The Best Gaming Laptops For Under $1000

We Hand Pick The Best 17 Inch, 15 Inch, Intel, And AMD Gaming Laptops For $1,000 And Less

Best Gaming Laptop for under 1k

Gamers tend to favor powerful PC builds over gaming laptops, but in either case, you are going to be parting with lots of cash to get decent gaming performance. While you may get more bang for your buck in a $1000 gaming PC you can’t argue with the convenience and space-saving a gaming laptop offers.

We have been on the lookout for some of the best deals available for gaming laptops each and every price range. You can also check out our sister website Which Laptop for more detailed guides on the best gaming laptops for every budget.

Below we have picked what we consider being the best gaming laptops you can buy for under $1000 with the odd one just creeping over that price cap and a budget option thrown in too. The selections come from a variety of manufacturers with varied specifications, but they all offer excellent gaming performance and would also make solid general use laptops too.

Our Top Picks

Best Intel, 15 Inch Gaming Laptop Under $1,000
The Most Powerful Gaming Laptop On This List
Best AMD Gaming Laptop Under $1,000
A Powerful AMD CPU And Great Battery Life
Best Intel, 17 Inch Gaming Laptop Under $1,000
A Great Budget 17" Gaming Laptop

The Best Gaming Laptops Of 2020 And 2021 For $1,000 Or Under

Best Intel, 15 Inch Gaming Laptop Under $1,000
The Most Powerful Gaming Laptop On This List
  • Gaming Performance 5.0
  • Screen Quality 4.8
  • General Functionality 4.7
  • Portability 4.7
  • 0 /5
    Editor's Rating

    The MSI GF65 Thin 9SEXR-838 comes equipped with a 144Hz display and the powerful Nvidia RTX 2060 graphics card, which, combined with the Intel i7-9750H CPU, make it the most powerful game playing machine on this list and great value for money.

    The MSI GF65 Thin 9SEXR-838 has a 144Hz screen and the power to play games at high enough frames to make the most out of it. Although the Intel i7-9750H doesn’t quite match up to some of the AMD CPUs on this page, the Nvidia RTX 2060 GPU is the best available for a $1,000 budget, and the two combined make a powerful combination. The only thing we would advise is to consider upgrading the 8GB RAM. You won’t get a great deal of battery life out of this machine unplugged, and its one of the bulkier laptops on this list, however this is a worthwhile trade-off for what you do get.

    Best AMD Gaming Laptop Under $1,000
    A Powerful AMD CPU And Great Battery Life
  • Gaming Performance 4.8
  • Screen Quality 4.8
  • General Functionality 4.8
  • Portability 4.7
  • 0 /5
    Editor's Rating

    This version of the ASUS TUF Gaming A15 Laptop comes with the great battery life we have come to expect from the TUF series that sets them apart from the crowd. The AMD Ryzen 7 4800H CPU is the best you can get at this price, and it also comes with a Nvidia GTX 1660 Ti graphics card, a 144Hz with good contrast ratio, 16GB of RAM and a 512GB SSD.

    Our recommended configuration of the ASUS TUF Gaming A15 gives you a 144Hz screen, an AMD Ryzen 7 4800H and a Nvidia GTX 1660 Ti at a budget price, which is not something to be sniffed at. It’s a chunky machine, and not the most easily portable, but the very respectable battery life is a great benefit for those on the move. The laptop screen has a good contrast ratio and for low-level workstation tasks where color accuracy is not paramount, the CPU pulls its weight. Ultimately this is a very solid gaming machine and offers the best value on the market.

    Best Intel, 17 Inch Gaming Laptop Under $1,000
    A Great Budget 17" Gaming Laptop
  • Gaming Performance 4.9
  • Screen Quality 4.9
  • General Functionality 4.6
  • Portability 4.7
  • 0 /5
    Editor's Rating

    You won’t find a 17 inch laptop other than this specification of the Acer Nitro 5, for this price and with this much power. The Nvidia RTX 2060 graphics card is backed up by an Intel i7-9750H CPU and the screen refresh rate maxes out at 144Hz.

    This Acer Nitro 5 comes with a 144Hz 17 inch display that is an unusual feature at this price range. The Nvidia RTX 2060 GPU combined with the Intel i7-9750H CPU provide the power to get FPS on the larger screen even on more demanding titles, and the 16GB of RAM is quite adequate, though we’d recommend upgrading the 256GB SSD when you can. The speakers on the laptop leave something to be desired and the battery power could be better, but if you’re plugged in and gaming with headphones then neither of these considerations really matter.

