UPDATE: This section has not been updated for a long time. It’s now updated.
Welcome to the recommendations of gaming laptops under $1000, which is currently the sweat spot for gaming laptops with high performance/price ratio. I didn’t include all the laptops I walked through, but only those that are recommended and their direct competitors. The laptops shown here chosen by several parameters, mainly gaming performance (for this price point), screen quality, build quality, temperatures and noise level and additional value (like a larger HDD).
The recommendations are divided into three main categories: 15.6″ (which is the most used standard form factor), 17.3″ for larger laptops and sub-14.0″ or thin & light laptops, for laptops with higher portability / mobility.
Again, I didn’t include all the laptops that were considered and compared. For example, I didn’t include the old MSI GE60 that some might ask about it, because there are much better choices than it. Quick ‘table of contents’:
- Recommended 15.6″ gaming laptops
- Recommended 17.3″ gaming laptops
- Ultraportable / small gaming laptops
1.a Lenovo Y720 – around $1000-$1050 for basic version (Lenovo, Lenovo B&N, Amazon). Lenovos’ latest high midrange gaming laptop. The basic version comes with an I5-7300HQ/I7-7700HQ Kaby Lake, GTX 1060 6GB GPU, 1080p IPS display (45% NTSC, no GSync) and the Thunderbolt 3 nicety, but also a slow 1TB 5400 RPM HDD. This HDD will be quite slow for general use, but it can be replaced or accompanied by an M.2 SSD. The Y720 is a bit heavy at around 3.2kg + power adapter.
The basic version currently sells for $990 (before tax, on Lenovo B&N section) and the I7-7700HQ priced at $40 more, and this price could be higher or lower, but that’s about the price. For this price, the Y720 has an excellent gaming performance/price ratio. True, for 1080p, the performance-price ratio is not as good as the MSI GP62MVR and Asus FX502VM laptops, but the extra 3GB RAM could come handy at some point. Moreover, the Y720 comes with a better 1080p IPS display (45% NTSC though which is better than the TN panels in the GP62MVR and the FX502VM and, also, it has the thundebolt 3 port. According to reviews (1), the Y720 handles heat and noise relatively well, even with the I7 CPU.
Some drawbacks: weight, slow HDD in the basic version (add another $40-$80 for a 120-250GB basic SSD), only 8GB RAM (add at least another
$25-$40 for 4-8GB RAM). Also, according to the same review, the response times of the specific panel model in use are quite high.
Finally, the Y720 adds another option to consider for around $1000. It is the very basic version that can squeeze into the $1000 price range, but nonetheless, I wanted to list it here.
I can’t say that this is a better option compared to the MSI GP62MVR for 1080p gaming, since the GP62MVR can be found for $850-$900 from time to time, with 16GB RAM. Yes, you’ll probably want to replace the screen and add an SSD anyway, but it should be close to $1000 and you’ll get to choose your own display panel.
I7-7700HQ, 8 RAM, medicore 1080p IPS display, very good 3D performance for the money, Thunderbolt 3
1b. Clevo N850HP6 / Sager NP7850 – around $1000 for basic version (1, 2, 3 and other Clevo resellers). I’ll start by saying that there is no clear winner here. The Lenovo Y720 is not necessarily preferable, in my opinion. The Sager NP7850 / Clevo N850HP6 is Clevos’ top midrange gaming laptop. It packed with a GTX 1060 6GB GPU, I7-7700HQ CPU and the usual 1080p LG LP156WF IPS display, no GSync (better than the one in the Y720). For connection/storage port, it has mDP v1.3 (and another v1.2) and NVMe port. The basic version comes with no OS pre-installed, 1TB 5400RPM HDD and 8GB DDR4 RAM, for $1000 more or less. These are good specs for the price, especially when remembering that the competitors all have some disadvantage – either the display (Y720, GP62MVR, FX502), 3GB GTX 1060 version (FX502, GP62MVR) or connection ports lack (FX502). So, the N850HP6/NP7850 does offer a better package as far as basic specs are considered. It is also on the lighter side at around 2.5kg.
One concern about the hardware is that the N850HP6 is probably around the same as the N155RF/N150SD previous generation laptops, with the same weight. The N155RF (I7-6700HQ, GTX 965M) dealt rather ok with the heat, but the GTX 1060 6GB is hotter and the newer games are also more demanding than my old test (Crysis 3). Games like Mass Effect : Andromeda and Ashes of Singularity can really stress the machine. The N155RF could handle such loads, but with the CPU downclocking to its base clocks (2.6GHZ in this case). The big, bulky Lenovo Y720 can handle heat quite ok according to the NBC stress tests, while maintaining very high CPU clocks.
