Dipping your toes into PC gaming? Here are 6 laptop options for under $1,000.

Dipping your toes into PC gaming? Here are 6 laptop options for under $1,000.


Dell Gaming G3 15 3500 — $754.98

MSI MODERN141029 14″ Gaming Notebook — $786.99

PC gaming is said by many to be the best way to play video games. In many ways, that’s true — high-end gaming computers pack more graphical and processing power than any home console does, and they offer a level of freedom in terms of customization and game choice that you’re just not going to find anywhere else. 

There is a downside, however, and it’s one that can be endlessly frustrating for those who aren’t used to the PC gaming lifestyle. When it comes down to it, starting your foray into PC gaming can be extremely complicated, and comes off as pretty inaccessible more often than not (especially when you’re just starting out). Unlike consoles that you can just pick up and play, gaming computers require an intense amount of research into each and every part that goes into one. GPUs, CPUs, monitors, keyboards — it’s a lot to take in, and it all comes in at a steep price of admission. 

If that sounds intimidating to you, you still have another way to get into PC gaming without stressing about building a tower from scratch: a gaming laptop. 

SEE ALSO: 7 of the best gaming routers to supercharge your game

Gaming laptops still take a bit of careful spec scrutinization before you buy one, but they are way simpler than their desktop counterparts, seeing as it’s all contained in one single package. Plus, they take up less space, are portable, and won’t have you spending thousands to build and maintain. (That’s not to say that they’re cheap, though — if you go too low-budget, you’ll most likely end up with a machine that can’t run what you really want to play.)

But even with the extra simplicity that comes with going the laptop route, it can still be a nerve-wracking choice to pull the trigger on one if you don’t know what to look for in the first place. As you probably already guessed, we’re here to help you with that.

What to consider when looking for a gaming laptop

As with any computer — gaming or otherwise — there are a lot of components that go into making a great laptop…well, great. Let us break it down for you so you don’t get bogged down in trying to figure it all out for yourself. 

Here’s what you’ll want to take into account when shopping for a gaming laptop:

CPU: Also called a processor, your CPU is basically your computer’s brain, and will dictate how speedy your laptop can process inputs, store data, and execute on outputs correctly. Your processor is in constant communication with the other parts of your computer, so it’s important that the device’s central nervous system is a good one. 

GPU: The GPU (or graphics card) does what it sounds like it does: It ensures that your games can run at their intended graphical quality. The better the GPU, the better your laptop can render details like textures, anti-aliasing, ray tracing, and more (you can always change these settings within your games to better suit your graphics card, but the better the GPU, the closer you can get to those higher-end settings). 

System Memory (or RAM): Your RAM, like your CPU, is also extremely important in determining overall performance. RAM provides short-term memory storage for applications so that they can access data quickly, storing information that your computer is actively using. For budget gaming laptops, you shouldn’t settle for anything less than 8GB of RAM.

Storage: When it comes to storage, you’ll normally find yourself deciding between a hard drive (HDD) and a solid-state drive (SSD). HDDs can have a higher storage capacity than SSDs, but at the cost of lower performance. The good news is that some gaming laptops come with a dual-storage approach, opting for an HDD as the main storage method, with a smaller SSD built in that you can dedicate to your more performance-demanding games.

Display: That nice GPU you bought will be wasted if you don’t have a nice display to marvel at its brilliance on. You’ll mainly want to look for three things here: resolution, refresh rate, and size. For our money, we say go for a 1080p resolution with a 60Hz refresh rate (which means you can run up to 60 frames per second on your screen). The size, however, is up to your preference — gaming laptops usually come in at 15.6-inch and 17.3-inch displays.

Keyboard: The keyboard is another vital part of your overall experience with a gaming laptop. Comfort is definitely a factor, but you’ll also want to decide whether you want full-range RGB backlight settings (totally fine to skip out on the fancy stuff here), and if you like the layout of the keys themselves. For example, if you find that you desperately need a number pad on your keyboard, you’ll want to double-check to make sure that it’s there — not all gaming laptops have one (not all 15.6-inch options at least, almost all 17.3-inch laptops will have one). 

Portability is a huge bonus to gaming laptops over desktops.

Portability is a huge bonus to gaming laptops over desktops.

Image: MSI

Um, that’s a lot. What parts should I focus on the most?

If you’re going to boil it down to just two things, you’ll want to put most of your focus on the computer’s GPU and CPU, or the processor and graphics card, respectively. These will be the two things that make or break your experience with your gaming laptop, as they work in tandem with each other — having a good GPU and CPU will ensure that your games run as they should, and look great while doing it. 

