Buying a new laptop can be an intimidating process as you need to find one that fits your individual needs. This can be a difficult task and sometimes by just looking at a laptop you don’t really get an idea of its capabilities. There is a long list of things that you need to consider.
Our Top 7 Choices for Laptops for Less Than $1200 in May 2020
This article will help you select the device that suits your needs best. Here is the GizmoFusion list of the best laptops within this price range with details of where each laptop excels and in some cases fails.
ASUS ZenBook 14 Ultra-Slim (Best of the best – Exceptional specs & portable)
CPU: Intel Core i7-8565U(4.5 GHz) | GPU: Nvidia GeForce MX250 | RAM: 16GB DDR4 | Screen: 14-inch FHD (1,920 x 1,080) IPS 144Hz | Storage: 512 GB SSD | Battery: 70Whr | Dimensions: 12.6 x 7.8 x 0.7 inches | Weight: 2.98 lbs
Ultra-fast PCIe SSD memory
Dated external design
Not great for those who aren’t very tech savvy
Easy to lose control of Screen Pad
This laptop is a perfect example of using innovative modern technology to make an incredible laptop.
Intrinsically this laptop offers everything you need in terms of fast processing. The ZenBook uses an Intel Core i7-8565U that can reach clock speeds of 4.5 GHz after turbo-boosting.
On top of this you get a fantastic Nvidia GeForce MX250 graphics card which promises smooth image rendering, which is especially useful for those of you that are graphic designers or editors, this is an exceptional GPU.
To support this fast CPU you also get an incredible 16GB of DDR4 RAM which will give you fast access to your programs, as well as the potential for some major multitasking. If you were interested in gaming at all, this laptop offers some seriously good hardware to be able to meet a long list of gaming needs.
To only continue this laptop’s incredible speed, you get a plentiful 512GB PCIe SSD. This offers fast access to all of your data, especially applications that you keep in rotation. This will also provide plenty of space to store whatever you would need to.
Not only does it promise better performance and reliability than HDD, but SSD uses less power, meaning your battery won’t be drained as fast. Which won’t really be too much of an issue anyway, because this laptop promises up to 12 hours of usage after a full charge.
This, combined with its light weight of 2.98 lbs, makes it a perfect laptop to use on the go. This would be incredibly convenient for students or those that need to use their laptop throughout the day, as it means you don’t always need to be close to a power source.
The only area where this laptop feels a bit dated in is with the external design. It’s still a nice slim model, but it looks very similar to a lot of older ASUS laptops so it would have been nice to see something new and innovative, to match the personality of the laptop. But when you flip the lid of the device you get a nice, modern contrast to the outside.
It looks sleek yet simple, the keyboard is laid out in a comfortable way, with a good travel distance between keys. You will have no issue typing up an essay or work presentation with this keyboard. The screen looks fantastic too, with small bezels, no space is wasted. You get a brilliant HD IPS panel anti-glare screen with bright and vibrant colors that make it pleasant to use.
The best feature of this laptop and what really makes it stand out on the current market is the screen pad. ASUS have really innovated the typical trackpad and made it so that your trackpad is not just a form of navigation, but a secondary screen too.
It utilizes touch screen technology to enable you to flick through the latest apps, from music to calculator, giving you so much more multitasking capability. You can also put your signature straight onto virtual documents using this screen pad, saving you lots of time and offering a whole lot of efficiency.
This is especially useful for those who need to sign a lot of documents throughout the day. The screen pad technology is an amazing feature that definitely needs to be integrated into more laptops, but in the current market, it gives this laptop a real niche.
The only issue with the screenpad as it has been reported to be easy to accidentally switch to another app using it, but once you are used to using the feature this will occur far less. Not only this, but the laptop uses IR facial recognition, really making it a technologically advanced laptop.
This is an absolutely amazing device and offers all that you would need from a laptop and is capable of fulfilling a multitude of requirements and is definitely worth considering.
HP Spectre x360 GEM Cut (Powerful, portable and versatile)
CPU: Intel Core i7 (2.2 GHz) | GPU: Intel UHD 620 | RAM: 16GB DDR4 | Screen: 13.3inch FHD (1,920 x 1,080) IPS 144Hz | Storage: 512 GB SSD | Battery: 65Whr | Dimensions: 12.6 x 10.94 x 0.6 inches | Weight: 2.92 lbs
Some odd design choices
This is another fantastic laptop offering powerful performance matched with innovative technology.
