T3's guide to the best laptops under AU$1,000 has been created specifically to help make identifying a 'cheap but good' laptop as easy as possible. All the systems in this list manage to astutely balance portability, power and price, and we're confident that they won't disappoint.
Because, truth be told, while spending the most you possibly can on a laptop is always a smart idea, as it often buys you extra features or longevity, today even cheap laptops like these in this list are really, really strong computing companions. And in a time where more people are finding themselves working from home, having a great laptop to call on can make all the difference.
Unless you have a high-end or very niche usage case requirements, budget laptops offer all the same basic functionality that more premium systems do, but they do so for much less money. Why spend thousands if you just need a solid system for web browsing, shopping, emails and office suite work?
And the really good news is that almost all the top laptops makers now have really great offerings at the sub-AU$1,000 level. From Dell to HP, Lenovo to Asus, and even on to Microsoft and Acer, shoppers really are now spoilt for choice when it comes round to bagging a cheap laptop.
What follows, therefore, is our top picks of the best cheap laptops you can buy today. We've not only supplied selections at various price points, from a couple of hundred right up to AU$1,000, but we've also picked systems to cover the OS spectrum, too. Finally, we've also included some left-field choices that we feel are perfect for light computing.
Best laptops under AU$1,000 quick look
1. Asus VivoBook 15
2. Lenovo Ideapad Duet Chromebook
3. Microsoft Surface Go 2
4. Acer Aspire 5
5. Kogan Atlas 11.6-inch C500
6. Asus C433 Chromebook
7. Lenovo IdeaPad L3 15
8. Dell Inspiron 15 3000
9. Acer Aspire 3
10. Acer Swift 3
Best laptops under AU$1,000 on Black Friday
Black Friday sales are longer than ever this year, stretching out from mid-October right up until Christmas. And, the truth is, many of the best laptops under AU$1,000 in this guide will be discounted in the Black Friday sales.
It therefore pays to start deal-hunting as early as possible, as the best Black Friday deals are not just confined to a few days in 2020, but spread out over a couple of months. These top deals are being dropped online, too, for obvious reasons, as more people than ever find themselves working from home.
Dell's Black Friday sale is often a good place to nab a premium device on a substantial discount.
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The best laptops under AU$1,000
The best laptop under AU$1,000 for most people, right now, is the stunning Asus VivoBook 15. Not only does this laptop come with a large display that, thanks to tiny bezels, seems far bigger than it actually is, but it backs up those looks with a strong all-round hardware and software showing.
You get a full-fat version of Windows 10, of course, and that is powered by either a combination of Intel Core i3 CPU, Intel UHD 620 GPU, 4GB of RAM and a 256GB SSD NVMe. If you can get your hands on the AMD Ryzen 5 3500U CPU variations, you'll get slightly better processing performance and can usually find them with 8GB of RAM for a similar price.
Oh, and for those who find themselves taking more video calls and meetings than before, the VivoBook 15 also delivers an integrated webcam. For the money this is a great system, and in T3's eyes one of the very best laptops under AU$1,000 on the market today.
We were pretty blown away by Lenovo’s Ideapad Duet Chromebook. If you put it up next to a Microsoft Surface Go 2, you’d probably notice that the Chromebook’s keyboard was fractionally harder to type on, the back panel stand made it a little heavier and they run different operating systems, but that’s not a lot when you consider that the Surface Go 2 starts at AU$629 (or AU$829 with keyboard) and the Ideapad Duet Chromebook comes with keypad and stand case for AU$599.
While we definitely prefer the hardware from Microsoft, Chrome OS is a much richer operating system than Windows 10S to use with a lightweight 2-in-1, especially if you already use Gmail or any of the other G Suite apps. The 10.1-inch 1920 x 1200 pixel display looks vibrant and offers a 400nit peak brightness and other than the overly small right hand side keys the keyboard is easy enough to type on and comes with a nicely sized, smooth-to-touch trackpad.
If you’re a tab hoarder, you’ll probably hit the upper limits of the device’s MediaTek P60T 8-core processor and the 4GB of RAM pretty quickly, but anyone who’s happy to keep things to just a handful of tabs on a few desktops shouldn’t really have any issues. Battery life was pretty good too, lasting five hours and 31 minutes in gaming benchmarks and seven hours and 45 minutes in 1080p movie playback.
