Computers, Gadgets, Technology

Fiscal Fragging: 5 Best Gaming Laptops Under $1,000

Getting a good gaming laptop for under a grand can be done if you’re smart. Though $1,000 these days is a little lean for an excellent gaming rig, by learning where to scrimp and where to splurge, and what to upgrade later, you’ll be able to top the leaderboards and save money.

What To Look For In a Gaming Laptop Under $1,000

Gaming is hands-down the hardest a computer is going to work, unless it is compiling complex data or mining for cryptocurrency. The reason gaming requires so much power is because your machine is needing to quickly process huge amounts of information. Everything, from the ambient sound to the inputs, video, and AI is data your computer has to process. Add in that some of that data often includes other people – in the case of multiplayer games – and you’re asking your rig to work overtime.

There’s literally no specification on a computer that doesn’t factor in when it comes to gaming. Display resolution, processing power, RAM, hard drive space, sound reproduction, online connectivity, and everything else right down to the responsiveness of the keyboard all factor into gaming. So, what you’re going to need is a computer that can do everything well.

Heat is also a major consideration when it comes to gaming. Especially if you’re looking at extended, all-night fragging sessions. Overlooking that key component can leave you with a scorched rig. Unlike other specs, heat is a matter of trial and error.

Ideally a gaming laptop has at bare minimum 8GB of RAM, a quad-core Intel i5 or higher processor – or a comparable AMD – and a dedicated video card.

Should You Go Cheaper

The assumption is that if you’re looking for a gaming laptop, you want something that’s going to be capable of playing the latest AAA video game titles, have VR interface options for future gaming, and be able to upgrade down the line. If VR isn’t as important to you, we suggest shaving off a few hundred and choosing something in the $700+ range. Most of those have the required specs for standard gaming, but aren’t compatible with virtual reality headsets like the Oculus Rift or HTC Vive.

If you’re looking to save some scratch, shoot for smaller hard drives and less RAM with the option to upgrade later. Both of those are easily replaceable on most computers, so can be replaced later.

Processors and motherboards aren’t so easily swapped out, so get the best you can in those out of the box.

You can likewise upgrade your video and sound cards, as well as WiFi connection, so long as you have the right motherboard. To help you keep compatibility in mind, we suggest using Crucial.com’s search to help you shop. You can input computer make and model and see available upgrades for it.

Best Gaming Laptops Under $1,000

ASUS TUF Thin & Light Gaming FX504

Pros: Durable, inexpensive, reliable

Cons: Limited upgrade capabilities, i5 processor

A lot of value in a relatively inexpensive package, the TUF & Thin is the only Asus we’d buy at this price point. That’s not to insult the brand, but their mid-range gaming laptops leave a lot to be desired.

You’re not going to get a lot of power here, as the processor is an i5, but it is an 8th Gen, which ramps up the speed to respectable levels. It starts life with a paltry 8GB of RAM, but is primed for 32GB when you’re ready to level up.

The hard drive is an SSHD (Solid State Hybrid Drive) that is also simple to replace, but works well for plug and play gaming.

As to graphics, you’re going to get a lot of beautiful images out of the GeForce GTX 1050 with 2 gigs of on-board RAM for more juice where you need it. Purchase: $699

Specs of Asus TUF & Thin
Processor 2.3 GHz Intel Core i5
RAM/Memory 8 GB DDR4 2666MHz
Storage/Hard Drive 1000 GB Hybrid Drive
Graphics Processor NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1050
Monitor/Resolution 1920×1080 pixels

Dell Inspiron 15 7000 Gaming Laptop

Pros: Excellent support, large upgrade compatibility

Cons: Older processor, modest graphics card

As trustworthy as a name gets, the Dell Inspiron line is among the best. While Dell is known more for affordable home and office computers, their gaming laptops provide an abundance of power for little money.

Though Dell made a name for itself making affordable home and office machines, don’t discount their gaming gear. The Inspiron 15 7K brings the same dedicated customer support, loads of upgrad choices, and flexibility that Dell has always had. It also comes with a friendly Dell price tag.

What’s most enticing about the Inspiron is that you start with the basic RAM package, but can quickly snatch up 32GB worth. It starts off with a hybrid hard drive, which isn’t ideal, but works. That can be traded for a massive SSD (Solid State Drive) or whatever you fancy for the fight ahead.

Those upgrade options kick the Dell from decent to seriously nasty when mixed with the GeForce GTX 960M and 7th generation i7 processor.