If you skimp on them, get ready for choppy gameplay and a hefty helping of frustration when you realize that your options are super limited when it comes to what you can play. Just don’t make that mistake, and you’ll be saving yourself from a bad time. 

What’s the best gaming laptop for less than $1,000?

Luckily, you can get a pretty nice gaming laptop for under $1,000. Keep in mind that you may not be able to run graphically demanding games on one, but you’ll be able to play whichever games you want for the most part. 

So, which gaming laptop should you buy? Here are our picks:

Best Budget-Friendly AMD-Powered Laptop

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Image: asus / mashable photo composite

The Good

512GB SSD is rare at this price • AMD Ryzen 7 CPU and NVIDIA GeForce RTX 2060 GPU make for a great combo • VR-ready

The Bad

No disc drive — if you have old PC games on disc that you want to play, look elsewhere

The Bottom Line

If you want an AMD-powered gaming laptop at the budget price point, the Asus TUF Gaming A15 is the only way to go — with the NVIDIA GeForce RTX 2060 GPU to boot, it’s a fantastic buy.

Asus TUF Gaming A15

The Asus TUF Gaming A15 is the best AMD powered laptop that you’ll find at this price point, especially when paired with the NVIDIA GeForce RTX 2060 GPU. CPU: AMD 3rd Generation Ryzen 7 GPU: NVIDIA GeForce RTX 2060 RAM: 8GB Storage: 512GB SSD Display: 15.6 inches, 1080p

$999.99 from B&H

If AMD processors are more your style over Intel, the Asus TUF Gaming A15 is the best AMD-powered laptop you’ll find at the $1,000-and-under price point. It’s also one of the only AMD-powered laptops running an NVIDIA GeForce RTX 2060 GPU at this price. 
In addition to the speedy performance from the AMD CPU and RTX 2060 graphics card, the A15 is just a well-rounded machine that serves as a great starting point for those new to the PC gaming landscape. It has a large SSD (most laptops at this price bring about 256GB to the table — this one boasts 512GB) that’ll give an extra power boost to that at CPU-and-GPU combo, a gorgeous 1080p display, and a full RGB backlit keyboard. It’s also VR-ready, just in case you’ve been thinking about picking up an Oculus Rift. 

Best Lightweight Gaming Laptop

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Image: msi / mashable photo composite

The Good

Compact, thin-bezel design is great for travel • Speedy performance for a smaller device • A nice lineup of components

The Bad

Screen is a bit dim, which takes away from its graphical power

The Bottom Line

If you see yourself traveling with your gaming laptop often, the MSI GF63 is really good for chucking into your backpack and playing from wherever you are.

MSI GF63 Thin

Speedy and packing good components for the price, the MSI GF63 Thin gaming laptop makes for an ideal device to travel with. CPU: Intel Core i5-8300H GPU: NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1650 RAM: 8GB Storage: 256GB SSD Display: 15.6 inches, 1080p

$929.99 from Amazon

Planning on traveling with your PC? The MSI GF63 Thin gaming laptop is going to be your best bet. 
We love this laptop not only for its compact, thin-bezel design that’s great for storing in a backpack, but also for its other components. At this price, you’re getting a really solid setup — an Intel Core i5-9300H processor, NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1650 graphics card, 256GB SSD, and a 1080p full HD display. 
It’s fast, packs stellar visuals, and is all tied together in an ultra-portable package.

Best Budget Pick

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Image: acer / mashable photo composite

The Good

Affordable • Great components for the price • Long battery life

The Bad

Lower graphical quality than our other picks, as expected

The Bottom Line

The Acer Nitro 5 is the best *budget* budget laptop, in our opinion — the component setup and long battery life make it an awesome deal at just $700.

Acer Nitro 5

If you’re looking to spend the least money possible on your gaming laptop without buying an absolute clunker, the Acer Nitro 5 will satisfy on all counts. CPU: Intel 10th Generation Core i5 GPU: NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1650 RAM: 8GB Storage: 256GB SSD Display: 15.6-inches, 1080p

$749.99 from Best Buy

The Acer Nitro 5 is our favorite budget pick because, for one thing, it’s the cheapest on our list.
But that low price wouldn’t mean anything if it wasn’t also a good laptop, which it totally is. In fact, it has a lot of the same inner components as a few of the more expensive options in this roundup. Perhaps the most impressive selling point of this laptop (other than the price) is its 9-hour battery life. Most gaming laptops at this price will last 7 hours on the high end, for comparison. 
The price does come with some downsides, though. Most notably, the graphical performance in conjunction with the Intel 10th Generation Core i5 processor isn’t as great as our other picks (that’s not to say it looks bad, though). But hey, you can’t have it all, and that low price point is hard to beat. 

