Gamers require something more from their machines, and that can be tough to find when you need a portable solution at a certain price point. The best gaming laptops under $1000 tend to open things up although there are features you may have to do without. Before we get to the top options under a grand, we’re going to talk about what you should expect from laptops in this class.
Things to Consider When Choosing Gaming Laptop Under $100
Are you a Casual or Hardcore gamer?
When you sit down for a gaming session, do you opt for E.V.E. Online or head over to Miniclip? How you game is the first step to finding the right laptop for the job. While every laptop on our list meets a specific set of requirements, you certainly won’t need 16GB of RAM if you play browser-based titles or PC classics.
No matter what types of games you play, there will be a few drawbacks in this range. While there aren’t as many cuts as you’ll find with laptops under $500, it’s rare to find a machine with a QHD panel or even a fingerprint scanner.
Gaming laptops used to be notorious for their underwhelming power. While you can find the best Intel chip in today’s portable PC’s, things aren’t as rosy in the memory department. That’s where the types of games you play should be taken into account along with the system requirements of your machine.
If you’re new to the scene, you’ll notice there is a huge difference at times between the minimum and maximum requirements listed on the back of the box or online. Those numbers make things pretty clear-cut, but other factors can dramatically increase or decrease performance as well. We’re not going down that rabbit hole today but will focus on two components instead with memory and the processor.
No laptop should fall into the “gaming” category unless it has at least 8GB of RAM. That’s our baseline and will cover a wide variety of casual titles. Obviously, some games require more power so look for laptops with 16GB or ones that allow you to expand if you play hardcore titles.
As for the processors, things are fairly simple as most gaming laptops under $1000 use Intel chips. While the generation matters, so does the cache and amount of cores. 8th generation processors are the newest, and the i7 lineup is their best, but you can compare processors for yourself with this handy tool from Intel.
Laptops in the gaming class generally top out around 17-inches although most have 15.6-inch displays. There’s a good reason for that, as bigger isn’t always better for gamers with laptops – especially if you’re on a budget. Unfortunately, the best gaming laptops under $1000 limit your choice of resolution as well. You won’t find any UHD panels in this class, so you’ll need to settle for FHD, otherwise known as 1,920 x 1,080.
NVIDIA treats their graphics cards like Intel does their chips when it comes to generations. When you’re trying to compare a GTX 980 to a GTX 1060, it can be tough if you’re new to the game. Thankfully, NVIDIA has plenty of tools that allow you to compare chips and there are resources online which benchmark the popular GTX 1050 Ti and every other processor under the sun.
Battery Life & Storage
Storage capacity for laptops in this class ranges from 256GB to 2TB. You’ll also get to choose between solid-state drives and HDD’s although the former is considerably faster than the latter. Hybrid options are a possibility, and you can always upgrade through external means if things get tight.
One thing you can’t upgrade is the battery. A laptop with quick charging capabilities is nice, but not when the battery goes flat in 4-hours. Battery life is one thing that’s sacrificed in the world of gaming laptops although there are a few exceptions to the rule. If you plan to game on the go where you’re away from a wall socket, have battery life at the very top of your list.
While every machine we chose for our list will have a USB 3.1 port, some will have several. USB Type-C ports are a possibility in this range as well, but you may be hard pressed to find one that’s Thunderbolt compatible. There are always trade-offs, and they tend to fall into the “Extra” category with budget-friendly laptops.
Gamers may not have much use for a fingerprint scanner, but ports are essential and so are webcams. It’s an overlooked area, and one to keep in mind if you plan to stream your gaming sessions and don’t have a dedicated Vlogging camera for gaming. The same goes for audio. Most gaming laptops will offer up something special in that regard although you can’t always believe the hype.
7 Best Gaming Laptops Under $1000 You Can Buy in 2018
A Clean Machine from HP
In the market for a sleek machine with an i7 chip and an excellent sound system? If so, look no further than the HP Omen 15. It’s a speedy PC with flagship features that somehow manages to come in at well under a grand.
As the name implies, the Omen is another machine in the 15-inch range with an FHD display. The specifications don’t disappoint as there is a Core i7-7700HQ with 6MB of cache and a 1TB hard drive. You’ll also get 12GB of RAM to go along with 4GB of dedicated memory for the GeForce GTX 1050 Ti. Appreciate great audio? Then you’ll dig the Bang and Olufsen sound system which sounds considerably clearer than other systems.
The Omen 15 runs Windows 10 out of the box and has a 4-cell battery rated at 63.3 Whr. It can give you around 6-8 hours under normal conditions but although the number drops dramatically once you fire up a game that needs a lot of power.
- 12 GB of RAM
- Bang and Olufsen audio
- GTX 1050 Ti
- x2 USB 3.1 ports
- Lightweight compared to other gaming laptops
- Quality control
- Fans can be a little noisy
8th Generation Power
MSI is a well-known name in the gaming world, so it should come as no surprise they turned their talents to portable PCs. Unfortunately, most are out of the budget range with the exception of the MSI GV62 Performance Gaming Laptop.
This laptop is on par, if not a bit underwhelming when compared to other gaming machines in the power department. It doesn’t have an i7, but you’ll get an 8th gen i5 along with 8GB of RAM and a 1TB hard drive. Not bad, but the real draw is the sweet Steelseries keyboard and the fact you can expand the memory up to 32GB. The cooling system is top of the line as well, and nobody will complain about enhanced audio.
