By Price, Recommendations

Gaming Laptops under $1000

  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. Some laptops that I do not recommend are included here, however, like the Asus G46VW, because some laptops catch the eyes of many and should be mentioned explicitly. If you have any question, please ask. Quick ‘table of contents':

Recommendations

15.6″: In the 15.6″ gaming laptops division, the most powerful laptops are equipped with a GT 750M SLI or GTX 860M level GPUs. In practice, this means you could run almost any game on highest settings including AA filters. Some games will require more powerful GPU like Crysis 3 but you’ll be able to run it on very high graphics too. Note that I didn’t include laptops that have a much lower gaming performance, like the Asus Q550LF (GT 745M, touchscreen).

gaming laptops under 1000: Lenovo Y510p GT 750M SLI1. Lenovo Y50 (I7) and I5 version (eBayAmazon, Newegg) –  around $1000 with I7 and ~$950 for the newer I5 version (review). The Y50 is the next iteration of Lenovos’ popular Y510p gaming laptop (w/ GT 755M SLI). The Y50 sports a GTX 860M GDDR5 (2/4GB versions), I5 or I7 CPUs, 8GB RAM for base model and 1080p/UHD display.

The 1080p display is not good but can be easily replaced with another eDP panel which makes it also an advantage and a big one, over the Y510p (and many others). I would seriously suggest replacing the panel – getting a high 3D performance gaming machine just to play with it (or do some 3D/video/photo editing work) with a lousy screen negates the benefits to a significant extent, in my opinion.

Touchpad has been vastly improved compared to the Y510p and keyboard remains more or less the same (though my experience was not good, people say it’s ok). The screen quality is a disadvantage and an advantage at once, since the Y510p display couldn’t be replaced to an IPS panel.

Now, the GTX 860M performance does not surpass the Y510p’s GT 755M SLI performance, but it costs considerably less energy and it’s free of the SLI bugs and issues. That allows the Y50 to be quieter under load and it consumes less energy. The battery is smaller (for now), so you won’t see longer running times and you can expect around 3.5-4.5 hours under light use.

Speakers are an advantage of the Y50 which is loaded with one of the best 2.1 built-in laptop speakers – you can enjoy gaming AND music with them (though they don’t match not-so-expensive desktop speakers or headphones).
Last point – it looks good, gamer laptop, but also slick and modern.

Disadvantages are the lack of another mSata/M.2 port for some SSD (though it does come with an SSHD which is sufficient), the not so low weight and – at least in my instance – the keyboard (but again, people report a different experience)

Finally, it’s the most interesting and cost effective 15.6″ gaming laptop under/around $1000 for those who are looking for the highest 3D power. Though some other machines can match the 3D performance (like the clevo below), the lack of other features like good speakers, the optional IPS display, backlit keyboard, and even the looks.
Currently I would suggest looking for an I5 model – if you can find one for $900, go for it. Otherwise, the I7 model for $1000 is more cost effective.

Summary

I5-4200H/I7-4710HQ, 8GB RAM, lousy but replaceable 1080p display, very good 3D performance for the money, backlit keyboard, very good speakers and touchpad, slick looks/

Gaming performance 2 out of 10
Mobility60%
Features60%

Sager NP7352 2. Clevo W350SS 15.6″ (availability: Shark 3.0Sager NP7538, Amazon), $880-$1100 : I5/I7-4700MQ (Haswell), GTX 860M GDDR5 Maxwell GPU, 8GB DDR3, 750GB/1TB HDD, matte 1080p, for base price. Eurocom also have 10% off for students, so you can get it for less than $800 with an I5.
The new level of gaming performance with the GTX 860M for $1000. The GTX 860M delivers around the same performance of the old GTX 770M, meaning most heavy games on some very high settings to highest (BL2, Bioshock, BF4 and more). A recommendation is to upgrade the screen for 50$ to the higher quality one. It has two HDD bays and plugging an SSD in should be easy. Sound quality is average at best. Battery performance should be around 3.5-5 hours surfing the web, tops, depends on the configuration and way of use. Thermals are OK for such hardware and generally you can expect the W350SS to handle the heat in most cases.

Note that if you do not need an OS, you can buy it for less (first link)
Summary

I7-4700MQ, GTX 860M, ok 1080p matte screen, variable HDD, ok touchpad

Gaming performance 2 out of 10
Mobility60%
Features60%

gaming laptops under 1000: Asus N56JR3. Asus N550JK 15.6″ gaming laptop (Amazon, ExcaliberPC), $1000-$1100: I7-4700HQ, GTX 850M DDR3, 8GB DDR3, 1TB HDD, a very good IPS 1080p touchscreen. The N550JK is the new Asus ‘multimedia’ series top model.

