said by Snakeoil:
The boys play stuff like minecraft, league of legends, team fortress 2, left for dead, DDO [dungeon and Dragons online].
I just cannot emphasize enough that going for 3 laptops at 500 a pop is going to leave you with 3 computers whose maximum capabilities will barely be above watching youtube videos. The only possible way this would work is if you found some screaming deals on refurbs/used and even then your gaming would be limited to playing everything on low.
The only possible way I could see any of this working is going with a sort of hybrid setup. e.g. 1 desktop 1 laptop, 1 desktop 2 notebooks, but 500 a pop is really just equivalent to buying 4 wheels for your car that are actually wheels for an ATV. Sure, you'll have 4 wheels but they won't do what you want them to.
If anything you will want to come up with a different setup. Do they both need to take it to friends house at the same time? If no you could do 700 desktop and 800 laptop.
If you could save one purchase for later (such as buying yours later down the road) you could do two 750 laptops.
If they wont be playing much on the laptops while at friends (e.g. just watching cat videos) you could go with two 350 netbooks and a 700 desktop.
Another possible option would be getting them tablets (such as kindle fires for 270 a pop) and 1 or 2 desktops with the remaining 1000.
If at all possible desktops are so much more cost efficient than laptops. You get practically twice the power for the same price as a laptop.