Finding the best World of Warcraft laptop depends on your budget and on the visual settings you’re willing to tolerate. Luckily, the core game engine is so old that there’s no need to get top-of-the-line hardware. That should be great news if you’re searching for a WoW laptop under $500.
How am I going to find the best laptops for WoW?
Update November 13th, 2016.
I’ve updated this post multiple times in October and now I’m rolling out the November update. This time, I’m including a lot of new laptops as more and more laptops come with Intel 7th generation processors or/and Nvidia GTX 10xx graphics.
First, I’ll show you what are the exact requirements for a laptop instead of the generic stationary PC-oriented requirements. Then I’ll guide through each of them so you’ll know where you can cut corners and what is an absolute must. Finally, I’ll list out 6 best World of Warcraft laptops in their price ranges starting from $350 and ending with $3. Got it?
I’ll begin with Blizzard’s official requirements for Legion. Of course, we could use requirements for Warlords of Draenor but to make matters simple, I’ll assume you’re targeting for your laptop to run well with the latest expansion and with new expansions in the future.
- Intel® Core™ 2 Duo E8500
- NVIDIA® GeForce® GT 440 / Intel® HD Graphics 5000
- Intel® Core™ i5-3330
- NVIDIA® GeForce® GTX 750 Ti (5400 3DMark’11) / NVIDIA® GeForce® GT 775M (6000 3DMark’11)
World of Warcraft laptop requirements:
|Minimum Requirements||Recommended Specifications|
|Processor|| Any 4th-7th gen i3, i5 or i7 processor;|
AMD A6-5200 or up;
any 4th-7th gen i7 Q-series processor (i7-4720HQ, i7-5700HQ, i7-6700HQ…);
(this does NOT include i7-*500U CPUs)
|Video|| Any integrated graphics in 5th-7th processor (except generic HD Graphics and HD Graphics 510);|
Any dedicated Nvidia graphics card;
AMD Radeon R7/R9 M300 series
| Nvidia GTX 960M;|
Nvidia GTX 970M/1060 for high frames above Full HD resolution
|Memory||4 GB||8 GB|
These requirements are NOT official – I used the official requirements to match their recommended components to equivalent laptop parts. I used 3rd party benchmarks including 3DMark and PassMark tests.
What is crucial for a World of Warcraft laptop?
Blizzard always does a good job when it comes to optimizing their games for slower machines. That it especially true for WoW. To run it, you don’t need anything special – a basic processor such as i3-5010U is enough to run World of Warcraft: Legion. Of course, when I say “run”, I mean playing the game on the lowest settings. If you’re OK with that, then there are more right choices than wrong ones. Even if you’re on a tight budget. You can get a laptop under decent laptop for WoW under $400 with the absolute the cheapest i3 notebooks starting at $300.
If you want to play World of Warcraft on high(est) settings, you should look at the higher-end CPUs: i7-4720HQ, i7-5700HQ, i7-6700HQ. Currently, there aren’t any Intel 7th gen processors that can surpass the performance offered by earlier generations. That should change in the first half of 2017.
Here’s a basic rule of thumb to know if a processor is recommended for WoW. Check that a CPU model matching the pattern of i7-ABxx where A is at least 4, B is at least 7 and the rest doesn’t matter (i7-47xx or better). The only notable non-i7 processor that can handle WoW at higher settings is i5-6300HQ.
Major Graphics card
An integrated video card is a good option if you need the absolute cheapest laptop to play WoW. You need to remember that only the most recent Intel video chips can handle World of Warcraft. That includes all models matching patterns HD 5xxx, HD 6xxx and HD 5xx except HD 510 (it’s just a bit too slow). The good news is that most laptops have one of these chips embedded in their Intel processors.
- HD 520, HD 530, Iris 550
- HD 5300, HD 5500, Iris Pro 5200
So what’s the takeaway?
If you want a cheap WoW laptop (under $700) – go for a 6th or 7th generation Intel processor as they come with integrated graphics fast enough to run WoW. Older 4th-gen processors are only an option if there’s a dedicated graphics card supporting them.
