I’ve searched far and wide for a budget gaming laptop that I could recommend for shoppers looking in the under $800 range. I was hoping and praying that the HP Victus 15 – one of the Best Buy’s most popular products this year – it would be.
My takeaway, after gaming on the Victus ($799.99 for my Core i5/8GB/512GB/GTX 1650 model) over the past few days, is that it’s not the slam dunk I’d hoped it would be. The low price is quite attractive (and will be even more so if you can find it on sale), but the dated GPU in our test model doesn’t deliver the frame rates I’d hope to see from a modern gaming laptop. That doesn’t mean the Victus is a one-sided bad buy – just that, as is often the case with budget gaming laptops, you should have realistic expectations.
The Victus has an unobtrusive design. My review unit is almost completely black with modest backlighting and a simple “V” on the lid (which, as you may notice in the photos, quickly picked up a mess of fingerprints). It’s more of a “could bring to the office” device than a “chaotic mess of RGB that won’t leave the basement” device. At 5.06 pounds, it’s fairly portable (for a gaming laptop) but by no means a lightweight device.
Ports hold most of what you’re likely to need: two USB-A, one USB-C, one audio jack, one HDMI 2.1, one Ethernet, and one full-sized SD reader in addition to the charging port. There is no Thunderbolt 4, which is worth noting (although Thunderbolt 4 is not a requirement at this price). My only comment about the chassis is really the touchpad. Not only does it pick up fingerprints easily, but it also has a pretty stiff click.
Ports hold most of what you probably need
Of course, this is a gaming laptop and it’s about the gaming performance. I’d call my results in that area “acceptable” for the GTX 1650 inside. You can certainly game on this, but I don’t see the value for money here as exceptional.
Lighter titles like League of Legends and CS:GO easily got the most out of the Victus 144Hz display. Overwatch 2 got there after bumping the graphics to medium (and still hitting a respectable 78fps on the Epic preset).
But heavier fare gave the Victus more problems, and I’d recommend looking for a better GPU if you plan on playing these titles often. Red Dead Redemption 2 only averages 38 fps at the highest preset and 45 fps at medium. cyberpunk was a rougher ride, averaging just 39 fps at medium and 24 fps at ultra. The good news for RPG fans is that the Victus 15 can run Elden Ring at about 45 fps at max settings, and bumping to medium I got to 60.
And then there’s the ever-looming issue of the battery. The longevity we got from this generation of Intel gaming laptops hasn’t been great, and this Victus is no exception. I’ve only used an average of two hours and 19 minutes of normal work with a brightness of about 200 nits and Battery Saver on. You can expect less when you’re gaming – I have an hour and 13 minutes of League of Legends play on one charge, playable all the time.
I know a lot of people don’t plan on letting their gaming laptop leave their desks, but I think two hours of battery life will rule this device out as a primary driver for some users. You may not be able to get through a full movie, let alone a work day, without the charger in tow. For price-sensitive buyers, buying a secondary portable device for non-gaming use may not be realistic – so I see this battery life as an issue.
The HP Victus 15 is an $800 laptop that can game
Ultimately, the HP Victus 15 is an $800 gaming laptop. That fact alone is enough to recommend it to some extent (again, mainly if you see it on sale).
But it’s worth considering a few alternatives. For example, the Victus 15 with an RTX 3050 (which we expect will deliver a better experience on those AAA titles) MSRPs for $969 but retails for $697 at the moment of writing. The staple of Acer Nitro 5 with that RTX GPU is currently available for $899 (just $100 more than my test model), as is Dell’s G15 with an even more powerful RTX 3050 Ti. My point is, if you can afford just $100 more, find a good discount, or are willing to buy used, there are all kinds of options available at nearly this price that can really make AAA games.
At the end of the day, this is a budget laptop with budget frame rates for laptops – and if you’re in a position to do that, you can get a lot more gaming power for not too much more money.
Photography by Monica Chin / The Verge
a:hover]:shadow-highlight-franklin [&>a]:shadow-underline-black dark:[&>a:hover]:shadow-highlight-franklin dark:[&>a]:shadow-underline-white md:text-40 lg:-ml-100″>HP Victus 15 Accessibility
- The letter keys are 0.6 x 0.6 inches with 0.06 inches in between. All keys are lit. Caps Lock, Power, F11/touchpad and F5/microphone have indicator lights. The power button and volume keys are 0.6 x 0.2 inches. The keys are gray with white text and a small amount of force is required to press them.
- The speakers reached an average of 75 decibels in my tests.
- The lid can be opened with one hand. It can be tilted back up to 140 degrees.
- The screen is 15.6 inches with a resolution of 1920 x 1080. It reached a contrast ratio of 1190:1 during my testing. There is a touch screen.
- The touchpad is 4.9 x 1.2 inches and requires firm, dedicated force to press.
- Setup involves turning on the device and clicking through various menus.
- The Victus does not support fingerprints or facial logins.
a:hover]:shadow-highlight-franklin [&>a]:shadow-underline-black dark:[&>a:hover]:shadow-highlight-franklin dark:[&>a]:shadow-underline-white md:text-26″>Windows 11
- Windows 11 includes a special accessibility menu.
- Windows 11 includes a built-in screen reader (Narrator). It supports third-party screen readers, including NVDA from NV Access and Jaws from Freedom Scientific. A full list of compatible software can be found on Microsoft’s website.
- Windows 11 supports voice typing (accessible via Windows + H) and speech recognition (switched via Windows + Ctrl + S).
- Color filters, including inverted, grayscale, red-green, and blue-yellow, can be toggled with Windows + Ctrl + C. Contrast themes are toggled with Alt + Left Shift + Print Screen. Default dark mode and custom colors are also available under Personalization.
- The color and size of the captions can be adjusted and appear at the bottom of the screen.
- The keyboard can be reassigned with: PowerToys from Microsoft. Sticky Keys is supported. An on-screen keyboard is available.
- Cursor size and speed can be adjusted and gestures can be reassigned in Touchpad settings.
- Windows 11 supports eye tracking with external eye trackers.
- Windows 11 includes a Snap Layout feature, which can be accessed by hovering the mouse pointer over the Maximize button in an open window.