A few years ago, you wouldn’t have gotten very far with $1000, despite the fact that the dollar was relatively higher on the currency scale. In fact, $1000 would’ve been just enough to buy you a solid all-rounder laptop or something like that. If you dreamed about getting a gaming computer, a workstation, or anything else that required power, you probably would’ve had to dish out quite a bit more.
Thanks to the amazing technology advancement nowadays, that is no longer the case. In fact, within a $1000 budget, you’re going to be utterly shocked when we’ll show you how much you can buy. Starting with the beautiful, slim design of a MacBook, the shocking power of an MSI or Asus gaming rig, the high performance packed in a thin notebook of a Dell XPS, or the overall balance offered by Acer, you can get quite a lot of value for that kind of money. Of course, high-end laptops are still out of reach, as they start from $1500 and go only upwards, but you can nonetheless get substantial performance without completely bleeding out your wallet. That’s about it when it comes to sub-$1000 laptops. We’ve done our market research too, including a good amount of reviews, and found a couple of notebook models we think you’d find particularly interesting. We picked a few models for every category of user, so you can take a look and pick what you think you like or, at the very least, have a starting point for your research. Here’s what we liked:
- 1 1. Asus ROG GL752VW-DH71
- 2 2. MSI GL62 6QF-893
- 3 3. HP Omen Pro 15
- 4 4. Acer Aspire V15 Nitro Black Edition VN7-591G-70RT
- 5 5. Apple MacBook Air 13
- 6 6. Samsung Notebook 9 13.3″ – NP900X3L-K06US
- 7 7. Dell Inspiron 7000
- 8 8. Lenovo Flex 4 15 – 80SB0004US
- 9 1. The CPU
- 10 2. The GPU
- 11 3. The memory
- 12 4. The storage
- 13 5. The display
- 14 6. The design
1. Asus ROG GL752VW-DH71
If you’re into hardcore gaming, this laptop should satisfy you. It’s not the smallest or the lightest laptop on our list; quite on the contrary, it beats everything else here regarding sheer size, weight, and power. It has a 17.3” FHD display, it weighs a bit over 6.6lbs (3kg), and it looks just how a gaming laptop is supposed to look, i.e. like some downsized spaceship.
This machine is powered by an Intel i7-6700HQ, quad-core, 8-thread, 2.6GHz, Turbo Boost up to 3.5GHz. Enough for some of the latest releases, especially since this ROG model also features a Nvidia GTX 960M with 2GB GDDR5. It has the satisfactory amount of 16GB DDR4, as well as a 1TB HDD. We would’ve preferred an SSD, to be honest, but this should be good enough for gaming purposes.
2. MSI GL62 6QF-893
MSI is a new “intruder” on the laptop market. Otherwise known for their great motherboards, they’ve decided to make their entry on the high-end and super-high-end gaming laptops and workstations, and they did indeed make a pretty grandiose entry. This laptop looks pretty normal, in fact, but it’s no less of a powerhouse than the Asus ROG model above. It’s only 15.6”, but it’s also FHD, which is great.
The setup is mostly identical to the Asus ROG, with an i7-6700HQ processor and a nVidia GTX 960M with 2GB GDDR5. It only has 12GB RAM, but that’s not a problem since it’s still way above the minimum recommended and it’s also upgradable if you need to. A great thing about it, compared to the ROG, is that it has dual storage: a 1TB HDD and a nifty 128GB SSD. This way, you can use the HDD for mass storage and the SSD for the OS and whatever game you’re currently playing.
3. HP Omen Pro 15
This HP model is an actual workstation instead of a design-oriented all-rounded, and it certainly looks the part. It has a beautiful, slim design, at less than 20mm maximum thickness, with sharp and clear lines, and it only weighs 2.1kg. It has a beautiful FHD UWVA touchscreen.
From the specs, you’ll see that it’s a machine made for graphics design and video editing. Its core is an i7-4820HQ, quad-core, 2,4GHz and Turbo Boost up to 3.7GHz, paired with a nVidia Quadro K1100M with 2GB GDDR5 VRAM. It features a more than enough amount of RAM, with 16GB DDR3L, and a surprisingly nice 512GB SSD, the biggest on this list. All things considered, this is an excellent workstation as it is and would make the list for “best workstations.”
