Best Gaming Laptops Under $1,000

Best Laptops under 1000
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PC gaming can be expensive. Besides buying games, you also need a capable machine to play them on! But you can get started without spending thousands of dollars on a new gaming laptop. There are plenty of gaming laptops for under $1,000, which will get you basics like a 1080p display, a strong CPU and a discrete, gaming-ready GPU that's enough for esports and competitive video games, along with some work when you're done playing.

You'll probably have to turn down some settings, particularly on the most intensive games. There are going to be caveats in this price range. It's possible you'll find systems that don't have the latest processors, and you won't find the most powerful GPUs.

Additionally, it's unlikely you'll find more than 8GB of RAM (though please, try to avoid single-channel RAM if you can!), and storage space may be limited out of the box. You'll have to make some decisions about what's most important to you. But you should be able to find something to let you play some games, especially if you like esports and indie titles, which don't use as much graphics power. 

For people who game a lot, we recommend spending a bit more if you have the means: we also maintain lists of the best gaming laptops under $1,500 and the best gaming laptops overall. A more powerful GPU, larger SSD, and more vivid screen will mean a lot as your PC ages, and you're also likely to get a better quality machine overall.

But if your bank account needs to stay flush for other priorities, there still are options for you. If you have more money later, you can usually add more storage or upgrade the RAM on your laptop on your own. You can also keep an eye out for laptops that have second storage slots to fit another SSD.

The current swath of sub-$1,000 gaming notebooks is largely powered by the Nvidia GeForce RTX 4050, though you may find the RTX 4060 if prices come down or if there's a good sale. Some may use slightly older CPUs, too, such as 12th Gen Intel processors and Ryzen 6000 series chips. You may find some with a GeForce GTX 1650 or RTX 3050, but go for the RTX 4050 if you can.

We run benchmarks on a wide variety of gaming laptops at different price points from a swath of different brands, so we know what to look for in a PC. With the best gaming laptops under $1,000, you should be able to run most games, albeit not always at their highest settings or resolution.

The Best Gaming Laptops Under $1,000

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The Best Gaming Laptop Under $1,000

Specifications

CPU: AMD Ryzen 5 7640HS
GPU: Nvidia GeForce RTX 4050
Display: 16-inch, 1920 x 1200, 165 Hz, G-Sync
Weight: 5.95 pounds (2.7 kg)

Reasons to buy

+
Competent gaming performance
+
Bright G-Sync screen
+
Solid battery life
+
Quiet fans
+
Lots of ports, including USB 4

Reasons to avoid

-
Subpar webcam
-
Hollow speakers
-
Lots of bloatware

The Acer Nitro 16 takes the mantle from the older Acer Nitro 5, but continues the tradition of bringing a solid mix of price and performance, with a handful of premium niceties.

Our $999 review unit included an AMD Ryzen 5 7640HS and Nvidia Geforce RTX 4050, which played most of our benchmark games well. Perhaps the most impressive part is the 1920 x 1200, 165 Hz display with G-Sync support, which is great for esports at high frame rates. It reached 371 nits on our light meter and covered 91% of the DCI-P3 color gamut.

Other plusses include a wide variety of ports, including USB 4, the latest version of USB Type-C, as well as battery life over 8 hours, which is solid for a gaming laptop.

We wish the webcam and speakers were better (if you value the speakers, consider the MSI Katana listed below), but for the price, the Nitro 16 delivers a lot of value at just under $1,000.

Read: Acer Nitro 16 Review

(Image credit: Tom's Hardware)
Another Great Gaming Laptop Under $1,000

Specifications

CPU: Intel Core i7-13620H
GPU: Nvidia GeForce RTX 4050
Display: 15.6-inch, 1920 x 1080, 144 Hz
Weight: 5.51 pounds / 2.5 kg

Reasons to buy

+
Strong 1080p gaming performance
+
Good speakers
+
Excellent value

Reasons to avoid

-
Short battery life
-
Washed-out display

At $999 as configured, the MSI Katana 15 just made the cutoff for our list. But with its Intel Core i7-13620H and Nvidia GeForce RTX 4050, the Katana proved to be a powerful 1080p gaming machine, providing solid value.

It doesn't hurt that in the sub-thousand dollar model, MSI added 16GB of DDR5 RAM and a roomy 1TB PCIe NVMe SSD. You often see those specs cut first on budget laptops (instead, the laptop just doesn't have the highest-quality chassis). We also appreciated the surprisingly decent speakers on the Katana 15.

The 1080p display isn't the most beautiful, but its 144 Hz refresh rate will be a boon to esports players who want a smooth experience.

