Cheap Thrills: The 7 Best Gaming Laptops Under $1,000

A serious gamer knows that if they’re going to take their play mobile with a gaming laptop, it’s going to get costly. A heap of consoles and even a screaming fast desktops often won’t hit your bank account nearly as hard as a single laptop built for gaming will. But it doesn’t have to be that way. What if we were to tell you that for less than a grand you could find yourself with a highly respectable rig that will keep your K/D ratio presentable even away from home? It’s not lies, it’s the future.

Many manufacturers – from the big names to indy projects – have been cutting costs and stripping down their more expensive models to create performance aptops for the average gaming guy or gal who can’t spend thousands on a single computer. Naturally, these aren’t going to be breaking speed records, but they all include an eye toward upgrading down the line, making them capable of evolving into so much more. If you’re broke but still looking to frag, set your sights on the 7 best gaming laptops for under $1,000.

Acer Aspire V3-572G-54S6 0

Acer Aspire V3-572G-54S6

Pro: Excellent graphics card for the price
Con: Slow processor

Most for the Money: The Aspire isn’t going to blow you away, but if you want to keep more of that $1,000 that grandma sent you and still get a decent gaming laptop, it’s the way to go. The 1.7GHz Intel Dual-Core i5-4210U processor won’t blow your hair back, but boost it to 2.7GHz and it really becomes a contender. The vid-card is an impressive NVIDIA GeForce 840M with 2GB VRAM that manages to make the 1366×768 display sizzle. Even if you can run things at full resolution, the screen is going to let you down, but run an external monitor to it and you’ll find the ability to get a nice look out of some older titles. As for the basic features, Acer cut the costs with just 8GB of DDR3L SDRAM and a 1TB 5400rpm HDD, but with the cash you save, upgrades are easy to afford. [Purchase: $670]

Dell Inspiron M731R

Dell Inspiron M731R

Pro: Large
Con: Weak specs under the hood

Big Screen, Small Price: One of the first things to suffer when a computer manufacturer slashes prices on a a laptop is the screen. Well, Dell didn’t want to go down that dark and winding path. At 17.3 inches, you’ve got a lot of real estate to work with. Not only big and bold, it’s also fully HD with a tolerable 1600×900 resolution. Sadly, to get a good screen strapped on, Dell had to cut costs somewhere. Rather than Intel, you’re going to be making do with a AMD Quad-Core A8-5545M accelerated processor running at about 1.7GHz and an AMD Radeon HD 8510G graphics card. While neither one is bad, they’re not going to let you touch most newer games, nor play those of yesteryear at ultra. This falls into the category of those who want a desktop replacement with a gaming option, or are looking for a project chassis to upgrade and tweak as time goes on. [Purchase: $679]

MSI GP60 LEOPARD-010

MSI GP60 LEOPARD-010

Pro: Quick hard-drive
Con: Dull appearance

Movie Buff: The Leopard is a nice middle-ground option that comes in well under the $1,000 price point and is best for the casual gamer who also wants an affordable option that has a true HD screen. Inside is a Intel Core i5-4200 that runs on par with the Intel Core i7 4500U, depending on whether you’ve overclocked your box or not. Graphics tend to pop on this with movies and cutscenes really coming through. You’re probably better off using this with games from the 2013-2014 and earlier era since slapping in newer games requires that you run the resolution in the basement. You’ll get 8GB of DDR3L SDRAM out of the box along with 2GB GDDR3 VRAM which help give you great visuals on the 17-inch screen. Wrap it up with a HDD that runs at 7,200 rpms and you have a real mobile multimedia center. [Purchase: $702]

Lenovo IdeaPad Y410p

Lenovo IdeaPad Y410p

Pro: Lightweight
Con: Weak resolution

Small Fry: When it comes to gaming, bigger is typically better, but perhaps you’re looking for something that is easier to stow and a lot lighter. For you there is the 14-inch Y410p. Weighing in at 5.5 lbs. it’s a gaming laptop with a Chromebook size so there’s no need to fret about adding a lot of bulk to your bag. The IdeaPad is the ideal mix of work and play. It has a powerful 2.4GHz i7-4700MQ Processor with an NVIDIA GeForce GT755M GDDR5 graphics card with 2GB VRAM and 8GB DDR3L SDRAM. To get the full experience, you’ll want to use the HDMI plug or add an external monitor, since the 1366×768 is fairly ho-hum. Oddly, one of the best things about the IdeaPad is the touchpad which is super responsive and moves smoothly for easy-drag troop selection and accurate on-screen interfacing. Underneath is an open bay in case you want to add storage or improve the cooling features. [Purchase: $906]

ASUS N550JK-DS71T

ASUS N550JK-DS71T

Pro: Touchscreen
Con: Weak trackpad

Touchy: Fans of Windows 8 who come from the tablet generation and long for a laptop that includes a touchscreen interface will dig on this Asus. You can keep your res settings in the medium to high range most of the time, but heavier graphic challenges will tax the NVIDIA GTX850M with its 2GB-VRAM. Audio is crystal clear thanks to the ICEpower from Bang & Olufsen. An Intel Core i7-4700HQ 2.4GHz processor gives this more than a little speed, though you’ll need to upgrade from the standard 8GB of RAM to really let it shine. The 1920×1080 HD looks stunning and really provides quality backup for the touchscreen interface when playing RTS or MOBA games. Dual fans and twin heat pipes with large vents will keep your lap from cooking when you use it. Using a 6mm touch detection standard rather than the typical 9mm allows your taps to be more precise. [Purchase: $929]

Lenovo Y50

Lenovo Y50

Pro: Keeps heat to a minimum
Con: Low battery life

Mixed Bag: Lenovo really set the bar high for the modern gaming laptop community when they released the Y50. The screen is fully HD and beautifully displays the graphics pumped out by the NVIDIA GeForce GTX 860M card with its 2GB of VRAM and 8GB DDR3 RAM. An Intel Core i7 2.4 GHz processor handles the back-end with slick, smooth speeds, that deliver. The stock 1 TB HDD only winds up at about 5,400 rpms, so let that be your first upgrade. The backlit keyboard is a nice touch and gives the Y50 a more professional look so that the guys at the LAN party are less likely to point and laugh. JBL speakers come stock for clean, crisp sound that is surprisingly good from any laptop, much less one this inexpensive. [Purchase: $960]

Asus ROG G56JK-DH71

Asus ROG G56JK-DH71

Pro: Stylish body
Con: Picks up fingerprints and smudges constantly

Dynamo: We want to say two things. First off, we love the ROG line from Asus and think that when it comes to potential upgrades, they’re near the top. Second, at publication the ASUS ROG GL551JM-EH74 was just a hair over the $1K cutoff, but if you can find a sale, snap that baby up. This ROG G56JK-DH71 is only slightly less impressive. It has the same 2.5GHz Intel Core i7-4710HQ processor and uses the same NVIDIA GeForce GTX 860M 2GB video card. The one major cut is this starts with 12 gigs of RAM rather than 16. To save money at the outset, you’ll also probably want to stick with a 1TB HDD and then get an SSD later, but just know that you’ll really see a difference when you jack the SSD in. The red backlit keyboard and brushed aluminum chassis are high quality and tough to damage. [Purchase: $960]

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