The Best Laptops Under $1,000 of 2018

By Ashley Barry-Biancuzzo, TJ Donegan, and Brendan Nystedt

These days there's a laptop for just about every budget, whether you need a $200 Chromebook to browse the web or a $2,000 high-powered machine for video editing or gaming. But for most people, the sweet spot is somewhere in the middle, especially around $1,000. We prefer the Dell XPS 13 9360 (available at Dell.com for $949.99) to anything else we tested.

Luckily, these days you can get some killer devices for under a grand, whether it's the entry-level version of a premium notebook or the fully-loaded version of a mid-range device. Either way, you've got plenty of options and we're here to help you find the best one for you. These are the best laptops we've tested under $1,000, and the ones we'd recommend to our friends and family.

Here are the best laptops under $1,000 ranked, in order:

  1. Dell XPS 13 9360 (Intel Core i5, 128GB SSD)
  2. HP Chromebook x2
  3. Microsoft Surface Go
  4. Asus VivoBook S15
  5. Dell Inspiron 15 7000 Gaming (8GB RAM, 256GB SSD)
  6. Acer Nitro 5 (AN51551504A)
  7. Asus ZenBook UX330UA
  8. Lenovo Yoga 720 2-in-1 13” (8GB RAM, 256GB SSD)
  9. Microsoft Surface Pro 4
  10. Acer Aspire E 15 (2016, Intel Core i5, 256GB, 8GB RAM)
  11. Dell Inspiron 13 7000 2-in-1
  12. Razer Blade Stealth (Late 2016)
  13. Dell Inspiron 15 7559
— Our editors review and recommend products to help you buy the stuff you need. If you make a purchase by clicking one of our links, we may earn a small share of the revenue. Our picks and opinions are independent from any business incentives.

Updated October 29, 2018

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Credit: Reviewed / Brendan Nystedt

Dell XPS 13 9360 (Intel Core i5, 128 GB SSD)

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  • Best of Year 2016

Dell XPS 13 9360 (Intel Core i5, 128 GB SSD)

Best Overall

Dell's XPS 13 is simply the best all-around Windows laptop you can buy right now. It's got a 13-inch screen that fits into a tighter package than all of its competitors, it's got a premium design that feels on par with the best laptops on the market, and it's got all the ports and power you could need. Best of all is easily its edge-to-edge display, which puts nearly every other laptop to shame.

While most configs of the XPS 13 will cost you over $1,000, you can find some under that price threshold. If you need a little more power or want a touchscreen we'd keep an eye out for older versions that have 6th-generation Intel Core chips, or the new base model which has a 7th-generation Intel Core i5, 4GB of RAM, a 128GB SSD, and a non-touch screen for $949.

How We Tested

Here at Reviewed, we test graphics, processing power, battery life, and screen brightness. In other words, we try to push every laptop beyond its limits. We use popular benchmarks to test internal components such as Geekbench, 3DMark, and Metro 2033. This is how we gauge how well the laptop multitasks, responds to input commands, runs games, and more. As for battery testing, we set them up to continuously cycle through various websites at 200 nits brightness until they run out of power. This tells us how much juice you’re getting on a single charge. We also take into account build quality, price, portability, and design.

The Tester

I’m Ashley Barry-Biancuzzo and I’m the primary laptop reviewer here at Reviewed. Though Reviewed has been testing laptops for a couple of years now, I seized control of this beat (cue evil laughter) in 2017. It’s the perfect category for me because I’ve been playing around with laptops ever since I was a kid. While I like playing games and browsing the web as much as the next person, the tinkerer in me loves getting a good look at the internal components, as it kind of looks like a miniature metropolis inside the shell. For me, a good laptop needs to be the perfect balance of design and function. If it doesn’t excite you in some way, then what’s the point? The more innovative it is, the better.

The Tests

The first thing we do is push the graphics card (a circuit board that controls what you see on the display) and the processor (the brains of the laptop) to its limits. That means we run cinematic movies and games to test the graphics card and a program that simulates workloads to test the processor. These tests gauge how well the laptop multitasks, runs visually demanding games, responds to input commands, and so on. The next thing we do is record the screen brightness with a CS-200, a handheld device that measures luminance. The brighter the screen is, the better.
The final test we do is the battery test, as it takes the longest to run. First, we unplug the laptop and set it to 200 nits brightness. We then set it up to continuously cycle through popular websites like Amazon and Twitter until the battery dies. What we’re trying to do here is simulate how an average person might use the laptop. This is how we figure out how much juice you’re getting on a single charge. We also check build quality (does the screen have any flex?), portability (under three pounds is ideal), and design (sometimes an eye-catching color scheme really makes a difference).