The HP Spectre runs on a 2.2GHz Intel Core i7 processor, which as we know is fantastic in terms of speed and performance and is a great match with the other strong components that this laptop utilizes, such as the integrated Intel UHD 620 GPU which offers smooth and fast rendering of data, once more making it perfect for those of you who are graphic designers or artists, an audience that this laptop seems targeted at.
One thing to note about this GPU is that it shares memory with RAM so you would need at least 8GB of RAM to get the most out of the 620, luckily enough this laptop comes with a brilliant 16GB of RAM.
Not only will your GPU be working to its full potential, but you’ll have ample multitasking ability. This is especially good if you use software that is RAM dependent, which is often the case for video editors or graphic designers.
Not only will you have all of this ample room to multitask, but you’ll be accessing all of these applications quickly and without the issue of crashing or freezing due to overworking. This large amount of RAM will also be useful for those who stream.
In terms of storage, you get an impressive 512GB SSD, which as we know allows you to access data much faster than HDD. This is plenty of storage for the general user and will allow you to house a number of pictures and videos, along with whatever software you wish to download.
SSD storage is also good for preserving battery, which only supports the fantastic battery life this laptop already has. When using generally, you can expect to get over 12 hours of battery life, all before having to make any battery preserving changes.
This means the laptop would be great to use portably as you won’t have to worry about the battery dying easily. Another feature that makes it fantastic for use on the go is its lightweight, coming in at under 3 lbs, this laptop will be easy to just pop in a bag and go.
What is the innovative technology that this laptop utilizes? First of all, this laptop provides a fantastic HP stylus that can be used on the HD touch screen. Not only does this mean that you don’t have to use your fingers to use the touch screen, avoiding fingerprints, but it is also exceptionally useful for those who edit or produce art.
This laptop is very popular among artists, due to its ability to store plenty of drawing software, but also because of the vibrant colors and crisp screen that is displayed on the 13.3 inch IPS panel screen. This is a brilliant feature that I’m sure could be versatile, depending on the user’s needs.
Another bit of handy technology that this laptop uses is Touch ID, making your laptop’s security as tight as modern phones, meaning your data is always protected.
One place they fell behind in surprisingly is the trackpad, as it lags behind slightly, even with its sensitivity maxed out. This may suggest they focused slightly too much on the touch screen element.
This laptops actual design is a bit hit and miss. On one side of the spectrum, you have this fantastic gem cut design that uses unique port placement and really adds a modern flair to your laptop.
On the other hand, the chassis is made using a weird matte textured lid, which easily fingerprints and has a weird look to it, especially if you got the model in black.
However, the laptop generally has a nice feel to it and is extremely powerful and so this feature shouldn’t put you off, it was just worth making a note of.
Overall, this laptop is exceptionally powerful. It offers many little features that are useful for editors and artists but is not limited to just catering to them, having a range of versatility that would make it desirable for any user.
HP Envy 17.3″ (Fast and powerful with lovely aesthetics)
CPU: Intel Core i7-10510U (1.8 GHz) | GPU: NVIDIA GeForce MX250 (4 GB GDDR5) | RAM: 16GB DDR4 | Screen: 17.3-inch FHD (1,920 x 1,080) IPS 144Hz | Storage: 1TB PCIe SSD | Battery: 52Whr | Dimensions: 15.9 x 10.5 x 0.9 inches | Weight: 6.14 lbs
1 Terabyte PCIe SSD
Average battery life
A bit heavy
Nothing particularly special about the model
The HP Envy is another perfect example of HP’s ability to put together an impressive laptop. Though this laptop doesn’t have much in terms of new technology, it is still up there with some of the best laptops on the market right now.
This laptop runs on an Intel Core i7 processor that reaches speeds of up to 4.9 GHz, because of the incredibly high clock speeds this GPU is capable of some seriously powerful performance.
This is matched with an NVIDIA GeForce MX250. As we know, NVIDIA is capable of creating some powerful GPUs which are able to render and present data smoothly.
This GPU would be especially good for those of you who are video editors or graphic designers due to its impressive rendering. Along with this you get a very generous 16GB of DDR4 RAM, this is what you should expect from a laptop in this price range, nonetheless, it’s nice to get it in this laptop.
Having such powerful internal components gives you a lot of potential when it comes to using this laptop as it won’t restrict you on any grounds, be that just for general use, for work, for editing or even for gaming.
