counter hit make

The best laptops under $1,000: Expert tested and reviewed

The best laptops under $1,000: Expert tested and reviewed
0 26

ZDNET’s reviewers spend weeks to months testing each laptop on this list, using it for both everyday tasks like browsing, streaming, and gaming, to more performance-intensive work like photo and video editing. We aim to give you a view into how each laptop could actually fit into your life and workflow, and the pros and cons of their various features like performance, display, and battery life.

Gone are the days of huge PC towers taking up your desk space to achieve powerful performance. We live in a time where power can be condensed into a slim laptop with a lower price tag than some of the high-end models. Many of the best laptops under $1,000 are lightweight and offer lightning-fast speeds, highly detailed graphics, and 1TB of storage space to meet all of your creative or professional needs.

Also: The best laptops under $500

What is the best laptop under $1,000 right now?

My pick for the best laptop under $1,000 overall is the M2 MacBook Air, thanks to its solid performance, portability, and HD display. With the March release of the M3 MacBook Air, the previous M2 model received a price cut. This is great news because the device is well known for its portability and awesome performance, but not for its affordability. Of course, the M2 MacBook Air isn’t the only option out there. With this in mind, check out ZDNET’s guide for the best laptops under $1,000.

The best laptops under $1,000 of 2024

Apple M2 MacBook Air

Best laptop under $1,000 overall

The best laptop under $1,000 overall is the M2 MacBook Air, a laptop that was also named ZDNET’s Product of the Year for 2022. It’s a fantastic machine for a variety of reasons. The M2 SoC (system on a chip) gives the device a much-needed performance boost. It’ll let you transfer enormous files, render video files, compress them, and create multimedia-intense PowerPoints with ease. The M2 MacBook Air can do all of this without blinking.

Professional and casual users alike will appreciate the Liquid Retina display, which is capable of showing 1.07 billion shades of color at once. Granted, it may not be as stunning as the screen on the MacBook Pro, but you still get a roughly 2K resolution image (2,560 x 1,664 pixels). Having a screen this nice does come at a cost. The M2 MacBook Air has a slightly worse battery life than the 2020 model, lasting about 16 hours instead of 17 hours. 

Review: Apple MacBook Air (M2, 2022)

Despite the slightly short battery life, the device is a premiere laptop no matter how you look at it. As ZDNET’s editor-in-chief Jason Hiner wrote in his hands-on review, “the M2 MacBook Air is… the first redesign of the… product line in over a decade and Apple has delivered a hardware design that impresses” on both form and function.

Apple M2 MacBook Air tech specs: CPU Model: Apple M2 | RAM Memory: 8GB | Hard Disk Drive: 256GB SSD | Screen Size: 13.6 inches

Show Expert Take Show less

Gigabyte G5 KF

Best laptop under $1,000 for gaming

Gaming laptops tend to be rather expensive, and for good reason. They often house some of the industry’s best hardware configurations. They’re so good, in fact, these machines can be found among the best video editing laptops too. Finding a good inexpensive gaming laptop can be tricky, although it is possible. Case in point: the Gigabyte G5 KF. It may be cheap, but don’t let the low price tag fool you, because it’s quite a beast. It houses a 12th Gen Intel Core i5 processor with a Nvidia GeForce RTX 4060 graphics card, ensuring powerful performance.

What’s more, the G5 KF comes with a 15.6-inch Full HD (1,920 x 1,080 pixels) display sporting a uniquely high refresh rate of 144Hz. The refresh rate, if you’re not familiar with it, is the frequency of how often a screen updates itself. The higher the rate, the smoother the output will be. This is important to have because video games benefit greatly from high refresh rates. They ensure you never miss the action and can see everything coming at you.

As good as the G5 HF is, it has some downsides. Multiple user reviews on Amazon complain about how loud the fan can get (gaming laptops require robust cooling systems to keep operating at an optimal temperature). Despite the noise, the device can still get really hot, making typing more difficult.

GIGABYTE G5 KF tech specs: CPU Model: 12th Gen Intel Core i5-12500H | RAM Memory: 8GB | Hard Disk Drive: 512 GB SSD | Screen Size: 15.6 inches

Show Expert Take Show less

Lenovo Yoga 7i 2-in1

Best 2-in-1 laptop under $1,000

2-in-1 laptops offer unique utility due to their flexibility: one minute, you could use it as a traditional laptop typing away on the keyboard, and in the next, you’re drawing on it like a tablet after flipping the display around. Their form factor allows them to tackle all sorts of workloads. Among the low-cost options, the Lenovo Yoga 7i is the best.

