Satellite U505-S2005RD Q1-2

The Satellite U500 series of laptops was designed with the idea of giving you a powerful computer that was light and compact. The U505-S2005RD Q1-2 certainly is light and folds up nicely. It also provides a good amount of power, although it is rather expensive—it’s marked at $979.99 on Amazon, so expect to pay around that much. If you’ve got the budget, this may be the gaming laptop for you since it can handle some games.

The S2005RD features an Intel Core 2 i3-330M processor that runs at 2.13 GHz. It has a 3MB L3 cache and an 800 MHz express chipset. The laptop has 4 GB of DDR3 RAM standard, but you can upgrade that to a maximum of 8 GB if you have the extra budget. The hard drive is 500 GB and spins at 5400 RPM. That’s larger than a lot of laptops have, even if it’s not the fastest. You’ll have plenty of space for games, and the 4 GB of RAM will run Windows 7 Home 64-bit and several programs at once.

The laptop has a number of nice features. It has a SuperMulti DVD +/- R double layer drive for burning CDs and DVDs. It also features Labelflash, which allows you to burn labels right on to the disc. The five in one memory card reader makes it easy to get photos off a digital camera or transfer files to and from SD cards. The Wi-Fi connects to b, g, and n networks, which is nice. The laptop has two USB 2.0 ports, a eSATA/USB port, headphone and mic jacks, a VGA out, and an HDMI out. A webcam and built in mic round out the features. You’ve got just about everything you need here.

What about the graphics card, you ask? It’s an Intel Graphics Media Accelerator HD card. The bad news is that it dynamically allocates graphics memory from the system memory. This means some of that 4 GB of RAM is going to be used for video memory, leaving you less RAM for the game. It will use anywhere from 512 MB to 2233 MB. The display itself is also rather small, measuring only 13.3 inches.

There are some extra features on the laptop, like the backlit keyboard. It has a good battery life, too, since the LED design actually uses up less power. However, as a gaming laptop, the battery will run down quickly. The display and shared video RAM aren’t great, but you can use the HDMI out port to connect to a high-def monitor, and you can add more RAM. However, this all adds to the cost of the laptop, which is already pretty high.

Toshiba Satellite L645D-S4050 14-Inch LED Laptop

The Toshiba Satellite L645D-S4050 14-inch LED laptop is another of Toshiba’s cheap laptops. Of course, just because it’s cheap doesn’t mean it’s not a good machine. It is a pretty solid laptop if you’re in need of portable computing for business or for college courses. It’s not, however, necessarily the laptop of choice for gamers.

The S4050 has a 2.2GHz AMD Athlon II Dual-Core Mobile Processor P340 under the hood. It has 1 MB of L2 cache memory and a 800 MHz front-side bus, both of which are good for multi-tasking. As far as budget laptops go, that’s actually a pretty good processor for the price. You’re only getting 3GB of DDR3 RAM here, though, not 4GB—that’s going to cause some slow down. The hard drive is also pretty average: 320GB that spins at 5400 RPM. Not bad, though, and more than enough for a few games. The laptop comes with Windows 7 Home Premium 64-bit version.

For loading your games, the S4050 comes with a 8x SuperMulti DVD drive that has double layer support and Labelflash printing, so you can make some really nice looking music CDs or data discs. Wireless-N WiFi is a nice addition, especially since some budget laptops limit users to b/g. A multi-format card reader lets you transfer data and images to a variety of media, and the 3 USB ports and 1 eSATA/USB combo port are very handy as well. There’s also a built-in webcam if you enjoy video chatting. Mic, headphone, and a VGA video out round off the ports. There’s no HDMI.

The graphics card in this laptop is an ATI Mobility Radeon HD 4250. It dynamically allocates shared graphics memory, so your 3GB of system memory is going to be further divided up. The card will allocate between 256MB and 1405MB. Resource-heavy games will, of course, eat up the top amount. The display has a native resolution of 1366 x 768 and supports 720p content, which is nice but it’s not 1080p hi-def. With no HDMI out, it will have to do.

The battery on the S4050 is a 6-cell lithium-ion battery that can get up to 3.75 hours of power in Power Saver mode. Gamers will need to recharge every hour and a half to two hours, of course.

