There is a general rule when buying a new gaming laptop – the more you can afford to spend, the better the gaming experience. When you have a fixed budget of $1,000 (or less), you will have to make some compromises. But that’s not to say you can’t find a machine capable of playing most games well.
The very heart of your machine, the processor does most of the hard work when loading and playing games. The newer and faster the processor, the better performing your laptop will be.
Your choices will be somewhat limited however. Expect to see plenty of models sporting 5th Gen Core i5 or i7 CPUs for instance. You may find some laptops with 6th Gen i3 processors, but these may not be meaty enough for gaming.
When buying a gaming laptop you should always go for a model with as much RAM (memory) as possible. Most modern games require at least 8GB – and this is probably as much as you will get within a $1,000 budget.
The graphics card plays a vital role in processing animations and gameplay on screen. In the $1,000 price range you will have to make do with an older or lower-spec GPU – typically an NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1050 or lower.
Another compromise will be in terms of hard drive technology; most laptops in this price range will come fitted with a hard disk drive. This may mean that you get more disk space to play with (1TB+), the machine will be slower accessing data than a laptop built around an SSD drive.
If your new laptop is purely for gaming at home, portability won’t be too much of an issue. Sub-$1,000 laptops are often quite bulky and heavy – but if it stays on your desk at home, this will be fine.
What effect will these compromises have on the gaming experience?
Each compromise will have some effect on gameplay. A slower or older processor will increase game loading time for instance. Factor in a traditional hard drive and the wait before you can start playing will be slightly longer, especially if there are a lot of files and textures to load.
The biggest compromises will be in the quality of the visuals however. On-screen responsiveness will suffer, occasionally dropping frames so that intense activity becomes jerky and laggy. You will also find that the maximum resolution (the size of the onscreen picture) is limited – possibly not even achieving full HD (1080i) when playing.
The best gaming laptops under $1,000 will generally perform perfectly adequately for casual titles. Games like Fortnite or Minecraft should perform perfectly adequately on a laptop with the limitations explained above.
Most computer games list a minimum hardware specification; if a laptop meets these specifications it will run the game. And even some of the hardcore games titles like Battlefield 5 and Destiny 2 will load and run on a sub-$1,000 laptop. But they may not run well at high settings.
For hardcore games you may need to adjust the games’ settings, reducing the resolution and frame rate to avoid overloading the machine. Trying to play Battlefield 5 or Destiny 2 in Ultra mode (1920 x 1080 resolution) will probably be beyond the capabilities of the machine – you will not achieve the 60fps required for a truly smooth gaming experience.
If you want to play the latest, most intense titles, you may need to increase your gaming laptop budget somewhat.
Here are some of the best gaming laptops under $1,000 currently available.
Cheapest RetailerView at Amazon
Cheapest RetailerView at Amazon