Getting to know the use of this computer will be put to help you begin looking for specs. Since you’re already thinking of spending around $1000 for the machine you can give this a read too. If you have probably gone through the top laptops in our recommendation for best laptops for college student, this is a supplemental read. Then you can make sense of the trends we followed in picking up the top products in that list.
Picking a platform early on will save you a lot of time. If you’ve been using Apple products for years and looking to upgrade, your best option is a latest Mac unless your work requires otherwise. Similarly, if you’ve been with Windows it is good to take it forward. Even for your kid, the same applies. For a $1000 budget, it is assumed that you’re not getting it for a kid as their first computer. So, you wish to have portability and get some serious stuff done. Well, both Mac and Windows are capable of it.
There is another flare for Linux and Chromebooks. Well, Linux is for pros and it offers a lot of learning to use the OS itself. Chromebooks are the other end of the spectrum where you stay connected to the internet all the time for all your apps. It is safe and secure from malware and other stuff because of its underneath OS. It is however very limited functionality and can run just web apps, but offers great build quality, metal enclosure, and fantastic battery life. So, these days it is the most preferred option for kids, teachers and on the go people who want to stay connected to online.
A Mac is not made for touch-based interface which is why no Mac comes with a touch screen. While Windows build from the ground up, with multitouch inputs and with the latest Windows 10 Anniversary Update, Microsoft added a whole bunch of apps for pen computing. This is why all 2-in-1 come with touch screens. This is best for designers, musicians on the go. Yet, you can find many products that are 2-in-1 and offer up to 8 hours of battery life. So, the kind of OS you choose is based on your work routine.
If you’re in a hurry, here are some quick terms and policies that you can follow to make a purchase decision. On a $1000 budget, you must look for the specifications like an FHD screen. This would be complemented with a powerful HQ or U series processor from Intel. Mostly, they would be 8th gen i5 or 7th gen i7 kind of. Only, compromise a little on the processor that is a previous generation CPU or an i5 instead of i7 if you want a touch screen. That is a kind of a well-informed trade-off.
Battery Life And Size
The next set of things to keep in mind is the battery life and the screen size. At $1000 price point, you shall get 15.6 model. But, you can trade it off for a better brand, a better battery life and for a touch screen perhaps. That 1″ trade-off is much better if you get a model that has 10 hours of battery life while the big screen promises only 8 hours. While 12″ would be quite small, if you can work with a 13″ model, choose this to get more battery life. Look for something around 12 hrs for a 13″, while still with a 7th gen i5 processor at least.
Your CPU/GPU is crucial
Most of the spec sheet is wisely abstracted from the users and buyers because they might get lost. If you find yourself lost too amidst all the GHz, quad and dual, MHz of this and that, GB on this and that. Of course, it is right that the more is better. But, knowing what is more important and what matters less is still very difficult.
The important parts of the internals of any notebook boil down to the following: CPU, GPU, hard disk capacity, RAM capacity and finally being able to upgrade them. Let’s begin with the CPU.
Already mentioned few lines what you can expect at this price range in an ultrabook such as the i5 and i7, the HQ and U series. With mostly Intel everywhere, you don’t have to worry about other CPU manufacturers. So, the price range gives you two options, mostly from all vendors, the Intel Core i5, and Intel Core i7. The best mainstream ultrabook under $1000 that is the best combination of performance and price is the Core i5. You can get 7th gen or 8th gen depending on the brand. The common ones are 8250U and 7200U. The “Y” marked is the worse, so stay away. The “HQ” is going to give less battery but more powerful. The “U” sits in between. The 8th gen has 2 more cores than 7th, so greatly improve the performance. But, 7th gen is still okay if you’re trading it off for touch screen and 2-in-1 style.
The i7 is also similarly named, but better than i5. Go for the “U” ones. Don’t go for “Y” or “HQ” or “K” because this takes off touch screen and also drains battery life as can be seen in the current lineup of brands. These are for serious gaming stuff.
And, the i3 is a step down from i5. It is best-suited for casual web surfing, media consumption, article writing. At $1000, choose the above, i5 or i7 options.
AMD A, FX, and E series are a range of low-cost alternative in comparison to i3, Celeron, Atom stuff from Intel. Both are low powered, for casual web surfing, social media usage, and media, not even 4K stuff, just casual. Usually, for a 13-year-old kid, these are great for beginner laptops, allow light usage of everything. You might try some games, but you will be very un-pleased, so don’t bother.
When you look at online videos for reviews of the models you’re looking up online here are some jargons you will hear often: key travel, ergonomics, track-pad sensitivity, Windows Precision Drivers, Elan Drivers. These are used to describe the user experience when using a keyboard and a track-pad below it. The industry standard that people use as a benchmark is the Mac. Though there are many gaming keyboards and mouse that offer a lot of magic, we are stuck here to normal everyday tasks and $1000 price tag.
