Best Gaming Laptops Under $1,000 (2023)

By Andrew E. Freedman

published

We tested the cheapest gaming laptops to help you pick a budget powerhouse.

Best Gaming Laptops Under $1,000 (1)

Gaming is an expensive hobby between pricey games and the hardware to play it on. But you don't necessarily need to spend thousands of dollars on a gaming notebook to get playing. There are a number of gaming laptops out there for under $1,000 that will get you a 1080p screen, a gaming-grade CPU and a discrete GPU.

Will you have to turn down the settings? Possibly, depending on the game. There are going to be caveats in this price range. Some won't have the latest-generation processors, GPUs won’t be the most powerful, you may get just 8GB of RAM and the storage space may not hold more than a few games at once. . . You'll have to make sacrifices. 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.

As power users, we highly recommend that if you have the means to spend a bit more, that you consider it; we also maintain lists of the

best gaming laptops under $1,500

and the

best gaming laptops overall

. A better GPU, SSD or screen will go a long way, and you're likely to get better build quality, too. But if your bank account is hurting like so many are right now, there still are options for you and, if you have more money later,you can usually add more storage or upgrade the RAM on your laptop on your own.

At CES 2023, we saw some new budget GPUs announced. It's likely that a new swath of sub-$1,000 gaming notebooks will be powered by the new Nvidia GeForce RTX 4050.

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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Best Gaming Laptops Under $1,000 (2)

1. Acer Nitro 5 (2022)

Best Gaming Laptop Under $1,000

Specifications

CPU: Intel Core i5-12500H

GPU: Nvidia GeForce RTX 3050 Ti

Display: 15.6-inch, 1920 x 1080, 144 Hz

Weight: 5.51 pounds / 2.5 kg

Reasons to buy

+

Affordable

+

Design has been refined

+

Decent gaming performance for the price

(Video) The BEST Budget Gaming Laptops 2022

Reasons to avoid

-

Display is a bit washed out

-

Tons of bloatware

We've often held up the Acer Nitro 5 as a strong example of the kind of gaming laptop you can get on a budget. The model we tested, with an Intel Core i5-12500H, an Nvidia GeForce RTX 3050 Ti, 512GB SSD and 16GB of RAM makes most games playable. It cost $899.99 when we tested it, but we've seen it on sale as low as $799.99.

The 16GB of RAM is more than you often see in this price range, which is good for performance, and the 512GB SSD will let you hold a few games. While in our testing, we found the display to be a bit washed out, it does reach 144 Hz, which is faster than others in its class. You'll have to make a quality versus speed comparison there.

Like many budget gaming notebooks, Acer has really covered the Nitro 5 in bloatware. You'll want to uninstall some of that to make room for more games (and enjoy a cleaner experience in general).

We also liked that Acer left room to expand the storage down the line. There’s an empty 2.5-inch drive bay, and Acer includes a SATA cable in the box so that you can add a hard drive or SSD to make room for more games. Not too many laptops in this price range include room for extra, affordable storage.

More:

Acer Nitro 5 Review

Best Gaming Laptops Under $1,000 (3)

2. HP Victus 15

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.

(Video) Best Gaming Laptops Under £1000 | Budget Nvidia RTX Notebooks For Students

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.)

Read:

HP Victus 15 Review

Best Gaming Laptops Under $1,000 (4)

3. Dell G15 (5520)

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

Best Gaming Laptops Under $1,000 (5)

4. Lenovo IdeaPad Gaming 3

Around $700 to Start

(Video) Best Gaming laptops from 75K to 1Lac | RTX 3060 6GB, 16GB RAM , 512Gb SSD|⚡Must Watch.

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

MORE: Best Gaming PCs

MORE: Best Ultrabooks and Premium Laptops

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Best Gaming Laptops Under $1,000 (6)

Andrew E. Freedman

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 Twitter: @FreedmanAE

(Video) Best Laptops Under $1000 (2023) | Top 5 Best Budget Gaming & Student Laptops Under $1000 in 2023

Topics

Laptops

Tom's Hardware Top Picks

Gaming

3 CommentsComment from the forums

  • 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

    (Video) Best Gaming Laptop 2022 Deals: ASUS, Legion, Alienware & More | Gaming Laptop 2022 Buying Guide

FAQs

What is the number 1 gaming laptop brand? ›

The Asus ROG Zephyrus G15 is one of the best gaming laptops that you can currently purchase. It's tough to beat the performance for the cost.

