On-the-go gaming has gone a long way from its early days when chunky machines were nothing else but desktop PC replacements. Today’s gaming laptops are thinner, lighter, and more portable than ever. They provide the same or even more power than desktop gaming computers and can virtually run any game.
Prices vary widely, though, and high-performance models are expensive. While more affordable solutions are available, finding a good gaming laptop on a budget can be challenging.
To save some time and find a model that’s worth your while, check out our ranking for the best gaming laptops under $1,000 in 2023.
- Best Overall: ASUS TUF F15 Gaming Laptop
- Best Ryzen: Acer Nitro 17 Gaming Laptop
- Best for Retro Games: HP Victus Gaming Laptop
- Best for Portability: ASUS ROG Zephyrus Gaming Laptop
- Best Budget-Friendly: Lenovo IdeaPad Gaming 3
#1 Best Overall: ASUS TUF F15 Gaming Laptop
The 2022 ASUS TUF F15 is one of the most powerful mid-range gaming laptops designed for endless fun, regardless of what you’re playing.
The model’s entry-level variant packs a 12th-generation Intel Core i5 processor, an NVIDIA GeForce RTX 3050 GPU, 16GB of RAM, and a 512GB PCIe SSD — all coming in at under $1,000. The setup provides enough power for resource-hungry games, including the Halo: Master Chief Collection and similar.
A 16:9 aspect ratio makes this gaming laptop ideal for casual and pro gamers alike. We particularly like the quality of the screen that provides perfect viewing angles, no glare, and impressive brightness. Sure, the image quality drops considerably in direct sunlight, but unless you want to play your games outdoors, that’s not an issue.
Another highlight is the 144Hz refresh rate that ensures smooth transitions between scenes. The color accuracy leaves a bit to be desired, but this defect is easy to overlook.
The real downside is the battery, which won’t last for more than five hours when performing everyday tasks. For gaming, the runtime drops to under two hours, so you have to keep the plug handy and make sure you have a power source nearby.
Check out the 2022 ASUS TUF F15 on Amazon here.
|A refresh rate of 144Hz ensures smooth transitions.||The battery only lasts around 1.5 hours in gaming mode.|
|The no-glare screen provides a great visual experience.|
|This setup can support power-hungry games and applications.|
Best Ryzen: Acer Nitro 17 Gaming Laptop
- Latest AMD Ryzen 7735HS series processor
- NVIDIA GeForce RTX 4050 GPU
- 17.3-inch 1920 x 1080 display with 165Hz refresh rate
- NVIDIA Advanced Optimus graphics switching technology
The Acer Nitro 17 Gaming Laptop is a solid option for gamers on a budget looking for an AMD setup.
The system’s highlight is the Ryzen 7 7735HS octa-core CPU designed for demanding processes. This processor pairs with an NVIDIA RTX 4050 GPU and 16GB of RAM that can handle the newest and most resource-avid games.
Internal storage is also enough to install as many apps as you want — in its most affordable version, the laptop comes with a 1TB Gen 4 solid-state drive.
Not only is this laptop powerful, but its massive 17.3-inch screen provides an immersive viewing experience. This monitor has a 165Hz refresh rate, which is one of the fastest in the gaming laptops market. We also like the four-zone RGB keyboard that divides the keys into sections for easier gaming.
This laptop’s main downside is its size and weight. At 6.83 lbs, it adds lots of heft to a bag or backpack. When using the laptop in a gaming profile, the fans are also pretty loud. If you can look past these nuisances, though, this model is well worth it.
Check it out on Amazon here.
|The large 17.3-inch screen provides a more immersive viewing experience than smaller gaming laptops.||The CPU heats up fast when running power-hungry processes, and the cooler fans are quite loud.|
|This laptop has a 165Hz refresh rate, which is one of the fastest on the market.|
|The NVIDIA RTX 4050 graphics card can handle all types of games and other creative apps.|
Best for Retro Games: HP Victus Gaming Laptop
- 15.6" FHD 144Hz
- Intel Core i5-12450H processor
- NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1650
- 32GB RAM
- 1TB SSD
- SD card reader
- Backlit keyboard
- Wi-Fi 6
- Windows 11
- TGC accessories
The HP Victus Gaming Laptop might have a slightly outdated graphics card but it is one of the best options under $1,000 if you mostly play retro games.
