The gaming laptop market is overcrowded with budget and midrange models, but the real sweet spot lies in the 700 to 1000-dollar range. This is where you find the most bang for your buck, and performance per dollar is the highest in this section. Sure, you can get a cheap gaming laptop that costs less than 500 bucks and you might think you got yourself a great deal. But why not pay a few hundred dollars more and run AAA games on medium-high settings and 1080p, instead of playing everything at a choppy 768p resolution and lowest settings? You see, the cheapest models don’t offer the most value. Nor do the most expensive ones. There is a nice little spot in between where you truly get the most for your money.
Gaming laptops in this price range pack features not found on budget models- backlit gaming keyboards, IPS displays, high quality stereo audio, and superior build quality. These laptops give you many of the features found on high-end models for a fraction of the price, they are the gateway to a premium gaming experience. You will get laptops that feature GTX 1050s, 1050tis, and even GTX 1060s in the sub 1000-dollar range. A lot of them come with 7th generation Core i5 processors, but there are a few that pack the most popular high-end gaming laptop CPU right now- the Intel Core i7 7700HQ. If you want to enjoy a smooth 1080p gaming experience on modern titles at 60+ fps, then this laptop segment is perfect for you.
Below, we have reviewed some of the most famous midrange gaming laptop models currently available in the market. These laptops were chosen based on the hardware specifications, design, customer reviews, and performance per dollar. We made sure to include only the latest models, and all of them come with Windows 10 Home 64-bit preinstalled so you can begin gaming right out of the box without having to go through OS purchase and installation.
So now that you know what to look for, let’s get started. Here are the six absolute best gaming laptops under $1000 that won’t break your bank!
Despite being the cheapest offering on this list, the Aspire VX15 is a very impressive little machine with a lot of cool features. The processor may not be an i7, but it is still a 7th generation laptop CPU from Intel and packs more than enough power for both gaming as well as multitasking. The graphics card in this laptop is one notch below the GTX 1050ti, it is the GTX1050. The 1050 is about 20% weaker than the 1050ti, but still capable enough of running most games on high settings at 1080p.
Talking of budget gaming laptops, the Aspire VX15 is definitely one of them. It costs less than 1000 dollars and yet packs so many excellent features such as a full HD 15.6” IPS display, a 7th generation Intel Core i5 processor, and a 256 GB SSD. It is not the most powerful of gaming laptops, but for its price range it surely is the king of value for money. No other laptop even comes close when you talk about performance per dollar.
Powered by an Intel Core i5 7300HQ CPU, the Aspire VX15 can run all kinds of games- FPS, racing, third person/ open world, RPG, MMOs, MOBA, etc. You will find that games run just fine even on a dual core CPU, since most modern games depend mainly on the graphics card for doing a majority of the processing. But this is not just any dual core CPU, this is a Core i5 7300HQ, it has 4 logical cores thanks to hyperthreading and can boost from 2.5 GHz all the way up to 3.5 GHz. And 3.5 GHz is amazing for a laptop CPU, games mostly rely on processor clock speed rather than core count.
The graphics is handled by a GTX 1050 4GB graphics card. The GTX 1050 for desktops comes with 2GB of GDDR5 memory, but the laptop version is equipped with 4GB of VRAM for additional future proofing. Since games these days need more and more video memory to contain all those pretty textures and high-detail assets, you need to have at least 3-4 GB of video memory in order to game smoothly for another 2-3 years. And the GTX 1050 is no slouch, even though it is the smallest of all the GEFORCE GTX 10 series cards. There is enough power in this little GPU to run games such as Mad Max, GTA V, Witcher 3, etc. on high details and 1080p. Just for reference, it is almost as powerful as a GTX 970M- the second most powerful laptop GPU of last generation.
