9 Best Laptops Under $1200 Reviews in 2021


Laptops are one of the basic needs for those who like to work on the go. If you are in the market for a great laptop, then you are in luck because there is a great variety of options available right now within various price ranges. However, if you want a highly reliable and powerful option, then you should shell out at least $1200 for your new laptop. You can find many great features in a laptop that falls under the $1200 price range such as:

  • CPU: Most of the laptops that are offered under the $1200 price range feature a powerful CPU. As you may already know, having a powerful CPU on your laptop makes it compatible with the new generation of applications and games. Also, you will find these laptops highly beneficial over mid-range options with comparatively lesser powerful CPUs.
  • GPU: Same as the CPU, the GPUs on the laptops that are around $1200 are similarly powerful. Apart from highly capable integrated graphics memory, a lot of laptops at this price range feature a dedicated graphics card which makes them an even better choice for gaming or intensive productive applications.
  • Storage Capacity: Another great feature available with the laptop around a $1200 budget is the high storage capacity. Along with at least 512 GB capacity, you will find most of these laptops packed with an NVMe or SATA SSD so that the overall speed of the laptop is always unaffected by the load. It offers faster boot times as well as faster loading times.

Even though the features that are mentioned above are some of the major parameters of a laptop, it is simply not enough information, especially if you are buying a premium range laptop. Thus, we are going to talk more about the important features of a laptop in our “Buying Guide” for the best laptops under $1200 later in this article. Other than that, we will also introduce you to some of the best options available in the market so that you can easily make a choice.

Best Laptops Under $1200 2021

Best Laptops Under $1200 Reviews

1. 2020 Apple MacBook Air Laptop

2020 Apple MacBook Air Laptop

We all know that Apple offers their own level of standard on all products, whether it is the iPhones, iPads or highly portable laptops. Fortunately, one such option from Apple fits right under the budget range of $1200.

Taking the 1st position, we have the 2020 Apple MacBook Air Laptop. Even though this laptop is almost 2 years old now, it offers top of the line features and compatibility for the foreseeable future. The Apple MacBook Air Laptop is powered by the Apple M1 chip which is arguably the best mobile chip in the market right now. It is rated for high performance alongside significantly lower power consumption. Apart from that, it offers 8 GB of RAM and a 512 GB SSD for storage, making it a perfect option for portable usage.

The Apple MacBook Air Laptop has a 13.3 inches display. Even though the display size is comparatively smaller than its competitors, it is rated for high image quality thanks to Apple’s exclusive retina display technology. Apple is promising nearly 18 hours of battery life on the Apple MacBook Air Laptop which is rare for a laptop at this budget range. This laptop operates on the macOS operating system which is pretty similar to that of your iPhone. Thus, its compatibility with other Apple products is flawless. The fanless design of the Apple MacBook Air Laptop makes it one of the thinnest laptops while keeping the temperature levels well under the design limit.

Best Features

  • Powered by Apple M1 Chip
  • 8 GB RAM
  • 512 GB SSD storage drive
  • 3 inches retina display
  • Features Apple 8-core integrated graphics
  • 2 USB Type C thunderbolt ports

Pros

  • Features universal ports for connectivity
  • Best in terms of production quality and design
  • One of the best CPUs

Cons

  • Display size is a bit smaller in comparison

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2. Acer Nitro 5 AN517-54-77KG Gaming Laptop

Acer Nitro

Acer is a well-known brand for entry-level productivity and gaming laptops. But, it also has premium and high-performance laptops like the one mentioned here.

In 2nd place, we have chosen the Acer Nitro 5 AN517-54-77KG. This is a gaming laptop and a pretty decent choice for a budget of $1200. Powered by the Intel Core i7-11800H processor, it fully takes advantage of 8 cores and 16 working threads of the CPU. Also, you will get a dedicated NVIDIA RTX 3050 Ti graphics card on this laptop that will grant you access to the latest features like DLSS and ray tracing. It is also one of the largest laptops in our selection today with a 17.3 inches FHD IPS display which also offers a 144 Hz refresh rate.

