The term “gaming laptop” was once a term of derision. As recent as a few years ago, it was nearly impossible to get a functional rig that you could use reliably for high-end gaming, but 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 immerse yourself in a single player experience while you’re away for a work or vacation trip, there are now plenty of options. But no matter what your needs are, a gaming laptop is an investment. Our gaming laptop list can help you find the best of the best regardless of the budget you’re working with.
Quick Look: 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
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 customization gaming 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
Razer boasts that their Blade laptop is the smallest gaming laptop in existence. Given how quickly technology evolves, it will likely cede 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 8GB of graphics memory are 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 access for HDMI 2.0b. A combo port for a microphone and headset makes it easy to transition from immersive single player gaming and multiplayer communications.
3. Lenovo Legion Y540 15.6″ Gaming Laptop
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 contention for one of the best gaming laptops under 1500 dollars. One of the great advantages of this laptop is the flexibility you have to choose the specs you want. In terms of storage space, 1TB HDD, 128GB, 256GB, 512GB, and 1TB SSD options are available.
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 principle advantage of a gaming laptop is how portable it is, and the MSI GL65 Leopard offers that in spades. This MSI gaming laptop squeezes a 15.6-inch display into a 14 inch body, but it doesn't sacrifice power for the sake of compactness. The 144Hz 3ms display offers crisp graphics without sacrificing frame rates 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 to suit virtual reality headsets. Nor do you need to worry about this laptop overheating. The Cooler Boost 5 technology makes use of three fans and four heat pipes to slough off unnecessary heat and prevents the risk of frying your rig's insides even during the most intense gaming session.
5. Alienware M17 Gaming Laptop
If you want a brand you can trust, an Alienware gaming laptop is always a good route to go. Their Flagship is naturally 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 HDD and SDD RAM to up to 32GB DDR4 2TB HDD 1TB SSD. 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 Flagship has been certified to work with both the Oculus and the Vive. Overwolf apps are built in to this Dell gaming laptop, allowing you to track your eye movement and identify the mistakes in your gaming patterns.
6. Razer Blade Stealth 13.3
USB-A and USB-C ports are built in along with Thunderbolt 3. The Windows Hello infrared camera and dual array mics facilitate more meaningful communications when you're playing online. The Blade Stealth is designed to look cool as well. The single zone RGB lighting in the keyboard provides you with over 16 million color options, and the precision glass touchpad is top of the line. While the Bezel isn't as narrow as in the other Razer on this list, it still accommodates a 13" screen with little in the way of excess materials.
7. ASUS ROG Zephyrus S Ultra Slim
ASUS are known for their cheap and effective laptops, and while they don't have the same cache among gamers as names like Alienware and Razer, they do have a few impressive portable rigs around. The best ASUS gaming laptop is possibly the Zephyrus. It boasts a military-grade metal chassis that can keep it running reliably even after taking some serious hits, and that's a good thing because of 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 keep your laptop cool and maintain strong system stability.
8. Dell G5 15 Gaming Laptop
If Dell's Alienware Flagship strikes your fancy but it's a little out of your price range, this cheap 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. But you won't have to rely on the SSD alone. Both one and two terabyte traditional hard drives are available as well.
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
The second ASUS laptop on this list offers a lot of the advantages you'll find in the Zephyrus, but it has its own selection of unique bells and whistles as well. The 802.11ac Wave 2 Giga802.11ac Wave 2 Gigabit WiFi includes quad antennas for better online performance. Just like the Zephyrus, the ROG Strix Hero includes a AURA RGB Gaming Keyboard so that you can create an aesthetic experience that's customized to your unique needs.
The HyperCool Pro is constituted by dual 12V fans, a heatsink, anti-dust technology, and triple radiators. They 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″
There's a reason why Micro-Star International products occupy the top two spots of 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 worth its name, but it's certain to last you a good, long time and there's a significant amount of power built into the limited space here. The TITAN is essentially a desktop packed into a laptop frame.
A separate button allows you to activate fan boost so you can moderate the heat of your laptop when things get too heated but not worry about excessive noise otherwise. And while the cooling system is top notch, it 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 portability with the ability to play the newest and coolest games on the market. But 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 makes them a necessity only for people who are looking to play high-end games like the latest Call of Duty or Assassin’s Creed.
If you don’t find yourself needing to 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 rig 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 the list will reveal that the NVIDIA GTX is the standard GPU card for gaming laptops. While some games run off your computer’s CPU, chances are that serious gamers will want a GPU that offers them decent performance. But a simple multiple of ten can be a lot as far as GTX is concerned. 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 can’t expect to get smooth performance on modern AAA games configured at higher than medium settings. If you don’t demand the best graphics around, the 1050 can suit you reasonably well, and you should be able to score a good computer 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. The 1060 is also the minimum requirement for running virtual reality devices, so splurge for at least the 1060 if you want to get in on the next generation of gaming. A laptop with a 1060 can be had 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. There isn’t a more powerful 10 series card on the market, and that means you can count on the 1070 to stay relevant for a long time to come. But you’ll be paying for that resilience. The highest end laptops with 1070s can hit the 3000s in cost, and even the cheaper ones tend to push $2000.
What to Look For in a Display
The screen size you’re looking for is going to be an issue of personal preference. Ultimately it comes down to whether you’re looking for more real estate for your gaming or a more portable system. 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 significant money on a gaming rig, you deserve to view games the way they were meant to be viewed. 4K screens are of course the holy grail in terms of performance, but you can expect to pay extra, and you’ll need and RTX 2070 or 2080 (a spec that’s generally outside the price range of our top ten list).
When you’re looking at refresh rate, you can expect something between 60 Hz and 144. 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 size, 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 intensive on the hardware, luckily most laptops have upgradeable ram slots left to fill. It’s recommended having between 16GB to 32GB of memory, even more so if you’re playing DirectX 12 games like Warhammer: Vermintide 2 or Resident Evil 2 that require much more system resources.
So at the very least, make sure you have at least 16GB when customizing your laptop and you can always opt to upgrade in the future.
There’s no such thing as the 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, research is important. Take the time to evaluate your needs and figure out what works for your gaming lifestyle.
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 maybe excessive for more casual gamers.