The Asus ZenBook 14 UX425 is the best laptop under $ 1,000. It's an affordable laptop with great performance thanks to a state-of-the-art CPU, near-premium build quality, and a low-power, high-quality display that's hard to find at such a low price.
We're not just picking our favorite under $ 1,000 laptops off the air, however. We've reviewed hundreds of laptops of all types, at all prices, and spent thousands of hours on them. It's a Herculean task for sure (and a lot of fun to be honest), and it has given us great insight into what makes a good laptop and what holds a laptop back.
The best laptops under $ 1,000 at a glance
The best laptop under $ 1,000: Asus ZenBook 14 UX425
We're replacing one Asus laptop, the Asus ZenBook 13 UX333, with another, the ZenBook 14 UX425, as our pick for the best laptop under $ 1,000. It starts at just $ 800, and for that price you still get a 10th Generation Ice Lake Intel Core i5-1035G1 processor, 8GB of RAM, a 512GB solid-state drive (SSD), and a full one HD with low power consumption (1,920) x 1,080) IPS display. It's still a great deal even if you spend the extra $ 100 upgrading to a Core i7-1065G7 with Iris Plus graphics.
The UX425 version of the ZenBook 14 aims to be thin and light, and it works wonderfully. And yet there is little in terms of processing quality. Thanks to its energy-saving 1 watt display, it also benefits from a long battery life and has a great keyboard and touchpad. There are very few compromises to getting this laptop into a $ 800 price tag, and that makes it not only great value for money, but a downright bargain.
Read our detailed review of the Asus ZenBook 14 UX425
The best gaming laptop for under $ 1,000: Dell G5 SE
Just a few years ago, it was unthinkable that you could find a under $ 1,000 laptop with a graphics card powerful enough to run the latest games without turning the detail settings all the way down. The Dell G5 SE is a novelty in this regard. Starting at just $ 880, it offers a fast AMD Ryzen 5 4600H processor, 8 GB of RAM, a 256 GB SSD, and an AMD Radeon RX 5600M graphics card.
During our time with the G5 SE, we were consistently impressed with its robust gaming performance – even if we weren't impressed by its display quality (aside from the 144 Hz refresh rate we love).
You simply won't find a better gaming laptop in this price range. The G5 SE is unrivaled in terms of gaming performance on a budget. If you have more money to spend, check out our list of the best gaming laptops out there.
Read our in-depth Dell G5 SE review
The best business laptop for under $ 1,000: Dell Inspiron 15 7000 (2020)
Nowadays, a great business laptop is no different from any other laptop. That's why the updated Inspiron 15 7000 is a perfect fit – it's just a great 15.6-inch laptop with ideal specs for all kinds of business purposes.
Everything you need for your work can be found here, including a fast 9th generation Intel i5-9300H processor, HDMI for connecting to TVs and projectors, and a Thunderbolt 3 / USB-C port for charging and particularly fast data transfer . The models start with 8 GB DDR4 RAM and a fast 256 GB PCIe NVMe SSD. Graphics are supported by the Intel UHD 630 GPU. It's not good for gaming, but that's not why you're buying this laptop.
If you are looking for a laptop that suits your business needs, the Dell Inspiron 15 7000 is an option that leaves you with money to make money.
The best laptop for students under $ 1,000: Apple MacBook Air
Luke Larsen / Digital Trends
College students tend to gravitate towards MacBooks because Apple targets them directly with strong advertising. As an example, Apple is offering college students the 2020 MacBook Air for just $ 900. This is one of the most affordable ways to get your hands on an Apple laptop.
With this price you get a dual core i3 CPU of the 10th generation, 8 GB RAM, a 256 GB SSD and a Retina display with True Tone support. That's a lot of power for taking notes and doing homework in a case that is thin and light and features Apple's amazing Magic Keyboard.
The only caveat is the alleged return later this year of the 12-inch MacBook, which may be the first MacBook to feature Apple Silicon propulsion. At a rumored price tag of $ 750, it could become the ultimate college laptop.
Read our in-depth Apple MacBook Air review
The best laptop for photo and video editing: Lenovo IdeaPad Slim 7
Whether it's photo editing or video editing, it's hard to find a laptop under $ 1,000 that will meet your needs. At least it used to be, before AMD released its fantastic Ryzen 4000 line of CPUs. Now you can take advantage of the fastest processor you can buy for less than $ 1,000 (and one that rivals machines that sell for $ 2,000 and up), along with reasonably fast graphics.
Fast video editing often requires both a fast GPU and higher core count processors, and Lenovo's IdeaPad Slim 7 offers a decent mix of both thanks to its Ryzen 7 4800U CPU. Meanwhile, both photo editing and video editing require a well-calibrated screen with accurate colors. Unfortunately, the XPS 15, MacBook Pro 15, or Razer Blade you need are never less than $ 1,000.
