Best Laptop Between $1,000 and $1,500 Windows Central 2021
Price plays a huge role when shopping for a new laptop, and it's always recommended you hold firm to a set budget. If that budget happens to range from about $1,000 to $1,500, we've put together this collection of awesome laptops for several uses. Being financially conscious doesn't mean you can't get yourself one of the very best Windows laptop options available.
- Best Overall Notebook: Dell XPS 13 (9300)
- Best Overall Convertible: HP Spectre x360 13
- Best 2-in-1 with LTE: Surface Pro X
- 15-Inch Convertible: Samsung Galaxy Book Flex
- Best Gaming: HP OMEN 15
- Great for Media: Lenovo Yoga C940 14
- Best Versatility: MSI Prestige 15
Best Overall Notebook: Dell XPS 13 (9300)
Dell's latest XPS 13 (9300) is essentially a perfect Ultrabook. Its thin, light body is built incredibly well, dual fans keep hardware cool, and the keyboard and touchpad make productivity a breeze. Unlike a lot of thin Ultrabooks, audio is quite good here. You also get Wi-Fi 6 connectivity for fast wireless speeds, though there is no LTE option.
Dell has quite a few customization options available, though a model costing about $1,350 has a good balance. It includes a 10th Gen Intel Core i5-1035G1 processor (CPU), 8GB of LPDDR4x RAM, and a 512GB M.2 PCIe solid-state drive (SSD). The 52Wh battery is capable of delivering around eight hours of real-world usage.
The display is a step up from the base model, which adds touch functionality and an anti-reflective coating. It has a boxier 16:10 aspect ratio with a 1920x1200 resolution and almost no bezel. Ports include two Thunderbolt 3 and a 3.5mm audio jack, which is rather limited. However, adding a Thunderbolt 3 docking station can fix the issue.
If you're in search of a laptop with clamshell design (no convertible function) for productivity work, this is about the finest you'll find on the market today.
- 10th Gen Intel Core i5 CPU
- 8GB RAM and 512GB M.2 PCIe SSD
- FHD touch display at 500 nits
- Wi-Fi 6 and Bluetooth 5.0
- Excellent keyboard and audio
- Limited port selection
- No convertible function
Best Overall Convertible: HP Spectre x360 13
The reworked late-2019 HP Spectre x360 13 saw a lot of its flaws go away. HP moved to use Precision drivers for its touchpad, shrunk the display bezel, and added anti-reflective glass, and added some other small features that bring it up to snuff with other modern laptops. Expect about eight or nine hours of life from the 60Wh battery.
It's a beautiful laptop with gem-cut chassis and convertible hinges, allowing it to rotate around for tent, stand, and tablet modes. You get two Thunderbolt 3 ports, USB-A (with a drop-jaw design that's a tad annoying), and a microSD card reader. Wi-Fi 6 and Bluetooth 5 are included, and you can add LTE connectivity if you opt for the Core i7 CPU and 16GB of RAM.
The Intel Core i7-1065G7 model with 8GB of RAM, 512GB M.2 PCIe SSD, and 13.3-inch FHD touch display (active pen included for Windows Ink) costs about $1,220, making it an awesome value and a great mix of performance to price. Adding a 4K OLED display tacks on about $200 which keeps it below the maximum price tag. If you go all out with a Core i7 CPU, 16GB of RAM, 4K OLED display, 512GB SSD, and LTE connectivity, the price is still sitting right at $1,500. If you're looking for a high-end convertible PC at a great price, this is it.
- 10th Gen Intel Core i7 CPU
- 8GB RAM and 512GB M.2 PCIe SSD
- Included active pen for inking
- Wi-Fi 6 and Bluetooth 5.0
- Optional LTE available
- Drop-jaw USB-A can be annoying
Best 2-in-1 with LTE: Surface Pro X
Microsoft's Surface Pro X is an evolution of the standard Pro line, moving to a Microsoft SQ1 ARM-based CPU, thinner design, a larger display with a thin bezel, and LTE connectivity as a standard feature. Adding a keyboard and Surface Slim Pen to the Pro X turns it into a truly versatile device, though the privilege adds about $270 to the total price.
It's a device designed to suit the mobile professional; if you need to stay connected everywhere, need long battery life, and don't plan on undertaking any intensive design and development projects or gaming, the Pro X is likely going to be an ideal device. ARM has some limitations (namely having to emulate x86 apps), but native ARM64 apps are plentiful and run without issue. Performance hovers somewhere around an 8th Gen Intel Core i5 CPU.
A Pro X model priced at about $1,000 includes 8GB of RAM, a 256GB SSD, and the SQ1 CPU. Included is a Qualcomm X24 LTE modem to stay connected everywhere. Battery life when running ARM64 and UWP apps hits about 10 hours, while it drops to around seven hours when running an emulation layer for x86 apps.
- Unlocked 4G LTE and eSIM
- Ten-hour battery life (ARM64)
- Excellent audio, display, and typing
- Outstanding build
- ARM has limitations
15-Inch Convertible: Samsung Galaxy Book Flex
The 15-inch convertible market doesn't get a ton of attention, and even when it does, a lot of options are bulky or quite expensive. Enter Samsung's Galaxy Book Flex 15, a unique-looking convertible that brings a beautiful QLED display, built-in S-Pen for inking, and distinct design with squared edges. It weighs in at about 3.35 pounds (1.52kg) and measures just 0.58 inches (14.9mm) thick, making it easy to carry around with you.
The 15.6-inch QLED touch display offers awesome color that rivals OLED, though with a more natural look. It's capable of 623 nits brightness, making it able to work anywhere, in sunlight or not. You get perfect sRGB and DCI-P3 color, though the resolution is capped at 1920x1080 with no 4K option. An S-Pen has a silo built into the laptop so that it's always ready for inking, and there's a massive touchpad.