Best Laptop with a Large Display

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Image: hp / mashable photo composite

The Good

Beautiful, large 17.3-inch display • Nice CPU and GPU make the bigger display all the better

The Bad

Lacking in battery life (around 6 hours)

The Bottom Line

Enjoying your nice processor and graphics card is all the better on a large display — look no further than the HP Pavilion 17t-cd100 if you plan on going big.

HP Pavilion 17t-cd100

Plan on keeping your laptop solely at home? Well then, the bigger the display, the better — pick the HP Pavilion 17t-cd100’s large display so you can better enjoy those beautiful visuals. CPU: Intel Core i5-10300H GPU: NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1650 RAM: 8GB Storage: 256GB SSD Display: 17.3-inches, 1080p

$919.99 from HP

If you’re not going to be traveling with your gaming laptop, we say the bigger the display, the better — especially if you have a good CPU and GPU, which the HP Pavilion 17t-cd100 does. 
And with that strong balance of CPU and GPU comes the ability to enjoy gorgeous visuals on the laptop’s 17.3-inch display. It also packs a nicely sized SSD storage, as well as an extra-large keyboard that should keep even the biggest hands comfortable. 
If you want a step up from your usual 15.6-inch gaming laptops with going over your budget, the HP Pavilion 17t-cd100 is a no-brainer decision. (Just don’t expect a lightweight rig.)

Best Storage Options

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Image: Lenovo / mashable photo composite

The Good

HDD and SSD storage combo • Nice display and chassis design • Great mashup of internal components

The Bad

Runs pretty hot, so make sure the laptop is well-ventilated while you play

The Bottom Line

The Lenovo IdeaPad Gaming 3i’s HDD and SSD storage combo is enough to solidify it as a top pick — the sleek design and other internal components are a nice bonus.

Lenovo IdeaPad Gaming 3i

The Lenovo IdeaPad Gaming 3i’s HDD and SSD storage combo alone is enough to solidify it as one of the best gaming laptops you can get for under a grand. CPU: 10th Generation Intel Core i7-10750H GPU: NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1650 RAM: 8GB Storage: 1TB HDD, 256GB SSD Display: 15.6 inches, 1080p

$829.99 from Lenovo

The best storage specs you can ask for in a budget gaming laptop is a combination of a large HDD paired with a smaller SSD that’s dedicated to the more demanding games in your library. Well, no gaming laptop under $1,000 better exemplifies that than the Lenovo IdeaPad Gaming 3i. 
The IdeaPad Gaming 3i impresses with its 1TB hard drive, which should leave plenty of room for most (if not all) of your game library. In addition, you’ll get a 256GB SSD on which you can store games that require a boost in speed and graphical processing power. 
And if that’s not reason enough to seal the deal already, the device contains a powerful set of internals that should keep your favorite games running swimmingly, as well as a striking display and chassis design. 

Best Performance for the Money

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Image: dell / mashable photo composite

The Good

Impressive price-to-performance ratio • Well-rounded components make for a really good starter gaming laptop

The Bad

Some hardware issues like overheating and low battery life (which can be mitigated if you keep it plugged in)

The Bottom Line

If you don’t really care for the all bells and whistles and just want raw performance, the Dell G5 15 is a good beginner’s gaming laptop at a sweet price.

Dell G5 15

The Dell G5 15 gaming laptop prioritizes raw performance over fancy features, which becomes totally worthwhile at such a low price. CPU: 10th Generation Intel Core i5-10300H GPU: NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1650 RAM: 8GB Storage: 256GB SSD Display: 15.6 inches, 1080p

$881.99 from Dell

The Dell G5 15 is the way to go if you’re looking for the best price-to-performance ratio. 
The G5 15 has a really solid CPU and GPU setup for the $800 range, prioritizing raw performance over fancy bells and whistles that other gaming laptops may opt for. The Dell G-Series laptops definitely don’t reach the heights of their premium Alienware line, but on a budget, the G5 15 is the best of the Dell bunch.
The hardware is a bit chunky and has the tendency to overheat during long play sessions, but if you can stomach those issues, the speedy Dell G5 15 is a beginner gaming laptop that is well worth the money. 

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