The new N550JK comes with a GTX 850M DDR3 which delivers around the same gaming performance as the older GTX 760M/765M GPUs, which is quite good and means you’d be able to play games on very high settings usually, many on highest settings. The N550JK, as the N550JV before it, sports the 1080p IPS display which is a big plus.

Currently the price is high for around $1100 - I guess it will get lower with time. Overall, currently the N550JK is an interesting option. While not the fastest for gaming in its price range (GTX 860M laptops are available in this price range), it does have the IPS advantage, along with a very good keyboard and good looks. UPDATE: I would wait with it – the new Acer Aspire V15 Nitro seems more promising than this one.

Summary

I7-4700HQ, GTX 850M DDR3, good 1080p IPS screen, 1TB HDD (SSHD?), very good keyboard.

Gaming performance 2 out of 10
Mobility60%
Features60%
17.3″:
Acer V3-772G, GTX 850M GDDR5, 1080p1. Acer V3-772G, $800 (Amazon), I5-4210M (2.6GHZ-3.1GHZ), GTX 850M GDDR5, 8GB DDR3, 1TB HDD, 1080p screen, Windows 8.1. A very cost effective gaming laptop for people who love their screens big. The GTX 850M GDDR5 is very close in performance to the GTX 860M as it is the same chip, with same memory, but with a little lower core clocks. I wouldn’t go with one of the I7 versions (like this), as they are too hot and the advantage in performance not worth it, if exist at all (barely). You also get an OS, 1TB HDD (basic one) and one empty slot for an mSata drive.
Battery performance, according to retailers and Acer is not good – around 2.5-3.5 hours, so don’t count on that one. Bottom line, if you are looking for a cost effective 17.3″ gaming laptop under $1000, this is a very good option for you, and my favorite, since you’d save around $200 compared to other laptops with the same performance and 1080p display.
Summary

I5-4210M, GTX 850M GDDR5, average 1080p matte screen, 1TB HDD

Gaming performance 2 out of 10
Mobility60%
Features60%

2. MSI GE70, $1000-$1100 (Amazon, Newegg, eBay), I5-4200H (2.8GHZ-3.4GHZ), GTX 860M, 2x4GB DDR3, 1TB HDD, 1080p screen, Windows 8.1. If you are interested in a 17.3″ gaming laptop around $1000-$1100, the new GE70 with GTX 860M gives you good gaming performance level (around the previous generation GTX 770M), standard 1080p display and 1TB HDD. This is probably the fastest, alongside the Toshiba X70 below. The GTX 860M should be more energy efficient and cooler, which is an advantage.
Summary

I7-4200H, GTX 860M, average 1080p matte screen, 1TB HDD

Gaming performance 2 out of 10
Mobility60%
Features60%

Sager NP73703. Sager NP7378 (w370ss): I7-4700MQ, GTX 860M, 8GB DDR3, matte 1080p, 750GB 7200RPM HDD, no OS. Same as the NP7350 above, only larger. Currently the fastest 17.3″, under $1000 for cash w/o Windows OS, around $1080 including Windows OS for a non-cash payment. Thermals are quite good for such hardware.
Summary

I7-4700MQ, GTX 860M, good 1080p matte screen, 750GB 7200RPM, 3-5 hours battery

Gaming performance 2 out of 10
Mobility60%
Features60%

14.0″ / Thin & light:

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.

Not long ago, my suggestion would have easily been the Acer V7-482PG for those who seek higher battery performance and good screen over higher performance. For $800-$900 you’ll get just that with excellent IPS touchscreen and 6-7 hours of light use. However, now I’d suggest waiting for the new models. Even a simple update of the same V7-482PG with a GTX 850M will result in close to twice the gaming performance while having the same power requirements. Other options with more horsepower (yes, there are small horses inside) are available too:

Clevo W230ST1. The Clevo W230SS / Sager NP7338 (Amazon w/OS, XoticPC, Eurocom M4 – $900-$1000 13.3″ gaming laptop which is an excellent gaming laptop with a very good matte 1080p IPS screen (3200×1800 optional, wouldn’t recommend), GTX 860M GDDR5 + I5-4200M/I7-4700MQ performance.

