The 6 Best Gaming Laptops under $1000!

| January 6, 2015 | (4)

Updated on January 6th 2015

The Best Gaming Laptops For Your Money?

By that, I mean the laptops that offer the best gaming performance at a given price.

Why would you want that? Because if you’re about to buy a gaming laptop, might as well get the one that offers the best performance possible for your budget, right?

If you have the time to do research… but who does?

Many of us don’t have the time to read or the knowledge to understand detailed laptop reviews and specifications and just want the answers.

In other words, what you want to know is:
What’s the best gaming laptop for my budget?

So if you don’t have the time, don’t worry. We’re here to help you with this article.

The features that we evaluate in order to make our recommendations:

1. Price
2. Performance: CPU, RAM, Storage, Video Card and Wireless Adapter
3. Screen: Size, Resolution, Matte or Glossy, Panel type (TN, IPS, etc.), Brightness, Contrast, Viewing Angles and Color Accuracy
4. Portability: Dimensions, Weight, Real-life battery life during average web browsing?
5. Usability: Keyboard: Layout, Key size, Travel/Pressure, Key Shape and any additional Function keys. Touch pad quality, trackpoint, backlit keyboard, numpad, Operating System, which ports are offered, Webcam resolution, sound quality, optical Drive, noise levels.
6. Reliability: How solid is the chassis? Are the temperatures under load reasonable? How solid are the screen hinges? Is the keyboard spill-resistant? Overall manufacturer long-term reliability? How easy is it to service the laptop?
7. Warranty: Warranty length? What does the warranty cover?

We then recommend laptops that score the best overall, at various price points.

Alternatives recommendations:

We also suggest alternative recommendations, with clear explanations as to why they are interesting alternatives. That way, you can easily choose the best laptop to answer YOUR needs and desires.

Put all of this together and you get this article: The 6 Best Gaming Laptops Under $1000!

The Lenovo Y50, the best gaming laptop for $900.

The Lenovo Y50, the best gaming laptop for $900.

A few reminders:

I’ll use this opportunity to remind you that this article is only a guideline for the prices I’ve seen on January 6th 2015.

Here are a few things to keep in mind when you read this article:

- This list is based on the best prices from B&H, NewEgg and/or Amazon. Prices and availability change all the time. While I can’t keep up with ever changing prices, I can suggest to you great laptops that you won’t regret buying.
- All prices are based on new laptops prices, no refurbished or open box laptops are listed; they might be a good deal, but they come with trade offs, such as missing accessories, higher failure rate, limited return policy, limited warranty, etc.

Summary

Click on any of these links to jump to the section that interests you. Alternatively, scroll down to see them all, in this order.

The Best Gaming Laptop for:

  1. $550
  2. $800
  3. $900
  4. $1000

Upgrade your laptop:

  1. Upgrade the RAM
  2. Upgrade the hard drive to a larger/faster model or to a SSD
  3. USB DVD and Blu-ray External Burners
  4. The Best WiFi Routers, WiFi Adapters and Bluetooth Adapters

Best Gaming Laptop for $550

Acer Aspire V3-572G-54S6

$549.99 Newegg

About the Acer Aspire V3-572G-54S6 :

This laptop is pretty much a steal for 549.99$.

Equipped with the Geforce GT 840M 2GB, its video game performance is unmatched by pretty much any other laptop below $700-800!

Most 2013/2014 games should be playable at the native 1366 x 768 resolution with medium or high details. More demanding games may require you to lower the settings to low or even minimum.

Pros:

  1. Lowest cost for a gaming laptop equipped with a decent dedicated video card.
  2. Fairly powerful CPU for a $550 laptop: Intel Core i5 4210U (Haswell) 1.7-2.7GHz Dual-Core + Hyper-Threading
  3. Fairly portable for a gaming laptop: 15.02″ x 10.08″ x 1.0″ and 5.62lbs.
  4. Matte (non-reflective) screen
  5. Great battery life for a gaming laptop: 6-8 hours of web browsing
  6. Large 1TB hard drive
  7. 8GB of RAM: You can multitask, run a few applications at the same time, or have a lot of web browser tabs open at the same time without slowdowns.
  8. Numpad
  9. Runs cool, so you can use it on your lap without getting uncomfortable.
  10. Pretty good sound from the speakers
  11. Bluetooth 4.0
  12. HDMI and VGA Outputs
  13. Available drive bay (no optical drive in it), allowing you to add an optical drive of your choice, or a drive caddy to have an additional drive
  14. Dual-band 2.4 and 5GHz WiFi