For the best WoW laptops, you’ll need a dedicated graphics card. Almost any Nvidia card is better than Intel’s integrated chips and AMD’s APU solutions. If you’re OK with running WoW at below-1080p resolutions (HD+ – 1600×900) – then you can get away with 950M (which is found starting at ~700$). But for Full-HD gaming, WoW will need 960M ($800+) or, if you can afford it, go for 970M ($1200+) to max out on all visual settings. Since there already are a few laptops with Nvidia GTX 1060 and 1070, there isn’t much reason to go for GTX 980M, which was the flagship of the older generation of GPUs.
Under $500? You’ll be OK with 4 GB. Otherwise, you’re getting ripped off if you’re not getting 8 GB of RAM. Point blank.
Optional Full-HD Display
Usually, a Full-HD resolution display is a requirement by default. But I know some of you are searching for a basic budget laptop that can handle WoW. And there are some cheap laptops that seem to offer everything you’d need at a fraction of a cost. Often these laptops have either a terrible screen or garbage battery life (or both).
I’m not going to insist that you need a good battery runtime – it’s entirely an optional requirement for many gamers. But overlooking display quality is one simple way to limit your gaming experience. Ideally, I’d like that even an entry-level laptop would have a Full-HD IPS display with 300 cd/m2 brightness, 1000:1 contrast and 85% sRGB coverage. But this is obviously not going to happen if you’re squeezing value from every dollar.
That’s why, if your budget is above $500, I can only suggest making sure you’re getting at least Full-HD display. All other display metrics are secondary when it comes to gaming.
Optional Large OR fast storage drive
WoW does not demand a lot of storage size. But it needs enough so you’ll not be able to fit it properly on a 64 GB flash storage laptop.
So, we have 2 basic options:
- 128GB+ SSDs (quick startup, very fast and responsive)
- 500GB+ HDDs (cheap, large, slow)
Which you prefer is entirely up to you – if you have a large collection of games and/or movies – a cheap and spacious HDD should fit you best. But if you’ll be using it almost entirely for WoW, web browsing and streaming music and movies – a fast SSD storage would is the way to go. Best case scenario – 250GB or even 500GB SSD.
Of course, if you can’t spend above $550 – SSDs are not even an option. There are no laptops under $550 that have a 128 GB SSD AND have a good enough processor with a sufficient video card.
Best laptops for World of Warcraft
To find the best laptops, I’ve checked various online threads on hardware sites and Battle.net. Sadly, most of them are dated and rarely providing much reason for their recommendations. I’ve compared over 150 new and best-selling laptops to narrow down my results to just ~12 laptops. A few of them were very close in their price range, so for the sake of simplicity, I’ve picked out 6 best World of Warcraft laptops.
Cheapest laptops to play World of Warcraft
The first laptop on the list comes with the new Intel i3-7100U and latest gen integrated graphics chip. I hope this won’t come as a shock, but there’s no way we can fit a dedicated GPU under $350. But if you need a new laptop that hovers just around that price tag, this Acer model will be your best bet.
You can expect to play WoW on lowest graphics settings but that’s still pretty good for an entry-level notebook.
At $550 mark, one laptop stands above the rest. Yep, it’s yet another Acer model – it seems they’ve got the budget laptop market on lock.
This particular laptop managed to stay on my recommendation list for half a year. And there are some good reasons why.
In contrast to the laptop above (and even many other laptops in this price range), a few big improvements stand out. We’re getting an i5 processor, a discrete Nvidia GeForce GTX 940MX graphics card, twice the memory and a solid state drive. The extra $200 can go a long way.
With this laptop, we can target for a medium/high settings mix while playing WoW.
