If you're a gamer always on the go, you want to make sure that your gaming laptop is as portable as it can be, and that's becoming increasingly possible with Nvidia's latest Max-Q technology. It just so happens that a Tom's Guide forum user requested our help in finding the best portable gaming laptop in these thinning times.
mrwylli writes, "I want to buy a portable gaming laptop and after a long research I am stuck between the Asus [ROG Zephyrus M] GM501 and the Alienware m15. I know the Asus performed slightly better and the Alienware has a better battery life, but aside [from] that I would like to have some other opinions, specifically problems that you may have encountered with any of these laptops [like] about build quality, display quality [or] any kind of useful information.”
We're going to break down the key points of both laptops you’re stuck between, and we're also going to throw in an extra option just to spice things up.
Alienware m15: Best Performance and Battery Life
We tested the $3,749 config of the Alienware m15 (4.8 pounds; 0.7 inches thin), which comes with an Intel Core i7-8750H processor, an Nvidia GeForce GTX 1070 Max-Q GPU, 32GB of RAM and two 1TB SSDs. It scored 22,873 on the Geekbench 4.1 overall performance test and 49 frames per second on the Rise of the Tomb Raider benchmark (Very High, 1080p), so it can tear through just about any taxing game or program.
The m15's 15.6-inch, 1080p, 144Hz screen is capable of reproducing 150 percent of the sRGB color gamut and averaging 284 nits of brightness. The panel is incredibly vivid, but it's also kind of dim and the top bezel is notably thick. For a gaming laptop this powerful, we were impressed that it lasted 6 hours and 25 minutes on the Laptop Mag Battery Test.
While we did find the Alienware m15's keyboard relatively comfortable, the keys were still pretty shallow, at 1.1 millimeters of travel. We prefer key travel from 1.5 to 2.0 mm.
Asus ROG Zephyrus M GM501: Best Graphics and Keyboard
The Zephyrus M (5.5 pounds; 0.7~0.8 inches thin) that we tested ($2,199) was outfitted with a Core i7-8750H processor, a GTX 1070 Max-Q GPU, 16GB of RAM, a 256GB SSD and a 1TB 7,200 SSHD. It got higher marks than the Alienware m15 on graphics, with 53 fps on the Rise of the Tomb Raider benchmark, but lower on performance, with 21,735 on Geekbench 4.1.
The laptop's 15.6-inch, 1080p, 144Hz panel covers 120 percent of the sRGB gamut and emits 288 nits of brightness, making it just barely brighter and much duller than the Alienware m15. The Zephyrus M isn't quite ready for the road, however, as it lasted only 2 hours and 47 minutes on our battery test.
We found the Zephyrus M's keyboard to be punchy and comfortable to type on due to its solid 1.5 millimeters of travel.
MSI GS65 Stealth Thin: Most Portable and Best Display
Even if you're deciding between the Alienware m15 and Asus Zephyrus M, the Stealth Thin (4.1 pounds; 0.7 inches thin) is a solid alternative. We tested the $1,999 model, which comes with a Core i7-8750H processor, a GTX 1070 Max-Q GPU, 16GB of RAM and a 512GB SSD. It may have scored lower on Geekbench 4.1 (18,046) and the Rise of the Tomb Raider benchmark (44 fps), but it's still more than capable of multitasking and gaming.
The Stealth Thin's 15.6-inch, 1080p, 144-Hz display covers 150 percent of the sRGB spectrum and averages 293 nits of brightness, making it the most colorful and brightest among the three. The laptop has barely-there bezels as well. While its battery life isn't as long as the Alienware m15's, it’s still pretty solid at 5 hours and 40 minutes.
At 1.4 millimeters of key travel, the Stealth Thin’s keyboard is quite springy has springy, making it an ample contender with the Zephyrus M’s keyboard.
The Alienware m15 offers the best battery life and the Zephyrus M has the best graphics output, but the MSI Stealth Thin gives you the best of both worlds.
If you're willing to sacrifice a few points in performance and graphics, you'll benefit from a long battery life (for a gaming laptop), a solid keyboard and the best-looking display all wrapped into one of the most portable gaming chassis you can find.
Even if you downgraded the Alienware m15 to match the Zephyrus M and the Stealth Thin, it would be $2,049 similarly configured, whereas the Stealth Thin will still save you $50, at $1,999.
We ultimately recommend getting the Stealth Thin (opens in new tab) for its better overall marks — not to mention it's the only laptop among the three to receive 4.5 stars with an Editors' Choice award.
We hope that this helped. Let us know which you decide to go with!
Credit: Laptop Mag