We've hunted down the best gaming laptop under $1000, tested, researched and ranked them in our no BS buyers guide for Q4 of 2018. At this price point you can expect to play most of the latest AAA titles on medium settings with a more than playable frame rate, and in the case of the Helios 300 settings on maximum! (more on that later). We have reviewed everything that actually matters, when looking for the best gaming laptop such as battery life, screen quality and performance...
So, let's jump in and review these machines.
11/04/2018 - Page created for Q4 2018
28 Hours of Research
3 Sources of information
Intel Core i7-8750H
NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1060 6GB
Intel Core i7-7700HQ
NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1050 4GB
Intel Core i5-7300HQ
NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1050 4GB
Intel Core i7-7700HQ
NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1050Ti 4GB
Intel Core i5-8300H
NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1050Ti 4GB
PROS & CONS
The Acer Predator Helios 300 is our pick for the best gaming laptop under 1000 dollars. No other machine came close in terms of performance, largely due to it shipping with a NVidia GeForce GTX 1060, the best graphics card out of all the machines reviewed. At this price point, it offers the best value over other competing machines that come with GTX 1050 Ti GPUs' at a similar price. Additionally, it's possible to upgrade to a better graphics card later on if the need ever arises, providing some future proofing.
The Predator Helios features a plastic-and-aluminium external finish. The lid is black and metallic with two red stripes running beside a Predator logo. On top of the lid, you will find a small bumper made of plastic surrounding the aluminium, making the Predator feel slightly less premium. Beneath the lid is a 15.6-inch 1080p full HD screen, surrounded by a bezel with both Acer and Predator logos. It also features a full keyboard that includes a number pad and backlit red WASD keys. The deck is black and metallic.
The Predator weighs in at around 2.5 Kg with dimensions of 15.4x10.5x1.5 inches, making it slightly larger than the other machines we reviewed. Despite being more substantial, it is somewhat lighter than most of its competitors. Like any other machine, the Predator Helios has several different ports. It has an Ethernet jack, Thunderbolt 3 port, an SD card slot, HDMI output, and a USB 3.0 port on the left side. The other side houses a pair of USB 2.0 ports and a headphone jack.
The keyboard is quite comfortable and works well, albeit for a small problem in the response department. Vertical travel of the keys measures 1.6mm, which is quite good for any keyboard. For the keys to work, they require a pressure of about 79 grams, meaning they feel a bit hard, but it is something that you will barely notice once you are familiar with it.
The Shift and the Up arrow keys are oddly close to each other, and the Right arrow keys eat some space into the number pad – something that is not usual in keyboards. Regarding lighting, the Helios’ keyboard doesn’t have RGB lighting, meaning you will have to stick with the single red Predator colour. The touchpad has lots of real estate and works seamlessly with the latest Windows 10 gestures. It needs some extra force to press, but that shouldn’t be an issue in game as you'll probably be using a proper gaming mouse.
The full HD display on the Predator Helios is good but could do a lot better. It falls short when it comes to brightness, though it is still something you can live with and enjoy your gaming. Dark scenes may prove challenging as you play, but lighter areas appear just fine with satisfactory colour accuracy. Brightness clocks in at 226 nits on average, which is far dimmer than most of the other equivalent gaming laptops.
The Predator Helios features a 2.8GHz Intel Core i7 seventh-generation processor working alongside a memory of 16GB and a 256GB solid-state drive (SSD). With these specs, this Helios can handle multitasking at the highest levels. It scores above the mainstream average (10675) on the Geekbench 4 overall performance test scoring 13587, which is also more than its closest competitors. Copying speeds clock in at 188.5 Mbps, which is slightly below the category average of 207.6 Mbps.
In graphics card performance, the Predator Helios scores pretty well with its NVidia GeForce GTX 1060 that has a graphical memory of 6GB. It can run demanding games, like GTA V and Mass Effect: Andromeda, at high settings and still deliver reasonable refresh rates. For GTA V, you should expect around 49 fps, which is more than the average of 47 fps. Mass Effect: Andromeda will run at frames rates of between 70 – 80 fps, with occasional drops outside this range.