Cons:

  1. No optical drive
  2. Slow 5400rpm hard drive
  3. Touchpad is average
  4. Screen with a 1366 x 768 resolution and a TN panel: Poor contrast, not accurate color reproduction and poor viewing angles. Expected at this price point. That said, the lower resolution allows games to run smoothly.
  5. OK build quality: It’s made of plastic

Click here to go back up to the summary

Specifications:

Components
Acer Aspire V3-572G-54S6
OS Windows 8.1 64-bit
CPU Intel Core i5 4210U (Haswell) 1.7-2.7GHz Dual-Core + Hyper-Threading
Screen
Webcam
Video Card
15.6″ 1366 x 768, Matte
Yes, 720p
NVIDIA GeForce GT 840M 2GB
RAM
Max RAM
8GB DDR3L (2x4GB)
16GB (2x8GB), 2 slots, both occupied
Storage 1TB 5,400rpm
Optical Drive None, bay available for upgrade
Audio Integrated microphone
Two Stereo Speakers
Networking 10/100/1000 LAN
802.11b/g/n 2.4/5GHz Dual-Band WiFi
Bluetooth 4.0
Ports SD Card Reader
Headphone 3.5mm jack
Microphone 3.5mm jack
1 x USB 3.0
2x USB 2.0
HDMI Output
VGA Output
Dimensions
Weight
15.02″ x 10.08″ x 1.0″
5.62lbs
Battery Life 6-8 hours

Click here to go back up to the summary

Best Gaming Laptop for $800

ASUS X550JK-DH71:

- $829.00 (Amazon)
- $829.00 (B&H – International Shipping)

About the ASUS X550JK-DH71:

Pros:

  1. Highly powerful CPU: Intel Core i7-4710HQ 2.5-3.5GHz Quad-Core + Hyper-Threading
  2. Good dedicated video card: NVIDIA GTX 850M 2GB
  3. Fairly portable for a gaming laptop: 15.0 x 9.9 x 1.1″ and 5.4lbs.
  4. Numpad
  5. 1920 x 1080 screen resolution
  6. DVD Burner
  7. RAM can be upgraded to 12GB by swapping the 4GB stick in the RAM slot by a 8GB stick.
  8. Gigabit LAN
  9. Bluetooth 4.0
  10. VGA and HDMI Output
  11. ASUS 1 year international warranty. 1 Year Accidental Damage / 30-Day Zero Bright Dot

Cons:

  1. Slow 5400rpm hard drive
  2. WiFi limited to 2.4GHz only
  3. Average battery life: 4-5 hours
  4. OK build quality
  5. Screen with TN panel: Poor contrast, not accurate color reproduction and poor viewing angles.
  6. 1 soldered RAM stick (4GB) and one RAM slot, allows you to upgrade to 12GB, not 16GB like if you had two RAM slots.

Click here to go back up to the summary
Specifications:

Components
ASUS X550JK-DH71
OS Windows 8.1 64-bit
CPU Intel Core i7-4710HQ 2.5-3.5GHz Quad-Core + Hyper-Threading
Screen
Webcam
Video Card
15.6″ 1920 x 1080 Glossy
Yes
NVIDIA GTX 850M 2GB
RAM
Max RAM
8GB (1x4GB soldered + 1x4GB in slot) DDR3L 1600MHz
1 Slot, maximum 12GB (4GB soldered + 1x8GB in the slot)
Storage 1TB 5,400RPM
Optical Drive DVD Burner
Audio Integrated microphone
Stereo Speakers
Networking LAN: 10/100/1000Mbps
802.11b/g/n WiFi 2.4GHz only
Bluetooth 4.0
Ports SD Card Reader
Headphone/Microphone 3.5mm combo jack
1 x USB 3.0
2x USB 2.0
LAN
VGA Output
HDMI Output
Dimensions
Weight
15.0 x 9.9 x 1.1″
5.4lbs
Battery Life 4-5 hours

Click here to go back up to the summary

Best Laptop for $900

Lenovo Y50 (59418222):

$899.99 (Amazon)

About the Lenovo Y50 (59418222):

Pros:

  1. Least expensive laptop with the relatively powerful Geforce GTX 860M video card
  2. 1TB hard drive with 8GB SSD-like cache for faster boot-ups, faster program/game launches and slightly more responsive PC overall.
  3. 8GB (2x4GB) of RAM that can be upgraded to 16GB (2x8GB).
  4. Powerful speakers for a laptop, with a dedicated subwoofer
  5. 1920 x 1080 Matte screen
  6. Bluetooth 4.0
  7. Backlit keyboard with red glow
  8. Numpad
  9. Good build quality
  10. Intel WiDi (Wireless Display)
  11. Intel 7260 802.11 b/g/n/ac WiFi adapter
  12. Gigabit LAN
  13. Fairly portable for a gaming laptop: 15.24″ x 10.37″ x 0.94″ and 5.29lbs.
  14. SPDIF Output

Cons:

  1. TN panel: Poor contrast, not accurate color reproduction and poor viewing angles. A customer review suggests that it’s fairly easy to replace (search youtube for videos on how to) with the following screen AU OPTRONICS B156HAN01.1 (glossy) or AU OPTRONICS B156HAN01.2 (matte) for less than $100. Make sure to get the IPS model for good contrast, accurate colors and good viewing angles
  2. While the CPU is no slouch (Intel Core i5-4200H 2.8-3.4GHz Dual-Core + Hyper-Threading) and capable enough for gaming, it’s no match for more powerful Intel Core i7 Quad-Core CPUs found in other laptops around this price range.
  3. Battery life limited to 3-4 hours
  4. Battery isn’t easily swapped, it’s inside the casing
  5. No Optical drive. Get an external USB optical drive if you want one, see our recommendations further down.
  6. No VGA Output

Click here to go back up to the summary
Specifications:

Components
Lenovo Y50 (59418222)
OS Windows 8.1 64-bit
CPU Intel Core i5-4200H 2.8-3.4GHz Dual-Core + Hyper-Threading
Screen
Webcam
Video Card
15.6″ 1920 x 1080 Matte
Yes: HD 720p (1280×720)
NVIDIA GeForce GTX 860M 2GB
RAM
Max RAM
8GB (2x4GB) DDR3L 1600MHz
2 slots, no open slot, maximum 16GB (2x8GB)
Storage 1TB 5,400RPM + 8GB SSHD
Optical Drive None
Audio Dual array microphones
2.1 Stereo Speakers + Subwoofer
Networking LAN: 10/100/1000Mbps
Intel 7260 802.11 b/g/n/ac WiFi
Intel WiDi (Wireless Display, requires separate receiver)
Ports Card Reader
Headphone and Microphone 3.5mm 2-in-1 combo jack
1 x SPDIF
2 x USB 3.0
1x USB 2.0
LAN
HDMI Output
Dimensions
Weight
15.24″ x 10.37″ x 0.94″
5.29lbs
Battery Life 3-4 hours

Click here to go back up to the summary

Best Laptop for $1000

ASUS ROG GL551JM-DH71:

$999.00 (Amazon)

About the ASUS ROG GL551JM-DH71:

Pros:

  1. Powerful processor: Intel Core i7-4710HQ Quad-Core + Hyper-Threading 2.5GHz-3.5GHz
  2. Powerful video card: Geforce GTX 860M 2GB with GDDR5, not the slower DDR3 variant.
  3. 7200rpm hard drive is faster than 5400rpm hard drives
  4. 16GB of RAM (2x8GB)
  5. Fairly solid build, with brushed aluminium back, logo that lights up on the back of the screen
  6. Bluetooth 4.0
  7. 3 x USB 3.0 ports
  8. HDMI and Mini Displayport Output
  9. Backlit keyboard
  10. Battery can be swapped.
  11. Easy to service
  12. Optical drive, easily replaceable with a $11.97 HARD DRIVE 9.5mm SATA to SATA Caddy if you want a second drive
  13. Numpad
  14. ASUS 1 year international warranty. 1 Year Accidental Damage / 30-Day Zero Bright Dot

Cons:

  1. Screen with a TN panel: Poor contrast, not accurate color reproduction and poor viewing angles.
  2. Average battery life: 4-5 hours
  3. No VGA Output
  4. Speakers aren’t very loud
  5. Limited portability: 15.0″ x 10.0″ x 0.6″ – 1.3″ and weights 6lbs.

