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Best Gaming Laptops Under $1000 – 2021

Written by September 5, 2020

One of the broader misconceptions about gaming laptops is that you will need to buy one that is high-end to enable you to play the latest games. That is why the main reason holding gamers back from taking a serious look at cheaper laptops is the idea that these are too weak to run the latest games despite being more affordable.

Indeed, a high-end monster gaming laptop that costs thousands can eat anything a game throws at it. But there still exist cheaper alternatives out there that can competently run modern games. You only have to know where to look.

Only a few years ago, you could have bought a laptop at say $1500, and that would be left in the dust by the best gaming laptops under $1,000 today. New versions of earlier models are always being launched, offering the latest advancements in technology. One benefit we gamers get out of this is that prices of other models tend to drop when it happens.

You may not find the most powerful laptop gaming rig, but you can still get one that would let you enjoy the most demanding games today, and does not put a big dent in your wallet.

We took a close look at a lot of gaming laptops, offering different features and configurations that are on the market today. I think we have succeeded in picking those with the best combination of performance and price. Without further ado, here are our top picks for the best gaming laptops under $1,000.

Best Thin Gaming Laptop

MSI GF63 Thin

MSI GF63 Thin

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The Absoulte Best

HP Omen 15

HP Omen 15

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Best Value Gaming Laptop

Acer Predator Helios 300

Acer Predator Helios 300

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HP Omen 15

HP Omen 15

The Absoulte Best

“The 1660 Ti, which has only been released by Nvidia in February this year, is the most powerful GPU in this list of the best gaming laptops.”

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  • Price: $999
  • CPU: 9th Gen Intel 2.6 GHz 6-Core i7-9750H Max Turbo 4.5 GHz
  • GPU: Nvidia GeForce GTX 1660 Ti 6GB GGDR
  • Screen: 15.6 inches, 1920x1080p 144 Hz
  • Battery Life: 7 hours
  • Storage: 256GB NVMe SSD

Aside from being equipped with Intel’s cutting edge, 9th gen i7-940h, which was launched only in the 2nd quarter of 2019, it also comes with the GeForce GTX 1660 Ti GPU card!

The 1660 Ti, which has only been released by Nvidia in February this year, is the most powerful GPU in this list of the best gaming laptops of 2019. This one has surpassed the venerable GTX 1060 in the lower-mid level GPUs by a wide margin. You’ll also get the only taste, as far as I know, of real-time ray-tracing in a gaming laptop under $1,000. This card can consistently run the most demanding games above 60 fps and with room to spare, while at Ultra setting in 1080p resolution.

6GB is the absolute minimum required by games for their 4k texture settings at 1080p resolution. You will get a lot more definition and detail in a game that has ultra-resolution settings, resulting in superior visual quality. It is also VR-ready, but you will need a VR headset to be able to experience that. I’m sure that the other models on this list have configurations that carry the GTX 1660 Ti, too, but this is the first one I have seen that dipped below the $1,000 range.

The screen is very crisp and colorful for the price and has a matte finish to reduce glare and reflections. The keyboard has a good feel and has the most colorful backlighting. You can select a color for each of the three sections across the keyboard. The gaming keys can be highlighted separately, as well. It’s a cool feature to have that allows you the flexibility to get the lighting as close to the way you want it.

The overall look of the laptop is gamey and angular, and a bit on the thick side, but the design is elegant. The design of the top panel is a combination of carbon fiber and a brushed metal finish, accented with red lines, and an omen logo near the center. The I/O ports at the sides are minimal, and the bigger cables can be routed from the middle of the back, help give it a clean look.

It has big vents under the base where you can see a couple of fans inside both ends near the back. Connected to the CPU and GPU are heat pipes that help draw out their heat to be expelled by the fans away from the middle and out to the back. Thermals used to run a little hot on previous Omen models, especially under heavy loads, but HP has since released a bios update to remedy this.

Mainly because of the GTX 1660 Ti, together with the latest Intel i7, it’s not hard to give this gaming beast our top recommendation!

Acer Predator Helios 300

Acer Predator Helios 300

Best Value Gaming Laptop

“The GeForce GTX 1060 is the 2nd highest ranked GPU card in this roundup of the best gaming laptops under $1,000.”

