Gaming laptops can put a serious dent in your wallet, with some of the fancier models costing upward of $3,500. But who says that the right rig has to cost an arm, a leg and the soul of your firstborn? Fortunately for the fiscally conscious gamer, there are a few sub-$1,000 notebooks on the market that can run graphically taxing games like The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt and Metro: Last Light at solid frame rates. And you can use all that money you just saved to splurge on some top-notch accessories.
Over the course of our testing, two gaming rigs rose to the top. The Asus ROG GL552 emerged as the undisputed winner among sub-$1,000 notebooks. Sporting a sleek design, a beefy graphics card and a powerful Core i7 processor, the laptop delivered impressive frame rates and multitasking prowess with one of the best displays we’ve seen in this price range.
The Dell Inspiron 15 7000 was the runner-up, delivering impressive performance numbers and over 11 hours of battery life. The remaining systems in this roundup have features that will appeal to certain customers, but they’re not highly recommended.
Editor’s Note: There are currently no sub $1,000, VR-ready systems available for purchase. That might soon change with Nvidia’s new GeForce GTX 1050 and 1050 Ti card, the latter of which, Oculus is listing as the minimum GPU for the Rift headset.
The 15.6-inch laptop’s sleek, stealth-fighter-inspired chassis is lovely, but it is the 1080p display and its vibrant, accurate color that is the true star of the show. The $979 Asus ROG GL552 delivers a surprising amount of gaming performance via its Nvidia 960M graphics without draining your bank account. And if that isn’t enough win for you, the GL552’s 1TB hard drive offers blistering transfer speeds. If you’re looking for a gaming laptop under $1,000, the ROG GL552 should be at the top of your shopping list.