For about $1,400, get a model with 10th Gen Intel Core i7-1065G7 CPU, 12GB of RAM, and 512GB SSD, perfect for high-performance productivity work. This is a lot of PC for the price, and it will make a great addition for anyone who wants a convertible's versatility but can't go smaller than 15 inches.
- Slim, light, and flexible
- Bright, color-accurate display
- Respectable battery life
- Built-in S-Pen for inking
- Massive touchpad
- Display has glossy finish
- Keyboard is a bit shallow
Best Gaming: HP OMEN 15
If you're looking for a laptop in this price range that has the style and performance for gaming, look no further than the HP OMEN 15. For about $1,320, you can get a model with 10th Gen Intel Core i7-10750H six-core CPU, NVIDIA RTX 2060 dedicated graphics card (GPU) with 6GB of VRAM, 8GB of DDR4 RAM, and a 512GB M.2 PCIe SSD. That's some serious power that will handle any modern games at a smooth framerate.
The 15.6-inch display won't hold you back with its 144Hz refresh rate and FHD resolution. Wi-Fi 6 connectivity is also included for fast wireless speeds, an important part of gaming without a wired connection. Ports include Thunderbolt 3, USB-C, three USB-A, HDMI, and 3.5mm audio.
The full keyboard with a number pad has a red backlight that adds some style, and there's a sizable touchpad for times when you're not using an external gaming mouse. If you want to game on your next laptop, this will make an excellent choice.
- 10th Gen Intel Core i7 H-series CPU
- NVIDIA RTX 2060 GPU
- 144Hz FHD display
- Plenty of ports
- Full keyboard with red backlight
- Relatively heavy, chunky build
Great for Media: Lenovo Yoga C940 14
If you're in search of a 14-inch convertible laptop that is very well cut out for watching TV and movies, the Lenovo Yoga C940 14 should make a great pick. Part of its appeal comes from a hinge that doubles as a soundbar, pumping out loud, full audio, whether in notebook, tent, stand, or tablet modes.
For about $1,420, you can get a Yoga C940 configured with 10th Gen Intel Core i7-1065G7 CPU, 8GB of LPDDR4x RAM, 512GB M.2 PCIe SSD, and 4K touch display with brightness up to 500 nits. A pen docks in a built-in silo along the rear edge, allowing you quick and easy sketching or note-taking with Windows Ink.
The slim metal chassis offers two Thunderbolt 3 ports, one USB-A 3.1, and a 3.5mm audio jack. A fingerprint reader is embedded into the palm rest, and for added privacy, there's a webcam shutter for the 720p front-facing camera. Wi-Fi 6 connectivity rounds things out.
- Gorgeous 4K touch display
- 10th Gen Intel Core i7 CPU
- Soundbar hinge with great audio
- Beautiful convertible design
- Comfortable keyboard and touchpad
- Dedicated GPU only available in 15-inch version
Best Versatility: MSI Prestige 15
A lot of laptops equipped with an Intel U-series CPU (in this case, a Core i7-10710U) don't have an option for a dedicated NVIDIA GPU, but not the MSI Prestige 15. It comes with a dedicated NVIDIA GTX 1650 Max-Q GPU with 4GB of VRAM, 16GB of DDR4 RAM, and a 512GB SSD. You get better battery life thanks to the CPU, and the added power of a dedicated GPU.
If you're looking for a laptop that can easily handle productivity and some editing work, this is a stellar option. Its 4K display only adds to the package, offering up 100% AdobeRGB color reproduction and slim bezel. The backlit keyboard offers comfortable typing, and there's a rather large touchpad to boost productivity. A fingerprint reader adds a layer of security, and Wi-Fi 6 connectivity offers quick wireless speeds.
All that hardware inside doesn't add much bulk to the laptop. It measures in at just 0.6 inches thin (15.2mm) and weighs about 3.64 pounds (1.65kg), making it easy to carry around with you daily. It's thin, but it holds onto plenty of ports, including two Thunderbolt 3, two USB-A 3.2, HDMI, microSD card reader, and 3.5mm audio.
- Intel U CPU with dedicated NVIDIA graphics
- 15.6-inch 4K display
- Wi-Fi 6
- Light and thin build
- Solid battery life
- At the limit of the set budget
Sticking to a budget is always recommended when shopping for a new laptop, and any of the options listed above are great picks within $1,000 and $1,500. However, you might be wondering exactly where to start the selection process.
If you prefer a clamshell notebook that doesn't have the convertible function, something like Dell's XPS 13 (9300) will make a great choice. It is a laptop almost without flaw, and anyone who doesn't need the added performance of a dedicated GPU should find it handles anything you throw its way. It's well built, it has a comfortable keyboard and touchpad, and the display is beautiful.
If, on the other hand, you're searching out a great convertible, HP's Spectre x360 can land you a lot of laptop for the asking price. A Core i7 CPU, FHD touch display, 8GB of RAM, and 512GB SSD sits well within the budget, and you can add a 4K display and LTE connectivity and still not go over the $1,500 limit.
For more great laptop picks, be sure to check out our roundup of the best overall Windows laptops in 2020.
Credits — The team that worked on this guide
Cale Hunt is a staff writer at Windows Central. He focuses mainly on PC, laptop, and accessory coverage, as well as the emerging world of VR. He is an avid PC gamer and multi-platform user and spends most of his time either tinkering with or writing about tech.
Daniel Rubino is the executive editor of Windows Central. He has been covering Microsoft since 2009 back when this site was called WMExperts (and later Windows Phone Central). His interests include Windows, Surface, HoloLens, Xbox, and future computing visions. Follow him on Twitter: @daniel_rubino.
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