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  • Price: $960
  • CPU: 9th Gen Intel 2.6 GHz 6-Core i7-9750H Max Turbo 4.5 GHz
  • GPU: Nvidia GeForce GTX 1060 6GB VRAM
  • Screen: 15.6 inches, 1920x1080p 144 Hz
  • Battery Life: 7 hours
  • Storage: 256GB NVMe SSD

Two things that set this laptop apart is the amount of RAM at 16 gigabytes, and the GTX 1060 GPU with 6GB. The GeForce GTX 1060 is the 2nd highest ranked GPU card in this roundup of the best gaming laptops under $1,000.

It is Nvidia’s lower-mid tier GPU card that lets you play a lot of current games at 60 fps at 1080p. It can run games like Battlefield V, The Witcher 3, or Watchdogs 2 consistently above 60 fps. It also has 6GB that can handle 4k textures of most games.

More system memory means the CPU would have more room to juggle data in RAM and do less frequent accessing of the primary storage drive. That reduces the number of noticeable hiccups in framerates for a much smoother performance. Speaking of the CPU, it also sports Intel’s 9th gen i7 making it very powerful for its price. It has 256GB of NVMe storage for blazing read/write data transfer speeds.

It’s a bit hefty, but it feels and looks solid with more rigid construction. The top panel is made of brushed metal with hardly any flex and has some stylish lines and a glowing logo. The same goes for the keyboard panel, although the keyboard itself feels a bit mushy. The audio is decent, but like with most other laptops, headphones are the way to go.

The thermal management has improved a lot from the previous model. It has long heat pipes not only coming from the CPU and GPU but also running on the sides and around two fans at either end near the back. The only nitpick about this cooling system is that the fans can get too loud when you put the laptop in turbo mode.

With the GTX 1060, it became the 2nd best performer in the bunch. It has the largest system RAM, and that combination might sway you to buy it. We believe that it is very worthy of your consideration.

MSI GF63 Thin

MSI GF63 Thin

Best Thin Gaming Laptop

“The 512 SSD gives this gaming laptop some extra headroom just in case.”

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  • Price: $999
  • CPU: 9th Gen Intel 2.6 GHz 6-Core i7-9750H Max Turbo 4.5 GHz
  • GPU: Nvidia GeForce GTX 1650 4GB VRAM
  • Screen: 15.6 inches, 1920x1080p 122 Hz
  • Battery Life: 7 hours
  • Storage: 512 GB NVMe SSD

The MSI GF63 Thin, as its name suggests, looks slim and sleek. Just like the latest 2019 models of the best gaming laptops under $1,000, nothing less than the 9th generation 6-Core i7-9750H equips this variant. For a GPU card, it has a GTX 1650. You won’t reach the minimum 60 fps average required by most serious gamers for Ultra Settings in some demanding games. It’s still a decent performer that runs smoothly in the 40 to above 50 fps, which is still very playable by most standards.

Again you can tweak the game’s graphics settings down a tad to push it closer to 60. It depends on which game you’re playing. Some will run above that threshold at lowered settings, and others would demand more powerful hardware to reach it.

The aluminum lid and keyboard panel gives the MSI GF63 quality looks and feel. The top aluminum panel is minimalist in design, with only the MSI G Series logo at the center. A dark, brushed metal finish makes it look sleek and elegant. When you lift it open, it reveals the red-backlit keyboard, which seems to be the common theme these days. That backlight’s brightness can be adjusted or turned off if you want.

The 15.6 inch IPS screen for wider viewing angles, has a refresh rate of 122 Hz. It is bright and very sharp and has got a thin bezel on the sides and the top. It is the type of look you see in higher-end models that isn’t common at this price range. Most of the I/O ports are on the right, with a few on the left, and one HDMI port at the back.

It’s interesting to note that there’s only one fan that cools the heat pipes connected to the CPU and GPU. There’s a Cooler Boost mode, however, that controls fan speed, to make the heat more manageable under heavy stresses from gaming.