The Predator Helios has an impressive battery, you can expect to get around six and a half hours while consistently browsing the Internet. The mainstream average is around seven hours, but very few gaming machines achieve this. Most struggle to last for more than four hours. When playing a game, the whole system may heat up to around 46 degrees Celsius at the bottom with the track pad remaining cool at 28 degrees Celsius. Audio is excellent on the Predator, thanks to inbuilt Dolby technology emphasizing on clarity and loudness.
PROS & CONS
The FX503 doesn’t fall under the ASUS’ ROG line-up, but it has a lot of similarities in regards to the physical appearance. It features the same metallic neon lights on the ROG line-up. The difference comes in the pricing, with the ROG products typically being a bit more expensive. Plastic is the preferred material over metal in the FX503, but it doesn’t take away the fact that it feels premium with the nice texturing both on the outside and the inside.
It weighs around 2.3 Kg, which is a category standard for 15-inch machines. The lid is aluminium, while the rest of the case is plastic with clever faux-metallic brushing to give it a premium look. You won’t have to worry about smudging the case since it is fingerprint resistant to ensure you maintain a clean looking laptop at all times. Overall, the design doesn’t disappoint, and it would certainly grab some attention when you carry it around.
The FX503 comes with a backlit red-themed keyboard that lights up well regardless of whether it is night or day. It has special highlights to the WASD keys, which seems to be an industry standard these days. Coupled with the 1.8mm reach, the WASD keys promise the best performance even in the most rigorous of gaming. The WASD keys have a thicker profile, which makes them visible even in a poorly lit environment unlike the rest of the keys.
Like the Predator Helios, ASUS FX503 also includes a number pad on the keyboard and full-sized direction keys. Below the keyboard is a 105x75mm touchpad with a faux-glass surface that is quite responsive. However, it still doesn’t do enough to pull any gamer away from the conventional mouse.
ASUS FX503 comes with a full HD display on its 15.6-inch frame and includes In-plane Switching (IPS) technology for better viewing angles. IPS is better over the old Twisted Nematic (TN) technology since it delivers impressive colours and wider viewing angles, which are great for gaming and watching videos. On the downside, the display doesn’t feature touch technology, which is a big deal in modern computers.
You will find the standard input and output ports on the ASUS FX503. They include headphone and microphone jacks, a trio of USB 3.0 ports, and SD card slot, an Ethernet jack, and one HDMI port. At the top of the 15-inch screen, the FX503 features one HD webcam, which should work just fine, though it is not the best. For wireless connectivity, the system also comes with Bluetooth and a dual-band Wi-Fi connection.
For under 1000 bucks, the ASUS FX503 holds it's own but in terms of performance doesn't come close to the Helio above. It comes with impressive specifications and boasts a seventh generation Intel Core i7 processor with 8GB RAM with the option of upgrading to 32GB. In the graphics card department, the FX503 packs a NVidia’s GeForce 1050 GPU with 4GB graphical memory. With this GPU, the FX503 works well in multitasking and general productivity provides adequate gaming power for your fragging sessions. The Pascal architecture in NVidia’s graphics cards never disappoints and records impressive numbers in various benchmark tests.
The FX503 comes with a storage of 128GB in an SSD that’s both fast and spacious for you to transfer and store data in your computer. In addition to the SSD, you will also get a 1TB 5400 RPM hard drive as additional storage for your files and download. Unfortunately, battery performance is not the best. When testing the FX503 to the Battery Eater tool, it lasted for just over ONE HOUR. This short battery life is typical in most machines at full load, so for gaming you're going to want to be plugged in.
PROS & CONS
The Inspiron 15's design exudes a retro feel, which may be a good or bad thing depending on your preferences. It features red highlights on the front edge as tessellating triangles and the lid, including the Dell logo, which in all honesty looks a bit strange in that color. The red highlights are also present on the rear heat vents. It would be nice if Dell offered an all-black option, but you have to stick with the red and black version, which is also great in its unique way.