There is a 15.6” IPS display on this laptop, so colors and contrast are far better than most other laptops in this price range. It comes with 8 GB of DDR4 RAM, upgradable to 24 GB. Storage is taken care of by a 256 GB SSD that comes with Windows 10 Home preinstalled. Complimentary HHD upgrade kit (2.5” bracket, SATA + power cable) is available for free if you contact Acer support after purchasing and registering your laptop online. Acer TrueHarmony and Dolby Digital come together to deliver a pleasant sound experience (dual 2w speakers). The iron red backlit gaming keyboard on this laptop feels responsive and tactile to the touch.
Brilliant IPS display
GTX 1050 4GB graphics for a reasonable price
7th generation Intel Core i5 processor
Iron Red backlit keyboard
Audio by Acer TrueHarmony and Dolby Digital
USB Type C, USB 3.0, dual-band 802.11 ac WIFI, Gigabit 10/100/1000 Ethernet LAN
Heavy (5.5 pounds)
Built-in microphone isn’t good
The ASUS K501UW-AB78 is a gaming laptop disguised as a business machine. It looks sleek and polished, with a subtle grey finish and black bezel around the display. You can carry this masterpiece to the office, hook it up to the projector with the 802.11 ac WIFI, and nobody will even know that this is the same machine on which you are about to play Battlefield 1 in the night.
The keyboard reminds you of a HP ProBook or Dell XPS notebook, and the exhaust vents are carefully hidden away underneath the hinges for the display, towards the rear end of the laptop. The K501UW-AB78 is truly a wolf in sheep’s clothing.
An Intel Core i7-6500U processor forms the brains of this laptop. This is a processor that is specifically designed with low power consumption in mind. It is the main reason for the amazing battery life of the K501UW-AB78.
The processor is actually a dual core unlike other mobile i7 processors that carry the “HQ” suffix. The reason for this is that in a laptop as slim and lightweight as the K501UW-AB78, efficiency and battery life has been given highest priority.
The i7 6500U is a processor found in ultrabooks, so it is not exactly a gaming oriented processor. However, it boasts a formidable boost clock of 3.1 GHz, unlike other low power i7’s in the same class that sacrifice clock speed in order to consume as little power as possible. There are 4 logical cores, thanks to hyperthreading. There is 4MB of cache, and base clock speed is 2.6 GHz.
While the processor might not be designed for gaming, the graphics card in this laptop sure is built for gaming and gaming only. The GTX 960M is a formidable GPU despite being a bit past its prime, succeeded by the GTX 1060 and 1050ti. However, throw any AAA title at it, set graphics on “high”, and watch as the 960M smoothly cruises through all of the latest games at 60+ fps in 1080p resolution.
It is equipped with 4GB of VRAM, and handles games such as GTA V, Rainbow Six Siege, Battlefield 1, COD Infinite Warfare, Forza Horizon 3, Witcher 3, etc. with relative ease on high settings. Just don’t throw the switch over to ultra, or else you will notice lag and frame stutters. Keep your expectations in check when you are paying less than a thousand dollars for a gaming laptop.
The K501UW-AB78 packs 8 GB of DDR4 RAM and a 512 GB SSD. The RAM can be upgraded to 24 GB later, and the SSD comes with Windows 10 preinstalled (along with a bunch of proprietary ASUS bloatware that we suggest you uninstall). The whole laptop weighs just 4.4 pounds, and is only 0.8 inches thick. Battery life is pretty good, nearly 7-8 hours if you watch movies and listen to songs or browse documents. While gaming, that number comes down to about 3 or 4 hours. Still very good by gaming laptop standards.
Brilliant battery life, sleek and lightweight body
Polished, subtle looks. Can be carried to the office or college without drawing a whole lot of attention.
Nice graphics card, power efficient processor.
Comes with a bunch of unnecessary bloatware installed alongside the OS
Audio quality is underwhelming
You might not know it, but Lenovo has made some really crazy gaming laptops in the past few years. There is a group of engineers and designers at Lenovo who are tasked with creating high performance enthusiast grade machines for a very particular group of customers. These are the customers who appreciate power over battery life, customers who prefer aggressive styling and sporty features. Lenovo has not forgotten about us gamers, and the Legion Y520 is proof of that fact. It is loaded with some really impressive stuff, capable of running the latest AAA titles at 1080p and 60+ fps. When you buy one of these, you are registering for one heck of a gaming experience.