If we go up to $750, there are 2 strong contenders. First, we’ve got ASUS X550VX. It comes with a very fast i7-6700HQ CPU and a 950M GPU. That can be enough to play WoW on high settings (but not the highest). Well, in fact, on this particular laptop you should be able to max out the settings as the display is capped at a basic HD resolution. That’s below industry-standard Full HD (1920×1080). Also, it comes with a rather slow storage drive. That’s why I couldn’t place it as a sole king at this price point. These are serious drawbacks. But due to its unmatched performance at $750, it deserves a spot on the list.
If you’d rather ditch the high-end processor for an SSD and you’d downgrade the GPU for a screen resolution upgrade – you should take a look at i7 version of the Acer Aspire that I’ve listed above.
There are 2 Lenovo laptops that should be considered at this price range.
Let’s start with what they have in common. Both have i7-6700HQ, dedicated video chip, 1 TB HDD and a 15.6″ display.
Lenovo Y700 is geared towards gamers. It has a better GPU (960M), but as a trade-off, it has less RAM (8GB vs 16GB) and no SSD. Also, it is benchmarked to have a shorter battery life (4 hours vs 6 hours).
Meanwhile, Lenovo IdeaPad 700 is better suited if you don’t need to play WoW on highest settings but you’d rather have a laptop that works faster in day-to-day tasks due to its 250GB SSD. Some might even find use for its 16GB of RAM.
Best laptops to play World of Warcraft on highest settings
We’re quickly climbing the ladder and we’ve arrived at another pair of laptops, this time, at $1,100.
Eluktronics P650RP6 is the first (and the cheapest) laptop to feature Nvidia 1060 graphics card. It is more than enough to play World of Warcraft: Legion on the highest settings you can imagine. And as you might expect, it has the all-popular i7-6700HQ to match it. It has 8 GB RAM, which is quite funny when you consider that the graphics card alone has its own 6 GB. A very rare case when GPU has more than half of what the CPU gets.
Call me old-fashioned, but I like having multiple ports on my laptop. It seems Eluktronics thinks the same. They added HDMI, 2 mini DisplayPorts, 2 USB 3.1 C (Gen 2) and 3 USB 3.0. Also, there are the regular audio and microphone jacks, SD reader, Kensington Lock and a fingerprint reader.
A clear drawback of this notebook is its tiny 128 GB SSD. But there are some empty storage slots that you can fill with drives of your choice.
Since this laptop is new and not in the family of one of the major brands – it has no reviews for me to point out some possible issues. But judging from other Eluktronics models, I’d expect an average IPS display and a (very) short battery life. In short, it’s all about raw performance.
As an alternative to this model, there is HP Pavilion 15. It doesn’t have a monstrous GPU as the Eluktronics model does but it comes with an additional 1 TB HDD and 8 more gigabytes of RAM.
Here we’ve got another laptop with Nvidia Pascal architecture GPU. This laptop is special due to its size. It is more suitable for gamers that want to easily fit their gaming machine in their backpack. It comes in a convenient size of 14″ in diagonal screen size.
As you might expect, it can play WoW on the highest settings and it could even stream WoW on Twitch without any hiccups.
We’re getting close to the finale. Here we’ve got Asus GL502VM-DB71.
The 2 highlights of this particular laptop are:
- A huge 1 TB SSD and a 1 TB HDD
- A G-Sync display
You should have noticed that we’ve already maxed out on what you’d need to actually play WoW long time ago. Now we’re just looking for the best gaming laptop that can handle latest releases. If you don’t want to step over the $2K boundary – this particular Asus model is worth your consideration.
lol. $3500 laptop for WoW. OK, I’m not actually serious. But if you’re searching for the best laptop for gaming without going over $5000 – you’ve got to check this out.
It has an unlocked i7 processor, 2 1070 cards in SLI (16GB total), 64 gigs of RAM, a 500 GB SSD through the fast PCIe connection and 1 TB HDD for your archives.
Now that’s a gaming laptop.
There are many more models that might be better for you if you have very specific needs and a precise limit on your budget. In that case, don’t shy away from leaving a comment with what exactly are your needs/limitations and I’ll get back to you with an exact laptop model.