It has the largest NVMe SSD storage capacity among the best gaming laptops under $1,000, which is its most significant selling point in this comparison. That’s very rare at this price point, where options are usually limited to 256 GB and smaller right now. Even if manufacturers try to offer 1 TB of HDD storage, you would still want an SSD for gaming. The 512 SSD gives this gaming laptop some extra headroom just in case. That is the reason why this laptop ranked 3rd on our list.

Acer Nitro 7

Good Gaming Laptop

“The laptop also comes bundled with the Nitro Sense utility to monitor temperatures and to control fan speed.”

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  • Price: $950
  • CPU: 9th Gen Intel 2.6 GHz 6-Core i7-9750H Max Turbo 4.5 GHz
  • GPU: Nvidia GeForce GTX 1650 4GB VRAM
  • Screen: 15.6 inches, 1920x1080p 144 Hz IPS
  • Battery Life: 7 hours
  • Storage: 256GB NVMe SSD

The Nitro 7 looks solidly built with its angular all-aluminum body. The graphics are powered by Nvidia’s new GeForce GTX 1650 GPU with 4GB of VRAM. It performs a lot better than the GTX 1050 but not as fast as the GTX 1060. So you can still expect decent performance below 60 fps on max settings. Still, the graphics settings could be tweaked in the game menus to push it to 60 fps.

This model variant also receives Intel’s latest-gen 2.6 GHz i7-9750h CPU. It can be turbo boosted to as much as 4.5 GHz. The primary storage drive is an M.2 NVMe SSD, ensuring much faster boot-up and loading screens while you play than is possible an HDD. The 58Wh battery is pretty good and lasted almost 8 hours with the screen turned on. You can expect around 4 hours for ordinary applications, but less than 2 hours for gaming.

Lifting the lid reveals a keyboard that’s accented by a red backlight. Tactile feedback is okay and even quiet, and key-travel is also adequate. The arrow keys are full-sized, but the right shift key is a little bit smaller as a result. Highlighted more strongly in red are the WASD, arrow, and num lock keys, as an added touch.

For cooling, heat pipes pass over the CPU and GPU and go into a large heatsink located on the left. Air is drawn from under the base through a huge grill by two fans placed next to each other. The fans blow away the heat from the heatsink and out of a vent across the back. The laptop also comes bundled with the Nitro Sense utility to monitor temperatures and to control fan speed.

Lenovo Legion Y540

Great Gaming Laptop

“The build quality looks solid, especially with that simplistic case that is stylish but the least gamey in the bunch.”

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  • Price: $979
  • CPU: 9th Gen Intel 2.6 GHz 6-Core i7-9750H Max Turbo 4.5 GHz
  • GPU: Nvidia GeForce GTX 1650 4GB
  • Screen: 15.6 inches, 1920x1080p, 144 Hz IPS
  • Battery Life: 7.9 hours
  • Storage: 128GB NVMe SSD

Rounding up our top 5 list of the best gaming laptops under $1,000 is the Lenovo Legion Y540. Like the rest of the products mentioned here, it comes equipped with Intel’s latest-gen 6-Core i7, but it also has the smallest NVMe SSD storage at 128 GB. That is one thing to keep in mind as it seems to be the reason sellers can keep it below $1,000.

Still, having an updated CPU means it is no slouch in computing power. You could upgrade the SSD to a larger one or add a new drive for data storage. You could keep the OS and system files, as well as a few games on the NVMe SSD for the speed boost it gives. Then store your other files on another drive.

Again, the respectable GPU performance comes from a GTX 1650 that is still a lot better than the standard entry-level GTX 1050. You can play games near 60 fps at mid to high settings in the advanced graphics options menu of these games. The display screen refreshes at 144 Hz, which is terrific in preventing screen tearing, and for smoother and less laggy gameplay.

It also showcases a smart cooling layout and has better thermal performance than even the Y545. There are two heat pipes for the CPU and the GPU, routed towards two separate heatsinks with fans located at opposite corners on the back.

The build quality looks solid, especially with that simplistic case that is stylish but the least gamey in the bunch. That conservative design could be a plus to some, but not so for others. Opening the lid, you get a red-backlit keyboard that is the only one here that features a separate numeric keypad layout. The arrow keys are conveniently located below this keypad away from the right shift key.