Is this the best laptop for gamers? No, but it is a good choice if you’re on a budget. It retails for between $500 and $699.

Toshiba Satellite L455-S5009 Laptop

Toshiba has made several different cheap laptops, including the Toshiba Satellite L455-S5009 Laptop. This small computer doesn’t feature any of the most up-to-date hardware or specs, but it’s still a decent computer for the money. However, from a gaming point of view, decent doesn’t always cut it. There are some points in favor of the L455 as a gaming computer, but there are also some drawbacks.

The processor is an Intel 2.2 GHz 64-bit dual-core Pentium T4400 model processor. It’s a pretty common budget laptop processor, and it’s not top of the line at all. It has 1 MB of L2 cache on it. It’s going to get the job done, but don’t expect miracles. The hard drive is 320 GB and spins at 5400 RPM. That’s also fairly standard for a budget laptop and is sufficient, even for gaming. The laptop comes with 4GB of DDR3 RAM. This is actually a little above average; many cheap laptops only have 3 GB.

Rounding out the basic features are a DVD+/- RW drive with dual-layer support, integrated b/g wireless, 3 USB 2.0 ports, and a multiformat media card reader. Note that there is no n-band wifi support, which is bad for online gaming. The L455 runs Windows 7 Home Edition Premium 64-bit. It does not have a webcam or mic built-in, but it does have a full-sized keyboard with numerical keypad. There is a VGA out but not HDMI out.

The graphics card is somewhat of a letdown. The laptop has a 15.6” display with a 1366 x 768 native resolution and a 16:9 aspect ratio. While the display supports 720p resolutions and the Intel Graphics Media Accelerator 4500M card can handle some games, you’re not going to get amazing, hi-definition graphics. The card dynamically allocates between 128 and 1759 MB of memory for graphics, but this is shared RAM, so it comes out of the 4 GB of system memory. That’s going to slow down your games considerably.

As you can see, this is really not a great gaming laptop. While it will run some games, especially if you lower the graphics settings, it’s not a machine to really game on. The battery will probably last you an hour and a half or so while running games, which isn’t horrible. It’s just that the graphics and system can’t really keep up. It can be found for less than $450, though.

Toshiba Satellite L635-S3010 LED TruBrite 13.3-Inch Laptop (Grey/Black)

Toshiba’s Satellite L625-S2010 LED TruBrite 13.3-inch laptop is a solid little machine that can certainly handle emails, accounting, and other on-the-go chores that everyone seems to need to do in this day and age. However, for gamers on the go, this little laptop does have some serious drawbacks. It’s great if you’re playing middle of the road games that don’t eat up a lot of resources or need major graphics, but for those who love games that are graphics-intensive, you may need a laptop with a bit more power.

The S3010 is powered by a 1.86GHz Intel Pentinum P600 processor. While this is fairly good, many other laptops run a 2.0GHz or more. It has three GB of DDR2/DDR3 RAM, which again isn’t bad, but gaming machines need 4 GB. The hard drive is 320GB and spins at 5400 RPM. Again, that’s not bad but it isn’t the best.

The laptop features a 8x DVD R/W drive, built in stereo speakers, a built in webcam and mic, and wireless b/g/n LAN. The addition of the n-band is nice, as is the webcam. The DVD drive features Labelflash printing, which lets you burn a label directly onto the DVD. The keyboard, unfortunately, is not a full sized keyboard, which may be a problem for some gamers. Three USB ports give you plenty of connection space for external devices. The laptop also has a VGA out and a multi-function memory card. There is no HDMI output, however.

When it comes to graphics, the S3010 falls squarely in the mid-range. There’s nothing outstanding about its 16:9 aspect ratio or its 1366 x 768 native resolution. It does have a backlit LED display, so it can show off some nice visuals. Unfortunately, it’s not 1080p, and without an HDMI out, you are limited to what the laptop display can provide. The graphics card is an Intel HD Graphics card that can dynamically allocate shared graphic memory, so you’ll have anything from 64MB to 1274MB. Even at its max, that’s not a whole lot of extra RAM.

