Best Gaming Laptops Under $1,000

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Gaming laptops can put a serious dent in your wallet, with some of the fancier models costing upward of $3,500. But who says that the right rig has to cost an arm, a leg and the soul of your firstborn? Fortunately for the fiscally conscious gamer, there are a few sub-$1,000 notebooks on the market that can run graphically taxing games like The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt and Metro: Last Light at solid frame rates. And you can use all that money you just saved to splurge on some top-notch accessories.

Over the course of our testing, two gaming rigs rose to the top. The Asus ROG GL552 emerged as the undisputed winner among sub-$1,000 notebooks. Sporting a sleek design, a beefy graphics card and a powerful Core i7 processor, the laptop delivered impressive frame rates and multitasking prowess with one of the best displays we've seen in this price range.

The Dell Inspiron 15 7000 was the runner-up, delivering impressive performance numbers and over 6 hours of battery life. The remaining systems in this roundup have features that will appeal to certain customers, but they’re not highly recommended.

Best Overall Budget Gaming Laptop:  Asus ROG GL552

The $979 Asus ROG GL552 delivers a surprising amount of gaming performance via its Nvidia 960M graphics without draining your bank account. The 15.6-inch laptop's sleek, stealth-fighter-inspired chassis is lovely, but it is the 1080p display and its vibrant, accurate color that is the true star of the show. And if that isn't enough win for you, the GL552's 1TB hard drive offers blistering transfer speeds. If you're looking for a gaming laptop under $1,000, the ROG GL552 should be at the top of your shopping list. 

Key Specs: CPU: 2.6-GHz Intel Core i7 6700 HQ * GPU: Nvidia GeForce GTX 960M with 2GB of VRAM * RAM/Storage: 16GB/1TB 7,200-rpm hard drive * Display Size/Resolution: 15.6-inch/1920 x 1080

Runner-Up: Dell Inspiron 15 7000

The Inspiron 15 7000 does a pretty solid job of straddling the fence between gaming and entertainment, offering a Core i5 processor with a mid-level Nvidia GeForce GTX 960M GPU. The notebook was the uncontested winner on battery life, lasting an impressive 6 hours and 45 minutes. We also like that Dell went for a sultry, sophisticated look that's sure to turn heads. In short, Dell is putting its money, performance and battery life where its mouth is, and heavy multimedia users and gamers should pay attention. 

Key Specs: CPU: 2.3-GHz Intel Core i5-6300HQ CPU * GPU: Nvidia GeForce GTX 960M with 2GB of VRAM/Intel HD Graphics 530 GPU * RAM/Storage: 8GB/1TB 7,200-rpm hard drive, 8GB Flash Cache * Display Size/Resolution: 15.6-inch/1920 x 1080

Acer Aspire v15 Nitro Black Edition

The $924 Acer Aspire v15 Nitro Black Edition offers solid gaming and multitasking power by way of its Nvidia 960M GPU and Intel Core i7 processor, with a vivid display to sweeten the pot. It's a strong contender for gamers hoping to balance price and performance. However, the laptop is not without its flaws — in this case less than 3 hours of battery life and slow storage speeds.

Key Specs: CPU: 2.6-GHz Intel Core i7-6700HQ CPU * GPU: Nvidia GeForce GTX 960M with 2GB of VRAM * RAM/Storage: 8GB/1TB SATA Hard Drive * Display Size/Resolution: 15.6-inch/1920 x 1080

HP Pavilion 15 Gaming Laptop

The HP Pavilion 15 Gaming Laptop is the coolest laptop on the list. No, really. Thanks to HP's CoolSense technology, this notebook won't roast your lap when the action is at its hottest. Thanks to its Nvidia GeForce GTX 950M GPU, this $999 rig delivers solid gaming performance for the price, but you'll have to turn down the settings to play most titles at the screen's native,1080p resolution. The Razer-inspired keyboard offers a good typing experience while its Intel Core i7 processor delivers solid productivity in an elegant aluminum chassis.

Key Specs: CPU: 2.6-GHz Intel Core i7-6700 HQ CPU * GPU: Nvidia GeForce GTX 960M with 2GB of VRAM * RAM/Storage: 8GB/1TB 5,400-rpm hard drive * Display Size/Resolution: 15.6-inch/1920 x 1080

Alienware 13

What's imposing and badass on a 17- or 18-inch laptop is downright adorable on a 13-inch rig. The $949 configuration of the Alienware 13 keeps the trademark customizable lighting of its big brothers, including the gorgeous backlit keyboard. But this laptop is more than a pretty piece of tech, packing an Intel Core i7 processor and an Nvidia GeForce 960 GPU, resulting in pretty good frame rates. Our issue with this affordable configuration is its low-resolution, 1366 x 768 display, which has no place on any gaming laptop.

Key Specs: CPU: 2.5-GHz Intel Core i7-6500U CPU * GPU: Nvidia GeForce GTX 960M with 2GB of VRAM * RAM/Storage: 8GB/500GB SSD * Display Size/Resolution: 13-inch/1366 x 768

Lenovo Y700 14-inch

Carbon fiber, powerful audio and an Intel Core i7 processor make the 14-inch Lenovo Y700 a formidable multimedia/gaming laptop. The only laptop on the list with AMD graphics, the Y700 doesn't perform as well as its Nvidia-powered foes, but we do like the loud JBL speakers, which punch well above their weight class. If you're looking for something portable and affordable, the Y700 is worth a look.

Key Specs: CPU: 2.6-GHz Intel Core i7-6700 HQ CPU * GPU: Nvidia GeForce GTX 960M with 2GB of VRAM * RAM/Storage: 8GB/1TB 5,400-rpm hard drive * Display Size/Resolution: 15.6-inch/1920 x 1080

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6 comments
  • EmmaJ Says:

    The HP Pavilion Laptop is actually a stunning laptop. If you go the HP Store you can actually customize this laptop with the same if not better specs than the laptop at the top of the list for only $860 (is what I'm buying mine for). It may be an HP Pavilion, but it ultimately comes down to the computer's specs, not its brand name.

  • Justin Says:

    With 4gb of VRAM at 800 dollars, the Dell Inspiron 15 7000 should have easily won over the ASUS ROG.

  • Soupy Says:

    The Dell Inspiron 7559 can be found for $700-$750 routinely. It has the i7-6700HQ, GTX 960 with 4GB (not 2GB), 8GB RAM. It is the CLEAR winner and blows the Asus out of the water. More VRAM and over $200 cheaper.
    You really need to update this, even in March the Dell won.

  • Daniel needs a laptop Says:

    your article clearley shows that the Asus ROG GL552 is not 979 dollars on amazon it is somthing like 1400 i would like the link to the offer for 979$ respond to me by email please

  • Kumar Says:

    Which one of these has best display quality ?

  • Huy Truong Says:

    Dell Inspiron 15 7559 comes with a GTX 960M 4GB VRAM not 2VRAM and it's a clear winner for only $800

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