Best laptop under £1,000 2018: great performance without breaking the bank

You can't go wrong with these Microsoft Windows 10 and Apple macOS laptops for under £1,000

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Buying a laptop on a budget needn't be a worry - there's actually far more options out there than you might realise. It's all about knowing the right models with the best components for your money. Thankfully, we've scoured the market for the best portable machines that'll perform without destroying your fiscal well-being.

From versatile 2-in-1 convertibles for everyday use to proper gaming machines designed to run some of the most demanding titles out there, you're bound to find something to suit your tastes as well as your budget.

What is the best laptop under £1000?

If you just want to know what's best and aren't interested in looking further, then we'd like to direct you to the rather impressive MacBook Air.

Apple's ultraportable might seem like it's ageing, but it's still a superb machine and is available for well below £1,000. Fast, reliable and worth every penny.

The 13-inch MacBook Air measures 1.7cm at its deepest point and weighs an astonishingly light 1.35kg making it ideal to take with you wherever you need to go. And there's 128GB of fast flash storage on board, too!

How to buy the right sub-£1,000 laptop for you

Buying a laptop has become something of a maze in 2018. 

Products with almost identical names are put out at different prices and with wildly different performance, and fighting your way through the nomenclature to the raw specifications is tough.

And then you have to work out what the specifications mean. What's the difference between an i5 and and i7? Between various integrated graphics chips? Well, worry no more.

What you can do with a £500 laptop has now changed drastically. And if you're willing to spend up to £1,000 then you're looking at getting a pretty powerful machine for your money. 

If you're willing to spend that much, there's plenty of new thin and light laptops that aren't so interested in offering value. 

But they often sport all-metal construction, wafer-thin designs and internal guts that can chew through demanding tasks. So what's best?

The best laptops for under £1,000 that you can buy today

For under a £1,000, these are the best notebooks to buy, in order of preference.

best laptops for under £1000

1. 13-inch MacBook Air

Sterling battery life and fast storage

Specifications
CPU: 1.6GHz dual-core Intel Core i5
Graphics: Intel HD Graphics 6000
RAM: 8GB
Screen: 13.3-inch LED-backlit glossy display (1440 x 900)
Storage: 256GB SSD
Reasons to buy
+Excellent battery life+Nippy storage
Reasons to avoid
-Dated design-Low-res display

The Asus ZenBook UX305 may have stolen the MacBook Air's thunder, but this is still a delightfully slim machine with good performance from a powerful CPU – if you must buy Mac, then this isn't a bad choice.

The display isn't brilliant and the design is a bit dated, but its touted 13 hours of battery life and fast storage are killer features for some. While we love the Air, it's in severe need of a redesign.

Read the full review: MacBook Air 13-inch

best laptops for under £1000

2. Dell XPS 13

Probably the best sub-£1,000 laptop ever made

Specifications
CPU: 2.2GHz Intel Core i5-5200
Graphics: Intel HD Graphics 5500
RAM: 8GB
Screen: 13.3-inch 3,200 x 1,800 UltraSharp QHD+ touch display
Storage: 256GB SSD
Reasons to buy
+Gorgeous display+Super lightweight
Reasons to avoid
-No Ethernet port-Off-centre webcam

There are plenty of thin and light laptops around, but few as well designed as Dell's XPS range. The XPS 13 has a nearly borderless touch display that runs at QHD resolution and somehow crams 13.3-inches into an 11-inch laptop frame.

Despite the grunt required to drive that screen, it runs smoothly and stably, for as long as you need it to – and this notebook doesn't break the bank either. We think it's the best Windows laptop, the best Ultrabook and probably the best overall laptop for the money.

Read the full review: Dell XPS 13

best laptops for under £1000

3. Dell Inspiron 13 7000

A smart and nicely priced well-built hybrid

Specifications
CPU: 2.4GHz Intel Core i7-5500
Graphics: Intel HD Graphics 5500
RAM: 8GB
Screen: 13.3-inch 1,920 x 1,080 IPS touchscreen
Storage: 256GB SSD
Reasons to buy
+Attractive and sturdy design+Speedy powerful performance
Reasons to avoid
-Lacklustre battery life-A little hefty

For an all-round more traditional laptop, you can always trust Dell, even when you're looking at a laptop-tablet hybrid. Away from the sometimes scarily thin Ultrabook market, this Inspiron 13 has a metal chassis coated in soft-touch rubber for a non-bank-breaking price.