Overall, it's a fantastic laptop, but some competition is emerging. The upcoming 11th generation Intel processors have shown excellent performance in Adobe applications, especially Premiere Pro. We'll save our recommendation in case the first options come out under $ 1,000, but they can give this AMD laptop a shot.
Read our detailed review of the Lenovo IdeaPad Slim 7
The best 2-in-1 for under $ 1,000: Surface Pro 7
Sometimes a typical laptop just doesn't cut. If you need a reliable pen or mobile workstation with a creative side, the Surface Pro 7 is your best bet under $ 1,000. Starting at $ 750, the latest Surface Pro offers 10th generation Intel Core processors, up to 16 GB of RAM, and up to 1 TB of storage. For $ 900, you can get a Core i5, 8 GB of RAM, and a 128 GB SSD. The Surface Pro 7 is a solid accomplishment, and the touchscreen and Surface Pen that make you an additional $ 100 make this one of the best digital artboards out there.
A 2-in-1 device with top-notch handwriting recognition and Windows Ink, it's a versatile mobile workstation with features you won't find anywhere else, at least not at this price point. Because of this, it's hard to beat if you're looking for something ultra-mobile and stylus-friendly.
Read our in-depth review of Surface Pro 7
Research and buying tips
Is a laptop under $ 1,000 good?
Naturally! As mentioned in the introduction, you should be careful when buying a budget laptop to make sure that the manufacturer hasn't made any compromises that are important to you. In all fairness, this also applies to premium laptops. You can spend over $ 2,000 and get a laptop that doesn't suit your needs if you don't determine exactly what is important to you.
In the world of automobiles, the Honda Civic and Toyota Corolla have been two of the top-selling cars for a while, and for good reason. They're affordable, safe, offer decent performance, and won't break the bank if it comes to maintaining them. If you're looking for easy means of transportation, you can't go wrong with either of these options. The same goes for budget laptops: you don't get a Ferrari, but when you need good performance and reliability at an affordable price, our list shows you can get quite a bit of computers for well under $ 1,000.
Should I buy Windows, Mac, or try a Chromebook?
It depends on whether. In particular, it depends on what types of tasks are important to you. We encourage you to read our Windows, MacOS, and Chrome OS Buying Guide, which explains the differences between each operating system and some of the pros and cons of each.
If you're looking for a laptop that costs less than $ 1,000, chances are you're not looking for a Mac unless you're ready to buy an older model. So the choice remains between Windows and Chrome OS. This is primarily a question of the software you need to run. If you want the widest selection of software in most categories, Windows is your best bet. However, if all you have to do is browse the web, run simple productivity apps, and get away with Android equivalents, Chrome OS could work.
Which processor should i buy?
Your choices have expanded recently. You can stick with Intel and get 10th Gen Core i7 CPUs from Ice Lake or Comet Lake in laptops that are below our $ 1,000 threshold. But AMD now has a very competitive platform in its Ryzen 4000 series CPUs. If you want to go well below $ 1,000, you can get a very fast Ryzen chip or an Intel Core i5. Both are high-performance processors that handle most productivity tasks without hesitation – but the AMD Ryzen is much faster overall. You can also enjoy good battery life with any of these CPUs.
If you buy a Chromebook, you can get away with a slower processor like an Intel Core i3 or Pentium processor. You probably won't find many laptops with Core i7 processors in this price range. This makes the Core i5 and AMD Ryzen 5 the most logical and available processor choices for low-cost laptops.
How much RAM do i need?
The sweet spot for memory – for every laptop, not just for inexpensive machines – is 8 GB. We answer the question “How much RAM do I need?” In more detail in our buying guide. Whether you're using Windows, macOS, or even the lighter Chrome OS, 8GB gives you plenty of headroom for multitasking and more complex applications.
What graphics hardware should I be looking for?
Most budget laptops come with integrated graphics, usually a variant of Intel's UHD graphics technology that the company builds into its core CPUs. This means that most budget laptops can run older games at lower resolutions and still meet your daily productivity needs as well. In this case, if you're not considering AMD, you can get much faster performance than Intel's built-in options.
However, as can be seen from our list, you can find budget laptops with relatively fast graphics. These offer a much better gaming and creation experience than Intel's integrated graphics. If you want to settle for 1080p and lower graphical detail, some of them can be used to play real games.
Can I afford a laptop with a 4K display?
Probably not – it wasn't too long ago when you struggled to find Full HD displays for less than $ 1,000. Most budget laptops don't have enough battery power to support a 4K display for hours. If you can manage to pack a 4K display into a budget laptop, you probably shouldn't be too far from an electrical outlet.