It came in last on our list only because of the small SSD it has. But it still belongs in this group that is above the rest of the field of gaming laptops under $1,000.



Best Budget Gaming Laptop

“The MSI GF63 has avid gamers who are on a budget in mind.”

Relatively slim and portable.

Dim display, which may become unpleasant to some gamers.

It gives a fast performance from the GPU and CPU.

Low-travel keys.

No extra gaming functions included.

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The MSI GF63 has avid gamers who are on a budget in mind. It is the right choice for new players. You will get a lovely performance from the NVIDIA GPU and the Intel i7 CPU. You can also play new-gen games at low settings.


  • CPU: Intel Core i7-8750H
  • GPU: NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1050 Ti
  • Storage: 256 GB SSD + 1 TB HDD, 400 RPM
  • RAM: 16 GB
  • Resolution/ display size: 1920*1080
  • Price: $808

Dell G7 15

Dell G7 15

Best Stylish Gaming Laptop

“Beauty aside, it provides stellar performance in both game-related and non-game functions.”

Modern, stylish look.

Short battery span.

Slim and portable.

Dull display.

It has fast performance and impressive fps, thanks to the Max Q graphics.

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Aesthetic lovers will have a field day with Dell G7. It is magnificent. Beauty aside, it provides stellar performance in both game-related and non-game functions. You will also get nice fps on triple-A games without tuning the settings too low.


  • CPU: Intel Core i7-8750H
  • GPU: NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1060 Max Q
  • RAM: 16 GB
  • Storage: 1 TB HDD, 54OO ROM
  • Resolution: 1920*1080

Acer Nitro 5

Best Cheap Gaming Laptop

“It is one of the cheapest but reliable gaming laptops in the market.”

Decent specs for the price.

It is bulky.

It has excellent cooling features. You can play for longer.

Sound does not come out clearly.

It has more ports for external devices like mice or keyboards.

The trackpad can have problems in some models.

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It is one of the cheapest but reliable gaming laptops in the market. You will have a 9th generation Core processors and NVIDIA graphics.

The price means designers have to forgo some cooler features like bigger RAM or storage.


  • CPU: Intel Core i5-8300H
  • GPU: NVIDIA GTX 1650
  • RAM: 8 GB
  • Storage: 512 GB SSD
  • Resolution: 1920*1080
  • Price: From $624

ASUS TUF Gaming FX705

ASUS TUF Gaming FX705

Most Reliable Gaming Laptop

“The GPU and CPU also offer reliable performance.”

Vivid 144 Hz monitor.

Poor webcam.

Comfortable keyboard.

The audio is not good.

It gives a solid performance from its processors and GPU.

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The ASUS provides better resolutions than any of the abovementioned top gaming laptops under 1000. You will have 144 Hertz display, which gives more detailed characters than other laptops. The GPU and CPU also offer reliable performance.

The keyboard has personalized lighting. You also get plenty of ports for peripheral devices.

Also, imagine 4 hours of gaming time. That’s the battery life, which is fantastic.


  • CPU: Intel Core i5-8300H
  • GPU: NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1050 Ti
  • RAM: 8 GB
  • Storage: 128 GB SSD Plus 1 TB HDD, 7,200 RPM
  • Resolution: 1920*1080
  • Price: From $1020

Lenovo Legion Y530

Lenovo Legion Y530

Best Gaming Laptop for Casual Gamers

“Lenovo Legion is perfect for casual gamers.”


Dim monitor.

Thin bezels.

Low-quality webcam.

Solid performance.

Moderate graphics.

Several port choices.

Excellent quality.

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Here is the crème de la crème of gaming laptops under 1000. You will own a computer with a sleek, compact design that won’t fail to impress. The GPU is steadfast, and your external devices have plenty of ports.

Lenovo Legion is perfect for casual gamers. Did I mention it is reasonably cheap?


  • CPU: Intel Core i7-8750H
  • GPU: NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1060 GPU
  • RAM 32 GB
  • Storage: 256 GB SSD Plus 1 TB HDD, 7,200 RPM
  • Resolution: 1920*1080

Gaming Laptops vs. Desktops

While desktop gaming rigs are the élite class when it comes to superior gaming performance, the best gaming laptops under $1,000 are no slouches and do have some things going in their favor.