And it also turns into a perfectly serviceable 1080p tablet when you flip the screen back, without any worries about anything breaking – it feels very solid. This machine's only flaws are its weight – 1.67kg – and its rather poor battery life.

best laptops for under £1000

4. HP Spectre x360

A nifty 2-in-1 offering great performance and battery life

Specifications
CPU: 2.2GHz Intel Core i5-5200
Graphics: Intel HD Graphics 5500
RAM: 8GB
Screen: 13.3-inch 1,920 x 1,080 Radiance LED-backlit touchscreen
Storage: 256GB SSD
Reasons to buy
+Superbly thin+Excellent performance and battery life
Reasons to avoid
-Too heavy for easy tablet usage-Weirdly wide trackpad

The Spectre is a pleasant 2-in-1 laptop with an excellent 1080p screen, solid performance, good battery life and sturdy build quality. Oh, and it also turns into a tablet, should that feature be on your wish-list.

Its specifications are almost identical to those of the Dell above, though it's 200g lighter and has much better battery life – and that's the difference in cost in a nutshell. 

This HP offering also has its own flaws, though – that weirdly wide trackpad – but that's pretty much it. If that's about all we can find to complain about, then it must be pretty good...

best laptops for under £1000

5. Microsoft Surface Pro 4 2017

An excellent hybrid offering plenty of power

Specifications
CPU: 2.4GHz Intel Core i5-6300U (dual-core, 3MB cache, up to 3GHz with Turbo Boost)
Graphics: Intel HD Graphics 520
RAM: 8GB
Screen: 12.3-inch 2,736 x 1,824 pixels
Storage: 256GB SSD
Reasons to buy
+Lightweight+Display is crisp+Type cover is quality
Reasons to avoid
-Type cover sold separately-Scuffs easily

There's very, very little to dislike about Microsoft's Surface Pro 4, and especially because it can now be picked up at certain retailers for well under a grand. 

Simply put, it's a fabulous 2-in-1, delivering very powerful tablet experience which, providing you stump up extra for the quality keyboard cover, also acts as a fast and portable laptop.

The Surface Pro 4's screen is bright and clear, its Intel Core-series processors stacked with power, and the Surface Pen is a smooth and accurate drawing and writing accessory, too.

Read the full review: Microsoft Surface Pro 4 review

best laptops for under £1000

6. Acer Inspire 5

A mid-range model with a low-end price

Specifications
CPU: 1.60Hz Intel Core i5 8250U (quad-core; 6MB cache; up to 3.40GHz)
Display: 15.6-inch FHD (1,920 x 1,080) LED
Graphics: Intel UHD Graphics 620
Memory: 8GB DDR4 RAM Storage: 256GB SSD
Connectivity: 802.11ac Wi-Fi; Bluetooth 4.1
Camera: HD Camera
Ports: 2 x USB 2.0, 1 x USB 3.0, 1 x USB 3.1 (USB-C), HDMI, SD card reader, 3.5mm audio jack, Ethernet
Reasons to buy
+Reliable performance+Robust build quality
Reasons to avoid
-Display could be sharper

One of the latest additions to Acer's growing range of 'budget' laptops, the Inspire 5 offers up a robust little machine that'll comfortably deal with most everyday computing tasks (just so long as you're not expecting that to include high-end gaming). Models vary in price, but even the lowest spec boasts a decent Intel i3-6006U CPU and a 15.6-inch Full HD display. That display lacks the sharpness of some of the other machines on this list, but for the price, most of these components are more than capable.

best laptops for under £1000

7. Dell XPS 15 (2017)

A gorgeous display and impeccable performance

Specifications
CPU: Intel Core i5-7300HQ - i7-7700HQ
Graphics: NVIDIA® GeForce GTX 1050 with 4GB GDDR5
RAM: 8GB - 16GB DDR4
Screen: Up to 15.6-inch Ultra HD (3840 x 2160) InfinityEdge touchscreen
Storage: 1TB HDD - 512GB SSD
Reasons to buy
+Gorgeous InfinityEdge touchscreen+Great specs for price