4. Acer Aspire V15 Nitro Black Edition VN7-591G-70RT
This laptop is a prime example of gaming rig/workstation that comes in a small package. Incomparably slimmer and lighter than either of our gaming models, this laptop is also cheaper. It’s also a lot classier, which makes it great for day-to-day carry and business purposes. Last, but not least, it also features the same nice FHD screen we should get used to. In fact, we think this is one of the best overall models here.
The V15 Nitro is powered by an Intel i7-4730HQ, quad-core, 2.6GHz and up to 3.5GHz overclocking. It’s not exactly as energy-efficient as the 6700HQ model, but it’s about as powerful and will work excellently without being too big. The graphics card, no surprise, is the same GTX 960M we’ve seen before. Unfortunately, this laptop only has 8GB DDR3L RAM and 1TB HDD, but hey… for the money you have left, you can totally afford some upgrades.
5. Apple MacBook Air 13
There’s nothing that says “I have a business and it’s working well” better than ownership of one or more Apple devices. We would’ve picked a 15.6” model instead, but they were simply too expensive. However, this 13.3” beauty is all you need for your corporate meetings if you’re the CEO. It’s simply beautiful, probably the prettiest laptop on this list, and also the second slimmest and lightest at only 1.33kg and 16mm. An added value is the keyboard, surprisingly comfortable for a 13-incher (although it can’t beat Lenovo’s AccuType).
The performance, while not exactly workstation-level, is nonetheless satisfactory for such a high-priced item. It has a dual-core i5, 1.7GHz and up to 2.7GHz with Intel Turbo Boost, paired with an integrated video chip Intel HD 6000. It has 8GB DDR4, which is enough for this type of activity, as well as a 128GB SSD. The latter doesn’t come as a surprise since MacBooks haven’t been using HDDs for quite some time now. Also, while the screen is not the now famous Apple Retina, it’s still excellent nonetheless. For connectivity purposes, this laptop has two USB 3.0 Type A and a Thunderbolt USB Type C.
6. Samsung Notebook 9 13.3″ – NP900X3L-K06US
While we think this laptop is not exactly as beautiful as the MacBook above, it’s certainly enough to give it a run for its money. It has an aluminum chassis with soft lines and a satin finish (the exact color is “iron silver”), and it’s even slimmer and lighter than the MacBook Air, at only 13mm thickness and 1.25kg. What’s more, the screen is FHD and has some of the thinnest bezels around, also benefiting from an 180o flat display mode. It’s not quite an Infinity Edge, but it’s close enough. As an added touch, there’s a subtle blue backlight to the keyboard which allows you to work in a more poorly-lit environment without squinting at the keyboard now and then.
This beautiful device features an Intel i5-6200U, 2.3GHz and up to 2.8GHz with Turbo Boost, with integrated Intel HD Graphics 520. It has 8GB LPDDR3, as well as a 256GB SSD, the same as the MacBook. Another plus is the battery life, which, at 4000mAh, is said to last for up to 10 hours. Overall, this is one of the best Samsung laptops we’ve seen.
7. Dell Inspiron 7000
This is one laptop we wouldn’t be ashamed to bring into the workstation or business category as well. It’s really thin, at only 18mm, fairly light for a full-size notebook at only 2.2kg, and has a beautiful design overall, with a 15.6” FHD touchscreen. It’s one of those things that simply look great and, we believe, it’s one of the most inspired designs Dell produced this year.
The processor on this convertible is an ultra-low-voltage Intel i7-6500U, 2.5GHz, overclocked up to 3.1GHz, which comes with an Intel HD 520 integrated video chip. It features a perfect amount of 12GB DDR4, as well as a 512GB SSD – a surprisingly large amount of storage for a convertible. The battery life can be considered fair for this type of laptop, with a 6-hour rating.
8. Lenovo Flex 4 15 – 80SB0004US
While this laptop is not exactly as thin as the Inspiron 7000, at 21mm, it is a bit lighter at 2.1kg and, to be completely honest, a lot more beautiful. It’s not that the Dell model doesn’t look great. It’s just that rather than the rounder edges and the silver color of the Inspiron, we prefer the satin black color and the sharper edges we can see on the Flex 4 – they make it look slimmer. As an added advantage, this Lenovo laptop has one of the best keyboards around and quite likely the best on this list.