Regarding weight, this machine weighs in at 2.65 Kg with a thickness of 25 mm. The Inspiron 15 is quite heavy and would require a backpack with two straps when you are on the move unless you want to break your back. It has a soft-touch plastic lid, which is quite a fingerprint magnet. You have to wipe it now and then to maintain its truly gorgeous look. It also features a perfectly weighted hinge that allows you to open and close the lid with one hand without having to hold the bottom in place.
The Inspiron 15 features a Microsoft-Precision-certified track pad. It readily responds to and accepts every Windows 10 gestures like pinch-to-zoom and two-finger scrolling among others. The material on top of the track pad is a bit rough, but it is still comfortable to work with your various tasks. The Inspiron 7000 comes with a classic Inspiron keyboard. The keys comprise of a grippy material, resulting in less vertical travel. Nonetheless, the backlit keyboard is reliable and responsive. It includes a complete number pad and offers lots of space in between each key.
At the Inspiron’s price point, the display is not the best in the market as it uses TN panel (eww) but, it is full HD. TN panels are not all bad, i mean they are FAST, but sadly Dell went for a lower end TN panel for this Inspiron model. Meaning, you'll experience narrow viewing angles with noticeable color shift every moment you move away from the centre of the screen as you watch videos, or play games. The problem is more prevalent when watching dark scenes as the blacks are less true and look washed out. Where possible we recommend connecting this machine to an external display to get the most out of it.
For connectivity, the Dell Inspiron offers a trio of USB 3.0 ports, one HDMI output, an Ethernet port, and an SD card slot. Conspicuously lacking is the Thunderbolt 3 port, which should be an essential feature in 2018. It also lacks a mini-DisplayPort, which is not a big deal anyway.
The Inspiron 15 7000 Gaming comes with an impressive four-core seventh generation Intel Core i7 processor, rocking 16GB worth of RAM and a 256GB SSD. You will also find an extra 1TB of storage in the additional hard drive that the 7000 offers. In the graphics department, you will be working the NVidia GeForce GTX 1050 Ti with 4GB graphical memory. For a lower price, you can get the Intel Core i5 variant of the Inspiron that also comes with a lesser RAM of 8GB. Whichever of the two options you go for, the performance won’t disappoint you.
While playing the Rise of the Tomb Raider, the GPU fans made a little noise, which was not distracting at all. The speakers did an excellent job in drowning the whooshing sounds from the fans. Temperatures will rise a bit, but none of the parts of the computer should become too hot to touch. In numerical benchmarks, the Inspiron put up some impressive numbers with single and multi-core scores of 4131 and 12033 respectively. These scores put it at the same level as some higher-end machines.
The battery life of the Inspiron is one of the best at this price point (and higher for that matter) lasting between six and seven hours when video streaming and browsing. For audio, the machine offers fairly impressive speakers comprising of a subwoofer and a pair of tweeters deep inside the chassis. They produce clear and loud sound with some extra bass, for the best gaming experience without having to connect external multimedia speakers.
PROS & CONS
The 7REX is easily recognisable with its red-backlit dragon symbol that is always present on MSI systems. It has a semi-boxy shape that may not be appealing to many, with a matte black soft-touch finish on the lid. The surface is a fingerprint magnet, so you should always have a microfibre cloth to remove the smudges when the need arises. Beneath the lid is a smooth dark plastic deck that bodes well with the texturised base with plenty of real estate to rest your wrists. The 7REX weighs in at around 2.4 Kg, making it significantly lighter than most of the other machines on the market.
The keyboard on this gaming unit has keys backlit in red for gaming even in lowlight environments. These keys have a travel of 1.5 mm and require a force of approximately 72 grams to actuate them. With these specifications, the keyboard operates within reasonable comfort levels. However, key presses on the keyboard lack the clicky responsiveness that most users like. The touchpad offers lots of real estate to work on and supports all the latest Windows 10 gestures without hitting its edges.