There are a couple of minor setbacks like the single USB Type-C port (it comes with a C-to-3.5mm headphone adapter) and a slow ~100MB/s flash memory at 128GB without the option for microSD card expansion, but at least Google offers 100GB of online storage to new users, which alleviates some of the pain here.
The most affordable Surface Go 2 you can grab locally starts at AU$598, and comes with an Intel Pentium 4425Y processor, 4GB of RAM and 64GB of onboard storage, which is an offering that seriously competes with some of the best Chromebooks available. While this model only offers Wi-Fi networking and doesn’t carry a heap of storage space, the Surface Go 2 does feature a MicroSD card expansion slot, to allow you to add cost effective storage as you see fit.
The next tier up doubles the RAM and storage allocations for a total of AU$879. This clearly moves the device out of the budget Chromebook space when you add the $199 Surface Keyboard, but we’d recommend considering it if you intend to update to Windows 10 Home from the device’s stock Windows 10 S OS.
The Surface Go 2 has a bigger 10.5-inch 1920 x 1280 (3:2) PixelSense display that is really vibrant for a budget screen even though it only manages a peak brightness of 280nits (120nits less than the Ideapad Duet Chromebook from Lenovo).
In Geekbench 4 performance was around 35% lower than we saw on a Samsung Galaxy Book S using a Snapdragon 8xc processor, which makes sense when you consider the 8xc is intended to be the mobile architecture equivalent of a 10th-gen Intel Core i5.
It’s hard to imagine a use case for this device without the need for the Surface Go Signature Type Cover, so you’ll have to plan for that extra AU$200 outlay, but the typing experience is good and the trackpad is silky and generously sized.
The 26.8Wh battery lasts five hours and five minutes in PCMark 8 Home battery and around 8 hours in 1080p media playback. The Surface Go 2 is undoubtedly one of the best devices you can get for under AU$1,000.
Plenty of places actually sell this one for a little over AU$1,000, so if you absolutely can't go above that figure then you'll have to wait till it's on sale or pick another unit from this list.
The Aspire 5 delivers a really strong and capable all-round set of specifications, including a Core i5-1035G1 CPU, Intel UHD 620 GPU, 8GB of RAM and a 512GB SSD. This combines to deliver zippy performance in all light and medium computing tasks, and when combined with the Aspire 5's 15.6-inch, 1080p IPS LCD screen, delivers plenty in terms of entertainment and gaming clout, too.
Battery life tops out at a respectable 10 hours, too, and it has a strong selection of ports as well, meaning you can hook it up to a larger monitor or TV. You also get an integrated HD webcam, which is perfect for video meetings.
Overall, the Acer Aspire 5 is a really strong all-round laptop that should be high up on anyone's shopping list if they're playing with around AU$1,000.
The Kogan Atlas 11.6-inch 2-in-1 was by far the most affordable laptop of the roundup, so you have to be willing to give it a few concessions on this basis alone. The most noticeable of them is that while it isn’t the most compact keyboard of the roundup, it does feel like it thanks to an awkwardly small spacebar that sits too far to the left. There’s also an obvious flex in the soft plastic chassis and sharp edges that’ll press on your hands, particularly on the left since the keyboard skews that way. The hinges have an unnaturally tough feel to them and the power cable is a thin pinhole connection with a large base that looks more like something that powers an electric shaver.
The 11.6-inch touchscreen offers Full HD resolution and is bright enough to be easy to work on, although the viewing angle isn’t great and you do get a lot of glare from the glossy screen finish.
Rather than shipping with Windows 10 S as seen on some of it’s siblings the Atlas 11.6in C500 Convertible Laptop actually comes with a full Windows 10 Pro OS, which is pretty amazing when you consider that this OS retails for an RRP of AU$339 – i.e. more than the cost of this laptop when it's on sale.
The Atlas C500 had faster flash memory than the Lenovo Ideapad Duet Chromebook at over 200MB/s for both read and write speeds and while the 27Wh battery life isn’t exactly great, it's enough to get half a day's work done before you need to charge.
Simply one of the best Chromebooks we've ever laid eyes on – look at that display, for instance – the Asus C433 will get you around the web and run Android apps with ease.