While the middle and top-tier versions of the Dell XPS 15 will set you back over the £1,000 mark, the low-end model will keep you on budget and pulls in an impressive set of specs to booy. For a start, you’re getting a 15.6-inch Ultra HD (3840 x 2160) InfinityEdge touchscreen with the 2017 version, a Intel Core i5-7300HQ processor and an NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1050 graphics card. It promises close to 20 hours of use on a single charge, although it’s closer to 15 if you’re using it consistently.

best laptops for under £1000

8. Lenovo Miix 510

A battery and display one-two punch

Specifications
CPU: Intel Core i5-7200U 2.71 GHz
Graphics: Intel HD 620
RAM: 8GB
Screen: 12.2-inch IPS, Full HD 1920 x 1080 pixels
Storage: 256GB PCIe SSD
Ports: 1x USB 3.0 Type-C, 1x USB 3.0 (Always-On Charging), 1x Audio Combo Jack
Connectivity: 802.11ac Wi-Fi, Bluetooth 4.0
Camera: 2 megapixel front camera, 5 megapixel rear camera
Reasons to buy
+Great connectivity options+Very affordable
Reasons to avoid
-Isn't a Surface Pro 4 beater

One of Lenovo's latest 2-in-1 laptops looks to balance affordability with performance, and just about manages it - although it's only going to beat similar models such as the Surface Pro 4 on price alone. Still, that doesn't mean this isn't a worthy laptop in its own right. That 7th-generation Kaby Lake CPU will take care of all your everyday tasks (including media streaming) and light gaming, while the wide range of on-board connectivity options (including USB-C and USB 3.0) means you're not going to struggle to support your devices and external storage setup. Oh, and you get a keyboard cover thrown in as standard.

best laptops for under £1000

9. Lenovo Legion Y530

An affordable entry-level gaming laptop

Specifications
CPU: 2.3GHz Intel Core i5-8300H (quad-core, 8MB cache, up to 4.00GHz with Turbo Boost)
Graphics: Intel UHD Graphics 630; Nvidia GeForce GTX 1050 Ti (4GB GDDR5)
RAM: 8GB DDR4 (2,666MHz)
Screen: 15.6-inch, FHD (1,920 x 1080) IPS (anti-glare, 250 nit)
Storage: 128GB SSD (PCIe); 1TB HDD (5,400 rpm)
Ports: 1 x USB Type C, 1 x mini DisplayPort, 1 x USB 3.0, 1 x HDMI, 1 x RJ-45, 2 x USB 3.1, 1 x 3.5mm combined audio jack
Reasons to buy
+Robust design+Plenty of configuration among models
Reasons to avoid
-Display isn't the best

Just because your budget tops at £1,000 doesn't mean you can't start gaming on a laptop. Models, such as this one from Lenovo, offer some decent components with far less concessions that you might expect. Its 15.6-inch display can be a little dim at times, but with a decent battery and a GTX 1050 in the base model you should be able to tackle most of the games in your Steam library. (Although you can upgrade to a 1050 Ti if your budget can stretch.) It's very much an entry level machine, but a great one nonetheless.

best laptops for under £1000

10. Dell Inspiron 15 7000 Gaming

A beast of a gaming laptop

Specifications
CPU: Intel Core i5-7300HQ (quad core 3.5GHz)
Graphics: Nvidia GeForce GTX 1050 Ti + Intel HD Graphics 630
RAM: 8GB DDR4
Screen: 15.6-inch, Full HD
Storage: 256GB SSD
Reasons to buy
+NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1050+Full HD 1080p Anti-glare Screen

Dell’s current Inspiron 15 7000 range goes from sub-£1,000 models to those north of £1,500, and even the machines in the lower end of the spectrum pack some serious CPU and GPU gaming chops. The £900 model boasts 128GB of SSD memory, as well as a lovely 7th Gen Intel Core i5 Processor as standard (along with that tasty NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1050 for good measure). Its Waves MaxxAudio Pro-powered speakers won’t blow you away, but pop in a decent headset and you’re good to go. In other words, you’re getting a gaming powerhouse that can handle most games in your Steam library for less than a grand.