When speaking about budget gaming you surely can’t go any lower than sub-300 $ laptops. Often regarded as the worst way to enter into the portable gaming world, these machines are usually designed for other jobs, such as light online-based activities, writing and business chores. Despite the bitter claims, you’ll be surprised by how many games can be played on these systems.
First of all, forget about triple A titles and the most popular titles of the last three to five years: there’s little to no chance of being able to play them at decent frame rates, even with massive modifications of .ini files.
The first and most evident shortcoming is the technical capabilities of the integrated GPUs: AMD reigns supreme at this budget frame, with its extremely cheap Radeon R4 that can still provide solid performances with 2GB or 4GB of VRAM. If you have an integrated Intel graphics chip then you’ll probably get into a bottleneck made of incompatible drivers and lackadaisical clock speed.
Finding a quad core processor is not hard, but other that’s only the tip of the things you need to check about the CPU, as in these cases the aspects that really matter are its generation and overall speed. Don’t fall for badly marketed Intel Core i3s that promise incredible performances, since they’re simply not appropriate for gaming; at the same time watch out for an overabundance of volatile memory, as a huge amount of RAM in these systems often reveal their mediocre and slow architecture.
The first departments where manufacturers will try to save on is the construction quality and the connectivity options: following the Apple way, it’s not hard to spot the first brands that are ridiculously cutting down on the number of ports and features, such as USB, integrated Bluetooth or micro-HDMI outputs. Plastic is the go-to material for this kind of products, so we recommend handling these mini PCs with care and checking often their heat dissipation.
If gaming is not a priority then a laptop under 300 $ will be enough to play indie, casual and older games, but if you want to enter into this world with a more fiery machine then harvest a little more money and invest them in a bigger device.