The overall screen to body ratio of the Acer Nitro 5 AN517-54-77KG is about 80% with a 16: 9 aspect ratio for the display. It is packed with 16 GB of DDR4 RAM having 3200 MHz speed along with 1 TB of storage capacity. Even with the high storage capacity, you will get the advantage of a high-speed NVMe storage drive similar to most other picks mentioned here.

You will get 2 slots for RAM as well as 2 slots for the storage drives for future upgrades. One of the exciting features of the Acer Nitro 5 AN517-54-77KG is the DoubleShot Pro which lets you use WiFi and Ethernet at the same time for a reliable and stable connection.

Best Features

  • Powered by 11th Gen Intel Core i7-11800H
  • 16 GB RAM
  • 1 TB NVMe SSD storage drive
  • 3 inches FHD display
  • Features an NVIDIA GeForce RTX 3050 Ti GPU
  • DoubleShot Pro technology

Pros

  • CoolBoost technology to keep the temperatures low
  • NitroSense UI to monitor the hardware parameters
  • One of the most powerful options in terms of graphics

Cons

  • A bit heavier and bulkier than other options

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3. New Dell Inspiron FHD Laptop

New Dell Inspiron FHD Laptop

Dell also features a great product in the budget range of $1200. The following laptop from Dell will be a great choice if you want a thin form factor with high-speed performance.

For the 3rd position, we have picked the Dell Inspiron 15 5505. It comes with a standard display of 15.6 inches. Also, it features a pretty thin and light form factor due to the integrated graphics support. It is powered by the renowned AMD Ryzen 7 4700U CPU. It is an 8 core 8 thread CPU that is specifically designed for laptops. It has a TDP rating of 15 watts which is almost half compared to other heavy laptops. This, you will definitely get a long battery life with this lightweight laptop.

The Dell Inspiron 15 5505 is designed with adaptive thermal technology. THis means that the laptop can detect whether it is placed on a table or in your lap and it will adjust the thermal levels accordingly. The display of the Dell Inspiron 15 5505 is a WVA display with FHD resolution and an increased screen to body ratio compared to its predecessors. Unlike most other laptops in the market, it also has Waves MaxxAudio Pro so that you can get loud and clear sound output from the laptop speakers. The integrated AMD Radeon RX Vega 10 paired with the 16 GB RAM makes it suitable for casual gaming as well as many industry-leading design software.

Best Features

  • Powered by AMD Ryzen 7 4700U
  • 16 GB RAM
  • 512 GB SSD storage drive
  • 6 inches FHD display
  • Features AMD Radeon RX Vega 10 graphics
  • Waves MaxxAudio Pro for high sound levels

Pros

  • Great option for productivity and entertainment
  • Lightweight compared to most other options
  • Standard display size with thin bezels

Cons

  • It can not endure heavy gaming

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4. Lenovo Legion 5 15 Gaming Laptop

Lenovo Legion 5 15 Gaming Laptop

Lenovo is known for offering budget-friendly options for laptops. Still, the laptops from Lenovo like the one mentioned here offer a pretty good performance for entry-level options.

The Lenovo Legion 5 is the lower variant of the Lenovo Legion 5 Pro laptop which fits perfectly within the budget category of $1200. Even at such a budget, it is offering a highly powerful AMD Ryzen 7 5800H processor coupled with a dedicated NVIDIA RTX 3050 Ti graphics card. Thus, it is a pretty good option if you are going to play games on your laptop. The 15.6 inches display on this laptop has an IPS panel to offer you great visual quality along with a high refresh rate of 165 Hz. For storage, Lenovo has provided a 512 GB NVMe SSD on the Legion 5 laptop.

The NVIDIA RTX 3050 Ti on the Lenovo Legion 5 makes it a great option as it supports ray racing and DLSS technology which allows you to play high-end games at an enjoyable FPS. To offer even better immersion, Lenovo Legion 5 also has dual 2 watts speakers which will let you feel the sound of the game.

