Why 500$-600$? Actually, this answer also contains the answer to the question in the title. I chose the 500$-600$ price range because this is about the minimal price range for a laptop that can run almost any game on medium and even high settings on the typical native 768p (1366×768) resolution.
If you’ve read “medium-high settings gaming – what do I need?” – you’ll probably ask yourself how come that in this article I recommend 600$-1000$ for medium-high settings gaming and in the one you’re reading right now I say a 500-600$ laptop can run most games on medium settings.
Well, the first the difference between the two posts is that this one talks about 500$-600$ which you won’t find with more than 768p screen (15.6″) or 900p (17.3″) and most probably the former one, while the other article talks mainly on FullHD scenarios.
The second difference is that the other post talks mainly about high settings gaming and only somewhat medium-settings gaming.
But lets see we can prove the above statement – we’ll use the fastest GPU we can currently get for 600$ as a top benchmark – the Radeon HD 7730M. You can get it with the very nice HP dv6z-7000 with Radeon 7730M and A6 to A10 cpu (check coupon codes page). The other laptops are usually equipped with the GT 630M or Radeon 7670M, even with an I3 cpu (HP g6t-2000).
Unfortunately, the benchmarks we have with the Radeon 7730M are for the Dell Inspiron 15r se laptop, equipped with an I7 CPU, but the performance difference shouldn’t be too big. The 7730M results, however, are sometimes a little bit strange and he gets lower results even than 7670M equipped laptops – I guess it has something to do with the immaturity of AMD’s drivers (not unlikely) and the performance should improve towards the end of the year as new drivers will be released.
Some very few numbers:
|Game||Details level||I7 + 7730M||I7 + 630M||I5 + 7670M||I5 + 6630M|
|Batman: Arkham City (1, 2, 3)
|1920×1080 Extreme Preset DX11 4x MSAA||16||9||9|
|1366×768 High Preset DX11 2x MSAA||36||23||32|
|Battlefield 3 (1)||1366×768 high -AA 16xAF||25||17||20|
|1366×768 medium -AA 4xAF||32||23||25||27 (no AF)|
|The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim (1)||1366×768 Medium Preset 4xAA||42||32||35|
|1366×768 High Preset 8xAA 8xAF||~30||23||23|
|Portal 2 (1)||All Settings at Max – 4x MSAA – 1920×1080||30-40|
|Diablo III (1, 2)||High settings Preset – DX11 and high AA 1920×1080||27||~33||30||19|
|Medium-High settings – DX11 – 1600×900||~39||30|
NOTE. These number are only to illustrate the point and the point is that even very 3D intensive games, like BF3, will likly be playable on medium settings and 768p resolution, especially if you turn off the AF / AA filters.
Less demanding games, like Skyrim (remember to install the patches!!) are even more kind for these GPUs and you should have no problem most of the time even with high to highest settings – remember that most of these benchmarks include using 4xAA or 8xAA filters which land a huge performance blow but you don’t have to use them + 4xAA is already great. No need for 8xAA.
Now, it is true that the laptops you’ll find for 500-600$ won’t come with an I7 cpu, but for gaming, the I5 is almost the same and the AMD A8/A10s are not far behind and as we said before – it is more an issue of the GPU.
For 500$ (I3 + 7670M) you can play smoothly most of games on medium settings, sometimes even high. Games like Minecraft and Sims 3 or older games (like Portal) will fly high on such machines and you don’t have to worry, but also more 3D intensive games will will enjoy good frame rates.