Storage is where this laptop really excels. You get a very impressive 1TB of PCIe SSD storage, which means not only do you have plenty of room to store all of the data that you need, but you will have exceptionally fast access to it, especially the applications that you keep in your heavy rotation.
SSD PCIe is even faster than standard SSD memory which enables great performance, making your laptop boot far faster. It is rare to get this vast amount of SSD and so is certainly an impressive feature.
SSD also preserves battery life, which is good considering that this is where the laptop falls behind ever so slightly, its battery life averaging out at around 9 hours. This is still an impressive amount of time but lags behind compared to other laptops on this list.
The screen on this laptop really stands out. It’s on the larger side at 17.3” which leaves more room to view the excellent screen quality. This HD anti-glare IPS panel screen offers rich and bright colors which makes viewing videos a pleasurable experience.
The screen is also touch screen, which means you have a large surface to work with. This would be especially good for artists, as you essentially have a canvas to be able to digitally produce work on.
But because of the large screen, understandably the weight of the laptop is a bit heavier than the two previous laptops, being just over 6lbs. This will limit the portability of the laptop, but will not make it impossible to take on the go.
The general appearance of the laptop is excellent. It looks sleek and modern, though the weight is increased, the laptop remains to have a slim design.
Its sturdy too, with an aluminium case, you really feel the quality in the laptop and you don’t have to worry about the internal components of the laptops being compromised by a poor chassis.
Overall, this is an exceptionally powerful laptop and offers plenty of versatility to be able to fit a number of individual needs.
ASUS VivoBook Pro 17 Thin (A good option but not as impressive as others on this list)
CPU: Intel Core i7-8565u (4.6 GHz) | GPU: NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1050 (4 GB GDDR5) | RAM: 16GB DDR4 | Screen: 17.3-inch FHD (1,920 x 1,080) | Storage: 256 GB SSD + 1TB HDD | Battery: 47Whr | Dimensions: 16.2 x 10.6 x 0.8 inches | Weight: 4.85 lbs
Lots of storage space
SSD slightly slower
Nothing particularly exciting
Mediocre battery life
This laptop is an exceptional device, offering simplistic features contained within a modern designed case.
Though this laptop comes in slightly cheaper than the laptops previously discussed on the list, but does not fall behind at all in terms of power. Still operating on an Intel Core i7 processor, with clock speeds of up to 4.6GHz, this laptop packs some serious punch.
Because of this your laptop can think and work fast, this paired with 16 GB of RAM allows for some exceptionally fast and faultless multitasking and booting of applications. This laptop also has an NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1050 GPU which is an excellent GPU that offers some fantastic rendering speeds. This GPU is particularly popular among video editors and ranks above a lot in terms of providing 4k video editing.
With this laptop you also get the best of both worlds in terms of storage. With 1TBH HDD and 256GB SSD, you get the speed of SSD without the space limitations that often comes with it.
This means you’ll be able to store pretty much any data you would need to, while also having all of the fast booting you would need for your laptop and for applications. However, this pairing of the two means the SSD isn’t as fast as it would be on its own, but you will still receive faster speeds than just HDD on its own.
The ASUS Vivobook also has a large screen, much like the HP Envy. One thing about this laptop is that even with a large screen, it continues to be of a light weight, weighing under 5lbs.
This is fantastic for a laptop of this size and means that you will be able to use it portably. The Vivobook is a prime example of how being able to use a laptop on the go is not just limited to notebooks.
The screen is also fantastic quality, with a resolution of 1920×1080, it offers vibrant colors, perfected for some excellent viewing. The screen is HD and anti-glare, once more supporting its portability. There will be no issue using it out of the house and you will not need to worry about lighting getting in the way.
This laptop looks fantastic too. Though it has such a big screen it still looks exceptionally thin and fits in nicely on the modern market. One thing to note is that for such a modern laptop, the bezels are a bit thick and throw off the look slightly.
Aside from that, the actual casing looks great, its aluminium casing makes it look sturdy and reliable, while the match of grey and black makes it look modern and sleek.
The matte black looks good, but for a laptop that you will handle quite frequently, it will definitely pick up fingerprints. This is really nothing to worry about and does not take away from the laptop’s good appearance.
Even when you flip the lid it looks good, the keyboard has a fantastic travel distance that would make using this laptop a comfortable experience.
Overall, this isn’t a particularly extravagant laptop but it provides everything you would need and more while looking good and appearing simplistic.