The 7REX features a full HD display but don’t expect too much detail due to its general dimness. Warm colours appear washed out with a yellowish hue. Dark colours become some shades darker than they should be but details remain unaffected and are clear enough to see. Brightness on the 7REX averages at just 198 nits, which is dim considering the 245 nit average of the other machines in this category. Nevertheless, the color-gamut score of this display is fantastic at 153 per cent. It surpasses the 95 percent average set by the other machines at this price point.
All the necessary connectivity ports are available on the MSI 7REX. Despite being a budget machine, the 7REX comes with the following ports: Thunderbolt 3 port, a pair of USB 3.0 ports, HDMI, SD card slot, Gigabit Ethernet, secure lock slot, headphone and microphone jacks, an AC adapter jack, and a mini DisplayPort.
The 7REX comes with enough power to double up as both a workhorse and a gaming machine. It features a seventh generation 2.8GHz Intel Core i7 CPU alongside 8GB memory. With these specs, you can comfortably run multiple projects simultaneously without experiencing any lag. Geekbench 4 overall performance tests showed that it scores slightly lower than the category average of 12079 at 11817 points. That score is marginally higher than most of the other laptops in this roundup. For graphics, the MSI 7REX comes with the NVidia GeForce GTX 1050 Ti GPU with 4GB RAM, which can run most games at decent frame rates.
The battery on the 7REX sucks... Lasting for three and a half hours with continuous web surfing at a brightness of 150 nits. This time is way below 5 hours and 17 minute mark, which is the category average. Running temperatures in the CPU and GPU can reach a maximum of 38 degrees Celsius depending on the gaming intensity. Regarding audio, you’d rather use headphones while gaming on the 7REX because the external speakers don’t pack a punch required during this activity.
PROS & CONS
The MSI GV62 has a matte black plastic body with red highlights at the back alongside dual-fan grilles. This design is stylish enough to fit in any other setting, such as a workplace, if you eliminate the red accents at the end and on the keyboard. You can remove the underside for expandability, which is one of the primary goals of the manufacturer. The MSI GV62 weighs around 2 Kg with a thickness of 26 mm, making it one of the lightest and most portable 15-inch gaming machines.
The keyboard on the MSI GV62 features an elegant and comfortable design with an anti-ghosting key and a single back lighting system. The lighting pattern is red with a silver lining across the three keyboard zones. Typing is comfortable on this keyboard though the keys require long travel, which may give them a bouncy feel. The track pad leans more to the left side and is quite sturdy and smooth with buttons underneath the pad.
The MSI GV62 has a full HD 15-inch matte display that utilises IPS technology to provide wide viewing angles. However, the screen doesn’t have a glass coating, making the IPS technology less effective. Full HD resolution on the 15-inch panel is sufficient even though it cannot compete against desktop displays that run resolutions as high as QHD+ and 4K.
On the right side of the GV62, you will find an SD card slot, a power jack and one USB 2.0 port. The other side houses, one Thunderbolt 3 port, a couple of USB 3.0 ports, audio jacks, a mini-DisplayPort, Ethernet, HDMI output and a second USB 2.0 port. At the centre top of the display, you will find a decent HD web camera.
The GV62 features the latest eight generation six-core Intel Core i7 processor with a base RAM of 8GB. With these specs, the machine should handle most heavy duty tasks and some gaming without any problems. For gaming purposes, it packs the NVidia GeForce GTX 1050 Ti GPU with 4GB graphics memory, which works well as a midrange gaming GPU. As a general purpose laptop for the occasional gamer the GV62 would be a great choice, but for a dedicated gamer this is not the machine for you. Battery life is also bad.. like most of its counterparts, clocking 3 hours and 52 minutes on rundown tests.
Overall five fantastic gaming laptops for the price range, we stand behind our choice ranking the Acer Predator Helios 300 as the best gaming laptop under $1000. The Helios also has the best battery life alongside the Dell Inspiron, which also promises value for money coming in at the lowest price.