This is truly an excellent sub-14.0″ gaming laptop with the highest gaming performance in the section and an the best screen for this price. For those who want an OS coupled with it, I would recommend getting it from Amazon as it is more cost effective and safe. For $1100 you can get it with an I7, GTX 860M, 1080p IPS display. 750GB 7200RPM HDD and Windows OS. I would recommend getting some cheap mSata drive later on. You can also get it with an I5 and no OS to save some money. Eurocom also have 10% off for students. read previous generation W230ST review

Summary

I7-4700MQ and up, GTX 860M, 8GB RAM, excellent IPS 1080p matte screen, variety of SSHDs, HDDs, additional mSata port

Gaming performance 2 out of 10
Mobility60%
Features60%

MSI GE40-2OC GTX 760M4. The new MSI GE40 barebone (14.0″) – I5 or I7 CPU, GTX 850M GDDR5, 8GB DDR3, good 1080p IPS screen, 4.4lbs. Currently, the fastest 14.0″. Judging by previous generation, the battery performance is excellent with 8-9 hours of light use seems like the battery performance is not as good for the barebone, at least. Future bios / EC updates might change it, but it’s unknown curently. Gaming performance should be good with GTX 850M GDDR5 which is pretty close to the GTX 860M. Combined with a very good AHVA 1080p display (I guess it is similar to the one on the Acer V7-482PG), you get a good combination for around $1000 (no OS). I would wait for reviews though.
Summary

I7-4700MQ, GT 850M GDDR5, good 1080p AHVA screen excellent battery (8-9 hours light use)

Gaming performance 2 out of 10
Mobility60%
Features60%

Clevo W230SS, Electra 21. Eurocom Electra 2 (Clevo W650SR) – $825 with no OS 15.6″ gaming laptop which is an excellent gaming laptop with a very good 1080p IPS display and a GTX 850M DDR3 + I5-4200M. This means around the same gaming performance of the previous generation GTX 765M. The W650SR is relatively thin and lightweight for a gaming laptop. For $825 (10% off for students), this is an excellent option (while not the fast for gaming). If you are not interested in a more thin and lightweight machine and you don’t care too much about the display quality, some other laptops deliver higher gaming performance, even the older Y510p (above). You can expect around 4.5-5 hours of battery uner light use with this one. read W650SR review on NBC
Summary

I5-4200M, GTX 850M, excellent IPS 1080p matte screen, 500GB SSHD

Gaming performance 2 out of 10
Mobility60%
Features60%

acer v7-482pg-6662 14.0" gaming laptop2. Acer V7-482PG-6629 / 6662 (14.0″) – $800-$900, GT 750M, 8GB DDR3, 1080p IPS, I5-4200U, 2.1kg. This new Acer model offers a good gaming performance with the GT 750M (DDR3), thin measures (22.9mm top). For $820-$900 you get quite a value. The screen is an excellent 1080p IPS screen with over 80% adobeRGB color pallete coverage, which is not a common thing even for high end laptops with an IPS screen. The contrast is very high too. Good gaming performance, though not the fastest for its price (the Lenovo Y410p and especially Y510p take the crown). Good battery performance with around 6-7 hours of light web surfing. Compared to competition for the same price like the Y410p, the V7-482PG has the advantage of the IPS screen which makes it, in my opinion, a much better choice. I would recommend this laptop easily if you want to save money and still get an ultraportable gaming laptop with a reasonable performance. read review of its bigger brother
Summary

I5-4200U, GT 750M DDR3 (50%-80% the GTX 765M performance) excellent IPS 1080p matte screen, excellent battery, 1TB HDD

Gaming performance 2 out of 10
Mobility60%
Features60%

Lenovo Y410p 900p GT 750M3. Lenovo Y40 (14.0″) at Lenovo / Amazon, review. Well, the summary says it all more or less. The Y40, as a gaming laptop, can’t do a lot. The Radeon M275X with a good potential, is coupled with a DDR3 memory which greatly limiting it and performance is lower even than the slower M265X ( Radeon 8850M) or GT 750M. So no miracles here.However, the sound is good enough, keyboard and touchpad are above average, battery performance is very good for such a laptop, looks are also slick (like the Y50 looks) and price is around $700-$750. The 1080p display is not good, but can be replaced (see here) to a good 14.0″ IPS level display.

Finally, I can’t really recommend it, since other <=14.0″ laptops do have more features, even the older V7-482PG.

Summary

I7-4710U (4 cores), Radeon M275X GDDR3, mediocre 1080p screen, 500GB SSHD, good enough sound, good touchpad / keyboard, very good battery (5-9 hours under light use)

Gaming performance 2 out of 10
Mobility60%
Features60%