Despite being only 1.01 inches thick and weighing just 5.3 pounds, the Legion Y520 is loaded with an arsenal of amazing features such as- Harman Audio with Dolby Premium surround, Lenovo Nerve Sense, a red backlit keyboard, multiple cooling fans, and a ton of processing power in the form of an Intel Core i5 7300HQ processor. That’s not all, it also packs 8GB of DDR4 memory along with an ultra-fast 256GB PCIe SSD. The graphics chip is a NVIDIA GTX 1050ti with 4gb of VRAM.
There are 2 USB 3.0 ports, along with one USB 2.0 port for connecting external storage and peripherals. In terms of wireless connectivity, there is the 802.11 ac WIFI and Bluetooth 4.1. For those of you who won’t game on anything but a wired connection, don’t worry- Lenovo has made sure to throw in Gigabit ethernet and a RJ45 LAN port.
The keyboard is optimized for gaming and features a crimson backlight, along with scissor dome switches that feature 1.7mm of key travel for ultra-fast response in games. The main attraction of this laptop however, is the Harman Audio. Dual 2W speakers infused with Dolby Virtual surround technology provide a crisp and accurate hearing experience in both games as well as movies. The display is 15.6” in size, and used a 1080p IPS panel for precise colors and perfect contrast.
Good processor and graphics for the price, can run almost every recently released AAA title on high settings at 1080p and 60+fps.
Amazing audio thanks to Harman and Dolby
Nice colors and contrast on the 15.6” IPS panel
Slim and lightweight, with a very responsive gaming-oriented backlit keyboard.
Battery life is mediocre
No mass storage included, only a 256GB SSD
Dell makes some really good business and productivity machines, their XPS lineup is known to be the gold standard as far as professional ultrabooks are concerned. What about gaming though? Dell owns Alienware, brand that designs and manufactures gaming laptops as well as desktops. However, those aren’t exactly cheap, and are definitely not for the everyday consumer. So, does that mean Dell has no real gaming laptop in the sub 1000-dollar range? Nope, not at all. Dell has quite a few tricks up their sleeve, and the Inspiron i5577-7359BLK-PUS is one of those. It is a sleek, lightweight, affordable gaming laptop with enough power under the hood to run any modern AAA game title on high settings and 1080p 60 fps.
Packing a Core i7 7700HQ processor under its sleek black frame, the Dell Inspiron i5577-7359BLK-PUS is a multitasking beast with plenty of power for running any AAA game title released in recent times. Battlefield 1, COD Infinite Warfare, Prey, Witcher 3, Forza Horizon 3, CS GO, Rainbow Six Siege, DOTA 2, LoL, and many other games will run at buttery smooth 60 fps on high settings, thanks to the 4 hyperthreaded physical cores that can boost all the way up to 3.8 GHz from the base clock of 2.8 GHz. Having 8 logical cores means that you can open 30 browser tabs, watch a video in media player, download torrents, and run a virus scan in the background while downloading updates- all at the same time. Or, you can play the latest and most demanding games that you own with the help of the GTX 1050 4GB graphics card.
There is 8 GB of DDR4 RAM at your disposal, you can both game on it as well as edit videos or photos. Eight gigabytes of high speed DDR4 RAM should be plenty of memory for all your needs, and you have the option to add even more in the future, all the way up to 24 GB. There is a dual storage drive combination, you have the small but ultra-fast 128GB SSD for storing games and software, along with the slower but much larger 1TB 5400 rpm HDD that can be used for storing movies, documents, photos, songs, etc.