MSI strikes all the right notes with the GV62 8RD-200, and it’s rare to find one of their machines at this price point. There are a few minor gripes with this one, but overall we feel it’s an excellent choice if you need gaming laptop that won’t break the bank.
- SteelSeries keyboard
- 16GB Intel Optane memory
- 15.6” Full HD EDP display
- Cooler Boost 4
- GTX 1050 Ti
- Can heat up quickly
- Not much RAM
When Storage is Important
If you decide to give a laptop a cool moniker, you had better make sure it lives up to the hype. The Lenovo Legion Y520 does just that by providing you with a great graphics card and more storage than any other machine on our list.
This laptop sports a 15.6-inch display with a resolution of 1,920 x 1,080. It draws its power from a 7th generation Core i7-7700HQ which is backed by 16GB of RAM. Those are great numbers if you dig games with high system requirements. You won’t be disappointed with the storage either considering it has a dual hard drive setup with a 256GB SSD and a 2TB HDD.
The Lenovo Legion Y520 is solid inside and out with all the features you could ask for from a gaming laptop. The GTX 1050 Ti is nothing to scoff at even if the battery life is relatively poor. It depends on what you’re running, but 2-4 hours is around the average.
- Anti-glare LED display
- Backlit keyboard
- Harman audio
- 2TB + 256GB of storage
- Dual hard drives
- Poor battery life
- The display could be better
Another Winner from Acer
Acer made waves when they first introduced their Predator lineup, and it’s still going strong today. The Helios 300 is an affordable version of their gaming laptop and one that’s built for VR straight out of the box.
The Acer Predator Helios 300 is in line with the best gaming laptops where it counts. It has a Core i7-7700HQ processor along with 16GB of RAM and is deemed “VR Ready” to boot. That’s due to the GeForce GTX 1060 which comes with 6GB of RAM. While the 256 SSD is a bit of a letdown, it does have an extra slot when you need to expand.
Other highlights of this PC include a 15.6-inch FHD panel, a Red backlit keyboard, and an excellent cooling system that will keep you gaming long into the night. The battery life is also solid on this one despite its specifications.
- GeForce GTX 1060
- Core i7 and 16GB of RAM
- VR ready
- Slick design
- Not much storage
- No Thunderbolt support
An Excellent Mid-Range Solution
If you liked what our first option from HP brings to the table, but prefer a different hue, this Pavilion Gaming PC is well worth a look. While it does have a similar set of features, a few things make it stand out from the pack.
Pavilion PCs generally aren’t associated with gaming, but that’s changed in recent years. The 15-cx0020nr is an affordable solution with an 8th generation Core i5-8300H processor and 8GB of RAM. A 1TB hard drive will take care of your files, and a USB Type-C port for high transfer speeds. In a nutshell, it’s a well-built machine with plenty of pop thanks to Intel’s Optane memory system.
While not as powerful as our top picks, this laptop is quick and reliable. It’s also available in three other configurations if you prefer a solid-state drive or faster processor. On the downside, we hope you like Green as HP bucked the trend by switching the backlighting from Red on this one.
- 8th gen Core i5
- Excellent build quality
- Good battery life
- 16GB Intel Optane memory
- Can’t upgrade the memory
- Not quite as nimble as other options
The Best Dell Gaming Laptop Under $1000
Dell has an arm of the company dedicated to gamers, but you won’t find any Alienware machines on our list this time around. Instead, you’ll get the G5587, a gaming laptop in the middle of the pack with an i5 chip.
The Dell G5587 is a gaming laptop with lots of class. It also has plenty of vents which means it will run cool even when taxed. An 8th gen Core i5-8300H handles the power along with 8GB of RAM. The G5587 also has a 1TB HDD and a 128GB solid-state drive for quick boot times. The display is solid, but standard at 15.6-inches with a resolution of 1,920 x 1,080.
This laptop is a mixed bag in a sense. We love the GTX 1060 but would have liked to have more RAM out of the box. You can kick the storage up to 32GB however, and we have you covered if you’re looking for the best RAM for your rig.
- Newer 8th gen processor
- Dual hard drives
- GTX 1060
- The touchpad
- Gets warm
- Performance when unplugged
Style and Speed courtesy of Acer
Acer is more known for budget-friendly machines and business laptops than ones built for gaming. Aside from the Predator series, the Acer Aspire VX 15 is an exception, and it’s one of the cooler laptops we’ve come across both literally and figuratively.
The Aspire VX 15 has a clean design with Red accents around the vents and on the top. The 7th gen Core i7-7700HQ processor will perform at top speeds thanks to dual cooling fans, and 16GB of RAM ensures you can run almost any game around. Prefer built-in audio systems to external ones? If so, you’ll appreciate the TrueHarmony sounds system which uses Dolby Premium. Other tech specs include a GTX 1050 Ti and a 256GB solid-state drive.
This good-looking laptop is affordable and powerful even if the storage is a bit sparse. The battery life is better than expected at around 5-6 hours during normal usage and doesn’t entirely drop off when you get into more intensive games.
- Easy to upgrade
- Solid sound system
- Good battery life
- 16GB of RAM
- Display lacks pop
- Quality control