The first advantage that they have over desktops is they are small. Since they are about the same size as a photo album, they do not take up too much room. PC gaming rigs can get large and can take up an entire corner in your home. Once you finish using your laptop, you can store them out of the way. It’s a huge reason to consider if you live in a small place.

The next one is portability. Because of the small footprint and lightness of gaming laptops, you can play them anywhere you want and anytime you want, even anywhere in your own home. That is something that you can’t do with a bulky desktop setup. You’re not confined to play in one spot all day, like with a dedicated desktop unit.

Maybe you’re planning to take your laptop with you on your next vacation. Or you want to have a quick game on the subway ride to work. Perhaps you want to connect it to your TV in the comfort of your living room. The extra mobility that a gaming laptop gives you is liberating, and it’s probably the main reason you’re thinking of buying one in the first place.

Gaming Laptops vs. Regular Laptops

So what is the difference between a gaming laptop and a regular one?

Well, first and foremost is the massive performance gain you get in running games. The best gaming laptops under $1,000 are specially configured and designed to run modern games. They have components like a dedicated graphics card similar to what gaming desktops have.

Regular laptops only have slower integrated graphics that are either built into the CPU or the motherboard and can only run entry-level games or old ones. And if ever that integrated GPU overheats and gets damaged, the worst-case scenario is you have dead hardware and can’t use your laptop anymore. You are lucky if you can still have it repaired. But be prepared to shell out more money for expensive service and replacement parts.

That is why the best gaming laptops have specially designed cooling systems, and built-in fans, all meant to keep the heat manageable inside that cramped space. This way, they can take more abuse under constant high-stress gaming conditions. They will need that kind of protection when used by an avid gamer who plays often and for long periods.

The best gaming laptops also feature the latest and greatest CPUs or Central Processing Units, and faster system RAM or Random Access Memory. Since the computing demands of modern games are among the highest, they can only run as fast as the hardware will allow. It’s the reason why the CPU and RAM have to be top-notch.

Hard drives are no longer a valid storage option for installing games, and faster SSDs have become the de facto standard for this task. When it comes to installing games, you should completely forget about HDDs. There’s a reason why many manufacturers have already ditched those old and clunky mechanical drives from their gaming laptop lines.

Gaming laptops also have a bold and trendy look to them that’s designed to appeal to mainstream gamers. They do not look like their less flashy counterparts at all. You’ll surely recognize a gaming laptop when you see one.

Of course, all that comes at a premium over regular laptops. If you’re running on a tight budget, but are seriously planning to play triple-A games, then only the best gaming laptops under $1,000 will do. A regular laptop isn’t adequate to deliver decent gameplay with today’s triple-A games if they can run them at all. The bottom line is: NEVER buy a regular laptop for serious gaming.

The Bare Essentials

For a computer to work, there are specs necessary that should come standard with it. So you need to be sure about the components used inside a gaming laptop that interests you before deciding to buy one.

  • CPU or Central Processing Unit

The CPU must be, at the very least, a quad-core CPU like the Intel Core i5. Do not bother with the i3 CPUs. 2019 has seen the release of the latest and more powerful 9th generation Intel CPUs. The i5 is the most common CPU variant with gaming laptops priced below $900. I5-9300h is the latest one.

Be aware that previous 8th generation CPUs have flooded the market. That does not mean that they’re garbage, however. Those are still great, but if you can get a hold of better ones under $1,000, then why settle for something less, right?

Our list featured all of the best gaming laptops under $1,000 equipped with the even more powerful i7-9750h, which is also a 9th generation Intel CPU just released in the 2nd quarter of 2019.

  • RAM or Random Access Memory

8 Megabytes or higher of DDR4 2,666 MHz SDRAM is considered the norm. Upgrading RAM to 16 MB is preferable. The more RAM your system has, the faster the CPU would be able to process game data.

You might also want to take advantage of a dual-channel RAM configuration, as this can help boost the overall system performance as well. All of the products we featured have at least 8 GB of RAM and have expansion slots for more RAM, in case you need it.