The reasons why the Yoga 7i is so good come down to three different factors: its hardware, its display, and its design. First off, the device houses the decently powerful Intel Core Ultra 5 alongside 16GB of RAM, making it powerful and speedy enough to handle a wide array of tasks with ease. Additionally, it offers a good amount of storage courtesy of its 512GB SSD.

Also: This $699 Lenovo laptop made me a believer in the 2-in-1 form factor

Regarding its display, you’ll receive a 16-inch Full HD touchscreen. ZDNET Editor Kyle Kucharski referred to it as “dynamic… [adding] another dimension to Windows” and allowing “flexible usage.” 

It is, however, not particularly bright maxing out at 300 nits (you’re better off not using this laptop under the sun). Design-wise, Lenovo made several great choices: it’s slim, yet durable, and the hinges feel particularly strong minimizing screen wobble.

Lenovo Yoga 7i 2-in-1 tech specs: CPU Model: Intel Core Ultra 5 Series 1 | RAM Memory: 16 GB | Hard Disk Drive:  512 SSD | Screen Size: 16-inches

Show Expert Take Show less

Dell Inspiron 16

Best laptop under $1,000 for the value

Dell’s Inspiron series is known for having some of the best work laptops in its lineup and for good reason. They deliver solid performance, plenty of storage space, and a great, high-resolution display all at a reasonable price. This tradition of reliability continues with the company’s latest refresh for the Inspiron 16.

For this model, Dell decided to ditch AMD hardware and equip the laptop only with Intel chips. Because of this change, the new Inspiron 16 is a bit more expensive but is still worth the cost. Inside is a 13th-generation Intel Core i5-1334U alongside an integrated Iris Xe GPU. It’s no Meteor Lake chipset, but you can still expect great performance coming out of this engine. It’ll be able to handle a whole day’s work with ease. Plus, it has more RAM too at 16GB instead of 8GB.

Just like before, buyers get a full terabyte of storage and a large, 16-inch Full-HD Plus (1,920 x 1,200 pixels) display. The glass is covered with an anti-glare coating, ensuring images come through crystal clear under direct sunlight. Of course, we can’t forget the tough aluminum body lets it survive being tossed and turned in your bag while traveling.

The Inspiron 16 offers multiple configuration options to boost its performance, however doing so will increase the price tag a considerable amount with some going past $1,000.

Dell Inspiron 16 tech specs: CPU Model: 13th Gen Intel Core i5-1334U | RAM Memory: 16 GB | Hard Disk Drive: 512 GB SSD | Screen Size: 16 inches

Show Expert Take Show less

Asus Vivobook S 15 OLED

Best screen for a laptop under $1,000

If you’re looking for an inexpensive laptop with a gorgeous screen, look no further than the Asus Vivobook S 15 OLED. It sports a 15.6 Full HD (1920 x 1080 pixel) OLED screen on a 16:9 aspect ratio. This type of display allows you to enjoy stunning colors and deep blacks. Additionally, it covers the entirety of the DCI-P3 color gamut plus support for Display HDR True Black 600. Together, these two software features offer color saturation and unmatched on-screen detail.

Of course, there is more to the Vivobook S 15 besides its screen because it does have some powerful hardware. The low-end model sports an Intel Core i5-12500H CPU and 8GB of RAM, ideal for multitasking. You won’t experience any significant performance drops even if you have a ton of tabs open on Google Chrome (and we know you do that). 

As for its overall design, the laptop weighs less than four pounds, so you can travel anywhere without hindrance. Typing on its keyboard is a pleasant experience as well. For one, it’s spacious, giving your hands all the freedom they need. Plus, each key has a low actuation point for fast typing. The touchpad at the bottom is relatively small. Using it for scrolling web pages may be a little uncomfortable for some.

Asus VivoBook S 15 OLED tech specs: CPU Model: Intel Core i5-12500H/Intel Core i7-12700H | RAM Memory: 8 GB | Hard Disk Drive: 512 GB SSD | Screen Size: 15.6 inches

Show Expert Take Show less

Acer Aspire 5

Best laptop under $1,000 for durability

The Acer Aspire 5 is an excellent Windows laptop priced under $1,000. It has a comfortable 15.6-inch widescreen display that isn’t too small or too big, with an LED-backlit IPS and full HD resolution (1920 x 1080 pixels). This translates to impressive graphics on a screen large enough to enjoy detail. The backlit keyboard is a bonus for greater visibility, especially for work or school projects.

Processing speeds are incredible, too. The Aspire 5 utilizes an 8th Gen Intel Core i5-8265U processor with 256 gigabytes on the hard disk and 8GB of RAM. This combination of hardware allows the laptop to handle all sorts of workloads, be it streaming a movie from Netflix or browsing the internet. Speaking of movies, Acer Aspire 5 boasts Acer TrueHarmony tech to boost volume and deliver deep bass.