What You Should Know About Laptops Under $1,000

For under a grand, you can expect a pretty wide variety of laptops. Before we get into the inner components, you should first decide on what type of laptop you want to get. There’s the traditional clamshell, which can only be opened 180-degrees. These laptops have been around for ages and are popular among college students. Then there’s the 2-in-1 convertible, which can be folded or flipped. You can flip the screen around and use it like a tablet or prop it up like a painter’s easel. This kind of laptop is great for the regular traveler, as they’re really versatile and lightweight.
The display size is another thing to consider. For example, an 11-inch display is going to be much lighter than a 15 or 17-inch. So, if you need something that’s light and portable, a laptop with a larger display just isn’t going to cut it. With that said, bigger displays have higher resolutions and that means a sharper picture. If you’re a photo or video editor, you’ll probably want a bigger screen so you can see all those minute details. If you just need a lightweight machine for research or writing papers on, an 11-inch display should do you just fine, especially if you’re taking it from class-to-class.

The next thing we need to discuss is the operating system. If you work with editing software or play games, you’ll want to spring for a Windows-based machine, as you can outfit it with a beastly processor and graphics card. If you just want to browse the web and watch Netflix, a Chromebook is a good option. These inexpensive machines run ChromeOS (aka Google’s default browser), have low-power processors, and are largely virus-free. You also need a stable WiFi connection, as these laptops are web-based. Unfortunately, there’s not much you can do offline with a Chromebook.

Last but not least, let’s talk about the guts. A video editor or a hardcore gamer is going to have very different needs than the everyday user. Whether you’re working with thousands of images or playing the latest AAA game, you’re going to need a lot of “oomph.” When I say “oomph,” I’m referring to both the processing power (how fast it can run multiple programs at once) and graphics power (how fast it can render the graphics on your screen).

For those of you who need more “oomph” than the regular person, listen up. You’re going to want to shoot for an Intel i7 processor that ends in either HQ or K. These processors use higher wattage and have four cores. If that sounds like gibberish to you, don’t worry, that just means it delivers faster performance. As for the average user that likes to surf the web and explore the dark corners of YouTube, an Intel i5 processor should suffice. Finally, if you find yourself needing a lot of storage (for offloading pictures and such), you should get a laptop that has a microSD card slot and at least 8GB of RAM.


Other Laptops Under $1,000 We Tested

HP Chromebook X2 12-F014DX

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HP Chromebook X2 12-F014DX

If you’re looking for a Chromebook that also happens to be a tablet, the HP Chromebook x2 is a great choice. Between the long battery life, convertible design, and vibrant display, there’s a lot we love. My only complaint is that it’s a little heavy/bulky for a convertible and it’s not the fastest Chromebook we’ve ever tested. That said, if you’re only checking e-mail or watching Netflix, performance shouldn’t be much of an issue.
We really like that the keyboard and stylus are included. This is a nice perk because they tend to cost a pretty penny as standalone accessories. It’s more lap-friendly too, meaning it didn’t wobble quite as much as other convertibles we’ve tested. Plus, the black and white color scheme is sharp as hell. It really looks a lot like the Google Pixelbook, but that’s perfectly fine, as imitation is considered the highest form of flattery.

Microsoft Surface Go MCZ-00001

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Microsoft Surface Go MCZ-00001

With its 10-inch display and convertible 2-in-1 design, the Microsoft Surface Go is pretty much the bite-sized version of the Microsoft Surface Pro. It’s compact and lightweight, which is great for frequent travelers, and the starting price is super low. It doesn’t offer the speediest performance given its low processing power, but it’s fine for everyday tasks like browsing the web or checking email.

My only gripe is with the attachable keyboard and Surface Pen, which each cost an additional $99. The starting price on the tablet is reasonable, sure, but the accessories tack on an extra $200 and that kind of stinks. That said, the keyboard is very comfortable and springy and the Surface Pen is super responsive. If you can spend a little extra on the accessories, then this is the most portable Windows tablet around.

