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Best gaming laptop under $1,000 in 2022

The HP Victus
(Image credit: HP)

While many of the top gaming laptops on the market are incredibly pricey, there are also plenty of awesome devices available that are aimed at folks on a budget, too. While these sub-$1,000 laptops aren't as powerful or advanced as their more expensive counterparts, they still deliver good performance and ultimately provide a quality gaming experience. Our favorite is the Lenovo IdeaPad Gaming 3i 15 since it offers great specs for an even greater price, but there are several other options we recommend as well.

(Image credit: Lenovo)

Lenovo IdeaPad Gaming 3i 15 (Gen 7)

The best overall gaming laptop under $1,000

Reasons to buy

+
12th Gen Intel
+
RTX 3050 Ti GPU
+
Solid port selection
+
Great design
+
Fantastic starting price

Reasons to avoid

-
Display could be better
-
Only 256GB of SSD space

Out of all the sub-$1,000 gaming laptops available, our overall favorite is the latest version of the Lenovo IdeaPad Gaming 3i 15. In addition to offering quality specs and a great overall design, the device does so for an incredibly competitive price — in fact, it has the most affordable starting price of any laptop on this list. With the Intel version, you'll get a 12th Gen Core i5-12500H CPU, an NVIDIA GeForce RTX 3050 Ti, 8GB of DDR4 memory, and 256GB of PCIe Gen 4 SSD storage for just $790 (there's a $950 variant with a 12th Gen Core i7, too).

On top of offering performant specs, the IdeaPad also has a great design as well. The keyboard on the laptop is very comfortable to use, and the inclusion of dual USB-A ports as well as a Thunderbolt 4-compatible USB-C slot means you won't be hurting for peripheral connectivity options. The chassis is also thin enough to be transported easily, and there's an extra slot under the hood for an additional hard drive if you want to expand your storage with one of the best SSDs.

The biggest caveat with the IdeaPad Gaming 3i 15 is that the 15-inch FHD 120Hz display could be better. It has good contrast and its matte finish makes gaming in a well-lit area enjoyable, but its 250-nit brightness and so-so color gamut leave something to be desired. It's still a solid and serviceable display for gaming — we just don't recommend using it for photo editing or other types of creative work where color accuracy is important.

(Image credit: Acer)

Acer Nitro 5 (2022)

Our favorite runner-up alternative

Reasons to buy

+
12th Gen Core i5
+
RTX 3050 Ti GPU
+
Solid display
+
Great port selection
+
Brand-new design

Reasons to avoid

-
Colors are average
-
Acer's usual bloatware

The Acer Nitro 5 has always been a great budget option in terms of performance, and that hasn't changed with the latest refresh of the device in 2022. The top configuration priced under $1,000 offers a 12th Gen Core i5-12500H, an RTX 3050 Ti, 16GB of DDR4 memory, and 512GB of SSD storage for $900. It's more expensive than the Lenovo IdeaPad Gaming 3i 15, but for some, the additional RAM and storage space will be worth the increased price.

Compared to previous models of the Nitro 5 that had an aggressive angular and "gamer" style, the new version is thinner, lighter, sleeker, and has narrower bezels (though they're still a little on the thick side). The keys feel pleasant to use, and since there are three USB-A ports as well as a USB-C Thunderbolt 4 slot, there are plenty of ways to hook up accessories like mice, headsets, and external hard drives.

The 15-inch FHD display is fairly bright with a peak brightness of 314 nits, and its 144Hz refresh rate makes it more capable of high FPS gaming than many other budget gaming laptop panels. Like Lenovo's IdeaPad, though, the display's colors could be better. The device also comes with Acer's typical suite of bloatware, but thankfully, it's easy to get rid of bloatware on new Windows PCs.

(Image credit: Lenovo)

Lenovo IdeaPad Gaming 3 15

The best gaming laptop under $1,000 with DDR5

Reasons to buy

+
AMD Ryzen 6000 H-Series CPU
+
RTX 3050 Ti GPU
+
DDR5 memory
+
Solid port selection
+
Great design

Reasons to avoid

-
Display could be better
-
Pricier than the Intel variant

The AMD version of the Lenovo IdeaPad Gaming 3i 15 is the IdeaPad Gaming 3 15, and unlike its Intel counterpart, it comes with 8GB of DDR5 memory that's faster and more performant than the previous DDR4 standard. It also features an AMD Ryzen 7 6800H CPU, an RTX 3050 Ti GPU, and 512GB of SSD space. It's more expensive at $850 due to the addition of DDR5 and extra storage, but the advanced RAM can have solid performance benefits and the larger SSD allows for more games to be installed at once.

