Laptops

6 Best Laptops Under $1200: Reviewed, Rated & Compared

If you are looking for a dependable laptop for work, school, or gaming that will stand the test of time, look no further than the 6 best laptops under $1200 on our list. These laptops are built with quality hardware to keep with even the most demanding software and tasks.

At this price range, laptops are great for those who need something to handle demanding applications like 3D modeling software, high-resolution gaming, complex business tasks, or photo and video editing.

Since the budget is higher for laptops, there is more flexibility in chips used within the computers to achieve better performance for specific tasks. Lower budgets can still find reliable laptops, but they will not have the power for more complex tasks.


Laptops Under $1200 Compared

Image

Product Name

Screen Size

Storage

Battery Life

Check Price

HP Envy 2019,17.3' Full HD Touch, i7-10510U...

17.3 Inches

512GB SSD

10 Hours

2019 ASUS ROG 15.6' FHD Gaming Laptop...

15.6 Inches

1TB HDD and 512GB SSD

4 Hours

OEM Lenovo ThinkPad E15 Gen 2 15.6' FHD...

15.6 Inches

1TB SSD

12.2 Hours

Dell XPS 15 9560 4K UHD TOUCHSCREEN Intel...

15.6 Inches

256 GB SSD

N/A

HP Spectre X360 13.3' FHD IPS 2-in-1...

13.3 Inches

256 GB SSD

12.75 Hours

MSI GP65 Leopard 10SDK-049 15.6' 120Hz 3ms...

15.6 Inches

512 GB SSD

4 Hours


Buying Guide: What to Look for in Laptops under $1200

Screen Size & Display

If you travel frequently or intend to use your laptop with a second monitor, smaller screen sizes (13-14") may be the right choice. Those who intend to use the laptop at work or home on a desk as the primary monitor will want to look for something a bit larger (15-17").

For those looking to use the laptop for gaming, photo or video editing, or any graphically intense process, should opt for those with screens supporting resolutions above 1440p.

RAM & Storage Space

You can expect higher RAM on a laptop in this price range than you would typically need for most moderate computer activities. 6-8GB is common, although up to 16GB is available depending on the manufacturer.

Storage space is a premium, so for those who value program speed and load times over additional space, an SDD between 512GB to 1TB is a good range to shoot for.

Processor

The CPU on laptops under $1200 can handle most software that is available to run on them. Activities such as 3D modeling or simulation software will require a stronger CPU as the amount of data to render and process is tremendous.

Those looking to do video editing should also consider looking at stronger CPUs for their work, and those playing games on their laptop can take advantage of a stronger CPU for better load times and frame rates.

Battery Type & Life

Battery life is very dependent on the type of work being done on the laptop and the settings used while in use. For more intense processing activities, you can expect a shorter battery life than usual, falling under two hours being typical. Light use can see battery life around 6-8 hours on a full charge.

Charging times also vary depending on if the laptop is in use or resting during the charge but can range between 30 minutes to multiple hours while in use.

Design

Laptops come in a variety of styles these days, and some of these features can enhance usability. A 2 in 1 convertible laptop can be used as a traditional laptop with a keyboard and screen and a tablet with just the screen functioning as a touchscreen.

More traditional laptops, sometimes called a clamshell model, have evolved to include features like lights, additional ports, and enhanced durability.

Portability/Weight

Recent advances in the materials used in laptop shells and the continued evolution of smaller chipsets for processors have led to laptops that are powerful, durable, and lightweight. Those who are prone to travel or enjoy working from anywhere and taking their laptop with them can enjoy models under five pounds that are fully capable of meeting their needs.

Extra Features

Multi-mode is a feature that lets the user work with their laptop using a touchscreen. Often there are options to either remove the keyboard or use it as a stand to view the tablet at various angles.

Offline mode can be enabled by turning off the Wi-Fi setting on your laptop. This can help save battery life when you do not need an internet connection.

Battery saver is a handy tool to automatically adjust your laptop settings to prolong the remaining battery life. This typically will dim the brightness of a screen, enable offline mode, or disable unnecessary programs running in the background.

Warranty

Warranties on laptops will cover hardware failure due to a defect in the product or if the computer stops working due to no user's fault. Typically warranties last for one year from the manufacturer and can sometimes reach two to three years.

Extended warranties can frequently be purchased from the retailer for additional costs and may cover more situations beyond the manufacturer's warranty.


6 Best Laptops Under $1200 Reviewed

1. HP Envy 2019

Best All-Round Laptop Under $1200

Screen Size

17.3 Inches

Processor

Intel i7

Resolution

1920x1080

Storage

512GB SSD

Battery Life

10 Hours

HP is well known for quality laptops and PCs and is an excellent option for those looking for a computer for everyday use but also for more resource-intense hobbies like editing or for light enthusiast gaming.

