If you're shopping for a laptop, a $1,000 budget can get you a lot, as many premium laptops start around that price range. You can get an exceptionally well-built laptop with a metal chassis, like an Apple MacBook Air, a 2-in-1 convertible, or even a gaming laptop with a powerful CPU and GPU. Mobile workstations are generally more expensive, but if you're okay with some compromises, you can get a gaming laptop as an alternative.
We've tested over 85 laptops, and below, you'll find our recommendations for the best laptops under $1,000 you can buy. See our recommendations for the best laptops, the best Chromebooks, and the best laptops for business.
The best laptop under $1,000 we've tested is the Apple MacBook Air 13 (M1, 2020). Although this is a 2020 model, and a newer M2 version is available, the M1 MacBook Air is still a fantastic choice, as you're getting a lot for the price. Its build quality beats anything in its price range, and it provides an amazing user experience thanks to its sharp display, comfortable keyboard, and gigantic touchpad. It's very portable thanks to its thin and light design, and its battery lasts around 13 hours of light use.
Performance-wise, Apple's M1 SoC has enough processing power to handle light tasks like web browsing, text formatting, video playback, and even the occasional photo editing and casual gaming. There's a fingerprint sensor built into the power button so you can log in quickly and get to work. The webcam's video quality is excellent even though it's only 720p, and voices sound clear through the microphone. The main downside of this laptop is its lack of ports, as it only has two USB-C/Thunderbolt 3s.
If you can stretch your budget slightly over $1,000, get the M2 Apple MacBook Air 13 (2022). Since Apple released the Apple MacBook Air 15 (2023), the 13-inch M2 model dropped in price to $1,099, and it's often on sale for as low as $950, so you'll want to keep an eye out. This newer model has a sleeker design with thinner bezels, a slightly larger and brighter 13.6-inch display, a better 1080p webcam, and a faster SoC. Also new is the MagSafe charging port, which frees up the USB-C you would otherwise need to charge the laptop. Battery life sits around 10 to 11 hours of light use, which is shorter than its predecessor but still good.
On the Windows side, our best pick under $1,000 is the ASUS Zenbook 14 Flip OLED (2023). Sporting a full aluminum chassis, this sleek ultraportable feels as well built as the MacBook Air above. Plus, it's a 2-in-1 convertible with support for pen input. It comes with a stylus, although there's nowhere to dock the pen for transport. This new model sports an Intel 13th Gen P-series CPU. For under $1,000, you can get a Core i5 configuration with 16GB of RAM and 512GB of storage, which is more than adequate for general productivity tasks.
As its name suggests, this laptop has an OLED display. It looks incredibly sharp, gets bright enough to combat glare, and produces deep, inky blacks. Also, it has a 90Hz refresh rate, resulting in a more responsive desktop experience. The keyboard feels great to type on, and the touchpad is large and responsive. You get two USB-C/Thunderbolt 4, an HDMI port, Wi-Fi 6E, and a facial recognition camera for quick logins. Battery life sits around eight hours of light use, so depending on your usage, you may need to plug it in for a quick charge to get through the day.
The best Chromebook under $1,000 we've tested is the Acer Chromebook Spin 714 (2022). It has a 14-inch screen that gets bright enough for use in most indoor settings and provides just enough space for split-screen multitasking. Since this is a 2-in-1, you can set it up in tent mode for media consumption or use it as a tablet. The display supports pen input, and the laptop comes with a stylus that you can dock into the side of the device for transport. Ports include one USB-A, two USB-C/Thunderbolt 4, and an HDMI port. Battery life is amazing at over 13 hours of light use, and you can charge over USB-C. There's no fingerprint sensor or a facial recognition IR camera, unfortunately.
Regarding specs, this laptop is available with various Intel 12th Gen CPUs, ranging from a Core i3 to a Core i7. These CPUs are more than fast enough for anything you'd need to do on a Chromebook. The problem is availability. The Core i5 model with 8GB of memory and 128GB of storage is the most widely available, and even that model is getting hard to find. There's a newer 20203 model with Intel 13th-generation CPUs, which we haven't tested but looks largely the same design-wise. The only other upgrade besides the CPU is the higher-resolution 1440p webcam. You can get the 2023 model on Amazon or at Best Buy.
