Good gaming laptops under $500 are not abundant and currently I would suggest refrain from trying to get something useful for this price, even previous generation laptops are hardly available for the same prices. What is mostly available are laptops with iGPUs which are either slow or supposedly fast, but in practice they are vastly bottlenecked by the memory subsystem or CPU, in the case of AMD’s APUs. Otherwise, you can get 2-3 generation old laptops with GT 840M and some old CPU (relatively), like these
Update: The new Nvidia MX150 GPUs have been released, and new laptops equipped with these GPUs should be available soon. Wait for it.
I think that the market is finally in transition after 2-3 years of stagnating with the same performance more or less. A GT 840M/940M and even 950M GDDR5 for $550-$600 (which is higher than $500 ofcourse) is the same tech you got 3 years ago. And, soon there should be some new hardware for laptops, with higher performance level and features. AMD’s Raven Ridge APUs and laptops with Nvidia GTX new series 10 GPUs, perhaps some Acer laptop with a GTX 1040/1050 or the new Nvidia MX150 GPU should be available.
Even for $600, the available gaming laptops aren’t that great. Currently, the best range is $700-$1000, but I understand it could be a lot higher than what many wish for, including me.
These are the last recommendations. They are not available for that price or at all. Just for a reference.
- Refurbished HP 15t 15.6″, GTX 1050, 1080p IPS display (basic), 8GB RAM. Probably the fastest, with its GTX 1050. I know it’s higher than $500, but I think some will prefer spending these additional $50-70 to get the much faster machine.
- The new Acer E5-575G 15.6″ via Amazon (link) or Newegg (link, HDD, not SSD) for $500-$600 or refurbished for $450-$500 (eBay). New Acer’s budget gaming laptop, upgraded from previous models with a GT 940MX GPU (GDDR5), 256GB SSD, I5-6200U CPU and 1080p display (TN). It also includes a USB 3.1 type-C port (3.1 gen1). In comparison to the GT 940M competitors, the 940MX GDDR5 performs considerably faster for gaming, up to 50% faster than a 940M.
HP Pavilion 15, (15.6″, $500-$550) is now offered with the new Skylake I5-6200U CPU, Nvidia GT 940M 2GB GPU, 6GB RAM, 1080p IPS display an 1TB HDD for $520 before taxes. Keyboard quality should be OK and so is the sound quality.
- Refurbished The Acer E5-573G 15.6″ (Review) via eBay with GTX 950M, I5-6200U, 8GB RAM, 1TB HDD and a mediocre 1080p display. Keyboard is not good, but thermals are ok and it’s the fastest for 3D under $500 currently.
The two best options are above $500, so I would suggest waiting for some other deal or bite it and get another $50-$100 for one of the $500-$600 gaming laptops and getting one of the more interesting options.
Well, as you see, you can usually expect an average FPS of around 20-25FPS for very high settings@768p with a GPU like the GT 940M and even on medium settings in a game like World of Tanks, the system will struggle. So, the suitable graphics settings will be probably low-midrage@768p.