Getting a new (or your first) laptop tends to be a tiresome pursuit. There’s an endless sea of options if your budget is $1200, from an equally confusing array of brands, and it can be hard to figure out what you need. So let’s dive into picking the right one for you.
- 13-inch New Apple MacBook Air – The best choice for those who can’t live without a Mac. It offers high-end features like the touch bar, but you’ll lack storage space.
- HP Envy 13″ – This laptop offers above-average specs such as a dedicated graphics card and 16GB of RAM, so it’s a good choice if you want to use it for light gaming or creative purposes, not just regular work.
- Lenovo Yoga 720 15.6″ – A quality 2-in-1 convertible laptop with a decent amount of SSD and a larger screen, this laptop is a great choice for work or school and gaming.
Who Should Get This?
These days, almost everyone has a laptop, and for many people, a laptop is their only computer. If you already have a desktop computer, you may be interested in a laptop simply for convenience, but those without will be reassured to know many modern laptops can keep up with desktop competitors depending on what you’re using it for.
These recommendations below are all under $1200 dollars and will be a good fit for a variety of people, from a teen who needs something for classes to working professionals looking for something to take with them on business trips.
Best Laptops Under $1200: What to Consider in 2020
Intended Use/Performance Requirements
There are a lot of different reasons to get a laptop, and what you intend to do with it matters. If you want to do creative work like video or photo editing, you’ll need something a lot more powerful than someone who just wants to watch Netflix and browse Facebook. An easy way to figure out what to look for is to check the minimum performance requirements on programs you plan to use the most and make sure your laptop of choice will exceed them.
Are you looking for something ultraportable or something that will normally live on your desk? The most common laptop sizes are 13, 15, and 17 inches, but there are some variations depending on the brand. The smallest sizes will be the most portable but tend to not be able to fit as powerful hardware.
Sometimes you want to stick with what you know. Other times, you need something specific for the programs you use. The most common options are macOS and Windows 10, but if you’re considering a Chromebook you should make sure to research whether ChromeOS will be enough for your needs (it has more limitations than a traditional OS).
There’s a lot that can be packed into a laptop under $1200. Many people are interested in special features like touch screens, connected pens, fingerprint readers, and convertible models. You should decide if these are important to your workflow to help narrow your search.
Best Laptops Under $1200: Our Picks for 2020
If you’re a Mac person and couldn’t bear to change, this MacBook Pro is the best value available. It even includes the touch bar, which was not standard on many older models. The 5 chip should be able to keep up with your daily activities, and 8GB of RAM is standard on this computer.
- Sleek Mac design is iconic and clean.
- Includes the touch bar, which automatically adjusts its functions depending on the program you are using.
- Both USB-C ports support Thunderbolt 3.
- Only comes with 128 GB of space, which is tiny for a laptop.
- Only ports are USB C, you may need an adapter for most peripherals like traditional USB mice.
The HP Envy is an all-around laptop well designed. The metal body feels premium compared to plastic in other laptops, the screen stretches from side to side with minimal bezels, and the redesigned HP logo on the back looks stylish. This particular model offers an 8th generation i7 intel chip, GeForce MX250 Graphics, and 16GB of RAM with 512GB of SSD. It truly packs in everything you need for a great experience.
- Fast SSD with reasonable storage size.
- Huge amount of RAM for a consumer laptop, usually 16GB is mostly found on gaming and creative devices.
- Dedicated graphics card will outperform any integrated chip on another laptop.
- Fingerprint reader.
- Two USB 3.1 ports and one USB C port, SD Card reader.
- Not the convertible model.
- Lack of connectivity for extending the display, such as HDMI or Displayport. You will need a USB-C to DisplayPort adapter or similar dongle.
For the more Windows inclined, the 15.6-inch Yoga 720 is a sturdy Lenovo laptop that can convert into a tablet for convenience, or simply folded at any angle you wish for optimal viewing. The touchscreen offers a handy way to quickly navigate to what you need and works with several digital art pens. This laptop is loaded with an Intel i7-7700HQ Quad-Core, 16GB RAM, and 512GB SSD.
- 512 SSD drive will be more than enough for most people.
- 16GB of RAM will keep your laptop future-proof.
- Convertible design is extremely convenient for everything from watching movies to taking notes.
- 15″ Screen gives you plenty of space to work.
- Average battery life.
Useful Tips & Resources
Once you purchase a laptop, you’ll want to make sure to take care of it correctly. This may include buying a hardshell case to protect it, a sleeve for travel or a screen protector to protect the physical appearance, but you should consider other details too.
For example, you should make sure that you’re charging the battery properly and not putting excessive strain on it. There are also steps you can take to extend the battery life of your laptop, like dimming the screen and disabling Bluetooth.
Lastly, you should make sure to clean your laptop regularly! Dust builds up over time, and can seriously impact performance, not to mention make your computer difficult to look at or uncomfortable to use. You can find some easy instructions from CNET here.
Hopefully, these suggestions have helped you narrow your search or find the laptop that’s under your $1200 budget. Whether you plan to use it daily or just infrequently, these recommendations are versatile enough to support a wide range of uses. However, the market is huge, so if you feel like we forgot something important, let us know by leaving a comment below!
Chris is a lifelong tech enthusiast with a broad range of interests including coding, data analysis, traveling, and more. He used to work as a software programmer immersing himself in the world of codes, now he finds it more interesting talking to real people.