So, the N860HP6 is probably a nice machine with a good basic package of CPU + GPU + display. It has advantages over the competitors and it’s relatively cheap. However, the temperatures aspect remains unclear at this point. The Lenovo Y720 doesn’t have this problem, but it does have a mediocre IPS display with 45% NTSC coverage, which is rather low. But, screen can be replaced, while thermal performance less so, for the common user.
I7-7700HQ, 8 RAM, good 1080p IPS display, very good 3D performance for the money
This is a rather basic machine, but it comes with an mDP port, NVMe storage port, USB 3.1 gen2 Type-C, which is good (unlike the previous generation Asus FX502VM).The big drawback is probably the display which is a rather low quality TN panel (no matter the marketing). It is important to say that the display can be replaced to whatever 30-pin eDP panel you like, maybe even a 40-pin eDP panel.
I7-6700HQ, 8-16GB RAM, 1080p non-IPS display, very good 3D performance for the money, relatively ok backlit keyboard, above average speakers
Really, the FX502VM sits on the same square as the GP62MVR, has a low quality TN 1080p display too, except no mDP, no NVMe port, and no USB 3.1 gen2 / Type-C. In my review, we’ve found the the I5-6300HQ version has rather good thermals. So, generally I’d recommend the GP62MVR over the FX502VM, for the same price.
However, like in the GP62MVR case, the display can be replaced.
I5-6300HQ, GTX 1060 3GB GDDR5, 1080p TN screen, 1TB HDD, Windows OS.
4. Dell Inspiron 7567 (GTX 1050 Ti), review, $800-$900 (Dell, eBay).The new Dell 7567 tries to ride the popularity of the previous generation Dell Inspiron 7559 (GTX 960M) which was cheap, fast, had an IPS display, good features and enough extra features. However, the 7567 doesn’t add much in my opinion. Yes, the price of the GTX 1050 Ti version is around $800-$850 (before US tax and before Dell’s “reward points”), like before, but still no NVMe storage port, no HDMI 2.0, no mDP, no Thunderbolt 3, the display is a bad TN display (now can be upgraded for $50) and nothing else has been significantly improved except the GPU/CPU. Update: now you can upgrade to 1080p IPS display for $50.
Like the 7559 before it, the 7567 comes with a 1TB SSHD or 256GB SSD for the same price, which is nice and could be considered as an advantage over the others.
Some advantages: relatively good thermals (I5 version), very good battery performance (over 9 hours of “normal” office work in my tests!), perhaps the warranty, and maybe the “reward points” which equal money in your next purchase, easy to upgrade relatively and the nice simple looks which unlike the other laptops isn’t the heavy “gamer” look. It’s a laptop that you could sit with in the university.
If you can find it for a low price (like $750) and maybe throw in some reward points, the 7567 can be a nice option, but remember that you’d probably want to upgrade the display, if not for the low color/contrast, then for your eyes health. So, with tax and the IPS upgrade, you’ll probably end up at around $870-$900.
Compared to the Acer VX5-591G (VX 15), at first I thought the VX5-591G would be better for many, but then the 7567 got the IPS upgrade option and after I reviewed the VX, it seems to me that the 7567 has an advantage in several areas: battery, looks and thermals, remember that the IPS display of the VX5-591G is a lower quality one, like the 7567’s IPS.
I5-7300HQ/I7-7700HQ, 8GB RAM, 1080p low quality TN display, backlit keyboard, average speakers, solid simple looks
5. Acer VX15 VX5-591G (GTX 1050 Ti) (Amazon, eBay), $900-$1000, The new Acer VX5-591G continues where the VN7-591G left, I feel. Again, it offers some nice features and performance for the same price as others. Review
I’ll start with one point worth mentioning – according to early reviews, this model came with a lousy TN display (like the 7567). However, the current US versions come with an IPS panel with a – what I presume – a 45% NTSC color palette rating, which is true according to my tests (LG LP156WF6-SPK4 panel). I hoped to see a better display, with better color coverage and higher contrast.