You shall not be able to do much with your laptop if your keyboard does not feel right. Once you try to type on a keyboard that has a nice key travel (usually between 1.8 mm to 2 mm) which is the vertical depth the key travels when you press it vs. one that has a lesser key travel, you will notice the lack of feedback. The worst ones are the touch screen keys that don’t travel at all on the glass. So, there is no ergonomics. Some uses haptic feedback and nice click sound to compensate for that over the tablets and smart phones. But, on a full-size keyboard on a 14″ laptop, you should look for the best keyboard possible. This is very useful if you do a lot of typing whole day.
However, if you use a lot of mouse and trackpad, look for the one that has the biggest area possible. In many 15.6″ models you will find a smaller one, while a 13.3″ shall have up to 40% larger area. Now, coming to the accuracy and precision. Sometimes you will find that the cursor does not respond well and feels like hovering or floating and selecting random things. The best in class are the ones that come with Windows Precision Drivers. You can find them in every gaming laptop for the same reason. If you’re upgrading your Mac, then you don’t have to worry at all.
The response you feel when typing and dragging the cursor, clicking the left and right buttons, the sturdiness and the whole feedback in the form of a sense of touch is what we call ergonomics. So, don’t compromise on it. Look for reviews that talk in favor of the model you’re thinking of buying.
RAM, storage & display
Well, at $1000 price tag the ultrabooks will come with standard 8GB of RAM. There might be things like DDR4 and SDRAM etc. but you can ignore them. Some might have just 4GB, but they might have premium designs, touch screen, discrete graphics such as NVIDIA MX150 or 940MX configurations. You can upgrade it to 16 GB, if your work really needs it like graphic design, drawing, sketching, 3D work etc. With i5 4 core, that would be simply splendid.
For the hard drive go for the SSD, even if it is just 256 GB instead of 1 TB standard SATA. SSD is battery efficient too. Among SSDs, the newer PCIe x4 (aka NVME) units offer triple the speed of traditional SATA drives.
For the displays, it is we recommend paying extra for a panel that runs at 1920 x 1080, also known as full HD or 1080p. The 1366×768 is below $250. At $1000, FHD with/without touch screen is standard.
Go for integrated graphics
Now, integrated graphics are a part of the new series of 7th gen and 8th gen Intel CPUs. They have really developed since the early days. At the $1000 price range, the best ultrabooks under $1000 will offer you Intel Iris 630, 400s and 500s inside. This is better than the discrete NVIDIA low-end cards. But, you can get gaming laptops at $1000 range too. These come with very capable 1050, 1060 GTX, AMD RX series cards. They are very power hungry, so you are losing on mobility and ultra portability, and hence we have not listed any of those models in this list.
Otherwise, these cards supplement 3D CAD software, gaming as we mentioned at higher frame rates, lag free and you can lay the latest titles, video editing, movie editing stuff. On the ultrabook side, you still can do all of these, but lightweight only, and casual work. Your aim is to stay on the move and have a capable hardware to do stuff. The integrated graphics that come bundled with i5 and i7 free you from extra software installation, compatibility issues, using software to switch between applications when the discrete card is not needed. But, integrated graphics share the same RAM as of the main RAM. Discrete have their own 4GB standards on $1000 laptops. Therefore, as I’d mentioned above, upgrade to 16 GB and go with high-end i5 or i7 with integrated graphics. It saves you a lot of battery life.
Recommendation: The top 10 top list guide
- Lenovo IdeaPad 710s
- Lenovo Yoga 720 Premium 2-in-1
- 2017 HP 14 HD Flagship Business Ultrabook
- Lenovo Yoga 720 2-in-1 13.3″
- Dell Latitude 7000 7280
- ASUS VivoBook S Ultra Thin
- New Apple MacBook Air 13.3-Inch
- Microsoft Surface Pro 4
- Dell Latitude 7000 7280 Business Ultrabook – 12.5
So, finally, you have a list of all important things. You have a list of models that offer the same. You can just select your most trusted brands or select one that has good service around your locality. In ultrabooks, you will always find lesser ports like a couple of USB 3, a USB Type C and maybe a Thunderbolt. Usually, people get an additional adapter that has all ports in a dock that connect to your main computer with a single USB. This is better than going for a fatter and thicker laptop that has all the regular ports.
A thinner laptop is ultra-portable, lightweight I mean, and gives you an all-day battery life. If you work up to 6 hours or so, that is also great. All those advertise 10 hours will ultimately get you around 7, so trade for battery life. And, the touch screen is good at $1000 price range because you don’t lose much, as already mentioned above.
So, now you can go forward with your 2018 purchase without any delay. All your concerns are hopefully covered. If you still have any doubt, leave comments below.
Personally, I will go for an FHD, touch screen, 7th gen i5 U, 8 GB RAM, integrated graphics, 8 hours minimum battery, 256 GB SSD, preferably metal-plastic sturdy build, no backlit keyboard, an additional USB to all adapters for my ultrabook. Asus and Acer are great. Dell is the next choice.