When it comes to gaming computers, many will first think of PC desktop systems that have either been hand-built to better handle the demanding processing and graphic frame rates, or built by a local computer shop. But what about gaming laptops? While most still tend to assume that they are much more expensive, this is no longer the case.
Gaming laptops are actually as affordable as they’ve ever been, which means you can purchase a quality laptop that can easily support your gaming needs without spending too much money. In fact, some of the best gaming laptops under $1,000 offer everything you need for a smooth, seamless gaming experience.
That’s not to say that every gaming laptop out there is suitable for heavy gaming use, as there are still plenty of inferior products that are incapable of offering what many see as the ideal performance level needed to sustain the rigorous demands of gaming.
Fortunately, we’ve done all the work for you, and found the best 5 gaming laptops under $1,000 that give you the most bang for your buck.
However, before we get to that, let’s first go over some of the more common questions asked about gaming laptops, along with the most important features and aspects to look for when shopping for one.
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This is probably the most obvious question to ask yourself. After all, while $1,000 is on the lower end of what you can spend for a quality computer, it’s still $1,000. So, do you really need to spend that much cash for a laptop just to run games?
There are plenty of differing opinions on the subject, but let me point out some of the general reasons as to why it may be a good idea.
First of all, if you travel a lot, and still want to keep up with your gaming, then yes, you should get a gaming laptop, for the obvious benefit of portability. Gaming laptops also let you set up wherever you’d like when playing, rather than having to be at a desk, or by your television when using a console.
The other benefit of purchasing a gaming laptop is the fact that you have an incredibly powerful laptop that is more than capable of handling day-to-day uses when you’re not gaming. The sheer processing power and graphic displays make the laptop perfect for movies, watching videos, or simply browsing the web faster.
The added power of a gaming laptop also makes it suitable for doing work tasks, whether it’s creating a slideshow, or editing video. You’ll find gaming laptops to always be up for the challenge.
Many gamers are familiar with the process of building their own computers specifically for gaming. This allows them to perform upgrades that improves the performance of the computer as they are able.
This requires an intermediate level of knowledge with computer components, but many are able to learn the ins and outs rather quickly. Laptops are a much more difficult challenge as far as this goes. So yes, while it is possible to build your own gaming laptop, it’s probably not the best idea to attempt doing so. Just buy one.
As I just mentioned, the allure with desktop computers is the ability to constantly upgrade the computer’s components to ensure it’s always capable of handling the newest gaming requirements. Gaming laptops vary in terms of how easy you can upgrade them.
Many gaming laptops now include slots for added ram and memory, and others are somewhat easier to take apart and upgrade other components. Again, this does vary depending on the computer.
That said, since gaming laptops are quite powerful, they are able to last for years, and remain capable enough to support new games as they come out. Expect to use yours for many years.
Gaming laptops have a different set of priorities from standard computers, focusing heavily on raw speed and processing power.
Perhaps the most important attribute that matters for a gaming laptop is its graphics processing unit (GPU). Nvidia is largely considered the top manufacturer of GPU for gaming laptops, and you’ll find most of them using a Nvidia GPU.
Graphics are important for all the obvious reasons: you want your games to have the proper visuals. Modern games are more intricate and vibrant than ever, and this require a graphics card that is actually capable of supporting the graphics for your screen, which includes high frame rates and aspect ratios.
The most powerful GPUs will support multiple screens, VR, and 4k and 5k video.
The processor is the heart of the computer -- or to some people the brain. Either way, the processor is responsible for communicating and regulating all tasks. Gaming places a big burden on your processor, so your laptop needs to have one that is capable of handling the load.
This isn’t to say that the processor is the most important aspect of a gaming laptop, however. The GPU actually plays a bigger role in regards to how smooth the game’s graphics run. Still, a strong processor is needed.
The display size of the laptop’s screen is a contentious issue for many, as it seems hard for gamers to come to a consensus on what the ideal screen size is in the first place. For all intents and purposes, 15 inches seems to be considered the most ideal.
While you can definitely find laptops with screens as big at 18 inches, the larger screen size tends to weigh down the laptop, adding quite a few pounds. This won't matter to some, but if you haul your laptop around a lot in a backpack or bag, the extra 5 lbs can become very bothersome.
Larger screens often need dual GPUs to have a fast enough frame rate to back up that size of screen as well, so adding a few extra inches to your screen size can significantly jack the price up. This may or may not matter to you. Resolution-wise, 1080p is the standard, and perfectly acceptable for gaming.