Another great feature of the Lenovo Legion 5 is its gaming keyboard. The Legion TrueStrike keyboard offers 4 zone RGB lighting which is fairly popular within the gaming community. You will get both HDMI and DisplayPort ports to connect an external display to the laptop.

Best Features

  • Powered by AMD Ryzen 7 5800H
  • 16 GB RAM
  • 512 GB NVMe SSD storage drive
  • 6 inches FHD display
  • Features an NVIDIA GeForce RTX 3050 Ti GPU
  • Comes with both HDMI and DisplayPort ports

Pros

  • Connectivity options are pretty good
  • IPS display panel for best viewing angles and picture quality
  • LAN port provided for stable wired internet connection

Cons

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5. 2021 Newest HP FHD Laptop

2021 Newest HP FHD Laptop

HP is offering a great option under $1200 which offers upgradability as well as reliability for official applications.

Up next, we are featuring a great laptop from HP which is best suited for professional applications. The HP 15 is one of the latest additions from HP to its 2021 series of laptops and is powered by the Intel Quad-Core i5-1135G7 processor. Even though this processor is not as powerful as a couple of other options, it will still offer you compatibility for productive tasks. As for the speed and multitasking, you are in luck as the HP 15 comes with 32 GB of DDR4 RAM and 1 TB NVMe storage drive. It is a significant upgrade over other options as you are unlikely to find these specifications at this price range.

The HP 15 offers a pretty large 15.6 inches display with FHD resolution and an IPS display panel. This is a micro-edge display with up to 250 nits brightness levels. The display is powered by integrated Intel Iris X graphics so that you can easily run renowned design software and other programs without needing a graphics card. As for connectivity, you will get a SuperSpeed USB Type C port alongside 2 standard USB Type-A ports and an HDMI port.

Best Features

  • Powered by 11th Gen Intel Quad-Core i5-1135G7
  • 32 GB RAM
  • 1 TB SSD storage drive
  • 6 inches FHD display
  • Features Intel Iris X graphics
  • Perfect opinion for schools and offices

Pros

  • One of the best options for multitasking
  • Large storage capacity
  • Comparatively larger display than a few other options

Cons

  • Design could have been better

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6. MSI GP65 Leopard 10SDK-049 15.6 Laptop

MSI GP65 Leopard

MSI is also a pretty popular brand name, especially for its gaming laptops. The following option from MSI can be a great device of casual gaming as well as productivity within the $1200 range.

The MSI GP65 Leopard is one of the most affordable options present on this list today. Even though it fits in the $1200 budget perfectly, you will have some additional funds left for extra peripherals. The MSI GP65 Leopard comes with a 15.6 inches FHD display with an IPS-level panel so that you get the sharpest image quality without any doubt. Also, it features a 120 Hz refresh rate which is great at this price point. The display is powered by the NVIDIA GTX 1660 Ti graphics. While you do miss out on the RTX features with this card, it offers great compatibility with games with 6 GB memory.

MSI GP65 Leopard houses an Intel Core i7-10750H processor. It is a 6 core 12 threads processor that certainly does not disappoint in terms of power capacity and performance. On top of that, you also get 16 GB DDR4 RAM with 2666 MHz speed and 512 GB NVMe SSD. For future upgrades, you get the option to upgrade the RAM capacity up to 64 GB which might be needed depending on your application. The MSI GP65 Leopard also has dual 3 watts speakers that you are unlikely to find at this price point.

Best Features

  • Powered by 10th Gen Intel Core i7-10750H CPU
  • 16 GB RAM
  • 512 GB NVMe SSD storage drive
  • 6 inches FHD display
  • Features an Nvidia GTX 1660 Ti GPU
  • Dual 3 watts speakers

Pros

  • High refresh rate FHD IPS-level panel
  • Per-key RGB keyboard
  • 51 Wh battery capacity

Cons

  • Graphics card is weaker in comparison with a few other choices

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7. 2021 Newest Dell Inspiron 5510 Laptop

2021 Newest Dell Inspiron 5510 Laptop

Dell has managed to land yet another choice on our list of the best laptops under $1200. The following choice from Dell also offers great storage and RAM capacity.

