The Best Laptops Under $1,000

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For most people’s computing needs, $1,000 is plenty to spend on a laptop. (That’s probably why many of our best overall laptops cost less.) A thousand dollars will buy you a decent gaming laptop, a hybrid laptop that also serves as a tablet, a capable machine for students, including college students, or even a MacBook Air. It’s only when you start working with huge photo files, editing movies or podcasts, or playing graphics-heavy games like Apex Legends that you’ll really need to spend more.

One thing that might reassure you as you shop: According to our sister site the Verge, “It’s getting harder to buy a bad laptop.” Most options include at least 8 GB of RAM and a 256 GB hard drive — what feels like the minimum for standard users — along with trackpads that don’t lag and screens that can handle HD. The differences you’ll find are more matters of design, weight, battery power, and extra processing speed. To help you make the right choice for you, we consulted six computer experts (including our colleagues at the Verge). Below are their picks. (And if you’re looking for other laptops, we also have guides to kids’ laptops and gaming laptops, and the best laptop for every type of person.)

Best overall laptop under $1,000

The Verge named the Air its best laptop of 2021. The base model has 8 GB of RAM and 256 GB of storage. Plus, it’s powered by Apple’s own M1 processor, which Verge writer Monica Chin says “handled intense photo- and video-editing workloads better than almost any Intel-powered laptop we’ve tried this year.” The M1 also allows Air users to run iPhone and iPad apps, which opens up a whole new world of games and programs. With a battery that lasts eight to ten hours, “It’s a reliable device with excellent performance, as well as the excellence in build quality for which Apple is known,” Chin says. Jason Snell, host of the podcast Upgrade, calls the MacBook Air his go-to laptop for back to school: “I recently bought one for my daughter as she prepares to go back to college, so I’ve put my money where my mouth is,” he says. Alan Zilberman at LaptopMD also recommends the Air because of its reliable operating system. Plus, “it’s light, slim, and easy to carry,” he says.

Best (less expensive) laptop under $1,000

Chin calls the HP Envy x360 “one of the best midrange laptops you can buy, thanks to its sturdy and compact build, chic convertible design, and excellent performance.” It has a thin profile and minimal bezel, giving it a sleek, futuristic design. There’s also a touchscreen, and the keyboard folds back, turning the Envy x360 into a makeshift tablet. And, even though it doesn’t quite match the performance specs of our top gaming pick (the Dell G15, below), it can still handle most games. Where the Envy really shines, however, is with its all-day battery life. All of these features make the laptop so impressive that Chin says it “feels like it’s competing with the top of the line. Between the Envy x360 and other $800 laptops, there’s no contest.”

Best Chromebook under $1,000

Chin describes the Spin 713 as “hands down, the best Chromebook you can buy.” You can find much cheaper options, but they can perform only the simplest of tasks. If you want a Chromebook that can compete with full laptops, this is the one. Instead of the typical 16:9 width-to-height ratio of most screens, the Spin 713 uses a taller 3:2 screen that provides extra space for your work and multitasking. The keyboard is quiet and comfortable, and the computer manages to even sneak an HDMI port on the side, which often isn’t possible in a thin laptop body. Plus, its EvoCore i5 processor can handle dozens of open tabs without slowing down — something most Chromebooks just can’t do.

Best gaming laptop under $1,000

“This laptop ran every popular title we threw at it at very playable frame rates,” Chin says. In fact, her colleague, writer Cameron Faulkner, says the G15 series could run most games at about 100 frames per second at a 1080p resolution. It could handle Grand Theft Auto Online, Rocket League, Control, and Apex Legends. “I recommend opting for this over most other gaming laptops close to $1,000,” Faulkner says. “Its fast components make for a downright enjoyable gaming experience with minimal compromises, and it includes some high-end features like a fast refresh rate display and a speedy RAM.”

Best budget laptop

The Duet has a compact ten-inch screen and detachable keyboard, which makes it perfect for anyone who needs to take a computer with them everywhere. It also has an impressive 11-hour battery life. One warning: With only 4 GB of RAM and 64 GB of storage, it won’t handle much more than light browsing and word processing, but if you are a student who only needs something to take notes with and write papers on, there’s no better choice.

Best screen experience on a laptop under $1,000

With 8 GB of RAM and 256 GB of storage, this computer can handle some video and photo editing, and even some gaming — all made better thanks to a 4K screen and nearly nonexistent bezel. The battery will last you up to seven hours when you’re on the internet or reading emails, or around three hours if you’re gaming.

Best large-hard-drive laptop under $1,000

Although the MSRP of this laptop is over $1,000, you can often find it on sale, so we decided to include it in this list. Many times, computers that are super-powerful are also thicker. That’s in order to pack in the horsepower and graphics you want for the latest games, says Marc Saltzman, a “technology evangelist” and the host of Tech Impact on Fox Business and Bloomberg TV: “But the G14 gives you the best of both worlds.” Alexa Despenas, a device storyteller at Microsoft, calls this laptop a “powerhouse.”

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The Best Laptops Under $1,000