More: MSI Katana 15 Review 

The HP Victus 15 is one of the best gaming laptops under $1,000, and the starting price is way cheaper. (Image credit: Tom's Hardware)
No frills and inexpensive.

Specifications

CPU: Intel Core i5-12450H
GPU: Nvidia GeForce GTX 1650
Display: 15.6-inch, 1920 x 1080, 144 Hz
Weight: 5.04 pounds / 2.29 kg

Reasons to buy

+
Strong entry-level gaming
+
Solid productivity performance
+
Inexpensive for a gaming laptop

Reasons to avoid

-
Display could be better
-
Lots of preinstalled software
-
Single-channel RAM in our review unit

If you're looking for something really cheap, the HP Victus 15 is a good place to start. HP offers it with a base configuration utilizing an Nvidia GeForce GTX 1650. We tested it at $799.99 with a 512GB SSD, but as of this writing, it appears that there's now a $699.99 option with a smaller, 256GB drive.

In some ways, the Victus succeeds in its looks. It's cheap, but it doesn't look like it. In fact, it looks more like a business machine than a gaming laptop. If you want to double up on work and play, you can — in our testing, the Victus 15 and its Intel Core i5-12450H did decently on productivity tests.

The GTX 1650 GPU means you'll have to turn settings down on some games. While it achieved playable scores on many of our benchmarks, you'll likely want to lower your resolution or some settings for the most stable frame rates.

On HP's site, you can update the GPU as far up as an RTX 3050 Ti. If you have the means, it's a worthwhile upgrade, as will more storage space to hold more games. (There was a secondary SSD slot in our unit if you want to do this yourself later.)

If you're willing to spend more than $1,000, the newer HP Victus 16 is a solid pick, but it's pricier.

Read: HP Victus 15 Review 

The Dell G15 is one of the best gaming laptops under $1,000 with solid performance for the price. (Image credit: Tom's Hardware)
Strong 1080p gaming for the money

Specifications

CPU: Intel Core i5-12500H
GPU: Nvidia GeForce RTX 3050 Ti
Display: 15.6-inch, 1920 x 1080, 120 Hz
Weight: 5.89 pounds (2.6 kg)

Reasons to buy

+
Affordable
+
Design has been refined
+
Decent gaming performance for the price

Reasons to avoid

-
Display is a bit washed out
-
Tons of bloatware

At $899.99 to start (and as we tested it), the Dell G15 offers solid 1080p gaming for the money. Outside of some esports, you'll still need to turn down settings to play intense games at high frame rates.

Like other laptops on this list, there's plenty of room for upgrades. When we tore our review unit down, we found 8GB of single-channel RAM, making for an easy upgrade. The 512GB SSD can hold a few games, but could also be bumped up down the line (some budget gaming laptops have even less storage!)

In our testing, we found that the Dell G5 runs fairly cool and that its screen is bright (at least, relative to other budget gaming notebooks). That being said, the keyboard is a bit mushy and the touchpad can stick a little. At the very least, you'll likely want to invest in some peripherals while gaming.

Read: Dell G15 (5520) Review 

The Lenovo IdeaPad Gaming 3's low price and surprisingly good speakers make it one of the best gaming laptops under $1,000. (Image credit: Tom's Hardware)
Around $700 to Start

Specifications

CPU: Intel Core i5-12500H
GPU: Nvidia GeForce RTX 3050 Ti
Display: 15.6-inch, 1920 x 1080, 120 Hz
Weight: 5.1 pounds / 2.31 kg

Reasons to buy

+
Relatively low price
+
Sleek, modern styling
+
Excellent speakers

Reasons to avoid

-
Single-chaneel RAM and 256GB SSD in base model
-
You'll need to turn down game settings

Like many gaming laptops under $1,000, the Lenovo IdeaPad Gaming 3 doesn't start out with the best specs. We tested it at $709.99 with a Core i5-12500H, Nvidia GeForce RTX 3050 Ti, 8GB of RAM, and a 256GB SSD.

That RAM was single-channel, and the SSD was small. But with a price around $700, that may leave some budget buyers with room to make it better by adding more storage and RAM.

Despite the low price, you get sleek, modern styling, which is nice, as many cheap laptops look like they were designed years and years ago. And for the price, the speakers are pretty good, and you get a 1080p display that goes up to 120 Hz for esports games.

So the IdeaPad Gaming 3 has good bones, assuming you're looking for something cheap and are willing to turn down settings. And if your budget is a bit higher, you may be able to find it with more RAM or storage and still stay under four figures.

