There is no need to settle for last-gen hardware when shopping for a gaming laptop (opens in new tab), even if looking to spend less than a grand. It's all about timing, and what you can find on sale at any given moment. Right now, for example, you can score a reasonably equipped Dell G15 Ryzen Edition gaming laptop with Zen 3 and Ampere hardware underneath the hood for $832.99.
That is $346 below Dell's 'estimated value', and even though that figure is inflated, this is a good deal at the current discount. The two main components—CPU and GPU—consist of an 8-core/16-thread Ryzen 7 5800H processor (3.2GHz to 4.4GHz, 16MB L3 cache) and GeForce RTX 3050 Ti graphics.
According to Dell's GPU specifications page, the RTX 3050 Ti is the max power variant, operating at 80W and running at 1462.5MHz (base) to 1,695MHz (boost). OEMs have the option of configuring the RTX 3050 Ti all the way down to 35W with a boost clock of just 1,035MHz, so it's nice to see Dell tapping into the GPU's full performance potential in this config.
Dell G15 Ryzen Edition Gaming Laptop | Ryzen 7 5800H | GeForce RTX 3050 Ti | 8GB RAM | 256GB SSD |
$1,179 $833 at Dell (save $346) (opens in new tab)
This is a relatively affordable gaming laptop that doesn't lean on last generation hardware. The Ryzen 7 5800H (Zen 3) and a max power GeForce RTX 3050 Ti (Ampere) team up with a 120Hz display for a low price.
So what's the catch? As if often the case on lower-cost laptops, it's the RAM and storage that fall short. In this case, you're looking at 8GB of DDR4-3200 memory (and we'd wager it's a single module) and a 256GB NVMe SSD. At least they're fast.
RAM and storage are popular places for OEMs to cut corners, so it's not too surprising that both are rather skimpy in this price range. And fortunately, both are relatively easy to upgrade on this model, should the need and/or desire arise. Just note that adding a second M.2 drive is not quite as simple, because Dell uses a proprietary mounting bracket and only includes one for the primary slot, which is occupied by the 256GB SSD.
As for the display, the 15.6-inch panel sports a 1920x1080 resolution and a fast 120Hz refresh rate. Taking full advantage of the refresh rate is a tall order for the RTX 3050 Ti in more demanding games, but it's nice to have headroom above 60Hz for less demanding titles, like many esports games (Counter-Strike: Global Offensive, for example).
Overall, this is a decent gaming laptop for the money, and one of the better buys in sub-$1,000 territory.