The best gaming laptops come in all shapes and sizes, for different needs and budgets. Because while a tricked out $5,000-plus model with the highest-end graphics and best display might give you the best gaming laptop experience, most of us can’t afford a rig like that. And even if we could, it wouldn’t be the best gaming laptop for those who travel frequently with their PC.
Thankfully, there are more gaming laptop options now than ever, from budget-friendly to VR-ready. Some come with full-size Nvidia GeForce GTX or RTX graphics cards, while others go for the more efficient Max-Q designs that enable thinner chassis and (sometimes) quieter fans. While many of the best gaming laptops come with a 1080p display and high refresh rates, some include 4K screens.
One of the newest innovations we’ve seen is AMD SmartShift, which shares power between the CPU and the GPU based on need. We saw this in the Dell G5 15 SE, but it won’t be in other laptops until 2021.
To help you find the best gaming laptop today, we’ve compiled a list of the best models we’ve tested and reviewed recently. For much more on how to narrow down your list of best gaming laptop considerations, check out our best gaming laptop buyer’s guide. But here are a few quick tips to get you started down the road to the right portable gaming rig for you.
While many gamers may go to desktops to get the most performance for their money, try lugging a tower, monitor and keyboard around in your backpack. When you need a powerful rig you can take with you, there’s no substitute for a gaming laptop.
Quick Gaming Laptop Shopping Tips
- Focus on the GPU: Most games are dependent on the GPU, and those aren’t upgradeable. If you splurge on a powerful GPU now, you’ll be gaming comfortably for a few years.
- You can upgrade some parts later: While CPUs and GPUs are almost always soldered down, most gaming laptops let you replace the RAM and storage, so you can buy cheaper now and add more memory and a bigger hard drive or SSD down the road.
- Battery life will probably be bad: Very few gaming notebooks get 8 hours or more on a charge, and you need the power supply to get the best gaming performance anyway. However, we’ve seen some strong times from AMD’s Ryzen 4000 processors, and Nvidia suggests its improved Optimus technology may help turn the tide.
Best gaming laptops at a glance:
- MSI GE66 Raider
- Asus ROG Zephyrus G14
- Razer Blade 15 Advance Model
- Alienware m17 R3
- Acer Nitro 5
- Alienware Area-51m
- Asus ROG Strix Scar 17 G732
- Asus ROG Zephyrus Duo 15