How much should I pay for a gaming laptop? ›

Laptops like this can start around $2,000, and, depending on what other specs you need, go over $3,000. But with the new RTX series, you can play ray-traced video games and get faster frame rates. An RTX 3070 or RTX 3080 Ti may even be enough for you to play games in 4K, depending on the settings that you use.

How much RAM for gaming? ›

16GB is the recommended amount of RAM for playing most games and will provide a noticeable increase in performance from 8GB. You will also be able to run applications in the background without affecting gameplay.

How much should I spend on a gaming laptop 2022? ›

A great gaming laptop usually costs around two grand, so the cheapest capable options are around a grand or more. There are some commendable models below that threshold, but most will sacrifice important specifications like storage space and ram to meet a price point.

Is it cheaper to build or buy a gaming laptop? ›

In a nutshell, a build-it-yourself PC can save you money in both the short and long term. This is because it can cost less to put together and less to upgrade components down the track, which keeps your system relevant for longer. It also offers far more customisation options.

What laptop should I get for gaming? ›

The best gaming laptop we've tested is the Razer Blade 14 (2022), an exceptionally well-built model with a sleek, compact design. It has a spacious keyboard with per-key RGB backlighting, plenty of ports for peripherals, and a Wi-Fi 6E wireless adapter for low-latency online gaming.

Which laptop has the highest rating? ›

The best laptop we've tested is the Apple MacBook Pro 14 (2021), a high-end mobile workstation. It has an exceptionally sturdy build, all-day battery life, and plenty of processing power to handle demanding workloads like video editing and 3D animation.

What processor do I need for gaming? ›

For ideal results, a machine running an Intel® Core™ i7 processor or better with at least 8GB of RAM is sufficient for playing games and streaming at the same time. If you're hoping for less impact on your gaming performance, an Intel® Core™ i9 processor makes for an even smoother experience.

How long should a gaming laptop last? ›

Performance-wise, you can expect a good gaming laptop to last around five years. Pick up a laptop that matches or exceeds the performance of a console. The GPU affects a gaming laptop's lifespan the most. Most gaming laptop hardware isn't upgradable, so spend your money where it matters most.

How do I know if my laptop is good for gaming? ›

The general thumb rule for games is, higher capacity RAM is better. When you're looking at purchasing a gaming laptop, ideally opt for laptops with 8GB of RAM or more. In most cases, 8GB of RAM should suffice, although 16GB would be recommended, if you're looking at a higher spec laptop.

Is 64GB of RAM overkill for gaming? ›

For gamers, 64GB is certainly overkill: 16GB will be fine for new title releases in the near future. It's what else is on your PC hoovering up the memory that might require it. Browsers can eat up several gigs, particularly if you have a bunch of tabs open and extensions loaded.

Is 32 GB RAM overkill? ›

No, 32GB RAM should not cause any problems with your computer or game performance. In fact, it should actually improve your gaming experience by providing you with more memory to work with.

Is 32 GB RAM too much? ›

16GB: Excellent for Windows and MacOS systems and also good for gaming, especially if it is fast RAM. 32GB: This is the sweet spot for professionals. Gamers can enjoy a small performance improvement in some demanding games, too. 64GB and more: For enthusiasts and purpose-built workstations only.

Is GTX 1650 good for gaming? ›

GeForce GTX 1650 gaming laptops are built with the breakthrough graphics performance of the award-winning NVIDIA Turing™ architecture. With performance that's up to 2X the GeForce GTX 950M and up to 70% faster than GTX 1050, it's the supercharger for today's most popular games, and even faster with modern titles.

Is 512GB enough for gaming laptop? ›

A 512GB SSD is good enough for gaming and most performance tasks. Despite games progressively becoming larger, a 512GB SSD will be able to hold most of your favourite games at once.

Is investing in a gaming laptop worth it? ›

Yes, buying a gaming laptop is worth it. Its ability to deliver high performance and withstand high heat build-up in its small portable body makes it a worthwhile investment. However, some reasons make buying a gaming laptop an unworthy investment. Gaming laptops are expensive.

Is 1000 dollars good for a laptop? ›

If you're shopping for a laptop, a $1,000 budget can get you a lot, as many premium laptops start around that price range. You can get an exceptionally well-built laptop with a metal chassis, like an Apple MacBook Air, a 2-in-1 convertible, or even a gaming laptop with a powerful CPU and GPU.

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