    Honorable mention
    A Worthy Alternative Gaming Laptop Under $1,000
  • Gaming Performance 4.9
  • Screen Quality 4.8
  • General Functionality 4.6
  • Portability 4.7
  • 0 /5
    Editor's Rating

    This 15.6 inch version of the Acer Nitro 5 comes with a 144Hz screen and a Nvidia RTX 2060 graphics card, which combined with the Intel i7-9750H makes it a powerful machine for the price.

    The Acer Nitro 5 15.6 inch version gives you great bang for your buck, thanks to the Nvidia GeForce RTX 2060 it comes with, coupled with the Intel i7-9750H processor. The speakers and battery life both leave something to be desired – we wouldn’t expect the laptop to last more than 3 or 4 hours doing strenuous, but non-gaming tasks. Typically you’d always plug in a laptop anyway when playing games, and likely use headphones, so these issues may not be that significant. Finally, we’d recommend upgrading the 256GB SSD, as what’s the point of all that power if you don’t have the room for games on it?

    Alternative AMD Gaming Laptop Under $1,000
    Combines An AMD CPU With Solid Speakers And An Elegant Design
  • Gaming Performance 4.8
  • Screen Quality 4.8
  • General Functionality 4.8
  • Portability 4.6
  • 0 /5
    Editor's Rating

    The Lenovo Legion 5 is a great office-friendly gaming laptop for those on a budget. It comes with a 144Hz screen for gaming and an AMD Ryzen 7 4800H CPU that gives it some multi-core workstation performance as well, along speaker quality you don’t typically find on a laptop in this price range.

    This Lenovo Legion 5 variant has the Nvidia GTX 1660Ti graphics card – not the most powerful on this list but still respectable, particularly when paired with the AMD Ryzen 7 4800H processor, which puts it ahead of the pack on light workstation performance, tied with the ASUS TUF Gaming A15. Although the brightness of the screen could be better it still comes with an impressive 144Hz refresh rate. The reserved aesthetic also makes it more suitable for office use than the other laptops on this list. All-in-all, a respectable budget gaming laptop.

    Things To Consider When Buying A Gaming Laptop For $1,000

    For an in-depth list of what to consider when looking for a gaming laptop in general, have a quick scan of this section on our Best Gaming Laptops For 2020 & 2021 page. Below is a quick summary of what you should bear in mind when shopping to a $1,000 budget specifically.

    Realistic Expectations of Gaming Performance

    Gaming laptops are expensive on a price-to-performance basis. You pay a very significant markup when buying a gaming laptop compared to a desktop PC, purely for the convenience of being able to carry it in your bag: it is after all quite difficult to cram in all those same components and keep them from overheating into a fairly narrow space.

    Consequently, when you start looking at gaming laptops under $1,000, you cannot expect great performance in the latest games. As a (very) general rule of thumb, you can expect to get around 80-100 FPS on GTA V on high settings on many of the laptops below. Newer, more demanding games would need you to be playing on low or medium settings in order to achieve FPS this high. If this is too low for your needs then we would advise you take a look at our best gaming laptops for under $1,500 page, or alternatively consider a desktop PC you can build yourself or a prebuilt computer, for under $1,000.

    Resolution

    Under $1,000 your choice is limited entirely to 1080p resolution screens. This is the standard resolution for competition gaming anyway, which many people on higher budget would choose regardless. Furthermore, it is of questionable benefit to get a higher resolution display unless you are looking for a laptop with a screen size above 15 inches.

    Hard drive and RAM

    It’s rare to find a gaming laptop in this price range that comes with a hard drive (usually an SSD – i.e. Solid State Drive) above 512GB. Fortunately, most laptops can be upgraded in this area, and a better / additional SSD put in to increase the storage capacity. You should check to make sure that the laptop you want does indeed allow you to do this before you purchase it.
    It’s a similar story with memory capacity – you won’t find a gaming laptop in this price range with more than 16GB RAM, and will some have less. Fortunately, this is an easily upgradeable component.

    Ports & Connectivity

    Typically ports and sockets are one of the things which get sacrificed in more budget-priced laptops. It’s rare to find Thunderbolt support or SD card readers for instance in laptops under $1,000, although they do crop up on occasion.

