Our editors independently research, test, and recommend the best products; you can learn more about our review process here. We may receive commissions on purchases made from our chosen links.
Most Popular: Acer Aspire E 15 E5-576-392H at Amazon
"Considering the price point, this model is an absolute steal and will serve you well for mid-range games.”"
Best Overall: Lenovo’s Legion Y520 at Amazon
"Has great customization settings, so you can choose your active keys, network priority and cooling features."
Best Value: HP Pavilion Power 15 at Amazon
"A gaming laptop that’s equally capable of being an everyday productivity machine."
Best Splurge: MSI GL72M 7RDX-800 at Amazon
"An exceptionally powerful and beautiful machine that comes equipped a 17.3-inch (1920 x 1080 pixels) HD display."
Best Display: Dell i7559-5012GRY at Amazon
"Has a 4K LED touchscreen that offers outstanding clarity with true-to-life colors."
Best Sound: Lenovo Y700 at Amazon
"Features JBL dual-channel speakers with a Dolby Home Surround certification and a 3.0W subwoofer."
Runner-Up, Best Sound: Acer Aspire VX 15 at Amazon
"Supports the company's TrueHarmony technology and Dolby audio premium sound."
Best Storage: Dell Inspiron i5577 at Amazon
"Features include 16GB of RAM, an Intel Core i7 3.8GHz processor, NVIDIA’s GTX 1050 graphics card and a 15.6-inch Full HD display."
Finding the best gaming laptop for under $1,000 doesn't mean you have to make huge compromises on quality and performance. Though you will need to figure out what your priorities are going in (display, the best GPU, whether you'll also need rock-solid productivity), it's increasingly possible to get a portable PC that's well specced for modern games without bankrupting yourself.
One of the keys to shopping for a budget gaming machine is to figure out just how much performance you really need to squeeze out of it. If this is just going to be a backup to your killer desktop rig, and you only plan to play games like Fortnite or Minecraft when you're commuting, you don't need a beastly RTX graphics card (and you won't need to pay the massive premium that comes with that kind of tech). And while gaming will always prioritize GPU over CPU, if you also plan to do a lot of work/productivity stuff, you'll need at least a capable processor backing up all the graphics hardware.
Excellent battery life
Attractive full HD display
Boasting 13 hours of battery life and an astoundingly low price tag, the Acer Aspire E 15 is the ideal choice for economical gamers on a budget. It weighs 5.27 pounds and is made with a highly durable polycarbonate plastic. The 15.6-inch widescreen display features full HD resolution, and its built-in speakers produce a punchy, surround-sound experience.
The hardware is well-equipped for mid-range gaming, with an 8th-generation Intel Core i3 processor, 6GB dual channel memory, a 1TB hard drive, and an Intel UHD 620 graphics card. The Acer also boasts 802.11ac wireless with MU-MIMO (multi-user, multiple input, and multiple output) for a faster and more stable connection with online games. Considering the price point, this model is an absolute steal and will serve you well for mid-range games. Not enough processing power for your needs? Acer is one step ahead: the E 15 includes an accessible compartment for the SSD and memory, so you can install upgraded hardware with ease. Our reviewer, Jeremy, praised it for its impressive performance at this ridiculously low price point.
"The full HD screen and snappy performance make productivity tasks a breeze." — Jeremy Laukkonen, Product Tester
Compact and portable
7th Gen CPU
The Lenovo Legion Y520 is powered by a 7th generation Intel Core processor, NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1050 Ti graphics and has a 15.6-inch (1920 x 1080) HD display, as well as hybrid storage. Whether you’re using headphones or not, the inclusion of Harman Audio with Dolby Premium sound adds dual two-watt speakers designed specifically to immerse you directly into gameplay. The machine also has great customization settings, so you can choose your active keys, network priority, and cooling features. Moreover, thermal engineering on the Y520 adds strategically placed fans and vents to keep hot air continuously moving out the underside of the laptop. As for dimensions, it's just 1.02 inches thick and weighs 5.3 pounds.
Great for productivity
12GB of RAM
Solid graphics card
Slower boot speed
If you’re looking for a gaming laptop that’s equally capable of being an everyday productivity machine, check out the HP Pavilion Power 15. With powerful internal hardware, including a Core i7 processor, 12GB of RAM, 1TB hard drive and an AMD Radeon RX 550 graphics card with 2GB dedicated memory, this machine plays the latest games and can easily run reports for work. The four-pound device offers 10 hours of battery life and has a 15.6-inch Full HD (1920 x 1080) IPS anti-glare display that offers viewing angles of up to 178 degrees.