In terms of connectivity and I/O, you have a plethora of options- starting with the 802.11 ac WIFI and Bluetooth 4.1, and going on to the HDMI, D-SUB and USB 3.0 ports. There is Gigabit ethernet for wired connections, along with a RJ 45 LAN port. There is also a multi card-reader, although no optical drive is included. Windows 10 Home 64-bit comes preinstalled. Audio is surprisingly good, thanks to the MaxxAudio Pro stereo speakers and subwoofer. The keyboard is backlit for assistance during night gaming sessions.
Amazing price to performance ratio compared to similarly priced competing laptops
Sleek and lightweight, looks great with the black and red color scheme
Touchpad feels smooth and accurate, the keyboard is tactile and responsive.
Audio is crisp and dialogue sounds great.
NVIDIA GTX 10 series graphics
Mediocre battery life
Could use a better webcam
Display lid feels flimsy
What do you get when you throw a 7th gen Core i7, a GTX 950M, 12 GB of DDR4 RAM, and a 128 GB SSD into a 15.6” Acer laptop priced at less than 900 dollars? Well, you get the Aspire F15. This is the little brother of the Aspire V15, and comes a similar Core i7 processor but slightly less RAM and a graphics card that is one notch below what you get in the V15. It is probably one of the best value for money laptops in the market right now, and we are not talking about gaming laptops only.
The Core i7 7500U is not as powerful as the 7700HQ, but the difference between these two in terms of gaming performance is very little since they both have similar architecture and clock speeds. Games don’t use more than 3-4 cores, and that fact will not change until at least another 2-3 years. There are two physical cores on the 7500U, and since it is hyperthreaded the total number of logical cores is 4.
In case you don’t know what hyperthreading is, it’s a technology developed by Intel that allows each individual CPU core to effectively process 2 threads simultaneously through intelligent scheduling of instructions. It is a technique to maximize efficiency and is better than having single threaded physical cores. However, one hyperthreaded core is not as good as two actual physical cores.
The 7500U can boost up to 3.5 GHz and is equipped with 4MB of cache. The Aspire F15 also packs 12 GB of high speed DDR4 to support the i7 7500U, you can stop worrying about running out of RAM while gaming or multitasking. Browsing, watching videos, listening to music, working on documents, and uploading photos/ downloading updates- you can do it all at the same time without slowing down the system thanks to the hyperthreaded processor and 12GB of RAM. A GTX 950M graphics card takes care of gaming.
Oh, and let’s not forget the fact that the F15 also comes with a 128 GB SSD which has Windows 10 Home 64-bit preinstalled on it. This is the drive on which you store your most frequently played games, since they will load almost instantly. There is a 1TB 5400 rpm HDD for mass storage, where you can store all your movies, songs, documents, etc. In terms of connectivity, the F15 has it all- 802.11 ac dual band WIFI, Bluetooth 4.1, Gigabit ethernet, HDMI out, USB 2.0 and 3.0, USB Type C, and even a SD card reader. Audio is provided by two built-in stereo speakers. The 6-cell Lithium Ion battery can provide up to 12 hours of runtime.
GTX 950M graphics for a relatively low price
Battery life of up to 12 hours, thanks to the low power CPU and 6-cell Lithium Ion battery
Keyboard feels mushy
No backlighting on keyboard
ASUS has proved once again that they are the reigning champs when it comes to delivering more for less. The ZX53VW is one sexy 15.6” gaming laptop that performs as well as it looks. Packing one of the most powerful processors in its class, along with some serious graphical power, the ZX53VW is designed for providing a premium gaming experience in a small form factor.
It also comes with a load of connectivity options- USB Type C port, HDMI, D-SUB, 802.11 ac WIFI, a card reader, and an optical drive. So how does it stand against the competition? Well, let’s take a look at what lies inside the plastic and metal body of this ASUS laptop.
To begin things, we shall examine the heart of this laptop- an Intel Core i5 6300HQ 6th gen processor. It is not in the leagues of the i7’s, but can definitely hold its own during gaming. The only time you will notice a significant difference between an i5 and an i7, is during multitasking and productivity workloads such as video editing or 3D modeling and rendering.
