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The best laptops under $1,000, tested and selected by experts

The Dell XPS 13, open on a table in front of a window.
XPS 13 9315 Digital Trends

As laptops get nicer and nicer, the upper end for what you can end up paying for one has all but disappeared. That’s why it helps to put a maximum dollar rate that you are willing to spend before setting out and finding your laptop. If, like many people, that number for you is $1,000, then this guide is for you.

A $1,000 upper limit for a laptop is reasonable and will still allow you to get a laptop for gaming, a MacBook, and even a top-tier 2-in-1 laptop. You aren’t being so restrictive on yourself at this level that you can’t get what you want, but also have a clear number in mind so that incremental upgrades (expanded HD storage, more memory, etc.) don’t creep up on you and start to ruin your day.

Still, though, the question remains: What are the best laptops under $1,000 and will one of them suit my needs? Here, we’ve investigated current pricings of some of our favorite laptops of the past year and, from them, selected five under $1,000 that will suit a wide variety of tastes.

The best laptops under $1,000

  • Best all-purpose:
  • Best MacBook:
  • Best 2-in-1:
  • Best gaming: 
  • Best Chromebook:

How to choose a laptop under $1,000

Choosing the best laptop under $1,000 ultimately depends on your wants and needs. While the Dell XPS 13 will be the best for a generalist, someone wanting to go ultra cheap might want the Lenovo Chromebook. Apple adherents, meanwhile, are going to be stoked about finding the 2023 edition of the MacBook Air for under $1,000. Ultimately, though, try to play the field a bit and compare the different laptops somewhat before pulling the “buy” trigger, as something might surprise you in how much it appeals to you.

How we chose these laptops under $1,000

Digital Trends is not made from one entity, but rather a large group of people. Some members of this collective spend days and/or weeks with a laptop, stress testing it and looking for any flaws or defects while also enjoying its many goodies. Then, they spend hours and hours more writing up those experiences, creating a fantastic review. Others compare tons of products within one category, agonizingly picking out the best for each need and desire the typical customer might have, which results in a wonderful buying guide. These laptops were selected by reviewing products in our many reviews, buying guides, and other parts of the site and then filtering them by price.

Dell XPS 13

The Dell XPS 13 9315 on a table against a window.
Digital Trends
Pros Cons
Compact design Must skip on some upgrades to get under $1,000
Good battery life
Great display

We’ve always been quite enamored with the XPS line, which always finds itself within the best Dell laptops for any given year. It’s a fundamentally sound laptop with a quality chassis and, as our Dell XPS 13 review will quickly remind you, is a good Windows competitor to Apple’s MacBook Air. This laptop is generally considered an all-rounder that will appeal to anybody but the hardcore gamer that won’t ever be satisfied with a 60Hz refresh rate.

One thing that we like about the Dell XPS 13 (and buying a laptop from Dell, in general) is all of the customizations and upgrades available upon checkout. The specs, listed above, are just one configuration available that satisfies our $1,000 limitation. With current pricing, you could probably upgrade one or possibly two stats (think getting better memory, storage, or even a great graphics card) without going over budget. However, it can be a slippery slope, with many appealing updates that get your final cost over the $1,000 mark. Be prudent, choosing upgrades like memory or graphics card adjustments over storage, which you might be able to offload to the cloud.

Processor 12th Gen Intel Core i5
Memory 8GB
Storage 256GB SSD
Screen 13.4-inch, WUXGA (1920 x 1200), 60Hz

Apple MacBook Air (M2 Chip)

The MacBook Air on a table in front of a window.
Digital Trends
Pros Cons
Easy to carry, thin body Gets hot easily
Great peripherals (webcam, mic, speakers) No dual monitor support
Excellent battery life Several $100 to upgrade to 16GB RAM
Highly affordable for a MacBook

No matter the admiration for XPS, the top slot of the best laptops list is owned by Apple’s MacBook Air with the M2 chip. While those outside the Apple ecosystem might be nervous around it, if you’re an Apple fan a great MacBook at this price should be a thing to rejoice over.