As you can tell, this laptop may not be the best for gamers. It’s rounded out by a battery life of about 3 hours of normal use, so you can expect to get about half that when gaming. However, it retails for $550 or less, so it may fit your budget.

Toshiba’s Satellite L505D-LS5101 Notebook PC

Toshiba’s Satellite L505D-LS5101 Notebook PC is a solid little laptop that offers some nice features, but also has a number of drawbacks. While some parts of this laptop are certainly better than others that are comparably priced, it falls behind in several key areas. As a gamer, you may find this Satellite a good choice if you don’t plan on running really resource-intensive games on it. If you are, however, you may have some concerns about a few of the specs.

The AMD Athlon II Dual-Core M300 2.0 GHz processor is a nice addition to the laptop, and it is certainly capable of running your games without a lot of slow-down. It is starting to look a little long in the tooth, of course, but even the newest games will be fine. The 4GB of DDR2 RAM is solid, but again, DDR2 has been outdated for a while now. For a hard drive, you get 250 GB. That’s really on the low side—most have 320GB or, if they’re really nice, 500. But still, you can load a good number of games on 250GB. Windows 7 Home Premium 64-bit comes installed and is a solid operating system.

As far as ports and extras go, the L505D has a nice grouping. A DVD Super Multi R/W drive is available for loading your games, and the wireless b/g card lets you connect to the internet. It would be nice if n-band was an option, however. The 7-in-1 card reader is nice. You get 3 USB ports, a VGA out, and jacks for a mic and headphones. There’s no HDMI out, however.

The graphics on this laptop are somewhat disappointing. The native resolution of the 15.6” display is 1366 x 768, which isn’t horrible but isn’t great, either. The ATI Radeon 4100 graphics card is also pretty nice, but it has no video memory of its own. Instead, it shares system memory, so be ready to lower your graphics settings on most games. However, despite being one of the cheaper integrated video cards, it actually does a pretty good job and can run games without too many issues.

The battery life of the L505D-LS5010 is fairly average. For light use, you can get about four hours out of it. If you’re doing a lot of heavy gaming, you’ll get two, probably less. Be ready to recharge. However, for less than $520, this isn’t a horrible gaming laptop.

Toshiba Satellite C655-S5118 15.6-Inch Laptop (Black)

The Toshiba Satellite C655-S5118 15.6 inch laptop retails for $500, making it a good choice for anyone looking for a cheap laptop. However, like many cheap laptops, it’s got some good points and some bad points, especially when you’re looking for a gaming machine. While it does have some good software and a full sized keyboard, it is a bit lacking in some areas.

The S5118 uses a 2.4 GHz Intel Core i3-370M processor, which is pretty good for a laptop. It comes with 3 GB of DDR3 RAM standard, but you can upgrade that to 8 GB if you don’t mind spending a bit more money. You’ll probably want to upgrade if you plan on doing a lot of gaming. The hard drive is a 320 GB, 5400 RPM drive, which will hold a good amount of games but isn’t as large as some laptops. The 8x DVD drive is nice. There’s no webcam, but that’s not an issue for many gamers.

As far as ports go, the S5118 is a little disappointing. It only has 2 USB ports, but you can purchase a USB port for very little if you need more. It has a headphone and mic jack, a VGA video out, a card reader, and Ethernet port. There’s no HDMI out on this laptop, which may be an issue for some people.

Now let’s take a look at the graphics card. Like most of the other specs on the laptop, it’s nothing that will blow you away, but it is capable of running some games. The 15.6 inch LCD display has a resolution of 1366 x 768 and is done in a 16:9 ratio. It can display video up to 720p, so you’re not going to be amazing by any HD graphics. The Intel HD Grpahics card dynamically allocates its shared graphics memory and ranges from 64 MB to 1275 MB. Again, not the greatest, but it can handle many games.

As far as battery life goes, the S5118 falls into the average category. You’ll get a few hours of gaming time out of it, but don’t expect a lot. Be sure to carry your power cable with you if you plan on doing any major gaming sessions. For the price, it’s not a bad laptop, but you’ll want to spend a bit to upgrade it if you want a real gaming machine.

