How to Buy the Best Laptop Under $1,000
If it’s time for a new laptop, you’re probably facing one of the hardest buying decisions that consumers need to make. Even if you set a ceiling on what you’re willing to pay – let’s say $1,000 – there’s still a ton to consider. A quick check on Amazon.com reveals over 278 different laptop models, from 14 different manufacturers, all of which cost $1,000 or less. That’s just the tip of the iceberg. Widen your search to other retailers, and you’ll find even more to choose from. With so much choice, how can you possibly land on the right laptop?
In this overview of what to look for in a laptop under $1,000, we’ll discuss the major kinds of laptops, what kinds of features you can expect from each one, and even throw in a suggested Lenovo model or two, because hey – you gotta start somewhere!
Why do some laptops cost more than others?
If you take a $1,500 laptop and a $500 laptop, and put them side by side, you may be hard pressed to see why one costs 300 percent more than the other. After all, both have 15-inch screens, full-size keyboards, ports to plug stuff in, and lots of stickers that talk about the great processors inside. The $1,500 model looks a little nicer, and it’s obviously a bit thinner, but how can that possibly account for the $1,000 difference in price?
The answer is that, when it comes to laptops, there’s more than meets the eye. With every component, whether it’s the screen, the keyboard, the CPU, or the memory, or even the material used to create the machine’s body, there can be significant variations in quality. Inexpensive laptops tend to use lower quality components across the board, resulting in an overall experience that is noticeably worse. These laptops will be heavier, bulkier, and slower to startup and run your favorite software. Battery life won’t be as long, and screens will have a lower resolution and be less visible at certain angles. There may be fewer of the USB ports that you rely on and some ports, like Thunderbolt, or USB-C, might not be present at all.
More expensive laptops give you more of the state-of-the-art features that make for a great experience. Solid-state drives (SSDs), which speed up all aspects of a laptop when compared to the older spinning-disk hard drive designs, are typical of the kind of component you’d find in a higher-priced machine. As with a lot of products, with laptops it’s very much a case of getting what you paid for.
That sounds like a lot of doom and gloom, but you don’t need to worry: If you can allocate up to $1,000 for a new laptop, there are plenty of models that are the perfect middle ground between performance and price.
Here are our recommendations on laptops under $1,000 for the top four laptop categories:
- Everyday Use
- Business & Work
Best all-around laptop under $1,000
So you want a laptop that does it all, but doesn’t break the bank? Then it’s time to give serious consideration to the new breed of 2-in-1 laptops, like our Lenovo Yoga 730 (13). A 2-in-1 combines the best features of a laptop and a tablet into one highly flexible device. The key features of any 2-in-1 are a 360-degree hinge, and a multi-touch screen.
When opened normally, the Yoga 730 is a capable Windows 10 laptop, powered by the latest 8th generation Intel® Core i7 family of processors. Flip the screen all the way around, and it turns into a 13-inch tablet that’s compatible with the optional Lenovo Active Pen for handwritten notes, and precision drawing. Pivot the hinge into its “A” shape, and you’ve now got self-supporting, full-HD screen with stereo sound for watching Netflix. With two USB-C Thunderbolt ports, your expansion choices for external monitors, storage devices, and graphic cards are unlimited.
Best gaming laptop under $1,000
Gaming laptops occupy a seemingly contradictory space in computing – these machines need to deliver the power and performance of a full-sized desktop, in a smaller laptop form factor that still offers great portability and battery life. Not an easy feat. Doing so at an affordable price point is even trickier. Thanks to big gains in recent mobile chipset designs, today’s gaming laptops do just that.
Our Legion Y530 (15) is a perfect example. It wraps an 8th generation Intel® Core i5 or i7 CPU and NVIDIA® GeForce® GTX 1050 or GTX 1050i discrete graphics into a laptop shell that has been optimized to keep all of that power quiet and cool. With a full complement of ports, and a high precision, fully backlit 1.7mm travel height keyboard, the Legion Y530 is the ideal companion if you’re a gamer on a limited budget.
Best business laptop under $1,000
The goal of any business laptop is to provide a productivity tool that is highly reliable and can withstand the inherent demands of a businessperson who is always on-the-move. To do this, a business laptop has to avoid unnecessary bells and whistles, and focus strictly on the features that will make it a better device for getting work done.
Our ThinkPad line of business laptops have been defining this category for decades, and the ThinkPad T480 epitomizes our no-compromises, yet budget-friendly approach. The dual battery design gives you a 14-hour running time, while its 14-inch anti-glare screen makes working outdoors just as easy as indoors. Just like all of our ThinkPad laptops, the T480 has undergone extensive reliability and durability testing, so you can spend more time thinking about your work, and less time wondering if your laptop will work.
Best student laptop under $1,000
Student laptops have to pack the features that students need, at a very affordable price. An all-day battery, fast start-up times, fast charging, and a full set of ports have become the minimum that students demand. But you can’t sacrifice quality, because students are also notoriously tough on their devices.
2-in-1 laptops, like our Flex 14, are a perfect blend of laptop and tablet features, making them ideal student companions. The Flex 14 uses SSD storage, just like a tablet, so it’s always fast. It’s compatible with our Lenovo Active Pen, which gives students the option of taking in notes in class visually, instead of just typing. The gorgeous, ultra-thin bezel screen becomes a movie screen with a flip of the 360-degree hinge – a great way to relax once the hard work is done for the day.
Finding the right laptop in your budget
There’s not much you can do about the vast number of choices in the laptop market. But by focusing on what you really need in a laptop, and giving yourself a budget that guarantees a high level of quality, you can start to narrow your selection down to something more manageable. If you can, try to get to a retailer that carries a wide selection of brands and models. There’s plenty to pick from in the sub-$1,000 range, so being able to spend some hands-on time with your shortlist can quickly eliminate many of the contenders.