The term “gaming laptop” was once a term of derision. As recent as a few years ago, it was nearly impossible to find a functional rig that you could use reliably for high-end gaming. These days, however, advances in technology have made it easy for even professional gamers to get high-resolution gameplay in a portable format.
Whether you’re looking to become a competitive Street Fighter player or simply want to immerse yourself in a single-player experience while you’re away on a work trip or vacation, there are now plenty of options. No matter what your needs may be, though, a gaming laptop is always going to be an investment. Regardless of the budget you’re working with, our list can help you find the best of the best gaming laptops on the market right now.
TD;LR - The Best Gaming Laptops:
- Acer Predator Helios 300
- Razer Blade 15 Gaming Laptop
- Lenovo Legion Y540 15.6″ Gaming Laptop
- MSI GL65 Leopard 10SFK-062 Gaming Laptop
- Alienware M17 Gaming Laptop
- Razer Blade Stealth 13.3
- ASUS ROG Zephyrus S Ultra Slim
- Dell G5 15 Gaming Laptop
- ASUS ROG Strix Hero II
- MSI GT75 TITAN 4K-012 17.3″
1. Acer Predator Helios 300
Best Overall Gaming Laptop
Many gaming laptops have aggressive names, but a lot of them wouldn't last a minute in the ring. That's not the case with Acer's Predator Helios. Despite being a cheap gaming laptop (relatively of course), the Predator comes with all the basics you'd expect to find in a high-end gaming laptop. That means Gigabit Wi-Fi, a backlit keyboard, and a respectable 3D cooling fan. But the heart and soul of the Predator Helios is the PredatorSense gaming console.
This serves as the nerve center for gamers, offering a high degree of gaming customization features as well as granular control over system temperature, system fan speed, and CPU fan speed. The inclusion of Acer TrueHarmony and Dolby Audio Premium provides for exceptionally strong sound quality, while the IPS technology creates crystal clear imagery with bright and vibrant visuals.
2. Razer Blade 15 Gaming Laptop
As Portable as it is Powerful
Razer boasts that their Blade laptop is the smallest gaming laptop in existence. Given how quickly technology evolves, it will likely lose that title sooner rather than later, but this is still a powerful machine that's eminently portable. The CNC aluminum chassis makes for a sturdy machine that's surprisingly lightweight, and this tight little machine manages to pack in a full 15.6" screen due to the nearly absent bezel. NVIDIA GeForce RTX 2080 Super with Max-Q graphics are primed for integration with virtual reality games, and a full 8GB of graphics memory is built-in for smooth and seamless performance even on the latest games.
Three USB 3.1 ports are complemented by a Thunderbolt 3 port, a Gigabit Ethernet connection, and HDMI 2.0b access. A combo port for a microphone and headset makes it easy to transition between immersive single-player gaming and multiplayer communications.
3. Lenovo Legion Y540 15.6″ Gaming Laptop
One of the Best Gaming Laptops Under $1500
Lenovo may be most known for affordable and accessible casual laptops like the ThinkPad and Yoga, but they also offer some pretty respectable gaming machines. This Lenovo gaming laptop isn't the most powerful machine on the market, but it definitely deserves recognition as one of the best gaming laptops under $1500. One of the great advantages of this laptop is the flexibility you have to choose the specs you want. In terms of storage space, you have the choice between 1TB, 128GB, 256GB, and 512GB HDD, and 1TB SSD.
The Legion makes use of an anti-glare display, an important factor when you're looking for a gaming laptop you can take with you anywhere. Bluetooth 4.1 is built-in, and the Lenovo Legion comes equipped with Windows 10 and offers up to five hours of battery life.
4. MSI GL65 Leopard 10SFK-062 Gaming Laptop
The Ultimate Portable Gaming Setup
The principal advantage of a gaming laptop is its portability, and the MSI GL65 Leopard offers that in spades. This MSI gaming laptop squeezes a 15.6-inch display into a 14-inch body, without sacrificing power for the sake of compactness. The 144Hz 3ms display offers crisp graphics without sacrificing framerate in the process, in large part due to the 6-Core technology beneath its hood.
If you're looking to get a head start on the next generation of gaming, this laptop makes use of NVIDIA's GeForce RTX 2070 8G GDDR6 graphics well-suited for virtual reality headsets. There's no need to worry about this laptop overheating, either. Its Cooler Boost 5 technology makes use of three fans and four heat pipes to slough off unnecessary heat, preventing the risk of frying your rig's insides even during the most intense gaming sessions.
