The 800 dollar price range is where things start getting very interesting. Laptops under 800 dollars is where you begin to find gaming laptops, ultrabooks, transformer books and most touchscreen enabled notebooks. Profession, business and premium laptops live here. With such a large and varied offering it gets harder to choose the right laptop for you. Let’s start with the obvious one first.
The best gaming laptop for under 800 dollars:
I choose gaming laptops as the main benchmark. Gaming itself is one of the most demanding activities a laptop ever needs to do because it engages all important parts of the laptop at once. A gaming laptop needs to have a dedicated video card, enough RAM and a decent processor. This combination can run even current get games very well. On top of this the cooling system has to keep the laptop cool during long gaming sessions.
With these basic requirements, our pick for the best gaming laptop for under 800 dollars is:
The ASUS K501UW-AB78 15.6-Inch gaming laptop
The ASUS K501UW-AB78 15.6-inch laptop comes with the nVidia GeForce GTX 960M graphics card, a 6th generation Intel Core i7-6500U running at 2.5Ghz, 8GB of DDR4 RAM and a 512GB SSD. I think the specifications speak for themselves with this one. It can be upgraded with ease. You can read my review of it here.
On top of all this it comes with a beautiful aluminium body and has dual fan cooling. I think this makes for a good gaming laptop.
The best laptops for 800 dollars
When I made this list I focused on laptops that are either very balanced packages, that are basically jacks of all trades, or laptops that are very well equipped for a specific type of usage. There’s no one feature I can focus on. Laptops under 800 dollars are more specialised devices and need to be seen as such.
Dell Inspiron i7559-5012GRY 15.6-Inch Laptop
The Inspiron line is Dell’s bread and butter and usually features a wide variety of configurations. The Dell Inspiron i7559-5012GRY 15.6-Inch laptop is no exception.
The performance is above average thanks to its 6th generation Intel Core i7-6700HQ processor running at 2,6GHz, 8GB of RAM and a 1TB+8GB Hybrid storage solution. The performance is very good. The big selling point for me is the 4K Ultra HD (3840 x 2160 pixel)LED-Backlit Touchscreen display and the nVidia GeForce GTX960M graphics card. This combination makes this laptop ideal for CAD applications and video editing.
Acer Aspire V 15 V3-572PG-7915 15.6-Inch HD Touchscreen Laptop
This Acer Asprire V15 is basically what the average configuration for laptops under 800 dollars looks like. The main difference is that this V15 comes with the newer 5th generation Intel Core i7-5500U Processor as opposed to the i5s seen on other laptops. On top of this it has the mid range nVidia GeForce GT840M 8GB of RAM and a 1TB HDD.
As a plus feature it does have a touchscreen display going for it.
ASUS Zenbook UX303UA-DH51T 13.3-Inch Touchscreen Laptop
If you’re looking for high mobility and good performance, the Asus Zenbook range is made for that. This 13.3-inch Ultrabook boasts a Full HD Touchscreen display all and is equipped with a 6th generation Intel Core i5-6200U processor 8GB of RAM and a 256GB SSD. These laptops are especially design for long battery life and being light weight.
This is one very versatile Ultrabook, good for students, bloggers and business people looking for productivity on the go.
Most common configuration of laptops under 800 dollars
The configurations of the notebook under 800 dollars ten do vary widely. These laptops start to become more and more specialised. For this budget you can expect to find an above average processor, 8GB of RAM, a dedicated video card and enough storage for your needs.
How to find the ideal laptop for you:
There aren’t any laptops out there that are ideal for everybody. Based on what you intend to use it for, some devices will be better suited than others. You wouldn’t buy a 17-inch notebook if you need high mobility and need to always have it with you. A light weight 13-inch ultrabook is better suited for this. So, let’s look at common usages and see what you need in a laptop under 800 dollars.
A dedicated video card is the most important thing in a gaming laptop. While most laptops come with the Intel HD series of graphics cards that’s integrated with Intel iX Core processors, they are nowhere near as capable as a dedicated graphics card. Integrated graphics cards are more than enough for most uses.
The second important aspect is having enough RAM. Ever had your game stutter during gameplay when a character, object or animation gets loaded? You then know what low RAM feels like. Microsoft has made substantial improvements to their operating systems memory management over the years. They added virtual memory and caching, but enough physical RAM is still better. Look for anything with 6GB or more RAM.