  • SSD or Solid State Drive

The SSD is replacing the old HDD or Hard Disk Drive as the standard primary storage device, especially in gaming laptops. With their massive data read-write speed advantage and smaller form factors, they leave the old HDDs in the dust. SSDs also consume significantly less power, generate less heat, and emit zero noise compared to the clunky mechanical HDD.

SSDs are a relatively new type of data storage devices based on flash NAND or flash NVMe memory. Both are non-volatile type memory similar to those found in USB flash drives. They’re called non-volatile because they can retain data even with no electrical power. You could liken an SSD to a giant flash drive with capacities nearing that of HDDs. 256 GB is becoming the standard size for the best gaming laptops under $1,000.

With SSDs instead of HDDs, you would see boot-up and loading times reduced significantly in games. Having an SSD also ensures that the game would not lag when it tries to retrieve data during heavy gameplay. And if you can get the NVMe type flash memory, then you’re in luck as they are the fastest SSDs on the market today.

All of the laptops on our list have the M.2 standard NVMe SSDs as their primary storage drives.

  • I/O or Input/Output Ports

All of the best laptops come standard with the latest iterations of most of these common I/O ports.

  • Bluetooth connects to other Bluetooth devices at short distances of less than 30 ft.
  • WiFi connects the laptop to the internet while searching for other active WiFi signals.
  • USB or Universal Serial Bus attaches to any USB device.
  • VGA is still used to connect to a larger display.
  • DVI or Digital Visual Interface is used to connect to another display or a TV.
  • S-Video or Super Video is another video interface method to connect to another display.
  • Headphone ports connect to a headphone cable essential for better sounding games.
  • Microphone ports connect to an external or headphone mic.
  • IrDA (Infrared Data Association) is for remote transferring of data between devices or peripherals.
  • RJ-45 (Ethernet) connects to a wired LAN or Local Area Network.

Picking a good dedicated GPU

Historically, the GPU or Graphics Processing Unit cards used to be called graphics accelerators, which made sense. Graphics performance depends on this piece of hardware the most. The GPU Card is the main component that boosts a game’s frame rates. It’s what separates a gaming laptop from a regular one. It’s vital to know how much FPS or Frames Per Second, a GPU card can achieve in the latest games.

For a game to be considered playable, the absolute minimum fps should be not lower than 30. Once frame rates drop below that threshold, then it will be noticeable enough to start affecting gameplay negatively. Anything lower than 20 fps and your game will start looking like a slideshow of pictures and becomes unplayable.

To the most serious gamers, anything less than 60 fps is not even good enough. Although 30 fps is still generally considered acceptable. And if you’re shopping for a sub-$1,000 gaming laptop, you only presented with a limited choice. Sadly, that’s one of the tradeoffs that come with an affordable price.

You’ll have a lot more fun playing games with an upper-low level GPU like the GTX 1060 with 6 MB VRAM. A GPU like that can still run most games at 60 fps consistently, even in high settings, and at 1080p resolution. 1920×1080 is the most common native resolution of gaming laptop screens.

Unfortunately, you rarely see GTX 1060s installed on gaming laptops under $1,000, though. More commonly used at this price point is the GTX 1650, with 4 MB of VRAM, which performs significantly faster than the GTX 1050. However, it is still left in the dust by the GTX 1060. It’s also worth pointing out that most triple-A games require a minimum of 6 MB of VRAM on a GPU to be able to display their highest texture resolutions with fewer hiccups.

Believe It or not, we’ve found one unit equipped with a GTX 1060 in our list of recommendations. And better yet, we also came across a variation of a brand model that has the GTX 1660 Ti that also comes with 6 MB of VRAM. That is the most powerful GPU card we’ve found at this price limit so far, and it is why we gave that particular laptop our strongest endorsement!

To find out what laptops contain these two 6MB GPUs, do not forget to read our roundup of the 5 Best Gaming Laptops Under $1,000 at the end of this article.

Heat Management

By the very nature of their compactness, one of the disadvantages with laptops is how much they can build up and trap a tremendous amount of heat. It’s hard to dissipate heat inside the very confined space of a laptop casing that’s packed with components all running simultaneously.