Its NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1650 GPU can handle numerous games, including the League of Legends, Fortnite, Overwatch, and Apex Legends. Sure, these aren’t the newest games out there, but they are very popular and fun to play.
Apart from the GPU, there is little to say about this laptop. It features a 12th-generation Intel Core i5 processor, 32GB of RAM (expandable up to 64GB), and 1TB of internal storage. The laptop includes an SD card reader and connects wirelessly via Wi-Fi 6 and Bluetooth 5.2.
The monitor is average (15.6 inches diagonally), but the 16:9 aspect ratio and 144GHz refresh rate ensure an excellent viewing experience. Beyond smooth transitions, you also get plenty of brightness and vivid — albeit not truly accurate — colors.
However, these are more nuisances than real downsides. The true drawback is the price. Considering its components, this laptop is on the expensive side.
Find the HP Victus Gaming Laptop on Amazon here.
|This gaming laptop can run numerous games despite the older graphics card.||It is expensive compared to other laptops in its class.|
|A standard display ratio and a fast refresh rate ensure a great visual experience.|
|The 32GB RAM is expandable up to 64GB.|
Best for Portability: ASUS ROG Zephyrus Gaming Laptop
- 14" display
- AMD Ryzen 7 5800HS (8 cores)
- GeForce RTX 3060 6GB GDDR6
- 144Hz 100% RGB Pantone
- Backlit keyboard
- 16GB RAM
- 512GB PCIe SSD
The 14-inch ASUS ROG Zephyrus is the best gaming laptop for those in search of a truly portable system.
Its screen is smaller compared to most gaming laptops, but the reduced dimension also keeps heft low. At only 3.64 pounds, this computer won’t weigh down your carry-on suitcase laptop bag.
Despite its reduced size, the system brings the power and functionalities you’d expect from a high-end gaming laptop. It is powered by an 8-core AMD Ryzen 7 5800HS processor and boasts an NVIDIA GeForce RTX 3060 graphics card. With these components, the laptop can handle any game you want to play.
For under $1,000, the laptop comes with 16GB of RAM and 512GB of internal storage. If you don’t mind shelling out a bit more, variants include 40GB of RAM and 1TB or 2TB of internal storage (PCIe SSD).
Beyond these specs, we particularly like the Pantone-validated 100% sRGB display that boasts incredible color accuracy and clarity. The only downside is that getting used to the smaller screen and compact keyboard may take some time.
Check it out here.
|The Ryzen 7 processor and NVIDIA graphics card can handle most games.||The keyboard might require some getting used to, especially if you mostly use a full-size keyboard.|
|This laptop’s Pantone-validated display delivers true color accuracy.|
|At only 3.64 pounds, this is one of the lightest gaming laptops on the market.|
Best Budget-Friendly: Lenovo IdeaPad Gaming 3
A lot cheaper than the Lenovo Legion Gaming Laptop, the IdeaPad Gaming 3 is a good choice for gamers on a budget.
At under $700, it is one of the most affordable options out there. However, a low price tag doesn’t mean low-quality components. This model packs a 2022 AMD Ryzen 5 6600H, which has only slightly lower benchmarks compared to a 12th-generation Intel Core i5 processor.
The NVIDIA GeForce RTX 3050 can run most modern games, although you might have to adjust the settings and resolution for more resource-hungry apps. However, if you’re not really into competitive gaming, the loss of detail might not bother you too much.
What might bother you, especially when playing high-end games, is the display’s 120Hz refresh rate. While fast enough to ensure good visuals, the transitions might not be as smooth as you’d get from a 144Hz monitor. If you don’t mind these downsides too much, however, this model is well worth the investment.
You can find it on Amazon here.
|This model is one of the most affordable gaming laptops on the market.||The 120Hz refresh rate might result in some stutters.|
|This gaming laptop has an RTX 3050 GPU that can handle most games.|
|The system can run most games and resource-hungry applications.|
How to Pick the Best Gaming Laptop Under $1,000: Step-by-Step
When choosing an affordable gaming laptop, there are 7 main considerations for most people.
- Graphics card
Let’s see how each of these factors can affect your decision-making.