    Best Gaming Laptops Under $1,000

    Best Intel, 15 Inch Gaming Laptop Under $1,000
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    Best AMD Gaming Laptop Under $1,000
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    Best Intel, 17 Inch Gaming Laptop Under $1,000
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    Honorable mention
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    Alternative AMD Gaming Laptop Under $1,000
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    In-depth Review

    1.
    Best Intel, 15 Inch Gaming Laptop Under $1,000
    The Most Powerful Gaming Laptop On This List
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    Pros

    144Hz screen

    Nvidia RTX 2060 graphics card

    good power for the price

    Cons

    battery life could be better

    only 8GB of single-channel RAM

    not as thin as the name would suggest

    The MSI GF65 Thin 9SEXR-838 gives you a lot of oomph for your money, with an Intel i7-9750H processor and a Nvidia RTX 2060 GPU. The graphics card in particular gives you a degree of future proofing on new titles that comes with RTX or DLSS capability, and, as at the time of writing, you won’t find a more powerful graphics card in this price range.

    Battery life does suffer due to this performance though, and you can expect to get around 5 hours max from demanding, non-gaming usage – then again this is better than many more expensive laptops can manage. The 1080p display has an impressively high 144Hz refresh rate, and although its color gamut is narrow by the standards of more expensive laptops, it certainly does the job when gaming.

    Some models of this laptop come with a 256GB SSD, which we would not recommend as this would barely give you enough room for a few larger sized games once you’ve installed the operating system. 512GB is not ideal but it’s to be expected at this price point, and the storage can always be upgraded at a later date. The speakers on the laptop are rudimentary, and the same could be said for the keyboard and trackpad, but they all do the job.

    Whilst not enormous we wouldn’t exactly say the MSI GF65 is ‘thin’ compared to some of the competition, though it is fairly light. Aesthetically the laptop isn’t great but it’s not bad either, and though its construction feels plasticy it is quite sturdy; for this price though, this is more than an acceptable trade-off considering the power this laptop brings to the table.

    2.
    Best AMD Gaming Laptop Under $1,000
    A Powerful AMD CPU And Great Battery Life
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    Pros

    AMD CPU gives decent workstation performance on a budget

    144Hz screen

    very good battery life

    good contrast ratio

    Cons

    not thin or particularly portable

    noisey fans

    The ASUS TUF Gaming A15 Laptop comes in a variety of configurations, but the one we’ve chosen with the AMD Ryzen 7 4800H CPU and Nvidia GTX 1660 Ti GPU brings it just up to the $1,000 mark. The 1660 Ti is not the most powerful graphics card listed here, but this is the trade-off you pay for the other components – specifically the CPU, SSD size and the RAM.

    A 144Hz screen at this price point is great and at 1080p resolution you can comfortably play even the most demanding games on at least medium settings and get between 60 – 100FPS. Less demanding games will definitely see you reach the 144FPS point. The AMD CPU also gives great multi-core performance meaning it is also good for low-level workstation tasks, although this does not stretch to any graphic or color work as the color gamut of the screen is quite narrow, as is the case with all laptops at this price point. The contrast ratio is good however.

    The A15 is not the lightest of laptops, and its chunky design means it is not the most portable out there; the fans are also noisy (even by the standards of gaming laptops), all of which limits its use as a machine you could happily use on public transport. Importantly though the ASUS TUF Gaming A15 does have very good battery life when doing strenuous non-gaming tasks, which is often lacking in other gaming laptops, and should last you well over 8 hours.

    3.
    Best Intel, 17 Inch Gaming Laptop Under $1,000
    A Great Budget 17" Gaming Laptop
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    Pros

    144Hz screen

    Nvidia RTX 2060 graphics card

    17.3″ screen

    good power for the price

    Cons

    poor speakers

    battery life could be better

    only 256GB SSD

    The Acer Nitro 5 17.3 inch version is a uniquely good value for a screen this size. Although the price of this laptop may fluctuate slightly above the budget threshold of this guide, we’ve seen the machine come below the $1,000 mark during discounts and if you really desire a 17.3” screen it’s worth stretching that little bit further.

    The laptop is powered by an Nvidia RTX 2060 GPU which is the most powerful you can hope to get at this ‘budget’ level, and it gives the laptop a degree of future-proofing for upcoming titles that may use Ray-tracing or DLSS. The Intel Core i7-9750H processor, whilst not as good as some of the AMD processors on this page for workstation tasks, definitely punches its weight in gaming.