5. Alienware M17 Gaming Laptop
A Mid-Range Flagship that Packs a Punch
If you want a brand you can trust, an Alienware gaming laptop is always a good route to go. The M17 is the flagship of their gaming line, and you can expect a lot from this mid-range machine. While even the most basic choice is a solid option for gamers, you can upgrade the basic RAM, HDD, and SSD to up to 32GB DDR4, 2TB HDD, and 1TB SSD. Proprietary speakers and two separate microphones are built-in, and ports include both generation 1 and generation 2 USB 3.1 options.
This Alienware machine is built from the ground up with virtual reality in mind, and the M17 has been certified to work with both Oculus and HTC Vive headsets. Overwolf apps are built into this gaming laptop, allowing you to track your eye movements and identify the flaws in your gaming patterns.
6. Razer Blade Stealth 13.3
Equal Measures Powerful and Attractive
We'd be remiss to include only one of Razer's Blade-series laptops on this list, as they're simply powerhouses of performance, functionality, and portability in equal measures. The Blade Stealth is designed to look as impressive as it is functional. The single-zone RGB lighting on the keyboard provides you with over 16 million color options, and the precision glass touchpad is top-of-the-line.
While the screen bezel isn't as narrow as on the Razer Blade 15, it still accommodates a 13" screen with little in the way of excess materials. USB-A and USB-C ports are built-in along with Thunderbolt 3 support. The Windows Hello infrared camera and dual array mics facilitate more meaningful communication when you're playing online.
7. ASUS ROG Zephyrus S Ultra Slim
Possibly the Best ASUS Gaming Laptop
ASUS is known for their cheap and efficient laptops, and while they don't have the same rapport among gamers as names like Alienware and Razer, they do have a few impressive portable rigs. The Zephyrus is possibly the best ASUS gaming laptop. It boasts a military-grade metal chassis that can keep it running reliably even after taking some serious hits, which is particularly important given the high quality of its inner workings.
The 15.6" full HD monitor supports a high refresh rate, and the bezel is a lean 6.5mm in width to make the most of the screen width. Efficient design is especially important with a mobile gaming rig, and that's why the Zephyrus makes use of a ROG Active Aerodynamic System. A combination of 12V fans and anti-dust tunnels keeps your laptop cool and helps to maintain strong system stability.
8. Dell G5 15 Gaming Laptop
A Cheaper Model that Matches the Competition in Performance
If Dell's Alienware M17 strikes your fancy but is a little out of your price range, this cheaper gaming laptop might be more amenable to your needs. It may be a less expensive choice, but it's no slouch in terms of performance. An NVIDIA GTX 1650 Ti processor serves as the nerve center of the Dell G5, and the solid-state drive that comes standard can boost the overall performance of your computer. You won't have to rely on the SSD alone, though, as both one- and two-terabyte traditional hard drives are also available.
The 15.6" LED display comes with an anti-glare surface, and a headphone-out and microphone-in combo jack are available for both single-player and multiplayer gamers. Ports include three outlets for USB type A, one for USB 3.1, and one for HDMI.
9. ASUS ROG Strix Hero II
An Efficient Machine Packed to the Teeth with Customizability Options
The second ASUS laptop on this list offers a lot of the advantages you'll find in the Zephyrus, with its own selection of unique bells and whistles as well. The 802.11ac Wave 2 Gigabit WiFi includes quad antennas for better online performance. Just like the Zephyrus, the ROG Strix Hero includes an AURA RGB Gaming Keyboard so that you can create an aesthetic experience customized to your unique needs.
The HyperCool Pro is constituted by dual 12V fans, a heatsink, anti-dust technology, and triple radiators. These combine together to make an efficient machine that will run in peak condition regardless of your environment. The Intel Core i7-8750H processor can churn out high-quality results even with the highest-end and most modern games on the market. The display is built with e-sports professionals in mind.
10. MSI GT75 TITAN 4K-012 17.3″
A Titan in Both Name and Sheer Specs
There's a reason why Micro-Star International products occupy the top two spots on our list of gaming laptops. MSI specializes almost exclusively in gaming laptops, and they offer some of the best specs in the industry. The TITAN sports a price tag worthy of its name, but in turn, it's certain to last you a long time. There's a significant amount of power built into the limited space here, too; the TITAN is essentially a desktop packed into a laptop frame.