As a final factor, always have a look at the cooling system. Any long gaming session makes a laptop run hot. Gaming laptop with small outlets, or badly placed outlets(underneath or at the back) usually need cooling pads. Most respectable gaming laptops have very well designed cooling. They have large outlets and usually two good fans on both sides.
A cooling pad is always a good addition to a gaming laptop. It helps keep everything much cooler and maintains the laptops inbuilt cooling. It makes the laptop quieter in game.
Regular school work implies a lot of text writing and editing, all within a highly mobile package. A laptop for school needs to be light weight and have enough battery life for one whole day.
You should be aiming for a compact device that will fit on your table next to your workbook. Small is not always best, because you have to be able to conformably type on it. Don’t go looking for 10-inch netbooks. In my experience the 13-inch screen size seems to be large enough to fit a good keyboard.
The second important factor is high battery life and light weight. You need to be able to be productive away from an outlet without having to lug around something heavy. Thankfully most 13-inch notebooks and ultrabooks fit these criteria quite well. They are compact, light weight and generally have good battery life.
The requirements on laptops for college can be quite different to school laptops. The basic requirements for high battery life and mobility are still there, but for any technical major you need computing power.
Most high battery life laptops will do for school. For college you need to focus on getting a good processor and plenty of RAM. You might as well skip the compact form factor and go straight for a 15.6-inch laptop. These are better equipped and can have the full sized keyboards you need.
Laptops for engineering students will require some capable 3D acceleration for CAD applications. A high resolution screen is a must have when dealing with fine lines on screen. Even entry level dedicated video cards are capable of handling this. You should look for a laptop equipped with one if you are an engineering student.
I usually recommend ultrabooks as ideal business laptops under 800 dollars. The truth of the matter is that most laptops are good business laptops. The performance requirements themselves aren’t as big as with other uses.
Because of this, the main point you need to consider is if you need the mobility and battery life an ultrabook can offer. If you’re on the go a lot, you need to look for devices with high battery life and that are light weight.
Some business notebook need to have a VGA-out and a DVD-writer. I’m sure that some software you need is only available on DVD. At some point you’ll have to do a PowerPoint presentation on an old projector. While there are accessories available to fix these two, sometimes it’s better to have them out of the box.
Laptops for video and photo editing
The best laptops for video and photo editing have high resolution screens. You have to be able to edit your video in its full resolution and still have enough screen real estate for editing. A high resolution screen should be your main concern when looking for a notebook for video or photo editing. An alternative to this is having a high resolution external monitor, but that defeats the purpose of having a laptop in the first place.
The second very important aspect of video editing is having a good processor. Graphics cards help with video editing, but they are mainly design to offer 3D acceleration. Almost any graphics card will handle video editing because the main load and processing is done by the processor and RAM combination.
Keep in mind is that raw video files are very big and require high write and read speeds. You have to consider getting a large SSD for this.
In conclusion, you should be looking for a high resolution screen laptop with an i7 or high end i5, plenty of RAM and an SSD. A 17-inch display is a good choice for this use.
Laptops for programming and coding
If you’ve ever done any web coding you know the hassle of having to constantly switch between browser and editor. Just like in the case of photo and video editing laptops, you need a high resolution screen. It’s best to look for a 17-inch straight away because it will have the necessary full sized keyboard. If this hampers mobility and you want to work on the go, then look for a 15-inch ultrabook instead.
Web coding doesn’t require any local processing power. For anything else, you need to have a decent processor and enough RAM to compile your code. You could go straight for a high spec device. This all depends on the complexity of what you are doing and what you actually need.
Laptops for graphic design and animation
When I think of graphics design I think of running CAD software, Photoshop and After Effects. You could also add any 3D animation software of your choice to this list, most CAD editors already do this.
A good notebook for graphics design and animation needs to have very similar specifications to video editing notebooks. The main difference is that for any decent 3D animation experience you need a good video card. You still need a good high resolution display to be able to see everything and you still need the processing power to handle all the editing.
A gaming laptop fits this bill quite well even if you don’t actually need the advanced cooling it comes with.
You should basically be looking for a laptop with an average or above average graphics card, plenty of RAM and a decent processor to load everything quickly.