If there is a major drawback, it’s the older processor of the Dell. 8th generation models of the Intel i7 are estimated 30% faster than this model. They also cost an approximate 30% more, so if you want the latest and greatest, you’re going to need to increase your budget. Purchase: $800

Specs of Dell Inspiron 15 7000
Processor 2.6 GHz Intel Core i7
RAM/Memory 8 GB
Storage/Hard Drive 1128 GB Hybrid
Graphics Processor NVIDIA GeForce GTX 960M
Monitor/Resolution 1920 x 1080

Acer Predator Helios 300

Acer Predator Helios 300

Pros: VR equipped, m.2 is PCIe/NVMe compatible, empty bay

Cons: Tends to run hot, limited ports

You’re going to need every cent of your $1,000 budget to land the most basic Predator Helios 300, but it’s worth it. This badass is VR ready, which you won’t find in the lower budgets. If that’s important to you, this is going to be the best way to be ready for the virtual world without more money on the table.

Even if VR is only marginally interesting to you, the 16 gigs of RAM, and i7-7700 from Intel should be enough to pique your interest. If not, then perhaps the 6GB of additional RAM built into the GeForce GTX 1060 vid card will whet your appetite. If that still isn’t enough, there’s an empty drive slot for whatever accessories you want to throw down with.

As is common in the under $1,000 gaming laptop category, you’re not going to be getting the latest and greatest in tech. The processor is a 7th gen, so it’s going to be a hair behind newer models. Otherwise, it can step to most $1,500 rigs without being too far afield. Purchase: $999

Specs of Acer Predator Helios 300
Processor 3.8 GHz Intel Core i7
RAM/Memory 16 GB
Storage/Hard Drive 256 GB Flash Memory Solid State
Graphics Processor NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1060
Monitor/Resolution 1920 x 1080

HP Omen 17

HP Omen 17 - gaming laptop under 1000

Pros: 17″ screen, easy to upgrade

Cons: Expensive, will need RAM, refurbished

It’s a shock to see an HP perform as well the Omen does. Though HP laptops have been rising in quality, they’re usually business systems without the sheer power or graphics to game effectively. The Omen 17 breaks from that pack with a vengeance.

Rather than being an exceptional gaming system right off the bat, the Omen 17 is intended to be built up over time. To get under the grand price mark, you’ll have to settle for 4GB of RAM, which is laughable. Luckily, it has the backing of a 4GB GeForce GTX 1050 TI, and goes up to 32GB of RAM, when you have a few more hundred to spare.

You’re also going to have to make peace with this being certified refurbished, since new off the line will run you another $300+ at the very least. Which is where having the HP brand, and its customer service, helps immensely. The Omen 17 is very unlikely to break, and even refurbs get plenty of love from the brand.

Despite those hiccups, the Omen 17 is a purchase that is hard to regret. It can deal with most anything you throw at it. Though might need a little hardware help along the way.

The Omen is also one of the few 17″ gaming laptops that can manage top titles without busting your bank account wide open. Purchase: $999

Specs of HP Omen 17
Processor 2.8 GHz Intel Core i7
RAM/Memory 4 GB SDRAM
Storage/Hard Drive 1TB/7200RPM HDD plus 128GB M.2 SSD
Graphics Processor NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1050 Ti
Monitor/Resolution 1920×1080

MSI GL72M

Pros: Ultra boost cooling system, SteelSeries keyboard, light

Cons: Casing absorbs fingerprints, loud fans

MSI gaming laptops are extremely common among the gamer community, with good reason. They’re built to be largely future-proof for the life of the laptop.

This model features a SteeSeries keyboard, the Ferrari of laptop boards capable of handling years of abuse. It has a standard red backlight that’s easy on the eyes after hours of owning Fortnite.

This model tends to run a little loud, which isn’t an issue with headphones, but could be in public settings. That said, it does a fine job of cooling with a boost feature that you’ll almost never need to use.

As with most models on this list, the MSI GL72 M has the ability to be upgraded, but starts with a basic 8 gigs of ram and hybrid drive. Mostly the NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1050Ti 4G vid card will make you forget those woes.

The on-board speakers are downright bad. Not an issue for gamers with headphones, but anyone who hates ear sweat will also need to nab some decent speakers for this heap of gaming love. Purchase: $999.99

Specs of MSI GL72M
Processor 2.8 GHz Intel Core i7
RAM/Memory 8 GB DDR4
Storage/Hard Drive 1000 GB Hybrid Drive
Graphics Processor NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1050Ti
Monitor/Resolution 1920×1080 pixels

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