Hello and welcome to the $600 gaming laptop section. It is probably one of the more interesting price points for many. However, a laptop with a with good gaming capabilities for such a price is not easy to come by, at least not for a “new” laptop.
The usual GPU you’ll find in laptops for $500-$600 will be a low-midrange/high-lower end GPU, like the MX150 and GTX 1050 (current generation) or GT 940M/X and GTX 950M/960M (before). The MX150 can reach the performance levels of a GTX 950M sometimes, but that’s all, so if come by a machine with a GTX 950M or even a GTX 960M and it’s in good shape, you should consider it.
Currently, previous generation models with GTX 1050 or GTX 1050 Ti GPUs, IPS display and even an SSD are being sold for $550-$650. I would advise to consider those if you are after higher gaming performance, as they provide a huge bang to buck ratio improvement, along better overall features (cooling, screen, storage).
(check $800 section)
Low midrange gaming laptop from Acer. Comes with the new Coffee Lake I5-8250U CPU and Nvidia MX150 GPU. The $600 model comes with a 256GB SSD as a default.
Gaming performance is adequate for 768p high-ultra graphics settings, but will also suffice for low-medium gaming at 1080p, especially for less demanding games (Team fortress, World of Tanks and such).
Display quality is unclear to me. Reviews show it comes with an IPS display, but Amazon comments say otherwise, as well as Acer’s site. I’d say that the cheaper US model comes with a low quality TN panel.
Battery running times are very good with around 8-10 hours of typical web browsing workload. (SSD variant)
Bottom line, currently for $600, with a TN panel and an MX150 GPU, I’d suggest going with some of the little pricier GTX 1050 models, if you are ok with an HDD instead of SSD.
HP’s basic low midrange gaming laptop. With an I5-7300HQ and a GTX 1050 (2GB). Cost is around $600-$650 before US tax.
Gaming performance is good for this hardware, thanks to maximal clocks under typical gaming workload. However, a GTX 1050 Ti will have around 35-40% performance advantage on this machine.
Display is a low quality IPS, like some other machines in this category. Around 57% sRGB coverage and low maximal brightness. Response times are relatively high.
Thermal performance is sufficient. Under highest load of Furmark + Prime95, CPU temps remains around 80C and south, but CPU clocks zigzag between the maximum and heavy throttle. I guess that this behavior could be negated with Throttlestop and perhaps Intel XTU. Under gaming load, the temps are around the same and clocks are maximal.
Battery running times are ok with around 6-7 hours of typical web browsing workload. (SSD)
Connection ports selection is basic, but includes a USB 3.1 Type-C with DisplayPort 1.2 support. HDMI 2.0.
Maintenance is hard according to the NBC review.
Bottom line, for around $600-$650 this machine is a nice option thanks to good thermals and performance. However, including US tax, SSD and perhaps additional RAM, the price reaches the levels of much more powerful machines.
The Acer A715-71G is a basic midrange offer from Acer. Now selling for $600, it is a good option against the Nvidia MX150 equipped laptops which are not as fast for gaming.
Display. The A715 comes with a basic IPS display, with around 60% sRGB coverage (like some other machines), good viewing angles, but relatively low maximal brightness.
Performance and throttling. Gaming performance, according to reviews, is good, although under highest workload (Prime95 + Furmark) the CPU and GPU will throttle somewhat (CPU to base clocks, GPU ~-5%).
Connection ports selection is lacking. No Displayport, USB 3.1gen2, Thunderbolt port or any other interesting port.
Keyboard quality is acceptable to good.
Storage. The 1TB 5400RPM HDD is the most basic storage solution and will be slow. I would advise to add some SSD in the M.2 port.
for $600 this is a good deal relatively to the MX150 option. Tax and shipping might be added and SSD upgrade will probably be necessary for having a not-very-slow laptop, so consider the purchase carefully.
The new Swift 3 with the new Intel Coffee Lake I5-8250U is a slim and lightweight ultrabook with slick looks.
Gaming performance is high enough for low-medium/medium graphics settings in many less demanding games, like Team Fortress, Overwatch, Bioshock Infinite and more and more. If you are willing to play on 768p, then most games will run smoothly, including more demanding games.
Battery running times are very good, according to tests, showing around 8-8.5 hours of typical web browsing workload.
Display quality is disappointingly low for such a laptop. around 55% sRGB and 37% adobeRGB coverage are rather low and won’t suffice for photo editing and perhaps will even lack when watching typical movies. Response times are very high (bad). Contrast is relatively high, though.
Thermals are fairly ok, with low noise and chassis remaining relatively cool.
Bottom line, I wanted to recommend this machine very much, but the display is a too big drawback. If you are willing to change the display, I’d consider it. It’s annoying to see Acer going back from previous models (the old V7-482PG with its very good IPS), but that’s the way the news go.