If the RAM and storage capacity are your primary concerns, then you are better off with the Dell Inspiron 5510 laptop. It features 32 GB RAM and 1 TB storage capacity which should be perfect, even for future applications. Also, the storage drive is an NVMe SSD instead of an HDD so that you don’t miss out on high-performance speed. To make use of these powerful specifications, Dell has powered the Inspiron 5510 Laptop with an Intel Core i7-11370H processor. This is a 4 core 8 thread processor which might be a little underpowered compared to many other options, but it still offers a sustainable performance for routine applications.

To keep the form factor of the Inspiron 5510 laptop thin and light, Dell has not included a dedicated GPU on the laptop. Instead, it is powered by the integrated Intel Iris Xe graphics which is good enough for casual programs and entertainment. You will be able to enjoy your favourite content on the 15.6 inches FHD display fully as the device has thin bezels on the sides. It also offers faster access with a fingerprint recognition feature which seems to be missing from many premium range laptops.

Best Features

  • Powered by 11th Gen Intel Core i7-1165G7 CPU
  • 32 GB RAM
  • 1 TB NVMe SSD storage drive
  • 6 inches FHD display
  • Features Intel Iris Xe graphics
  • Fingerprint based secured access

Pros

  • Designed for official use
  • High RAM and storage capacity
  • Narrow bezels on the sides

Cons

  • Does not have dedicated graphics card

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8. Acer Swift X SFX14-41G-R1S6 Creator Laptop

Acer Swift

The following option is our first pick from Acer on this list of the best laptops under $1200. It is one of the AMD powered laptops on our list that will definitely offer you a great performance for the price.

The Acer Swift X SFX14-41G-R1S6 has been a preferred choice for gamers since its release. It is a great gaming laptop under the $1200 budget with the AMD Ryzen 7 5800U processor and the NVIDIA RTX 3050 Ti graphics card. The processor offers 8 cores and 16 threads for increased multitasking and keeps up well with the speed of the graphics card. Still, it is a battery focused CPU and hence, it has a TDP of 15 watts. While it does affect the performance of the CPU slightly, it manages to deliver up to 12 hours of standby time on the laptop despite a dedicated GPU.

Coming to the display of the Acer Swift X SFX14-41G-R1S6, you get a 14 inches wide FHD IPS display with 100% sRGB and nearly 300 nits of brightness levels. Such high brightness levels make the laptop perfectly usable even under bright natural light. The Acer Swift X SFX14-41G-R1S6 features 16 GB of LPDDR4X RAM so that the performance speed of this laptop does not drop, even under a high load. The 512 GB NVMe storage drive on the other hand makes sure that you get almost instantaneous boot time.

Best Features

  • Powered by AMD Ryzen 7 5800U CPU
  • 16 GB LPDDR4X RAM
  • 512 GB NVMe SSD storage drive
  • 14 inches FHD display
  • Features an NVIDIA RTX 3050 Ti GPU
  • Dedicated fingerprint reader

Pros

  • Full HD IPS display panel
  • One of the best graphics cards in this budget range
  • Comparatively lightweight option even with the dedicated GPU

Cons

  • Display should have been larger

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9. 2021 ASUS ROG Strix G512 Gaming Laptop

2021 ASUS ROG Strix

Finishing up our picks, we have yet another great gaming laptop from Asus. The ROG series of laptops from Asus has always been a safe choice for gamers, even the entry-level options.

The ASUS ROG Strix G512 is yet another great choice for those if you want a dedicated gaming laptop. The ASUS ROG Strix G512 is powered by the Intel Core i7-10750H which is a pretty good CPU for gaming and other similar applications. However, the NVIDIA GTX 1650 Ti is what makes it a great option for casual gaming. It features a standard 15.6 inches display supported by high quality hinges which makes the appearance of the laptop even more attractive. The display itself offers a 144 Hz refresh rate with a 16:9 aspect ratio.