Most modern CPUs and GPUs, especially those found in laptops, have some built-in protection against overheating called Thermal Throttling. When one of these processors starts to overheat, they automatically drop clock frequencies to cool down. When they do that, they also take performance down with it.

This problem is magnified more severely in gaming laptops, especially during heavy loads, when running very hardware demanding games. Your game would start to lag because of the slowdown in processor speed. Or worse, your laptop would completely shut down. One of the reasons could be that the laptop’s cooling solution isn’t good enough to keep the heat down.

The best gaming laptops under $1,000 usually come with a combination of heat pipes, heatsinks, and fans in an efficient layout designed to absorb and expel heat out of exhaust vents. They also come bundled with a thermal management utility software where you can monitor system heat and control fan speeds.

You have to make sure that the manufacturer has provided a well designed and effective heat management system that would help absorb and vent the heat out quickly. It’s essential to do that to avoid thermal throttling or damage to the CPU or the GPU and other electronic parts.

The Display Screen

The most common display resolution is a width of 1920 pixels and a height of 1080 pixels. Anything lower than 1920×1080 resolution, or more commonly referred to as 1080p or full HD, is unacceptable for many applications, most notably gaming.

For under $1,000, the most widely used display size is 15.6 inches, although you can also find a lot of 17.3-inch variants as well. We recommend the smaller 15.6-inch if you want more portability because of the smaller laptop footprint. Bigger screens tend to make the laptop bulkier and harder to fit in a backpack. Plus, they usually compromise on other components if they include a large screen.

IPS or In-Plane Switching is another feature in a display screen that you should know. It is a version of the more popular TFT LCD that allows for more vivid images that can be viewed from wider angles than is possible with traditional LCDs. However, they are more expensive, but they are slowly finding their way below the $1,000 range of gaming laptops.

Another thing to consider is the display’s refresh rate. 60 Hz used to be the minimum standard, but a lot of GPUs now can handle faster refresh rates above a hundred. 144 Hz is becoming the norm, and this helps improve the responsiveness of a game’s display. It affects how quickly a player can react to what he or she sees on the screen. Manufacturers introduced some display screens with 300 Hz late last summer.

Nvidia’s G-sync technology allows for seamless synchronization of their GPUs with faster displays and is available in all their graphics cards featured on our list.

The Keyboard

Typically, the tactile feel of the best gaming laptops under $1,000 is okay. They have deep enough travel to make them comfortable to type on. Check if you like how they feel and press on them hard to see if there’s some flex. You do not want that affecting your inputs. You have to examine the keyboard layout to see if the key placements are to your liking. Particularly notorious in regular laptops is the position of arrow keys, but thankfully with gaming laptops, most manufacturers pay more attention to their size and their location.

Backlighting also adds some flashiness to these rigs. Some even go as far as to highlight the gaming keys, like the WASD and arrow keys, frequently used by players for keyboard controls. The predominant color scheme with these keyboards seems to be red, but some allow you to change their color and brightness settings, and even to turn the backlight off, which is a welcome touch.

Casing Designs

Aside from their brightly lit keyboards, what makes them look truly unique are the eye-catching designs of their casings.

Regular laptops tend to look well – ordinary. Very few things like color, the quality of materials used, and the type of finish, differentiate them from each other. That’s not exactly a bad thing, but It’s good to know that there’s more variety available to gamers when choosing their rigs. As can be seen from what’s on offer out there, the one thing that the designers of these gaming laptops do not lack is imagination. From the very loud to very subtle designs, there’s a good deal of choices to be had.

For starters, I’m personally keen on minimalistic designs. I like less plastic and more aluminum. Some cases have a very stylish brushed aluminum finish that’s also scratch-resistant. A metallic case can make it more expensive, but there are some in gaming laptops below $1,000. I also prefer thin screen bezels, the same as everyone does with their smartphones. Who wants a thick frame surrounding their displays?

One thing also noticeably different about gaming laptop exteriors is the number of large vents incorporated into their shells, which to me, is another unique aspect of their design. Those large vents or grills are very functional, though, since gaming laptops are notorious for generating large amounts of heat.