Our M2 MacBook Air review touches heavily on how impressive the combination of top-of-the-line components and a thin body is on the M2 MacBook Air. For a laptop under half-an-inch thick, it provides an excellent keyboard and a battery life that (under the right circumstances) can touch the 21 hour mark. The only downside for those trying to keep your laptop under $1,000 is how hard it is to upgrade the RAM from 8GB to 16GB; doing so also requires a screen size upgrade and, as a result, several hundred dollars of price inflation.

Processor Apple M2 Chip
Memory 8GB
Storage 256GB SSD
Screen 13.6-inch, 2560 x 1664p, 60Hz

Microsoft Surface Pro 9

Surface Pro 9 5G front angled view showing display and Type Cover.
Pros Cons
Detachable keyboard No headphone jack
Excellent webcam for remote meetings Keyboard sold separately

If you’ve been torn between getting a laptop and one of the best tablets, you should strongly consider getting something that emphasizes the best of both worlds. You can do this by getting one of the best 2-in-1 laptops, such as the Microsoft Surface Pro 9. Unlike a lot of 2-in-1 laptops, which pull off a sort of contortionist act to fold their keyboard section behind the screen, the Microsoft Surface Pro 9’s keyboard fully detaches, giving you a complete table experience whenever you desire. Unfortunately, it detaches so much that it is sold separately, but this does give you a chance to acquire both products separately, at a bargain price for each. Our Microsoft Surface Pro 9 review emphasizes the high quality of touchscreen design and premium quality of the tablet, but equally emphasizes that this is not a traditional laptop and you should only go for this offering if you really want a 2-in-1.

Processor Intel Core i5
Memory 8GB
Storage 256GB SSD
Screen 13-inch, 2880 x 1920p, 120Hz

Dell G15 Gaming Laptop

Dell G15 (2023) sitting on a coffee table.
Jacob Roach / Digital Trends
Pros Cons
Contains an RTX 3050 (or better) Stuck at 1080p
Room for upgrades near $1,000 RTX 4050 or 4060 options tip price just over $1,000

Gaming laptops are expensive. So much so that our guide to the best gaming laptops contains a “cheap” and a “budget” option and only this one, the Dell G15, is below the $1,000 mark as of today. And that’s exactly what this laptop is made for, to game on, but for less than $1,000. Every version of this highly-customizable laptop refreshes at 120Hz, the seeming minimum for serious action gamers these days, and can go even higher with upgrades.

At the time of this writing, however, many of the upgrades are a “package deal” so to speak. Raising the graphics card also requires more memory. Want more storage? You’ll need to similarly upgrade the graphics card (and, therefore, the memory). The good news? Any of these upgrades tap the price just over $1,000, but no more than $1,100 (at least at the time of this writing). For such a perfect, affordable gaming laptop, it is hard to be too much of a price purist in this case.

Processor 13th Gen Intel Core i5
Memory 8GB
Storage 512GB SSD
Screen 15.6-inch, 1080p FHD, 120Hz

HP Dragonfly Pro Chromebook

HP Dragonfly Pro front angled view showing display and keyboard deck.
Mark Coppock/Digital Trends / Digital Trends
Pros Cons
Fast performance Sales tax will put over $1,000
Live IT support Sub 12 hour battery life
Intense Chromebook power

When we think of Chromebooks, we often think of paired-down machines that are useful for browsing, YouTube and Netflix, and not much else. It’s a hard stereotype to shake, but the best Chromebook — the HP Dragonfly Pro — tosses a lot of our preconceived notions aside. Containing more power than you might think of as Chromebook typical at 16GB of RAM, you can do a lot with this machine. Our HP Dragonfly Pro review also praises the minimalist look of its keyboard and ultra-thin top and bottom display bezels. Features like live support (in the form of a chat conversation) come free for the first year, and are handy as you get adjusted to using a Chromebook if you haven’t before.

The main issue for the bargain hunter with the HP Dragonfly Pro is its MSRP, it’s sold for $999 at the time of this writing. This will pop over the $1,000 threshold if you have to pay sales tax in your area.

Processor Intel Core i5
Memory 16GB
Storage 256GB SSD
Screen 14-inch, WXGQA (2560 x 1600), 60Hz

This article is managed and created separately from the Digital Trends Editorial team.

Editors' Recommendations

Andrew Morrisey

Andrew Morrisey is an independent writer and filmmaker with a love for tech. You can read his books, blog, and other stories on his website.

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