Toshiba Satellite C655-S5119 15.6-Inch Laptop (Black)

If you need a good portable laptop, the Toshiba Satellite C655-S5119 15.6 inch laptop is certainly a good choice. If you need a good gaming laptop, then its qualifications come into question. The C655 does have some things that make it worth using for gaming on the go, but it also has some drawbacks. Of course, for a gaming laptop under $1000, you’re always going to have to make some sacrifices.

Looking under the hood, the C655 features a 2.0 GHz Intel Pentium P6100 processor. It’s not a dual core, but it’s capable of running many games. It has 3 GB of DDR3 RAM, which is less than the standard four. However, it can be upgraded to 8 GB, which is more than enough to run games. Its hard drive is a 320GB 5400 RPM drive, which is on the smaller side. However, it’s still large enough to hold more than a few games. It runs Windows 7 Home Premium, the 64-bit version of Windows 7, which is very solid.

The laptop features an 8x DVD drive, two USB ports (which is a bit on the slim side), a card reader, Ethernet port, VGA video out, and Wi-Fi. There’s no HDMI out, so while you can use an external monitor if you like, you’re not going to get incredibly hi-def graphics out of it. The cC655 does have a built-in webcam for chatting, plus it has a full sized keyboard. It has a battery life of 4.5 hours under normal operation, so it will give you about two hours of gaming life.

Speaking of graphics, let’s take a look at the graphics card. It’s an Intel HD Graphics card with 64 MB of graphic memory. However, it can be upgraded to a card with 1 GB of video RAM, which is a necessity for gaming. The screen is 15.6 inches wide and is widescreen in a 16:9 ratio. Its native resolution is 1366 x 768, which is pretty good. It can support 720p content—not incredibly high definition, but fairly good.

Is this a great gaming laptop? Well, if you upgrade the RAM and graphics card, it’s not too bad. Since the basic model generally retails for $450, you can still upgrade these features and probably keep it under $1,000.

Acer Aspire TimelineX AS3820T-5246 13.3-Inch HD Laptop (Black Brushed Aluminum)

Acer has created a nice, cheap line of laptops with their Aspire group. These laptops are good quality and often are slightly better than some of the other cheaper laptops out there. Now, they do cost a bit more—usually between $700 and $800. There are cheaper laptops available, but Acer works to give you the most bang for your buck. That is definitely true with the Acer Aspire TimelineX AS3820T-5246.

To start with, the AS3820T-5246 is a slim computer. It weighs less than four pounds and measures only 12.7” by 9.3”. It’s 1.1 inches high when closed. That’s nice and portable. Of course, this means there’s no full keyboard, which can often be annoying for gamers. However, that’s something you may have to accept if you want to stick to a budget.

This laptop uses a 2.26 GHz Intel Core i3-350M processor, which is pretty nice for a laptop. It comes with 4GB of DDR3 RAM standard, which is also nice—many laptops only come with 3GB installed and make you upgrade. The hard drive is only 320GB, which is a bit small but still large enough to hold a number of programs. The laptop has an integrated webcam and microphone, Bluetooth 2.1 connectivity, WiFi (b/g/n bandwidths), an HDMI out, a 5-in-1 card reader, and three USB ports. On the major downside, there is no DVD drive! That means installing games is going to be a pain. You’ll either need an external drive, another computer with a shared drive on a network, or only play games that are available as a download.

The graphics on the AS3820T-5246 could be better. The Intel HD Graphics card is pretty standard for cheaper laptops. The problem is that it only comes with 128MB of dedicated graphics memory. The display itself offers a 16:9 aspect ratio and has a native resolution of 1366 x 768, which is pretty standard for the display size. It’s a middle of the road screen—fine for most things, but games that are very graphics-intense may be out of this laptop’s range. As it is, with that little bit of video RAM, you’re going to have to set most games’ graphic settings to low.

All in all, it’s unfortunate that the AS3820T-5246 isn’t better equipped in the graphics area. The RAM and processor can run some good games, but without more video RAM, you may have some problems.