Chrome OS is the same here as it is on any other Chromebook, and it's getting better all the time, as are the web apps that run in your browser. Now that Android apps are supported as well, you can run the mobile versions of programs like Spotify and Microsoft Word as well.
With a big, bright 14-inch screen and enough power to do everything you need to do, the Asus C433 is a fine choice. The display can flip over into tent and tablet modes as well, making this laptop even more appealing.
If you are looking for a cheap laptop for light computing experiences and don't need a large screen, then the Lenovo IdeaPad L3 15 is a great choice.
It's bigger 15.6-inch screen makes it easy to look at for an entire work day and while it only has a slower HDD, it's got 1TB of storage space.
This system is Windows 10 Home which runs fine on the 1.9GHz Intel Celeron 5205U CPU, but you can upgrade that to a 10th generation Intel Core i3-10110U for AU$899 to give yourself a little more overhead in more demanding applications.
Overall, it is a basic system for lightweight computing needs, but for many people that is exactly what is is required. After all, what's the point in spending thousands on a system when you're not going to use its full power?
Dell makes some excellent budget laptops, with the Inspiron 15 3000 a case in point: fair enough you're not going to be doing much video editing or gaming on this, but it'll take care of all the computing basics for you very capably indeed.
This being a Dell machine, it's extremely well built and going to last you a long time. The 15.6-inch display gives you plenty of room for spreadsheets and movies alike, while you get three USB ports and an HDMI out port for connecting up peripherals. It's also very portable, perfect for throwing in a backpack.
Windows 10 S Home is on board, the stripped-down, super-secure version of Windows 10 that limits app installs but keeps you very well protected. If you're not a fan then you can unlock it to get the full version of Windows 10 at any point.
Just because your budget has topped out at AU$1,000 doesn't mean you're bound to low-end components. The Aspire 3 can handle any casual task, and even deal with some very light browser based gaming, too.
That 15.6-inch Full HD display is very generous for a laptop in this range, and its surprisingly sharp too, while that 1TB HDD, despite not being as fast as an SSD, is huge and provides loads of storage space.
The only thing that isn't ideal is the system's battery life, which at just 4.5 hours is definitely not use-all-day-off-one-charge capable. Providing you're happy carrying your charger with you, or you're using the system primarily from a desk plugged in, then this negative point can be mitigated.
Like the Switch 3 above, the Swift 3 – somewhat confusing, we admit – offers a larger display and slightly improved specs for about the same price, minus the 2-in-1 form factor and touch screen. The i3 CPU, combined with the SSD, offers good performance for a cheap machine, crunching less processor-intensive tasks with ease while providing good battery life.
Unlike some other cheaper laptops, the touchpad on the Swift 3 is actually nice to use, offering smooth scrolling and mouse movements, which is important due to the lack of touchscreen. The port selection is good, too, boasting an HDMI, three USB-A, one USB-C, and more. All in all, this is a good budget pick.
Cheap laptops: How to choose the best laptop under AU$1,000 for you
Buying a new laptop can be a daunting task – even more so when you're trying to shop under a specific price limit, as we are here. A lower price range often means less powerful components, but it doesn't mean you have to settle for a cheap, throwaway product.
With very decent components continuing to drop in price, affordable laptops are boasting far more powerful specs, so your money goes further. It's not going to be a portable gaming beast or a media powerhouse, but you'll have enough grunt under the hood for surfing, editing documents and video streaming.
Apple MacBooks are out of the question at this sort of price, but fortunately Windows 10 has evolved to run very well indeed on less high-end hardware. We've also included a couple of our favourite Chromebooks in the list (just remember Chrome OS requires everything to be done on the web).
Down at this end of the market, prices fluctuate regularly, and retailers will often throw in special deals to tempt buyers, so don't be surprised if some of the these prices go up and down – spend some time comparing prices to figure out who's offering the best laptop under AU$1,000 for you.
Bear in mind that you're not going to be getting the most powerful or the most feature-rich of laptops, but we think you'll be pleasantly surprised at what you can bag at an affordable price point.
From vibrant displays to surprisingly robust CPUs, out list of the best laptops under AU$1,000 for 2020 has plenty of choice to offer buyers with less money to spend. Design and build continues to get better and better as well.
So as you browse around the various deals and offers that retailers have made available, take a look some of our helpful tips and advice on buying a new laptop, then dive straight into our very best picks. Enjoy browsing!