Read: Lenovo IdeaPad Gaming 3 Review 

What to Expect From the Best Gaming Laptops Under $1,000 

  • GPU: The graphics card is likely to have the biggest effect on how well your gaming laptop plays games, especially when it comes to high resolutions and lots of effects. The cheapest gaming laptops we've tested are using Nvidia's GeForce GTX 1650, which is an older card that will require you to turn down some settings. If you can find an RTX 3050 or, better yet, an RTX 3050 Ti in your budget, that's a card that will get you a bit further. If you see a system on sale with an RTX 3060 in this price range, jump on it. We haven't seen any AMD-based GPUs in these laptops just yet.

  • Screen:  Expect a 15-inch laptop, which appears to be the most popular size in this price range. That being said, gaming laptops typically range between 14 and 17-inches. You won't get anything higher than 1080p resolution, which should be fine considering that the low-end GPUs in these PCs aren’t good for gaming at 2K or 4K. It's possible to see a 144 Hz screen in these laptops, though the cheapest will come with a standard 60 Hz panel. The 144 Hz is a bonus for esports games, assuming you run them at low enough settings to achieve those types of frame rates.

  • CPU:  You can't be too picky here. Most of these laptops come with an Intel Core i5 or Core i5 or AMD Ryzen 5, though you may occasionally see something with i7 or R7. A number of laptops in this price range are using older chips, like Intel's 11th Gen, but not all of them.

  • RAM:  While more expensive laptops have moved on to DDR5, most gaming laptops under $1,000 are still using DDR4. Expect 8GB on the low-end, though some systems do squeeze 16GB in. Some systems give you just one stick of 8GB RAM, known as single-channel. Strongly consider upgrading to 16GB, either by paying extra at purchase time or by buying more RAM and installing it yourself.

  • Storage: You're likely to find either a 256GB or 512GB SSD. A 512GB SSD is a big advantage here, as you're not going to fit that many games on a 256GB drive. (Remember, Windows takes up space, too!) Do your homework on upgradeability. In our testing, we found some of these laptops have room for more drives that you can add yourself later at lower costs than what laptop vendors will charge you.

Best Gaming Laptops Under $1,000: Bottom Line

Even the best gaming laptops under $1,000 are an exercise in compromise. Some companies opt for lower-end GPUs, while others cut costs with small SSDs. You're going to have to decide what you're willing to give up. But if you make the right choices, you'll be able to enjoy PC gaming on a budget, even if you have to turn down some settings or reinstall some games. And with some planning, you may be able to make some upgrades yourself that will make for a dramatically better experience.

Of course, there is more than just performance to consider. You'll want to see how these laptops look and feel, and whether they offer the ports you want and a keyboard you like. So do some research and make sure you're getting everything you need before you buy something. If you can, check out the laptop in person before you buy.

Discounts on the Best Gaming Laptops Under $1,000

Whether you're shopping for one of the best gaming laptops or another model that didn't quite make our list, you may find some savings by checking out our lists of Dell coupon codes, HP coupon codes, Lenovo coupon codes, Razer promo codes or Newegg promo codes.

MORE: How to Buy a Gaming Laptop

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Andrew E. Freedman is a senior editor at Tom's Hardware focusing on laptops, desktops and gaming. He also keeps up with the latest news. A lover of all things gaming and tech, his previous work has shown up in Tom's Guide, Laptop Mag, Kotaku, PCMag and Complex, among others. Follow him on Threads @FreedmanAE and Mastodon @FreedmanAE.mastodon.social.

  • SyCoREAPER
    Nitro is awesome, Victus not so much.

    Right now the ROG G15 is on sale for $1000 and should be first choice.
    Reply
  • Tomk Lancy
    Best buy has the G15 with a 1440p screen, and a 12gb 6800m... and two ram and two ssd slots for upgrades down the road (looking at you Zephyrus). Just makes sense if you aren't waiting for new amd and intel swap coming in January.
    ASUS - ROG Strix G15 Advantage Edition 15.6" QHD Gaming Laptop - AMD Ryzen 9 5980HX - 16GB Memory - Radeon RX 6800M - 512GB SSD
    Reply
  • SyCoREAPER
    Tomk Lancy said:
    Best buy has the G15 with a 1440p screen, and a 12gb 6800m... and two ram and two ssd slots for upgrades down the road (looking at you Zephyrus). Just makes sense if you aren't waiting for new amd and intel swap coming in January.
    ASUS - ROG Strix G15 Advantage Edition 15.6" QHD Gaming Laptop - AMD Ryzen 9 5980HX - 16GB Memory - Radeon RX 6800M - 512GB SSD


    I have the 5900HX version. Personally for either I'd go with the 1080 screen since the refresh rate is higher than the 1440
    Reply