Best Gaming Laptop Under $1200 - 2018 Reviews and Top Picks

Finding the best gaming laptop under $1200 is for people who want a desktop-class gaming experience with laptop-class portability. Our three picks should offer what you’re looking for!

Finding The Best Gaming Laptops Under $1200

We put a lot of work into finding the top gaming laptop under 1200 dollars. However, thanks in part to diminishing returns as one spends more, one of the three options on offer today comes from a different price range.

Our entry-level option starts at $950, well below the $1200 max. Despite this, its performance and specs only make one major compromise compared to its superiors in the list.

While the others usually come in much closer to the $1200 max, they also do so while offering some of the best mobile gaming performance you can get.

Our top pick in this list is the Prostar Clevo P650HP3, which we’ve affectionately named the “1.2 Grandmaster”. For a more detailed breakdown of each laptop and why they were selected, scroll on down and read the rest of the article.

Prostar Clevo P650HP3

Contender Breakdown

namestoragescreencpugpuramRating
High EntrantProstar Clevo N850HK1Prostar Clevo N850HK11TB HDD15-inch IPS display at 1080p Quad-Core Intel Core i7-7700HQ Nvidia GeForce GTX 1050 Ti (4GB GDDR5 VRAM)8GB DDR4 RAM4.25/5
SteinEluktronics P650RP6Eluktronics P650RP6128 GB SSD15-inch IPS display at 1080pQuad-Core Intel Core i7-6700HQNvidia GeForce GTX 1060 (6GB GDDR5 VRAM)8GB DDR4 RAM4.5/5
1.2 GrandmasterProstar Clevo P650HP3Prostar Clevo P650HP31TB HDD15-inch IPS display at 1080pQuad-Core Intel Core i7-7700HQ Nvidia GeForce GTX 1060 (3GB GDDR5 VRAM)8GB DDR4 RAM4.6/5
#1

Prostar Clevo N850HK1

TECH SPECS

  • Storage
    1TB HDD
  • Screen
    15-inch IPS display at 1080p
  • CPU
    Quad-Core Intel Core i7-7700HQ
  • GPU
    Nvidia GeForce GTX 1050 Ti (4GB GDDR5 VRAM)
  • RAM
    8GB DDR4 RAM
  • 2 USB 3.0 Ports, 1 USB 3.0 Type-C Port, 1 USB 2.0 Port
  • 802.11ac Wi-Fi
  • Windows 10

Here’s our entry-level option for the high-end laptop range, which we’ve named the High Entrant. (High End-Entrant).

This machine is overall pretty well put together. With an IPS panel, an RGB backlit keyboard and solid build quality, this laptop is sure to draw envious glares and appreciative stares.

It’s a sub-$1000 laptop with everything you’d expect from a $1000 laptop.

The writing's on the wall here, though. The 1050 Ti in this laptop pales greatly in comparison to the other laptops listed.

While you do save a hundred or two in comparison, the 1060 offers a whopping 62% performance increase!

While we like this build, we’d only recommend it if you really can’t afford the other options on this list or a 1050 Ti can serve your gaming needs fine.

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#2

Eluktronics P650RP6

TECH SPECS

  • Storage
    128 GB SSD
  • Screen
    15-inch IPS display at 1080p
  • CPU
    Quad-Core Intel Core i7-6700HQ
  • GPU
    Nvidia GeForce GTX 1060 (6GB GDDR5 VRAM)
  • RAM
    8GB DDR4 RAM
  • 3 USB 3.0 Ports, 2 USB 3.1 Type-C Ports
  • 802.11ac Wi-Fi
  • Windows 10

The Eluktronics laptop on offer here has been named “Stein”. The name is short for “Frankenstein” (the doctor, not the monster), because there’s no way you could use the 128 GB SSD without upgrading, and you have to do that upgrade on your own.

Aside from the fact that you’ll pretty much inevitably have to take this one apart (or maybe you can use a USB 3 external hard drive to store your games/media?), the Stein is an amazing offering.

Thanks to the onboard i7 and GTX 1060, your gaming performance is going to reach console-killer tier. Expect to play 1080p titles at high-to-max with ease: in fact, this laptop matches the minimum spec for VR!