For higher security, there is a fingerprint reader for unlocking your computer. You have ports aplenty, with several USB ports, including a USB-C input. Expect a battery life of about nine-and-a-half hours, more than enough power to get you through long work days.

And the cherry on top of the Acer Aspire 5 sundae is the lightweight. It weighs less than four pounds, so you can take it with you everywhere you go.

Acer Aspire 5 tech specs: CPU Model: Intel Core i5-8265U | RAM Memory: 8 GB | Hard Disk Drive: 256 GB | Screen Size: 15.6 inches

Show Expert Take Show less

Asus Zenbook 14

Best work laptop under $1,000

ASUS isn’t known for its work laptops. People associate the name with gaming hardware, but you’d be surprised what the Zenbook 14 can deliver. It houses an Intel Core Ultra 5 125H alongside an NPU or neural processing unit. NPUs are a relatively new piece of tech that has become quite common in 2024 laptops. They improve overall hardware performance, which is great to have on low-end models.

While the Zenbook 14 is less powerful with the integrated Intel graphics card and 8GB of RAM, the NPU makes up much of the slack. 

Review: The work laptop I recommend to most people is not made by Apple or Lenovo

One of the areas the laptop excelled was battery longevity. During our initial tests, it lasted 12 straight hours before running out of juice. Be aware that the length of time was achieved without battery save mode turned out. With the feature active, there’s a good chance it would’ve gone for much longer. Additionally, it comes with a vibrant OLED screen displaying a Full HD resolution (1,920 x 1,200 pixels) image. 

Also, keep in mind that the Zenbook 14 can become warm when the hardware is pushed to its limits. 

Asus Zenbook 14 tech specs: CPU Model: Intel Core Ultra 5 | RAM Memory: 8 GB | Hard Disk Drive: 512 GB | Screen Size: 14-inches

Show Expert Take Show less

The best laptop under $1,000 is Apple’s M2 MacBook Air. It delivers on multiple fronts: great performance, a nice screen, a lightweight design, and so on. But that doesn’t mean you should discount the other options. They’re all solid picks. Below is a table where we compare the best laptops by price, their CPU, storage size, and screen size to make the decision process easier.

With all big decisions comes a lot of research. Thankfully, we did a lot of the heavy lifting for you regarding searching up the key specs of the best laptops under $1,000. Below is a table comparing the best laptops in this list by price, CPU model, and screen size to help make the decision process more manageable.

Best laptop under $1,000 Lowest price available CPU Screen size Storage size
Apple M2 MacBook Air $949 M2 13.6 inches 256 GB
GIGABYTE G5 KF $799 12th Gen Intel Core i5-12500H 15.6 inches 512 GB
Lenovo Yoga 7i 2-in-1 $699.00 Intel Core Ultra 5 16 inches 512 GB
Dell Inspiron 16 $449.00 13th-Gen Intel Core i5 1334U 16 inches 1 TB
Asus Vivobook S 15 OLED $729 Intel Core i7 12700H 15.6 inches 512 GB
Acer Aspire 5 $478 Intel Core i6-8265U 15.6 inches 256 GB
Asus Zenbook 14 $799 Intel Core Ultra 5 14-inches 512GB

The best laptop is the one that meets your needs. There isn’t a one-size-fits-all computer. The MacBook Air, as great as it is, is a bad pick for people who want a gaming laptop. Mac hardware just isn’t built for that. Small laptops aren’t recommended for those who are looking for a large screen.

Read the chart below to find out which device works best for you.

Choose this best laptop under $1,000…. If you want….
Apple M2 MacBook Air A laptop that’s perfect for Apple users. Harnessing its M2 chip and 8GB of memory, this MacBook Air model offers solid performance plus a high-quality screen.
Gigabyte G5 KF The best cheap gaming laptop. Cheap doesn’t mean it’s a slouch as this model packs in a GeForce RTX GPU and 12th-Gen Intel processor
Lenovo Yoga 7i 2-in-1 The best 2-in-1 laptop. Lenovo’s machine delivers great performance and a hi-res display inside a slim, portable form factor.
Dell Inspiron 16 A great work laptop with a huge display. In addition to its 16-inch screen, the model offers a full terabyte of storage, great hardware, and a durable body
Asus Vivobook S 15 OLED A laptop with a fantastic screen. As its name states, the VivoBook S 15 OLED delivers a Full HD resolution OLED screen capable of outputting stunning color, deep blacks, and a high level of detail.
Acer Aspire 5 A gaming-worthy budget laptop with superior graphics. This best middle-of-the-road option offers a comfortable 15.6-inch display and plenty of storage and port availability
Asus Zenbook 14 The best work laptop under $1,000. It’s a machine that utilizes AI to push mid-range hardware above and beyond what it can normally do alone.

