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Each year, laptops improve across the board—between technology advances and the pressure of competition, the hardware inside offers better performance in greater leaps and bounds.
That means you don’t need to spend on a premium model to get a solid notebook. Whether it’s a traditional clamshell or a convertible with a 360-degree hinge, spending between $600 and $1,000 can get you a laptop you’ll enjoy using. Moreover, it’ll last the length of the work or school day without trouble.
Enough options exist now that finding the right model for you can take some time, so we’ve highlighted our top picks to make the hunt fast and easy. Read on to find your match. (To find laptop recommendations that span all price ranges, see our comprehensive guide to the best laptops.)
Best under $1,000
Sleek and compact, the $1,000 Acer Swift 5 makes for an excellent traveling companion—at 12.5 x 8.3 x 0.59 inches and a feathery 2.18 pounds, it’s a laptop you can toss in your bag and simply forget about for hours at a time.
When you do pull it out, though, you’ll have a full-sized notebook at your fingertips. The Swift 5 comes with a bright 14-inch 1080p IPS screen and a useful assortment of ports: two USB-A, HDMI, and USB-C Thunderbolt 3, plus a 3.5mm headphone jack. You can even opt for a configuration with discrete graphics, though don’t expect this laptop to rival beefy gaming models.
You can find other laptops that pack a stronger punch—or last longer than eight hours on battery—but few will pack the same screen size and comfortable keyboard that the Swift 5 does. For those who prize portability above all, this notebook delivers.
- Attractive color scheme and simple design
- Full-size laptop perks, like USB-A ports and a decent keyboard
- Mediocre battery life
- Performance doesn’t match potential
- Not as thin as some of its peers
Best under $800
HP’s Ryzen 4000-powered Envy x360 13 proves that you can get first-class features for coach pricing. Here are just some of the goodies included: a decent 13.3-inch IPS panel with good off-axis viewing, touch, and optional pen support; a solid all-aluminum body with 360-convertible hinges; and the crown jewel, a mid-priced Ryzen 4000 CPU with high-end CPU performance.
The Envy x360 13 is highly configurable, too—while our review model came with a Ryzen 5 4500U, 256GB SSD, and 8GB DDR4-3200 RAM, you can upgrade all of those components (as well as the display) if you need it to pack a stronger punch. But as is, we found our version to already be an impressive laptop at a great price. Add on a battery life of 10 hours and an easy weight of just 2.8 pounds, and the Envy x360 13 cruises past the majority of the competition as a fantastic mid-tier option.
- Solid build
- Ryzen 5 4500U performs on par or better than comparable Core i7
- Decent speakers
- SSD is slow
- Standard panel option could be brighter
Best under $700
Laptops under $700 keep improving by leaps and bounds—just take the Acer Spin 3 as an example. For an affordable price, this convertible laptop offers a few surprisingly high-end features, like a Thunderbolt 3 port, Wi-Fi 6 support, and an integrated stylus. That’s in addition to solid performance in everyday tasks and roughly nine hours of battery life, all packed into a body with a 14-inch, 1080p IPS screen.
Of course, laptops in this price range do make compromises, and the Spin 3 is no exception to that rule. Its biggest sin is the inclusion of bloatware, though that is fixable if you take the time to purge unwanted software. Its performance can’t be pushed to extremes, either, so while it’ll handle everyday tasks like document editing and web browsing fine, you won’t be able to batter it hard with demanding work.
But the Spin 3 is designed to be an easy travel companion, rather than a powerhouse desktop replacement—and it does that with aplomb.
- Performance is generally average for a budget PC
- A nicely integrated stylus
- Decent price
- Lots of bloatware
- Webcam image quality is a little flat
Best for gaming
Like many of Acer’s other gaming laptops, the Nitro 5 offers a lot of bang for the buck. Equipped with a mid-range GTX 1650, this $700 model cuts corners in mostly the right places so that you can play games without losing an arm or a leg to do so. You get a 15.6-inch 1080p IPS screen, a Ryzen 5 4600H processor that performs well, and up to 10.5 hours of battery life when you’re not playing games. The option to upgrade to higher configurations with 120Hz or 144Hz panels is available, too.
In exchange for solid 60fps gaming (including in popular AAA games), you will have to endure some screen bleed, and a bulkier design. You’re also stuck with an older GPU and slightly higher prices than when we first reviewed the system due to demand being what it currently is, but on the whole, the Nitro 5 squeezes every last ounce of performance from its limited GPU power, making it an enticing pick for gamers on a budget.
- Speedy CPU performance
- Solid 60fps visuals
- Excellent battery life
- Comfortable keyboard
- Evidence of screen bleed in the full-HD display
- Heavy and bulky design
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