The larger screen on this computer gives plenty of space for multiple programs to be open at one time and is a full HD screen capable of streaming video and playing games at 1080p. This laptop is heavier than a lightweight model, but for the size, it comes in at a respectable 6.14 pounds, which is easy enough to comfortably carry in a bag or case without being a burden.

Preinstalled on the laptop is Windows 10 Home 64, an OS that is compatible with a number of programs and has seen a marked improvement on the resource use by the OS to free up as much of your laptop's power as possible for whatever you want to do.

This laptop is the best all-round laptop under $1200 thanks to its ability to go from work to play in seconds, and with a larger screen, it makes it easier to use this on its own or connected to a second screen for a large workspace.

“This, to me, has been a dramatic change in my every day computing! With my old computer, I waited what seemed like minutes instead of seconds! Even when I have several things open, it doesn't miss a beat!” – Verified Purchaser Tim the Tool Man, store.hp.com

Good
  • 1-year limited hardware warranty from HP; 90 day phone support
  • Large screen with full HD and vivid color
  • Capable of running a wide variety of programs at peak performance
  • Functions great on its own or with a second screen
  • Long battery life (10 hours)
Bad
  • Larger screen may not fit in smaller bags
  • Some users have trouble seeing the white letters on silver keys

2. ASUS ROG

2019 ASUS ROG 15.6" FHD Gaming Laptop...
  • ▶ With the latest 9th Gen Intel Core...
  • ▶ With a beautiful 15. 6" Full HD display;...
  • ▶ 16GB 2666MHz DDR4 SDRAM Memory for...
  • ▶ Intel 802. 11ac (2x2) + Bluetooth,...

Best Gaming Laptop Under $1200

Screen Size

15.6 Inches

Processor

Intel Hexa-Core i7

Resolution

1920x1080 pixels

Storage

1TB HDD and 512GB SSD

Battery Life

4 Hours

No matter your game of choice, the ASUS ROG series of laptops is the best gaming laptop under $1200 thanks to it being built specifically with gaming in mind. 16GB DDR4 RAM makes sure that you should have no trouble quickly loading and running games from the included 512 GB SSD.

The additional 1TB HDD is ideal for storing other files and software that does not have as much reliance on loading speed or processing time, such as Microsoft Office or other productivity tools that will work natively with the included Windows 10 OS.

The screen provides clarity and space enough for gaming on the laptop on the go or as a second monitor to stream video or look at notes while you play on a second monitor. The included full HDMI out makes connecting a breeze and gets you into the game faster than ever. An included NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1650 GPU compliments the i7 CPU well and should not have any bottlenecking issues. Capable of running Fortnite, League of Legends, and other titles at 60fps, the ASUS ROG is a powerhouse when it comes to gaming on a laptop and an excellent choice for under $1200.


Also Recommended: Best Gaming Laptops Under $1000

Good
  • Backlit screen for better clarity
  • Large storage space with HDD and SSD combo
  • Made for gaming, but can still be used for work
  • Fast processing and loading times
  • 12-month manufacturer warranty from date of purchase
Bad
  • Shorter battery life than some others
  • Can get warm under heavy use

3. Lenovo ThinkPad E15

OEM Lenovo ThinkPad E15 Gen 2 15.6" FHD...
  • Processor: Intel Quad Core i7-1165G7 (2.8GHz...
  • Features: 32GB RAM, 1TB NVMe; Graphics: Intel...
  • Display: 15.6" FHD (1920x1080) IPS; OS:...
  • Warranty: 1 Year Lenovo Warranty \ 1 Year...

Best for Work and Business

Screen Size

15.6 Inches

Processor

Intel Quad-Core i7

Resolution

1920x1080 pixels

Storage

1TB SSD

Battery Life

12.2 Hours

If you look up "workhorse" in the dictionary, the Lenovo ThinkPad E15 obviously will not there, but it should be. This laptop is made to handle anything you can think to throw at it for your business needs and keep going with plenty of space to spare on the 1TB SSD for your quick program needs.

For those working in data analysis or computer science, where being able to run through thousands of code or data lines is necessary to compile or identify a pattern, this laptop packs 32GB of RAM to crush any task. The 12.2 hour battery life and 15.6 inch screen mean that you can work from anywhere for as long as you need without fear of missing a beat.

This model is an enhanced version of the E15, modified by Oemgenuine for peak performance. The display on this laptop is built with anti-glare technology so that no matter what conditions you find yourself in, you can easily see and read the screen.

