When hunting down the best gaming laptops under $1000, it can be easy to get caught up in thinking you are destined for disappointment. After all, everyone knows that the more expensive the laptop, the more powerful it is. That last sentence was heavy sarcasm, by the way.
While it can feel like a list of the best gaming laptops under $1000 would be full of Chromebooks and glorified word processors, that’s just not the case. A lot has changed in the last few years. The market now demands more excellent entry-level gaming laptops, and the industry is delivering.
Best Laptop Under $1000 – The Cheap Option
Anything You Can Afford
Okay, this is a bit of a cop-out. The first laptop on my list isn’t something you can search on Google and purchase. It’s whatever you can afford. I honestly don’t care what the specs are; getting you gaming is my number one priority. It can be anything from a four-year-old Asus to a Chromebook. Just get yourself a laptop.
I can hear you asking, “what good is a laptop if it can’t play anything?” Don’t worry. We will get it to play any game you want. Find something with a relatively fast internet connection and embrace the world of cloud gaming. Whether you subscribe to a service like Shadow or jump on the bandwagon of Google Stadia, there is an option for you.
If you are unfamiliar with cloud gaming, read this article. Similarly, if you have no idea what Stadia is, catch up on that in this article.
Best Gaming Laptop Under $1000 – The Custom Option
Let’s kick off the proper list of gaming laptops under $1000 with a custom option. Well, it’s semi-custom. This laptop comes in right at $1000, so you won’t have a ton of wiggle room. However, I wanted to include it in case you do have a little buffer. There is nothing better than being able to tweak a machine to your needs, and iBuyPower gives you that option.
The first standout with this machine is its CPU. Rocking an Intel i7-9750H Mobile Processor with a clock speed between 2.6Ghz and 4.5Ghz, this laptop packs more processing power than you’d expect under $1000. Supporting all of that processing power is 8GB of DDR4 RAM. 8GB should be plenty of RAM to play most games, and it only costs an additional $80 to double the RAM to 16GB.
When it comes to the graphics card, this laptop pulls no punches. Sporting an NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1650 with 4GB, this laptop will easily handle Apex Legends in 1080p at 90fps. Speaking of visuals, the GF63 has a 15.6-inch screen with 1920×1080 resolution, 120Hz refresh rate, and 3ms of input lag.
The last point-of-interest is the hard drive. The default option is 512GB in the form of an M.2 NVMe PCIe SSD. I would suggest spending a little extra money on storage if you have it. Either double the SSD storage for $78 or add a secondary 1TB HDD for as low as $50.
Best Gaming Laptop Under $1000 – The Unexpected Option
Yes, that’s a Lenovo on the list. I know it may be a little negative, but I never really associated Lenovo with gaming. Every Lenovo I have ever owned was a purpose-built brick for office use only. Arguably the best Lenovo I have ever used was a seven-year-old refurb I loaded Kali Linux on to as a “hack-top” for work. Regardless, I digress.
This Lenovo is a great gaming laptop and comes in just shy of the $1000 limit. Powered by the same Intel i7-9750H Mobile Processor as the MSI above and sporting double the RAM, you can already see the type of value you are getting out of this laptop. Lenovo does offer up some customization options, but I would not spend the extra money improving either the CPU or RAM.
Moving on, the Lenovo is similar to the MSI in its use of the NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1650 4GB graphics card. This laptop should easily handle the same games as the MSI, arguably more easily. The biggest drawback to this particular laptop is the screen. At 15.6 inches with a 1920×1080 resolution, things start out promising. Where Lenovo loses me is the 60Hz refresh rate. That kind of refresh rate is just too low for the expectations of even the most entry-level PC gamer.
When discussing the hard drive, the Lenovo again maps incredibly close to the MSI. Utilizing a 512GB M.2 NVMe PCIe SSD, you can expect quick loads. Similar to the MSI, I would suggest spending your money upgrading your storage, and not necessarily anywhere else.
Best Gaming Laptop Under $1000 – Best of All Worlds
Both the MSI and Lenovo are right up against the ceiling when it comes to the best gaming laptops under $1000. Not everyone that comes across this article is prepared to spend $1000, but they sure are excited by the performance outlined for the laptops above. It can be hard to find a balance between cost and features, but it can be had. Enter the Acer Nitro 5.
Starting with the quad-core Intel i5-9300H CPU, clocking in at 2.4Ghz, the Nitro 5 has a plenty competent processing unit. Supporting that CPU is 8GB of RAM. As previously discussed, 8GB of RAM should be plenty for most games. If you have any extra budget, I won’t fault you for improving the RAM, but it’s not required.
This laptop utilizes the same NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1650 as the other offerings on the list, which is exciting. What is less than impressive is that the Acer shares the same screen specs as the Lenovo. While you may experience excellent resolution on a 15.6-inch screen, the refresh rate is a touch behind.
What the Nitro 5 succeeds at most is the storage. You get a 128GB SSD for your operating system with a 1TB HDD for storage. This means you get the benefits of fast read and write speeds for the OS and other critical applications but low-cost extra storage for games.
The Acer Nitro 5 probably seems on par with the Lenovo, but what makes it unique is its price. While the Lenovo commands just under $1000, the Acer provides a similar package for around $800. What’s more is that I know the Acer Nitro 5 can be picked up for under $700 if you are willing to hunt down a deal.
There is no need to go on an all-ramen diet to afford a decent gaming laptop. I just gave you three phenomenal options that are pretty dang affordable. If you want the flat-out best gaming laptop for under $1000, go with the MSI. The Lenovo is fine, but the value of the Nitro 5 outshines the features of the Legion. If I had to spend my own money on a gaming laptop tomorrow, it would be the Acer Nitro 5, for what that’s worth.