Asus VivoBook S15 S530UA-DB51

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Asus VivoBook S15 S530UA-DB51

If you’re looking for an affordable eye-catching laptop, the Asus VivoBook S15 is where it’s at. Whether you go with the forest green finish or the silver blue, the VivoBook S15 has the most beautiful color options we’ve ever seen ever seen. It seems like it’d be a great option for a college student’s first laptop. While we like the fresh design, we really love the port selection and typing experience too.

The VivoBook S15 features two USB 2.0 ports, a USB 3.1 port, a USB-Type C port, an HDMI port, a microSD card slot, and a headphone/mic jack. We like the diverse selection here, as it’s a good mix of old and new ports. There’s also a unique hinge that elevates the keyboard, which makes for a more comfortable typing experience. This means you can use the keyboard for long periods of time with little to no discomfort.

Dell Inspiron 15 7000 Gaming (8GB RAM, 256GB SSD)

Dell inspiron 15 7000 gaming
  • Editors' Choice

Where To Buy

$849.99 Dell Buy

Dell Inspiron 15 7000 Gaming (8GB RAM, 256GB SSD)

Whether it's first-person shooters or mind-boggling puzzlers, if you're a gamer, you probably know that a souped-up rig can cost you thousands of dollars. Well, not only is this Dell a powerhouse, it won't burn a hole in your wallet either. For under a grand, the base configuration features a NVIDIA GTX 1060 GPU and an Intel Core i5-7300HQ CPU.

While it's light on the wallet, this product isn't without its flaws. The display appears washed-out and battery life is disappointing. Given the inexpensive starting price, that's not totally surprising, as Dell has to cut corners somewhere. But if you're on a tight budget and can live with the drawbacks, then this Dell is a great choice.

Acer Nitro 5 (AN51551504A)

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Acer Nitro 5 (AN51551504A)

If you want to play games at 1080p, this Acer is a perfect choice. Although it can blitz through games like Fortnight and Overwatch, depending on the type of game, you may need to adjust your graphics settings. Plus, the subdued design is really nice. The brushed metal lid and burgundy accents are a welcome departure from the flashy gaming aesthetic.

While it's not the best gaming laptop we've ever seen, it's still pretty good. There are dozens of configurations to chose from and they're all fairly inexpensive. There are a couple of trade-offs, though. The lid is a smudge magnet and battery life is unimpressive. However, given the powerful internals, subpar battery life is about par for the course.

Asus ZenBook UX330UA

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  • Editors' Choice

Asus ZenBook UX330UA

If you're looking for all-day battery life, then look no further. In our WiFi browsing test, which continuously cycles through popular websites like Twitch and Twitter, this Asus laptop died in about eight hours. That's more than a full work day right there. In addition to the excellent battery life, the keyboard is an absolute delight to type on.

The only nitpicks we have are with the chunky bezels and jumpy trackpad. While I wouldn't say these things are deal-breakers, they may bother some folks. That said, between the connectivity options and lightweight form factor, it really tics off all the right boxes. If you can deal with the flaws, this is probably the best value for under a grand.

Lenovo Yoga 720 2-in-1 13" (8GB RAM, 256GB SSD)

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  • Editors' Choice

Lenovo Yoga 720 2-in-1 13" (8GB RAM, 256GB SSD)

Known for their fancy watchband hinges and high-resolution screens, the Lenovo Yoga line has a lot to offer. While this Lenovo may not be the most stylish laptop, for the price, it's chock-full of features. Between the slim bezels and the superb keyboard, this machine really is the full package. We still had to deal with a few minor nitpicks, though.

For one, the shrunken shift key is annoying to work with. It's not the worst thing in the world, especially if you're not peculiar about your keyboards, but it was the root cause of many typos. We'd also like to see more RAM and storage space in the base model. In this day and age, you should at least be getting 8GB of RAM and 256GB of storage space.

Microsoft Surface Pro 4

Microsoft surface pro 4
  • Editors' Choice

Microsoft Surface Pro 4

Microsoft's Surface Pro 4 is a unique laptop for a variety of reasons, most notably in that its base model isn't really a "laptop" at all. But while the SP4 is ostensibly a powerful Windows tablet, it comes alive when you pair it with the Microsoft Type cover, giving it an incredible combination of power, portability, and usability. If you are looking for a truly portable Windows experience that can work (almost) any way that you'd like, the Surface Pro 4 is where it's at.