When not in use, the built-in webcam shutter helps maintain your privacy against any unwanted viewers. With all of these features and power, the Lenovo ThinkPad E15 still clocks in at 4.3 pounds, making it an ideal traveling computer and easily the best for work and business under $1200.

“I am able to run multiple applications without lag times as well as toggle back and forth from using a VPN to my main desktop without lag. Bluetooth was quick and receptive to picking up many wireless headphones and devices.” Mattiel – Verified Purchaser – Lenovo.com

Good
  • Massive SSD for quick loading and storage
  • Anti-glare screen for use anywhere
  • Extra-long battery life
  • Privacy features built-in
Bad
  • Lenovo touchpad design is unique and not for everyone

4. Dell XPS 15 9560

Dell XPS 15 9560 4K UHD TOUCHSCREEN Intel...
  • 15.6-inch 4K Ultra HD (3840 x 2160)...
  • 8GB DDR4-2400MHz, 256GB Solid State Drive, No...
  • 7th Generation Intel Quad-Core i5-7300HQ...
  • Windows 10 Home 64bit English, Manufacture...

Best Renewed Laptop Under $1200

Screen Size

15.6 Inches

Processor

Intel Core i5

Resolution

3840x2160 pixels

Storage

256 GB SSD

Battery Life

N/A

Renewed laptops are laptops that have been sold to Amazon after prior ownership, refurbished to as close to like-new condition as possible, and then sold with the Amazon guarantee that the device is in proper working condition.

The Dell XPS 15 9560 is our best-renewed laptop under $1200 thanks to its 4K Ultra HD screen that provides detailed and vivid imagery anywhere.

This laptop is ideal for photo editing as the enhanced graphics will provide the highest image quality for editing available on a laptop. The 15.6 inch screen is more than capable of having enough space for Photoshop and another program side by side.

The display on this laptop is also a touchscreen so you can quickly and easily open programs or move things with just the touch of your finger. This is a unique design that bridges the gap between tablets and laptops and provides more accessibility for those with trouble operating keyboards or touchpads.

The OS installed is Windows 10, which has many touch-friendly features and makes it easy to more efficiently take advantage of the touchscreen features. With vivid, lifelike images, touchscreen capability, and a strong OS, the Dell XPS 15 9560 is ready for work, play, or anything you want to stream.

Good
  • Touchscreen
  • 4K capable display
  • Less expensive due to renewed status
  • Windows 10 installed
  • Amazon renewed guarantee
Bad
  • Battery life may be slightly shorter than new (80%)
  • Smaller hard drive than many others.

5. HP Spectre X360

HP Spectre X360 13.3" FHD IPS 2-in-1...
  • 【HP Spectre X360 i7】 : Powerful 8th...
  • 【Expanded Storage】 : 8GB DDR4 SDRAM,...
  • 【HP Spectre X360】 : 13.3" Full HD ( 1920...
  • 【Quality Ports and Slots】 : 2 x...

Best 2-in-1 Laptop Under $1200

Screen Size

13.3 Inches

Processor

Intel Quad-Core i7

Resolution

1920x1080 pixels

Storage

256 GB SSD

Battery Life

12.75 Hours

The flexibility of a 2-in-1 provides all the benefits of a laptop and tablet with the tablet in one convenient package. The HP Spectre X360 is the best 2-in-1 laptop under $1200. Now more than ever, having accessible technology for all members of the home is a necessity, but not everyone will need all the features of a laptop.

2-in-1 laptops can be a tablet and be well suited for streaming video, doing video calls, or reading documents, which is helpful for students and some work tasks. For more involved tasks like research, reporting, or running multiple programs, a simple turn of the screen allows for keyboard use and full laptop functionality.

The HP Spectre X360 is capable of more than just traditional work and play by taking advantage of its touchscreen and included stylus. You can do drawings on the tablet in programs like Photoshop or take notes by writing rather than typing with this feature.

From professional to amateur, this kind of functionality allows users to learn and work in new ways that a traditional laptop or tablet cannot. Despite being called a 2-in-1, the HP Spectre X360 is capable of so much more and is an excellent fit for those with diverse needs.

Good
  • Extremely long battery life
  • Stylus compatibility and functionality
  • Lightweight and small enough to move around quickly and easily
  • Full HD screen for clear images in both modes
Bad
  • Smaller hard drive
  • Touchscreen requires more cleaning/maintenance

6. MSI GP65 Leopard 10SDK-049

On Sale Today
MSI GP65 Leopard 10SDK-049 15.6" 120Hz 3ms...
  • 15.6" FHD (1920x1080) 120Hz IPS-Level NVIDIA...
  • Core i7-10750H 2. 6 - 5. 0GHz Intel Wi-Fi 6...
  • 512GB NVMe SSD 16GB (8G*2)DDR4 2666MHz 2...
  • USB 3 2 Gen2 Type C *1 USB 3 2 Gen1 *2 Steel...

