions to, as well as 1.8mm key travel for the best response times this gaming laptop has been specifically engineered for high-quality gameplay and the experienced gamer.
This laptop combines performance with aesthetic showing its contrasting brushed finish and this is matched with a sharp high-quality 144Hz bezel display improving the overall aesthetic and display quality of the laptop.
In terms of its outputs and connectivity, this laptop has many. The video and USB connections are as follows, HDMI 2.0, Mini DisplayPort 1.3, USB 3.1 Type C, USB 3.1 Gen 1, USB 3.1 Gen 2. These offer a wide range of options that should be ample for most users.
A really unique feature that you get with the Asus Rog Strix Hero 11 II is the four antennas that can self determine which antenna is picking up the strongest wifi signal and select this one for optimal connectivity. This is the first laptop by Asus to implement this feature making it stand out amongst other models particularly in this price bracket.
Although this gaming laptop performs well in terms of its connectivity it has been known for it to display heat issues which are probably down to a lack of focus on a solid cooling system unlike many on this list where the cooling precautions are displayed as a priority.
MSI Alpha A3DD-004
CPU: Ryzen 7 – 3750H | GPU: Radeon RX500m | RAM: 16GB DDR4 | Screen: 15.6-inch (1,920 x 1,080) | Storage: 512GB SSD | Battery: 51 Whr | Dimensions: 14.1 x 9.8 x 1.1 inches | Weight: 5.07 lbs
Fast gameplay experience when budget is taken into account
Customizable RGB lights
Strong cooling system
Better models available within a similar price point
The MSI Alpha offers the newest developments in output and connectivity whilst having a variety of ports on this system to ensure all devices are catered for. It is also multi-display compatible being able to add up to three more monitors to the laptop for multi-task functions, up to 4k resolution for maximum performance and fun.
By including this feature you are getting an experience that rivals that of the larger desktop PC setups as you are able to add this laptop to extra monitors easily, meaning you are able to get gameplay as you would with a PC, whilst still maintaining the portability and convenience of a laptop without changing the specs.
This laptop performs to a high standard and gives maximum performance in terms of gameplay this is down to the inclusion of a high-quality GPU and CPU that can handle even the more extreme gaming easily and to a high quality. Thanks to the inclusion of seven heat pipes, high temperatures are dispersed easily aiding in the prevention of overheating and ensuring the laptop performs to the highest standard within its capacity.
Much like many on this list, this laptop includes custom RGB lighting adding a sense of flair to how this device looks. Overall this gaming laptop would appeal to those looking for a basic gaming laptop that can handle games well and includes aesthetic features such as lighting, as well as a cooling system to get the most out of the gameplay.
MSI GF65 Thin
CPU: Intel Core i7 – 9750H | GPU: Nvidia GeForce GTX 1660 ti | RAM: 16GB DDR4 | Screen: 15.6-inch (1,920 x 1,080) | Storage: 512Gb SSD | Battery: 51 Whr | Dimensions: 14.13 x 9.99 x .85 inches | Weight: 4.1 lbs
Lightweight sleek design
Fast refresh rate 120Hz
Larger cooling system than previous models
Loud fans during gameplay
Not made from the strongest feeling materials
No HDMI 2.0 output options
The MSI GF65 Thin has a quality and simple design with a thin bezel display that performs well making for immersive gameplay, however, the specific quality of the chassis and the materials they are made from are questionable, but this is a budget gaming laptop and you get what you pay for.
If you aren’t particularly looking for a laptop that is made from the most durable materials and just want something that is compact and light whilst maintaining performance this would be a viable option for many of you.
When we look at the performance of this laptop, although it does have the latest processors and uses the Nvidia GTX 1660 ti GPU it doesn’t have the best boost ability in terms of gameplay and performance and instead remains pretty average not even coming close to the speeds of the first laptop on this list.
Depending on what you have had previously you are not likely to see a significant upgrade should you buy this system. I would say the MSI GF65 is targeted more for casual gameplay as opposed to the higher end games that wouldn’t perform as well. A positive to this laptop is that should you find it to underperform you do have the opportunity to be able to increase the RAM by purchasing a memory kit. It’s just a question of whether this is something you would be prepared to do.
In terms of the output options although they are varied their placement on the laptop is strange, for example, the HDMI port is placed near the front and could make a stationary set up awkward due to the wires that would be used.
There has been an upgrade to the cooling system with the inclusion of a new extra fan compared to the previous model. The extra fan helps with keeping the laptop cool so it can perform to the best ability and avoid overheating issues, however, when the laptop is in use there is always noise being made and as we can see on other models on this list this isn’t an issue on every budget gaming laptop.
If excessive amounts of noise being made is a significant issue for you then there are definitely other options available that have noise control contingencies in them.
What is the best performing gaming laptop for around $1200?
In my opinion, the Asus Tuf gaming laptop is the best one on this list. It was a hard decision to make as many of the devices that we looked at were very similar in terms of the specifications and overall quality of performance.
The thing that sets this device above the others would be that it offers a perfect balance in terms of the components and how they perform when put to the test even in the more strenuous of gameplay.
The Asus Tuf has an equally good CPU, GPU and RAM which each contribute to meeting the mantra of investing in a gaming laptop as although you are getting the convenience and portability of gaming with a more compact device you don’t want to sacrifice the performance quality and this laptop really doesn’t, offering a great balance between practicality and gameplay.
This laptop comes equipped with more than enough storage for gaming and even if you exceed this more storage can easily be added through external hard drives, in terms of the budget of the laptops on this list it would be the Asus Tuf model that I would say offers the most value for money.
For more reviews on everything to do with gaming devices and parts follow this link.
James Cosgrove has been the lead writer at GizmoFusion since 2019. He has a huge passion for the latest technology and gadgets. He loves to talk and write about this interest. He hopes that visitors to the website will find his reports informative and helpful when it comes to making the best choices for their needs.