LG Gram (Very good in some areas but then falls short in others)
CPU: Intel Core i5 8th Gen 8265U (1.6GHz) | GPU: Intel HD Graphics 620 | RAM: 8GB DDR4 | Screen: 14-inch FHD (1,920 x 1,080) | Storage: 256GB SSD | Battery: 72Whr | Dimensions: 12.7 x 8.3 x 0.6 inches | Weight: 2.2 lbs
Slightly less RAM
Only 256GB disk space
Weird design choices
This laptop is slightly less powerful than the others discussed on the list, however, it is still a very good laptop and definitely does not fall far behind the previously discussed models.
This laptop runs on an Intel Core i5 processor that has clock speeds of 1.6GHz. Though you might think that this is not as powerful as an i7, you don’t really notice the difference unless you use the laptop for gaming.
It still offers similar speeds and power, just for a lower price. If you just intend to use this laptop for casual purposes, it’s really not an issue. In pair with this, you get an Intel HD Graphics 620 GPU which is powerful enough to render all of your needs without issue, meaning if you are to watch films, edit or design using this laptop you won’t have a problem.
You also get 8 gigabytes of RAM with this laptop, though once again this may seem like a downgrade from the previous models, this is actually a perfectly fine amount of RAM.
On most fronts you won’t really notice the difference between 8GB and 16GB, you will still have some excellent multitasking ability. One area where it may fall behind in is if you are an editor and use some pretty RAM dependent software, or if you stream. But if you are just using the laptop for general use, such as browsing the web or producing documents, this will be absolutely fine.
You do get a good amount of storage, with 256GB SSD you will have plenty of room to store necessary data. You will struggle slightly if you install a lot of space demanding software or games, but once more if you just want this laptop for general use, you’ll be fine.
This data promises faster access to files and quicker booting of software and your actual laptop. SSD also saves a lot of battery, though this won’t be an issue for this laptop.
One of this device’s most noticeable features is a promise of a battery life of 23.5 hours, which is absolutely astounding on the current market. Presumably, this would only be for if you were using it for Microsoft software like Word.
Either way, this makes this laptop would be perfect to use portably as you won’t need to be near a power source for long periods of time. Though due to its battery life being so vast, it makes you wonder whether or not this is an accurate estimation.
Another aspect that makes this laptop perfect for using on the go is its light weight, weighing just over 2lbs. For a moderately sized laptop, this is fantastic as you can experience on the go use without a ridiculously small screen.
The 14-inch HD screen boasts a fantastic resolution of 1920×1080, with anti-glare technology and vibrant colors, this screen is a pleasure to use. One aspect that is a bit off-putting is the lack of brightness that you get with this laptop, it’s slightly dimmer than what you usually get from a laptop of this price.
However, this may be done in order to extend the battery life and with battery life like this, you really can’t complain. In general, I’m not a huge fan of the design choice of this laptop, the chosen white is almost too bright and will definitely be something that dirt easily appears on.
The keys are weirdly spaced and small, but the actual laptop is nice and slim which is redeeming.
Overall this is a brilliant laptop and definitely perfect for those who just want a laptop for casual use.
Microsoft Surface Pro 7 (Good display & extremely light)
CPU: Intel Core i7 (3.9 GHz) | GPU: Intel Iris Plus Graphics | RAM: 16GB DDR4 | Screen: 12.3-inch (2736 x 1824) | Storage: 256GB SSD | Battery: 45Whr | Dimensions: 12.7 x 9.1 x 1.9 inches | Weight: 1.74 lbs
Requires a stand
Slightly low storage
This is another laptop following what is new and exciting on the market, this being the ability to use this as a laptop or a tablet. What is often the case with a lot of models like this is a decrease in power, but is this the case with this laptop?
This laptop has a fantastic i7 processor with clock speeds of 3.9GHz that offers fast and powerful performance, which is fantastic for a model like this. Interestingly the Surface Pro 7 uses Intel Iris Plus Graphics, which offers good performance for mainstream users, however, if you wanted to play games on this laptop, you would definitely have issues with running some mid-high level games.
What is good about integrated GPUs is that they are more power-efficient, which means your laptop won’t die as fast if you’re watching videos etc.
This laptop has 16GB of RAM which is more than enough to meet any needs as most of the even most RAM hungry software requires no more than 8GB of RAM.
You will be able to multitask seamlessly and even stream perfectly fine if this is what you would like to do with your laptop. You also get 256GB of SSD storage, which not only saves battery in your laptop but is faster than HDD and will lead to your laptop booting faster, as well as other applications.