Best for VR Games

Screen Size

15.6 Inches

Processor

Intel Core i7

Resolution

1920x1080 pixels

Storage

512 GB SSD

Battery Life

4 Hours

Virtual reality has come a long way in the last few years, and with titles like Half-Life: Alyx redefining what is possible in VR gaming, laptops are starting to step up to be able to run VR like desktops.

The MSI GP65 Leopard is a powerhouse made to run games in VR by taking advantage of modern chipsets like 10th gen i7 Intel processors and a GTX 1660 Ti GPU. Since VR games naturally require a bit more space to use the controls, having desk space to keep the laptop plugged in is less of a concern.

When using the laptop in VR on battery, the duration is impacted quite heavily, and many users have noted close to an hour of battery life during use.

One of the standout features on this laptop is the Steelseries keyboard with per-key RGB. You can set up each key to have the backlight color of your choice to customize your experience completely. While you might not get to see the keyboard while you use the VR features, you can still feel the durability and ease of using the Steelseries keys with each stroke.

“One thing is clear – with this price/performance ratio, MSI gives you every reason to want this notebook.” Latopmedia.com review – MSI.com

Also Recommended: Best Graphics Card for VR

Good
  • 144hz display
  • Customizable keyboard
  • GTX 1660 Ti GPU
  • Durable shell
  • Capable of running modern VR games
Bad
  • Short battery life
  • Runs on higher settings by default, so users may want to adjust

Extra Laptop Features/Specs to Factor In

  • Operating System
    All the laptops on our list run Windows 10 Home or Professional. Windows 10 is a resource-efficient OS that is compatible with a wide variety of software, including the Adobe Suite (Photoshop, Illustrator, After Effects, etc.), Microsoft Office suite (Word, Excel, PowerPoint), and a wide variety of games like Fortnite, Minecraft and more.
  • CPU Clock Speed
    Laptops in this range have clock speeds that can range from 1.8-2.6 GHz. This does not include overclocking, which can boost performance closer to 3.4-4.0 GHz, depending on the CPU.
  • USB Type Ports
    More laptops are gravitating toward USB-C ports, but many still include USB-A ports for connections.
  • SSD Storage
    Solid State Drive (SSD) storage is a feature on many laptops in this range, though some may be paired with a hard disk drive (HDD) for added capacity. An SSD is preferable for running complex programs that benefit from a quicker read/write speed.
  • Graphics Chip
    Integrated graphics cards work with the computer’s RAM rather than their own dedicated memory to decipher code sent by the program and turn it into images. Dedicated graphics cards are added as an additional component to the motherboard and often are a more powerful option than integrated graphics cards. Both integrated and dedicated GPUs are options in this price range, and NVIDIA graphics cards are great to look out for.
  • Connectivity
    Laptops in this price range are ready to go with Wi-Fi 6 or 802.11ac Wi-Fi support to take advantage of the latest trends in wireless internet security and efficiency. Some have 4G LTE support, which is great for travel when paired with a compatible data plan from your provider.
  • Keyboard
    The integrated keyboard in a laptop is an important factor in the device's usability that cannot be overlooked. In this price range, you can find enhanced features like ergonomic curves and key placement, optimized key travel for quick and precise typing, and tactile feedback to avoid errors.

Laptop Care, Maintenance & Troubleshooting

To make sure your laptop lasts as long as possible, it is essential to take regular care of it by cleaning the screen with a microfiber cloth and cleaning out the keyboard. This starts by keeping food and liquids away from the laptop to avoid any unwanted debris under the keys. If you notice your laptop overheating, check the fans for any dust or debris and consult the manufacturer's guidelines on proper cleaning.

On the software side, it is important to practice safe habits like not clicking on suspicious links and only installing programs from verified sources.


People Also Ask (FAQs)

What’s a good processor speed for a laptop under $1200?

At a minimum, you should look for 1.8 GHz and, if possible, shoot for closer to 2.4 GHz.

Does Apple offer any laptops under $1200?

Yes, there are some smaller versions of the MacBook Air under $1200 with comparable specifications.

How long do laptops in this price range typically last?

With proper care and maintenance, laptops around $1200 can last upwards of 10-15 years or longer.

Where is the best place to start browsing for top laptops under $1200?

Amazon is a great place to start looking for the best laptops under $1200 since it has a wide variety of offerings and options not found at other retailers.


Conclusion

Whether it is for work or play, the proper laptop can improve any experience and is well worth the investment. For those looking under $1200, the HP Envy 2019 is an excellent choice that balances budget, power, and capability for many years to come.