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. Our picks here are often high-end models (we’re an enthusiast site, after all), but most come in a variety of configurations at various price points.
Thankfully, there are more gaming laptop options now than ever, from budget-friendly to desktop replacements. Some come with full-size Nvidia GeForce 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, so you can pick between fidelity and resolution. Several gaming laptop go as fast as 360 Hz.
There is more choice than ever in components, too. While Intel is still a popular option, AMD’s Ryzen processors are becoming more common, though the majority of notebooks in general still use Intel. On the GPU side, Nvidia’s RTX GPUs are in far more laptops, though AMD is slowly starting to pair its own graphics cards with hits CPUs for what it calls an “AMD Advantage.”
The latest technologies in processors include Intel’s 11th Gen “Tiger Lake” processors and AMD’s Ryzen 5000 CPUs. Just like desktops, anything with the latest graphics can still be hard to come by right now, thanks to a global components shortage. We imagine that Intel’s 12th Gen “Alder Lake” chips will come to laptops soon.
Like a lot of other tech, if may be hard to find the best gaming laptops right now. Once you’ve done your research, it may take some time to find exactly what you want in stock.
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.
The picks on this list should be ready to run Windows 11, which released this month.
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 the best CPUs for gaming 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 processors, and Nvidia suggests its improved Optimus technology may help turn the tide.
Best gaming laptops at a glance
- Best Overall: MSI GE76 Raider
- Best Thin and Light: Razer Blade 15 Advanced Model (Late 2021)
- Best Thin and Light (Alternative): Razer Blade 15 Advanced Model
- Best 17-inch: Alienware m17 R4
- Best Budget: Acer Nitro 5 (AMD 2021)
- Souped Up Version, Budget: Acer Nitro 5 (Alternate Configuration)
- All-AMD: Asus ROG Strix G15 Advantage Edition
- Best Esports: Asus ROG Strix Scar 17 G733
- 16-inch Esports Option: Lenovo Legion 5 Pro
- Best Dual-Screen: Asus ROG Zephyrus Duo 15 SE GX551