It is good that this device has so many measures to ensure saved battery life, as the actual battery life you will get is not as high as many others on the list.
What this laptop has is many additional features that makes it stand out on the market. Not only is it a touch screen device, but you can attach and detach the keyboard.
An issue with the keyboard is that it’s quite flimsy, so if you were to lean on it to write, the lightweight laptop will definitely begin to shuffle. Another issue is that you can only really use it as a laptop if you use the stand, which kind of defeats the purpose of a laptop as you will have to use it on a desk.
You get a slightly better screen quality with this laptop, as you get a higher resolution. You also get vibrant colors and a bright screen. This is good as often laptop manufacturers will cut down the brightness in order to preserve battery, but it does compromise the life span of the laptop battery slightly .
The actual laptop looks modern, however, the additional keyboard comes in an odd selection of colors which makes it stand out as just being an add on, it doesn’t look as well integrated as it could which I think is a slight drawback.
Overall this laptop is really strong and has a lot to offer in terms of good on the go usage, however, it has some weird design choices and flimsy components.
LG Gram (Core i7) (Nice display & powerful CPU)
CPU: Intel Core i7 (1.8 GHz) | GPU: Intel HD Graphics 620| RAM: 16GB DDR4 | Screen: 13.3-inch (1920×1080) | Storage: 256GB SSD | Battery: 72Whr | Dimensions: 12 x 8.3 x 0.6 inches | Weight: 2.1 lbs
Storage on the small side
Dim screen when not plugged in
This laptop is very similar to the previous LG Gram model, however it has a more powerful CPU.
Though I had previously stated that there isn’t much difference between an i7 and an i5 processor, however an i7 has slightly faster clock speeds when turbo-boosted.
This means it will be able to process data slightly faster, however, the difference really isn’t big enough to justify the additional costs. If you enjoy gaming, this will be advantageous as you will be able to process parts of higher demand games, such as ray tracing.
This also has integrated graphics, with an Intel HD Graphics 620 GPU. This matching of intel components works really well, as not only will you be able to process data quickly but you will be able to display the data quickly too.
Integrated graphics also saves battery life, though this isn’t really necessary as this laptop has a fantastic battery life, capable of lasting over twenty hours.
This laptop once more provides an outstanding amount of RAM, with 16GB you are capable of completing any multitasking demands. If you are an editor or artist you will have no issue using RAM hungry software.
This will also be good for those of you who want to stream, as you will be able to run several demanding applications at one without any problems. If you wanted to use this laptop to game you would easily be able to do so but would be limited to mid-range games due to the power of the GPU.
With this laptop, you get 256GB of SSD memory which is plenty for general use, as well as housing a large amount of data. You can access applications faster
with this and also boot your laptop faster. This is far faster than HDD, however, if you wanted to download a number of large software you may need to invest in some external storage.
The screen on this laptop is touch-screen, which is a nice additional feature as it allows for more versatility. You can use it for more than just general use if you are an artist or designer this would be especially useful as you won’t need any external hardware to be able to draw.
The screen itself has a resolution of 1920×1080 along with bright and vivid colors, however, if it is not plugged in the brightness can be pretty low in order to preserve the battery life, which can be quite off-putting.
However, for the amount of battery life you get, it is definitely worth it. The design of the laptop is fantastic, with an aluminium body it looks sturdy and reliable.
It is also very slim and lightweight, making it perfect to use on the go, especially with the long battery life that it is. The color story is great too, not looking too flashy or easily markable, instead using a simple grey and black combination.
Overall this laptop is a great laptop and is perfect for on the go use, it not only looks good but offers enough power to be able to complete a multitude of tasks.
What is the most impressive performing laptop you can get for around $1200?
The ASUS Zenbook is my top pick because it has the best components for the best value. You get a fantastic CPU, plenty of RAM and a powerful GPU that is not just integrated, meaning you are not limited in what you can do with this laptop.
This laptop would be perfect for anything from work to content creation and comes with plenty of additional features that really makes it stand out in today’s market. You may potentially struggle with storage in the future, but this can easily be solved by adding some external HDD.
If you would like to continue reading other laptop reviews you can find them here.
James Cosgrove has been the lead writer at GizmoFusion since 2019. He has a huge passion for the latest technology and gadgets. He loves to talk and write about this interest. He hopes that visitors to the website will find his reports informative and helpful when it comes to making the best choices for their needs.