Large, beautiful HD display
Multiple video outputs
MSI’s GL72M 7RDX-800 gaming laptop offers an exceptionally powerful and beautiful machine that comes equipped a 17.3-inch (1920 x 1080 pixels) HD display. Under the hood is an Intel Core i7 processor, 8GB of RAM, 1TB HDD and 128GB SSD for increased application loading time. Running NVIDIA’s GTX 1050 2G GDDR5 graphics card, the MSI is ready to handle high-definition games without batting an eye. You can even add up to two additional monitors for truly immersive gameplay (or multitasking) via the HDMI or DisplayPort connections. MSI also packed in Cooler Boost 4 tech that adds six total heat pipes among the GPU and CPU, so it handles the heat with aplomb.
Incredible 4K display
Included SSD for faster loads/boot time
6th Gen processor
The display on Dell’s i7559-5012GRY 15.6-inch 4K (3840 x 2160 pixels) gaming laptop has a 4K LED touchscreen that offers outstanding clarity with true-to-life colors. Beyond the display, the audio experience on the Dell is equally outstanding. Waves MaxxAudio Pro allows total control over the sound performance and it works even better when paired with the NVIDIA GTX 960M video graphics. Powering all of these features are a 6th generation Intel quad-core i7 processor, 8GB of RAM and a 1 TB hard drive supported by an 8GB SSD for extra fast application loading. It weighs 6.1 pounds and has 10 hours of battery life.
Powerful thermal fans
Awesome 256GB SSD
Subpar battery life
For exceptional surround-sound audio, few laptops can compete with the Lenovo Y700, especially within a $1,000 budget. It features JBL dual-channel speakers with a Dolby Home Surround certification and a 3.0W subwoofer. For gamers and movie-buffs alike, this laptop is the ideal traveling media center.
Fortunately, the Lenovo Y700 isn’t just about sound quality. It features a 15.6in1920 x 1080 HD anti-glare display and NVIDIA GeForce 960M graphics card, ensuring sharp visual quality. As the battle on-screen heats up, your laptop will stay cool under pressure thanks to integrated thermal fans underneath. Also, with a Core i7 processor, 1TB 5400 RPM storage, and a 256GB SSD hard drive, Lenovo guarantees a product with the processing power to handle your gaming needs. The laptop itself weighs 5.72 pounds and has a modest five-hour battery life.
Excellent Dolby audio
Speedy 256GB SSD
Vibrant backlit keyboard
The sleek-looking Acer Aspire VX 15 supports the company's TrueHarmony technology and Dolby audio premium sound, which means a well-balanced and surprisingly powerful audio experience. Fortunately, the sound isn’t the only thing noteworthy about the VX 15. Its Core i7 processor, 16GB of RAM, 256GB SSD and NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1050 Ti with 4GB of dedicated GDDR5 VRAM also make for terrific performance. A red backlit keyboard illuminates for easy visibility in both day and night conditions, while dual fans help maintain performance levels and eliminate the chance of the laptop overheating. It weighs 5.51 pounds and has up to six hours of battery life.
Big 512GB SSD
16GB of RAM
No standard HDD
Dell’s Inspiron i5577 has 512GB SSD, which might not add as much storage overall as competitive models with 1TB of HDD space, but SSD performance far outpaces standard drive performance, so it's still an exceptionally attractive option. Other features include 16GB of RAM, an Intel Core i7 3.8GHz processor, NVIDIA’s GTX 1050 graphics card and a 15.6-inch Full HD display. Adding even more to the gameplay value is the inclusion of Dell’s MaxxAudio. Battery life is an underwhelming four to five hours and it weighs 5.7 pounds.
For pure bang for buck in the gaming laptop market, the Acer E 15 is impossible to beat, with its low price point, incredible battery life, and solid performance. For a slightly more capable machine at a slightly higher price, consider Lenovo's Legion Y520, which delivers a slightly better dedicated GPU and fantastic customization options.
David Beren has been covering the tech industry for more than a decade, and has accumulated extensive experience in PC, laptop, and mobile tech. He's written for a number of top tech sites and also managed content for lead mobile companies like Sprint and T-Mobile.
Jeremy Laukkonen is a tech journalist with a knack for making complex subjects easily digestible. He specializes in laptop and PC technology, and also runs his own automotive blog.
SSD - The impact of a slow hard drive on the overall gaming experience is severely underrated. Look for a gaming laptop with a blazingly-fast SSD, and you can say goodbye to slow load times and other similar headaches. It’s also perfectly fine to go with a model that includes a hybrid drive or both a HDD and an SSD, as long as you store your games on the SSD.
IPS display - When budget is a big concern, shelling out for a fancy monitor immediately after buying a brand new gaming laptop is no fun. Look for a model that includes an IPS display that’s capable of handling at least a 1920 x 1080 resolution. You may need to settle for a 15-inch screen at this price point, but it’s worth stepping up to a 17-inch model if you can.
Powerful GPU - An exceptionally slow CPU can create a bottleneck, but an underpowered GPU is far more likely to ruin your gaming experience. Look at the games you want to play, and shoot for a GPU that’s at least in the neighborhood of the recommended specifications.