The best options under/around $600 are gaming laptops with a Radeon 8750M performance level and 1080p screen. The 1080p screen is a big plus compared to past laptops under $600 and you should look for it. The Radeon 8750M / 7730M GPUs or the Nvidia GT 730M (which I see no more) offer good medium-range gaming performance, even for 1080p resolution.
Compared to the HD4600 / Radeon 7660G integrated graphics, the 8750M is easily 50%-100% faster on average, depends on the game, so it is a much more cost effective way to go.
If you are with a refurbished laptop, I’d consider the N56DP from eBay (link below, might not be available anymore). Otherwise, the HP 15z-j000 has a good value too, but with tax and shipping it will cost (a bit) more than $600.
- Refurbished Dell 17R SE 17.3″ gaming laptop (~$600) with I5-3230M, GT 650M GDDR5, nice matte 1080p screen, 8GB DDR3 and 750GB HDD. Would be my first choice if you are ok with a 17.3″ laptop and a refurbished one. Good 1080p screen + best performance under $600 even for a refurbished / used laptop.
- (Refurbished, new is overpriced) Dell Inspiron 15R SE 15.6″ for around $550-$600 as well – matte 1080p, Radeon 7730M (around the performance of the 8750M), relatively low noise, 6GB DDR3, I5-3230M and a backlit keyboard. This is a good option if you are ok with refurbished, the combination of 1080p screen and good performance for this price range makes it something to consider and in my opinion the best deal.
- Asus X550LB 15.6″ ($580) gaming laptop with GT 740M (64-bit), I5-4200U, 8GB DDR3 and 750GB HDD. Only 5.1lbs, so it is a bit lighter than other laptops. The GT 740M (64 bit) has the same performance level as the Radeon 8750M in the competitors, so don’t be blurred by the GT brand. No in-depth reviews yet, but generally it should be a good offer. Personally I would go with one of the 1080p offerings, even if they are refurbished.
- HP 15z-j000 - 15.6″ with 1080p screen and Radeon 8750M for around $600 (use coupon SAVEHP20). The Radeon 8750M performance should be around the GT 730M and 740M, depends on drivers and the specific game. The price does not include tax and shipping and the 1080p screen is one of the top quality displays, so I would either go with one of the other options or go up to $700 (check recommendation)
Acer V5-552G - for lower budget, is now selling for $500 $550 with a Radeon 8750M and the low quality 720p screen. The performance will be the same as the HP 15z-j000. A highlight of this machine is the low weight – only 4.41lbs / ~2kg which is considerably lower than all competitors. Compared to the HP 15z-j000, it has no 1080p screen. Fastest under $550. I would wait for a deal – it was selling for $470-$500 before. Generally, a very good option if the price is closer to $500.
All in all, as I said, the 17R SE (#1) is my first choice currently under $600 if you are ok with a refurbished 17.3″ laptop. If you are looking for a new laptop, I would suggest adding to the budget another $100-$200 or waiting for some nice deal on one of the 8750M equipped laptops (the Acer V5-552G waas selling for $470-$500 not long ago).
For higher performance, I suggest checking the 600$-800$ gaming laptops recommendations. The $800 up to $1000-$1100 gaming laptops are usually much more cost effective in terms in gaming performance (like screen quality) and general value you get for your money.
|Model (link to coupon)||GPU/CPU||Street Price||Why||Why not||sources|
|HP Envy 15z-j100||Radeon 8750M / A8-5750M||$650|
|Acer Aspire V5-552G-8632 15.6″||Radeon 8750M / A8-5557M||$530|
|HP Pavilion dv6z-7000 review|
|1, 2 (review with GT 630M)|
|Dell Inspiron 15R SE 15.6″||Radeon 7730M / I5||$550-$600 from eBay||Inspiron 15R SE review|
|GT 555M / I5-2450M||580$ (||Lenovo Y570 review|
|[OOS, only refurbished] Asus N56 DP-DH11 15.6″||Radeon HD 7730M / A10-4600M||$565 refurbished from eBay||review|