The screen and processor are pretty much identical to the Inspiron 7000, and so is the video card. While the former has the edge when it comes to storage capacity (512GB SSD vs. 256), the Lenovo model goes way higher regarding memory, with 16GB DDR4.
There are a couple of special considerations to be taken into account when it comes to choosing a laptop. As the budget is set at $1000, the question of money is solved, but the real problem is this: what are you buying the laptop for? You could skip this as well and just get an all-rounder, but that’s only if you don’t care about a particular area of functionality. If you’re a gamer, on the other hand, you will have to go towards a gaming-oriented rig, which is often bigger, heavier, and overall bulkier than the average laptop. If you’re a businessman, you can’t afford something you can’t carry with you all the time, so you need something slim and light that still does its job well. If you’re a graphics designer or a video editor, you need a workstation that is middle-ground between high specs and lightweight design. You should think this through thoroughly (hehe) before buying anything because otherwise, we can guarantee that you’ll regret the decision.
The budget and purpose are things related to you. Once these issues have been solved, you need to take a look at what laptops have to offer to make the best decision. For that, you need to consider two main things: the performance and the design. And no, when we say “design” we don’t only mean how pretty it is, but we also have a couple of practical considerations in mind: weight, chassis material, cooling capacity, connectivity, upgrade possibilities, the comfort of typing, and so on. There’s more to design than just looking neat and all these apparently tiny details matter quite significantly in the big picture. Here’s what we think about the major things:
1. The CPU
Get a big one, because you can afford it. Within a $1000 budget, you can easily get a latest-generation (Skylake or KabyLake) Intel i5 or i7. The CPU is the one most important component of a laptop or any other computer for that matter. It’s also the priciest single component of a laptop. If you’re a cheapskate on this one, there is about 100% chance you will be sorry.
As a personal preference, we’d go with an Intel CPU. However, we don’t exclude AMD options either. What we do advise you is to find the benchmarks and reviews that compare the AMD processor to an equivalent Intel model and see if it’s worth the money. Relatively good examples of AMD processors are AMD FX9800P, A12-9700P, and A12-9600P.
2. The GPU
Your laptop doesn’t necessarily have to come with a discrete graphics card. In fact, if you want long battery life, it’s better if it doesn’t, as the graphics card eats up power like there’s no tomorrow. If you’re a gamer, however, you will need one, and so will a video editor.
The battle is between nVidia and AMD (through its ATI Radeon branch), and it seems like nVidia is winning it. It’s not that AMD cards are bad, it’s just that they are not as common and, to be completely honest, there’s a high chance that an AMD-based laptop is not exactly as good as one that relies on nVidia. For this price range, you can find nVidia models GTX 950M and 960M, which are mid-to-high-end gaming-oriented graphics cards. As far as AMD goes, you’ll find the RX 470M and 460M models, which are pretty good.
As said, though, don’t fear an integrated video chip. Modern APUs (CPU+GPU) can handle 3D rendering no problem, although they’re not as fast as discrete graphics cards.
3. The memory
The bigger it is, the better. Try to get at least 8GB DDR4; it’s a completely normal amount for this price range. Trust us; you’ll feel the oomph when multitasking.
4. The storage
If you can choose between HDD and SSD, we recommend that you pick an SSD. While HDDs are currently still bigger than SSDs, the latter are incomparably faster, with reading / write speeds clocked at a couple of GB/s. In fact, even the oldest and slowest SSDs are faster than the fastest modern HDDs. More modern options are also a lot more stable and less prone to errors, which is great.
For this price range, you should get at least a 1TB HDD, a 256GB SSD, or both, if you’re very lucky.
5. The display
Don’t settle for anything less than FHD. In the previous years, HD was the standard, but you’ll notice the difference between 1366×768 and 1920×1080. Some laptops may even have QHD screens, which is great if you’re a graphics designer or something like that.
6. The design
The overall construction and looks of the laptop are also important in more than one way. To begin with, you can’t take a gaming laptop with you at a business meeting, lest you risk being ridiculed for your lack of taste. You can’t, on the other hand, squeeze super-high specs in a slim laptop and expect it to be cheap. And there’s also the question of comfort too. If you’re a writer, teacher, student, blogger, article writer, or in general whatever implies writing a lot, you may want to sacrifice some performance for a comfortable and responsive keyboard.