Acer Emachines Laptop Pc with Intel Dual Core T4400 2.2ghz

The Acer Emachines Laptop PC with Intel Dual Core T4400 2.2ghz is a laptop for those with a budget. It retails for $479.99 or less, and it certainly sounds good, doesn’t it? A lot of cheap laptops try to wow people by throwing a lot of numbers at them, but for true gamers, you really have to scrutinize a laptop before buying it because, while it might sound good, it may not be capable of really running your games.

The Emachines laptop looks good at first glance. An Intel dual core T4400 2.2 ghz processor can certainly run some games, even if it isn’t the fastest processor available. Many games that came out a few years ago required a 1.8 ghz processor, and some of today’s games need a little more. In the future, expect the 2.2 ghz to be the minimum necessary. As far as RAM goes, you get 3 GB of DDR3 memory (some ads list it as DDR2, but most models have upgraded). That’s good enough, but again, a lot of games need 4 or more. The 250 GB hard drive can hold a nice amount of data.

As far as extras go, you get an 8x DVD burner with dual layer support, which is nice. The 5 in 1 digital media reader lets you import pictures and data from portable devices quickly and easily. The laptop has connections for VGA, headphones, mic, and for 2 USB devices. There’s no webcam or HDMI out connection, so you’re stuck with the display or a non-HD monitor.

Speaking of the display, the Emachines laptop has a 15.6” HD widescreen display that has a resolution of 1366 x 768. It uses an Intel Graphics Media Accelerator with 1695 MB of video memory. It’s not horrible, but it’s not an HD gaming laptop. You’ll be able to see most graphics fine if you put your settings on average and maybe even set some of them to minimal. High resolution games aren’t going to look that great or play very smoothly.

Then there’s the battery issue. It’s rated for 2.5 hours of normal use. That means gamers might get an hour out of it. For those who really want to game on the go, that’s not really going to do much.

If you look at ratings for this laptop, you’ll see most people agree that it’s a good computer for mobile writing and for checking your email, but for gaming, it’s just not powerful enough.

Acer AS7741G-7017 17.3-Inch Laptop ( Black)

Acer has made a number of cheap but powerful laptops, and they’ve continued that series with the AS7741G-7017. This 17.3-inch laptop features a number of powerful features that make it a great laptop for those on the go, but as all gamers know, that doesn’t mean it’s a great gaming laptop. The good news is that the 7017 does include a number of features that make it a solid choice for gamers on a budget.

The processor on the 7017 is a 2.53 GHz Intel Core i5-460M dual-core processor, which is capable of running games without too much noticeable slowdown or other issues, and the turbo boost technology actually bumps it up to speeds of 2.80 GHz. The 4 GB of installed DDR3 RAM could be upgraded, but it doesn’t necessarily have to be to run most games. The laptop has a 500GB 5400 RPM hard drive, so there’s plenty of space for installing games and other programs.

Looking on the side of the laptop, you’ll find three USB 2.0 ports, a 5-in-1 card reader, an HDMI video out, and speaker and headphone ports. The 7017 includes a 8x DVD+R/RW drive, wireless-N internet, and a multi-gesture touchpad, although gamers might prefer an external mouse. The full-sized keyboard is good for gaming. For those who want to do a little web chatting between games, a 1.3 megapixel webcam is built-in.

Now let’s take a look at the graphics portion of the laptop. Some people see graphics as the be-all, end-all of gaming, so it’s very important that a laptop be capable of putting out some outstanding images. The 7017 has a 17.3 inch display, which is a good size, and if you don’t like that, you can use the HDMI out to attach an external monitor. It has a 1600 x 900 resolution, widescreen 16:9 aspect ratio, and can handle 720p graphics. The ATI Mobility Radeon HD 5650 graphics card comes with 1GB of video RAM, which is certainly very nice. The laptop may not be 1080, but it certainly shows off some nice images.

Battery power is a bit of a disappointment. At most, you’ll get three hours of battery life. Unfortunately, that’s only if you’re using the laptop for “normal” use…the time for continuous, hard-core gaming going to be half that at most. Just be ready to plug in and recharge often.

All in all, the AS7741G-7017 is a solid gaming laptop for those on a budget. It retails for $799.