The vast majority of video games today are GPU-bound, so the graphics card is the main component to consider in a gaming laptop. Almost all brands equip their laptops with NVIDIA GeForce GPUs, but the models vary widely from computer to computer.
If you need a system that can run all games, look for one with an RTX 40 Series GPU. This is the latest graphics card series released by NVIDIA, so you can’t go wrong with this option. The RTX 30 Series is also a good choice and easier to find in budget gaming laptops. However, you should steer clear of earlier GPU models unless you routinely play simple or retro games that don’t require lots of resources.
The second most important factor to consider when buying a budget gaming laptop is the processor. Unlike the GPU, which is generally upgradable, the CPU isn’t.
For this reason, you should consider models with the latest CPU generation or one generation older. Anything older than that might not be able to handle newer games and apps. Currently, Intel’s processors have reached their 13th generation, but 12th-generation processors are still a great choice. If you like AMD, opt for a Ryzen 5000, 6000, or 7000 series processor.
The laptop’s random access memory allows you to open files and apps. It also helps process data while performing tasks. Because gaming is one of the most RAM-intensive tasks, your laptop should have at least 8GB of RAM for simple games.
Some resource-hungry games may require more, but you should be OK with 16GB of RAM for most story-driven games. If you like action-packed or multiplayer games and want to avoid stutters, consider upgrading to a laptop with 32GB or 64GB of RAM. Alternatively, if you can’t afford a model with these specs upfront, consider a model that allows you to expand the RAM later on.
Another essential feature is the laptop’s internal storage, which basically determines how many apps and games you can save and install on your computer. In budget gaming laptops, options vary from 128GB to 1TB. Most models use solid-state drives (SSDs) instead of traditional hard drives (HDDs), so you won’t have to worry about latency or durability.
Whether you’re a pro or casual gamer, you likely know that the display quality can make or break the deal. Size-wise, most budget gaming laptops have 15.6-inch screens.
If you want a bigger 17.3-inch screen, you’ll usually have to settle for more modest internal components. On the contrary, if you want stellar components at a good price, a smaller 14-inch laptop might be your best bet.
Size aside, you should also consider color accuracy, brightness, and contrast. Some of the best gaming laptops under $1,000 come with Pantone-validated screens that display true-to-life colors. Others are not so color-accurate. For ultra-smooth gaming, you should also consider a refresh rate of at least 144Hz.
Most manufacturers install gaming keyboards in their gaming laptops, meaning that they have satisfactory travel and actuation. However, you may miss functions found in desktop gaming keyboards, such as customizable macro keys, anti-ghosting, and n-key rollover. If these functions are important to you, check the keyboard’s specs before buying. Most gaming laptops have backlit keyboards, but not all of them are RGB — that’s another thing to consider if you want your laptop to burst with color.
Buying a gaming laptop means you can take your gaming setup anywhere. However, some laptops are more portable than others. Small models typically weigh less than four pounds and are the most portable.
Large 17.3-inch laptops are the most impractical in terms of portability. They are generally too big to fit in a TSA-approved hand luggage and are also heavy.
The 15.6-inch models provide a middle ground — they are not the lightest, but they are compact enough to fit in a bag and have a large enough display for seamless gaming.
What to Know Before Buying a Gaming Laptop Under $1,000
Budget gaming laptops are solid options if you want to keep playing on your travels but generally use a different system at home. While most models are built with quality components, they are all slightly out of date and might become obsolete in the near future.
If you don’t have another system and want to use your budget gaming laptop for the years to come, consider a model with expandable memory and upgradable components. In most cases, the only component you won’t be able to upgrade is the CPU, so choose a model with a strong processor, even if it has an older GPU. Then, you can replace the GPU later.
A gaming laptop under $1,000 provides the best value for money if you mostly play older games. In most cases, these affordable systems provide a smooth gaming experience when running titles released a few years ago.
Using a Gaming Laptop Under $1,000: What It’s Like
Using a gaming laptop under $1,000 can be a fantastic or terrible experience, depending on the laptop’s specs and the games you play.
Some of these computers can run all types of games with no lags or stutters, but you’ll have to settle for a less-than-stellar display. Others have excellent displays but older internal components and are better suited for retro gaming.
Before buying, check your game’s requirements and compare them to the laptop’s specs. This is the easiest way to make the right choice.
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