You’re going to need a way to store all of these games on your laptop, as well as the occasional video, or perhaps a moderate-sized song collection. Gaming laptops with traditional spinning hard drives are the cheaper route, and often provide more storage capacity as well, helping you avoid the dreaded need for external USB memory devices.
Solid state drives (SSD) are more expensive, but they operate much faster, and are far less volatile. Some gaming laptops actually have a mixture of both, using the solid state drive as the main drive, with a spinning hard drive as a backup storage drive under a different directory. You should have at least 500 GB of total storage, and 1 TB is more optimal.
You can have a laptop with the greatest GPU, largest screen and best processor money can buy, but if you have low RAM, it’s still going to be incredibly slow -- and slow is the absolute last thing you want on a gaming laptop.
8 GB of RAM should be enough to run everything smoothly, but you’ll want to keep your open windows to a minimum in order to ensure that everything remains running at an acceptable speed rate.
It’s important to really consider your RAM on a gaming laptop, as you will most likely not have the luxury of being able to upgrade as you would a desktop computer.
There are a number of extra features you can take into account with your gaming laptop. The most important is probably the number and types of ports you can use. You’ll likely need a mouse, and a controller, so you need two ports, preferably USB 3.0.
Other extras that are nice to have, but ultimately don’t affect anything, are cosmetic factors such as different colored lights under the keyboard, and the actual shape, color, and design of the computer itself. Not deal-breakers by any means, but many will enjoy them.
It’s time to get rid of the misconception that serviceable gaming laptops have to be expensive. These five laptops provide an excellent value, and are among the most affordable gaming laptops currently on the market -- and all from reputable manufacturers.
They range in price from around $700 to $1,000, and each one is fully capable of providing you with an adequate gaming experience on the go, or from the comfort of your home.
MSI is a renowned gaming computer manufacturer, and their laptops are widely considered to be among the best. This model offers gamers all of the essentials needed for seamless gameplay and graphics, along with plenty of beneficial extras that can enhance the experience in numerous ways.
The GL series offers much in the way of performance, which begins with the NVIDIA graphics cards that also include 2GB of VRAM support for even smoother graphics, perfect for the monitor’s 15.6-inch size.
The GL has plenty of room to store your files thanks to a 1TB disc drive. While an SSD would have been preferable, the doubled storage amount will please many users, and the computer is already very fast thanks to both the graphics support and 12 GB of RAM coming from the Intel Core i7 processor.
What really makes the GL is the abundance of smartly-designed extra features that both enhance visuals and overall operation. Cooler Boost 3 is a dual fan system within the laptop that provides, as stated, double the normal cooling amount, keeping the GL running at a low temperature, even with multiple tasks running.
The result is a smooth, fast gaming laptop that is undeterred by memory usage and heat being an issue. For those that want to hook up extra displays, MSI’s Matrix Display gives you the ability to hook up various displays with HDMI and mini-display ports.
Gamers can also program their own Hot Keys, and the Steelseries engine provides an alluring multi-color light display underneath the keyboard itself for a better aesthetic. Nahimic Virtual Surround Sound delivers a very full, clear, and rich audio experience for both speakers and headphones.
The GL series is on the upper end of the $1,000 price limit, but if you are looking for a true gaming computer that can handle the load while offering some helpful extras, this is it.
The ASUS K501 doesn’t advertise itself as a gaming laptop, but it is certainly capable of being one. And with a price point of around $800, it’s easily one of the top 10 gaming laptops under $1,000.
The K501 makes good use of its Intel Core i7 processor, which offers 2.5 GHz, more than enough for casual to moderate gaming needs. It also includes the standard-bearer for gaming laptop GPUs; the NVIDIA 960M. This combination provides smooth, clean graphics and a fast frame rate.
The 8 GB of RAM might be the only real drawback here, but for the price, at least the K501 has the minimum amount needed to handle gaming and other memory-intensive tasks. The 512 GB storage drive is SSD, so you do have a very fast startup, along with quick file access, regardless of size and type.
The 15.6-inch matte FHD screen is anti-glare, and ensures optimal resolution and video quality, without weighing the notebook down too much. In fact, it’s one of the smaller and slimmer models you’ll encounter, at just over an inch thick overall.
The keyboard is small and completely backlit, so you won’t have to worry about playing at night and needing an external light source. The brushed aluminum design of the K501’s body is very attractive, and gives the computer a look that doesn’t scream out “look, it’s a gaming computer,” which many will appreciate.
The K501 has some neat extras as well. IceCool technology keeps the palm rest portion of the computer at a lower temperature than your body’s keeping you comfortable during prolonged use. There’s also a dual cooling system to keep the laptop running at a cool temperature, keeping the speed moving along nicely.