The Surface Pro 4 can be fully customized at Microsoftstore.com, and the options range from $899 to $2,699 if you go all out. For under $1,000 we recommend the version with an Intel Core i5, 4GB of RAM, and a 128GB SSD. That will cost you $999, so you will need to spring for a little more if you want the Type cover or keep your eye out for one of the many sales that include it for free.

Acer Aspire E 15 (2016, Intel Core i5, 256GB, 8GB RAM)

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  • Best of Year 2016

Acer Aspire E 15 (2016, Intel Core i5, 256GB, 8GB RAM)

There is simply no better value in the laptop world right now than the Acer Aspire E 15. While not the prettiest laptop on the block, this is a well-built, no-nonsense machine that stretches your dollar further than any other laptop on the market. We're particularly smitten with this version, which has been the #1 laptop on Amazon since it came out.
While you can kit it out to the nines if you choose, for less than $549 you can get a 15.6-inch 1080p screen, Intel Core i5 processor, 8GB of DDR4 RAM, a 256GB SSD, and an Nvidia 940MX graphics card. That's enough to handle anything any regular person would need to do, up to and including video editing and light gaming. At around 5.3 pounds it's a heavier laptop, but it's reasonable for the screen size and fully upgradeable. If you just want the best value under $1,000 right now, this is it.

Dell Inspiron 13 7000 2-in-1

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  • Editors' Choice

Dell Inspiron 13 7000 2-in-1

While Dell's Inspiron 5000 Series has been one of our favorite laptops under $500, the step-up Inspiron 7000 series is an excellent option for just a little more money. Available in 13-, 15-, and 17-inch sizes (starting at $749, $749, and $899 respectively), the Inspiron 7000 series offers something for everyone at a very reasonable budget.

For under $1,000, our favorite option is the 13-inch Inspiron 7000 with at least 8GB of RAM and a 256GB SSD. You can get that paired with a 7th-generation Intel Core i7 processor for around under $900 right now, leaving you plenty of room leftover for any cases or software you may want to pick up with your new PC. For that money, you get a well-built PC that's easy to use, easy to repair, and has just enough of a premium feel that you won't be jealously eyeing the MacBook next to you at the coffee shop.

Razer Blade Stealth (Late 2016)

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Razer Blade Stealth (Late 2016)

If you want a gaming laptop, but you don't o feel like you're dragging an entire desktop in your backpack, the Razer Blade Stealth is an excellent option. The newest iteration starts at $899 and comes with a QHD screen, 128GB SSD, 8GB of RAM, and a 7th-generation Intel Core i5, with an i7 option starting at $999.99. Best of all, at less than three pounds it's a lightweight companion that won't weigh you down.

The one downside of the Blade Stealth for most people will be the Razer branding. It's very gamer-centric, so it will stick out like a sore thumb at your local coffee shop or at the office. For gamers who don't mind, the biggest issue will be the lack of a high-powered discrete GPU like you'll find on other gaming laptops, so you can't play the latest games by itself. But with compatibility with the Razer Core external GPU unit via Thunderbolt 3, you can get add that kind of power in later and still have a lightweight laptop to bring with you everywhere.

Dell Inspiron 15 7559

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  • Editors' Choice

Dell Inspiron 15 7559

Typically "gaming laptop" and "great value" don't mix. Dell's Inspiron 15 7559 gaming edition breaks the mold with all-around power that will let you play the latest games at decent-looking settings for less than $1,000. Available in a number of configs, our favorite in this price range comes with a 6th-generation Intel Core i7-6700HQ, 8GB of DDR3L RAM, a 15.6-inch UHD touchscreen, and a Nvidia GTX 960M with 4GB of DDR5 video RAM for $899 on sale.

What does that alphabet soup of specs get you? A heck of a gaming machine for far less than what you'd spend on most of its competitors. And with $100 to spare, you've got enough money left over to pick up a very nice SSD to make sure the whole system runs as zippy as any other premium laptop. It won't match up with top-tier gaming rigs, but for less than $1,000 it's one of the best values around.

If you're shopping for laptops, read our guide, The Best Chromebooks.

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