For 1080p gaming pushed to the limit and portable VR, this laptop is one of the best options you’ll find out there. It also offers a wealth of USB and other ports for plenty of expandability, on top of superb build quality and hardware features.

It’d be a real contender for our #1 spot...if it weren’t for that dang SSD.

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#3

Prostar Clevo P650HP3

TECH SPECS

  • Storage
    1TB HDD
  • Screen
    15-inch IPS display at 1080p
  • CPU
    Quad-Core Intel Core i7-7700HQ
  • GPU
    Nvidia GeForce GTX 1060 (3GB GDDR5 VRAM)
  • RAM
    8GB DDR4 RAM
  • 3 USB 3.0 Ports, 2 USB 3.1 Type-C Ports
  • 802.11ac Wi-Fi 
  • Windows 10

The Prostar Clevo P650HP3 or, as we’ve called it, the 1.2 Grandmaster, is our pick for the best gaming laptop under $1200. This is because it really only has two downsides in an otherwise astounding product.

The first downside is using an HDD instead of an SSD. But, even this is alleviated by the machine using a 7200RPM HDD instead of a typical laptop 5400RPM.

That means even the base model, which we’ve recommended here, has something better than your typical laptop hard drive.

The other downside is the price. It’s the best gaming laptop under $1200, but only barely.

While the price can fluctuate, right now it’s by far the best option in this price range due to its superb build quality, great gaming performance and cool extra features.

Plus, if $1200 can be stretched at all, you can add a 128GB M.2 SSD to the mix for only $50. It’ll technically go over $1200, but at that point it’ll also be virtually flawless.

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What do I want in this price range?

Nothing less than IPS.

You’ve reached the price range where not having a great display is essentially a crime. Now, this doesn’t necessarily mean IPS is the only option.

You may also see 120HZ or 144HZ displays, and those are great for gaming, too.

However, on a laptop, at least, high refresh rates aren’t nearly as important as having good viewing angles. An IPS panel is usually the best option for most users, and we recommend it more for laptops than we do our desktop builds.

A GTX 1050 Ti at least, a GTX 1060 if possible.

We found that under $1200 was a relatively wide range to work with, and if we were going to work with it, we thought it’ll be best to have a lower option that compromised on GPU power. We’re talking, of course, about the High Entrant, which uses a GTX 1050 Ti.

As prices scale higher, it takes much longer for laptops to significantly differentiate themselves with specs. In this case, it took a couple hundred before the 1050 Ti was replaced with the 1060 in these laptop spec sheets.

In either case, make sure you don’t buy something outdated or doesn’t have one of these two GPUs: 1050 Ti and 1060\. Go with the former if you need to save money and go with the latter if you have it or you’re willing to save up for it.

Superior build quality and hardware features.

Finally, any machine you buy in this range should be solidly built so that it can serve you well while gaming and last you a good, long time doing it. Most laptops can’t offer this, but typically the laptops in this range have good cooling and build quality, enough to last years if maintained.

Whichever one you settle with, you’re going to enjoy plenty of great hardware features and a solid build quality that’ll make you a happy customer. Just be sure to maintain and care for your new gaming laptop, if at all possible.

How do I choose?

This one’s pretty simple, fortunately.

If you need something cheaper and want to save some money, the High Entrant is for you. Its GPU may be quite a bit weaker than the other two in this list, but it saves a couple hundred bucks in the process, which is always a good thing.

If you’re a true enthusiast, The Stein and the 1.2 Grandmaster probably stick out to you the most. We recommend The Stein pretty much only if you already have another laptop hard drive laying around the house, one that you can repurpose to expand the middling default storage of The Stein.

Otherwise, save yourself some sanity and go with the 1.2 Grandmaster.

What’s Your Choice?

Despite the fact that the 1.2 Grandmaster is our winning pick, there’s no wrong answers here. Everyone has different needs as a consumer and yours may not align with ours.

Which one of these gaming laptops do you consider to be the best gaming laptop under $1200? Let us know in the comments below what you opted to go with!

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