Now, the VX5-591G (=VX15) basic $900 model comes with a GTX 1050 Ti, 256GB SSD and 16GB RAM, as well as a nice 1080p IPS display. That’s a nice package for a good price without the need to wait for a discount and such (compared to the others)
That makes it a nicer choice over the 7567 for $800-$850 and probably over the Y520 due to better IPS display . However, the 7567 can be sometimes be found discounted for like $750-$800 (before tax) and with the +$50 IPS upgrade, it’s a good competitor, with better battery performance, better thermals, and perhaps better looks in the eyes of many. Therefore, I’m replacing the places of the VX 15 and the 7567, preferring the 7567.
Again, according to reviews, the thermals are pretty ok even with an I7 CPU, so the I5 version should be in a better state. I would recommend getting the I5 version and not the I7, unless you’re rendering 24/7.
Bottom line, t
hat’s probably an easier choice than the others, given the IPS display The VX5-591G IPS has low color coverage, like the others. I’ll get the model soon and report back! (now reviewed)
I5-7300HQ, 16GB DDR4 RAM, 256GB SSD, 1080p IPS display, backlit keyboard
6. Lenovo Y520 (GTX 1050 Ti) (Lenovo, Amazon, eBay, Newegg), $900-$1000, The Y520 is Lenovos’ new low midrange gaming laptop, with a GTX 1050 Ti and an I5-7300HQ/I7-7700HQ CPU. Unlike the others, it comes with a low end IPS display (low color coverage, for example), but it has better viewing angles than the TN panel in the competition (Dell 7567, MSI GP62MVR). It shouldn’t be the selling point, however – I would suggest getting the laptop you want and then replace the display yourself.
The I5 model currently comes with 16GB RAM and 128GB SSD + 1TB HDD for $900-$950, which is useful. But, again, you can add SSD and RAM in the other laptops by yourself as well. The Y520 is also equipped with a USB 3.0 Type-C.
As far as gaming performance go, non of the GTX 1050 Ti equipped laptop can compete with the GTX 1060 3GB equipped laptops.
I5 vs I7: with the GTX 1050 Ti, I would get the I5-7300HQ between the two. Less heat, higher clocks, sometimes longer battery running times.
I5-7300HQ, 8-16GB DDR4 RAM, 1080p low-end IPS display, backlit keyboard, very good speakers, slick looks
The HP Pavilion 15t is a basic low midrange gaming laptop. With an I5-7300HQ and a GTX 1050 (2GB) it will cost around $600-$680 before US tax. Unlike some the competition, but like the Lenovo Y520, you’ll get a basic IPS display.
Heat handling is sufficient if you take the I5 version (which would be my recommendation for gaming with this GPU). No special connection ports like USB Type-C, Thunderbolt 3, mDP. But, NVMe M.2 storage port is available.
Maintenance is hard according to the NBC review.
With US tax, SSD and 8GB RAM, the price could get up to $750-$800 easily, currently and for around that price you could get the GTX 1050 Ti equipped Dell 7567, which will deliver around 40% higher performance on average.
I5-7300HQ/I7-7700HQ, 8GB RAM, 1080p low quality TN display, backlit keyboard, average speakers
Currently no good options have I found
These laptops are for those who look for more compact or ultraportable gaming laptop. In the past there weren’t too much choices but currently the variety start to be more appealing with laptops having good 1080p screen, good battery performance and reasonable gaming performance.
Currently no good options are really available – forget the recommendations below
The AW13R3 comes in a variety of configurations and prices. The GPU ranges from a GTX 1050 to GTX 1060, screen can be a 768p TN panel or an OLED 1440p if I’m not mistaken. The price is quite high, but you can find very good offers in the outlet – sometimes even the GTX 1060 6GB version for like $850-$900.
I’m not sure what is the quality of the AW13R3. I didn’t like the AW15R3, also because of its low thermal performance which was not good in my opinion (maybe they had some design bugs that were fixed?) and I suspect that a 13.3″ version won’t improve that.
However, if you want a smaller laptop, with a good feature set, the AW13R3 is a good option, including HDMI 2.0, mDP, Thunderbolt 3 port, Dell’s proprietary Amplifier connection (for external GPUs) and NVMe port. If you already have a good GPU, you can get some cheap Alienware (even from previous generations!) and slap in a $100 amplifier box and you got yourself a very nice gaming machine (with some performance hit, though).
I5-7300HQ/I7-7700HQ, GTX 1050/Ti/1060, 8GB+ RAM, 768p TN/1080p IPS/1440p OLED, lots of connection/storage ports
A didn’t include it because its availability isn’t high, but consider getting the MSI GS43VR – sometimes can be found for $1000 refurbished.