The best under-$1,000 2-in-1 tablet we've tested is the Microsoft Surface Pro 8 (2021), a tablet Windows PC with a built-in kickstand and detachable keyboard. With this versatile form factor, you can detach the keyboard to make the device lighter and easier to hold or to save space, like on a kitchen counter or airplane tray table. Its 3:2 display looks incredibly sharp and gets bright enough for outdoor use. Plus, it has a 120Hz refresh rate, which makes the system feel more responsive, especially when using pen input.
Unfortunately, you must buy the stylus separately; the same goes for the keyboard. The stylus is optional, but the keyboard is a near necessity because Windows isn't particularly touch-friendly, and the keyboard also helps protect the screen from scratches. The webcam is excellent and among the best on the market, and you also get an IR camera for quick logins via facial recognition. Battery life is passable at around seven hours of light use or six hours of video playback.
One thing to note is that Microsoft has already released the Surface Pro 9. It's identical to the Pro 8 in design; it just has a faster Intel 12th Gen processor. The performance increase likely isn't noticeable in light productivity workloads, so you aren't missing out on much. As for the Surface Pro 8, because this is an older device, you can easily find the base model for as low as $700, although that's without the keyboard and stylus, so expect to spend a bit more for the whole package. You can get a Surface Pro 9 for under $1,000, but that's without the keyboard.
Our best gaming pick is the ASUS TUF Dash F15 (2022), a 15.6-inch model. For under $1,000, you can get an Intel 12th Gen Core i5 model paired with an NVIDIA GeForce 3050 Ti GPU, a 144Hz FHD display, 8GB of RAM, and 512GB of storage. The Core i5 and RTX 3050 Ti combo can deliver a pretty solid 60 fps in demanding games at 1080p, but to get the most out of the system, you'll have to upgrade the memory to 16GB in dual-channel mode. Like the RAM, the storage is also user-replaceable; you can upgrade to a larger drive or install a second SSD since there are two slots. Ports include two USB-As, two USB-Cs (one Thunderbolt 4), and a full-size HDMI.
Other than the RAM and storage, another compromise is the display. The 144Hz panel has a slow response time, resulting in visible ghosting behind fast-moving objects, and it doesn't support VRR to reduce screen tearing. Thermal throttling is minimal under load, so you'll get a consistent gaming experience when playing for an extended period. The laptop does get hot and loud, though. The overall build quality is excellent, and it isn't overly bulky or heavy, so it's relatively portable.
Sep 11, 2023: Replaced the Lenovo Legion 5 Gen 6 15 (2021) with the ASUS TUF Dash F15 (2022) because the Lenovo is hard to find. Added the LG gram 14 (2023) and the Lenovo Yoga 7i 16 (2023) as Notable Mentions.
Mar 20, 2023: Minor structure change. Replaced the LG gram 17 (2021) with the Microsoft Surface Laptop 5 (2022) because it's cheaper and performs just as well. Replaced the Google Pixelbook Go (2019) with the Acer Chromebook Spin 714 (2022) because the Spin 714 is cheaper and available with significantly faster CPUs. Removed the Lenovo Chromebook Duet 5 (2021) and added the Microsoft Surface Pro 8 (2021) as the 'Best 2-In-1 Tablet'.
Our recommendations above are what we think are currently the best laptops you can get for under $1,000. We factor in the price (a cheaper laptop wins over a pricier one if the difference isn't worth it), feedback from our visitors, and availability (no laptops that are difficult to find or almost out of stock everywhere).
If you prefer to make your own decision, here’s the list of all the laptops we've tested, sorted by price from low to high. Keep in mind that most laptops are available in various configurations, and the table only shows the results of the model we tested, so it’s best to see the full review for information about other variants.