Even if you're looking for a laptop for casual use, like binge-watching your favorite show on Netflix or juggling your endless work email, you still need something reliable to get you through the day. A user on the Tom's Guide forum recently asked for some advice in choosing the best $1,000 laptop with up-to-date specs.
tempuskenobi writes, "I am looking for a laptop for office use (office suite, browsing/email) and for multimedia (mainly movies). Minimum specs can be: 8th Gen [CPU], 8GB of RAM, 256GB SSD, 15.6-inch FHD IPS display. Budget: Around $900-$1100. I am [stuck] between the Lenovo Thinkpad T580 and Yoga 730. I have also looked to other options, but they are either unavailable in my country (Italy) (e.g., HP Spectre 15.6-inch), or more expensive (Dell XPS 15). Any suggestions?”
We're going to do our best to help you decide between the two laptops. And while we didn't get our hands on the latest 15-inch Yoga 730, we're going to take a look at last year's model so you can get an idea of how it performed. And even though the XPS 15 might be a little out of your price range, we'll throw it in the ring as well.
Lenovo ThinkPad T580: Best Keyboard
The $1,899 configuration of the ThinkPad T580 (4.29 pounds, 0.79 inches) that we tested came with a Intel Core i7-8650U processor, 16GB of RAM, 512GB SSD and Intel UHD 620 GPU.
You can currently get a config with your minimum specs for $869 with the THINKSGIVING coupon ($1,242 without, and there's no word on how long that promotion will last). Our unit nailed 13,579 on the Geekbench 4 overall performance test and 71,263 on the 3DMark Ice Storm Unlimited graphics benchmark, meaning the laptop is great for multitasking but not so much for gaming.
The ThinkPad T580’s 15.6-inch, 1920 x 1080 screen reproduced only 68.3 percent of the sRGB color gamut and averaged 288 nits of brightness, so it's pretty dull compared with the competition. The battery life isn't all that impressive either, as it lasted 5 hours and 52 minutes on the Laptop Mag Battery Test.
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However, the T580 does have a meaty 1.7 millimeters of key travel, making it especially comfortable to type on (we recommend key travel from 1.5 to 2.0 mm).
Lenovo Yoga 730: Best Graphics for the Money
The base configuration for the Yoga 730 costs $1,149 and comes with a Core i7-8550U processor, 8GB of RAM, a 256GB SSD and a Nvidia GeForce GTX 1050 GPU with 4GB of VRAM.
We were only able to test last year's model, the Yoga 720, which has similar specs aside from a 7th Gen CPU and half the VRAM in its GPU. It hit 11,951 on Geekbench 4 and 119,006 on 3DMark Ice Storm Unlimited, which is pretty solid for last-generation components, so it'll most likely improve with the Yoga 730.
Although it's hard to say how the Yoga 730’s 15.6-inch, 1080p display will fare, last year's model covered 114 percent of the sRGB spectrum and hit 272 nits, crushing the ThinkPad T580 when it comes to color. It also lasted 8 hours and 59 minutes on our battery test, which is impressive for a laptop with a discrete GPU. As long as the 730 keeps that up or even improves upon those two things, then it's an instant win.
However, the laptop's key travel is only 1.2 mm deep, which is less than ideal.
Dell XPS 15: Best Display, Performance and Battery Life
The XPS 15 that we tested costs $1,549 and comes with a Core i7-8750H processor, 16GB of RAM, a 256GB SSD and a GTX 1050 Ti.
To match closer to your budget, you'd want the $999 config, which drops you down to a Core i5-8300H CPU, 8GB of RAM, a 256GB SSD and an Intel UHD 630 GPU. Our configuration nailed 19,775 on Geekbench 4 and 163,171 on 3DMark Ice Storm Unlimited, exhibiting incredibly strong results in both performance and graphics.
The XPS 15's panel beats them all. The 15.6-inch, 1080p display can reproduce 115 percent of the sRGB spectrum and emit 371 nits of brightness, which is ridiculously brighter than its competition. And the battery lasted an insane 11 hours and 53 minutes.
Although, its keyboard is quite shallow, at 0.7 mm, the keys still have a decent bounce when we typed on it.
The XPS 15 isn't as pricey as you'd expect, especially during holiday sales, so you can get its awesome display, performance and battery life all for $999. It's quite a classy notebook for traveling, business or just watching movies.
The Lenovo Yoga 730, however, is perfect if you're interested in some light gaming, as you'll get a GTX 1050 GPU that lands within your budget. I would recommend avoiding the ThinkPad T580, unless you're really pining for a great keyboard.
Overall, we'd recommend getting the XPS 15 due to its impressive marks in multiple categories for an affordable price.
We hope that this helped. Let us know which you decide to go with!
Credit: Laptop Mag