The ASUS ROG Strix G512 will also offer almost double the storage capacity compared to other options in the $1200 budget range as it has a 1 TB SSD. Thus, you will be able to store many additional games at once in your laptop without worrying about the storage capacity. Even the RAM capacity has been upgraded to 16 GB to keep up with the latest generation of games. The battery on the ASUS ROG Strix G512 is 48 Wh so that you will get a little longer battery backup compared to most other laptops, especially the gaming ones.

Best Features

  • Powered by 10th Gen Intel Core i7-10750H CPU
  • 16 GB RAM
  • 1 TB NVMe SSD storage drive
  • 6 inches FHD display
  • Features an Nvidia GTX 1650 Ti GPU

Pros

  • 3 USB 3.2 Gen1 ports
  • High storage capacity
  • High refresh rate display

Cons

  • Entry-level graphics card at $1200 budget

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Buying Guide For The Best Laptops Under $1200

Laptops are getting more and more popular among users nowadays as they are almost as powerful as a desktop computer with the added benefit of portability. Therefore, premium laptops work best for both gamers and professional content creators as you can get all of your work done on the go.

On this list, you can find the best laptops under the budget range of $1200. As we have also mentioned the best features and specifications of each laptop, you will find it pretty easy to make a decision. If you are confused about how to choose the best laptop, make sure you read our buying guide for the best laptops as you will find all the help you need right here.

CPU

The CPU is one of the most crucial parts of a computer as it handles all the processes and active programs. Therefore, a fast CPU usually results in a fast and reliable laptop. If you are spending nearly $1200 on a laptop, then you should certainly pay attention to which CPU you are getting on your laptop.

You will also find similar processors with identical cores and thread count within 2 different options. In such a case, you should make your decision based on the speed of the CPU which is indicated in MHz units. Generally, the best choice would be to buy a laptop that is powered by one of the latest CPUs with a larger number of cores and threads.

This way, you can make sure that your laptop will be a reliable choice for the future as well as will remain compatible with the upcoming programs.

Graphics Card

Same as the CPU, the GPU is also one of the crucial components of the laptop. Generally, the GPU is only considered if the laptop is going to be used by gamers. But, the GPU is not only suitable for gaming. In fact, a highly powerful GPU will offer beneficial results for many other types of applications such as video rendering, screen recording, video editing and AI based applications.

Within the price range of $1200, you will either get integrated graphics which are available with the CPU, or a dedicated graphics card based on which option you choose. While an integrated graphics laptop is better for portability due to better battery life and compact form factor, it does not compete with a dedicated graphics card in terms of performance. Thus, if you are looking for a laptop for hardcore gaming or other intensive application, then you should definitely choose one that has a dedicated graphics card.

Display

The display size and quality should be thoroughly considered before buying a laptop as you are going to use the onboard display a lot when you are on the go. While there is always an option to connect an external display to the laptop, it sort of beats the main advantage of the laptop which is the portability. One of the major factors in this scenario is the size of the display. It is pretty difficult to work efficiently on a laptop that offers less than 13 inches display.

Fortunately. Almost all laptops around the $1200 budget are offered equal to or larger than a 13 inches display. Along with that, you should also check the display quality. This aspect includes many factors such as the panel type, resolution, and refresh rate.

Another important factor in this aspect is the accessibility of the laptop. Some laptops offer a touchscreen display which is pretty good for creative applications. High resolution and refresh rate displays are usually a preference of gamers, even with a laptop.

Storage and RAM capacity

The RAM capacity of your laptop determines how fast your laptop can operate as well as how many applications you can run simultaneously. Even if you are not actively working on 2 or more programs at once, there are hundreds of processes in the operating system that are continuously running in the background.

Thus, a high RAM capacity should always be preferred when you’re buying a laptop. As for the storage, you can choose the storage capacity based on your application. For example, if all of your work is online, you probably would not need a terabyte of storage on your laptop. However, you should make sure that you are getting either an NVMe SSD or at least a SATA SSD as the storage drive on your laptop.