A dedicated button allows you to activate fan boost so you can moderate the heat of your laptop when things get too heated without worry about excessive noise otherwise. While the cooling system on its own is top-notch, the TITAN also sports an Intel Core i9-8950HK 2.9 processor and a phenomenal speaker system.
Best Gaming Laptops Buyer’s Guide
Are Gaming Laptops Worth It?
Gaming laptops are a great choice because they combine the ability to play the newest and coolest games on the market with genuine portability. However, that convenience doesn’t come cheap, and it’s important to ask yourself whether or not a gaming laptop is actually a necessity. The sort of power you’ll find in these games is really only best suited for those looking to play high-end games like the latest Call of Duty or Assassin’s Creed.
If you don’t find yourself needing to play AAA games on the go or you tend towards games like MMOs and casual games that aren’t resource-heavy, the power built into a gaming laptop will probably be more than you need.
Keep an eye out for gaming laptops that come with touch screens. While they’re becoming increasingly more prevalent, they won’t be of much use in more traditional games. While they can be a nice convenience, they also greatly increase the price of a rig and can seriously reduce the charge on your battery.
Even a cursory glance at our list will reveal that the NVIDIA GTX is the standard GPU card for gaming laptops. While some games run on your computer’s CPU, chances are that serious gamers will also want a GPU that offers them decent performance. As far as GTX is concerned, a simple multiple of ten can be plenty. Here’s what you need to know about the GTX options.
The GTX 1050 is essentially the entry-level option for gamers. While most games should run reasonably well on a 1050, you shouldn’t expect to get smooth performance on modern AAA games running at higher graphics settings. If you don’t demand the best graphics around, the 1050 could suit you reasonably well, and you should be able to score a good laptop fitted with one of these for under $1,100.
The GTX 1060 is one step up from the 1050, and it’s generally seen as the standard for gamers. It’s probably not going to be enough to impress the most serious gamers or pros, but it should run all modern games effectively enough. The 1060 is also the minimum requirement for running virtual reality devices, so splurge for at least the 1060 if you’re looking to get in on the next generation of gaming. You can bag a laptop with a 1060 for less than $1,500.
The 1060 can run virtual reality games reasonably well, but if you really want to make the most out of VR (and prepare for more cutting-edge games on the horizon), a GTX 1070 is a wise investment. This resilience comes at a cost, though, as the highest-end laptops with 1070s can cost upwards of $3000, and even the cheaper models tend to push the $2000 mark.
What to Look For in a Display
The screen size you’re looking for is going to be a matter of personal preference. Ultimately, it comes down to whether you’re looking for more real estate for your gaming or greater portability. While most laptops fall in the range of 15 to 17 inches, they can get as small as 13 inches or as large as 18.
In terms of resolution, never settle for anything less than a 1920 x 1080 display. If you’re spending a significant amount on a gaming rig, you deserve to play games the way they were meant to be played. 4K screens are of course the holy grail in terms of performance, but you should expect to pay extra for these, not to mention you’ll need an RTX 2070 or 2080 (a spec that’s generally outside the price range of our top ten list).
When you’re looking at refresh rates, you can expect something between 60 Hz and 144 Hz. The former works fine for more casual gamers, but the latter may require you to sacrifice graphical quality for the sake of a smoother frame rate. If you want a bigger screen, you may want to consider purchasing a separate gaming monitor.
What’s a Good Amount of Memory?
When purchasing your laptop, you’ll need to consider the amount of memory you wish to include. Anything less than 8GB is not going to give you the experience you need when it comes to gaming in 2020. Every year, games become more and more hardware intensive, but fortunately, most laptops come with upgradeable RAM slots. It’s recommended to have between 16GB and 32GB of memory for gaming, and even more so if you’re playing DirectX 12 games like Warhammer: Vermintide 2 or Resident Evil 2 that rely much more on system resources.
At the very least, make sure you have at least 16GB when customizing your laptop, as you can always opt to upgrade in the future.
There’s no such thing as the single best gaming laptop, but that doesn’t mean that you should be frivolous with your purchase. Whether you’re looking for a high-end rig or the best budget gaming laptop, sufficient research is important. Take the time to evaluate your needs and figure out what works for your gaming style.
Even the cheapest gaming laptops tend to be rather expensive, and that means moving towards the higher end of the scale could be worth your time. Just keep in mind that a lot of the features available in the most expensive laptops are built with pros in mind and may be excessive for more casual gamers.If you liked our article on gaming laptops, please share and comment below what your favorite product is.