Click here to go back up to the summary
Specifications:

Components
ASUS ROG GL551JM-DH71
OS Windows 8.1 64-bit
CPU Intel Core i7-4710HQ Quad-Core + Hyper-Threading 2.5GHz-3.5GHz
Screen
Webcam
Video Card
15.6″ 1920 x 1080
Yes
NVIDIA GeForce GTX 860M 2GB GDDR5
RAM
Max RAM
16GB (2x8GB) DDR3L 1600MHz
2 Slot, maximum 16GB
Storage 1TB 7200RPM
Optical Drive DVD Burner
Audio Integrated microphone
Stereo Speakers
Networking LAN: 10/100/1000Mbps
802.11b/g/n Wifi
Bluetooth 4.0
Ports Card Reader
Headphone and Microphone 3.5mm 2-in-1 combo jack

3x USB 3.0
LAN
HDMI Output
Mini Displayport Output
Dimensions
Weight
15.0″ x 10.0″ x 0.6″ – 1.3″
6.00lbs
Battery Life 4-5 hours

Click here to go back up to the summary

Alternatives:

#1: Thinner, lighter, half the RAM and available internationally:
The Lenovo Y50 59425944 – $989.99 (B&H – International Shipping) is an excellent alternative that’s lighter (5.29lbs vs 6.00lbs) and thinner (0.9″ vs 1.3″) than the recommended ASUS ROG GL551JM-DH71 without sacrificing much, if any, gaming performance.

Part of why it’s lighter and thinner than the recommended ASUS is because the DVD drive is an external model, not an internal one. A good idea to make your gaming laptop more portable, considering that most of us only need the optical drive every now and then.

It has less RAM, with 8GB instead of 16GB. That said, for most games, 8GB of RAM should be enough for a few years to come. If you like to multi-task or have a lot of programs open, 16GB is preferable though.

It has a 5400rpm hard drive, with a 8GB of SSD-like cache. Windows, programs and games should launch a bit faster.

You also get faster 802.11ac WiFi, Intel WiDi (Wireless Display) and louder speakers.

#2: IPS touchscreen alternative:
The ASUS N550JK-DS71T , which is $979.00 (Amazon) or $979.00 (B&H – International Shipping) is a laptop equipped with a 1920 x 1080 IPS touchscreen.

Its GPU, the Geforce GTX 850M, is not quite as powerful as the GTX 860M found in the main recommendation and #1 alternative, so if video game performance is you want, skip this model.

That said, it’s not slouch either and if you are interested in a fairly good gaming laptop with a gorgeous IPS touchscreen, 802.11ac WiFi, a dedicated subwoofer and a nicer aluminium body, the ASUS N550JK-DS71T is an interesting alternative.

Upgrade your Laptop:

Upgrade your RAM:

RAM can easily be upgraded on most laptops. Do note that some laptops cannot be upgraded at all, due to their unique design. I provide that info for main recommendations, for alternatives, you can find that info on the product information page, usually under specifications. Otherwise, a quick google search on the manufacturer’s website should provide that info. Feel free to ask me in the comment section if you aren’t sure and can’t find the info.

Pick one of the following recommendations below, depending on if your laptop comes with a single stick of RAM or two, or if you can have up to 4 sticks.

My recommendations should be compatible with all the laptops recommended in this guide, all those that can be upgraded that is.

I recommend the most reliable sticks that I can find and that are available internationally.

Add a single 4GB stick: Crucial 4GB 1600MHz DDR3 SODIMM:

- $35.99 (Amazon)
- $36.99 (B&H – International Shipping)

Add a single 8GB stick: Crucial 8GB 1600MHz DDR3 SODIMM

- $67.49 (Amazon)
- $68.76 (B&H – International Shipping)

2x4GB (8GB) kit: Crucial 8GB (2x4GB) 1600MHz DDR3 SODIMM

- $66.99 (Amazon)
- $73.98 (B&H – International Shipping)

2x8GB (16GB) kit: Crucial 16GB (2x8GB) 1600MHz DDR3 SODIMM

- $132.69 (Amazon)
- $137.52 (B&H – International Shipping)

Click here to go back up to the summary

Upgrade your hard drive:

You can upgrade your hard drive to a faster and/or a larger hard drive. See our article on The Best Hard Drives (HDD) For Your Money and scroll down to the best 2.5″ hard drives for my recommendations.

Do note that most laptops accept hard drives with a 9.5mm height. Some laptops, can only accept drives with a 7mm height, but those are the exception rather than the norm. Do also note that some laptops cannot be upgraded at all, due to their unique design.