Aside from the different specs, though, the Ryzen-based IdeaPad is identical to the Intel version. It has the same quality chassis, keyboard, and port selection, and also comes with the same matte 15-inch FHD 120Hz display that offers good contrast, but poor brightness and average colors. Ultimately, though, it's a great option for folks that want to take advantage of the benefits of DDR5 RAM. 

(Image credit: HP)

HP Victus 15

The best choice for AMD fans

Reasons to buy

+
Performant all-AMD specs
+
16GB of RAM
+
512GB SSD
+
Decent port selection
+
Sharp and sleek design

Reasons to avoid

-
On the edge of the $1,000 budget
-
Display is just OK

If you're looking to go full Team Red and don't want an Intel CPU or an NVIDIA GPU, we strongly recommend the HP Victus 15. The all-AMD model offers a Ryzen 7 5800H GPU, a Radeon RX 6500M GPU, 16GB of DDR4 memory, and 512GB of SSD storage for $1,000. We would have liked to see a Ryzen 6000 H-Series CPU for something right on the edge of our budget, but overall, these specs are good and will provide a quality 1080p gaming experience. 

Design-wise, the HP Victus 15 is arguably the sharpest device on this list, featuring sleek surfaces, clean edges, narrow bezels, and a thin-and-light chassis. It also comes with a decent port selection of dual USB-A and a single USB-C. Another USB-A slot or Thunderbolt 4 compatibility would be nice, but the provided ports offer enough peripheral connectivity for the needs of most gamers.

Like the panels found on many of the other laptops in this roundup, the HP Victus 15's 15-inch FHD screen is just OK. The 144Hz refresh rate is a nice plus, but the 250-nit brightness and pedestrian color gamut aren't anything to write home about. Ultimately, though, folks that want something exclusively AMD won't find anything as capable as this in the sub-$1,000 range.

(Image credit: Acer)

Acer Swift X (SFX14)

Option with the best-looking display

Reasons to buy

+
Gorgeous display
+
RTX 3050 Ti GPU
+
16GB RAM, 512GB SSD
+
Good for productivity
+
Attractive design

Reasons to avoid

-
Not the best gaming CPU
-
60Hz refresh rate
-
Acer's usual bloatware

While the Acer Swift X (SFX14) isn't exactly marketed as a gaming laptop, it's perfectly capable of being used as one. The AMD Ryzen 7 5800U that comes with the best model priced under $1,000 isn't the best CPU for gaming — U-Series chips are tuned for peak longevity rather than raw performance — but as long as you're playing while plugged in, it'll get the job done. Also, the use of a U-Series CPU means that you can use the laptop for basic productivity and get all-day battery life, making it more versatile than alternatives equipped with heavy duty H-Series processors. The device's other specs include an RTX 3050 Ti GPU, 16GB of DDR4 memory, and 512GB of SSD storage.

Another advantage of the Acer Swift X is that unlike every other laptop on this list, it comes with a beautiful display, complete with great contrast, 300 nits of brightness, and an sRGB 100% color gamut. The trade-off is that the refresh rate is capped at 60Hz, but if you can live with 60 FPS gaming, you'll love the 14-inch panel's vivid colors.

The design of the Acer Swift X is similar to the HP Victus 15 in that it's sleek and clean-looking, though it features Acer's signature silver finish rather than something darker. The port selection of dual USB-A and a single USB-C is decent, though we would have liked to see Thunderbolt 4. Thankfully, the bezels are at least thin, which will allow you to make the most of the laptop's gorgeous screen.


If we had to choose

The best gaming laptops on the market may be extremely expensive, but that doesn't mean that you have to spend a fortune in order to enjoy PC gaming. There are plenty of performant gaming laptops available under $1,000 that offer a quality 1080p gaming experience. Our favorite is the Lenovo IdeaPad Gaming 3i 15, as it offers excellent specs like a 12th Gen Core i5 H-Series CPU and the RTX 3050 Ti for just $790. The AMD version, dubbed the IdeaPad Gaming 3 15, is also a fantastic choice if you want DDR5 RAM and don't mind paying a little more to get it.

The 2022 refresh of the Acer Nitro 5 is a great (and pricier) alternative to the IdeaPad if you're looking for something with 16GB of memory and a 512GB SSD. The HP Victus 15, meanwhile, is ideal for people that want to go full Team Red with an all-AMD machine.

There's also the SFX14 model of the Acer Swift X, which comes with a stunning 14-inch display that features 100% sRGB and 300 nits of brightness. The trade-off is that the laptop comes with a U-Series Ryzen chip instead of a raw performance-focused H-Series one, but regardless, it's the best laptop under $1,000 we recommend for gaming if you want a top-notch color gamut.