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Our picks for the best gaming laptops for every type of gamer and budget

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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 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 You Can Buy Today

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1. MSI GE66 Raider
The Best Overall Gaming Laptop

CPU: Intel Core i9-10980HK | GPU: Nvidia GeForce RTX 2080 Super Max-Q | Display: 15.6 inches, 1920 x 1080, 300 Hz | Weight: 5.3 pounds (2.4 kg)

  • Great gaming performance
  • 300 Hz display
  • Well-executed RGB light bar
  • High-end build
  • Cramped keyboard
  • Tinny audio

The MSI GE66 Raider is a gaming laptop, and it’s saying it loud with a massive RGB light bar. It’s new look is aggressive, but it’s not just talk, with options going up to an Intel Core i9-10980HK and Nvidia GeForce RTX 2080 Super Max-Q.

For those looking for esports-level performance in games like League of Legends or Overwatch, there’s an option for a 300 Hz display.

And while it’s not the slimmest laptop around (or even MSI’s thinnest), it does feel remarkably portable considering the power inside, and  we can’t help but appreciate high-end build quality.

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2. Asus ROG Zephyrus G14
Best Thin and Light Gaming Laptop

CPU: AMD Ryzen 4900HS | GPU: Nvidia GeForce RTX 2060 Max-Q | Display: 14-inch, 1920 x 1080 120Hz | Weight: 3.5 pounds (1.6 kg)

  • Good looks
  • AMD Ryzen 4900HS offers strong performance
  • Stellar battery life
  • Comfortable keyboard
  • Fan sometime whirs when idle
  • No webcam
  • No Thunderbolt 3

For those looking for something slim and attractive, our pick is the Asus ROG Zephyrus G14. As far as gaming laptops go, the Zephyrus is unassuming in either white or gray with minimalist stylings. But with the AMD Ryzen 4900HS and Nvidia GeForce RTX 2060 Max-Q in our review unit, you get strong productivity and gaming performance. It’s not the best performer on the market in terms of graphics, but it’s the best value for most people.

The battery life is also surprisingly long for a gaming notebook and the keyboard is clicky and comfortable. The fan, however, sometimes goes off even when just sitting on the desktop, and this system doesn’t come equipped with a built-in webcam.

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3. Razer Blade 15 Advanced Model
Best Thin and Light Gaming Laptop (Alternate Pick)

CPU: Intel Core i7-10875H | GPU: Nvidia RTX 2080 Super Max-Q | Display: 15.6 inch, 1920 x 1080, 300Hz | Weight: 4.7 pounds (2.1 kg)

  • Thin and light
  • Stunning design
  • Great selection of ports
  • 300 Hz Display
  • Uncomfortable keyboard
  • Expensive

If you want higher specs and are willing to pay more for a thin and light gaming laptop, the Razer Blade 15 Advanced Model is a strong choice. It has a sleek design that’s easy to take with you anywhere, and has a nice selection of ports if you also want to plug in a bunch of peripherals.

While the Zephyrus stops at an RTX 2060, the Blade goes up to an Nvidia RTX 2080 Super Max-Q. It also has options for a faster 300 Hz display, which is great for esports.

Instead of a Ryzen chip, Razer has opted for Intel’s 10th Gen H-series processors to power the Blade 15. It’s not as power efficient, but offers strong performance.

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4. Alienware m17 R3
Best 17-inch Gaming Laptop

CPU: Intel Core i9-10980HK | GPU: Nvidia Geforce RTX 2080 Super | Display: 17.3 inch 3840 x 2160 60 Hz HDR400 | Weight: 6.6 pounds / 3 kg

Bright, colorful, large screen
Comfortable, clicky per-key RGB keyboard
Thin for a gaming laptop
Hot and loud
Pricey

The Alienware m17 R3 can get expensive, especially the way we reviewed it with a 10th Gen Intel Core i9 and RTX 2080 Super. But it also has a fantastic, colorful 17-inch display, perfect for those who want the biggest screen they can get on a gaming notebook. The 4K 60 Hz HDR option is bright and colorful, but if you prefer, there’s also an option for 1920 x 1080 at 144 Hz.

The power we got out of the top tier components was tremendous, with amazing performance across our gaming suite. It also did quite well on our productivity benchmarks, should you want to use this as a workhorse as well.

The m17 R3 has a comfortable RGB keyboard and, for a gaming notebook, isn’t all that thick at 0.9 inches. But these components do suck battery power, so be sure to bring the charger.

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5. Dell G3 15 (2019)
The Best Budget Gaming Laptop

CPU: Intel Core i5-9300H | GPU: Nvidia GeForce GTX 1650 | Display: 15.6-inch, 1920 x 1080 | Weight: 5.4 pounds / 2.4 kg

Attractive design
Solid gaming performance for the price
Longer than average battery life
Dull display

The Dell G3 15 is the best gaming laptop for those on a tight budget. It feels solid, the price is right and it will play most games reasonably well. It even looks good. The display is bland, which is a shame, but battery life and keyboard is better than most similarly priced competition.

That makes the Dell a solid choice for anyone who can get over the display as a sacrifice for an otherwise strong machine. Heck, for those times when you don’t need to game on the go, you could plug it into a good budget monitor and get a bigger, prettier screen for your games and media playback at home. If you’re looking to get a machine starting under $1,000, it’s an excellent choice.

 

 

 

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