A great laptop doesn’t have to cost a fortune. To determine the best laptops under $1,000, there are several factors you need to consider.

  • CPU Model: A good processor allows your computer to complete workloads quickly and understand the task at hand. Look for a newer processor boasting faster speeds to guarantee a high-performing machine.
  • RAM Memory: Consider how much memory you will need for your computer. If you deal with a lot of files, you’ll need more RAM than the average user. 
  • Screen size: It’s usually a matter of preference when it comes to picking out the best screen size. Laptops under $1,000 tend to have small display screens, ranging from 12.3 inches to 15.6 inches. It is possible to find laptops that are both bigger and smaller than this specific range. 
  • Price: Cost is, of course, the most important factor here, so pay attention to that price tag. We find that the best devices range between $500 to $800, depending on the make and model you choose.

Here at ZDNET, we receive a lot of laptops to check out and review. Taking into account the model from the past, any of them could’ve made the list. So, it’s important we separate the best from the rest. To do this, we follow the guidelines in the previous question. We look at what kind of processor the device has, the amount of memory, the size of the screen, and how much it costs. From there, the laptops are tested for quality. We run labor-intensive apps to how well they perform.

Once all that is done, we come to a consensus on what the best ones are and put them together on a list. It can be tricky at times to pick the winners, although some are a no-brainer.

Yes, of course. You can find solid gaming laptops that cost less than $1,000. However, keep in mind that you get what you pay for. Cheap gaming laptops aren’t exactly known for their power. They won’t have the same level of performance as a more expensive machine. If you’re a casual gamer or don’t care that much about having the best graphical performance possible, then a mid-ranger computer will provide a great experience.

If you are going to get a computer for gaming, you’re better off buying a proper desktop although those can be expensive.

Many of the laptops featured on this list came out in the last few years or so. You can save even more money by buying an older model, but there is a limit to how far you can go. At a certain point, it becomes detrimental to own an old machine because it’s so out of date. Windows 10, for example, is scheduled to receive its last official update on October 2025. You could keep your own Win 10 laptop past that date, but after a while, you’ll begin to experience performance degradation. It won’t be as fast plus you’d be less secure against new online threats.

We recommend keeping a laptop for five years before considering an upgrade.

It is definitely worth fixing your old laptop if you want to hold onto it. iFixit is an online retailer where you buy spare parts for multiple laptop brands, including Lenovo, Acer, and HP. Apple has its own repair service for MacBooks too. 

Making repairs does require you to have a bit of technical knowledge. It’s not super difficult as these retailers offer step-by-step guides on how to fix hardware. However, repairs can be expensive, especially when it comes to Apple. Replacing the battery on the M2 MacBook Air costs an estimated $160.

No. Cheap laptops can have a build on par with higher-end models, if not better in certain cases. With this in mind, it’s important you take frequent care of your machine regardless of how much it costs. Under $1,000 is still pretty expensive and it would be a shame if your laptop stops working.

There are multiple things you can do to ensure a laptop’s longevity. For example, make sure it’s well-ventilated. Place your device on a desk or hard surface, and not on a pillow or something soft. Heat can get trapped on soft materials. We also recommend installing updates as they come. These patches often introduce new protections against malware or you can always get antivirus software. 

Also: The best free PC antivirus software

Just about every major laptop manufacturer develops a mid-range laptop: Apple, HP, Acer, Dell, and so on. All of our favorites, and arguably, the best ones are here on this list.

The best touchscreen laptop is the HP Spectre x360. We recommend checking out its entry earlier in the list, but to give you a quick rundown on why we like it so much, the device comes with a stunning 2.8K OLED display, which is perfect for working on. What’s more, it has an IMAX-boosted sound system, making it ideal for watching movies. And it has a 9MP webcam, ensuring you look good in video calls.

We also recommend laptops from the Microsoft Surface Pro series. They didn’t make the list, but they’re still great picks. Surface Pro laptops come in a variety of different sizes and specs combinations. So much so, you’re bound to find the perfect one for you.

Absolutely. There are a ton of cheap laptops out there. We would’ve to have included more, but for the sake of brevity, we kept the list short. Down below are a few more choices from the big-name brands and more that are worth your consideration.

View at DellView at Best Buy

ZDNET Recommends

Editorial standards

Leave A Reply

Your email address will not be published.