These storage devices are significantly faster compared to a traditional hard drive. Therefore, you will observe nearly 2 to 3 times faster boot speed as well as the overall operating speed of the laptop.

Battery Life

Portable devices rely on a standalone battery and laptops are not an exclusion for it. A laptop is as good as its battery. A laptop that offers a longer battery life will be a great option for long distance travels as it will be a reliable option and won’t prompt you continuously to plug in the charger.

However, long battery life is a benefit available with the premium range of portable laptops. Gaming laptops mostly lack this feature as the dedicated graphics card along with other powerful hardware makes the battery life limited to 3 to 4 hours. You will find an approximate analysis of the battery life provided by the manufacturer with almost every laptop.

However, you should always consider a little bit shorter battery life compared to the rating. To get the best idea, you should check the battery capacity which is presented in the “Wh” units. A larger battery will always be beneficial for reliable performance.

Frequently Asked Questions

Q. Is it possible to game on a $1200 laptop?

To put it simply, yes. You can definitely play games on a $1200 laptop. However, the answer might change based on which game you have in mind. If you are considering heavy games like Cyberpunk 2077 or Forza Horizon 5, then you are better off with a dedicated gaming laptop. An integrated graphics supported laptop is enough for casual gaming or online gaming services like Geforce Now, Google Stadia, Steam Link, etc.

Q. Do laptops offer upgradeability?

Upgradability for a laptop generally includes upgrades in the RAM and storage drive. Even that is not available with a lot of laptops these days. Still, you can look into that before buying a laptop to ensure future compatibility. A laptop with a dual-channel RAM slot and NVMe SSD should be preferred if you wish to get upgradeability on your laptop.

Q. What features should I prefer on the laptop?

The features that you would want on your laptop completely depend upon your application. A thin and light laptop with an integrated graphics card will be a perfect choice if you deal with online work. It will offer you a lightweight form factor along with a long battery capacity. But, if you have more intense applications in mind such as content creation, gaming, or video rendering, you should go with one of the powerful options that offer a powerful graphics card.

Conclusion

Buying a laptop gets really confusing, even if you are looking under a particular budget range. There are a lot of popular brands in the market that are releasing a new laptop on an almost monthly basis now with increasingly better features and specifications. Therefore, you should take a look at all of the options available under your budget and pick up one that offers the best features.

We have already done the hard work for you by creating a list of the best laptops under $1200. Now, all you need to do is check out our picks and select the best option with the help of our buying guide. We will offer some recommendations right here so that you can make a quicker decision.

  • Apple laptops barely have any competition in terms of operating system and fluency. Therefore, our first recommendation would be the Apple MacBook Air 2020 if you are looking for one under $1200. This laptop is powered by an Apple M1 chip which recently became one of the most powerful processors on a laptop. It is paired with 8 GB of RAM and 512 GB of SSD for storage. You will also get the benefits of the 13.3 inches Retina display designed by Apple that offers almost lifelike image quality.
  • On the other hand, if you want a laptop under $1200 for gaming, then we will recommend getting the Lenovo Legion 5. It comes packed with the latest RTX 3050 Ti graphics card so that you get benefits such as ray tracing and DLSS in your games. Other than that, you also get 16 GB of RAM paired with 512 GB NVMe SSD, making it an ultimately fast gaming laptop. The Lenovo Legion 5 offers one of the largest displays on our selection today with the 15.6 inches FHD display along with a high refresh rate of 165 Hz.
  • Lastly, we recommend getting the Acer Nitro 5 if you prefer large storage capacity on your laptop. This laptop comes with 1 TB of storage capacity available with the built-in NVMe SSD so that you will not need an upgrade anytime soon. Other than that, it also has 16 GB DDR4 RAM and is powered by the Intel Core i7-11800H CPU. To offer an unbeatable gaming performance in this range, it also houses an NVIDIA RTX 3050 Ti graphics card.



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