Upgrade to a SSD

SSD wise, I recommend 7mm thick SSDs, so they should fit in pretty much any laptop with a standard hard drive.

A SSD (Solid State Drive) is far faster than a hard drive (See our SSD FAQ) and it also consumes less power than a hard drive, so replacing a hard drive by a SSD will slightly boost your laptop’s battery life.

If you want to upgrade your hard drive to a SSD, I recommend that you read our ‘The Best SSDs (Solid State Drives) For Your Money‘ article.

I also recommend getting this Kingwin SATA to USB 3.0 adapter: $17.99 at B&H (International Shipping), to help you transfer the content of your hard drive to the SSD, in order to minimize downtime and make your life easier. It’s compatible with pretty much all 2.5″ SATA drives.

Keep your old hard drive for external storage via an USB 3.0 enclosure:

When you replace the hard drive that your laptop came with, I recommend putting it in the Sabrent USB 3.0 2.5″ SATA Hard Drive Enclosure:
- $14.99 (Amazon)
- $14.99 (B&H – International Shipping)

That way you can use your hard drive for external portable storage, such as backups.

This particular enclosure comes with a retractable cable that is connected to the enclosure, so you don’t lose/forget it and it makes the whole package more compact too. It comes with an extension cord if you need it.

Click here to go back up to the summary

USB DVD and Blu-Ray Drives

If your laptop doesn’t come with an optical drive and you want one, here are my recommendations for external USB optical drives.

USB DVD Burner

There are many models of USB DVD Burners. The LG GP60NB50 8x is the one with the best customer reviews:
- $33.20 (Amazon)
- $32.95 (B&H – International Shipping)

USB Blu-Ray Burner

I recommend three USB Blu-Ray burner. Make sure to plug them in an USB 3.0 port to get the maximum speed possible.

In order of price and burning speed:
- Pioneer BDR-XD055 6x – $89.95 (B&H – International Shipping)

ASUS BW-12D1S-U/BLK/G/AS 12x:
- $109.99 (Amazon)
- $109.99 (B&H – International Shipping)

LG BE14NU40 14x:
- $124.99 (Amazon)
- $124.99 (B&H – International Shipping)

Click here to go back up to the summary

WiFi routers, WiFi Adapters and Bluetooth adapter:

Need a WiFi router, a faster WiFi adapter or a Bluetooth adapter for your laptop? Check out our recommendations for The Best WiFi Routers, Best WiFi Adapters and Bluetooth Adapter.

Conclusion

I hope that you’ve enjoyed this article on the 6 Best Gaming Laptops under $1000.

Of course, with this being such a long article (over 2700 words) with many recommendations and alternatives, you may find some typos.

Alternatively, you may believe that there’s a better option than my recommendation.

Or you may have some questions.

If that happens, feel free to leave a comment below and remember, you can join us on our forums to discuss with everyone else the laptop that you’re planning to buy, ask your questions and join our helpful community!

Category: The Best Laptops For Your Money

About Mathieu Bourgie: HR Founder - Computer expert with over 14 years of experience in building, fixing and modifying PCs. Over the years, I’ve developed a passion for PC hardware and now I enjoy helping others build their own PCs! In April 2008, I launched Hardware Revolution and ... Read more at my about page .

  • Bob

    “Want a laptop with a touchscreen that costs around $500? I recommend three alternatives:”

    And then you offer 2 suggestions that both cost $1000

    • https://www.facebook.com/Mathieu.HR MathieuB

      Bob,

      Thanks for pointing that out, it was a left over from the previous article (best budget laptops). Fixed that.

      Cheers,
      Mathieu

  • Lyndon

    The Acer’s price went up on Newegg. Any laptops with similar specs and price? Preferrably with another USB 3.0 port.

    • https://www.facebook.com/Mathieu.HR MathieuB

      Nothing that beats that Acer, with its Core i5 CPU and NVIDIA GeForce GT 840M card, even at $599.99.

      The only alternative I’d consider around that price is the HP EliteBook 850-G1 (713222R-999-FGPD)

      http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16834259912

      Slightly faster CPU, same RAM, faster storage but more limited capacity (128GB SSD vs 1TB hard drive), but slower video card (AMD Radeon HD 8750M vs NVIDIA GeForce GT 840M). 3 USB 3.0 ports.

      That said, it’s refurbished, so the warranty is 3 months vs 1 year for the Acer. It’s also slightly more expensive, at $630 vs $600 for the Acer.