    Unsurprisingly the Acer Nitro 5 is not blessed with a particularly long battery life – larger screens tend to use more power for one. You can expect to get a few hours out of it from strenuous, but non-gameplay use. The speakers on the laptop also leave something to be desired: whilst laptop speakers generally are not great, these ones are slightly below the average. The biggest negative of this laptop however is the small 256GB SSD, which will fill up very fast and doesn’t allow space for many games to be installed at any one time. Thankfully the storage on this laptop is upgradeable and we would advise doing so should you purchase it.

    Despite this though, 17.3” of display with this GPU and CPU is still a bargain, and we therefore very much recommend this laptop if a bigger screen is what you’re looking for.

    4.
    Honorable mention
    A Worthy Alternative Gaming Laptop Under $1,000
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    Pros

    144Hz screen

    Nvidia RTX 2060 graphics card

    good power for the price

    Cons

    poor speakers

    battery life could be better

    only 256GB SSD

    The Acer Nitro 5 15.6 inch version is completely identical to its 17.3 inch brethren as reviewed above on this page, with the exception of the screen size (obviously). Battery life is slightly improved on the 15.6” version, given the smaller screen size it has to power, but don’t expect it to last beyond 4 hours of intensive, non-gaming use.

    For some, the extra FPS performance you get from the same hardware powering games on a smaller screen might make this smaller version the preferred option, not to mention the extra portability it brings with it. The laptop comes with an Intel Core i7-9750H processor and an NVIDIA GeForce RTX 2060 GPU, as does the 17” one, giving it a fair amount of power for the price.

    The specifications of this machine put it in direct competition with the MSI GF65 Thin 9SEXR-838, the two major differences being that the other machine comes with a 512GB SSD and 8GB of RAM, whereas this laptop only has 256GB of storage but 16GB of RAM. Such a small harddrive is really quite a big drawback if you are planning on having more than 2 games installed at any one time or for using your laptop for other purposes besides gaming, though the additional RAM is also important. Either way, if you pick the Acer Nitro 5 we’d advise upgrading the hard drive yourself or going with the MSI GF65 Thin 9SEXR-838 and upping the RAM.

    5.
    Alternative AMD Gaming Laptop Under $1,000
    Combines An AMD CPU With Solid Speakers And An Elegant Design
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    Pros

    AMD CPU gives decent workstation performance on a budget

    144Hz screen

    decent speakers for a laptop

    reserved design more suitable for office use

    ports located in the back

    Cons

    low screen brightness

    battery life could be better

    relatively heavy

    The Lenovo Legion 5 Gaming Laptop, like the ASUS TUF Gaming A15, comes with a AMD Ryzen 7 4800H processor which makes it good for workstation tasks (outside of color accurate work, which would require a larger budget and a better screen). Again like the TUF Gaming A15 it also has an Nvidia GTX 1660 Ti graphics card, a 512GB SSD and 16GB or RAM.

    The GPU is not the most powerful on this page, and again represents something of a tradeoff in having a superior CPU as well as solid RAM and storage specs. The 144Hz screen does the job, though its maximum brightness is a little low, so you’ll want to make sure you’re not in particularly brightly lit spaces when using it. Battery life is not the worst out there but it’s not the best either – it certainly doesn’t match up to the unusually good battery life of the ASUS TUF Gaming A15.

    The laptop does have advantages over the TUF Gaming machine however in that its speakers are somewhat better, its reserved design makes it more suitable as an office use machine and the arrangement of ports in the back is more ergonomically friendly. Having said that this is the heaviest laptop on this page, so bear that in mind in terms of portability.

    All-in-all though this is still a solid machine for the price, with great specs if you don’t mind going with a slightly weaker GPU.

    Final Word

    This has been our Buyers’ Guide to the best gaming laptops in 2020 and 2021 for $1,000 or under. We hope you have found it useful in making your choice as to which laptop to buy. If you didn’t find what you want here, we have other laptop guides for different budgets which can be found in the recommended articles alongside this page.

    If you need more power more cheaply than a gaming laptop can provide, have a look at our guides on high-end desktop builds for under $1,500 and also the best pre-built PC for under $1,500.

    If you know of any specific laptops you would like to see reviewed that we have not covered, please let us know in a comment below.