It’s all subjective and a matter of personal taste, but it’s also something to consider if you’re into aesthetics like us.

Battery Life

Manufacturer claims, as seen on their product spec sheets about how long their laptop’s battery can last on a full charge, isn’t always what happens in real life. It is more likely to be half that with easy tasks. Batteries are still drained quickly by games, and you would be lucky to enjoy an hour and a half of playing at most. You still need to plug into an electrical outlet for longer gaming sessions.

Rechargeable battery technology is still somewhat of a crutch, holding power-hungry gaming laptops back.

Some Essential Peripherals

These items cost extra, but you might want to consider them later on, to significantly improve your overall gaming experience.

We can’t emphasize enough the importance of having a game controller when playing games. Let’s be frank here. Laptop keyboards and touchpads aren’t viable as control mechanisms for games. You can even say that they suck at games! You can choose either an Xbox of PlayStation type of controller, whichever suits your fancy. A wireless controller would be more convenient and won’t contribute to wiring clutter.

Some games are more suited to controllers, while others to PC controls. If you prefer the latter, then consider buying a gaming keyboard and mouse combo. Just get a mouse if you’re okay with the laptop’s WASD keys. Again a wireless keyboard and mouse combo would be great.

One thing most laptop gamers find indispensable is a good quality headset, preferably with surround sound and bass. It is useful when you go online to play. Of course, there are the built-in speakers, but they are honestly not enough to immerse you in a game’s sound design and musical score. In our opinion, you should purchase this on day one.

You may also want to invest in an external audio system, probably one with a Bluetooth connection. Those will sound way better than any built-in laptop speakers, even from gaming rigs. You can also use them to listen to your favorite music or for watching videos.

Finally, you may want some additional external storage for your other files. Those SSDs are great, but right now, the bigger ones are just too expensive to include in a gaming laptop that’s below $1,000. That’s why the most common size offered right now is 256 MB, which might be good enough for a few games and the operating system files. That might fill up sooner than you think. It’s good to have an external drive for other stuff.

Things to Avoid

As mentioned before, hard disk drives are a thing of the past when it comes to serious gaming. HDDs are just a waste of money if they are part of the product specs. That is money that could have been used more wisely for components like a bigger SSD or more RAM.

This is not a biggy, but how about those bottom-mounted built-in cameras? Ideally, you’d want one just below eye level, located at the center of the top bezel of the display screen. You would like to avoid those below your screen, looking up your nose hairs.

Touchscreens are not advisable for serious gaming, believe it or not. Aside from being more expensive, they come with glossy screens that get easily obscured by fingerprints. Those shiny screens are also very reflective and can cause glare, which is a big No when choosing a display. They also help drain the battery quickly.

Refurbished laptops for gaming? Not unless you’re desperate. It isn’t worth your time and money. Why would you risk buying a product that was returned to the manufacturer for defects when you are already short on funds? You want to buy a gaming laptop to play the most demanding games, and what you’ll put it through will take its toll on lesser machines. Sure, you could get lucky, but you’ll be taking a gamble and could end up paying for it bigtime.

Avoid buying on a whim. Buying a complex product like a gaming laptop on impulse can end up being costly and disappointing if you realize later on that you’ve made a mistake. That’s why you need to do some research, like what you’re doing here by reading this article. It always pays to make an informed purchase, so do not make one until you’re sure about it.


So there you have it. We have run you through the basics about gaming laptops, and what you need to look out for, and what to avoid. After doing all the legwork, we have whittled down our choices to 5 of the best gaming laptops under $1,000 so far this year. These are the cream of the crop for bargains under that threshold, without sacrificing quality and performance. Some of the best gaming laptops in last year’s $1,100-$1,300 range have become the best bargains under $1,000 today.

Sometimes, there is that rare gem of a new offering that not only presents an improvement in performance and even the latest features but also turns out to be very affordable. Such is the case with the HP Omen 15 variant above, which was a welcome surprise to us as it ticks most of the right checkboxes and is the clear winner here. It is the kind of deal you should be looking out for the most.

There are countless products out there, and it can be confusing to weed out the pretenders, and we hope we made it easier for you to make the best choice.

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