Gaming Laptop Buyer's Guide - 2012 Edition

By Published August 17, 2012 at 1:04 pm


Sample Laptop Choices by Budget

Keep in mind that a good deal of laptop manufacturers offer "customization" options for their systems, meaning there are many unlisted laptops on major retailers (Newegg, Amazon, NCIX, and Microcenter included). Always explore options on manufacturer's websites to ensure the best spread of systems.

With that said, let's cover some examples of gaming laptop options.

$1200: Origin PC - EON11-S, Mini Gaming Laptop

I ran through a customization process on Origin's site and, actually, was somewhat impressed with the relative affordability of the components. It's nothing mindblowing, but for an 11" gaming laptop, it's certainly admirable. ~$1200 gets a GT 650M (not particularly worthy of mention, but solid), a 120GB SSD, 8GB of memory, and a strong i5-3320M.


Here are the specs:

  • CPU: Intel i5-3320 2.6GHz
  • Screen: 11"
  • RAM: 8GB DDR3 1333MHz
  • SSD: 120GB Corsair Force GT
  • GPU: GT 650M


For an 11" system, it's definitely a good starting point. The screen may be a bit small for some, so if portability isn't a concern, definitely look into the larger models instead (15" recommended for most users).

$843: Sager NP6165 / Clevo W150ER, True Mid-Range Gaming

For similar power to the Origin 11" above, this Sager system is a bit more affordable in the "true mid-range" region of mobile gaming. It has the GPU, CPU, and memory to game respectably and seriously sturdy construction quality.


Here are the specs:

  • CPU: Intel i5-3210M
  • Screen: 15.6"
  • RAM: 8GB DDR3 1600MHz
  • HDD: 500GB 7200RPM
  • GPU: GT 650M


They're a bit harder to find, but you can spec them out over here.

$880: Acer Aspire V3-771G-9697, Versatility in Mind

Acer's mid-range laptop - fitted with 8GB of memory, an admittedly average HDD (albeit 1TB in storage space) - though still fast enough, reasonable GT 640M for mid-range gaming, and an i7-2670QM (again, plenty for gaming), makes this system a reasonable choice at the price range. It's not the most powerful gaming box you could get, but it's versatile -- this one opts to avoid the "gamer aesthetic" and sticks with a more business casual look, making it a nice option for most users. That said, there are definitely more portable systems out there (this one has a 17" screen!) and there are definitely more powerful systems out there, so if true "mid-range" isn't your style, carry on.



  • CPU: Intel i7-2670QM 2.2GHz
  • Screen: 17.3" - quite large
  • RAM: 8GB DDR3
  • HDD: 1TB 5400RPM
  • GPU: GT 640M 2GB


$700: Samsung Series 3 NP300E5C-A02US, Affordable Gaming

This one's significantly less powerful than the previous two systems, but to demonstrate the affordability of IGPs, we've decided to pull one of the more recent additions to the laptop market; this Samsung laptop comes with Intel's HD 4000 IGP -- as above, it's not the most powerful IGP (you'll probably be on low or medium settings for most games), but it does play games and it is relatively low power. It's about as affordably non-gamer as you can get while still being able to play most games on survivable settings.



  • CPU: Intel i5-3210M 2.5GHz
  • Screen: 15.6"
  • RAM: 6GB DDR3
  • HDD: 750GB 5400 RPM
  • GPU: Intel HD 4000


We'd also recommend taking a look at Llano variants, which tend to be a good deal more powerful in the graphics department. Here's one of those.

ASUS and MSI also have a history of gaming laptops, though most of them are still running on last-gen hardware, they're still solid machines - if you see any 570s in your searches, don't discount them.

Final Thoughts

Laptop selections are much easier than initial impressions - and this is more true with every passing year - but it still takes some time and studying to pull the trigger. The investments are rather large and the options are many, and no single retailer will offer every laptop out there. Be sure to check the websites of manufacturers before sticking with one retailer.

Hopefully these example choices and above guidelines will give you solid material for your large investment! If you have any questions at all about gaming laptops, gaming hardware in general, or just need help, please comment below or ask in-depth on our forums.

- Steve "Lelldorianx" Burke.

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Last modified on August 17, 2012 at 1:04 pm
Steve Burke

Steve started GamersNexus back when it was just a cool name, and now it's grown into an expansive website with an overwhelming amount of features. He recalls his first difficult decision with GN's direction: "I didn't know whether or not I wanted 'Gamers' to have a possessive apostrophe -- I mean, grammatically it should, but I didn't like it in the name. It was ugly. I also had people who were typing apostrophes into the address bar - sigh. It made sense to just leave it as 'Gamers.'"

First world problems, Steve. First world problems.

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