The majority of games released in the past 5-6 years have been designed to use a maximum of 4 cores, and that design philosophy will stay true for at least 2-3 more years. It means that as long as your CPU has 2-4 processing cores, with each core packing enough single threaded processing power and high clock speeds, you will be able to play most games at high settings.
The i5 6300HQ is a dual core, but comes with hyperthreading. This means each core can process 2 instruction threads simultaneously, effectively imitating a quad core processor. There are 4 logical cores, base clock is a decent 2.3 GHz while Turbo Boost allows the CPU to automatically ramp up clock speeds whenever the application demands extra power. The turbo clock speed can go up to 3.2 GHz, and there is 6MB of L3 cache.
Once the processor is good enough for premium gaming, we need to insert the proper graphics card so that you can enjoy high quality shadows and textures without suffering from reduced fps. While the processor handles AI and instruction flow, the GPU handles all of the eye candy that you see in the games.
The GTX 960M 4GB graphics chip installed in this laptop might be a step behind the GTX 10 series graphics cards, but it still packs more than enough power to handle AAA titles from this year as well as the upcoming 2-3 years.
You might need to turn down the settings to high on some games, and use a mix of medium-high on a few really demanding games such as the Witcher 3 or Prey. But many recent AAA titles such as COD Infinite Warfare, GTA V, CS GO, Overwatch, Rainbow Six Siege, DOOM 2016, Forza Horizon 3, Dirt 4, etc. will run absolutely great on high settings. Expect 60+ fps at 1080p and high settings with these games.
One doesn’t really need any more than 8 GB of RAM for gaming. If you throw in a bit of productivity work such as photo and video editing, or streaming/ encoding, you might have to upgrade the RAM. Worry not- even though the default factory installed quantity of RAM is 8 GB, you can upgrade it later all the way up to 24 GB.
Something really awesome about this laptop is the fact that it packs a 512GB SSD. We dare you to find another gaming laptop with a 512GB SSD at this price point. It will be tough, remember that not only does this laptop pack a superb CPU and GPU, but it also comes with one of the best backlit gaming keyboards and audio that we have seen on any gaming laptop at this price.
- Brilliant CPU and GPU combo, runs almost every game at high settings and 1080p.
- Big 512GB SSD, you can store all your games and software in one place, access them really fast.
- Booting time is 5-6 seconds max
- Great 15.6” 1080p display, colors and contrast are amazing.
- Could be lighter, rather bulky for a 15.6” laptop
- The built-in webcam doesn’t seem ever great
- Comes with a bunch of bloatware preinstalled
So, now we’ve covered six different gaming laptops under $1000 ranging from the low end of that budget to the high end. Each had their own special features, and each has been highly rated by hundreds of other gamers on Amazon. These are the absolute best gaming laptops in our budget range currently on the market in 2018, and I’m sure that on this list you will have found the one gaming laptop that best suits your needs—and your wallet! So, tell me, which one of these budget friendly gaming laptops has been your favorite?
We hope you have a better idea on what you need after reading those reviews, and make sure to purchase the model that suits your needs. Remember- performance first, looks later. It is always a clever idea to buy a laptop with superior battery life and a slim body if you plan on using it for both work as well as gaming. If you are buying a laptop as a replacement for your desktop, then we suggest looking in the 1000-1500 or 1500 to 2000-dollar price range, in case you couldn’t find your best gaming laptop under 1000 bucks in this guide. Most of the laptops on this list are not exactly the most powerful gaming machines out there, rather they offer amazing value for the price.
You will notice that a few of these laptops come with IPS panels, premium audio, and backlit keyboards. If any of those features are of particular importance to you, then make your decision based off which model has these features. IPS panels offer superior color and contrast, so they are better for photo editing and movies. If you are more of a nocturnal gamer, go for a nice backlit keyboard. If you are only concerned with raw performance, then the CPU and GPU should be the primary factors while deciding what laptop to purchase.