The value with the K501 is hard to beat. Not only do you get a solid gaming computer, but a fast laptop that is also great for everyday use, while offering a more discreet look. Can’t really ask for more when spending this little on a gaming laptop.
The HP Pavilion 15t is another solid choice for a laptop that’s not intentionally designed to be a gaming laptop, but it has all of the components you would want for gaming on the go. A steady mixture of standard HP components, and a few helpful extras makes the Pavilion 15t stand out as a budget gaming laptop that delivers.
While the NVIDIA GeForce 940MX GPU is a little less powerful than the standard 960 many gaming laptops use, it’s backed up by an incredibly capable 16GB of DDR4 RAM, giving you all you need to power all of your processes at an optimal rate, which obviously includes the graphics and frame rate.
The screen itself is 15.6-inches, and provides a diagonal HD resolution of 1366 x 768. The screen is backlit, and it’s also a full touchscreen, which may come in handy when doing other tasks, or any compatible games.
Storage space is ample thanks to a 1TB HDD, operating at a relatively fast 5400 RPM. An SSD would be better in terms of gaming, but this isn’t a strictly gaming laptop, so buyers can just take advantage of more storage space instead.
Other helpful features include a DVD/CD burner, B&O PLAY with dual speakers, a backlit keyboard, and two superspeed USB 3.0 ports to connect a mouse or gamepad. The Pavilion 15t can also accommodate LAN and HDMI connections.
If you want a laptop under $800 that can handle gaming and casual use, the Pavilion 15t is one of the better deals you can find.
This laptop is Dell’s offering for budget-minded gamers who want an affordable laptop made specifically for gaming. It largely succeeds, coming equipped with the bare essentials needed for smooth and consistent gameplay, along with quick loads and some added game-friendly features.
Everything starts with the Intel Quad-Core if chip, which is more than enough to power all of the processes needed during gaming. The 8 GB of RAM may seem low compared to other laptops, but Dell makes up for it with other aspects that boost performance during multiple tasks running.
The graphics frame rate is serviceable thanks to the standard NVIDIA 960M GPU, which works nicely with the computer’s 1920 x 1080 15.6-inch LED backlit screen. Start up and file transfers are incredibly quick, as Dell opted for an SSD that provides a serviceable 256 GB of max storage.
Dell also includes a dual fan cooling system that keeps everything running at a low temperature, even with much of the RAM and CPU being used at the same time. As an added bonus, MaxxAudio Pro speakers and a smartly-designed subwoofer offer a surprising amount of audio clarity and punch, whether it’s for music or the game itself.
If you’re looking to keep your costs down, and need a full-on gaming laptop that can still be used for basic everyday use, this product from Dell can certainly get the job done.
The ROG GL552VW from ASUS crams about as much into a $1,000 gaming laptop as possible. Powerful hardware, optimized features, and some other convenience aspects make the ROG GL552VW a great choice not just for short term, but for many years to come.
An Intel Core i7 provides the processing power needed to properly handle all of the game-friendly specifications the ROG GL552VW has. Graphics are crisp and fluid with the NVIDIA 960m GPU, providing high frame rates and vibrant color.
With 16GB of RAM, the ROG GL552VW is swell-equipped to handle multiple processes, whether you’re keeping open a chat window, or searching for tips and advice during gameplay. 1TB of disc storage allows you to keep plenty of files on hand, as well as videos, software, and lots of other games.
The screen is your standard 15 inches, in full HD and a matte finish to repel away reflections and glare, all with 1920 x 1080 resolution.
ASUS’ GameFirst III technology actually allows you to prioritize the flow of game data across your network, leading to optimized speeds without hogging bandwidth from other connected devices.
Perhaps the most notable feature the ROG GL552VW provides is the ability to slide off an upgrade panel to easily reach inside to implement an SSD, a bigger hard drive, or just to add some more memory. The ROG GL552VW is in it for the long haul.
With its upgradeability, already fast hardware, and game-favoring features, the ROG GL552VW is among the best gaming laptops you can get without shelling out a lot of money.
As you can see, you don’t have to deplete your life savings to find a serviceable, or even highly-capable gaming laptop that can handle not just gaming needs, but basic everyday uses as well.
These five laptops share a lot of the same basic requirements needed to smoothly run games on the go, and many have several features that allow them to rival some mid-range desktop computers. For under $1,000, that’s all you can ask for and more.
Have you used any of these laptops yourself? Have any suggestions of your own? Feel free to sound off in the comments below!